Proverbs 26:2 (NIV) - Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow, an undeserved curse does not come to rest.
"IS THERE NOT A CAUSE?"
From a former member of one of the Gospel Assembly Churches in Africa (Up until 1992)
Isaiah 16:3 - 4 (NIV) - "Give us counsel, render a decision. Make your shadow like night--at high noon. Hide the fugitives, do not betray the refugees. 4 - Let the (Moabite) fugitives stay with you; be their shelter from the destroyer." The oppressor will come to an end, and destruction will cease; the aggressor will vanish from the land."
This story is written without names to protect the innocent and also to protect the writer. This person wanted the truth to get out but at the same time does not want anything to happen to them or their friends because of it.
From a former member of the Gospel Assembly
Des Moines Gospel Assembly Church (DMGAC) was the place to be for church Members and annually, the saints would raise fares for pastors to attend the convention in May. The name Lloyd Goodwin (LLG) was mentioned more than the names of Jesus, Paul and God when brothers and sisters testified. Pledging was done for months and at times would even continue after the meeting. Every member of the church had a dream to one day visit the sanctuary, visit the man of God and get first hand information on the order of the church. A few saints who could afford managed to raise funds for their own tickets. Payment was either in cash or through personal loans, some payable over to two years, with travel agents. It seems some of the pastors were reimbursed either in full or in part by DMGAC for their travel tickets after the meeting. Should that have been the case, then this was never declared. There was no mention of the subject to the church members, who would still continue to meet their pledges.
When LLG came to Harare in 1992, the meeting was held at the International Conference Centre. Heavy pledging was done over a year before that meeting. It was said that the assembly was big enough to host the men of God and there was no contribution from DMGAC or from any other assembly. There was heavy advertising on national radio and TV. There were posters all over the town. The best cars were hired for the occasion. After the meeting, the pastor said that the church was in heavy debt and there was a huge shortfall. He said he now had no option but to sell HIS electronic organ (which he was all along lending to the church) and musical instruments, unless the saints came forward with something - and would mean, during prayer and worship, we would clap our hands and sing with no music. There was silence. Then he said, "If God has spoken to you, you might have an item of furniture that you could sell and give to God." So, household and personal property from fridges, stoves, bicycles, cameras and etc. was pledged, since church members really were sincere and had no more cash. Up to now, its puzzling as to whether nothing was really contributed from DMGAC. Still at the end of that and subsequent months, tithes, pledges and contributions towards the building fund were to be paid. Saints were rebuked for not paying tithes and for being goats among God's chosen sheep. At times, a brother was sent to demand from individuals for a date when they would turn in their tithes. It would hurt when you would give your best only to be told you had given nothing.
All marriages required the pastor's approval. The best were normally reserved for members of his and his elders' families. The man of God planned, approved and disapproved of everything. Despite this, it is alleged he had relationships with a young sister in the church and with married sisters. As a rule, dating any girls was not allowed until they finished school at 18 or 19 years old. Yet, the closest to him were allowed that. These were double standards. At one moment, (should be in 1986) one young brother was excommunicated from the church for impregnating a young sister in the church. They would be chased anytime they showed up until afterwards - there was reconciliation. They are still together.
At one time, one brother was castigated for
trying to date a sister they branded "uneducated" - (though she was)
according to their standards. Over the pulpit, [-] said, "Any woman who is
not educated is like a mop." There is a very educated brother in this
church who I wanted to deter from taking a mop into his house after turning it
into his wife, but he refused. Anyway, we will see what God will do. The
brother was advised to be courting someone else - but had refused - hence all
this. Another family was also broken down when at [ - ]'s blessing, a pastor [
- ] from another country in the region had relations with a married sister . He
would send some brothers out for days or weeks to do God's work and then
approach their wives to see "how they were getting on". He preyed on
the more vulnerable sisters who related their marital problems to him as a
"spiritual father." On trying to relate this to any pastor in any
other assembly it was "put that in the garbage bin, don't pollute me. I
don't want to hear it, and lose out with God." For brothers contesting and
putting the dirty linen in the open for everyone to see, the door was open and
they were free to leave. On several Wednesday evenings, the pastor turned up
drunk for services, especially from 1991 onwards. Elders would also soon join
in. He claimed they also did it at DMGAC.
At one moment, in the late 80s, at the instruction of [pastor] the whole church had to buy brooms to "drive poverty out of homes" Simultaneous sweeping and praying was to drive all poverty and demons out of the home. This went on for some time, until it was denounced by LLG.
At times, sisters would pretend during prayer and worship service that demons were being cast out of them. The "demons" would then say "We have news for you, before you send us away." Then they would say something about individuals, with many selected "witnesses" hearing, something that had been rehearsed. From out of the blue, these brothers and sisters would be castigated. A reason given for "wealthy" families leaving the church that Christ brought them to was that they were proud for leaving the Church. It was said that they were opting for damnation because they felt that they were giving more than anyone else in tithes since they earned more. Their characters were assassinated to where no one would like to listen to them anymore - even if their stories were genuine.
When [a pastor] was caught with a brother's
wife, no one was allowed to report this to the "ungodly". [Police
were also considered in this category]. Since they would fulfill the scripture
that it was only in the world where brothers would take one another to court.
(This pastor) had to go to DMGAC (for rehabilitation under the instructions of
LLG). He had such a grip, that when it was announced he was to go to DMGAC for
this rehabilitation, most of the women in the church wept. If dates are
correct, both the offender and the offended were at DMGAC at the same time. It
was reported that at the end of his stay, [the man who was the husband of the
woman] was "counseled" to drop all charges since brother should not
take brother to court, and was reconciled to his wife. "Don't falsely
accuse your brethren and speak evil of no man" implies they should be
silent. Any true story, to them, when related by another person, even another
church member is garbage and gossip. It's really amazing how people just follow
without waiting a moment to really check the background of the church members
because in Christ all are new creatures.
Judgment is mine, saith the Lord. So, he (pastor) was asked to go and stay in DMGAC for some time, praying to allow God to change him to the original man he was. That should have been during late 1992 or early1993. Somehow, he met someone there who taught him about the power of positive thinking. Upon his return home, after his repentance he was a "changed man" since he was preaching a different gospel. All his elders also started preaching that gospel - including those (about 3) who are now ministers.
[Remember - tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine] He could not be excommunicated from the church since he was a man of God who was the overseer of churches in Africa and had done for God more than any of his false accusers could have done. Instead, he himself openly disowned Goodwin and said "They had put me in jail in Des Moines."- Then he gave an illustration saying: "A certain man was put in prison - but the doors were unlocked. Someone would bring in food and other necessities for as long as he was there. It took years for that man to realize there were no locks and he was supposed to have been FREE throughout these years." Other "showdowns" included "Now let me correct something here. We will be giving our offering and tithes to ushers standing at the doors from today onwards. So, you want me to sing for you so that you can give me your offering?. Show me in the bible where its written 'as brethren come forward and as the band gives us a song'- and I'll sing for you" Its again the elders who shouted the loudest "AMEN". A period of "visions" then started. One sister said she was shown an orange tree full of fruit and she and others loyal to [pastor] were eating of that fruit. But there were still some who hesitated. Now there was a mighty rushing wind, and the orange tree was uprooted and started "flying". That's when the rest recognized their time was already past, as the tree was gone.
Again the elders would shout
"AMEN" at the tops of their voices. Most of the ushers started
"prophesying" during every service. Some of the
"prophecies" were pointed at individuals, and meant them harm. The
bible was just a written word, and now was the age for the "true living
word." Whatever message was preached needed not be checked in the bible.
Brothers were castigated for requesting for a proof of the happenings in
scripture. These were among those who would regret "when the tree was
Several brothers wrote letters to the DMGAC assembly to bring all the above to the attention of the leaders but there was no response. Generally, throughout the years, any letter that was sent to LLG by a church member who noticed something was immediately copied to the pastor (the accused) and this was a "form of transparency". Then the sermon would just start by saying; "There are some brothers and sisters in this
church who think they are very smart ......." then the character assassination would start. Words like "Who are you? You are a nobody in this house. Do you think Goodwin would answer you and not let me know? .... Now we will know who is smarter, because he has copied me the letter, and asked me to respond to it." Dear children of God were called by such names as Dathan, Korah, Abiram, Absalom and Balaam. It would be a matter of days or at most weeks that the dear saint would leave the church after a humiliation showdown.
Then it would be "we wanted to destroy
the flesh and restore his spirit so that peradventure God would save him. Now
God has proved that he was a goat and don't ever think I will go out looking
for goats. He was a goat. He was a tare among God's wheat". What this all
then meant was that you either had to see things happening and be quiet or see
things happening, report and suffer the consequences of being tainted as someone
without the right spirit or being kicked out. All was because LLG "had
more respect for and would listen to the pastor and not to a member of the
At one moment, one of the brothers sat at the front row when service started. During prayer and worship, he went to dance before the Lord. When he returned to take a seat, someone had been allocated his seat and he had to unceremoniously go to the back seats where his bible and briefcase had been shuffled away.
Amidst all this humiliation, some brothers and sisters left after not even a single elder would incline an ear to them and the letter had not been answered and they had been constantly harassed by ushers and elders. So they had left and were meeting as the Body of Christ Church. [-] was sent by LLG with the letter they had written and a response to that letter to maintain order. He arranged for a meeting with these brothers where he allegedly lashed out on them "for not sitting on their spirits, but leaving" even though they "exposed" these deeds by writing to DMGAC.
(-) said they were not supposed to have
published this in Gath and in the streets of Eschelon. Allegedly, only parts of
the response were read to them and he could not let them read the letter for
themselves. He told them the faithfuls in the house of Chloe exposed some sin
but waited for action from the man on God. Theirs would have been to remain
behind until LLG's decision was made. They sincerely loved the Lord. [-] told
them that whatever word he was saying, was as it were, LLG himself speaking to
them. When they would not retract since they got no assurance that the abuses
would stop [nothing had been done about them for years] [-] told them LLG no
longer recognized them and he was dis-fellowshipping them.
In an orchestrated move, on Sunday, [-] and [-] and some faithfuls announced that this was the last day fellowshipping with [-] and so left. [-] remained with the Gospel Assembly Church. They were to be called Gospel of Peace Assemblies and would decide where to meet. Later that afternoon, at a Body of Christ Ministries service, pastors [-], Manyenyerekwa and Mboneka turned up unexpectedly after walking out on
Gospel Assembly Church and declared that all those that loved LLG should leave and join the continuing move of God with the Gospel of Peace Assembly. They were declaring the apostle's decision to church members who had been unable to attend the meeting where these brothers had been disowned. There was no time to listen to and discuss anything from the past. From then on, since "GOD ONLY HAS ONE SHEPHERD IN A CITY," it was declared that no one could listen to these brothers who had grievances and who had rebelled against LLG and God would destroy their work within months. They still hold church and should be increasing in number. Any member of the local assembly who was found sharing Goodwin's tapes with these brethren was reprimanded. There was word that these brothers were stealing LLG's Message and God would judge them. God had disowned them. Yet we read "the fear of Man casteth forth a snare."
Another brother formed a body of Christ
Ministry and he was preaching strongly against tithing. He has followers in
other towns. The rest of the churches had rebelled and were no longer
recognized as serving God's interests on this earth. Gospel of Peace was now
the only recognized church. [-] was an elder of the church. Allegedly, his home
was also used to host the 1992 parties. He was the right-hand man when all this
was happening and even castigated some brothers for their unbelief. At one
time, he had to be sent to another assembly to remove the pastor since that
pastor had showed some resistance to the messages on positive thinking.
It's not understandable why it was taboo to speak about the weaknesses and the sins of the leader. Yet the message was always follow after me, as I follow Christ. Again, the Gospel Assembly Church, of that day with this model, was the only true church of God from where Christ would take his bride. According to the teachings, the pastor then, was regarded as the ONLY man representing God in the town. No church member was to dispute any decision made by him and for any child of God refusing his counsel, they would be damned. They would be damned for not listening to a man whom LLG was still recognizing as "The Man of God for the city" - no matter what the "false" yet publicly open accusations were.
Now there has been a split of the "original" local assemblies (in different towns) with one group of churches aligned to the DMGAC Gospel Assembly and another to the Tri City (Kingsport) church and it seems the bond between them is not as strong as it used to be. One camp feels DMGAC is still "in the continuing move of God." The other camp feels Lee Ray was the right man to takeover at DMGAC and that his ministry is "the continuing move of God." Members of one local church are prohibited from attending another when they travel to another town, even just for a weekend. They would rather not attend.
Kingsport has also sent tapes (Lee Ray's
Messages) to the local assemblies. It has been to the discretion of pastors as
to which tapes to put in the library. This is also evidenced by the fact that
one group ALWAYS attends DMGAC meetings ONLY and the other ALWAYS attends
Kingsport meetings ONLY. - United we stand - divided we fall. Is it the same
Again the same question remains to be asked: IS THERE NOT A CAUSE?
My Life Has Been Touched by Deb Falter