Soul survivor- DN's strange experience

(147 Posts)
DalmationDots Tue 27-Aug-13 21:51:05

My sister and her niece came over yesterday, DN has recently come back from the Soul Survivor camp. I have heard of it before but thought it was a sort of music festival, big church services etc type event. I am not christian.

DN went with her youth group, she wasn't particuarly religious before - she went to the group to socialise. On Monday she spent the whole time telling me about how God cured people there of things like cancer, blindness and other disabilities. She truly believed this had happened. She said she went up to the front and committed in front of thousands her faith. She said she felt like she fainted and that was god taking over her life and body.

My sister later, away from DN, said she was a bit concerned how intense the experience was, and perhaps a bit brainwashing. Apparently the talks were also so intense she cried.

Both me and my sister have no problem whatsoever with DN being a Christian, she loved her time there and I'm glad she is such a sensible, lovely girl. I'm not trying to be anti-religion in any way, but I was just shocked this scale of event happens and how they look after the young people who could get really worked up about it all. Is DN's experience usual? How do they stop (accidental) brainwashing occurring and let the young people make up their own mind with such drastic and extreme worship?

Anyone got more experience? Thanks

SunshineMMum Mon 23-Sep-13 17:11:34

Vailia I haven't been to Soul, but to an associated event, that is held at the same venue and is linked to Soul. My son has a disability and as you will know there is a special set up for children with disabilities and special needs. On arrival we were informed that a member of our then Church had prayed with three members of staff there and all had been given the message that DS was becoming a self fulfilling prophecy. The person working on a one to one basis with my son as a member of team in a previous year, was a teenager and definitely not qualified. I'd also have to ask if these people are being 'healed' from their afflictions, why do they need to continue to take their medications?

ValiaH Fri 20-Sep-13 22:59:22

As a youth worker who is JNC qualified and also takes young people to Soul Survivor, I have to say that all the church youth workers I know are professionally qualified (to national standards, not to church standards) and that they all put young people's needs first. As to how someone would counsel a young person who was 'healed' of e.g. diabetes, well I and those that I know, as well as Soul Survivor themselves, state that if someone is healed they must continue to keep taking any medication and get themselves checked out by doctor. In addition, there are teams on site to work with young people and youth workers like if issues of child protection come up during the week, teams made up of social workers, psychologists and other professionals. They also have a team of qualified first aiders made up of doctors and nurses who give their time freely to be at the event. There are many safe guards to protect the young people who do go. I have been to other, different events that have concerned me from a professional and Christian perspective, that have seemed built on hype, but Soul Survivor isn't one of them.

On a more personal note, I have been prayed for at Soul Survivor and healed of various things (emotional and physical) including migraines caused by a food intolerance. I no longer have migraines. I have also seen friends prayed for who have received healing, emotionally and physically, and seen how people who attend these events are encouraged to serve others, rather than seek God for their own gain. Maybe pop down with a day pass next summer and judge it for yourselves? Its around £30 for a day. You'd be very welcome, and I'll be there... if you fancy coming, pm me smile Its an open invite to anyone who's interested.

DalmationDots Fri 13-Sep-13 22:22:40

If they pursued their agenda in ways where there was potential for brainwashing or lack of care of a child's welfare, yes.

ErrolTheDragon Fri 13-Sep-13 22:20:44

>The thing is would you apply the same level of scrutiny to professionals employed to serve other more secular events? (You should because they are just as likely to have an agenda.)

Can't think what the 'agenda' of other rock festivals would be - other than to sell music and merchandise, but that's not really an agenda in the same way as an evangelistic organisation.

DalmationDots Fri 13-Sep-13 22:14:27

Hi all,
I have had a reply back from SS. I can PM it to anyone who wants to read it in full, it is very long.

In short, the child's welfare is the youth leader who brought them's responsibility. It seems this is where things weren't all quite right for my niece, rather than SS's fault.
They do have measures to stop to much hype- things like not playing background music during preaching and stopping things/telling audience members to leave if things are being too hyped up.
They do have lots of pastoral figures/counsellors (BUT all christian/with a christian agenda and so IMO this isn't hugely reassuring).
They sounded genuinely concerned by DN's experience and want to follow it up with her church which is good.
They are regulated, but by the 'Churches Child Protection Advisory Service'.. I need to know more to know whether I am comfortable with it all.

Overall though a reassuring reply and, while I personally have reservations, it seems they at least try to not let it go too far... Although IMO they do have an underlying agenda to convert attendees which I disagree with but I guess if my beliefs were different then I wouldn't be so uncomfortable with it.

daftdame Mon 02-Sep-13 07:28:39

Shallishanti If the counsellors / youth workers are professionals they shouldn't have an agenda.

You could make that comment about professionals in all walks of life to be honest, there are political agendas certainly in everything - cost cutting measures for example, the offer of a promotion through research which does not really benefit the individual(s) asked to participate, the list could go on.

The thing is would you apply the same level of scrutiny to professionals employed to serve other more secular events? (You should because they are just as likely to have an agenda.)

Shallishanti Sun 01-Sep-13 23:18:08

the thing is, the youth workers/counsellors at these events have an agenda, which isn't necessarily a child centred one. You would expect a teacher/nursery nurse/youth worker etc, to put the interests of the child/young person first at all times. At an event like the OP describes, I can imagine that there is another agenda, where the religious motivation might trump others. They might (I would hope should) be very rigourous about weeding out predatory abusive types but not be so good at promoting the discipline of putting children and young people first.

DalmationDots Sun 01-Sep-13 22:28:23

I will only be writing to CP regulators should SS's reply not reassure me, which I expect it will from what PP have said.
IMO no harm in just highlighting something, I am pretty sure it will all be covered but, if not, it could add an extra layer of support for many other children who attend these events in the future through just a tiny bit more training of church youth leaders.

SunshineMMum Sun 01-Sep-13 19:51:56

Thousands of men attend the Angus Buchan 'Mighty men' conferences, but I think that most non Christians are unaware of the content of what he preaches. I think that the OP is right to raise concerns outside of the event itself.

Labro Sun 01-Sep-13 19:47:49

I'd also suggest that anyone interested in Soul Survivor visit their website and read the annual review of what they do that they are required to produce. Its also worth noting that the Soul Survivor festival is affliated to the central Soul Survivor church in Watford. I'm sure the leadership team of Soul Survivor would be more than happy to answer your questions and concerns but do find it slightly odd that you are seeking to contact and involve a goverment organisation who look at child protection and welfare based on one teenagers experience of an event attended by thousands each summer. Obviously that is your right which I respect. Its worth noting that Soul Survivor is also a registered charity so you may find that the government department suggest you contact the organisation themselves for a response in a similar way that a school would ask you to contact the headteacher before taking amy concern to the governors or LEA

KayHarker Sun 01-Sep-13 19:14:12

I wasn't that impressed with the church that runs our Dd1's youth group. They had an Alpha weekend away and it was all prolonged singing and arm raising combined with falling over and being baptized in the Holy Spirit. I've tried to raise her with critical faculties engaged when it comes to things of faith, and this all seemed calculated to bypass that.

DalmationDots Sun 01-Sep-13 18:44:16

I posted but it hasn't appeared so maybe I didn't press send

Lewis- I am glad to here that, very reassuring. These services didn't reach DN (but I don't honestly know how badly affected she was, only how she and DSis have described it to me)

I am not religious or Christian or anything! I respect others beliefs and have no problem whatsoever with family members or anyone believing differently to me. It is great DN is exploring different beliefs. But...when it comes to potential harm of children or signs of inadequate protection, I do worry.
I suspect structures are in place, but from what I've heard, seen and investigated, I think they could do a lot more and regulations should be tighter for children's events (some attending are likely to be highly vulnerable, DN went with a girl who had just lost her mother to cancer).

While some believe that God will protect them and the atmosphere is the holy spirit/an ok environment to influence faith under, I believe when it comes to young people that more guidelines and tougher regulations need to be put in place. A better balance needs to be found between the religions beliefs and what is (and would be in schools) considered safe and not safe or acceptable.
When it comes to training of church youth workers, I guess this is highly dependent on the church youth worker but I do think the child's well being needs to come before the child's commitment to a faith.

I am composing a letter to send to SS and an official Gov body who looks at child protection and welfare. I just want piece of mind that the structures I talk about on here (e.g. counselling, recognising when things are too much) are in place or to highlight the need for them to the organisers.
It is up to my DSis to contact the church group DN went with if she feels it is needed.

daftdame Sun 01-Sep-13 18:04:11

Shallishanti All these are pertinent questions that I think you would have to find out before going.

As no official response (to the existing questions) has been given ye,t no body knows exactly what has been planned for and whether this is catered for adequately in practise.

I think, given the nature of these big events, you have to seriously question whether your child is adequately supported. They are, I feel quite different to the more traditional C of E services, and Youth Club or Church Fete. I think they are more comparable to a music festival, in terms of size of event and charged atmosphere.

Shallishanti Sun 01-Sep-13 17:36:56

I don't find it hugely reassuring that the youth workers are CRB checked, I'd see that as a basic minimum, and one any organisation would be foolish to overlook. What I'd worry about is whether they have the experience and skills to care for perhaps very vulnerable young people.
eg how would they counsel a young person who beleived themselves 'healed' of diabetes? how would they counsel someone who was gay?

SunshineMMum Sun 01-Sep-13 17:30:04

I'm not sure how strict the health and safety policy can be at New Wine. I was shocked at the sheer number of children being hearded through cattle grids into a stifling barn like structure. Drinks were only at an allotted time and DS ended up in hospital on a drip with dehydration and severe stomach bug, which does the rounds frequently I am told. People randomly drop like stones and I at 5ft was asked to catch a woman of about 5ft 9, I dropped her.

Labro Sun 01-Sep-13 16:49:34

Just had a chat with our youth worker about Soul Survivor. As pp have said, the child protection policy is very strict, anyone working there is trained, crb checked and their own church has to complete an extensive reference. Its made clear to youth workers that they are responsible for the care of any under 18's in their group and that the correct ratio of adults to youngsters is complied with at all times (for example our youth goup has to take female and male leaders. Therefore, if your sister is unhappy she should contact the leadership team of the church the child attends. Also to clarify, you say 'her niece' so is this your sisters dd or dn? If her dn then she can pass on to the parents where to address any concerns if they have any, but it sounds like possibly you are getting concerned about something you are having recounted by a youngster and their perception of what went on. These organisations are certainly very 'evangelical' in their teaching as its run primarily by leaders from some of the big london churches. I've been to New Wine loads of times which is kind of the 'with parents' equivilent so perhaps suggest next year that she may like to go to that as they also run groups for all ages but the parents and other adults are still around.

elliejjtiny Sun 01-Sep-13 16:03:21

I've been to Soul Survivor 3 times and New Wine 3 times as a normal guest and 5 times on the team. My older 2 children (then aged 6 and 4) went to new wine last year with their grandparents.

It's been a while since I went to soul survivor (16 years) but I remember being very closely supervised by the youth leaders I went with and the younger teenagers were more closely supervised than I was. I also had to go through various checks and fill in a lengthy form before being allowed to work on the team at New Wine. I would suggest your sister talk to the youth leaders who were responsible for your DN at Soul survivor if she isn't happy.

headinhands Sun 01-Sep-13 16:01:04

(Shall we start another thread about respecting beliefs otherwise I'll end up filling this one with my ramblings)

daftdame Sun 01-Sep-13 15:43:21

headinhands I think we are talking at cross purposes. To me respect is not synonymous to agreeing with. I can respect beliefs without agreeing with them.

This just means I recognise whatever is not proven has to be taken on faith and what another person has faith in may be different to what I have faith in.

Just because crowd hysteria is a well documented phenoemon does not mean this is what has actually happened or that the psychological explanation of the phenomenon gives a complete explanation.

headinhands Sun 01-Sep-13 15:27:41

Anyway we're getting off topic again. Op, any luck putting a letter together yet? I did read a disclaimer type thingy on the SS site saying that 1) If anyone at the event is under 18 then they are, at all times, the responsibility of the group/youth leader or over 18 they came with. so I would send a letter to the church your dn went with if appropriate/possible.

headinhands Sun 01-Sep-13 15:15:40

I respect anyone's right to have a belief but I don't respect the beliefs themselves. That's an absurd notion when you analyse it because some beliefs are unpalatable or just downright bizarre.

headinhands Sun 01-Sep-13 15:11:09

As for a child telling me about their beliefs, it depends on if they ask my opinion on their chosen religion or not. If they did I would explain why I don't have a belief myself in an age appropriate manner.

headinhands Sun 01-Sep-13 15:05:29

The band don't claim to be channeling any supernatural entity into the arena though? They're not saying things that make the concert goer feel like their world is being turned upside down or whatever the op's dn said.

DioneTheDiabolist Sun 01-Sep-13 14:36:34

Head, such hysteria is frequently witnessed at concerts. Unless the child actually faints or presents themselves to the medical caregivers, no one does anything.

springytufty Sun 01-Sep-13 14:28:52

Hugely encouraged to read that Lewis. Major sigh of relief.

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