I am a Woman of sound mind and have a Masters degree. Brainwashed? I was taught how to think critically and carefully. Judge for yourself.
My name is Michelle Ryland and I proudly come to you as a lifelong member of The Church of Jesus Christ Forever. (Yes, I was “born into this church” and I thank God for that fact every single day.) I am also a professional – a dual-licensed structural engineer AND architect. I work in downtown Chicago at a well-known architectural engineering firm, and am extremely involved in my profession. I serve on the Structural Engineers Association of Illinois Board of Directors and chair committees at the state and national levels. I know people in my industry from all over the country – New York to Oklahoma, North Carolina to Idaho, California, and nearly every state in between. If I was captive to a “cult” do you really think I’d be allowed such freedom? To have such a wide network of genuine friends and colleagues who are NOT members of the “cult”? To live and work 100 miles away from my leader’s grasp? Get real.
I am unmarried and I have no children, but I pray for my future family everyday – I know God answers my prayers and He will answer this one in His perfect timing. Despite being “alone” by today’s standards, I am so fulfilled. I am so happy. I have such peace. I love my life.
I would not have this wonderful life without the freely-sought guidance and counsel from my pastor, Rev. Kale Aluli. And since her name has also been smeared through the mud over the last 3 weeks, I would be remiss to not also recognize the vital role that Rev. Roselani Aluli-James has had in my development as a very successful woman and professional. They – separately and at times, together – along with my supportive and loving parents have shown me what it means to have a true, personal relationship with my Father in Heaven, my brother Jesus Christ, and my Comforter the Holy Spirit. They have guided me through extremely difficult situations that life has brought my way. Correction, which was always administered with thoughtfulness and reassurance, was part of my upbringing. They led by example, gracious integrity, kindness, and charity. I thank them for their counsel and love.
If the unproven and completely out-of-context accusations – and that’s all they are – were true, my life would not be a testimony of the opposite. If you judge a person by their leader(s), then you can judge a leader(s) by their followers. If A = B, then B = A.
The hate and vitriol that I’ve witnessed over the past 3 weeks makes me absolutely ashamed to be associated with this area. But even after all the public shaming, humiliation, inflammatory statements and exaggerations, lies, gossip, threats of violence, and drama, I still pray for all of you. We can debate doctrine (much of it misrepresented) until we’re blue in the face, but one thing WE MUST agree on as Christians is that salvation is only possible through Jesus Christ. If you haven’t found Him yet, I pray you do find His everlasting peace – in His name.
Call me what you will: my record is my honor.