South Korea ferry owner was church fraudster – updated*


The Chosun Ilbo reports…

“The compound of the Evangelical Baptist Church in Anseong, Gyeonggi Province was tense on Tuesday as news came that sect leader and ferry owner Yoo Byung-eon had been found dead.

Some members of the cult blocked the entry of the compound while only a few people who farm on the site went back and forth in their cars.

Sect members refused to believe the announcement of the police and cooked up instant conspiracy theories. 

Lee Tae-jong, a sect spokesman, claimed that the body found in Suncheon, South Jeolla Province on June 12 with several bottles of rice wine and soju was not Yoo’s. He reasoned their leader “never drinks alcohol” and could not possibly have decomposed almost to the bone in just two weeks.

When the police confirmed that the body had been positively identified by DNA, key disciples gathered at the compound to discuss future plans and cancelled the planned release of a press statement.

Cho Gye-woong, another spokesman, said, “The information is different from what we have. We will disclose it later when all is confirmed.”



AIDS church danger

Pic:The Revival Fellowship


The ABC reports…

“Revivalist churches in Papua New Guinea are promoting prayer as a substitute for medication to those with HIV, according to human rights groups.

PNG is a deeply Christian society, and most mainstream churches are trying to improve attitudes to those living with HIV.

But with poor medical facilities and a widespread belief in sorcery, belief in faith healing is growing.

Ten years ago, PNG was on the brink of an AIDS explosion.

“The original thinking in PNG, given the facts and figures around sexually transmitted infections and unwanted teen pregnancies – behavioural information – certainly gave us the idea that we were heading towards a sub-Saharan African style epidemic,” UNAIDS country co-ordinator Stuart Watson said.

But that generalised epidemic has not happened.

Instead, the virus has been localised to the Highlands, Morobe Province, and the National Capital District.

High-risk communities include sex workers, men who have sex with men and transgender people, as well as those who travel for their work.

Margaret Anton, president of Women Affected by HIV/AIDS, is one of an estimated 25,000 Papua New Guineans living with HIV.

And like many she has faced discrimination from family and friends.

“When people found out I was HIV positive, when I had TB, they didn’t want anything to do with me,” she said.

“Sometimes I would spend nights on the road, for shelter I would find a tree to sleep under.”

That sort of discrimination even finds a voice in the country’s mainstream media.

Timothy Pirinduo is a columnist in PNG’s only locally-owned newspaper.

He believes HIV was created in a lab by crazy scientists, and wants new laws to make HIV testing compulsory.

“Once we identify those with HIV/AIDS, then we can separate them from those who are not affected,” he said.

“Separating them would be like keeping them in a confinement, kind of a prison kind of set-up.”

While Mr Pirinduo’s HIV prison is just an idea, deadly preaching is a reality.

Pastor Godfrey Wippon heads PNG’s Revival Centres and says his is the fastest growing religious movement in the country.

“It is growing because of healings, miracles, wonders, science happening in this ministry. The Lord heals,” he said.

On a beach in Port Moresby, revivalists gather to sing and watch as new recruits are baptised and speak in tongues.

Pastor Wippon believes baptism and prayer can cure AIDS and even bring the dead back to life.

Health workers have told the ABC revivalists visit hospitals and clinics telling HIV patients to throw away their medication.

In a case that shocked many, one of PNG’s first openly HIV-positive women, Helen Samilo, fell prey to the revivalist message.

Even though she was working as an advocate for anti-retroviral treatment, Ms Samilo joined a revivalist church, stopped taking medication, and died in August last year.

“It’s just the revival church that told her not to take her medication. They are responsible for her death,” Ms Anton, a friend of Ms Samilo, said.

Pastor Wippon sees Ms Samilo’s death differently.

“She has been healed spiritually. She died physically, naturally. But spiritually she’s right with the Lord,” he said.

The mainstream churches in PNG are working with the United Nations and non-government organisations to help people access services.

Catholic archbishop John Ribat is a member of the Christian Leaders Alliance.

“Our concern as churches is to come together to address this HIV and AIDS and fight against the discrimination that continues to divide us,” he said.

That division and discrimination has also created enclaves of hope.

Ms Anton and philanthropic businesswoman Veronica Charlie are planning to build a permanent care centre to accommodate 50 people ostracised by their communities.

These men, women and children currently sleep in tents or in the open and rely on charity to survive.

For Ms Anton, helping others with HIV is part of positive living.

“I started seeing that God did preserve me, probably for my little boy, probably because I’m going to work along with this wonderful woman who has decided to take us along and build a care centre,” she said.

“Using my status I’ve decided to come out openly and publicly so that I want to be a voice for women out here who have been through stigma and discrimination.”


Hill$ong pastors leave after ‘disagreements’



The Christian Telegraph reports…

“Evgeniy and Vera Kasevich, the former senior pastors of the “Hillsong” church in Kiev and Moscow, decided to start [a] new church in Miami (Florida, USA). They reported this in a letter to the editor of NCW, reports Christian Telegraph in reference to the NCW.

“First of all, we want to express our love to all the churches, pastors and believers in all Russian-speaking countries. Those who stand firmly on the foundation of the Word of God, and for those, who in this difficult time for our people (we do not separate the Russians from Ukrainian people), and in the power of the Spirit preach about peace, love, patience and unity. For us, it was a difficult time as well, but it was a very blessed time. We deliberately took a break to spend more time with God to get a direction for our future ministry for Him. We are extremely thankful for our radical conversion, for all the years which He has entrusted to us the honor and privilege to build His Kingdom in “Hillsong” church in Kiev and Moscow,” noted Evgeniy Kasevich.

“God knows, we have tried to do the best we could and what we were capable of as humans, and often we did more, even beyond our ability… And God has made it clear that because we were faithful to Him in the place, where He has called us to build for almost 22 years, now He will bless the new place and the ministry there, which we will select. We tried to be open to the need of building the Kingdom of God and with the confirmation of the prophecies and councils, we decided to become pioneers and open His church in a place, where there is a very acute need for it, and that’s Miami (Florida, USA),” said the ministers.

“As ironic as it would seem, the fact is that for about one hundred thousand people from the Russian-speaking population in the city, there are none living, modern Russian churches. We know that it is a difficult demographic group of people and that in America there should be English-speaking churches. Therefore, we will build a multi-ethnic church… We are grateful for the prayers and any kind of support, because we believe that it is God’s work to save people, and it will succeed with the support of many people,” told Kasevich.

Recall, that Evgeniy and Vera left the pastoral ministry of Kiev “Hillsong” Church in February, after 16 years of service and some disagreements with the central community in Australia.”


Car drives into Westboro protesters


The Kansas City Star reports…

“A Sunday night protest in Kansas City by the Westboro Baptist Church was interrupted when someone drove a car onto a sidewalk and into the group.

None of the 12 protesters was injured. The female driver eluded police who were monitoring the protest when the incident occurred just after 7 p.m. near 18th and Oak streets.

The Topeka-based group, known for its anti-gay stance and picketing at the funerals of U.S. soldiers, was protesting an event at the CrossroadsKC at Grinders venue, according to Kansas City police reports.

The venue’s website shows that the group Panic at the Disco was performing there Sunday night.

According to police reports, two officers saw a gold Mercury Sable drive onto the sidewalk and “into” the group of protestors at the corner of 18th and Oak.

The vehicle then headed west on 18th Street “at a high rate of speed,” police reported.

The officers attempted to catch up but the Mercury eluded them and last was seen heading north on Broadway from 18th Street.

Westboro group members did not want to prosecute or provide information to police. They continued to protest for about 10 minutes before departing, according to police.”


Sunday Morning Stickup


All Christian News reports…

“David Lee Richardson was once a proud member of The Potters House, the church run by famed pastor TD Jakes.  Richardson is also the author of the book, “The Sunday Morning Stickup:  What your pastor doesn’t want you to know about Tithes….”

….Richardson says that his book was not received well by Bishop Jakes and the leadership in the church.  He says that, based on the cover alone, he was escorted and physically removed from the church at the Bishop’s request.  He claims that his book was considered so dangerous and so revealing, that it was seen to be a threat to those who are getting wealthy by running their churches.

Richardson says that the experience was humiliating for him, since he was taken out of the church in front of his two small children.  He also says that he was stripped of his ministerial license at the church as well during a private meeting.  He says that his kids were traumatized by what they saw happen to their father.

Richardson says that police told him that he could never come back to the church without the threat of being arrested.  He asked the officers why he was being banned from the church and claims that the officer told him that he’d been lied to, and that the police were allegedly used by church leadership to get rid of him….”


Church loo hidden cameras – updated*


The Lafayette Journal & Courier reports…

“Former pastor Robert Lyzenga, who admitted in May to hiding two video cameras inside a women’s restroom at the Lafayette church he shepherded, was sentenced Friday to four years in prison followed by three years of probation.

Lyzenga, 58, pleaded guilty to allegations he surreptitiously recorded five women and five girls over the course of several months in 2011 and 2012.

A parishioner discovered the cameras, which were disguised as air fresheners in the women’s bathroom just off the sanctuary at Sunrise Christian Reformed Church.

Investigators downloaded video footage from the devices and located files on Lyzenga’s computers. They determined that the pastor had not only viewed the videos but also edited some of the footage, according to a sentencing summary released by Tippecanoe County Prosecutor Pat Harrington.

Video of a 16-year-old girl had been edited to include “slow-motion replays showing her exposed pubic area,” the document states.

Lyzenga also possessed still images derived from the footage.

Detectives noted that the cameras were repositioned multiple times. One video was captured by a camera located outside the restroom stalls; another was recorded from the ceiling, looking down into the stalls.

Lyzenga said when he pleaded guilty that he’d never intended to record children. Learning that young girls had found their way in front of his predatory lens didn’t stop him, though, from continuing to download and review the footage.

His youngest victim was 5 years old.

He repositioned the cameras more times than he could recall, all the while continuing to lead a congregation of about 200 people, until he was caught in April 2012.

Lyzenga’s fall from grace hurled the congregation into tumult, and about a tenth of the church’s regular attendees left.

Considering the pastor’s position of trust, the young age of the victims and repetitive nature of the offenses, Judge Randy Williams of Tippecanoe Superior Court 1 determined that the aggravating factors in Lyzenga’s case outweighed the mitigating factors, even though the defendant pleaded guilty and had no criminal history.

Williams could have sentenced Lyzenga to a maximum of 10 years and minimum of two years. He settled on a seven-year sentence.

Lyzenga was also ordered to have no contact with any of the 10 victims. He was ordered to pay a number of fines and abide by special probation conditions for adult sex offenders.”


Bathurst collision


The Western Advocate reports…

“A once devoted member of the Bathurst Anglican Diocese says he has lost faith in the church over its actions concerning a debt of about $25 million, and believes it must sell off its assets.

The church is more than just bricks and mortar, but former accountant John Gibb says with or without the buildings within the diocese, he will no longer be part of the Anglican church. 

Mr Gibb said he did not agree with the church hierarchy’s decision to fight the Commonwealth Bank in court, over money owed to the bank, using funds bequeathed to the church in trust. 

“If that money can be used to pay the lawyers then it should have been used to pay the bank,” he said. 

“I’ve had a belly full.”

Mr Gibb put a caveat on the Bluestone Hall in Anson Street, Orange in 2012, after the then Bishop Richard Hurford announced it could be sold to help alleviate the debt.

The Bluestone Hall, which is rented out to an Orange business, is the biggest source of income for the Holy Trinity parish, he says. 

But, other than the hall, the church should sell off buildings starting with the All Saints’ College in Bathurst, the former accountant said. 

“You’ve got two Anglican churches, St Barnabas and Holy Trinity, within two kilometres of each other [in Orange] and you can’t fill even one of them,” he said.

When asked about the impact on mission work the sale of outlying churches and rectories might have, Mr Gibb said the church had struggled financially to the point where the welfare services were nothing like they used to be.

Bishop Ian Palmer, who inherited the debt in 2012 when he took on the job from Bishop Hurford, said he believed the church should fight the demand from the Commonwealth Bank to sell its assets immediately. 

“I am very sorry the church’s actions have caused him to lose faith. Other people I know and love dearly have lost faith because of the actions of the church,” Bishop Palmer said. 

“Just because you’ve lost faith, doesn’t mean I have lost faith in you.

“That is one reason why I have been up front about it. I would much rather be open with people.”

He called on anyone who had concerns over the impending court action to come along to the meeting at St Barnabas Church, Orange at 10am today.”