Gossip and garbage from the pulpit

garbagedumpThe late Joshua Daniel use to warn people not to gossip in the retreats of the Laymen’s Evangelical Fellowship and likened such people to garbage trucks dumping their garbage. But the reality is that people like me got more garbage from the pulpit than from those “garbage trucks”! Joshua Daniel regularly talked about LEF members from the stage. Since he didn’t reveal names he probably though it was fine, but it was often possible to guess. He called people satan, demon possessed, etc.  His messages were often negative and therefore made the listener negative. Often as I would return home, I would start viewing others including family members in a negative light. His messages were also designed to make people feel sinful and worthless and provoked the crowd to cry after the message.

His son John Daniel, trying to entertain and retain the crowds, seems to be going down the same path imitating his father and copying mannerisms of the disgraced John Branch. John Daniel seems to relish sharing gossip from the pulpit. I wonder if they know the Bible’s declaration on such people: “A worthless person concocts evil gossip” (Proverbs 16:27 ISV). Strangely both father and son speak negatively about Indians forgetting that they are Indians! It is also a pity that they are unable to get better translators. The Tamil and Telugu speaking people sometimes hear bizzare messages!

“The words of a gossip are like delicate morsels” (Proverbs 26:22 ISV) but as Christians it is our responsibility to feed ourselves with “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is fair, whatever is pure, whatever is acceptable, whatever is commendable, if there is anything of excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy” (Phillipians 4:8 ISV). So I encourage my esteemed readers to stop feeding on gossip and garbage and switch to solid food since “solid food is for mature people, whose minds are trained by practice to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:14 ISV).

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2 responses to “Gossip and garbage from the pulpit

  1. GE

    Yes, Suniemi, I recall this constant belittling of his supporters in the UK, especially those from India. I remember, too, that young ex-pat. Indian professionals told me how Joshua Daniel’s main interraction with them seemed to be concerned with whether they were tithing their incomes only to LEF.

    I always felt that Joshua Daniel’s embargo on normal communication during retreats was at least in part designed to protect himself and his organisation. Participants were instructed to spend every moment ‘praying and reading their Bibles’, and not to ‘waste time’ in talking to each other. Daniel seemed unaware that communicating with other believers informally and in a caring or supportive manner is an essential part of healthy Christian fellowship – as is shared, innocuous humour and recreation. Daniel never engaged informally or in a friendly manner with the ‘average’ retreat attender. He did not eat with them, otherwise mix with them, or encourage healthy discussion. He was waited on by his acolytes, and presided over a kind of ‘papal giving of audience’ procedure, whereby naive admirers would queue up outside his abode in order to receive his ‘wisdom’. Any interchange which took place between him and others focussed on the unworthiness of these ‘others’. How very different from the Lord Jesus himself! Even from the relatively limited information in the New Testament we can see that Jesus was constantly talking with (not ‘at’!) and eating with those who followed him. We cannot imagine that during the feeding of the four and five thousand Jesus took himself off and had nothing to do with those who had been listening. Jesus ‘had compassion on the multitude’. He loved them. He gladly mixed with them. He was interested in them as individuals. Even after his death, on the road to Emmaus this was evident, when he walked with them, comforted them, and ate with them. That is what real Christian leaders do, and what my own pastor does, even in old age, with all its physical disabilities. Jesus did not simply bark at people, or harangue them, or act out long and tedious prayers in front of them to impress them. He did not manipulate them into public emotional outbursts. I well recall seeing Joshua Daniel briefly pause, en route, to address a young (Indian born) girl, but only to bark ‘Are you converted yet?’ at her before going on his way. How was she expected to answer such a crass and abrupt question?

    Of course Joshua Daniel did not overtly claim to be Jesus, but he repeatedly claimed, through his own actions and demeanour, and the slavish admiration of others, to be someone rather special in God’s eyes, an ‘anointed one’ who must not be questioned or disobeyed, even when he was running down those who were, ironically, supporting him financially. This despite repeated showing off in public prayer, when he dramatically asked God to ‘make me more humble’. One can only hope that in Joshua Daniel’s last days God finally answered that prayer and revealed himself to the dying man.

    The sad thing is that most retreat attenders, at least in the UK, only paid lip service to Daniel’s embargo on communication with each other – with the exception of the small group of German men who had been duped into enslaving themselves to him for most of their lives – and mostly still are enslaved to LEF. Most attenders continued to chat to each other when Daniel was absent, which was all the time, except when he dominated from the platform.

    Joshua Daniel hoped that his discouragement of communication, other than solitary ‘prayer and Bible reading ‘, would dissuade people who rarely met outside of his retreats from exchanging thoughts and opinions which might lead to a realisation of what kind of a loveless, fraudulent ‘preacher’ he really was, and what kind of cultish organisation LEF really is.

    That John Daniel has tried to imitate his father’s negativity is clearly demonstrated on You Tube, in a short video clip from a retreat entitled ‘John Daniel slanders a family’. John Branch is, or was, very much in the mould of a certain kind of dubious American ‘preacher’, which fitted in well with Joshua Daniel ‘s style: shouting at people from the platform, posturing, and generally ‘putting on a show’. The scandal recently revealed in connection with him is not, therefore, surprising. A poor example for John Daniel to try to emulate.

    However Suniemi is right to counsel us not to indulge in gratuitous gossip and slander ourselves, despite the hurt and damage inflicted for so long on so many by the Daniel family and their chamchas. It is hard, sometimes, to know when one’s necessary exposure of their evils turns into a kind of unhealthy relishing of such exposure and such evils – the ‘rejoicing in evil’ against which we are warned in Scripture

    On a different matter, John Daniel now seems to have acquired a job in the small American branch of a Japanese firm, Oiles. It is to be hoped that this will curb the use of LEF tithes and offerings to support the wider Daniel family’s lifestyle in the USA, and reduce the burden on the poor Indians who provid the bulk of them. It may, in fact, be harder to convey Indian offerings to the USA without the assistance of the man, Immanuel Chakravarthy, who was allegedly master-minding what must have been an essentially unlawful procedure. Unfortunately John’s new firm has poor reviews, and appears to be struggling somewhat to find staff. Nevertheless it would be good if John had at last acknowledged his inability to ‘run’ LEF, and his lack of the spiritual gifts which enable preachers truly called of God (and by churches). It is not too late for John to be gainfully employed, distance himself from LEF, and be a good and diligent example to his daughters. God seems to have given him this opportunity. His younger brothers seem to have managed to do it.

    It is tempting to think that the withdrawal of Daniel control (if it were to happen) might resolve LEF problems. However, as a cultish group, it can only get worse, since the chamchas and goondas (as James Daniel publically and courageously called them) will surely take over. They will not themselves reform, and they will not encourage LEF people to form localised, biblical, self-governing churches (who will support their chosen local pastors to the best of their abilities). They have too much to lose.

    Please, readers, do not waste any more time, energy, or money in supporting the activities and philosophies of the Laymen’s ‘Evangelical’ Fellowship. God has purer, better things for you if you will only trust him in the matter of providing your Christian fellowship and teaching.

    • GE, thank you for pointing out how Joshua Daniel never mixed freely with the congregation overseas where the attendance was minimal compared to the crowds in India. Indians should not be misled thinking that his behaviour of not mixing with others was due to the crowds. As you pointed out, Jesus was the opposite, freely interacting with all sorts of people. Most pastors are also usually accessible as you said. By keeping himself aloof Joshua Daniel seems to have built an aura around him that made people treat him like a cultish leader.
      While it may be good that John Daniel is supporting his family by working, I am concerned about LEF. How can such a big organisation be managed in a person’s spare time? If there is a problem in India and you ask help from the Daniels in the US they will say that they don’t know what is happening in India. If you ask the people in the India, they will point you back to the Daniels. So as recorded in the book of Judges “each person did whatever seemed right in his own opinion”. If John Daniel wants to lead LEF which is primarily Indian, he has to be in India. The Daniels sent back many Indians who went abroad to work. Let him return to India with his family, make his wife work and let them manage with her income like countless evangelists in LEF. Let his children volunteer in LEF in manual work as many of us did. I don’t understand why an Indian evangelical organisation with so many full time personnel allows a person working a full time secular job in US be its leader! At least his father went around preaching. John Daniel hardly seems to do that either.

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