Training Leaders for Cuban “Cell” Churches
The TMAI training center in Honduras is called Ministerios Evangelicos de las Americas (MEDA) or the Evangelical Ministries of the Americas. MEDA has “a conference program, and now an established seminary, MEDA is equipping Bible teachers and church leaders in Honduras, as well as the rest of Central America.” “In 2005, MEDA ministered to 1400 different pastors and lay leaders through its 23 conferences and it ministered to 30 men at the seminary level.” Having a seminary with a 4 year curriculum, is MEDA a biblical training center? Is there evidence that MEDA, like TMAI BRAZIL, is also partnering with the government?
In the March, 2007 TMAI newsletter, a headline reads, “A Visit from the Vice President.” The article gives an account of a visit the Vice President of Honduras, Elvin Santos, made to the MEDA facilities in Jan 2007. The following quote is from the article written by Pastor Adrian Donato of MEDA, a graduate of the Master’s College and the Master’s Seminary. “The secret police came about an hour before the Vice President was to arrive…” “Eventually, the Vice President came over the mountains in his thunderous, blasting helicopter. He touched down on the MEDA soccer field and was surrounded by military and secret service as he came over to shake hands and greet our families, and the MEDA personnel.”
The Vice President then hopped aboard one of a caravan of cars that headed to the local “municipality where every mayor in Honduras was present.” Pastor Adrian Donato was asked to drive his car in the middle of the caravan from MEDA to the municipality. Due to the presence of the Vice President, security was on high alert during the trip, and Pastor Donato, feeling like a part of the security team exclaimed, “It was at that point that I realized I was really honoring the King in a very practical way out of love for Christ!” This MEDA pastor was honoring the King (in caps), referring to the VP of Honduras, “out of love for Christ!”
When they arrived at the municipality, Pastor Donato preached to all the mayors of Honduras. He read from John 19:7-11 and he “asked that each one of these mayors would carry out their duties and functions with the consciousness that they are accountable to God the Father.” Have any of these mayors heard the gospel and are any of them saved? “At the end of the ceremony, the Vice President specifically thanked MEDA for its hospitality AND ITS WILLINGNESS TO SERVE (emphasis added).” Willingness to serve? To serve whom? Is the Vice President of Honduras thanking MEDA (TMAI Honduras) for its willingness to serve the Lord Jesus Christ? This is most unlikely given that Pastor Donato later states, “We don’t think the President, nor the Vice President are Christians…” “After the ceremony, the train [caravan of cars] returned to MEDA, we enjoyed lunch at one of the MEDA homes with the Vice President and other dignitaries.” It appears that MEDA was used by the VP as his base during this stay. “At that time, Carlos Nunez (MEDA’s Executive Director) shared what we do at MEDA [to the dignitaries] and how the changed lives of people who submit to Christ is what will transform the culture. It was great!” The MEDA leadership also intends “to transform the culture” supposedly by “the changed lives of those who submit to Christ.” Will the Honduran culture be “transformed” by Christians submitting to Jesus Christ, or by community members submitting to MEDA’s leadership training program?
Pastor Donato ends by stating, “We have just been approached by the Colonel of the military base here in town to pray with them and to offer them biblical counseling!” “…the Lord has…given testimony of Him before kings and governors!”
The article also stated regarding this Vice Presidential visit: “The whole thing came about just by being neighborly and modeling Christ to our city mayor.” Are we, as Christians, called to obey Christ or to “model” Christ? “Modeling Christ” is not didactic teaching, it is transformational language and behavior employed by the church growth movement. To “model” Christ is like an actor playing a role. “When an actor takes on an archetypal role through method acting by implanting an aspect of that archetype into their psyche, essentially becoming a gateway for an egregore [a demon].” (The Art of Memetics, p. 74.) To “model” Christ is not to be born again, but to take on a role that would only change one’s outward behavior.
Another TMAI newsletter (8/07) stated that MEDA received another visit from the Vice President of Honduras in June, 2007. Why the second visit? To ask Bible questions? Or to help facilitate MEDA’s “willingness to serve?”
Does MEDA have connections with any other governments? To quote from the Jan, 2007 TMAI newsletter: In 2001, Carlos Montoya, a Master’s Seminary graduate, “moved with his family to Honduras to serve the Lord at MEDA.” “In April of 2006, Carlos received an email from Len Crowley with Counsel & Capital, offering an opportunity to extend MEDA’s ministry beyond the borders of Central America—to train key evangelical leaders from Cuba.” The plan called for bringing 10 men from Cuba to a pastor’s conference at MEDA. There was the matter of “obtaining permission from the Cuban government.”
Bringing the Cubans to the conference “involved a pair of calls to the Chief of Staff to the Honduran President, one of which resulted in intervention from the President himself.” (One of the men organizing the conference was the cousin of this Chief of Staff.)
The Cuban government allowed 3 men to attend the conference at MEDA. One of these Cubans explained “that the Cuban church is experiencing an unprecedented growth in the form of ‘cell’ churches throughout the country. Because of this, there are not enough leaders to lead those churches.” (“So many churches with so few leaders” ought to be the motto for the church growth movement.)
Notice that this Cuban didn’t say there was unprecedented growth in Christianity in Cuba; rather, he said there was unprecedented church growth in the form of “cell” churches. Cuba is a communist nation where true Christianity isn’t allowed. According to a U.S. Department of State warning in 2004 regarding Cuba: “Cuba is a totalitarian police state, which relies on repressive methods to maintain control.” 103. But now that Cuba, like the rest of the world, is being transformed by Communitarianism, a cell church led by “Christian” leaders is allowed; a cell church, being essentially a network of facilitator-led small groups or home groups. These “Christian” cells will be led by men transformed through leadership development.
Keep in mind that the man who brought this Cuban venture to the attention of MEDA, Len Crowley, the managing director of Counsel & Capital, is a ministry representative for the Center for Church-Based Training (CCBT). The CCBT is a ministry that offers “facilitator-led small group studies” for sale under the guise of “discipleship for small groups.” Has the CCBT found a market for their “facilitator-led small group studies” in Cuba since their “explosion in cell churches” has occurred?
If anyone thinks the Vice President of Honduras is visiting and thanking MEDA for its “willingness to serve” the Lord Jesus Christ or if anyone thinks there is an explosion in true Christianity in Cuba that’s taking the form of “cell” churches, then they are greatly deceived.
Global Ministries (www.ubmissions.com) is the “worldwide outreach of the United Brethren in Christ.” It appears to me that Global Ministries is mostly involved in construction projects. The Global Ministries Leadership Team “is asking leaders in our overseas churches to develop well-defined project proposals.” According to the Global Ministries website, Evangelical Ministries of the Americas (MEDA) is partnering with their subsidiary in Honduras. They are partnering in a “leadership development” project.
According to the TMAI newsletter (5/06), Wellington Christian Church in Kentucky partners with MEDA. This church’s head pastor is Wayne Holcomb. “His church is extending the scope of its outreach by partnering with the MEDA training center in Honduras.” Pastor Holcomb stated that he wanted to “extend the Wellington ministry.” “We have a number of doctors who want to provide medical assistance to the poor,” said Holcomb.
The Wellington Church website describes their ministry at MEDA: “Wellington took a team of 13 members to Honduras in September 2006 to assist local pastors in teaching God’s word, providing VBS outreach, and conducting several medical clinics. Our pastor, Wayne Holcomb, taught a Bible Survey class in a local church, while other members of the team worked with nearly 2,000 children and provided medical care to 475. Wellington plans to send another team to Honduras in July 2007.”
Wellington Church’s newsletter cites one missionary qualification as “a willingness to serve as a cross-cultural disciple-maker.” And “missions are exciting, spiritually life-changing…” Regarding their 2006 mission trip to Honduras, a missionary said, “…I knew from the beginning my life would be forever changed.” “My life has changed since Honduras.”
Wellington Church offers 100, 200, 300, 400 level courses. Their last course, Christianity 406, is called Financial Peace University which is “a life-changing program that teaches you how to make the right decisions with your money. You’ll be empowered…” One of their Bible series courses “will emphasize the life-changing content of the gospel…”
Wellington Church has a small group ministry. Among other reasons for this ministry: “Wellington’s small group ministry” exists “to pursue our joy in the Lord through the multiplication of worshippers…” How do these small groups function? “Small groups are the basic units for Christian Community at Wellington. These groups are made up of 8-15 people in which the body-life of the church is lived out through the development of intimate relationships; through the discovery and use of spiritual gifts; through the discipline of discipleship; through going “outside the camp” (Heb. 13:13) to bring others to Christ…” But Heb 13:13 doesn’t imply that unbelievers should be brought into the groups. “It is within a small group such as this that the ministry of Wellington and the Body of Christ becomes most effective in our lives.” “The groups are led by gifted and trained leaders.”
The Wellington website states that the reason for small groups is to “help meet the needs of others.” It states, “Our prayer is that virtually every member and regular visitor of Wellington will view participation in a small group as an integral part of their privilege and responsibility that comes with being a part of the Body of Christ. The Lord wills to satisfy our deepest need which flows through us as we help meet the needs of others.” Change agents are able to manipulate and transform by appealing to people’s “felt needs.”