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Sunday, 14 July 2013

THE WELSH OUTPOURING VICTORY CHURCH CWMBRAN - CULTISH PRACTICES AND CONCERNS FOR VULNERABLE ADULTS

VICTORY OUTREACH INTERNATIONAL

Victory Outreach International was founded in 1967 by Sonny and Julie Arguinzoni in Los Angeles. VOI is involved in church planting and development, rehabilitation homes and training centres in what they describe as “strategic cities around the world”. They claim to be one of the largest inner-city ministries in the world having expanded into a network of over 600 inner-city churches and ministries in over thirty countries. The “vision” of VOI is to evangelize and disciple “the hurting people of the world with the message of hope and plan of Jesus Christ.”
Victory Outreach International in the US has a mixed reputation and a significant number of former pastors and ex-members describe VOI in very negative terms. VOI has been described as a “spiritual pyramid scheme” with founder Sonny Arguinzoni and his leadership benefiting at the expense of the slave like labour of the lower members. The leadership of VOI have been accused of being grossly exploitative towards their vulnerable adult residents with little accountability. Ex members and former pastors describe VOI as cultish having authoritarian and manipulative regimes based on greed rather than the benefit of the residents. Ex-members have reported that they were forced to work long hours without pay and that they were deprived of basic needs like food, sleep, recreation time and were forced to live in overcrowded unsanitary conditions. There are testimonies about forced “approved” Bible studies and brainwashing techniques in order to keep residents in submission to the leadership. It has also been reported that residents are encouraged to defraud the welfare system for the financial benefit of VOI and are told to fill in DSS forms fraudulently.
All this of course is in the name of Christianity!
There is some substance behind these accusations:
State officials in the early 1990s found many church rehabilitation homes to be unsafe and unsanitary. After only four of the 70 or so Victory Outreach facilities in California got a state license, the church withdrew all its license applications.”http://www.rickross.com/reference/victory_outreach/victory_outreach4.html
On March 22, 2010, Victory Outreach Pastor Max Garza will begin serving a five month prison sentence for Aiding the Preparation of a False Tax Return.”
There is negative testimony after negative testimony about VOI on the following web pages:
A testimony from former Pastor of Victory Outreach Peter Belaustegui:http://www.apologeticsindex.org/v01.html
Victory Outreach International in Ireland fares no better with similar horror stories . It has been said that Victory Outreach in Ireland are “shepherding churches”where every detail of members lives are subject to the leadership whose total authority cannot be questioned. Much has been written about illegal fund raising of VOI in Ireland.
"Bible verses drilled into memorization, long periods of study and activity without rest, long repetitive prayer meetings, further teachings and so on. Leadership is unquestionable (using the same old verse used by all Bible based cults and false prophets out of context "Touch not the Lord's Anointed and do His prophets no harm" 1Chronicles 16:22 / Psalms 105:15)http://www.oocities.org/athens/parthenon/6528/cult.htm

POINTS OF CONCERN ABOUT VICTORY OUTREACH UK
Victory Outreach UK is independent from Victory Outreach International, though it is run along very similar lines. The history of VO UK goes back to the 1960s when it was founded by David and Dinah Sansome MBE. Victory Outreach UK offers housing and rehabilitation to vulnerable adults, many of whom have suffered abuse; specifically those with drug and/or alcohol addictions, those on release from prison and homeless between the ages of 18 and 40 years. As well as housing, they claim to offer counselling, care and on-going support to help people integrate back into society. According to their own website, Victory Outreach UK have four properties in South Wales and accommodate young people from all over the UK. In 2009 the Sansomes handed the directorship of VO UK over to Richard Taylor, a former drug addict and convicted criminal, and in January 2010 Victory Church in Cwmbran was founded by Richard Taylor with former addicts and ex-offenders. Dinah Sansome was present at the launch of Victory Church and I understand that she continued to support the work for a period of time, though this is no longer the case.
We have a period of about three years only from 2010 in which to assess the situation at VO UK. This is a relatively short period of time compared with VO International. However even in that short period of time there are very serious points of concern.
On the home page of Victory Church Taylor is very defensive and directs criticism to those local churches who do not go along with the “Welsh Outpouring” due to theological issues and ecumenism. Victory Church is part of Elim and is ecumenical. It is partners with the Roman Catholic Church and the other major denominations which form “Churches Together”. However, the Roman Catholic Church preaches a different Jesus (2 Corinthians 11/4) and the other denominations are members of the World Council of Churches which are all compromising on important aspects of the Gospel. One must ask the question: Would a true man of God associate with those who promote doctrines of demons and a different Gospel? (1 Timothy 4/1) Taylor has modelled the “Welsh Outpouring” on Reinhard Bonnke's model for “blood washed Africa” which is based on inflated statistics, unverified healings and false teaching. In fact sixteen (? some reports say 14) people were crushed to death at one of Bonnke's Nigerian Crusades, so it seems that attendees found death rather than life on that occasion! Taylor has the same agenda for Wales as Bonnke, namely “taking Wales for Christ”. However Taylor's “blood washed Wales” does throw up many of the same anomalies as Bonnke's “blood washed Africa”.
Victory Outreach UK and Victory Church are inextricably linked; they share the same postal address in Cwmbran and have the same people in positions of authority. Richard Taylor and his wife Jill Taylor are Joint Directors of Victory Outreach UK. The Executive Officer of Victory Outreach UK is Andrew Parsons who is also Executive Pastor at Victory Church, and his wife Susan Parsons is the Finance Officer. Parsons is a bankrupt whose previous company in Auckland New Zealand, Contrast Designs Ltd (2008-2011), was struck off by the New Zealand Companies Office.  Neither Taylor or Parsons completed their theological studies at The Birminham Bible Institute.  Kenneth Brandie, elder Victory Church and Lead Pastor at Cwmbran is also a Trustee of Victory Outreach. Other Trustees are Campus Pastor and Facilities Manager of VO Robert Hart, Darril Dowden (? no information could be found about him) and Chairman, 74 year old retired solicitor Dr Anthony Weston who lives in Hereford.
I would suggest that this situation fails to adequately protect the vulnerable residents of VO. Victims of abuse do not easily come forward, usually because of intimidation and fear of reprisals etc. Apart from rules and regulations, residents are subject to a daily work programme at the manager’s discretion. TV viewing, music and literature is monitored by the management. Though it is stated by VO that residents can leave at any time, this is not actually the case since many are isolated and have nowhere else to go. The residents of VO UK are actually sitting targets for abusive treatment with no apparent checks in place for their protection.
Richard Taylor: “I have to be honest here and tell you I take no salary from our church and serve with no financial burden to our congregation.”   http://www.victorychurch.co.uk/the-challenge-of-large-church
Taylor uses the word honest very loosely considering he claims to be a minister of the Lord! The fact is that Victory Church contributes financially to Victory Outreach UK. Taylor's salary therefore does come indirectly from Victory Church as does his house, his Jaguar and other benefits which contribute to his excessive lifestyle. Taylor and his wife, Parsons and his wife along with others employed by Victory Outreach UK do therefore benefit financially from Victory Church.
Another financial anomaly is that in 2008 Victory Outreach UK were ineligible for funding. Apparently this decision was taken by the SPRG Inspectors because the Sansomes would not compromise their faith and comply with the condition to remove scripture passages from the funded rehabilitation centres. VO's 2011/12 financial statement shows a figure of £413,649 for grants and donations – clearly VO are getting funding now. This funding is subsidising the extravagant lifestyles of Taylor and Parsons and the taxpayer is footing the bill! Perversely Taylor continually pleads poverty for Victory Church on his "outpouring" podcasts.
The number of houses available for vulnerable adults was reported as six by Radio Wales in 2009. http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/radiowales/sites/allthingsconsidered/updates/20091220.shtml
According to the VO UK website, there are now only four houses available. Both Taylor and Parsons live in large houses owned by Victory Outreach. All the residents have been moved out of the Tredegar home and it is currently occupied by two managers. In VO UK's financial statement of 2011/12, the cost of vehicles was £81,187 and yet no ministry vehicle was purchased during that time. VO also picks up the tab for services to their private vehicles. The lifestyles of the leaders is clearly a very far cry from the vulnerable Victory “volunteer army” who live on benefits and probably far exceeds most of their local congregation. Whatever happened to the principle of …..being an example to the flock (1 Peter 5/3)?
It has been argued that the “Welsh Outpouring” must be genuine because so many ex-prisoners and drug addicts attend the nightly “outpouring” events. However the reason for this is that the residents of the Victory Outreach homes are coerced into attending all the events and are bussed to VC in Cwmbran and other "outpouring" locations. I have been informed that refusal to attend these events results in eviction. Someone commented on my previous article: “Essentially the same congregation travel to all the different churches and they boast great numbers whereas they are the same people.”  Like Bonnke's African Crusades, the “Welsh Outpouring” gives a false impression of numbers and success which no doubt attracts the attention of other deluded people who hope for “a touch from the Lord”, or those simply curious about what is going on. Another concern is that the vulnerable adults who attend every single “outpouring” event are subjected to hours of so called “worship” and false doctrine. Some have called the worship Kundalini Yoga because of the similarity to mantras which induces mass hypnotism, falling down backwards and other non-biblical phenomena.
Just as in VOI, the residents of VO UK attend compulsory Bible studies:
“They (the boys from the rehab homes) meet regularly for bible study but every day scripture teaching and study is essential in the homes.”
Rehabilitation homes and programmes for vulnerable adults combined with obligatory participation in a religious agenda is illegal.  By law those vulnerable adults who need this kind of support should not be forced to submit to a religious regime as a condition of receiving help (The Human Rights Act 1998). The question might reasonably be asked: What exactly are these vulnerable adults being exposed to and could their obligatory participation in the “Welsh Outpouring” be harmful to them?
Jeff VanVonderen: "Spiritual abuse occurs when someone in a position of spiritual authority, the purpose of which is to 'come underneath' and serve, build, equip and make a deity's or a god's people MORE free, misuses that authority placing themselves over a god's people to control, coerce or manipulate them for seemingly godly purposes which are really their own. "http://daviswiki.org/Recovering_From_Spiritual_Abuse
Reports continue to emerge about very serious abuse taking place against the VO residents. The comments on the link below are extremely concerning:
Taylor issued "A WARNING FROM THE LORD" !!!!  “I have been warned by the Lord; the Lord spoke to me very clearly...........this is a warning from the Lord. You need to be in every outpouring meeting because there could be just one meeting, one moment which could change your life forever and you could miss it..............” This “warning” was reiterated three times! God would be very cruel indeed if it were possible to miss His touch upon our lives by missing “just one meeting – one moment”.  This is the way that the local members of Victory Church are spiritually blackmailed into attending every “outpouring” event, on top of which they also have regular church activities “cluster groups, church planting, academy on a Saturday morning and the preaching on a Sunday.”
In a false teaching entitled “The Favour of the King” based on Esther 5-7, Taylor encourages people: “Bring your enemy into the house of God – into the presence of the King.” According to Taylor, if you come to Victory Church and worship God enough times then your problems (which Taylor defines as your “enemy”) will be turned around by God.  However this is dependent upon “coming into the house”  i.e. Taylors meetings. 
The ridiculous notion that the favour of God depends upon attending Taylor's meetings is unconscionable, in fact in my opinion the opposite is probably true, but this is exactly what cult leaders do.  Biblically: …..where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them. (Matthew 18/20) But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6/6) The problem is that we cannot make a formula out of Queen Esther's example with King Xerxes and Haman to apply to our own situations. The Apostle Paul: I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. (Philippians 4/12) What would the martyrs and the persecuted church say about this teaching?
Special entrance cards have been issued to “regular supporters “ so that they can use the “academy door” and avoid the queues. Should believers make distinctions amongst themselves and give favour to those who regular givers as against those who are needy and vulnerable? The apostle James tells us that if the better off people are given advantages this is the sin of partiality (James 2/1-12). Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonoured the poor man. (James 2/5-6) The two class system at Victory Church is totally against the teaching of the apostles which says that we should have equal concern for one another. This is something that is reiterated again and again in the Bible because God himself shows no partiality (Romans 2/11).
Please feel free to write your own comments, even if anonymous, if you or anyone you know has had a negative experience with VO UK.
Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. (Psalm 82/3)


1 comment:

ferventheat1 said...

thanks for the article. i hope more than just myself has read it! I needed this, was about to visit VC, i just wanted to be with the poor and lowly christians who love God.
Maybe God wants me to go still, to witness any spiritual abuse and respond accordingly.
Will pray to the Father now to ask Him for His will in this situation.

God bless