Tom Cooper’s Obituary & Other

Below is the obituary that has been posted for Thomas (Tom) Cooper’s death.  If nothing else I thought I would post this here for the record. In my last blog post I mentioned my condolences and reaction to hearing about his death.  As I stated there I am glad that put on hold my blog that both critiques Tom’s book and Maranatha for a while.  Tom seemed to take my questioning and criticism quite personally and wouldn’t have been the best for his health.

Tom Cooper was the author of the book “Raising Jesus The Story of the Maranatha House” a book that I see a number of flaws in it including wanting to mostly focus on the good while vaguely mentioning just how abusive the ministry became.   It is hard to believe someone could title a book about Maranatha using the words “Raising Jesus”  with the group’s abusive history though I am sure most of those involved in Maranatha thought they were “raising Jesus.”

Tom’s Obituary

Thomas Kelly Cooper (Tom) 64, Fredericksburg, began his Heavenly residence on February 9, 2017. Tom was born on February 5, 1953 in Paducah, Kentucky to William B. Cooper, Sr. and June Elaine Waggoner Cooper.

Viewing for Tom will be held at 1:30 to 3 p.m. on February 25, 2017 at Mullins and Thompson Funeral Services, Fredericksburg Chapel. A memorial service will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. on February 26, 2017 at Salem Fields Community Church with light food catered. Pastor Steve Weber of Freedom Church will be officiating. Burial will be in Carthage, Mississippi at Rocky Hill Cemetery.

Tom was survived by his wife of 34 years, Karen Cooper, by daughters Kelly Cooper (James Mainey) and Jennifer Cordero, son-in-law Anthony Cordero and granddaughter Charlotte Cordero. Tom is also survived by his brother William B. Cooper (Gayle), sister Mildred Cooper Russell (Henry), and brother Edward Cooper (Laurie).

Tom was proud to serve his country and retired as the Chief Accountant of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. As a devoted servant of Christ, Tom’s witness brought many people to a relationship with Christ and a stronger walk with God. Tom served as a pastor and teacher with Maranatha Ministries and authored the inspirational book Raising Jesus. Tom’s example of faith and of Christ’s love for all is his greatest legacy.

Tom’s life was one of faith, determination and perseverance, as he overcame numerous health issues. In February of 1979, Tom received a kidney transplant from his younger brother. Tom became one of the longest living organ transplant recipients in the world. He was, through his life story, his work with the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) and other donor advocate originations, and his book Miracle at Exit Three, an amazing advocate for organ donation.

I do have a few comments.

Tom Cooper Maranatha Pastor??

This obituary claims Tom was a pastor of Maranatha.  This is the first time that I have heard  this.  I certainly don’t recall Tom ever mentioning this in the (many times) heated discussions I had with him including my questioning his actual involvement with the group.  Does anyone know of the specific details of Tom being a pastor?

I seem to recall Tom mentioning he wasn’t involved with Maranatha that long especially due health issues.  Thus if Tom was a pastor apparently it was earlier in the ministry and thus was around when the group was more in the Spirit vs. in later years as the group became more arrogant,  authoritarian and legalistic.  This may explain why Tom’s book is so skewed.

Mark Beliles did make a Facebook post that included this about Tom Cooper:

a couple days later I said goodbye to my old college best friend Tom Cooper who went on to heaven. He was so important to me. He was the first person who discipled me and spent almost every day with me for two years teaching me the Word and praying for me. But he and I then started a campus organization at Western Kentucky University and we proceeded to invite many Christian speakers and Christian musical performers that led to thousands of students hearing the gospel and many hundreds of them received Jesus as their Savior.

Though Mark didn’t mention it I am assuming he indicating that they both started a branch of Maranatha at this college campus.  If that is the case it is interesting that Mark didn’t mention Maranatha.  Then again a lot of former Maranatha leaders don’t seem to want to mention their involvement or de-emphasize it.  Contrast that with Tom Cooper having it boldly mentioned this in his obituary but on the other hand he did write a book about Maranatha.

 

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Tom Cooper’s Death (Author of “Raising Jesus The Story of The Maranatha House”)

It has been a while (almost a year) since I have posted here on this blog. Since at least part of the emphasis on this blog is critiquing Tom Cooper’s book I did want to make those who may still follow this blog aware of Tom Cooper’s recent death.
Rusty Russell posted the following on February 9, 2017:

“Mildred lost her brother today. Tom Cooper our wonderful brother/brother in law is now gracing the halls of the Throne room in Heaven. Or he might be playing his most favorite sport, Basketball! His pain is over, his journey complete.”

For those who don’t know, Tom Cooper had received a kidney transplant from one of his brothers quite a while ago. Tom indicated on Facebook in August 2016 that “the transplant meds were starting to take a toll.”

Despite all the tension and as one person put “bad blood” between myself and Tom Cooper I was sad to hear of his death. I am sure the tension that existed and how personally he took my critiquing of his book wasn’t the best for his health. I had even reached out to Tom’s brother in law Rusty Russell (fairly high ranking leader in the former Maranatha) for help in mediating this and he expressed no interest in getting involved.

For those who want to read more here is where Tom & I had a number of heated discussions:

http://thewartburgwatch.com/2016/02/10/maranatha-ministries-reconsidered-steve240s-new-blog/

I do have more to say both about Maranatha Ministries and about the book “Raising Jesus” and in some ways glad that I didn’t continue to post when Tom was in such poor health. Again with all the tension, I am sure Tom sincerely believed he wrote an honest history of Maranatha though I certainly question that after reading his book.

Praying for Tom’s family. As of posting this blog, no details have been posted about a funeral etc.

Examples of How Matthew 18 Is Really Used (To Bully & Abuse Regular Members)

It is a busy time for me right now, but despite my being so busy I have been able to have some discussions on Facebook about my being blocked by Lipehn Endere for publishing items critical of church leadership and their (at best) questionable actions.

Here are some sad examples of how Matthew 18 is really used:

Church Disciplines Wife for Wanting to Divorce Husband who Admitted Pedophile Leanings

Church Excommunicates Domestic Violence Victim Who Was Married to Pastor’s Son

I wonder if these examples might hit home for Lipehn.  I wonder what she would think if she was in an abusive marriage, or married to a pedophile and leadership forced her to remain in that marriage under threat of Matthew 18.  Maybe seeing these examples will help take off what I see as “rose colored” glasses in how she sees leadership.

Again Lipehn has both blocked me from sending her private messages or posting on the public Maranatha group, so I really have no way to privately communicate with her.  She could have at least left private messaging open. What is she afraid of?

Matt Chandler and The Village Church did back down on imposing “church discipline” on Karen Root, but only after their actions were widely publicized, and after so many began to question if not display total shock.  I imagine had it not been for this type of publicity these leaders would have continued their action.  This is an example of why questionable actions of leaders, such as the two above examples need to be shared publicly (told to the church). 

As my friend Phil Snow said in response to Lipehn blocking me “the truth hurts,” such as when one exposes the sin and hypocrisy of leaders and especially those who continue in this even when exposed.    I am sure it hurts when one destroys her image of leaders, and these leaders and those around them always wanting to do the right thing.

Matthew 18, in the hands of God fearing and humble leadership who seek God before they impose this type of discipline, can work when applied properly to appropriate actions.  These leaders also need to remember the Hebrews passage where it says that one day they will have to give an account, which I am sure includes the type of actions these leaders have demonstrated.  Sadly, many times their actions certainly don’t appear as if they have this fear of being held accountable. These leaders are supposedly “imperfect” as some like to state when excusing their actions, but then they question why I publish items that show their sin and hypocrisy.

One thing you don’t see a lot of is church leaders themselves being disciplined according to Matthew 18.  Did this ever really occur in Maranatha Ministries International (MMI) when it was in existence?  I doubt it ever happened especially with those in top leadership positions including Bob Weiner and Joe Smith, or some of their “lieutenants.”  I am sure there were plenty of cases where discipline should have been given, and had it been done the group would have had a much different history.

Maybe if the questionable actions of Bob Weiner and other top leaders were publicized things would have turned out differently for MMI.  Maybe if the sins of top leadership would had been exposed change would have occurred, or the group may have imploded even sooner.   It is a shame that their questionable actions were kept quiet for so long, and that this silence enabled the group to continue when either changes including repentance should have occurred or the group should have been shut down for a period of time.

One example of where the actions of leaders shouldn’t have been kept so quiet is how Bob Weiner and Joe Smith reacted to Steve J. allowing one local campus church to leave Maranatha.  If the sad response of Bob and Joe had been more widely publicized to those in the group I wonder what might have happened.  In this case Bob and Joe reportedly took great umbrage that a group was allowed to leave and their reaction lead to Steve J’s immediate resignation from MMI.  It is doubtful that Bob and Joe sought God on this, or saw this as some type of a warning for what was wrong with their group and what was to eventually come.

I would also highly recommend one look at this blog post by Kristen (another former Maranatha Member):

Matthew 18 and Spiritual Abuse

Kristen gives a good summary of how Matthew 18 can be used to enable spiritual abuse.  This is what is said at the end of her blog post:
“In any event, Christians, and especially Christian leaders, need to be careful about using passages of scripture to their own advantage at the expense of others.  This is against every principle that Jesus taught– and it’s what most of His rebukes of the scribes and Pharisees were about.”

In a Facebook discussion Kristen wonders if people who insist that leaders’ actions not be publicly discussed are making leaders a type of “idol.”  The Bible clearly states in Jeremiah 17:5 that “cursed is the one who trusts in man.”  The same passage indicates that doing so is drawing strength from mere flesh and is a heart turning away from the Lord.  We need to be careful of idolizing and trusting leaders versus trusting the Lord.  I am sure this was a significant reason for MMI’s failure.

One other person on Facebook posted this passage “He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just, both of them alike are an abomination to the LORD” Proverbs 17:15.  That is quite an appropriate passage.  It is a shame when you see people trying to justify wicked leaders even though the person trying to justify them may be well intentioned, such as I am sure Lipehn thinks in her mind she is doing.

I do hope that Liphen and others reconsider wanting to suppress any publicity about (at best) questionable actions of leaders.

 

Blocked & Posts Deleted for an MMI “Public” Facebook Group for Criticizing Christian Leaders

Some of you may know that there are a few Maranatha Ministries (former members type) Facebook Groups. One is titled:

“Maranatha Reunion – Exalting the Name of Jesus Christ!”

I have both had some of my posts deleted on this blog.  Also, I am now blocked from viewing posts and making new posts/comments in this group.  Using someone else’s account, this is some of the discussion that was held:

Anne Wilson‎ to Maranatha Reunion – Exalting the Name of Jesus Christ!

February 23 at 8:27pm

Hi Where are Steve Wells posts?

 Top of Form

Comments: 

Lipehn Endere I just deleted them from the forum. It is not align with the purpose of the forum – Exaltation of the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. All he has to do is go to God with his questions and I can confidently say that God will hear him if he goes with a rig…See More Like · 1 · February 23 at 8:41pm

Phil Snow Lipehn Endere-Sale, you are just as much of a Hypocrite as the Pharisee in the Temple talking bad about the Tax Collector!
Shame on you!  Like · March 1 at 1:30pm

Lipehn Endere I don’t like reading Steve Wells’ type of posts, cutting down of post ministers and current ministers of the gospel of God. We should pray for them, that is our responsibility toward the ministers of God. If we are talking bad about them, then we are partnering with the work of the devil. Holy Spirit of God wouldn’t accuse. We sometimes we see Him corrects, but always in love. He edifies; He comforts, directs also and He always does it in love. Accusation is of the devil and we need to avoid it. Accusation doesn’t build any of us on the forum.Like · March 1 at 7:33pm · Edited

Phil Snow Truth can Hurt sometimes. Like · March 1 at 3:02pm

Phil Snow I’ve NEVER seen Steve cutting down the Gospel!
He Upholds the Gospel! Like · March 1 at 3:03pm

Phil Snow I don’t like seeing people make the Followers of Jesus look Stupid and you do that on a regular basis! Like · March 1 at 3:04pm

Albert Hines Whether or not we like Steve’s posts, I support Lipehn’s right and responsibility to judge whether or not posts are appropriate for the group she created.  Like · 1 · March 1 at 2:46pm

Phil Snow Truth Hurts! Like · March 1 at 3:02pm

Lipehn Endere Phil Snow, habit of cutting down God’s ministers of the gospel will hurt more and it is eternal. If a minister wrong you, then there is a proper way of handling it.I wouldn’t encourage anybody to cut down ministers of the gospel of God. Scriptures does give us a way to handle offenses. One first go to the minister and tell he/she the offense. If he/she doesn’t repent, then take it to the elders of the church, if he/she still doesn’t repent, then take he/she to the whole church. If he/she doesn’t repent, the bible says he/she will be seen as an outsider by the church. He or she may continues to minister, but according to God, he/she is an outsider. In the Spirit that person is an outsider.

God will protect his ministers. God will protect his church. Be careful that He doesn’t treat you like Sapphira and Ananias. I have seen it happen in our modern time.  Like · March 1 at 10:23pm · Edited

Lipehn Endere I believe that the scripture in Matthew regarding the handling of the offense is applied to all the member of the body of Christ.  Like · 1 · March 1 at 9:42pm · Edited

It appears that Lipehn Endere has played judge and jury and decided that my sharing information about (at best) questionable leaders’ actions is wrong.  Here some initial thoughts.  Also, I would like to thank both Phil Snow and Anne Wilson for trying to stick up with me.

Lipehn claims that one should practice Mathew 18 about first going in private.  Sadly Lipehn didn’t practice this with me.  I guess she thinks it is OK to tell others to do this but then not practice this yourself Lipehn?  To be honest, even if this person did go to me in private I wouldn’t have stopped.  Still they should practice what they preach.  With my being blocked by Lipehn I have no way to talk with her “in private.”

I would also encourage her to read “The Rescue of Matthew 18” by Dr. Stephen R. Crosby.  It gives another view of properly applying and what was meant by Matthew 18.  I will do a blog post on this book in the future.

I wonder what Lipehn’s view is on Martin Luther’s actions and his posting what he did to the church and questioning the leadership and beliefs of the Catholic Church.  Was Martin Luther in error also like I am being accused of?  Should Martin Luther have first practiced a Matthew 18 when he did what he did?  I am in no way claiming to be a Martin Luther but just noting similar non Matthew 18 actions.

Another thought is does this person no realize that this type of mentality  of not criticizing leaders is a major factor IMO in what lead to MMI going in such a wrong way and imploding?  MMI taught that leaders weren’t to be questioned and these leaders’ questionable (at best) actions weren’t publicized.  As a result sad practices were allowed to continue longer than they should have.

If not so many people had the mentality that Lipehn is still pushing of not questioning leaders and only going in private about their questionable actions maybe thing would have ended much better for MMI.

Does Lipehn Endere think that all leaders are perfect and there is no possibility that even if they had a good start they could fall?  What about various scriptural warning about leaders including:

Acts 20: 29-30 Paul warned of wolves and those from among us will distort the truth to draw disciples after them.

  • I Tim 4:2 A leader’s conscience could be seared as if by a branding iron.
  • II Peter 2:3 In their greed they could exploit you.
  • II Peter 2:2 Warning that many will follow leaders depraved conduct and bring the way of Christ into disrepute.
  • Phil 2:21 Seek their own interests and not Christs
  • Phil 3:13 Their god is their appetite

I did find that it interesting how Lipehn claims God “will protect his ministers” including a “Saphirra and Annanias” type of experience.  Is Lipehn saying that God is going to protect ministers that fall perhaps in one of the ways I describe above?  Is God going to fight against those wanting to exposing sin and hypocrisy of (supposed) Christian leaders? I would certainly think not.

I just find this mentality that Lipehn displayed as baffling.  Is she that ignorant of what really occurred with MMI including Bob Weiner and how the mentality she is trying to impose contributed to leaders continuing in sin and hypocrisy for an extended period of time?  Why didn’t Matthew 18 work with Bob Weiner and other top MMI Leaders who until the group imploded lead it to became a pretty abusive group?

What is really sad is that instead of the Lipehn’s claim that the “habit of cutting down God’s ministers of the gospel will hurt more and it is eternal” maybe she needs to see what damage God’s kingdom has occurred due to the sin and hypocrisy of supposed Christian Leaders who aren’t exposed.  Bob Weiner and those under him certainly brought a lot of reproach on the body of Christ through the actions of the group he lead.  Thankfully God ended it fairly soon.  I pray that Lipehn would see this side of it.

Any thoughts?

Was Maranatha Ministries Fundamentally Flawed or Just Did Some Inadvertent Harm?

As many of you may know, my blog was featured on the Wartburg Watch here.  There certainly has been some interesting discussion there.  One person going by the name GSD posed the following question:

One more thought. As we reconsider MMI, this seems to be the central issue. We all seem to agree that MMI helped some people, especially early on, and harmed some people. So was MMI a basically good organization that inadvertently caused harm to some people?  Or was it a fundamentally flawed organization that God somehow used to do some good amidst the bad?

I have my ideas but would also like people to comment with their thoughts.  There really is no one right answer and IMO the answer is fairly complicated.

One thought that I had was that I believe MMI basically practiced shepherding from the beginning and thus werer controlling over people from the start.  Not that I believe that it was a good practice but when leadership was humble, practiced Philippians 2 and treated those they “shepherded” with the realization that they will one day have to give an account to God then their shepherding practice wasn’t that bad. It was a system that could work as long as you had humility in leadership and people remembered that the basis of leadership is Ephesians 5:21 where before talking about the roles for husbands and wives we were to be subject to one another “out of reverence for Christ.”  Also in I Peter it says to “clothe yourselves with humility toward one another.”

As the group continued IMO the leadership became more arrogant and less humble not to mention attracting controlling type people and younger more inexperienced leaders they moved from being so benevolent in its application. In summary a flawed system (the shepherding practice) that worked fairly well when leadership was humble but then showed how flawed it was when you had arrogant, controlling and/or inexperienced leaders.

I have other thoughts that I will share but need to get to work and thus will share later. I will be curious to hear what others have to say.  With my working comments may not be approved immediately.

Millstones Around Their Necks?

Another busy week with work.  I have a short break before my trip home so taking some time to try and write another post.  I do have some longer and more thought through posts that I am working on.  Look for those soon.

In a discussion with someone about Maranatha this person mentioned the following verse:

“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea.” (Mark 9:42)

With all the spiritual abuse that occurred with MMI one has to wonder if MMI Leadership ever read this passage of scripture.  There is no doubt that MMI caused a number of young believers to stumble in how they treated them.  The consequences of the leaders’ actions are quite severe according to this passage.

I wonder how many former MMI Leaders will go to their grave and then one day face Jesus with this sin hot having been confessed and repented of?  Besides doing this themselves what about top MMI Leaders creating and continuing a culture that allowed and continued this type of action?

This is a basic passage of scripture that all Chrisitans and especially those in leadership should not forget.  Sadly it is too easy to read this passage or other passages and not see how its warning applies to your own actions.  James talks about hearers who merely delude themselves.  Apparently MMI Leadership were readers but not doers with regard to this passage of Scripture.

Something for future generations to learn from.

 

 

 

 

Defending a Group’s History? Idolatry?

It is a busy week with work and don’t have a lot of time to post. I certainly do have a number of thoughts for future posts but those aren’t ready yet.  (Stay tuned)

I did find an interesting comment that someone posted on a blog discussing another group:

“Once the establishment/church becomes your “god”, you’ll do anything to protect it. Lie, cry, place blame on others, use the pulpit to support your position … anything!”

It is sad when a church or group becomes someone’s or a group’s “god.” I am sure that at least some of that went on during history of Maranatha Minsitry International(MMI).  It may also explain people being so defensive about the group’s history.

I would also add that the more one has invested in a group the more likely they are to want to defend the group and take insult at someone pointing out faults of a group.  People can be “invested” in a group in various ways such as time spent in the group and/or money given over the year.  The “investment” can also be how you have told various people how great and “of God” a group or church is.

These points are certainly something to think about.  I do wonder if one of the reasons why MMI apparently drifted so far from God’s call is that maybe the group MMI and its success became an idol or “god” rather than Jesus and what He wanted done?

Could it be that MMI and MMI’s legacy has become a “god” to them that they don’t want the sin and hypocrisy exposed and are content to believe MMI “raised” Jesus?

 

Do You Hear the People Sing?

 

 

Do you hear the people sing?

Singing the song of angry men?

It is the music of a people

Who will not be slaves again!

When the beating of your heart

Echoes the beating of the drums

There is a life that is about to start when tomorrow comes!

 

Will you join in our crusade?

And will be strong and stand with me?

Beyond the barricade

Is there a world you long to see?

 

Then join in the in the fight

That will give you the right to be free!

 

The above are the lyrics of a song which is part of the musical Les Miserable’s.  It was a song of oppressed people expressing their anger and a call to fight.  You can hear a version of the song here.   Before reading further I strongly suggest that you listen to this song.  I personally have found this song quite inspirational.

After the implosion of Maranatha Ministries International(MMI) one could hear a similar song by a number of former Maranatha members.  It was certainly the song of “angry men.”  These men and women were writing about their MMI experience many times with bitterness and venom.  Many expressed anger with their experiences and how they were treated while in MMI.  Sadly they had a lot to work through.

A former MMI leader J. Lee Grady wrote an article in Charisma magazine titled:

Breaking Free From the Spirit of Control.”

In this article he stated of former members, “the many young people who had been discipled in Maranatha had to deal with their own unique form of post-traumatic stress disorder.”  In this article he makes good points about “breaking free from the spirit of control” that existed within the group and can be in other groups.

 

One simple definition of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) I found on Wikipedia is:

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can develop after a person is exposed to one or more traumatic events, such as sexual assaultwarfaretraffic collisionsterrorism or other threats on a person’s life.  Symptoms include disturbing recurring flashbacks, avoidance or numbing of memories of the event, and hyperarousal, continue for more than a month after the occurrence of a traumatic event.

Most people who have experienced a traumatizing event will not develop PTSD.  People who experience assault-based trauma are more likely to develop PTSD, as opposed to people who experience non-assault based trauma such as witnessing trauma, accidents, and fire events.  Children are less likely to experience PTSD after trauma than adults, especially if they are under ten years of age.  War veterans are commonly at risk for PTSD.

What a shame that many in Maranatha Ministries experienced symptoms akin to PTSD.  This should not be what people experience in any supposed Christian ministry.  It would be easy to dismiss these reported experiences if it was just a few, but there were many.  It is equally sad to read about this spirit of control so many had to break free from.

In some ways I think the reactions of former MMI members are similar to how Israel was after leaving Egypt.  I have heard at least a few pastors share their view on how the Israelites acted.  The Israelites in the desert were bitter and angry due their experience as mistreated slaves in Egypt.

These pastors taught that in their opinion it was because of their mistreatment that God was patient with them.  They had to work through a lot of bitterness and trauma in their freedom from slavery state.  It is sad that many leaving MMI especially at the end would have to work through similar feelings.

If you do an internet search you can still find some of these internet discussion boards where you see a record of this talk of “angry men.”  These discussions were during the early days of the Internet.  Former members would share their anger with what they experienced.  They would also discuss their sad experiences including how they were manipulated while in Maranatha.  One was “Poll Idiot or Con Artist?”  Some of the discussions still exist on a website titled Factnet.org and other websites.

Raising Jesus?

It is really difficult to believe that an organization who had this negative and at times traumatic affect on so many people could be described as “Raising Jesus.”  If I had no other information on a group other than this I would seriously question how anyone could claim this group “raised Jesus.”  Reading reports of a group producing so much carnage in their wake certainly doesn’t sound like they “raised” Jesus.  Also, I can’t think of what any group could have possibly done to compensate for all this trauma that would allow one to claim they “raised Jesus.”

Hopefully those affected with a form of PTSD found a way to deal with and work through it.   I am sure there are some who sadly never recovered and still deal with issues.  How sad.

It is possible that many of these men and women though vowing “not to be slaves again” are in fact still slaves.  It is possible that they are now slaves to bitter feelings and traumatic experiences which they can’t move past.  I am sure at least some have a hard time forgiving what was done to them.

Maranatha Ministries Reconsidered: Starting My Blog

This is a blog with which I hope to take a look at Maranatha Ministries International (MMI) and reconsider the organization in various aspects.  A lot of time has passed since the group’s implosion in the early 90’s.  I hope to post both my thoughts and questions as well as hear from others and get their input.  I am going to see how God leads with this endeavor.

This is a long introduction.  Most of my future posts should be shorter.

For those who don’t know MMI was a campus ministry on a number of college campuses that became prominent in the 80’s with a history going back to the early 70’s.  It had its start in Paducah KY with high school students.

MMI was lead by Bob Weiner and Joe Smith.  According to some it had quite the start, but at the end MMI imploded.  There are some who say the decision to close down the ministry was a necessary act of repentance.

Some of the questions I hope to discuss and hopefully answer are:

Raising Jesus?  Not too long ago a book came out attempting to give the history of Maranatha Ministries International titled “Raising Jesus: The Story of the Maranatha House” written by Tom Cooper.  Do the actions and history of MMI really show they “raised Jesus” especially toward the group’s end?

Some of the words that might be more appropriate in my opinion are misrepresenting and sadly at times profaning or reproaching.  My thought is the group did some raising early on in their history but especially toward the end MMI drifted away from “raising Jesus.”

Repentance of MMI Leaders?  Was there really the repentance of top MMI Leaders that some claim?  In the book “Raising Jesus” Tom Cooper claims this occurred.  In other words was there really a confessing and forsaking or was it minimal?  During the days that MMI existed and even to this day at least some of the leaders taught on the need to confess and repent.  Did these leaders ever truly practice what they taught others to do?  Is what they claim being good for others something they did not practice themselves?

Lessons Learned?  MMI very well might have had a very righteous start birthed by God.  What caused this group to apparently go so far off track that closing down the group became the only option?  What warnings were ignored?

More importantly, what can future generations learn from these mistakes, so that future generations won’t repeat these same mistakes that apparently caused MM to sadly drift from God and their calling?   What needs to be avoided?  What do both regular members and especially leaders need to be aware of with future moves of God?

The term “Monday Morning” quarterbacking is another way to put this.   Most college and NFL teams after a weekend game, and especially after a bad loss study what their team did wrong.  They can then use their analysis to learn and make adjustments to help win future games.

In a similar way what can the body of Christ (both leaders and regular members) learn from this ministry’s failure to not repeat in the future?  Hopefully some of these lessons can be pointed out.

Note:  It would be preferable to have someone who was in top leadership of MMI write about this.  Sadly I haven’t seen this done.  I know that J. Lee Grady has written some books that at least seem to hint at the problems that occurred with MM.

“Raising Jesus” was written from the perspective of supposedly telling MMI’s history.  My blog is being done as an analysis.  Wouldn’t it be good if we could get a better understanding of what happened?

Why did MMI “Implode?”  However you want to describe it, MMI at the end basically “imploded at the end.”  What were the reasons for this happening?

Other Specific Questions:

MMI claimed to believe in the gifts of the Spirit including prophecy but did leaders listen to and heed prophetic warnings?  What were the warnings and apparent consequences of not heeding them?

In “Raising Jesus” the author indicates that MMI Leadership encouraged members to make Jesus Lord of their lives (100% commitment).  Did some of the actions of leadership indicate that Jesus wasn’t their Lord especially when they made ministry expansion decisions?  Did they do the equivalent of “going to Asia” when forbid by the Holy Spirit?  (Acts 16:6)

On a similar note did MMI Leadership really seek God in prayer and devotions?  If leadership was truly seeking God one would think that God would have revealed to them early on what their mistakes were, and what God led corrections they needed to make before the only option was to close the ministry.  What happened?  Were these leaders doing “devotions” without being open to God’s direction?

Did the abuses including “shepherding” and control always exist in MMI, or was that something that only came later, or perhaps it always existed but just became worse?

Were the interactions and what happened between top leaders what one would expect in a Christian ministry, or were they worldly as described in James 3:14-16?

What significant items did “Raising Jesus” leave out or minimize which brings into question whether MMI really “raised” Jesus?

God talks about being opposed to the proud but giving grace to the humble.  Was this a factor in MMI’s demise?  Was the character of the group humble or arrogant?

One popular teaching was to use the passage in I Samuel 15:25  that equates rebellion as the sin of “witchcraft.”  Local and national leaders would quote this passage and claim members who questioned or disobeyed them were doing the equivalent of witchcraft.  Looking back maybe it was MMI Leadership who actually practiced “witchcraft.”

What other passages of scripture did MMI Leadership distort (II Peter 3:16) and what passages did they ignore based on their actions?

What did what is called the “Latter Rain Movement” & “Dominionism” play in how MMI acted, and did it contribute to their demise?

 

Rehashing of Past Events?

I know that writing this blog will reopen wounds for some people. Hopefully it will provide healing.  I know it must be hard for some to see a book titled “Raising Jesus” when they experienced abuse, etc. while in the ministry.  The other side really needs to be told.

I see no problem with history being recorded of what happened with MMI, and especially with leadership.  The sins of David, Saul, Samson, Judas, Solomon and many others have been recorded for us to read as warnings. A few Psalms are written talking about Israel’s history encouraging us not to be like our forefathers who did certain things.  Psalm 78 and 106 are examples.

to teach their children,

They would not be like their ancestors-

a stubborn and rebellious generation,

whose hearts were not faithful to him

(Psalm 78:5, 8)

 

I also realize that hindsight is 20/20.  It is easy to look back and indicate what people should have done.  On the other hand maybe this analysis will help future groups not fall into the same traps that MMI fell into.

God Did Use Maranatha

God can and will use the actions of imperfect men to further His kingdom.  This includes actions done either in ignorance or intentionally.  Significant fruit came out of MMI but sadly especially toward the end there were many broken and abused sheep.

I am sure that most if not all of MMI Leadership meant well and thought they were doing the right thing, but somehow many became deceived into doing what was wrong.  As Jeremiah 17:9 states:

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked who can know it?

 

You Can’t Blame it all on Bob Weiner and the late Joe Smith

Besides the “lieutenants” who worked under Bob & Joe, all of those who were part of MMI have some blame.  Most of if not all of us ignored warning signs.  It was probably repeated warning signs that things weren’t right which we continued to ignore rather than take action, such as leaving the group when leadership was unresponsive to correction.    Hopefully we can discuss what some of these warning signs were.

 

Open to Comments & Input

I am open to comments as I make various blog posts and see where this all goes including how God leads this.  I would just hope that we don’t see ad hominem attacks but rather discuss the facts.  Sadly when people don’t like certain statements, but can’t find an argument against these statements this is when (in my opinion) one usually uses ad hominem attacks.

I know that my blog won’t be well received by some.  There was a blog titled “Every Nation Exposed” which told one person’s history with MMI that wasn’t well received by some either.  This blog was taken down a few years ago.

Again, we shall see how God leads with this.