Transformations or re-transformation?
A Paradigm shift for evangelism
pt. 1 INDEX
The Claims in the video- “We had Moonies in the valley, Maharishi
Mahesh yogi Tm facilities, the church of Scientology, “We discovered that we
were meth amphetamine capitol of the west coast.” They surmised there was
spirit of competition in the churches and with the pastors. Cults were problem,
lots of Satanism and neighborhood youth gangs (as they are in most cities). It
was pastor’s graveyard, gangs for decades.
This change involves Bob Beckett’s Dwelling place Church prior to 96’. Both Becket and Gordon Houston of San Jacinto Assemblies of God openly speak on how God has been working in their community. They claim the intercessors in their church have been able to use spiritual mapping to focus on the issues, “if you don’t know where the problem is you cannot evaluate it.” While I agree that prayer is to be direct and specific to beseech God; this is not what he means. One of the pastors on the video states “Spiritual mapping brings us to a place of knowledge and information.” How this works is explained in the books written on the subject such as by words of knowledge. “Beckett, who later planted a church in the city, believes that this spiritual reconnaissance—which he now recognizes as spiritual mapping—provided the fuel for focused prayer that not only unleashed church growth, but has begun to transform Hemet's social fabric.” (Christianity Today Jan.12,1998) The claim is that transformation of Hemet is all due to this specific type of prayer. We will look at what has or has not changed in this town.
Background--Beckett is a member of the Spiritual Warfare Network his ministry is associated with Peter Wagner/Cindy Jacobs and he is on the Executive Board of Generals of Intercession. Beckett has taught on local spiritual mapping as part of C. Peter Wagner’s world missions and spiritual classes at Fuller Theological. This is also connected to the laughter movement. George Otis jr. points out that intercessors used spiritual mapping for the results. Otis Jr., Beckett, Ruibal are all associates of each other involved in this paradigm of warfare praying. One starts to get the feeling that this is a huge advertising for a method of prayer they are trying to introduce to the church.
“Beckett's report was one of a half-dozen success stories presented to 400 participants from 31 countries at the first International Consultation on Spiritual Mapping in Tacoma, Washington, in November. Other descriptions of transformation came from Kenya, Nigeria, Colombia, Ecuador, and Guatemala, where Christians claim that a breaking of a territorial spirit's power over their country resulted in unprecedented church growth and the end of 36 years of civil war.” (“Christianity Today”, Feb. 3, 1997, p. 76). One needs to consider what is actually being said through this kind of method of prayer.
Bob Beckett has taught alongside many spiritual warfare proponents and has been into this frame of mind for years. At the Spiritual warfare conference Melody land Christian center as far back as Feb.21-23 1994 it touted itself featuring “the top leaders in contemporary spiritual warfare movement.” Some names you may be familiar with some you may not. Hector Torres, Tom White, C. Peter Wagner Ed Silvoso, Cindy Jacobs, Frank Hammond, John Dawson, Gary Bergal and along with guess who? George Otis jr. and Beckett’s whose topic was “Seeing a City's Spiritual Personality and New Methods and Ways to Intercede for Our Cities.” The sub-heading said, “In this study, we will learn practical applications of the information and insight we have gained from our making a commitment to the land. We will learn to develop practical and appropriate applications of prophetic prayer acts, journeys, and prophetic prayer walks as we break strongholds in our community.” If Beckett was teaching this than he was learning it years before and it was not something they stumbled on for the success, so he speaking from experience.
At this conference subjects like The Retaking of Cities and Nations - Hector Torres taught “How to Reach an Entire City through Prayer Evangelism” Ed Silvoso and Cindy Jacobs, Frank Hammond (Who wrote Pigs in the Parlor a very elaborate book on Christians being delivered from demons) taught on Ground Level vs. Strategic Level Warfare.
Mary Lance Sisk Spoke on “How to Discern a City Gate” which is also being popularized today with the gate keepers angle. “This workshop will teach you how to discern the ancient or original gate of a city and there prepare a place for the King of Glory to come in (Psalm 24). In this workshop, you will be given vision, understand that you have been sealed with divine destiny and purpose for your city and that you are a blessing to your city.” Does God need to come through a gate to enter a city? This is becoming quite popular and many ministries are being named after the activity of being watchman over cities to protect them from … what? The spiritual enemy. (Sentinel group for instance, means a watcher or guard). Are they really guarding our cities?
Claim in the Transformation video - In the video “God has just turned the school system around where it used to be one of the laughing stock school districts, where nobody wanted top send their kids to School in the San Jacinto school district. Now our students have some of the highest Academic ratings and lowest dropout ratings in the western US.” The video then shows De Anza elementary school (How many dropouts are there in elementary schools?)
Actual Facts - As far as we could see this claim is completely false. They are not on any blue ribbon program, nor are they on California’s distinguished school program of any year that we could find. The scores for 1998, 1999, and 2000 for Hemet and De Anza Elementary are not impressive as they claim.
The data shows that with only a few exceptions a majority of students at De Anza score below the national average for all students in that grade and subject category. That is, fewer than 50% score at or above the national average. The exceptions are for math and language for first graders in 1999 and for math for first graders in 2000.
9 out of the 12 scores for 1999 De Anza students made lower scores, on the
average, than students in California as a whole. In 2000 for all subject
matters and grades De Anza students did worse than California students on the
average. Academic Performance Index (API) ranks Hemet elementary schools 5th out
No school in Hemet or San Jacinto have ever made the California blue ribbon listing since 1982. Our conclusion is that the Hemet schools are no better or worse than anywhere else in the nation.
Claim in the Transformation video - Church attendance increases to 14% of the population (doubled in 10 years).
Actual Facts -The population: 100,000 With such a small amount of people one would think that a Church doubling in 10 years would be reasonable, many often do and it is without these spiritual warfare methods. The church attendance increased 14% because in 10 years the population doubled and many younger people moved to this retirement area (http://220.127.116.11/asd/servermaint.html). In the last 15 years the city has changed with many new families and youth living there, it no longer just a retirement community. The property was cheap and many young people have moved there and commute. So there is a lot of construction going on. Many communities have church’s doubling or tripling without warfare prayer but by simply doing the work of evangelism.
Claim in the Transformation video - “The valley was very seated in cult and occult activities.” Maharish Mahesh yogi, Scientology, Moonies, Satanism were all active in the town. “Cult membership once a serious threat has sunk to less than 3/10ths of a percent of the population.” The video states clearly that most cults have left town. “The church of Scientology is still present but many other groups are long gone.” They even claimed victory by their prayer when a brush fire happened and the TM building burned down (Oct. 1996 Hemet news). The Scientology Church (apparently Hemet was Hubbard's headquarters on Golden Springs Rd.), they admit is still there but they claim the Moonies, Satanism and others are all gone.
Actual Facts - Are they gone, Really? With just a cursory look we found Church’s of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Religious Science, Unity Church Church, Christian Science centers, United Pentecostal Church a Unitarian church and others that are certainly questionable still there. (http://www.churchangel.com/WEBCA/hemet.htm)
Did they just overlook some groups? Maybe they think these groups are not to be considered cults? These are just the ones listed on the web, I’m sure there are many more as there are in any city. Is this accurate reporting from an “investigative researcher”? What is the real intent of the Sentinel groups research that seems to always be inaccurate. Clearly the theme running through the video is called “embellishing the truth” or “misrepresentation.” Maybe they just see things the way they want to? This area is known for being filled with all kinds of church’s, denominational and non denominational.
Is the cult membership 3/10s of a percent of the population? This would be
300 people if the population were 100,000 people that it is today. But when the
video was made in 1997 the population was closer to 52,315. So 3/10ths of 1% of
52,315 would equal 156 people. (http://www.pe.net/~rksnow/cacountyhemetmis.htm)
Let's look at just a few actual cult numbers from Hemet. Hemet LDS (Mormons) Churches - 9 wards with 500 members = 4500 members. 1st Church Of Christian Scientist - 43 members. Jehovah's Witnesses = 1000 members in 8 churches. (http://www.superpages.com/)
Claim in the Transformation video - Decrease in crime “neighborhood youth gangs have plagued the Hemet suburb of San Jacinto for decades.”
Actual Facts -This again is a false representation. The crime rate is down in many cities in the area and the nation. And they are not due to spiritual mapping and warfare or any revival in these places. So this is not any proof for their spiritual mapping working. From what I have been told criminals were being relocated to the area so this increased crime. However, the police dept was not able to cope immediately. When the law enforcement was increased the crime decreased. From those I have recently contacted that live in Hemet, they say the very opposite, that crime and violence are increasing not decreasing.
They claimed Hemet had certain areas the police would never go because of the danger, this is because of generations of street gangs. “The danger was so great around the first street area that the police refused to go there without substantial backup.” They play a clip of a policeman saying “we got a phone call in the middle of the nigh about 2-3 in the morning.” They then go to the clip of vandalizing of the church. I just don’t see how all this is related although they try to tie it in. This is standard procedure for the police to be prudent in known areas of trouble.
The video shows the newspaper heading “Youth crime increases around the country”. In the article it says “It not only in San Bernadino and Riverside counties.” The press enterprise newspaper is shown next with the heading “Study looks at crime in school.” The small print states “School districts in Riverside and San Bernardino counties reported higher rates of drug and alcohol offenses and violent crimes than the statewide average, according to a state Department of Education report released Wednesday. Statewide, property crimes such as theft and vandalism topped the list of the most common crimes plaguing California public schools, the first comprehensive report on school crime in eight years…”(Published on 02/27/1997 Wendy Wilson The Press-Enterprise). None of this has to do with the city of Hemet which is just one of the numerous suburbs in this huge area. The article they used showed they are wrong in several ways. First, it shows there is problem in the schools, not the city itself. Second, it shows that crime is present at the time of the video, not that it isn’t.
When the video states “Transformation is taking place it is not the same community that it was in the past.” I guess one needs to know what he means by this. For the community has not changed the way they present it in the video at all. “It was pastors graveyard” Becket who is featured in the video says “I never wanted to be there… we had our emotional bags packed waiting for the day God would somehow call us out of this valley.” God said, “I have got a plan if you will make a commitment to this place.” God asked him to spend the rest of his life in the valley for him. He was resistant as “I didn’t love, I didn’t care, for I didn’t want to be a part of.” But God told him he had a plan if he would make a commitment to this place. The narrator states “The Beckett’s silenced the voices urging them to leave Hemet by purchasing a cemetery plot on the edge of town.” I thought it was his own voice that didn’t want to stay? He then went to a cabin to pray and fast with others and he says, “we knew we had touched something in the realm of the spirit that would be very significant for our valley, it was at that point that things began to escalate spiritually.” It was then researchers started to feed intercessors fresh information on the communities problems. However Otis explains it as… “God didn't move in Hemet until Bob bought a burial plot in the city.” (From Christianity Today, January 12, 1998 Vol. 42, No. 1, Page 55.)
Is there a Bible teaching on the Realm of the Spirit? This phrase seems to constantly be there when Spiritual warfare is described. From his own words the catalyst was a piece of land bought in a cemetery. I’m not sure what significance this would or would not have to spiritual warfare. “It was then researchers started to feed intercessors fresh information on the problems plaguing the community.” Then they started to use spiritual mapping, “if you don’t know what the problem is you can’t evaluate it.” Housten says, “Spiritual mapping brings us to a place of knowledge and information, If I have a base of issues that I know are strongholds in my city then God has the ability to speak something in my heart and say gather the intercessors and go after this now.” They claim Impressive results were seen. From this is claimed that the cult population has sunk to 3/10s the population (something we have proven is false).
From what we understand Beckett came out in the early 70’s. Melodyland bought a ranch and he started valley chapel, later it was called the dwelling place. If God moved in the 90’s this is quite a gap of time for this all to happen. Did he buy his plot in the 90’s?
From what I have also heard both Beckett and Housten are endorses of the laughter/Toronto. Somehow it seems these two streams are almost always seen together. In the video we see people up on a hillside with their hands outstretched over the city praying. No doubt doing what they call warfare. (This same thing is seen with Houlio Ruibal in Cali as he points his hands in one direction and then another as he prays).
Housten, at the end of the interview says that he will not just be accountable for his church,” he will be held accountable for how he pastored his city.” Besides this being out of bounds biblically, I wonder how he can justify saying such a thing. A shepherd is appointed to be over his flock of believers, the local congregation not a city. Do we pastor unbelievers or believers?
Claim in the Transformation video - Hemet is called the meth-amphetamine capitol of the West coast near San Jacinto Mt’s. “We discovered that we were meth amphetamine capitol of the west coast.” “It turns out the Hemet valley was also a major drug center at least 9 meth amphetamine labs operated out of the area.” They claim Hemet’s drug trade has dropped by as much as 75%, he gives much of the credit to intercessors. Sonny says “they took a multi - million dollar drug cooperation and made it run with its tail between its legs.”
Actual Facts - It is Riverside county that is considered a high methamphetimine area, not Hemet. So they got this wrong, it is not this lone small area that is within the county that is the center.
The DEA gives the geographic distribution of methamphetamine removals which have been fairly consistent over time, with most of the methamphetamine being seized by the Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco. Hemet is not mentioned at all. (http://www.usdoj.gov/dea/pubs/meth/appendixa.htm). From what I have heard the police had a crack-down on drugs, with numerous law enforcement agencies that included the FBI. There was also a sizeable drug bust there by police from both inside and outside the area. Drug busts do not equal revival even if you attribute it to your spiritual warfare prayer.
Claim in the Transformation video - “Sonny often cooked up enough meth in a given month to supply more than a million people.”
Actual Facts - There were 2,691 meth labs found in California, 228 were super labs in California. (A Super Lab is defined as a lab that can produce 10 lbs or more.) In 1996 the DEA seized 1,431 kilograms, in 1997 they seized 1,627 kilograms. ( http://www.usdoj.gov/dea/concern/meth.htm)
Here is some info that might make it possible to calculate if enough Meth could be manufactured in one month for one million people. (http://www.kci.org/meth_info/faq_meth.htm)
How much does meth cost on the street? A. The cost varies according to several factors, including purity of the drug, the region in which it is sold, the source of the drug (local product vs. imported) and availability of the drug. The approximate prices are: $25 per 1/4 gram $100 per gram $1700 per ounce. Experts estimate that one ounce of meth equals about 110 meth “hits.”
So if one ounce supplies approximately 3 people for one hit per day per month, that would be 333,333 ounces needed to supply 1million people. Since 16 ounces of dry measure equals one pound he would have to produce 20,833 pounds per month to supply each of the 1 million meth addicts for one hit per day each day for one month. 20,833 lbs = 10.41 tons.
It is highly doubtful that it was possible for him to produce 10 tons of meth in one month. I highly doubt that meth users are only taking one hit per day. If one ounce cost $1700 and constitutes about 110 meth hit then one hit would cost $15. At that price you can be sure that people are taking far more than one hit. I have heard of people who have about a $1000 per day meth habit.
But we also encounter another problem and extremely serious one. Each pound of meth produced leaves behind five or six pounds of toxic waste. Meth cooks often pour leftover chemicals and byproduct sludge down drains in nearby plumbing, storm drains, or directly onto the ground. Chlorinated solvents and other toxic byproducts used to make meth pose long-term hazards because they can persist in soil and groundwater for years. Clean-up costs are exorbitant because solvent contaminated soil usually must be incinerated.
If each pound leaves behind five or six pounds of toxic waste, this one person was getting rid of a whopping 104,165-124,998 pounds of waste per month, which would be 52-62 tons of waste material. He wasn't exaggerating that he needed police help! He would actually need to rent about one dump truck per day to get rid of the toxic waste. Is this seeming more and more impossible to you?
Now let's assume for a moment that meth addicts take more like 5-10 hits per day which is certainly more of a reality. This would then come out to: 20833 * 5 = 104165 which is 52 tons per month 20833 * 10 = 208330 which is 104 tons per month.
You can then figure out the toxic waste situation from there, suffice it to
say that he would have to rent at the least 2 and upwards to 10 dump trucks per
day to haul away all the toxic waste. And he would have been dead not long into
the process from toxic poisoning himself. The poison left over in a house would
be an unbelievable amount.
Conclusion: based on these figures that the claim on the Transformations video is not only exaggerated, but nigh unto impossible! Especially for a million people a month. Remember, they claim accurate research in both the “Spirit realm” and the natural world.
After contacting several people involved in church work over Hemet I heard the same response. They have had a lot of people calling. And they cannot confirm the claims at all. A letter we received from a pastor who lives in Hemet stated the claims on the Transformations video are not true. Hemet is not (nor was it the drug capital of anywhere). The Gospel is preached here, just like anywhere. There are several effective churches here doing the good work of the Lord. He stated I've received this questioning from pastors literally all over the world. There are no “tricks” to evangelism or church growth or reaching the lost-drug culture. Just follow the Bible's instructions.
Another said... I will just send this off to you to say that “Transformations” is a hype. One church has gone from two services to one on Sundays. These are from those who live there.