Forced Panhandling

“The Old Beggar” by Louis Dewar (1916) (PD-Art, PD-Old)

Leaders of the non-denominational Imperial Valley Ministries appear to have devised a new form of clergy abuse.  They are alleged to have imprisoned dozens of homeless, forcing them to panhandle 9 hours/day on the church’s behalf [1].

The church’s programs are billed as drug rehabilitation.  Destitute men and women were lured with offers of free food and shelter, along with promises of the funds to return home.  Instead, victims were required to adhere to strict rules, and denied food if they disobeyed.

Church members held them captive in group homes with deadbolts, taking their identification documents from them.  In some locations, windows were, also, nailed shut.

Meanwhile, church leaders stole Food Stamps and Welfare benefits from victims, threatening to remove children, if their parents tried to leave.  Others were told their loved ones had abandoned them and only God loved them.

Whatever this was, it was not Christianity.

Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven…Many will say to Me in that day, ‘…have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Matt. 7: 21-23).

[1]  USA Today, “A church needed money, so members held homeless people captive and forced them to beg, prosecutors say” by N’dea Yancey-Bragg, 9/11/19, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/09/11/church-held-homeless-people-hostage-forced-them-beg-feds-say/2285143001.

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24 Comments

Filed under Abuse of Power, Community, Poverty, Religion

24 responses to “Forced Panhandling

  1. This is horrific. Oh Anna, there is so much evil in this world.

  2. I have watched this story unfold for a while now, and I think it may be a more common practice that just this one church.

    I had a friend join a group based, I think in Odessa, TX, several years ago that put her (and others) into a program of sales. I don’t know where the crafts came from, but every day these folx were required to man tables where they sold ornate, decorative wooden crosses from tables at the entrance to the Walmart (various Walmarts, moving to a new one each day) in a manner much like we see girl scout cookies being sold.

    My friend wasn’t in the program long, maybe a month or six weeks before she got out. I had thought this might be good for her, but when she described the conditions of her “treatment” to me, it sounded like it was just all work, all the time, selling these things and handing over large sums of money raised at the end of each day. The little bit of “Bible lesson” they got each day was geared to “motivate” sales and not to complain about long hours, little food, and other hardships.

    When I saw this story break, it immediately had me thinking of this friend’s experience which already had me a bit suspicious, but I am no private investigator and have not tried to inquire more. But I have made it a point NOT to purchase from these groups, which I see several times a year at various Walmarts all over this town and neighboring towns.

    I bet there is a link. Not accusing anyone by name, but I wont be surprised if this isn’t a much bigger story before it’s all said and done.

    • This is such a perversion of real faith. Satan lacks the capacity to create, so adopts and twists the Word of God and His plan for our lives. My heart goes out to your friend. It sounds as if she had a narrow escape. But how many more are still in bondage?

  3. USA said the “church” “needed” money. “Entity” and “coveted” would have been better word choices, and the drive, only to help themselves. Evil. Prayer, for the victims.

  4. So much swept under the carpet, evil has had too much control.

  5. I don’t even know what to say, Anna

  6. Sadly Anna, this is not as rare as one would like to believe. There have been several of these same situations here in Florida. While not calling themselves a “church”, individuals have set up independent homes where they take in the homeless and elderly who have no other place to go.

    Like the information you posted, these individuals take the persons check from them with the promise that they will be given a portion for themselves while the rest goes for their living expenses. Tragically, these people end up as virtual slaves and never see any of their money.

    The imagination of mans heart to do evil is unchecked apart from God. Is it any wonder that John said in response to the Lord saying “I come quickly”…….”even so, come, Lord Jesus”? Rev 22:20

  7. This is so sad Anna..
    It seems there is no end to exploitation.
    I pray these people will not be pushed away from Christianity because of the bad people who use Jesus as a business tactic. He would certainty overturn these tables.

  8. Reblogged this on Pennies For Dreams and commented:
    Post By: Anna Waldherr : A Voice Reclaimed

  9. Anna, for this to even exist today is abominable. When will it ever end. Thank you sincerely for bearing the torch!

  10. How horrible… thank God they’ve been freed! I think the worst evil is when people call themselves “christian” or “church” while abusing vulnerable people 😶🙏💜 Jackie@KWH

  11. Pingback: Forced Panhandling: by Anna Waldherr – At Sunnyside – Where Truth and Beauty Meet

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