The Corruption of Money

Text: I Timothy 6:3-10


I.         In any discussion of false teachers you have to address the issue of money. Money is often the motivation for compromising the truth - I Timothy 6:10-11

            A.        Teaching for the money they can make - Titus 1:10-11

            B.        II Peter 2:3 - Some make merchandise of the brethren

            C.        Even during the Old Testament there were men who would decide who their friends and enemies were solely on the funds that given to them.

            D.        Is it any wonder that such behavior continues today?

II.        Brief history of the church in the Philippines

            A.        Many of the churches initially established in the Philippines were established by brethren with liberal and institutional beliefs

                        1.         Initially, each preacher raised their own support from brethren in the US. However, the work was organized through central churches, such as the church in Bagio City.

                        2.         After many years, they realized they had a problem. Brethren in the US had no idea what a living wage was in the Philippines. Some preachers were barely making ends meet while those more eloquent in English were making up to 10 times more money.

                        3.         They established central churches to receive funding from the brethren in the U.S. and the central churches set the preacher’s salaries to approximately that equal to a school teacher (in the 1970's this came to about 125 to 150 pesos per month).

                                    a.         To get the salary’s balanced, they began lowering the salaries of those being paid too much by 50 pesos each month.

                                    b.         By the mid-70's they were approaching their target salaries.

            B.        About this time Roy Cogdill, Cecil Willis, and others from the conservative churches began to make trips into the Philippines.

                        1.         Several preachers were converted out of liberalism, but this meant a loss of support.

                        2.         Cogdill and others offered to replace their support with help from US brethren at a level of 200 to 250 peso per week.

                        3.         Can you guess what happened?

                                    a.         Word quickly circulated that there were churches offering better pay if a preacher just renounce liberal doctrine.

                                    b.         There was a mass exodus from the liberal church.

                        4.         At first the liberal brethren were upset, but later they realized that the conservative brethren had done them a great favor. Only devoted preachers were left. The rift-raft had all left for the money.

            C.        Over the years the situation has decayed.

                        1.         Those more eloquent in English were asked to write on behalf of preachers with limited English skills.

                                    a.         As a result they began dictating who preached in which congregations and what they had to believe in order to receive funding.

                                    b.         One preacher in Tugueguero, Rudy Gumpad, has approximately 20 preachers working for him.

                                    c.         Juanito Balbin on the island of Mindanao says “I do the work in traveling to churches. So I know most of the impulses, movement, feelings, activities, and belief of the churches, specially in my area of works of 65 congregations and 85 preachers in it.”

                                    d.         This is the rule more than the exception.

                        2.         Preachers are often assigned congregations far from their homes. This gives “justification” to write brethren in the US about the need for transportation to these remote areas.

                                    a.         Generally, a preacher only visits a community on Sunday. He does not live among the brethren.

                        3.         Preachers are assigned multiple congregations.

                                    a.         Often this is necessary as travel is difficult, so each village must have a church.

                                    b.         Yet, preachers collect 2 to 4 congregations because this makes them look busier. It is almost unheard of a preacher who is devoted to one congregation.

                                    c.         Multiple congregations also justifies the need for transportation.

                        4.         “An example of this kind of leadership can be found in the practice of ‘closed door’ meetings. At these meetings only select preachers are allowed to attend. The matters discussed at these meetings are not made known publicly to the brethren. These men were boldly acting for the congregations without the congregations consent. These men have ‘disfellowshiped’ members of other congregations. They have acted according to a pattern not found in the New Testament. They have arrogated to themselves authority equal to the Apostles. Their agenda has been to disallow this disfellowshiped person to teach to their respective congregation for he was a ‘false teacher.’ They have even went as far telling people in their own group that they would be thrown out if they accept this ‘false teacher.’ And I know one of these personally. We’re not talking about a local congregation deciding who will be allowed to teach, but a group of congregations being ordered by these men. . . .” [Ian Balbin in a letter to Earl Mitchell, advance copy]

III.       Brethren in the US are encouraging corruption in the Philippines

            A.        The prevailing attitude is that one raises as much funds as possible

                        1.         Rudy Gumpad is shown on video stating that he writes as widely as possible to raise support and if he receives more than he expects, well, that is a blessing from the Lord to be spent as he sees fit. He never has extra because he spends all that he receives.

            B.        Brethren are encouraged to use personal hardships in fund raising.

                        1.         Rudy uses the medical problems of his son, daughter, and wife to raise additional funds. It is widely believed that those funds were used to purchase land, build a house, and purchase a new car.

                        2.         In a recent trip, Rudy mentioned that one preacher’s daughter was dying of cancer and that the family was having difficulty paying the medical bills.

                                    a.         Several months after Rudy returned, the young lady died, yet the family never received any money.

                                    b.         At the funeral, Rudy offered to pay the medical bill if the preacher would renounce several men who were publically protesting the corruption in the Philippines.

                                    c.         The preacher was so upset that someone would make merchandise of his grief, that he walked off without a word.

            C.        Money sent to the Philippines was distributed on the basis of membership in the church and not need. (The following is from the 1998 distribution.)

                        1.         “. . . the combined figure for what Jim and I both raised was about $400,000. We went to each region and met with brethren in a central location, rather than asking men to travel from far-away areas. (The one exception is Palawan, an island we were not able to visit, though we were well acquainted with the severe conditions and the brethren there. Some of them came to Manila and received help with careful instructions for distribution.) No church in need was ignored, but we simply could not reach all the affected areas and churches. Money was not wasted on preachers not in need, but brethren from each church listed the local membership and distribution was made accordingly.” [Ron Halbrook, 3/17/1999 in a letter to John Isaac Edwards]

                                    a.         Ron was correct in saying they could not visit all the affected areas. They managed to distribute $400,000 in a single two week trip!

                                    b.         To accomplish this feat, they met preachers who resided in a central location, gave out funds based on membership, and then had these men deliver the funds to remote regions.

                        2.         “I was PERSONALLY present when Jim McDonald and Ken Marrs in April, 1994, asked all the preachers to line up and handed each of them P1,500 (about $60 at that time) in an envelope. When I questioned them about the need of these brethren, they said they did not have time to find out who had real needs so they just divided up the money they brought and passed it out to the preachers. I was there. I heard it. I saw it. And I disagreed. The fact that Halbrook and McDonald still do the same method of passing out benevolence is without doubt. Ron admits they just passed out the money to every saint who came asking for it. Where is the examination into need? Quite simply there was none.” [Glenn Hamilton in a letter to John and Rhonda Bosworth]

                        3.         “Jim and Ron went to a central location in each region and gathered the preachers. They had all the preachers write down or tell how many members were in each congregation they worked with as well as the name and location of each congregation. They then passed out a set amount of money per individual in each congregation listed (in some areas as little as P800 ($21) in some as much as P1,400 ($37), but generally around P1,000 ($26)). There was no effort to determine if anyone had a need. The money was handed out on a per person basis. Now that is already unscriptural, but there is more. Now when a preach[er] received money he was given several receipts. For example using the two churches in Apayao whose receipts are at[t]ached, the preacher reported 15 members and was given P15,000 (P1,000 to be given to each member). He was given four receipts to send back to the US indicating he received P15,000, but each receipt lists the whole amount. So each person who receives the receipt would think that he paid the whole amount. So in reality P60,000 worth of receipts (P15,000 x 4 receipts) was given out. The other set from Apayao shows double receipts. Now all of this could just be poor planning and thought by McDonald and Halbrook, but the result is that there has been and can be no accountability. The practice was revealed to me by some accountants who are members of the church here (one of whom is a national auditor and the other a professor of accounting), who said the receipts would be worthless from an accounting point-of-view.” [Glenn Hamilton in a letter to Earl Mitchell, 6/11/1999]

                        4.         With money being distributed based on membership, you can see the problem behind one story I was told. An American preacher came and spoke to a local congregation. The preacher afterwards stood up and thanked the preacher in English. He then asked in the local dialect “Who wants rice?” Nearly every hand went up. He then turned to the American preacher and in English said, “They want to be baptized.” The American preacher was shocked and asked if the local preacher was sure. The local preacher asked the congregation in the local dialect “Are you sure you want rice?” Again, nearly every hand went up. He then turned to the American preacher who was near tears and said, “Yes, they want to be baptized.”

            D.        Despite assurances that preachers were warned to deliver all funds to the members of the church, I have documentation of at least two cases where a significant cut was taken in the 1999 distribution.

                        1.         Case 1.

                                    a.         Jim McDonald and Ron Halbrook did not give funds directly to all preachers, instead a group of six representatives on the island of Mindanao took charge of distributing the funds. An amount of 465 pesos was set per member.

                                    b.         I have a copy of a check given to Aldrin Flores for 5,115 pesos (11 members). Aldrin was given two receipts to sign, one for $100 and one for $200, which were to be returned to the donors. Notice that the donors are not told the pesos amount given to the church.

                                    c.         At the time, the exchange rate was 38 pesos per dollar. The receipts of $300 total 11,400 pesos. Notice there is a 6,285 pesos (or $165.39) discrepancy.

                        2.         Case 2

                                    a.         William Iglanon was given a check for 33,480 pesos (72 members). He was given two receipts to sign, one for $150 and another for $1000.

                                    b.         $1,150 dollars comes to 43,700 pesos. There is a discrepancy of 10,220 pesos (or $268.95).

                        3.         I was told, though no proof was given, that some preachers took a 10% cut before distributing the funds to their congregation as a money handling fee.

            E.        Benevolence money was used to split a congregation.

                        1.         I spoke with a preacher in Macabebe about this. Jim McDonald had brought funds for the church as they were suffering from a severe flood. Before giving the money, Jim insisted that the preacher sign a paper denouncing various preachers as being false teachers. While the local preacher did not agree with the teaching of several of the men listed, he thought it wrong for a person to come and dictate whom he could talk or not talk to based on his say so alone, and worse to dangle money in front of him as incentive. He refused to sign the paper. He pointed out that Jim knew him and had stayed in his house several times. If he trusted him, then his concern should be for the needy brethren and not for furthering his agenda.

                        2.         Jim found another man, who signed the paper, to establish a second congregation in Macabebe. This man then offered the benevolence money to anyone who would leave the first congregation and agree to sign the paper. Half the congregation left.

                        3.         This new congregation is now building a building, financed by Jim McDonald, two lots down from the original group’s building. And this in a small community north of Manila.

IV.      Where money is freely spread, corruption will follow

            A.        Parable of the tares - Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

            B.        This world will have its problems because Satan will not rest. Yet, we can combat Satan. He doesn’t have to win. He will not win. God will be victorious.