For the first time in the history of the blog, we will be publishing an article from a reader. It is important to hear testimony and I believe that this persons view on what was going on at the beginnings of the movement is key to understanding the movement. No men have been more scrutinized than Charles T. Russel (Founder of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society) and Joseph Smith, Jr. (Founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). Christendom knows that to understand a movement, a closer look at the foundations is required. This is why I have allowed for the publishing of this article. The authors name is known to me, but she wishes to remain anonymous in public. Reasons for this are clear as a previous article has illustrated.
If you have a testimony that you would like to get out there, fell free to contact me here: https://ncmifringe.wordpress.com/contact-us/
I am really grieved at all the pain and destruction that has happened over the decades in God’s name. It is all so very sad, even tragic. I assure you that I am not gossiping and do not seek to tear anybody down, destroy any lives or add to the destruction. Some of what I saw/see happening at NCMI happened/happens all over the world in man-made Christian institutions everywhere….
I would like to think that they all probably started out meaning well and wanting to do good. I hope that what I write will make people stop, and think! We have the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Word of God to read and we have common sense. Following blindly is what WE are warned against and are responsible for. Manipulating us to follow blindly is what ‘they’ are responsible for, what they will give account for and what my note is about.
Anatomy of a cult/pseudo-cult: the making of NCMI
My observations start from around the end of 1981.
At the very top of any organisation of this magnitude, there has to be a very charismatic leader who is an opportunist.
Ours was just that and he had a very shady past. This is not a judgement call on anybody’s salvation but suffice to say, the Believing world is not short of Christian Con men (and women)…. human nature prevails unless we put it to death.
In the organisation, you have hierarchy; not unlike a country club. To “belong” you need to follow rules and pay regular fees. To be able to use ALL the facilities of the club, you have to be premium members and then you are entitled to many benefits and privileges. The premium members are elevated to demigod status, making all the decisions and commanding subservience. The regular club members are subtly encouraged to aspire to be like the premium members with the proverbial carrot dangling just beyond reach. There are getaways and conferences, book sales, fundraisers…. sometimes the lines are blurred and one can’t tell what is the world and what is from the Word. Once one has joined the club, you are not as free to leave as you think. (not without consequences)
At NCMI (and this can also apply to other church movements) it is easy to observe that at the bottom there are many very loyal followers who are following all the rules and paying the fees. They speak the right language and simply don’t want to admit all that is wrong. Their identity is wrapped up in being followers of the leader, quoting their teaching and showing their fidelity. At times, they might agree that there might be something slightly untoward, but it is quickly swept under the carpet all the while chanting the mantra that this is one of God’s Apostolic works and “the enemy will always want to attack it”. Just the other day, in passing, one of Dudley’s “loyal to death” followers said in response to what Tyrone and Jonathan have been doing in recent years – QUOTE “Dudley said we cannot disappoint God… He has no expectations of us. He loves us unconditionally. By his Grace we are saved…” UNQUOTE
For some of the people involved, itt might have been well-meaning at the beginning, but, I was there when it changed from Bryanston Baptist Fellowship to Bryanston Baptist Church, then New Covenant Fellowship (NCF) to New Covenant Church (NCC) to New Covenant Ministries (NCM) to New Covenant Ministries International (NCMI) and there was not very much well-meaning sentiment going on behind the scenes. We finally left NCMI for good in 1999, and sad to say that what was going on then was going on at the beginning and evidently continues to this day, all over the world.
My family was in a unique position in that we spent a LOT of time on the original Bryanston property. We got to see a LOT! I remember there being talk early on about how things weren’t so great financially but then, out of the blue there were “prophecies” followed by persuasive teachings saying people needed to believe for growth. Dudley started travelling around South Africa and came back to report that he had found like-minded leaders in other churches and they would be “relating” to us. Money started coming in (even though this of course was not like paying to join a club). It was all so exciting! There was talk of loyalty and devotion and Dudley was finally being used in his role as an apostle and that this was “definitely a move of God”. The leaders of the relating churches came from far and wide to the Ness Avenue property, first coming alone, then bringing their wives and children. We had new friends! So much fun! So many holiday opportunities in various parts of South Africa!!
I found it all very odd that the Bible said that the greatest in the Kingdom was a servant of all. It looked to me like lots of servants were being made, and all the serving done was by them, not the leader. The changes on the property were impressive! Jesus Himself did not have a place to lay His head, but the leader was getting richer and his car, home and more and more frequent holidays reflected that well! The Bible talks about REST but with all the meetings happening every day at different times of the day, when were people supposed to rest?
As a person that takes things very literally, what I saw was contrary to the Word of God – not all Believers were treated equally. The faithful workers were ordered about, while the lead elder called the shots.
More money came in, the building projects included the school, the rondavels, the new bigger and better building. The number of relating churches grew. The only accepted/acceptable doctrines of NCMI were typed up and put in writing. I don’t need to rehash all the history – the Wikipedia entry is pretty accurate. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Covenant_Ministries_International
What is quoted there by Raul Tuul (don’t know who he is) – “NCMI in my opinion has all the hallmarks of a cult…. I gave almost a quarter of a century of my life to its ‘vision and values’ and have not one […] friend left to speak of…. The leaders are generally all uneducated, and know of little else except the manuals and ‘NCMI speak’.” is very true.
We saw leaders come and go, church plants, church splits, pain for those who disagreed with the apostolic teams and we saw the Daniel family getting immunity. His health issues seemed to be a great cover-up for having to deal with very real crises….
For the longest time, we too were loyal to the “mission statement” of NCMI but in the years leading up to our leaving, my husband and I were concerned about many things. Here is an example: After two elders had committed adultery, two others had gone to plant churches elsewhere and only two couples remained, the very youngest couple were presented to the NCMI church we were in as the anointed ones and they were to be the new lead elders. There were other couples that more closely resembled the Biblical criteria but they were passed over for the more malleable early 20’s newly weds! We were all but asked to swear our loyalty to them and to promise to support them. Those who didn’t were ostracised. By that time it had became all about ONLY NCMI songs in worship, ONLY NCMI teachings, ONLY NCMI guest speakers, this conference and that retreat and constant meetings. Any socialising had to happen with NCMI approval etc and it just confirmed to us that it was cultish. Any questions we had about how their doctrines contradicted Scripture were met with anger. It was not appreciated that we studied the Bible on our own. It was implied that we were in rebellion (but we faithfully attended every meeting and were burning ourselves out with all the serving we were doing).
The Bible has very clear instructions about church leadership. The Bible also has very clear guidelines on how we should live our lives.
Back to Scripture – I’m not going to name names but we moved a few times while we still lived in South Africa. We always sought out an NCMI affiliated church. Yes, we were programmed to believe we should ONLY go to NCMI churches. Over the years, we saw SO MUCH adultery in the leadership in the various NCMI churches we were part of and exposed to. It was not dealt with Biblically. There were blatant lies and false prophecies from the pulpit. The behaviour of the children of leaders was pretty shocking. From fornication to drugs to choosing a life away from God, not unlike children raised by non-Believing parents. It too was not dealt with Biblically. In other words, the guidelines set out by God in the Bible for leaders and their families was not and has not been adhered to. It is not surprising that the fruits (behaviour of adult children) are rotten. The roots were rotten to the core! Too much emphasis on planting a (NCMI) church in every nation and not nearly enough priority given to raising children who know the Lord. Dozens of meetings each week that kept the parents away from their homes. Too much emphasis on building the empire, not on individual hearts. So much hypocrisy.
It is important to say that there are some really lovely people who are still in NCMI churches and who are my friends. They are fiercely loyal to the Daniel family and the NCMI doctrines and movement. They will not hear any negative thing about them even when presented with the facts. We know we would lose them as friends if they heard any of what I have written. This kind of behaviour is always indicative of a cult.
There is never any excuse when people choose to be loyal to leaders (humans) over Biblical Truth. There is no Biblical directive to give such unwavering devotion to people who have the 5 gifts mentioned in Ephesians 4:11. There is no indication that any of those gifts should be paid vocations! The only one that can receive financial compensation is the one of “teacher”…. It is never acceptable to get financial gain from having a relationship with the Lord God Almighty! Our Salvation is a gift, not a money-making venture! Jesus said that HE would build His Ekklesia. He never asked for help! He showed us and then told us how to LOVE, not to build dominions and denominations. He taught us about His Kingdom. We need to follow HIM, not humans. We need to treat all humans equally, not giving more respect or special treatment to those who take on roles and power that is not theirs to take on. It is a self-perpetuating system that needs to keep the sheep following to keep the shepherds in business.
I will leave you with this chapter from the Word of God.