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The Books

In this memoir, she answers the often-asked question, “How did you end up in a cult?” Starting with her formative years in a mainstream Pentecostal Christian church, she underscores the underlying issues that contribute to victimization—conditions that develop from being raised in a fear-based, shame-based religion. McChesney narrates her journey through restrictive doctrines in early childhood and adolescence, through a resultant dysfunctional marriage, and ultimately through the twelve cult years.

McChesney travels down the “Yellow Brick Road” and through the “Dark Forest” as she finds herself getting increasingly entangled and her choices taken from her. As the entanglement progresses to a form of imprisonment, she angrily and secretly challenges the God of her religion in the way of questions for which she demands and expects answers. Answers pour forth in waves of several disturbing events that impact her and her family until a time of death and destruction that serves to eventually pave a way out.

She tells her story not to condemn the offenders, but to encourage victims to be strong and take personal responsibility.

I had forewarned Bud that I needed to talk to him, and he was waiting for me when I arrived.

 I briefly explained that I was having chest pain and would like some relief from teaching for a time. Without any dialogue, Bud motioned for me to sit in a chair near him while he pulled a book from his small bookshelf. He quietly and solemnly reached for his reading glasses, and under the dim light of a lamp, he read me a short story.

 The story was about a widow who was raising her small child alone, when she contracted a fatal disease. She was concerned about leaving the earth and her young dependent child. Though she was worried, as fate had it, someone came forward and offered to raise the child when she died. As it turned out, it was for the best, because that person was better equipped than even the mother to do the job.

 When Bud finished the story, I felt mortification. Bud removed his glasses, set them on a nearby desk with the book, leaned back in his chair, folded his hands across his chest, and offered no further explanation for reading me such a story.




After release from a 12-year cult experience, Makena embarks on an adventure to discover what it means to live life by direct reliance on Source, exclusive of a fear-based religious belief system. Her cult experience was restrictive and stripped her and her family of freedom of choice. Eventually, the cult doctrine nearly led to sacrifice of home and property.

On attempting to escape the cult entrapment in 1990, she appealed to God to give her encouragement. She received a three-fold promise from two identical scripture passages that essentially described a release from imprisonment, a time of abundance, and lifetime financial security. The Beyond Oz experience covers a span of 26 years that ultimately delivers all three promises—the last of which appeared impossible when she experienced a devastating loss at age 60. She was also inspired to “close the book,” indicating the Bible and some of the more oppressive messages. She was divinely encouraged to follow her inner guidance, her higher self, Source. She transparently narrates the ups and downs, the highs and the lows, but all with the underlying lessons she brought forward from her cult experience—to release fear, ask Source, gain knowledge, take personal responsibility and above all to love self and fellowman.