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November - December 2006
 

DANCING AROUND THE GOLDEN CALF - PART 4

John S. Torell

 

 

(continued from previous page)

 

WORLD VISION AND THE SAMARITAN’S PURSE

            These are two American non-profit organizations set up to minister to the poor in third world nations, including disaster relief. World Vision is the oldest of them. When people donate money to these organizations, they are told of the dire need of nations in Africa, Asia and other places in the world. Donors know that there is an overhead cost that must be paid before money can be sent to the poor and needy. But how many donors know that Richard Stearns (left), President of World Vision draws an annual salary of $384,772? Or that the president of the Samaritan’s Purse, Franklin Graham (below right), has a yearly salary of $368,115.

            Most ministries defend the high salaries of their CEOs by saying, that in order to have a qualified CEO, they must pay what is the going rate among the corporations in the United States. But that raises a question, does a person enter the ministry to make money or does a person enter the ministry because they are called by God? The people in the field do not make fabulous salaries; neither do the missionaries working long and hard hours in sometimes hostile countries. The average income per year for families in the United States is around $45,000. So why does a Christian leader need such large compensation, when they have paid travel expenses, ministry vehicles to use and a lot of other perks?

CHARLES STANLEY        

            I personally like Charles Stanley (right) very much and listen to his sermons every Sunday morning before I drive to church and preach to my home congregation. But I did not know that Stanley, as president of the corporation, “In Touch,” is paid a yearly salary of $299,512. Over the years as I listened to him, there are three things I noticed, first he almost never speaks of hell, secondly he uses an NIV Bible, and thirdly they never ask for money after their program has aired. There are products offered for sale but there is no hype to send in money to keep the ministry going. I noticed recently that the First Baptist Church in Atlanta where Stanley is the pastor just did a complete renovation of their facilities, which must have cost millions of dollars. This indicates to me that Stanley has financial backers who make sure that his ministry is well cared for, as it is now worldwide. Who are these backers and what are their motives for supporting an evangelical Bible preaching Southern Baptist preacher?

VARIOUS OTHER CHRISTIAN LEADERS

Dennis Rydberg, president of Young Life - $272,127 salary per year.

 

 

Billy Graham

Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

$451,707 salary per year

 

Wes Stafford

Compassion International

$202,679 salary per year

 

Chuck Colson

Prison Fellowship

$218,679 salary per year

         
         

   

James Robison

Life Outreach International

$195,500 salary per year

 

Peter Popoff

Peter Popoff Ministries

$425,019 salary per year

 

R.C. Sproul

Ligonier Ministries

$221,576 salary per year

         

CHRISTIAN RESEARCH INSTITUTE

            The current CEO for this organization is Hank Hanegraaf, who is very critical of other ministers in the United States. But what Hank does not tell his followers is that he annually makes $280,331 in compensation for his ministry work. In 2003 the ministry purchased a $66,000 Lexus automobile for his personal usage and the ministry paid $8,000 for flooring in his home.

JOYCE MEYER

            According to an article in the St. Louis Dispatch, the Board of the Joyce Meyer Ministries approved compensation packages of up to $900,000 for the years 2002 and 2003 and up to $450,000 for her husband. After having received some criticism for this excessive compensation, Joyce and the Board cut her yearly salary back to $250,000. But she also formed a private for-profit corporation, which is collecting all the royalties from her books and recordings. Previously they were received by the ministry. So even if she only makes $250,000 per year in salary, she is taking home the profit on the sale of her material.

            The Board has also granted her the use of a ministry owned parsonage, which is a 10,000 square foot house, and an eight car garage. The value of this parsonage is assessed at two million dollars. Joyce and her husband personally own a $500,000 vacation home on Lake of the Ozarks and a boat worth $105,000 tied to the dock of their property at the lake.

            Joyce Meyer (right) is heard coast to coast in the United States, Monday through Friday. These broadcasts are not cheap and on an average a 15 minutes program costs around $185.00 each. I estimate, based upon my experience on being a radio preacher for some 30 years that her cost is around $55,000 per day, which comes out to 1.7 million dollars per month. It is very difficult to raise money for radio ministry, and after 30 years of continually rising rates, our ministry was priced out two years ago. Before we had to stop broadcasting, I discussed the issue of raising money with Barry Bright, an Account Executive of Wilkins Communication Network, Inc. This company owned and operated a number of radio stations in the United States, and I was broadcasting on three of them. I asked Barry if the big ministries got some kind of discount that was not available to small ministries like ours. He told me that there were no discounts, but that the national mega ministries had private backers, who pumped in money to keep the speakers on the air. At that time I did not understand this and was astonished and wondered, who are these people with millions of dollars to dump into national ministries? Now I have found the answer, these are people with a hidden agenda who are using Gospel preaching to further their own plans and ideas. Thus, the Christian media stars are handled just like commodities and given lavish salaries and in return they are doing the bidding of their masters. They are no different from the secular entertainers, movie stars and singers, who live a lifestyle that is beyond lavish, and are sending the message of their handlers to their followers. It all comes down to deception and manipulation.

JOHN HAGEE

             John Hagee is currently the biggest asset for the World Zionist Federation. He is the fruit of all the work done from the time of Darby and Scofield. He is integrated with TBN, and together with Paul and Jan Crouch, he is dominating the airwaves and drowning out any opposition from anyone with opposing views in the Pentecostal, Charismatic and Baptist circles. To understand the influence of John Hagee, look at these statistics: His television programs in the U.S. are carried on 160 television stations, 50 radio stations and eight cable networks. A potential of 99 million households have access to his programs. In Canada he is carried on the Miracle Channel and CTS, and he can also be seen in Africa, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and in a number of third world nations.

            Hagee is bold and loud in his support for the nation of Israel and is propagating the teaching from Darby and Scofield, that there is a “dual covenant,” and that Jewish people do not need to accept Jesus and be born again, God has a special plan for them. (I will address this later in great detail)

            Hagee prides himself in being a fire and brimstone preacher who lambastes sinful living, but just like Scofield did, Hagee is not bringing out the fact that he divorced his first wife in 1975 and walked away from his two children from that marriage. One year later at the age of 36, he married Diana M. Castro, a woman 12 years younger than himself, with whom he has fathered three children.

            There is a saying that you can know a person by looking at their friends, and when we look at the endorsements and awards given to John Hagee, it is obvious that he is the “darling” of the Jewish leadership in the world. He has been awarded the “Humanitarian of the Year” award by the San Antonio B’nai B’rith Council (The Jewish Master Lodge of Freemasonry). Hagee was presented the ZOA 2 Israel Award by U.N. Ambassador Jean Kirkpatrick. This award was given by the Jewish Community of Dallas, Texas. He has also been awarded the ZOA Service Award by Texas governor Mark White.  Furthermore, John Hagee has visited Israel 22 times and has met with every Prime Minister since Menachem Begin.

            Now let us look at John Hagee’s finances: In 2001 his non-profit organization “Global Evangelism Television” (GETV) listed an income of $18.3 million. Of this amount, $1.25 million was used to compensate John Hagee for his work. According to a filing with the IRS, the organization took in $12.3 million from donations, $4.8 million from sales of books and tapes, and an additional $1.1 million from various sources, including rental income.

            Hagee’s compensation package came as follows: As president of GETV, he had a salary of $540,000; as the pastor and president of the Cornerstone Church, he received a salary of $302,000. He also received $411,561 in benefits from GETV, including contribution to a retirement package for highly paid executives the IRS calls a “rabbi trust,” so named because the first beneficiary of such an irrevocable trust was a rabbi.   

            This John Hagee Rabbi Trust includes a $2.1 million 7,969 acre ranch outside Brackettville, with five lodges, including a “main lodge” and a gun locker. It also includes a manager’s house, a smokehouse, a skeet range and three barns.

            John Hagee’s income has not dropped since 2001; instead, the man is amassing a personal wealth that few preachers on earth have ever had. While he is crying on his television programs about the need to give sacrificial gifts to the ministry in order to preach the Gospel, he is skimming off millions of dollars to build his private personal wealth. John Hagee and his current wife are listed in the Bexar County Appraisal District database as owners of a 5,275 square-foot house with six bedrooms in one of San Antonio’s most exclusive gated communities. It is appraised at $688,900.

KENNETH COPELAND, BENNY HINN AND CREFLO DOLLAR

            These three men are the main “stars” in the so-called Faith Movement. Forbes’ list does not include them, even if they are in the upper income bracket of ministers. They are known for having a lavish lifestyle, upscale living quarters, expensive automobiles and access to private jets. By having their ministries designated and registered with the IRS as churches, they are exempt from having to file financial statements with the IRS, open to the public.

            However, I have this personal experience with Kenneth Copeland. When my wife and I attended a ministers’ convention, hosted by Oral Roberts in 1984 at the Oral Robert’s University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Oral Roberts and Kenneth Copeland had a discussion on finances in one session, where they could teach us ministers how to be successful. I remember Oral asking Kenneth to explain why he had seven non-profit organizations and how this benefited him. Kenneth became very uptight and told Oral that he did not want to discuss this in public. When Oral insisted, Copeland (right) became very angry and flatly told Oral Roberts to move on and drop the subject. This outburst of anger put a damper on the teaching session and it became obvious to us in the audience, that Copeland was doing something that he did not want his supporters to know. This was the first and last time my wife and I attended such a conference.

SUMMARY

            When we compare the amount of money Jewish leaders spent on Darby, Scofield and others during the 19th century, it is clear that the amount of money spent back then is very small compared to what is being spent right now. In the 19th century, $100,000 went a long way, whereas today a million dollars does not buy very much when Jewish leaders are wining and dining evangelical leaders. At the time of Jesus, they spent 30 pieces of silver to have Jesus betrayed; now they are paying in gold (cash) and the modern Judases are charging much more for their services. Greed, hunger for power and fame is the cancer which has spread into the body of Christ.

            All the current preachers mentioned above have the following in common:

1.      They are strong dispensationalists and will defend the political State of Israel.

2.      They believe in a two-tier salvation plan, one for the Gentiles and one for the Jews.

3.      If America does not bless Israel, the judgment of God will come upon us. Therefore, money must be sent to Israel, and Jews living in Russia and other nations must be given financial help to move to Israel (But they never speak of American Jews who do not want to go to Israel but stay in the good ol’ comfortable U.S.A.)

4.      Palestinians have no legal right to the land known as, “Biblical Israel.”

This is what the Bible tells us of Judas:

Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him.
Matthew 26:14-16

This is what the Bible tells of the latter day Judases:

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 2 Timothy 3:1-7

The statistics of finances for the above mentioned ministers were gleaned from the following sources: “Silver and Gold Have I Quite a Large Sum,” an article by David Servant and published in the Jesus People Newsletter, Volume 34, Issue 2, 2006; John Hagee biography on Wikipedia; Article from the San Antonio Express-News, June 20, 2003 and written by Analisa Nazareno.

WHAT ABOUT MYSELF?

            As I investigated these ministers and wrote down the financial abuse going on today in the United States, the Holy Spirit told me to share my own story, since many of the readers are now asking where I stand in this matter. So let me give a short review of my life.

            I was born in a small town called Jonkoping, in Sweden in 1939. My parents were very young and my dad worked as a laborer at a factory called Husqvarna Vapen A.B. My first five years were molded by World War II and the rationing of food. Our food was never served on the table, each one of us was given a portion on our plates and there were no seconds. In 1945, my brother Peter was born, and two years later our mother was forced to work outside the home in order for us to have food on our table. The rationing of food continued until I was around 15 years old when my parents made enough money to buy more food. In 1954, our grandmother died and the small inheritance made it possible for our parents to buy their first car, a Saab. Up until this time we had always lived in rented quarters in grandmother’s house, and when the State of Sweden offered low interest loans to first time home buyers, my parents were able to lease a lot from the city and build a house on it.

            After having worked a year in the foundry of Husqvarna Vapen, I enrolled in college. My parents borrowed money from an uncle and aunt who had much more money than my parents. During my college years I did not have a car, but moved around on a moped, and used trains and buses for longer trips. It was when I was in college that I met my wife to be and we were married in 1961 and are still married and happy. To our sorrow we were never able to have any children.

            When I graduated from college with a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering, my wife and I immigrated to the United States and ended up in Salt Lake City, since I was sponsored by an uncle on my mother’s side. We had scraped up money for the airline tickets and arrived with four suitcases and $300 in cash. We lived with my uncle and his wife for a few months, but when we refused to join the Mormon Church, we were thrown out and left to fend for ourselves. My wife did not speak any English at that time and we rented an apartment for $60 a month in a very poor neighborhood in Salt Lake City. A cousin of mine felt sorry for us and helped me get a job as a draftsman with the Highway Department of Utah. During my first year, my monthly salary was $354 per month before taxes. My wife started to working at a motel for $1 an hour. Our food budget was $15 per week.

            By 1967 I had more than doubled my salary and advanced to the position of designer. I had been accepted by the State for a scholarship and was working on a master’s degree in Civil Engineering. Having been poor all my life, my goal was to make money, more money and then some more money.

            But God had other plans for my life. In 1965 my wife and I turned our lives over to Christ, we joined a Southern Baptist Church, and in 1967 God called me into the ministry. I struggled with this for about two years before I surrendered and quit my job. I was accepted as a student at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in Mill Valley, California, and in September 1969, we arrived at the seminary. For the next three years, my wife worked as a nurse’s aid in rest homes, and I cleaned houses four days a week. We had one car that we shared, but with God’s help, I graduated in 1973 debt free, as we had worked hard to pay for the schooling as we went along.

            During my years at the seminary, I functioned as a youth evangelist during the weekends and the love offerings helped us out. Our main meal during these years consisted of spaghetti and tuna fish, a meal I hope that I will never again have to eat!

            During the years 1973-75, I traveled as an evangelist in Sweden and in California. We did not have a home and so most of our belongings were stored with my brother and his wife who had moved to California in 1972. During our travels, we could never afford to stay in a motel, so we always lived in someone’s home in the town where we had meetings. We lived totally on love offerings and these were lean years. We had formed a non-profit organization in 1972 in order to have financial accountability. With my brother and his wife, along with some friends, we formed a Board of Directors. A salary was set, and all money coming in was given to the organization, which in turn paid my salary. Many times there was not enough money to pay the whole salary and we just had to live with it.  

            In 1975, I was called to pastor a church in Lodi, California. When we were able to rent a place in Lodi, it was like heaven. For the first time in two years we could close the door and have some privacy. After two years in Lodi, God called me to move to Sacramento, where we started a church called Christian Life Ministries. During the first year in Sacramento we rented an apartment, and then God opened the door for us to buy a small tract home for $37,500. My brother and his wife loaned us $7,000 so we could qualify for a loan. This was like heaven on earth for us. While we were still in Lodi, we purchased a second car, a 1973 Chevy Impala station wagon. We used that to pick up children for Sunday school. Our other car was a 1966 Ford Custom 500. We felt rich. It has never bothered us that we have never been able to buy a brand new car, all our lives we have only bought used cars.

            It was in Lodi that I started my radio ministry, and a man in our church, Marvin Phillips, gave $10,000 to get it started. I had never been given that much money before and with this we purchased recording equipment, reel tapes and had money to pay the local station for one year. Marvin was an RV dealer in Stockton and Lodi and he and his wife supported us during this time to get the radio ministry going.

            During the first year on the radio, God moved upon people listening to me, and they started to support the radio ministry. Our ministry never made money during the 30 years I was a radio preacher, most of the time the church we pastored had to make up the difference.

            Due to a rebellion in the church, I resigned in 1984 and went back to work as an evangelist and Bible teacher. During the years 1973 through 1983 we traveled almost every summer to Sweden and Finland to conduct revival meetings in churches and tent meetings. The costly trips to fly back and forth were covered by love offerings in the meetings and from the books we sold that I had written. Again, all this money was sent back to our office in California and I made sure that I did not operate out of my pocket. Our personal finances were always separated from the finances of the ministry.

            In 1985, we started another church in the Sacramento area, Resurrection Life of Jesus Church, where I am still the pastor. We have never owned a church building; we always rented space in a strip mall or an office building. Since the cost of living became higher and higher in California, the Board of Directors kept raising our salaries, but most of the time the church was never able to meet the set salary. All these years we have lived on faith, never knowing where the next money would come from. However, God is more than faithful, and during our 39 years of ministry we have never gone hungry, we always had a place to sleep, and we have always been able to pay our bills on time, even when it has been tight.

            In 1990, a widow in our church called one day and asked us to come to her home. Her husband had died some time prior to this, and left her financially very well off. She told me that God had spoken to her about my retirement. She said, “You don’t have any retirement funds set apart, and when you reach 65 you will only have social security. I am going to give you $50,000.00 for your retirement. How would you like to have it, cash, stocks or Certificates of Deposit?” We were shocked. This was a huge amount for us. I told her, “Let us pray and we will get back to you.” After a few days the Lord had spoken to me, and said, “You are to buy a new home with some acreage. Take the money in cash.” Some six months later the Lord opened a door for us to buy a modular home which was sitting on some land. The price was $167,500. This price is cheap compared to today’s prices, since the median home in Sacramento is now around $300,000, with just a small lot. We paid our tithe of $5,000.00 to the church and used the $45,000 to buy the home. We have now lived in this place for 16 years and unless the Lord calls us to some other place, this will be the final home for us on earth before we go to be with Jesus.

            Some 20 years ago, we tried to take out a bank loan so we could go to Sweden. When the bank clerk asked what kinds of assets we had, I told him that we had a home, on which we paid mortgage and we had two used cars. The man looked at us and said, “What about savings, stocks, bonds, etc?” We told him we had none of that. He looked at us in disgust and said to me, “You are a failure, I don’t think the bank will loan you any money.” I told him this, “If God wants to use the bank you are working for, we will get a loan.” A week later he called back and told us the loan was approved. Then he said, “Looking at your credit report, what is this account all about?” As we looked at the document, it listed an account, “The Lord’s Money.” “Oh, I told him, that’s my daddy’s account, my daddy in heaven.” The bank clerk was flabbergasted. During our trip overseas, we sold enough books to cover the loan and there was some money left over for salary. To God be the glory!

            At this time in our lives, we still do not have any stocks, bonds or Certificates of Deposit. We have our place on which we pay mortgage and we still only drive used cars. We never had any boats, except three inflatable rubber rafts we used in the summer when we went camping with the church and played with the children. Both my wife and I are employed by the ministry and our combined monthly salary is $4,837. For a person living in Africa, this might sound like a huge sum of money, but living in California is not cheap. We have used the equity on our property in order to secure facilities for the ministry and its production, where people are preparing printed material and audio recordings, as well as for storage. This has raised our mortgage to $2,700 per month. Thus, half our income is used to pay mortgage, then comes taxes, food, insurance, gasoline etc.

AM I ENVIOUS OF THE RICH PREACHERS?

            I can tell you with a clean heart that I am more than thankful for the life that my wife and I have lived. I can look myself in the mirror and know that I have never cheated anyone out of money, we always paid our personal and ministry bills, and when I come to stand before the Lord at the judgment seat of Christ, I will have nothing to hide.

            My wife and I went into the ministry to serve, not to make money. I always told the Board of Directors, pay us just enough that we can pay our bills, have food on the table and some clothes on our backs. I feel sorry for the rich preachers, they are hooked on a lavish lifestyle that feeds itself for more and more, and all their goods and riches have crowded out the intimate walk with the Lord.

            Have I been tempted during these 39 years? Yes, I have. There was a time some 20 years ago that two men from World Vision came to my office. They offered me money and fame, if I would let them be my handlers and do their bidding. Without hesitation, I told them to leave my office and to never come back again. There have been well-to-do people, who wanted to invest money in the ministry on certain conditions. I told them all this, “If God has told you to give money fine, but if you are going to control what I preach and do, take you money and go!” There was a front organization that offered a nice package for my wife and me at one time. Since I know there is no such thing as a free lunch, I started to investigate whose money they were offering. I found out it came from the Unification Church, Sun Yong Moon. I know that this man is working for the CIA. I ripped up the invitation and thanked God for showing me the truth before I had sold myself. 

HOW HAS GOD SUPPLIED OUR MINISTRY?

            God used the radio ministry to bring people to our church. People in our church are tithers and this keeps the church going. Over the years, God has built up a small but powerful network of people, who faithfully send in their support every month. Some families have been with us since 1975. But as time went on, a number of our supporters have moved to be with Jesus and people younger than 40 rarely support radio ministries. Thus we came to a crisis in 2004, the radio stations kept raising the rates and our donor base was getting smaller. We only had one option, to close down our radio ministry.

            First, I could not understand this, why did God abandon me? But in a year it became clear to me when I saw our web site ministry grow, and it is now reaching more people than the radio ever did, plus, God wants me to write more and more.

            There are thousands of small ministries like ours all over the world which God has put a hedge around and kept from being polluted. This will be the remnant church which will stand in the end times when the Antichrist comes on the scene. I THANK GOD FOR MY LIFE AND FOR HIS LOVE FOR ME AND THAT HE KEPT ME FROM GETTING CORRUPTED!

SUMMARY   

            When the Holy Spirit moved me to address the problem with Christian Zionism, I thought it would only take a few newsletters to cover the subject. But as I began digging into the subject, it was like a diver looking for a lost ship, and when he finds it, it is much larger and more massive that he first thought. With the coming of the Antichrist in the future and the terrible event of the Mark of the Beast, it is absolutely imperative that the next generation of Christians knows the past and can be saved from deception.

            What I am trying to do is to go through the vast amount of information which can be found in books, publications and on the Internet, sort it out, put it in chronological order, and make it an easy read for people who do not have the time to spend hundreds of hours digging out the facts.

            What I am doing now I could not have done 20 years ago. At that time I did not have the historical knowledge that I have now, I did not have the spiritual maturity to process all of the information, nor were there any personal computers and the Internet did not exist.

            In my next newsletter I will try to pick up more speed and quickly move through history and bring us into today’s events. Even so, the Holy Spirit helped me to bring in current events in historical settings.

            Some may say, why did you write so much about yourself? The reason for that is to stop my critics from saying that I am just like the rest of them, making money on other people’s mistakes. To put it bluntly, when we send out these newsletters, it takes 100 recipients to generate just one donation, and the average donation is around $15. People on our mailing list like to read what I write but few have a burden to help us financially. Thus we have to take ministry money to cover the cost of a newsletter.

            But if I can keep one person from joining a cult, or help one person in the future to not take the Mark of the Beast, it will be worth it all. My call is not to make money, but to serve and be faithful to my Master, Jesus Christ, the Son of God!

 

To be continued…

CONTINUED: Postscript
Page 1 | 2 | 3

 

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[2] Zionist Organization of America, founded in 1897; current president, Morton A. Klein; membership around 30,000 spread out in chapters all over the United States.


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