Updated: Sep 2
By Ian McNamara:
Due to the recent situation regarding the trolling that Lighthouse International Group have received and the courage that people have shown through this experience to find their voices, I feel the need to add my own testimony.
I have gone through my own journey due to this trolling, despite not being a part of the actual organisation, but as a client who has been on a mentoring journey over the last three years. After seeing the recent article listing all the abuse that Lighthouse International Group has received and the vile messages that were sent. This has made me feel very angry and more determined to share this testimony of truth to put a few things right.
This article will focus on the following:
How I got introduced to Lighthouse.
My views on the current situation regarding the trolling.
What I have learned.
How I am using what I have learned through my mentoring.
I feel it is my responsibility to share the truth as I see it regarding the recent experiences of the online trolling. I tried my best to support in the background by staying involved in the mastermind group, which I am still in. However, as time has gone on and this has continued I have been feeling massive guilt due to the fact I originally reacted in the wrong manner when I was first introduced to the trolling. I had allowed myself to be taken in by the information I was sent by one of the trolls, and therefore as you will see below fed into this person's ego by allowing him to believe his stories were true. I was not focused on my own real experience that I’d personally received but on the feelings of fright and fear that the information sent to me triggered.
Reading the information had reminded me of a situation in the past where I had been taken advantage of by a person I thought genuinely wanted to assist me. Therefore, I started to see Lighthouse in the same light and my ability to see the true reality of the situation was affected by the memories of that experience.
I am feeling very angry because even if there was some truth in the rumours that Lighthouse is a cult (which there isn’t), there is absolutely no justification for such vile messages. So I am writing this to correct the wrongs that are being committed to a group of people who have helped me start to develop the life I want.
How I got introduced to Lighthouse:
In 2019 after some very difficult conversations with friends and other personal experiences I started to feel depressed. Even though I had recently started a job which had been my goal, I recognised something was missing and saw the need to improve myself. Despite finally having the job I wanted, I was still feeling unhappy and frustrated. I recognised very quickly that this was not the career I was supposed to be in long term. I felt guilty because for a totally blind person like myself, finding employment is very difficult. So I threw myself into the job, working harder than I needed to, to prove myself to the company and hide the guilt I felt for not wanting to do this long-term.
In October 2019 I joined the Birmingham Self-Improvement meetup group which was set up by my now-mentor, Anthony Antoine. After a number of conversations with him and sharing some of the ways I felt improvement was needed, I decided to invest in one-to-one mentoring which I have been doing ever since. Through this mentoring, I have also met other people, both members of the organisation and other clients through mastermind groups, and the value I have received has been amazing.
How did I learn about the trolling?
I was first made aware of the trolling by a member of the mastermind group at Lighthouse I’m a part of. He sent me and the other group members a link to a website set up to question Lighthouse International Group. It was created using posts from Reddit. When reading the post, I felt very scared because I’d invested a lot of money into my development with Lighthouse and had serious doubts as to what I’d invested my money into. I also was not sure if my mentor had chosen to work with me because I was a vulnerable person and thought I was an easy person to get money from. I also felt very guilty and angry because half of that money had been lent to me by a good friend. I, therefore, emailed the member back, telling them I respected them for standing up for themselves and recognising the truth before investing even more money and becoming even more deeply involved than they already were. That person then followed up by forwarding a private conversation between themselves and their mentor, including links to sites explaining about cults and mind control.
After reading the site, following up on information in more detail and reflecting on my own personal experience, something did not feel right. I started to realise that I had not been responding based on my experience with Lighthouse, but reacting based on experiences in my past where I had been taken advantage of. I felt this huge pressure in my chest and struggled to concentrate on work and other things because I recognised that I’d done Lighthouse and this person a real injustice because I’d inflated his untrue stories. After a mastermind session in our group where we openly talked about the situation, I knew that I needed to correct my mistake and take responsibility.
If we are not willing to take responsibility for the mistakes we’ve made, then we’re allowing our corrupt ego to take over and continue telling us untrue stories. As a Christian, I believe in honesty and integrity and just could not allow myself to leave the situation without attempting to put it right. I therefore, with the help of my mentor and Jai Singh who’d been working with the former group member, wrote a letter to him apologising for allowing my corrupt ego to get in the way of telling the truth. I explained to him that the way he handled the situation did not feel right given he’d been involved a lot longer than me and that he had a duty to understand the full facts rather than jumping to conclusions.
This was a very scary experience as I had no idea what reaction I would get. However, knowing I was taking responsibility and putting my actions right made me feel excited and strong because I was standing up for what was really true. He pretty much dismissed my letter and told me he did not believe they were my words. However, I still felt inspired because I had done what was right and taken responsibility for my mistake. I knew that I was not in control of how he reacted, therefore I could not allow the worry of how he would take it to stop me from telling the truth.
This enabled me to respond more objectively when the first Daily Mail article came out. However, my initial reaction was strong and very fear-based. When I heard the short clip of the head mentor…as I felt as an organisation, who claimed to be helping people who had suffered abuse were doing the exact thing that person had been trying to receive help for. I also felt like as a business who were trying to act more on Christian principles that this was not Christ-like behaviour. After thinking about the situation and article as a whole, however, I recognised that I was only being presented with one side of the conversation as it was clear from the tone of the article that it was written to portray Lighthouse in a specific way by the same trolls who had created these stories on Reddit.
Therefore, by showing that short clip they wanted the reader to react in a certain way and make certain distinctions, this is actually a perfect example of manipulation of the very thing that Lighthouse has been accused of. I, therefore, needed to get a more real and accurate view of the situation before making any rash decisions which led me to have a very different conversation than I’d planned. For the first time in my life, I felt in control as I was able to adapt to the situation despite having already planned the conversation I’d been aiming to have and all possible ways of convincing language my mentor could use to try and influence me.
At the point of all this while I was on a break from mentoring and only taking part in the mastermind groups because I felt led to explore other options and my life was getting busy with other commitments. I also felt that as I’d been on a difficult journey I needed time to reflect on things I’d taken and learned from that journey without the weekly mentoring sessions. I was also not sure how much I really trusted my mentor as we’d both admitted that although there was a lot of care, the relationship was not as strong as it ought to be.
I realised where I had made mistakes, such as not going to my mentor enough when recognising I was struggling with the work he’d set. A part of me was telling me that I was better than him because we don’t quite communicate in the same way and that’s something I struggled with. After addressing my concerns with him and having an honest conversation about where I felt I was and him helping me see where I needed to take more responsibility, I decided to commit to further mentoring sessions. It did not feel right to just walk away when my mentor had been honest enough to admit his responsibility and I realised that I had also not utilised him as much as I could.
I had been able to think about the situation objectively as I recognised very quickly that the Daily Mail article was very one-sided, therefore, I did not have the full context of that clip that was included. After receiving more context on that audio, which you can read about in this article, with the picture being painted more clearly in relation to the audio conversation I listened to of Paul, I started to see the reality of the situation more fully and therefore realised that although I did not agree with the way Paul had spoken to this person, there were reasons as to why he’d had to do this in order to help this person understand where they really were within themselves. He had also taken responsibility and admitted he’d gone too far, his reaction was too much for him and he apologised. This confirmed my gut feeling of peace after deciding to further invest in more mentoring sessions.
What have I learned?
Through this experience I’ve learned not to react based on first impressions of a situation, and take time to use the space between stimulus and response to assess the true reality of the situation before choosing my response. I’ve learned to look at my conscience to ensure that when I do then decide to act, that I’m acting with integrity and making sure I am also acting within the correct context of the situation making sure I have a view of it that is as close to reality as I can get especially if I am not in the situation directly.
I’ve recognised the true love I’ve gained for certain members of Lighthouse such as Anthony who I’ve been working with constantly over the last three years on and off. Jai, Sukh, Daniel and Viv are the main leaders of the mastermind group that I am currently in. Also, others who have been involved in a smaller way such as James, Diane and Tom. who I have taken part in mastery groups with and I hope connections can continue to blossom over time. Also, Jack who I have had a brief conversation with around Christianity. All these people within Lighthouse have enabled me to see that I do have value and have the potential to live a good life, based on correct principles.
I must not forget all the fellow participants I’ve been in mastermind groups with as well over the years, again all of them have really enabled me to recognise my value and have shown me love and care enough to admit when I have gone wrong, accepted me for who I am and enabled me to learn to communicate more effectively and concisely.
If people feel they’ve resonated with this in some way and either want help from me or feel they can help me I’d really value the chance to build connections especially if you are also visually-impaired. I will be writing more articles in the future, sharing more of my story in regards to my early life to now, where I am after starting this journey of personal development. As a Christian, I am really valuing the fact that Lighthouse is trying to use this experience to come closer to Christ and again I’m very willing to talk to anyone around this.
If you are a person outside Lighthouse reading this and have commented on previous articles, I thank you for having the integrity to share the reality and truth.
If you are a troll I would ask you to look deeply into your heart and ask yourself, is this behaviour really justified given that some of you have had assistance from Lighthouse in some of the darkest times of your life? We all approached Lighthouse because we realised we needed help in some way. Look deeply and connect with that original why then have the integrity to repent and turn around in order to put things right.
I would like to end by sharing my favourite verse of scripture. Proverbs, chapter 3, verses 5 and 6 says;
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to Him and He will direct your path.”
Love and blessings to you all in Christ.