I was born and raised in a polygamist group known as the Davis County Cooperative, referred to in the group as the "Co-op", and known by most people as the Kingston Clan. This is an organization where people work for businesses owned by the group and for the most part purchase their needs from the same, at least encouraged to do so. As a result it was for the most part a cashless system. We had statements that kept a record of what we earned and what we used.
Having been born in the group and having been taught that this was the Kingdom of God all my life, I believed in it and was totally committed to it. Fortunately my wife was not committed to the extent that I was, as a result I never did marry anyone else. There was, however, a lot of pressure for me to do so.
After finishing the 9th grade I was sent to their coal mine in Emery County and was encouraged to not go back to school. As a result, I spent most of my life driving a truck for them.
I believed that the leader was God's anointed, his name was Ortel Kingston. Whatever he told me to do, I did. We were taught that you were not to question what you were told to do, just do it... whether it was from the person you were working for, and especially from the leader.
Ortel Kingston died in about '87 or '88 and the new leader was his son Paul. I didn't like Paul much, but thought that it was my responsibility to accept him anyway, as God's anointed. In fact, there were a lot of things about the group and the way it was headed that I didn't like. We were taught that if I didn't agree with the leaders and what they were doing, we were just to put it on the shelf and let God take care of it. Trouble was, there were just too many things that I didn't like. Paul and his brother, it seemed, were in a contest to see which could get the most wives. These were mostly young girls ranging in age from 15 to 18 years old. I was sure that this was not directed by God. So it went on the shelf.
In about late 1990 my best friend, who was as dedicated as I was, was put out of the group because of a lawsuit by the family of his wife. This was an effort on the part of the family to regain title to their property. It is policy of the clan that whenever someone buys a house or some property they are to sign title over to the Kingstons. Paul Kingston had assured them up front that no matter how the court ruled on this that no one would lose their membership. The family ended up winning the lawsuit, but contrary to what Kingston said, they were all put out. My friend went to Kingston and told him that he didn't want the deed to his house or his money, all he wanted was his membership. He was told, "It is a package deal and you are part of the package."
When I heard this I called my friend and he told me that it was true. I knew this was not from God, so I started searching for the truth. I turned to the Bible and a lot of time in prayer. I made the statement to my brother Don, who had already left, that I was open- minded and looking for the truth. He told me to read the book No Man Knows My History by Fawn Brodie. I got the book, and every time I was ready to sit down and read it I would first get on my knees and ask God to show me the truth. I always had my Mormon books there for cross-reference so that I could see all aspects of it. By the time I finished the book, I knew it was true.
We bought our home on South Jordan in March of 1990, and the first thing they wanted us to do was to sign the title over to them. My wife Jett said, "There is no way I am going to sign the house over to the Kingstons." I praise God that she could see the picture better than I could.
I was still working for the group as a salesman for Standard Restaurant Equipment Co., and there were so many times things were done with my commissions and charges against my statement that weren't right that I had to get control of my finances. I had them put me on a cash basis. That helped a lot, but because our house was on our statement and showed us in debt, they still had control. I decided to have the house put on a separate contract where I would make regular monthly payments on it. When the paper work was ready for me to sign, I went in to take care of it. Paul Kingston met me and asked me if I knew that having my house on a separate contract would mean that I would no longer have a statement--in other words we would no longer be members. At that time the Holy Spirit gave me such a peace about it that I said "yes." Kingston asked me if that was what I wanted. Again the answer was yes. Kingston left, I signed the papers and walked out--out of what had been my whole life for 57 years. I got employment elsewhere and was glad to be out of the group. However, I did feel guilt from time to time. But I knew I had done the right thing in spite of the guilt.
Then one night in November of 1992, I walked over to my son Tony's house and was talking with him about things that had happened and where I was going from there and he said, "Dad, you really need to ask Jesus to come into your life." This was something he had told me many times, as had his sister Wendy. My reply had always been, I know Jesus and He is in my life. That night was different; the Holy Spirit convicted me. It was like I was in total darkness and Jesus turned the light on. I understood then what I had read in the Bible about Jesus. I went home, got on my knees, confessed my sins, and I asked Jesus to come into my heart and be my personal Savior. He did not disappoint me. I didn't notice anything different that night, but it wasn't long before I realized that things were not the same. The guilt I felt from leaving the group was gone. (I have never felt it since.) Also, I had been extremely prejudice for most of my life, and that was completely gone. In an instant God did what I couldn't have done in a lifetime.
I praise God night and day for what He has done for me. I am so grateful that this has been such a dramatic experience for me. I can look back to that night and really see that I died to my old life and now have a brand new life in Christ.