Updated: Jan 20
All recent news events are at bottom of the excerpt.
It was no coincidence that all churches were located immediately outside a military installation. Soldiers have always been a target for Jimmy, as they would be one of his most profitable schemes. With a consistent income and many other benefits, Jimmy sought every way possible to squeeze more profit from soldiers. Aside from a guaranteed portion of their income through tithes and offerings, Jimmy found a way to collect their education benefits by inflating the tuition costs of the unaccredited Bible seminary. With no definitive graduation date, he could completely exhaust each soldier’s education benefits, leaving them with no accredited degree and nothing to show for their time in school.
Not only were soldiers financially profitable, but Jimmy proclaimed that they were easy to control. He often made remarks about a “good soldier following orders,” and even used military tactics to gain more control. Aside from power and getting them to follow orders, there is another side of soldiers that is rarely discussed with the general public. I want to enlighten you on how Jimmy may possibly be morally exploiting our soldiers and veterans. In the testimony following this chapter, my co-author introduces a theory that will possibly explain why many ministers will take the fall and be punished for Jimmy’s deeds.
Jimmy daily sent out members of the church to go to each military post to seek out and recruit soldiers to join. With the military-like structure of the church, it was easy to attract young GIs. The servicemen’s home was a place where the soldiers could stay, which meant that all of their free time outside of duty hours was spent with the church. Our growth seemed exponential in the beginning with a large majority of our congregation being active-duty soldiers and retired veterans.
The Heart of a Soldier
The Moral Exploitation of a Soldier’s Burden and Willingness to Sacrifice
How is it even possible for Jimmy to prey on our nation’s toughest warriors? It may be hard to imagine that our soldiers, who are conditioned instruments of war, can be so vulnerable as to be taken advantage of by, in my personal opinion, a dishonorable man who is grossly deficient in candor and integrity. In an article written by Michael Robillard and Bradley J. Strawser (http://stockholmcentre.org/are-soldiers-morally-exploited/), they reveal a topic that is rarely discussed by veterans unless they are amongst other veterans. They write, “When on the battlefield, there are difficult missions in which some soldiers are morally required to commit ‘wrongs’ in service, such as times where it may be necessary to cause the collateral deaths of other human beings in order to wage a justified war, creating a stain in their moral ledger.” I like to refer to this as the “burdens of combat.” The article continues, “This transgression of their own moral code usually results in significant emotional and mental injury.” This can cause feelings of guilt and nightmares of their trauma.
While the obvious reason for exploitation may be that soldiers are trained to follow, thus “easy to control,” soldiers who incur “moral residue” or “dirty hands” in combat, may be desirable to a malicious coward with evil intentions, but too afraid to get his own hands dirty. This creates a new, yet interesting twist to moral exploitation and an alliance so insidious, that a soldier or veteran who loyally maintains this bond, may be completely unaware of this manipulation as it is happening.
For anyone who has had personal encounters with this particular cult, I encourage you to take a look at Jimmy’s closest followers and members of his leadership team, and I want you to ask yourself, “How many of these people are combat veterans?” These soldiers and veterans could be in a position to be blamed for Jimmy’s actions and will likely go down before Jimmy does. Jimmy will use their guilt borne from combat or other traumatic breaches of their personal morals, to keep them exactly where he wants them and essentially able to keep his own name completely clear.
There is no better time than now to call out the elephant in the room. I have often speculated about Jimmy’s number one man, and head of the cult’s business operations. I personally witnessed some of his sketchy business practices that have left me with concerns about the condition of his heart. I often wondered what his experience was that pushed him far beyond his moral boundaries. Whatever that experience may have been, it was significant enough to transform a young, sincere Christian soldier into the cold-hearted and morally bankrupt man that you see today.
We all have our own scars from this unique type of injury. This is what makes us soldiers. There may be a few cult members who are not veterans, nor have they been in combat, yet they too suffer from a traumatic breach of their moral code through their sacrificial service to a cult leader who beats them down consistently. To give you a better understanding of this rarely discussed notion, I offer you the following excerpt that I wrote a while ago to explain the heart of a soldier. This may open your eyes to the cause of the vulnerability of our soldiers and veterans to being morally exploited. Granted, not all soldiers have the same experience, but I am sure that most can relate.
Many people know what the word “burden” means and use it quite frequently. It is often said apologetically, “I don’t mean to burden you.” This burden is defined as something oppressive or worrisome according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. This idea also can allude that someone may feel like a burden or be made to feel that way by someone who didn’t have the desire to help. For most of my younger years, this was my perception of the word because of my personal experiences of feeling that way, due to encounters with people who were unwilling. I also understood another very similar definition of burden, which is something that is carried, or a heavy load. Often, the weight of a heavy load can be exhausting.
Personally, the meaning of the word started to look slightly different to me. As we are only human, carrying a heavy burden, whether physically or mentally, we grow weary, and that load becomes too much to bear. I believe that even though we are tired, the difference here, was that we are willing regardless of how tiring it can be. I can personally relate to the song, “What A Friend We Have in Jesus” as it refers to a friend being willing to help or share the load when your strength is gone. This song made me think of a burden in a way that was exactly the opposite because this was something that I was willing to do. I wanted to help, and it was no trouble at all for me.
When I became a soldier, a heavy load, was something that we were conditioned to bear. My experiences in the army taught me to understand the third definition of a burden, which was a duty or responsibility. A sense of duty became apparent to me, and this was not something that everyone possessed. It was my duty to serve my country. It was my burden, and I was more than willing to do it, understanding the cost. I also grew to understand that a burden was something that is borne with great difficulty. The burdens of combat, regardless of how trained or conditioned I was, is something that I didn’t completely understand until I lived it. I still live with many of the effects of time in combat, though my time in service has ended, this will make me a soldier for the rest of my days. I haven’t been to Iraq since 2005, and still to this day, I am still there in my dreams. I am not sure if I am ever coming home.
Becoming a leader, helped me to realize that everything I had experienced in my life had been conditioning me to do so from the very beginning. I believe you know you are called to do something if the desire is there in your heart. You may be called to do something that someone else was not called to do. I liked the idea of your calling as a burden because it also implied a sense of urgency to me. I was once told that being a leader shouldn’t feel like a burden. Everyone has a different perception of the word based on their experiences. I also began to understand the burden of leadership. There were so many things that I was very skilled at, which made it hard to see my calling. I loved being a combat medic, but I was many things. I was a trainer and a friend, and I wanted to help. I realized that as a leader, I was willing to become exactly what you needed me to be. If you are scared, I am right beside you, and I would never ask you to do anything that I wasn’t willing to do myself. If you do not know what to do, I will train you. If you are hurt, I am your medic. I am here to help. Whatever you need me to be, I can do that, as long as you come with me.
This is what the burden of leadership meant to me. This was also the type of leadership that had been provided to me, and I felt an obligation to provide that exact type of leadership. Often, we encounter people who possess the title of a leader but were unwilling to lead, thus not called. When this happens, we lose people because they were made to feel like a burden. There are many who were born to lead and do not possess a title, but they do just that. They don’t need a title to do what they have been conditioned their whole lives to do.
Jimmy has surrounded himself with soldiers and veterans who willingly carry his burdens while he exploits them for labor, handling his dirty work, and financial gain. I was invited to House of Prayer shortly after completing two combat tours in Iraq. With an exceptional amount of numbness and detachment, I was desperately seeking the Lord for counsel, and forgiveness, and to do whatever I could for the cause of Christ who rescued me. At some point in that search for God, House of Prayer found me, a soldier deeply stained by the burdens of combat. I can only qualify this theory of moral exploitation by my own experiences and painful revelations about the previously hardened condition of my wounded heart. There is no case so severe that the Lord is not able to mend. In order to heal, we must do the hardest thing in the world to do, which is to face ourselves.
By Loistene Abigail Bradeen
US Army- Retired
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Augusta Chronicle- DOJ: House of Prayer Christian Church swindled $22+ million in VA benefits
WTOC 11- FBI raided Hinesville church over possible VA fraud, according to court documents