OUT FROM BEHIND CLOSED DOORS
The testimony of former County Londonderry Orangeman, Andrew Evans
I would first want to give thanks to the Lord, that I have a testimony to share; and thank him that I was born into a Christian family where both my parents knew the Lord Jesus Christ as there own and personal Saviour. I was therefore faithfully taken to Sunday School and church from an early age were I heard the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Although I was aware of my need of salvation, I foolishly kept putting it off due mainly to peer pressure at school and my love for the world up until I was sixteen. It was about that time that I went on a youth fellowship trip to Liverpool, where the Lord started to bring me under a real strong conviction of my sin. That week, I wrestled with it thinking what will my friends think, I will have to stop this – this – and this, the list went on.
However, on the last night of that trip, while I was trying to get some sleep, I listened to my friends leading a soul to the Lord. I was hit with Revelation 3 V 16 “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue you out of my mouth.” This was preached on earlier that week, I knew that I was not cold to the Gospel but I also knew I certainly was not hot, so then this would of left me in the lukewarm bracket, the lord was going to “spue me out of his mouth” this means if something was going to happen me that night that I would loss my life I would be in a lost eternity. Romans 10 v 13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” So as I lay in my bed, I just called upon the name of the Lord and praise His name and He did just as He said He would – He saved me there and then in August 1991.
The next few years I went through life just ‘playing at being a Christian’ – going to church twice on a Sunday and maybe the prayer meeting in the middle of the week. My own time of prayer and study just seemed to fizzle out. It wasn’t long then till I was out of the Lord’s will and was trying to battle my own way through life. These times were hard and lonely. During this time, I never missed the twelfth of July parades or any other parades and could not be kept away from Drumcree. At this time I joined the army and went to Germany on an exercise. I felt the Lord say ‘that is enough’. I had a very serious Road Traffic Accident in which I nearly lost my life. Only for the people praying for me back home, and a merciful Lord who through time has restored me back to full health and strength, I could have at the very least be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life. It is a very serious thing for a Christian to be out of God’s will. After my accident, I realised I was trying to serve two masters, man and God. It could only have been God that had brought me through that accident and when I was able I started to get more involved in the church. Hebrews 12 v 6 says, “For whom the lord loveth he chasteneth and scourgeth every son he receiveth.”
I must say that the first time I heard of Paul Malcomson and his work, but to be honest, I hated him. I hated the work he was doing as I thought he was destroying our Protestant heritage and culture, (or so I thought). Like a lot of other people today, I was not willing to hear him out. And all this time, I wasn’t even in the Orange Order, so, I didn’t even know what he was talking about. So I went around avoiding him; and when I couldn’t avoid him, I kept off the subject. I just thought he was exaggerating and adding bits to his story.
As far as I was concerned the Orange Order was the bulwark of Protestantism and Ulster Loyalism and I gave it my full support. I never missed the 12th of July or any other marches, I even camped out in support of the Orange at Drumcree as I saw it as the Christian thing to do – “to defend the faith.”
It wasn’t till July of 97 that I joined the Orange Order. They read out the qualifications of an Orangeman to me and I thought that they were very commendable indeed. I was initiated into the Orange Degree (the first degree) and found little wrong with it. I walked that Twelfth and was as proud as a man could possibly be. Then later on that year, I was put through the Small Purple Degree (the second degree) and remember thinking to myself ‘is this what Malcomson was on about’. When it was all over I could see very little wrong with it from a Christian point of view. Yes, there were some minor things that I couldn’t agree with, but, I felt, there will always be things that men differ on in some way.
My biggest question was why should we have to call a man “Worshipful Master” when the Bible says to call no man master (Mathew 23 v 8) but no one else had a problem with it so I just put Malcomson down as a fanatic and forgot about everything he had said. Life went on, and the more Orange meetings I attended the more loyal I became. Then one Friday night, I was told to attend a Lodge meeting and informed that ‘it was a MUST that I went’. So I went along to the meeting that night although it was no real big deal to me as I usually attended regular anyway. Although, this time, I didn’t know what it was for.
The meeting started and another two men and myself were asked to leave the hall. We were not told why but were escorted into the kitchen where we were told that we had to get prepared to get a “ride on the goat.” I asked “what?” I had heard people talking about getting a ride on the goat a week before this night although I didn’t have a notion what they were talking about. I was then told to take my wallet and money out of my pockets. “Not a chance” I said, as us farmers don’t like parting with our money at the best of times without good cause. And I wasn’t convinced that this was such a case. However, they eventually managed to convince me otherwise.
They then asked me to remove certain garments of clothes and put a blindfold on me. I was made to take an oath that I wouldn’t disclose to anyone, or write down anything, what I was about to witness. And also that I would “obey the five points of fellowship, and keep and conceal the secrets of my Royal Arch Purple brethren within my breast, as well as my own, murder and treason excepted.”
The oath finished, “O help me, Almighty God, and keep me steadfast in this my solemn vow.”
The Loge members took me to the Lodge door and made certain knocks. Someone inside asked, “What profane, or unworthy person or persons are these, coming here to disturb the peace and harmony of this, our Royal Arch Purple Chapter meeting dedicated by us unto God, and Brother Joshua?” The door was then opened, and a sword was stuck into my chest. I was led round the hall bare footed walking over sharp objects. While I was doing this, I was getting my legs wiped with branches. I could hear that everyone was laughing their heads off at me. But, as I passed a certain point I heard a man reading out of the Holy Scriptures. Three times I passed him, every time he was still reading whilst everyone else was in convulsions laughing. It was at this point that it suddenly hit me, that, what Paul Malcomson was saying was right. However, I didn’t know what to do. Then Satan told me, sure look at him he is in it and he’s a twice the Christian you are, so I continued on.
What really put the tin hat on it, so to speak, was when I was led up a ladder to the top of the stage. Where I had to kneel on a coffin. They then asked me, “in whom do I put my trust?” I wasn’t sure whom to say. Was it the man behind me who was holding me and stopping me from falling off the stage and hurting myself? Or, was it the lecturer, who, I felt, seemed to be the main man around – at whose mercy I seemed to be? But, whilst I was thinking, someone whispered in my ear “God, God is the answer.” That sounded right. When I said “God” I was pushed backwards off the top of the stage and fell into a canvas blanket in which I received a painful beating. Was God the wrong answer?
Near the end of the ceremony the lecturers asked me: “What do you stand most in need of?” Again I did not know what to say, although those around me prompted me to say, “Light.” I knew, as a born again Christian I did not need light from ‘the Lodge’ as I had already received such from Christ. Jesus said in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world, he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”
I left the meeting that night with so many questions and so few answers. Anyway, the Sunday after that Friday night I attended an S.Y.C. (Senior Youth Challenge) meeting, which was held in Bovea Orange Hall, where the Lodge that I was a member of met. On that particular Sunday a man that was present at my “Royal” Arch Purple initiation ceremony was taking the meeting. I knew this man to be a good evangelical Christian. So once the meeting was over I approached him and asked him questions about what happened on that Friday night. His answer to me was “Andrew, I have always had those same questions.” So if I had questions before, I had questions now.
I didn’t know what to do, so, I decided that I was going to have to swallow my pride and phone this Malcomson man. So I phoned him on the Tuesday night and told him that I had went through the “Royal” Arch Purple Degree. My biggest problem was that I was sworn to secrecy and felt very awkward talking about it. Paul assured me that I wasn’t bound by an ungodly secret society oath and that God doesn’t bind any man to sin.
He told me secret society oaths are unbiblical both in their content and the way they are administered, and quoted Leviticus 5:4-6 to me, which says, “If a soul swear, pronouncing with his lips to do evil, or to do good, whatsoever it be that a man shall pronounce with an oath, and it be hid from him; when he knoweth of it, then he shall be guilty in one of these. And it shall be, when he shall be guilty in one of these things, that he shall confess that he hath sinned in that thing: And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the LORD for his sin which he hath sinned.”
He told me that he was going to speak to a group of Orangemen on the same subject that Friday night coming, in Dungannon Orange Hall. I went along that night and was really shocked to find out what I really was involved in. It was even worse than I had ever imagined. Within a short period, I arranged a meeting in my own home and got a house-full of Christian Orangemen to attend to hear Paul’s lecture. At the end of the night all of them agreed except one. Most have since left the Orange Order and “Royal” Arch Purple Order. A further meeting was held in Bovea Orange Hall in whom over thirty Orangemen attended.
Some of the men present suggested that they would call a meeting and discuss the problems and maybe make some changes, but by this stage I was convinced that there could be no change big enough to salvage this degrading degree. To have satisfied the Bible-believing Christians they would have had to abandon the blindfolds, the semi-stripping, the blood-penalties, the false oath, the beatings and kicking’s, the false teaching. In fact the whole ritual would have had to go.
J C Ryle once said, “Ritualism is the highway to Rome.” So I wrote my resignation and went to the meeting to see if they could defend it. Guess what, they couldn’t! The more questions I ask the hotter they got under the collar they didn’t know what to say, in fact one man told us that “WE BROUGHT TO MUCH SCRIPTURE INTO IT.” It wasn’t too long till they accepted my resignation and I was asked to leave.
All I could feel was the hissing as I left and felt so angry that we didn’t seem to get through to them; I felt so alone and felt that I had so little support. But as I left the Lord placed Mathew 5 v 10 – 12 in my mind and I quoted it to myself as I walked out threw the doors: “Blessed are they that are persecuted for righteousness sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” Others who were present at this Lodge meeting have since left for the same reason as myself.
Since leaving, I have got more involved in this work that is exposing this error and had the privilege of giving my testimony at the Behind Closed Doors book launch. I have testified at other meeting across the Province and in Scotland.
Whilst, many Christians have resigned over this past few years including several strategic ministers, some evangelical Christians hesitantly try to defend it. I even had a minister phone me up and jump down my throat because I had testified at the book launch; but rather than getting me discouraged it caused me to get more involved in this work.
Shortly after the release of Behind Closed Doors, I heard that the Grand Master of the Independent Orange Institution was going respond to the book so I went to hear him. To my amazement, the message consisted solely of a vicious (extremely libelous) character assassination of the author Paul Malcomson. The preacher totally ignored the many scriptural arguments contained within Behind Closed Doors. This meeting opened the eyes of many people present to the impotence of the “Royal” Arch Purple position.
The Bible commands us to: “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil” (1Thessalonians 5:21-22). Another poor attempt at defending the “Royal” Arch Purple Order came in the form of a booklet called Behind Closed Minds. This document, as most who have read it can witness, did our cause much good.
I, and those involved in this work, have been blessed and encouraged to see, many evangelical men leaving this pagan organisation. We have also been blessed to see lost souls touched by this work and are looking forward to see what the Lord has for us in the near future.
OUT FROM BEHIND CLOSED DOORS
Testimonies from some of the many evangelicals currently resigning from the Orange Order, the Royal Arch Purple Order and the Royal Black Institution for biblical reasons.
Former County Down Orange Treasurer, Worshipful Master, Deputy Master, and Chaplain – Jackson Blakely
Former County Londonderry Orange and Royal Arch Purpleman Andrew Evans
Former County Armagh Orange, Royal Arch Purple and (Red Cross) Blackman Alex Newell
Former County Tyrone Orange Chaplain and Orange/Small Purple Lecturer Paul Stewart (also former Red Cross Blackman)
Reviews of Inside the Royal Black Institution from Rev. Canon Brian T. Blacoe (former Deputy Grand Chaplain of the Royal Black Institution), Malcolm McClughan (former Royal Black Lecturer) and David Carson (Chairman of the United Protestant Council).