Christians don’t need gurus

Indians have a tendency to idolize leaders.  We idolize our film stars, politicians and even people who have authority over us like our bosses. Maybe it is because of the culture that worships countless gods which make people revere anybody with power or authority. Or maybe it is because we do not value the individual adequately and so we tend to place undue respect on leaders. It is therefore not surprising that we have innumerable gurus. Unfortunately Christians in India often venerate their leaders and some even treat them as gurus, although this was explicitly forbidden by our master Jesus Christ who said “None of you should be called a teacher. You have only one teacher, and all of you are like brothers and sisters. None of you should be called the leader. The Messiah is your only leader.” Matthew 23:8 & 10 (CEV).

The Laymen’s Evangelical Fellowship seems to be guilty of venerating their leader, Joshua Daniel who passed away recently. Whatever he taught was blindly accepted by them even if it was contrary to the Bible or he himself did not practise it. Contrary to Biblical principles, he had total control of the Laymen’s Evangelical Fellowship. People gave up their independence and made him their master. People wanted him to choose brides and grooms, suggest courses to study and even where to go on a honeymoon! Sadly he was also very happy to oblige. Members not paying adequate respect to him were not respected and even slandered publicly. It is quite possible that he wanted the members to obey him in all aspects of life and thus the vicious cycle of people relinquishing their authority and his usurping of authority started. His control over the church was so great that nobody was able to get him to displace his trusted but errant leaders. Even his own daughter, unable to influence her parents, repeatedly writes stinging comments on Facebook against these leaders. Mr. Joshua Daniel often preached contrary to what he lived. He preached regularly against going abroad but strangely he and his family has lived for decades overseas. He preached against owing a car but he owned multiple luxury cars that were rarely used. Somehow people were blind to the fact that he also was a mortal and he had flaws. Maybe the flaws were skillfully covered up and the gullible members did not care to look deeper! After a prolonged sickness, he recently passed away. This has come as a shock to many as some never expected him to die and wanted him to live till Jesus returned! It is true that he has worked tirelessly and preached all over the world and lives were touched and changed. But in the kingdom of God, we are all servants to one master. Some do their task better than others but the glory goes to God alone.

This problem doesn’t seem to be unique to Indians. Even in St. Paul’s days the Corinthians were showing similar tendencies and he had to rebuke them: “Some of you say that you follow me, and others claim to follow Apollos. Isn’t that how ordinary people behave?  Apollos and I are merely servants who helped you to have faith. It was the Lord who made it all happen.” 1 Corinthians 3:4,5 (CEV) Thankfully the early Christian seem to have accepted Paul’s exhortation and not made gurus of their leaders. There is no precise location for the sepulchre where Jesus’ body was laid temporarily or specific burial place for many apostles. This shows that the people probably were more interested in their faith rather than mortal people. Leaders can sin and make mistakes in their teaching. When people start venerating leaders, these errors are ignored or even get accepted as truth. Instead of honouring God, people end up honouring man. The praise and adoration from the people can get leaders puffed up, that they think that they are invincible and can do anything and nobody can question them. As more and more people start venerating a leader, the crowd mentality enters. Those who oppose this veneration are sidelined and it becomes the norm to be subservient to the leader. The leader gets more power and less opposition. But thankfully there is an end to all of this madness. Often some serious sin is exposed and the leader looses respect. If not death will generally bring veneration to an end. Sometimes the veneration is passed on to the son (as in the case of Mr. Joshua  Daniel, who received the respect given to the father) but rarely does this go on for more than 2 generations.

I urge my fellow Indian Christian to stop making gurus out of Christian leaders but keep “looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2a). Study the scripture as I have implored in earlier posts so that you will get your priorities correct.

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23 Comments

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23 responses to “Christians don’t need gurus

  1. An Estranged LEF Soul

    Should Christians obey their pastors?(John Daniel/Lilly and their gand)

    Hebrews 13:17 teaches, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” Believers are clearly called to follow their teachers under normal circumstances. However, there are occasions in which believers may make exception.

    Of special importance is the biblical practice of evaluating a leader’s teaching to make certain it is consistent with Scripture. Acts 17:11 reveals the practice of the Bereans, sharing, “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” If a pastor’s teaching is inconsistent with God’s Word or contradicts it, a person is under no obligation to obey.

    In addition, the Bible also warns against false teachers. Though there are many noble ministers of God’s Word, there are others who preach and lead for selfish personal reasons. Jude 1:3 notes, “Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” Second Peter 2:1 says, “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.” False teachers are not to be obeyed, but rather rejected.

    In cases in which an ungodly or false teacher exists in a church, two or more witnesses are required before presenting the case to the church (1 Timothy 5:19). If accusations are found true, “As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear” (1 Timothy 5:20). In some cases, this will involve discipline of some sort. In other cases, the concern will lead to removal from leadership.

    The godly leader, however, is worthy of great honor. First Timothy 5:17 teaches, “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.” This “double honor” likely included financial support as well (see v. 18). Church leaders who serve well will also be greatly rewarded in eternity: “So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory” (1 Peter 5:1-4).

    • GE

      In addition to this timely reminder from ‘Estranged LEF Soul’, I would add that one has also to consider what qualifies Christian leaders to become leaders in the first place. There was a fairly clear process indicated in the New Testament for the selection of leaders, once the early church had been established by those who had been personally appointed by The Lord Jesus. This in no way recommends or validates self-appointed leaders, or dynastically appointed leaders; it certainly does not give women authority for spiritual leadership. All of these matters are dealt with in the epistles, and especially in Paul’s pastoral epistles, from which I will not quote extracts as it is always better to read the whole context of any quotations referred to. Earlier, in Acts, we read of the appointment of a replacement for Judas Iscariot, which was even then quite a democratic affair, since the remaining apostles selected suitable candidates from amongst the believers before the lot was cast. They also selected the first deacons on the basis of proven spiritual qualities. Those selected in each case were a demonstrably eclectic group of men. If there were family connections (and to be fair, we cannot say for sure that there were not), they were not considered to be of sufficient significance to mention at this stage in the church’s development – by comparison with the Gospel writers, who made it clear that there were two sets of brothers within the twelve called by Jesus himself.

      The author of the comment to which this refers has wisely left the reader to decide whether the LEF ‘leadership’ situation conforms to any Scriptural pattern, in terms of true or false leaders. I would simply highlight the main points of what I have written in terms of the Biblically authorised mode of the initial selection of Christian leaders in the early church:

      1. Leaders did not appoint themselves.
      2. Leaders were not appointed by their parents, or by other close family members.
      3. Women were not allowed to be spiritual leaders.
      4. Leaders (whether elders or deacons) were selected on the
      basis of demonstrated, acknowledged (by the church), and suitably qualifying spiritual gifts.

      It is right to add that from time to time, in exceptional circumstances, God raises up a man for leadership outside of this pattern, and for His own divine and sovereign purpose. The validity of such a leader can in part be assessed by whether he is then willing to guide converts into following the pattern set in Scripture for the establishment and healthy continuance of a local church, with its own properly appointed leadership and disciplinary process, or whether his trust in the Lord’s way of doing things is not sufficient to enable him eventually, and in due time, to relinquish his position in obedience to it.

  2. steven

    I am not intimidated by any of LEFs Pastors or deacons (even though i render due respect to them) i am steven from North India (believe me, its my name not a pseudonym). the pastor and his wife, of the place from where my wife is, tried to control the whole family and interfered in all their personal and private things, like what dress to put on, what course to study, etc.. when my wife got an opportunity to do her Ph.D in another town, she was told by the pastor that she was crazy of degrees, and another pastor’s wife told that god revealed to her that my wife shouldnt do her Ph.D. My father in law being a godly man encouraged his daughter with lots of prayer and he stood by his daughter’s side and had to face the music of LEF deacons. and recently when we got the opportunity to meet the same pastor and his wife, we made it clear to them that how they treated my wife. and beleive me…they had justification for all our questions even though they were absurd…they showed no sign of remorse for all the man made rules and regulations they had put up.

    when their children get married and struggle with their job and life, they term it as “HUMBLE Beginning”, but any other couple goes through the same scenario, they say “Consequence of not obeying us”….

    my wife’s pastor used to literally insult my in laws whenever my wife used to put on pants or some modern dress (when i say modern, it doesnt mean obscene, we know the difference).

    we told them how god had blessed us and has been using us in his kingdom (not in LEF, but in a church where there are honest servants of god who have sacrificed their lives to extend HIS kingdom)…their answer was” who knows brother, if your wife had obeyed us then, HE would have used her more effectively”….jeeeezzzz…is there no end for their Justifying-their-deeds mentality??

    WHEN WE GO FOR HIGHER STUDIES IT IS TERMED AS WORLDLY, CRAZE FOR DEGREES
    WHEN THEIR CHILDREN DO IT IS TERMED AS = GOD IS BLESSING THEM

    for sure LEF is using double scale to measure

    All those who are/were Close to Joe uncle, their children got either grooms settled abroad/pretty brides,
    BUT WHEN CONGREGATION APPROACHES THE PASTORS, THEY SAY JUST PRAY, DO NOT LOOK AT BEAUTY AND JOB,

    (THIS INFACT IS A HARSH REALITY, i am not against all those pretty brides or well paid grooms, but the double standards employed by influential LEF personalities)

    these are just some of the facts.

    you can call me a fault finder, accuser, are what ever you intend to…as if i care

    they are many many such instances which i have witnessed.

    BUT THE ONE THING I HATE THE MOST IS- LEF PASTORS (majority of them) USE THE PULPIT TO ACCUSE THE SHEEP / TARGET THOSE WHO DO NOT OBEY THEM (even if they obey god).

    • Amian Amahar

      Very sad, Steven, but this kind of experience seems very common with the LEF. I am not sure what you mean by their ‘pastors’ and ‘deacons’. To the best of my knowledge Joshua D. did not follow the ecclesiology of the Bible, but imposed the self-appointed, dynastic rule of his father, himself and his family, and various followers who were approved and (very restrictively) permitted by Joshua Daniel to ‘run’ the local groups, in practical terms – at least in Europe. I am glad that your/your wife’s family were able to stand up to this kind of unbiblical intrusion into your private life by people who, in my experience, were not even appointed as leaders through normal church membership approval. Sometimes it is right for other Christians to talk to us about issues in our lives, but usually by our own invitation, or else as a matter of Biblical church discipline if we, as church members, are bringing Christ into disrepute by our behaviour. Where there is no Biblically organised local church, it follows that there is no place for anyone to try to exercise church discipline, since they have not been elected and approved by the local Body of Christ to exercise such authority…..as indeed Joshua Daniel himself was not. The lack of Biblical leadership has probably helped to bring about the current ‘in-fighting’ and apparent struggle for authority and self-justification which is now so sadly and publicly evident between members of Joshua’s immediate family on a social networking site – sibling rivalry. I do hope that the many people who have been caught up in this organisation for so long will find a way of joining with, or setting up, Biblical, properly taught local fellowships, with correctly appointed leaderships.

  3. GE

    I have today posted another comment in response to criticisms of these blogs from those who do not like their ‘guru’ to be criticised, as they see it. There is a universal confusion amongst Christians between the biblical understanding of ‘judgement’ and ‘discernment’. I may have blogged under the pseudonym ‘Amian’.

  4. MA

    Just like you all, I have had a long association with this church and in no uncertain words opposed its oppressive culture. Here is what I wrote after seeing Mr.Joe’s funeral service. You all can imagine what kind of attacks follow when people read my analysis
    ———————————————————————————-
    Friends, here are some thoughts about the church some of us were once part of:
    I got some time to watch the videos from Mr. Joe’s funeral and memorial service. I was somewhat interested to see how each of his five children related to their dad, family, and LEF. It was such an eye opener for me to see how the same person playing the same role as a dad to each of these children had different kind of impact on them. Clearly the girls seemed to see their dad as a hero but what interested me most was the reaction of the boys.
    John Daniel, the heir apparent, did all he could to project himself as the natural successor and he had a clear agenda in mind and every word he spoke was aligned with that agenda. Joseph Daniel, on the other hand seemed to be more surprised than any other children that his dad whom he saw as an ordinary man had a larger than life image. It almost seemed like he finally found answers to some perplexing question – “what is it that can make a man leave his wife and children?” Looks like he found the answer standing in front of the corpse with thousands of people surrounding it – his dad has bartered spending time with his own wife and children to be with the crowds. Clearly it did not look like he would ever do what his dad did because that would mean giving up spending time with his wife and children. Also, he was clearly not in any kind of competition to get to the throne that John Daniel was elevated to.
    The most interesting reaction of all was that of James Daniel. He clearly went through mixed emotions. When he said “no fool would buy tickets to the Titanic, he sounded like the fox in the story that finally gave up reaching for the grapes saying-“these grapes are sour anyway” But then there were other things that surfaced in his talk. He seemed to be unafraid to show an ignominious picture of his dad and the LEF. In no uncertain words he said that his parents had double standards and were hypocritical. His dad pestered his own son to marry when he was in his 20s but then that was not really the right age to get married for most boys his dad controlled. Mr. Joe traveled the globe for his job but did not approve of his son doing the same for his job. It takes a lot of hurt and humiliation for a son to discredit the otherwise “glorified work” of his dad as “goonda fellowship.” While he cleared his chest by blurting out what he thought about his father and his father’s baby, LEF, it was sad to see that he was very thoughtless in doing so. He was thoughtless not because he spoke ill of his dad and the way the dad operated but because now hundreds of people who are working for this organization will be branded as “goondas” because they are working for a “goonda fellowship.” If one of these people from these hundreds of people happens to be somebody you know who has given up everything much against the liking of their own family to work for LEFI (in our case, our dad) it makes it even harder. But then again, I am not totally against what, when, and how and to whom he said what he said. If not now, then when? If not to this group of people, then which group of people? This was the targeted audience that needed to know the truth more than anybody else and probably he needed to hit the rod when it is really hot so that perhaps at least a handful of people who were sitting in that place could finally see the truth in a way that they may never be able to see in their entire life. Then of course, the translators goofed off. Much against my impulse to conclude that the translators did it deliberately, I want to be objective and think that the translators themselves were too shocked to hear what they heard and this shock ditched their ability to translate.
    In one thing the sons seemed to be in unison- their dad was not around and when they needed him. It looked like John Daniel was bitter about it as he saw that it is these thousands of people who are gathered here that were responsible for taking their dad away from him. He almost demanded that people obey what his dad said (may be what God said – it is confusing here because for people in LEF what Mr. Joe said was more authentic than what God said) because his dad left him to teach this people God’s word. It seemed like an emotional black mail of the masses – “our dad has left us children for you and you all are responsible for our deprivation.” An objective consideration of this will reveal other truths. Any person, who has grown to the highest rungs in his or her field of work has always made a conscious choice to give up his or her time with the family to pursue his or her passion. The CEOs, business tycoons, astronauts, politicians, sports stars, and anybody whom the society views as being successful are people who have given up a lot to get what they aspired for. Just like all these people, even religious leaders like Mr. Joe have made a conscious choice to travel far and wide, give up family time because they valued their mission more than anything else. People never demanded that he leave his family and attend to their needs but it was his inner calling that made him travel far and wide. It seemed rather silly that each one of them wanted the congregation to have some kind of guilt trip about Mr. Joe not being around with the family.
    There was one thing that was more than obvious when I saw the funeral and memorial service- even though Mr. Joe was not around his children as much as the children wanted him, it looked he was the only parent Betty, James and Joseph had. The mom, Mrs. Lily Daniel clearly sent a message that she was the mom only to two children of her five children- Lydia and John. The woman seemed to send a message that she is in control. She looked more like a widow of a politician than the wife of a man who the world sees as somebody who selflessly served the masses. She seemed unemotional and totally detached from the emotions of her children and the crowd around her. She projected herself as the beginning and end of fellowship – carefully reminding people about her association to the organization from 1948. She looked resolved not to give any credit for the growth of LEF to anybody other than her late husband and the late mother-in-law (both of whom are now no more and are incapable of taking the control from her and her beloved son, John). She looked like a woman who was tired of playing second fiddle that limited her to working behind the scenes in controlling this organization. When she mentioned that her husband provided for the family even though he never got a pay check, it sounded more like an accusation that he did not have a pay check than a compliment that he provided for the family in spite of the fact. It is to her credit that she meticulously removed not only prominent family members such Mrs. Kamala and Mr. Whitson Paul but also other senior people of the fellowship like Mr. Jayanth Samuel from the scenes. She was shamelessly bold to proclaim to the world, that her husband’s death has clearly liberated her and her darling children, John Daniel and Lydia Daniel from any attachments to the rest of Daniel family even if they were the ones who toiled to build this organization from the scratch and even if they happened to be her other three children. She seemed to be lacking natural instinct of a mother and perhaps, just perhaps she might have been the one who pushed her husband to be seen as somebody who died between two thieves by none other than their own son.
    What is perplexing is that this family that has been clearly westernized both in the attitude and attire still wants to control this fellowship that has 95% of its base in India. Why? What makes Lily Daniel believe that her son, who is so culturally and linguistically disjointed from Indians will be able to provide leadership to people with whom he is clearly incapable of relating at any level? If anything, Betty is the only one who seemed to be a little bit in tune with the Indian psyche. These are people who clearly abhor their cultural roots and at every available opportunity want to flaunt their western ways. This is the family that made a conscious choice to sever their ties with anything that is Indian. Mr. Joe and his wife clearly did not want their children to have any ties with India. The race of the girls each of the sons married makes it more than evident that they did not want their children to have any familial ties with India. The youngest daughter’s attire when sitting on the stage with thousands of people watching her showed clear lack of respect to the sentiments of people who strive to teach their young daughters how to dress conservatively so as to not provoke men to ogle. It makes me wonder if this family is treating LEF the same way Britishers treated India. They have already dragged the fellowship to the streets and allowed ruthless men to rule the fellowship because Mr. Joe unanimously decided to hand over finances and administration to these vultures. What else is this family trying to fleece from the innocent people who have put such a blind faith in this church? What a disservice this family is doing to the people of LEF by not providing the much needed dependable leadership? Is there no end to atrocities done in the name of God and religion?

    • Y.L.

      Where is Whitson Uncle now?

      • He is in Chennai (HQ). An individual with high connection keeps posting exaggerated and false information on social media network about LEF and people related to LEF. If this question is in response to that post, I urge you not to be worried. He has not been asked to leave LEF

    • Sam

      Mary Amboji, I have seen your post giving an elaborate analysis of the speeches and reactions of the family members of Bro. Joshua Daniel, at his funeral recently. From your posting I guess you are the daughter of an evangelist in the fellowship. Your critical mind towards Bro. Joshua Daniel and his family members is clearly evident. First of all, it is not good to criticize anyone without being in his position even for a minute! He is almost 85, and I wonder if you are even 30! Your children are not even in their teens where as some of his grandchildren finished their teen-age. He led thousands to the Lord, and I suspect if you do at least one soul!

      In a fellowship of several thousands of people, and with an amount of responsibility that he carried, there were mistakes in the long run of about 67 years of his preaching, which Bro. Joe always acknowledged. But that does not mean that his whole service for the Lord is discredited. If you see some of the great leaders of Israel in the Bible, you know they made mistakes. And God took action at His own time. Judging a man of God on the basis of your past knowledge and on the basis of the short messages his wife and children delivered at his funeral – is an uncouth act. Now your posting could influence many. God does not like any of our actions hindering anyone experiencing His salvation. If you have any opinion or feelings about what you wrote, write a personal letter or talk to them; but never like as you did now.

      When James used the words ‘goonda’ and ‘two thieves,’ he had in his mind a few people, who he thought were not honest, and whom his dad trusted. But that does not in any way mean that Mr. Joe Daniel was leading all dishonest people, or all those in the Fellowship are dishonest.

      Has Lilly Daniel given you an impression that she was mother to only two of her five children…? You hardly have any idea about what you are talking at your present age.

      Now you said that Lydia’s dress, when sitting on the platform on the funeral day, was not exemplary to others. Are you talking about such things when at a time, they were in grief losing their father? Honestly I do not see anything bad about her dress. By the way, did you use shorts or T shirts any time after going to the US? With your father probably being an evangelist, and with you being in the US now, many other people who know you, might be making about you the same comments you made about Bro. Joe’s children, – about their brought up abroad, their talk, opinions etc. Did you ever think of it? Pl. do not think that just because you found a little cushion on your seat to sit on, that you are experienced, faultless and talk with half or no knowledge. Who knows when your children are growing you might face more problems and criticisms than what Bro. Joe did?

      By the way, did you ever analyse your own life – each word, thought, every behavior etc., etc, as you did in the present case? If you take a look at yourself before judging others, you will be a different person. We are all human beings, as is Joshua Daniel, any of his family members, and more importantly you. There may be some mistakes. Mr. Joshua Daniel always said that he is not perfect. Even a few days before his death, he sent a letter to the centers in India to be read that he was not exemplary in leading his family as he should. He acknowledged his mistakes on several occasions on public platforms. If you find mistakes in him or his family members, pray for them with burden but do not take into your hands what God should – analyzing every syllable of what people speak; it is not your business.

      • Amian Amahar

        The New Testament is very clear about how the Body of Christ should conduct itself in terms of local fellowships, discipline etc. Joshua Daniel was always unwilling to obey in this respect, even though godly, older Indian Christians tried to reason with him. I myself tried to help him understand such matters, through his wife Lily, whom he appointed to contact me. I am an elderly, non-Indian believer, and have been a Christian for many decades in different locations, having had the benefits of good teaching and membership of Biblically constituted local fellowships.

        You may not like the tone or content of some of the posts about this subject, Sam, but in trying to prevent the posters expressing their views you are duplicating the oppressive stifling of opinion which characterised Joshua Daniel’s way of handling those who rightly questioned his views and the nature of his leadership: this unbiblical brand of leadership in turn negatively influenced those to whom he accorded limited authority in local situations; such long-term suppression of opinion or reasonable questioning (by implying that it is ‘sinful’) has almost certainly contributed to the publicly displayed in-fighting currently being posted by members of his family (and others) on a social networking site. I would suggest that these matters ARE the business of those who are posting, most of whom seem to have suffered in different but predictable ways as a result of their association with the LEF. If you study the New Testament epistles, in addition to Acts, you will know that the matter of Christian leadership was of the utmost significance to the apostles, and Paul, in particular, left detailed instructions as to how local churches should be ordered and leaders appointed, (and removed from leadership, if necessary). Jesus himself had quite a lot to say about the accountability of those who lead. Much can be learnt from the LEF situation, but not if you concentrate your efforts on criticising the posts of those who are trying, however imperfectly, to identify the flaws in the LEF- hopefully with an eye to having a better future understanding of what God requires in terms of his church and its earthly leadership. Joshua never taught matters of Christian doctrine, and in particular the Biblical doctrine of the church, perhaps because he himself had never been encouraged to study ‘the whole counsel of God’, but also, possibly, because he knew that a serious consideration of this would, in the end, make his own position untenable, and remove the power and authority over so many that he had increasingly exercised since his youth (though he regarded this as benevolent by nature, and referred to himself as their ‘spiritual father’).

        You advise that people should not ‘judge’, but that is a distortion of what Jesus was talking about when he said ‘Judge not that ye be not judged’. It is essential and Biblical that Christians should discern, and we are often urged to do so. It is right that difficulties should be brought to church memberships and openly discussed and if necessary voted upon, but this has never been an option for those who have attended LEF groups – there was no biblically appointed leadership, no formally recognised means of becoming a church member (with all the rights and responsibilities that such membership entails), and hence no church members’ meetings. It is true that Joshua often referred to himself as imperfect, but he never really specified what he meant, or what he thought he might do about his imperfections! I recall him saying repeatedly that he was an ‘unworthy servant’, but I cannot know what his motives were in making such a vague assertion, and it has to be said that in general one can create an impression of humility by such means.

        It is, perhaps, unfortunate that people have only felt able to express their concerns so openly following Joshua’s death…..especially as his death is indeed very sad for his wife and family. I was very plain and open to Joshua and Lily some years ago about my reasons for ceasing to associate with the LEF organisation, and I have since remained on friendly terms with many whom I met there and who are still part of it. I believe that some – especially Indians – have not experienced such freedom to express their worries. It really is not surprising that they now are……even if their criticisms are not always as appropriately-focussed as they might be.

        Finally, Sam, it serves no useful purpose to address criticisms by levelling counter criticisms at the one who made them. Is that not exactly the ‘judging’ that you are protesting about? Mary Amboji undoubtedly has her faults, as we all do as sinners, but that is not the issue. It is not a comparison. Joshua Daniel (with the encouragement of his father and others) set himself up as a spiritual leader. I am assuming that Mary Amboji (whom I do not know) has not done so. The New Testament Scriptures are very clear that those who are Christian leaders (rightly or wrongly) are to be made more accountable than others lest in any way they abuse or mishandle that huge responsibility. That is why it is important that they are independently called and elected by those whom they will then serve.

        • Sam

          Sir I read your post and noted your opinion.

          You mentioned that Joshua Daniel was always unwilling to obey the teaching of the New Testament about the Body of Christ.

          I guess by this, you mean sharing the decision making with other elders of the Church rather than taking decisions by himself, right? I do not know how things happen in Europe, but in India, it is a lot different situation. In some of those Indian churches, which have committees to take decisions relating to church affairs etc, there were several occasions when the elders, resorting to practices similar to those seen in the INDIAN politics! Pl. note that it is not European politics. Suddenly someone rises in the decision making meeting and says that his word should prevail no matter what! It is then followed by group formation and a behavior dishonoring God’s name even among the non-Christians. The more the number of people in the decision making bodies, the more the probability of occurrence of these problems. Many times, the situation escalates heated exchanges among members and include even resorting to unhealthy practices. This situation, I guess has prompted Bro. Joe Daniel not pay interest forming various committees for decision making at various levels. This, again, is my guess but I am not sure what prompted him to take such decision.

          You mentioned that I am duplicating the nature of Joshua Daniel by trying to prevent the views of those who questioned Bro. Joe’s views and nature of leadership.

          I am sorry, this is not correct. Pl. read my earlier posting on 5 Dec 2014, wherein I suggested to the author of the post to CONTACT DIRECTLY THE OTHER PERSON to express her concerns, but not post bad things like she did with half or no knowledge. It is my opinion that because of such posts about a senior servant of God at a place like on the internet, many of those who read them, and who never knew about the love of the Lord could be hindered from coming into the light of the Lord. I am sure God does not like such acts from any of us. This is my only concern, not her freedom of expressing her opinion directly with the person in question.

          You mentioned that my advice on ‘judging’ is a distortion of what Jesus was talking about when he said ‘Judge not that ye be not judged’.

          Sorry, this is not what I meant. I was referring that the author did not have a comprehensive understanding of what she was talking about, and as such it was not good on her part to write badly about a servant of God.

          You mentioned that Joshua Daniel often referred to himself as imperfect, but he never really specified what he meant, or what he thought he might do about his imperfections!

          If he referred to himself as an imperfect person, it means he realized and acknowledged that he is not perfect in some area/areas! And if those areas do not involve you and me, there is no need to elaborate, or explain to us what he would do about those imperfections. It is a matter between him and the Lord.

          Finally you mentioned that it serves no useful purpose to address criticisms by leveling counter criticisms at the one who made them. And you asked if that was not exactly the ‘judging’ I was protesting about?

          My attempt was to let the author pay attention to a few questions which were based on her post (criticism) itself, as she –
          1. Made a comment on the dress as mentioned in her post,
          2. Made a posting that would tarnish the image of a senior servant of God, whose position she had never been in; and finally,
          3. Followed a procedure (analyzing every syllable of the brief speeches given by the family members of Joshua Daniel at a funeral service) to base her criticism on.

          • steven

            I know i too aint perfect. but i just wanna voice my opinion regarding your above comment. There is no doubt that Joe uncle was a great servant of our Lord. But what i think is the way the pastors are trained by LEF. as earlier mentioned by the blogger always the sermons revolve around sin, repentance and restitution, even today the sermon topics will be the same (as a matter of fact, it is not at all wrong). but that is not all when it comes to teaching people. How many of the pastors are encouraging the congregation by speaking about the impartial love of our lord, His forgiveness, His mercies?

            Every time i attend a LEF church, the sermon will be warning people about the consequences of sin. fine, what next? where is the spirit lifting, encouraging words from bible which draws the congregation towards Jesus?
            infact why the pastors of LEF speak about LEF as it is the only way to heaven? there are many honest servants in other churches who are serving the same lord.

            the different centres of LEF in different states have become like Kingdoms with pastors of the respective centres acting like KINGS with a stronghold (rather strangle hold!) on the congregation.

            Pastors speak about trivial matters of attire when they neglect the very soul which they are accusing. this is force fed into the minds of congregation to accept that we should live by these principles regarding our attire. (i remember an incident when we were in Beulah Gardens attending the May retreat, one lady from rural andhrapradesh saw the girls from our centre sitting in Jeans and shouted at them “repent for the abomination of wearing jeans, if not you all will end up in hell fire”…..!!!!)

            Now that is what is inculcated in the blood of LEF old timers, why werent Joe uncles children taught the same thing?…why didnt they follow all the preachings of Joe uncle to set a good example?

            Joe uncle blasted all those who go abroad for work-but all his children work abroad

            Joe uncle criticized boys who went to USA as having a craze for dollars, then what where his kids?

            when our wives put on pant the pastors criticize us what about lily aunty putting on pants when ever she is abroad?

            why do the daniels fight tooth and nail to keep the LEF within their family?

            And why does John Daniel come twice a year and blast and scolds people in his messages and vanishes for another six months, when being a preacher he should know that “the wrath of man is not going to bring righteousness”

            Even now, John Daniel doesnt wanna come and stay in India and take care of LEF, why? and every one knows that if he stays abroad and tries to remotely control LEF what will be the end results.

            why are the daniels and his extended family struggling to plant their children as pastors in different centres of south india/north india?

            i always used to tell my family that when Joe uncle is called home a can of worms will open up in LEF… and i see the same coming to pass. I found the truth through LEF, i want to stay loyal to LEF, but if the squabble for power continues in the same manner, i can see myself changing my decision in near future and i know that one person leaving LEF will not have any effect on LEF. but witnessing all these things sure does have an ill effect on the souls, so better leave the muddy waters, to oxygenated clear waters where i can breathe.

            • Sam

              Hi, Steve, I saw your posts.

              You said there is too much stress on sin, repentance, restitution, and nothing else in the Fellowship preaching.

              As you acknowledged, it is important for building a strong spiritual foundation. Each church or fellowship has some fundamental teachings; and for LEF this might be their fundamental teaching. If you think you are not getting the other very important spiritual manna from the Fellowship, well, there are so many ways to get them now a days. And you are always welcome to choose to meet your need.

              You mentioned about the pastors of LEF speaking about LEF as if it is the only way to heaven?

              I have never heard any pastor of LEF saying that LEF is the only way to going to heaven. The difference is only in interpreting the tone of the message. Of the many who hear the same message from an LEF pastor, some say, he meant that LEF is the only way to getting to heaven, while others say – he never mentioned or even meant such thing! So, it is, in my opinion, how you infer and interpret things. Needless to say that the attitude of those interpreting things – plays an important role here.

              You mentioned about the controlling attitude of pastors and their wives, – even on dress worn by people.

              There may be some (not all) pastors and their wives of the Fellowship trying for their dominance. At the same time, there are some believers (may not be all), who are trying to fulfill their desire of wearing a dress they liked, even if the area they are living in have people with not that much of understanding. For example, in my opinion, an Indian lady wearing pants in a cold country is for her absolute protection, not for fashion; whereas a A Sri Lankan lady (born and brought up in Lanka) wearing shorts in Sri Lanka is for fashion – not for protection. Again, this is my opinion and everyone has his or her own opinion. So, the important thing is – are we trying to please God in everything we do or satisfying our own desires!

              You posed many questions relating to the Joshua Daniel’s family, their preaching, attitude and their decisions relating to church activities.

              These are questions which many ask; not only you! Again since these are related to the decisions of their family, as I always do, I suggest you to contact them directly without putting them here or elsewhere on a public platform like the internet to seek answers.

              You mentioned that you always used to tell your family that when Joe uncle would be called home, a can of worms would open up in LEF.

              I wish we are all God’s children seeking only the perfection of His son, Jesus Christ and nothing else. Believe me, whoever you look at other than Jesus, you will find some mistake or other – no matter what or who. God never expect us to look at any person for exemplary life. I am sure you and I can definitely benefit if we keep our own lives free from the mistakes we see in others, and lead exemplary lives. Watching others with a critical eye and talking about their shortcomings in life – only wastes our time and make us fruitless for God.

              You mentioned your desire to get out and join other churches.

              Well, you are always at liberty to choose whichever church you want to attend. But let me tell you this: there is no group or church, or even a person on earth which/who is ideal in light of the Biblical Principles. I have seen during my association with the LEF, many people leaving the Fellowship – just visitors, believers, Bible school students, pastors, senior evangelists and other elders who held prominent duties. A few of them returned back as they could not find a BETTER place. So, the choice is yours. But if you are looking for an ideal place, it is not there. Pray that God might help you lead a life free from the mistakes you see in others and thereby be a better witness to those who are struggling to find perfection in people.

              Finally, you acknowledged in your post that you are not perfect! Let me tell you Steve, there ends all our criticism. Pray and God will help you get spiritual maturity.

            • Amian Amahar

              Sam: I think you are missing the point in your response to Steven. Anyone in Christian leadership must be accountable, and to a certain extent accountable for the behaviour and actions of his immediate family. Joshua Daniel was self-appointed and accountable to nobody, and plainly did not consider his own accountability to the flock to be necessary. Had he been appointed by a church in a Scriptural way he would have been subject to other elders, and in the end to the decisions of the church membership, if necessary. No-one would want to maintain that his life and work counted for nothing – every Christian’s life and work for the Lord is significant, however public or private. However he chose to ignore the Scriptural principles of Biblical ecclesiology, even when other mature adults within his organisation tried to reason with him on this matter. The normal and Biblical pattern of evangelistic/missionary endeavour is that converts are well-taught (not neglecting the understanding of sound doctrine), and then encouraged to elect their own leaders and run their own independent fellowships as soon as is practicable and wise. The evangelist/missionary then takes a back seat, whilst obviously being benevolently available for advice if the local church gets into difficulties which its eldership and membership find impossible to resolve alone. Every evangelist or missionary needs to be a legitimate church member, and as subject to church discipline as any other member. Joshua Daniel, by contrast, consciously encouraged a long-term dependency on himself, and as several have pointed out, there was quite an oppressive ‘heavy shepherding’ of all who attended LEF meetings, but especially in India. Dynastic Christian leadership (i.e. by members of one family) is completely unscriptural, and certainly post-New Testament. I agree that this is not the place for nit-picking about people’s attire per se, but the comments which have been made all seem to point to the fact that Mr. Daniel, in his self-appointed role as ‘leader’, imposed standards of behaviour, practice, and life-style on others and their families which he was plainly observed not to adhere in terms of himself and his own family. He apparently encouraged those whom he decided to put into a form of local leadership also to ‘heavy shepherd’. Such inconsistencies have been becoming more and more apparent over the decades, and obviously ‘brewing’ in the consciousness of many. Indians, and Asians generally, have a much greater sense of reverence towards their elders (in age), or those they have been led to believe are ‘in charge’, than Europeans; this is in many ways creditable, but it can work against them when such reverence is taken advantage of. It really is not surprising that things have come to a head now – the ‘can of worms’ mentioned by Steven – and it is in the providence of God that at last they have.

              The flaws in Mr. Daniel’s ‘ministry’ have been, and continue to be, of concern, especially since John Daniel seems to have assumed his father’s (and grandfather’s) unbiblical role. What is important is that those many Christians who came under Joshua Daniel’s influence now recognise and acknowledge these flaws, and act accordingly. They need to assess objectively what they had previously been taught, and in the light of Scripture. Most significant are the structure, governance, and leadership of the local church, a true understanding and practice of holiness, and most of all, a study of ‘the whole counsel of God’. No-one needs to feel any ‘loyalty’ to the LEF as such, since it is not, and never was, a true church, but rather a para-church organisation. Our loyalty is to Christ and his church as defined and described in Scripture, on which we need to pattern our local fellowships. If a fellowship does not adhere to Scriptural patterns and principles, then it must either be reformed, or abandoned in favour of one that does. Christians do periodically group and re-group, and there is nothing wrong in that if it is genuinely done in the interests of truth and the Gospel, and not simply out of pique!

      • Sam,
        You say that it is wrong to criticise an 85 year old man but you criticise a young lady just because she is not old enough for you. Sadly you are unconsciously exhibiting a holier than thou attitude that is common in LEF. In my comment to Priya on 7th November, I have explained that it is incorrect to put certain Christians above the rest and give them diplomatic immunity. Countries of the world may do it but the kingdom of God is different. Amian Amahar has nicely shown that as Mr. Joshua Daniel was self appointed and was never willing to be accountable to anyone. There is therefore no Biblical basis for Mr. Joshua Daniel having immunity from helpful and critical analysis. It is sad that you and others in LEF justify his mistakes saying that he had too much to take care of. The reality is that he was un-Biblically controlling the entire LEF. You bring up Mr. Joshua Daniel’s statements that he is not perfect and is humble. Earlier this year, when I was speaking to him, he said that he was humble and reminded me how he regularly humbled himself on the stage. I was shocked; a humble man will never call himself humble! People (including you) are misled by his comments on personal humility. A humble man will allow others to write in Christ Is Victor, will give responsibility to others, will not keep the leadership in his family for multiple generations, etc. Please post constructively as per the theme of this site to help people “understand the truth”.

  5. HMX

    Thank you for your articles and your blog. I too grew up attending this church and find your descriptions very accurate. While the double standards were very evident to me even as a young teenager, any questioning would be dismissed as unholy and rebellious confrontation of divine authority and would be met with some form of emotional blackmail. The sheer amount of control enforced on people’s lives, especially those of full time ministers was completely contrary to the teachings of freedom, liberty and prosperity in the Bible. Its tragic that highly qualified people with tremendous potential were being reduced to manual labourers and mindless slaves in this church and to its leader – all in the name of full time ministry. Promising young people died due as they could not afford basic healthcare and were in stinking poverty – while this leader enjoyed very special material luxuries and comforts. One can fool some people all the time or all the people for some time. Leaving this church was the best decision we ever made in our lives- it opened our senses to a world never seen before and helped us realize and God’s promises more than we could have ever have dreamt of. May God bless your endeavours and your attempts to spread a deeper truth and meaning among those who seek.

  6. priya

    Firstly what was it that makes you think about all these instead what is clearly written in Bible? Like Suniemi says , how come God opened his eyes only through this blog? Possibly he never gone through 1 Corinthians 3:4,5 instead searched for faith in all these blogs. It is very important to know 2 things first.
    -> You are not supposed to judge people. And you are not supposed to comment or point out any , because all are sinners, there is nothing good on earth.
    ->That might be true that Joe is not really worthy in one prospective, but can’t you also understand/think that he is more worthy than you since he spent most of his time for Lord. Then why don’t you consider only the good part from him?

    And coming to the Gurus discussion. Elijah and Elisha , Elisha followed Elijah blindly observing his power etc. The reason behind this was Elijah is capable of showing the holiness and the power of God in him. And in the same way, people are not fools to follow Gurus since they even know that the people whom they follow are worthy. In the worst you can also believe this “the spirit leads you into all truth”.

    Finally, consider only the good in every person and pray for the bad to be removed in him. Before this think of your position before God. All these blogs won’t help you anyway.

    My servant is a converted one. She came to know about Christ in her old age where she had none to support that time , may be in her 70’s and very near to 80. She used to have very less to eat. The bad thing is she lies so much for money. The food she gets from us (non-Christians) is the only delicious food she can eat in her life time since she lives in a village. When we offer her all kinds of food like sweets which are really enough for a week, curd, rice, and all other menu that is too delicious made of ghee etc. Really mouth-watering. Trust me. But you know that pierces my heart. She says no to all these and just used to have starch for that day. She says “I believe in only one God, I am sorry I don’t want this food”. Don’t you think there is enough good to consider in her though she lies for money? Don’t you think God would have immense happy with what she sacrificed? I left into tears finally. When we consider only good in people and take care of Bad in him/her, follow only bible, raise not single word against people, that will be the only way to succeed in God’s commandments.

    For suppose God really excused Joe for all his mistakes, but still you talk about it despite keeping all kind of drainage in your heart. You will be punished more that what Joe would have been, I think.

    It is always good to believe only in Bible, It is always good to pray for people you think bad. And is always good to consider only good in people.

    Something which we feel bad in a person always remains as a doubt, since you and I are not worthy to study the heart of that person as God did. So it is good to not to discuss with any.

    • Dear Priya,
      Thank you for your comments. Suniemi is my blogging name and I am the author of this blog. It was because my eyes were opened about LEF, that I have started this blog. It is a frequent comment that Christians should not judge. Are you not judging by saying that Mr. Joe was more worthy that me!! That decision is left to God and nobody should judge these issues. But there are certain issues that can be judged and I will try to address this in a future post. Elisha followed the God of Elijah. At that time the Bible was not complete and Jesus’ words that I quoted were not yet uttered. So the scenario was different. I do hope that your servant will be able to get the message of my blog. If she really does get it, she would accept your food (if she could change diets at her age). Christians are only forbidden to eat food directly sacrificed to idols. She is not enjoying the freedom that Christ got for all people. She could get the food offered and stop her lies. I am surprised that you are not be insulted by her refusal. You write that you are a non Christian. Why don’t you make Jesus your Guru and God? Other Gurus will come and go but He lives forever. He loves you and wants your devotion. It is safe and correct to give Jesus our devotion.
      Suniemi.

      • Priya

        Dear Suniemi,
        “Christians are only forbidden to eat food directly sacrificed to idols. ” I spoke about the same food above, the food given to her by us is something which we offered to idols.:)
        And I din’t judge that he is more worthy than you …It is a question posed to you that …Did you ever think like this..”can’t you also understand/think that he is more worthy than you since he spent most of his time for Lord.Then why don’t you consider only the good part from him?”

        • Dear Priya,
          I thought food was offered to idols only during festivals. Now I understand that even daily meals are offered! But more than the sacrifice that your servant is making, Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice by coming to earth and giving His life for me and you!
          The Bible teaches that Christians are one body but still have various parts. One part will be prominent but another part will be invisible and weak. But the weaker parts are indispensable. Please read 1 Corinthians 12:12 – 27. I may be a weak and invisible part but if I perform the weak and invisible role that God has ordained for me, He will be pleased. Just because Mr. Joshua Daniel had a visible role in the body of Christ, it does not make him greater. His reward is based on how he accomplished the task God gave him. I should only be ashamed if I failed in my task. This concept is revolutionary and out of this world. It gives a true Christian great freedom since he does not have to compare but do his task correctly and get God’s approval. John Milton a Christian poet who understood this concept ended his poem On His Blindness with the words “They also serve who only stand and wait”.
          The Bible says in Romans 3:23 that “All have sinned and continue to fall short of God’s glory” and so we are expected to look only to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. We are not expected to look at people who have accomplished great things. Unfortunately contrary to Christian doctrine, many elevate people and so I want to teach the truth. I had to take an example to show how elevating mortal man is useless and so I used the example of Joshua Daniel. I had to show that even great men like Joshua Daniel make mistakes and so we should not make them our gurus. My intention is not to pull him down. Interestingly in his funeral and memorial service, two if his own children (Joseph and James) did not speak greatly of the father. This is unusual since in Christian funerals & memorials, people usually talk only about the good side (as you ask).
          Suniemi.

  7. GE

    From my observation over quite a few years this is entirely accurate. I even heard that people who dared to voice disagreement were warned that ‘bad things have been known to happen to those who leave the LEF. Their children go astray, or they themselves become ill’. As a non-Indian I spoke to Lily about this, expressing my surprise and disapproval. Her response indicated that she believed that her husband was their ‘spiritual father’, and that this gave him, and her, the right to warn them for their own good. In fairness my time with the LEF was not all wasted. I met some truly godly and humble believers, and even learnt to value time with the Word and in prayer more than I had for some years. However I abruptly stopped going to meetings when one of Joshua Daniel’s ardent admirers, who runs the LEF in a European city, suddenly (in the middle of a meeting) announced that it had come to his attention that ‘some of you have been disagreeing with Brother Joe, and you should repent!’. It seemed that the organisation was becoming more and more ‘cultish’ in its modus operandi, and I could in no way support that. I retain a personal fondness for those with whom I had to do, including the Daniels, but the abuses of Biblical principles, especially in the sphere of ecclesiology and leadership, and the inconsistencies evident in what was preached and what was done, were inimical to me. Sound doctrine cannot be set aside in the pursuit of a ‘holiness’, the nature of which was often questionable.

    • GE, thanks for your non-Indian perspective. I regularly keep getting comments that people who have left LEF have had bad things happen, but thankfully God opened my eyes. I presume that many are afraid to leave LEF because of such comments. It is very true that Mrs. Lily Daniel props up her husband. I have not personally heard people singing the praise of Mr. Joshua Daniel publicly in meetings but as I mention in the blog, Indians seem to crave gurus and so are capable of creating gurus without public pressure. It is probably more of private and peer pressure here. Do continue to post comments.

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