Waco Commemoration – Family Members Speak

Waco Commemoration – Family Members Speak

[BUC, TED, NCHE, and Messenger news service]

After the Thirtieth Anniversary Commemoration Service held at Newbold College of Higher Education on Wednesday 19 April, Vilroy McBean and Dimplets Taylor share their memories of the tragedy and the continuing sense of loss.

Vilroy McBean

How does your story connect with the Waco tragedy?

My brother, John Mark McBean, attended Newbold College and graduated with a first degree in Theology, and in 1989 started graduate studies. It was shortly after he joined up with the group in Waco, Texas. Subsequently, he passed in the fire on 19 April 1993.

It was in the summer of 1990 that he came to me when he was leaving school and said that he was going to the United States to do music. He loved to play the guitar and loved to sing. So, he framed the move to the US as if he was going over there on a musical journey. The next week I heard that he was in Waco.

Unbelievably, I had no communication with him after that last conversation in the summer of 1990 (before he left the UK). I know that other family members communicated, but I did not have the opportunity.

My older sister was also there in Waco. She spent a few years back in the UK, and I never knew that John was connected with Waco, or with David Koresh. While she was staying with me, I noticed that she was acting strange. She was actually working for me, and yet never seemed to have any money. I knew I was paying her exceptionally well, so I could not understand what the problem was. That’s when I picked up something was not right and went to John, as he was studying theology, to request him to talk with her. Little did I realise he too was involved with Koresh and may have been the instigator. The sect was taking money from my family!

At the time of the fire, my sister was in California. The sect punished her because she talked back at them and was subsequently banished to California. And because she was not there, she was saved. The ‘punishment’ saved her!

What do you feel we can learn as a community?

For me it goes back to the Scriptures, which we must study for ourselves. You must study and have your own connection. There’s always gonna be false prophets; we are never going to be far from this problem, until Christ comes back. So how can we tell them apart? Only the Holy Spirit will lead you.

Arguably, the people at Waco believed they were led by the Spirit. So, how can one truly know?

So, this is where we have got to really discern…to have the gift of discernment to know what is real what is unreal. And this I think is what the Waco victims were unable to do and never did.

The more I think about it, the more I think as a Church we need to be able to answer questions about our faith. Many are coming to faith and the Church without a good foundation. I grew up in the 1960s and my foundation was morning and evening devotions, (a short Bible reading and prayer) and Friday devotions to open Sabbath. I find that many families do not have that now. I also feel that our Church is more concerned about the number of people baptised than it is about retention and helping both new and long-standing members on their discipleship journey.

Sadly, that Bible education and foundation did not seem to prevent many people from believing in David Koresh. So, what does make a difference?

I thought about that, because we all grew up in the same home, and the same teaching. And yet some were led astray. I believe we need to talk together more, and share more together, so people can be warned when a false teacher comes along.

For example, earlier you shared how the sect took your sister’s money. I think that is a sign of spiritual abuse. So, if we talk about this, other people can get familiar with the signs and recognise them…

Right! There you go. And this is why today’s commemoration service was so important.

Dimplets Taylor

Thank you for taking part in today’s service. Do you have any thoughts you would like to share?

I am from Manchester, where too many Waco victims came from. Thirty years later, the pain is no less because when we see people like the Henrys whom we as a family were very close to – for Brother Henry to lose everyone in his family, that deep hole remains.

The only comfort we got from the tragedy was when Sister Henry sent a message, through my sister-in-law, saying “I would love to have escaped too. But I could not leave my children behind, because I felt like I was the one who helped them get here, and I cannot leave them. They still believe this is where they should be, because they are young.”

You mention a family member who did manage to escape?

Yes, my sister-in-law. She was tired of them beating her kids when they were naughty, because she had never done that. And in the compound, she had to watch them discipline her kids – discipline taken away from her hands. She also realised that her husband wasn’t going to join her in Texas (he’d changed his mind through the power of the Holy Spirit). So, she decided that no matter what, she was going to try and escape. I know that she was terribly afraid of creepy crawlies, but creep on the ground she did (where there were bugs and snakes and things like that) and she did not care. She was heading for safety with her children.

When she got out of the compound and reached the main road, she broke down and told everything to a man, and asked him to take them to safety. So, he covered them up, in the back of his pick-up truck, and drove them to the British Embassy. There they charged them £30 for new passports (they needed new ones, because the sect had taken all IDs) and sent them back home to England without charge. They did not know, but the Waco tragedy happened later that same year.

Brother Henry, who lost all his family, remarried and is now living in Jamaica. He’s looking forward to the coming of Christ because he’s so sure that he will see his family again. We continue to pray and talk together, and we look forward to that great hope. The Bible tells us there will no sadness or sorrow in heaven, God will wipe away all our tears. We look forward to that!

Our thanks to Vilroy McBean and Dimplets Taylor for sharing their moving and heart-rending stories of the continuing grief they experience. Stirred and sobered by what they share, we further explore here ‘the lessons learned’ from Waco and dare to wonder, ‘have we?’

What does spiritual abuse look like? What can we do to prevent it? And how can we escape from it, if we experience it? TED Family Ministries Director, Karen Holford considers the nature of spiritual abuse in an article recently published in the Adventist Review, When ‘Being Helpful’ Becomes Spiritually Abusive and in an online presentation titled, Spiritual Abuse: Love Shouldn’t Hurt.

Vilroy McBean and Dimplets Taylor were talking with Vanesa Pizzuto (TED) for the news pool of the TED/BUC/NCHE and Messenger news service. [Photos: Kevin Thomas]