a warning about the “World Christian Gathering on Indigenous People”
by Sandy Simpson, Pacific Waves Newsletter, June 2002
I grew up in the islands of Micronesia.1 I have never seen, in all that time, a movement with such destructive potential to evangelism in the Two-Thirds World as the World Christian Gathering on Indigenous People. This movement will usher in a new era of unrepentance from former pagan cultures and religions. I will be using Micronesia as an example of the efforts and effects of the WCGIP movement.
More than two-thirds of the world today is made up of non-Western indigenous people groups. This is why outreach to and by indigenous peoples is of vital importance today.
The indigenous peoples of the Micronesian islands were first introduced to the Gospel in 1852 in Kosrae and Pohnpei by missionaries from the American Board of Commisioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) founders of the Hawaiian Missionary Society. The Hawaiian islands were first introduced to the Gospel in 1820 by the ABCFM, and later sent a team to Micronesia which included ABCFM missionary families Gulick, Sturges and Snow accompanied by Hawaiians Daniel Opunui and wife Doreka and Kaaikaula and wife Kekela. They brought with them a letter of introduction from King Kamehameha. The Snows and Opunuis were given land on Kosrae and stayed there as missionaries. Later the gospel spread to Western Micronesia primarily under Liebenzell Mission (LMI) that first sent missionaries to Pohnpei in 1906. The gospel was spread from island to island by LMI missionaries accompanied by indigenous Micronesian island Christians. Since that first introduction of the Gospel to the islands, that were deep into worshipping other gods, the indigenous churches that were planted by the missions were eventually nationalized. LMI is now working alongside the evangelical churches of Micronesia in partnership. It has long been the goal of LMI to disciple and encourage the evangelical churches to become completely self-sustaining, to disciple their own island groups using their own methodology, and then to reach out to other islands and the world with the Gospel message. This has been encouraged since the early days of LMI mission work and continues to be encouraged today, and indigenous mission work has been ongoing by national churches for decades. But, as is always the case in every area of the world, there is still much to be done. This article was written to encourage the churches to continue to fulfill the Great Commission because the time is short. We must all work together to get the Good News to every nation, tribe and tongue.
But it was also my unpleasant duty to write this article in order to warn the churches of some “indigenous people movements” that are not biblical. The World Christian Gathering on Indigenous People (WCGIP) is a front for the Third Wave and will not only divide the churches but is fostering bigotry and animosity against their partnerships with historical Western mission organizations. I will prove these statements in this article using the WCGIP leadership teachings. All churches in Micronesia would be well advised to tell their people to avoid the upcoming WCGIP in Hawaii in October of 2002, as well as other similar gatherings like the Many Nations, One Voice celebrations. These gatherings are being promoted by Youth With a Mission (YWAM) and were the subject of a ten-part radio program on “Word To The World” by Danny Lehmann, director of YWAM Honolulu.
One additional note before I get any further into this article: I have made contact with the leadership of YWAM, including the director of the Pacific area, over some of the issues raised by this movement. I am sad to report that I have received only one negative response and, otherwise, no response at all. I have also written to Richard Twiss and Terry LeBlanc asking for an explanation of their views but did not receive any direct response to my questions. When events like this are promoted publicly those involved must expect public scrutiny. Some directors of discernment ministries have talked to WCGIP leadership on separate occasions regarding some of these issues, but they have been unreceptive and, in most cases, unconcerned about trying to effect needed changes in groups like YWAM. I’m sad about that, but I must warn the churches to stay away from YWAM and other promoters of the WCGIP.
The series of Word To The World radio programs featured three of the key leaders who are promoting the WCGIP. Those men are Richard Twiss, a Lakota Sioux Indian from Wiconi International; Leon Siu, a native Hawaiian of Aloha Ke Akua; and Terry LeBlanc, director of My People International, a Micmac/Acadian Indian from Canada and also Director of Aboriginal Programs in World Vision Canada. I warn the churches of Micronesia that, though the goals of these men and their organizations sound lofty, the fact that they all have a connection to the Third Wave and C. Peter Wagner’s New Apostolic Reformation is not well known. This is evidenced by the endorsements the WCGIP leadership have received from them and their meetings. These gatherings are an entry level into the false doctrines of the Third Wave, no matter how culturally aware and politically correct they may sound. That is because the views taught and expressed in this movement came primarily out of Fuller Seminary and from the writings of people like Charles Kraft, John Dawson, Don Richardson and many others.
Some of the stated goals of these gatherings is to teach indigenous peoples that God is “redeeming cultures”; in fact that God “created cultures”. The claim is that the gospel was already evident before Western missionaries came in contact with indigenous cultures. Therefore Western missionaries, et al, are primarily blamed and must repent of bringing Western culture with them which ruined the godly societies God had already put in place. So the goal is for indigenous people groups, now called “First Nations”, to get together and assert their “redeemed” cultures by way of regalia and cultural shows throughout the world. The reasoning is that they are the only ones who can effectively reach out to the Two-Thirds World and finish the task of “world evangelization” which will usher in the return of Christ.
These ideas are riddled with false assumptions. First of all there is NO mention in the Bible about “redeeming cultures“. God will redeem the nation of Israel, but today He is in the business of redeeming individuals, people! Cultures are the “traditions of men” which the Bible tells us are in opposition to the commands of God. (Mark 7:8-9)
The second erroneous assumption is that missionaries are mainly responsible for turning indigenous cultures toward Western culture. It is true that Western missionaries were coming from a Western perspective and sometimes made the mistake of teaching Western cultural values instead of Biblical ones. But a careful study of history will show that sailors, whalers, traders and others who plied their trade in the islands were often the ones who caused most of these problems. It must also be taken into account that island peoples welcomed the modern world conveniences and are only now waking up to the fact that with those conveniences comes an inevitable loss of a simpler island lifestyle and some aspects of culture. Are Western missionaries then the main people to blame? As you will see, according to these WCGIP representatives, the answer is “yes”.
The third false idea is that putting on cultural shows can somehow further the Gospel message. It can certainly attract people, but the Gospel must be clearly preached, otherwise it just becomes a secular exercise in First Nations’ unity.
The last false idea being presented is basically Dominionism, as often espoused by YWAM and these men. It teaches that we must Christianize the whole world before Christ comes. It is important to understand the use of the term “world evangelization”. Though it sounds like the word “evangelism” it bears little resemblance to preaching the Gospel to all nations. It is really talking about Christianizing and “redeeming cultures” and preparing the world for Christ to return because allegedly He won’t come back until this Christianizing work is done. But the Bible is clear that the end times will see a great apostasy, a falling away, rather than a great revival. Then Jesus Christ will return bodily to rule and judge the earth and set up His Kingdom. Yes, the whole world will hear the Gospel message before Christ returns, but it is also clear from Scripture that few will answer that call.
I want you, the reader, to be aware of where the men mentioned in this article are coming from theologically. I will give you some quotes from their radio interview and let you know a little of what they believe.
Richard Twiss, one of the guests on the radio show, was on the 700 Club show with Gordon Robertson (Pat Robertson’s son) recently and in an interview he told Gordon that the Great Spirit of the Indians is the same as the Holy Spirit. Robertson heartily agreed. The problem with this idea is that the Great Spirit has no son, and without the son there is no redemption. The Great Spirit required human sacrifices and other atrocities. Twiss is highly endorsed by the leaders of the Third Wave on his Wiconi web site. He travels all over the world wearing his Indian headdress, “dancing” his “prayers” to drums, chanting old Indian songs and lyrics. He could be seen dancing in a video I have of one of the early indigenous peoples gatherings in Colorado where people were dancing around, stripping to the waist, and attempting to manipulate the spirit world with their hands and music. Ancient Maori war chants were used apparently without changing the words. Would Micronesian islanders use ancient chants, where the words and meanings have sunk into obscurity, to do evangelism? How do they know they are not summoning demons? Twiss said in his interview on Word to the World:
“Indigenous peoples have perpetually been put in the position of the mission field never fully recognized as been given gifts and callings and anointings to be coequal partners …”2
There are two false assumptions here that were used throughout the radio show. That full transcript along with my comments is available online.3
One of the false ideas is that indigenous peoples had “gifts and callings and anointings” before the Gospel had even been preached to them.
The second is that there are many “anointings”. There is clearly only one anointing of the Holy Spirit that all true believers share, and that is the anointing of the Anointed One, Jesus Christ.
Furthermore it is implied that missions still don’t recognize the importance of indigenous peoples in reaching the world with the gospel. That is patently false. LMI has long encouraged, both in word and with finances, any mission efforts by indigenous peoples. Twiss also states:
“...We’re introducing native leaders and native ministry organizations to the greater body of Christ by partnering with people like Don Richardson, John Dawson and George Otis …”4
This statement clearly shows that the WCGIP is associated with YWAM (John Dawson) and the New Apostolic Reformation (George Otis). Don Richardson, though he wrote an interesting book about cross-cultural ministry many years ago, which had some good ideas and some equally bad ones, has now apparently signed on to the WCGIP bandwagon himself. He is an endorser of the book Perpetuated In Righteousness by Daniel Kikawa, friend of Leon Siu, which we will cover in a moment. The WCGIP is clearly an arm of the Third Wave as further evidenced by the following:
“… And some exciting news. Mission America … at the last meeting in St. Louis a decision was made that every November, for the Church from this day forward, would be a celebration of First Nation’s history.”5
Mission America is a coalition formed by the “8,000 churches and nearly 1 million Lighthouses” of the Lighthouse Movement. This movement is a direct brainchild of C. Peter Wagner and Ed Silvoso, and a way for the New Apostolic Reformation to gather information on all the “Christian” churches of the world, gaining control over them. The new “Transformations” movement is a part of this scenario headed by Silvoso. Notice that now the “new apostles” like C. Peter Wagner are dictating to the “Church” that the first Sunday of every November will now be dedicated to First Nation’s history. I think it is great to have churches involved in supporting mission work, particularly mission work done by indigenous people, but now the “new apostles” think they can dictate calendar dates for all the churches. It‘s obvious; they believe they are “God’s anointed foundational apostles” upon which the whole Church will now rest. They forget that the Church already rests on Jesus Christ and the Apostles of Scripture and that they can never meet the biblical criteria for “foundational apostles”. For further information on this subject, order the Apologetics Coordination Team DVD series on the New Apostolic Reformation.
Leon Siu, also on the radio show, is a promoter of the ideas in the book Perpetuated In Righteousness by his friend Daniel Kikawa, who was a main sponsor of the WCGIP gatherings in Hawaii. Kikawa and Siu have a ministry called Aloha Ke Akua on the Big Island of Hawaii. In Perpetuated In Righteousness Kikawa makes up an elaborate mythology about Hawaiian culture claiming that Hawaiians already were worshipping God in the form of the (bird) god “‘Io” long before missionaries arrived (pg. 18, pp. 2). He claims that the Polynesian people were descended from Israel (pg. 62), that they can trace their genealogies back to Noah (pg. 72-73), and that they knew the gospel because it was written in the stars (pg. 55). This is all fanciful mythology. Dr. Arnold Fructenbaum of Ariel Ministries says of Kikawa’s work:
“To claim the Polynesian peoples “may have been part of the nation of Israel for a time” is one of the more horrendous assumptions in the book. There is absolutely no truth to this whatsoever”.
The problem is that Leon Siu continues to pray to the god ‘Io as Jehovah. ‘Io is a bird god. Micronesian Christians know that they were saved from worshipping animals, fish, birds, rocks and trees as gods when they came to know the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The sin of trying to substitute YHWH for other gods is not new. Israel itself went up into the high places to worship YHWH in disobedience to the Law and ended up worshipping Baal there.
Leon Siu is a musician who continues to play in bars and makes drums with carvings on them for use in cultural hula events glorifying the false Hawaiian god Pele. In the radio program Leon Siu stated:
“So these are clues that we felt God had left (the Hawaiian people) and evidence that He’s left as well as processes He has left in which our Hawaiian people can respond in a very natural way to God and really set things right between them and God.”6
Siu uses the same claims as Kikawa that the Hawaiian people had a way of reconciliation with God prior to the arrival of missionaries. But how can they believe without a preacher?
1 Cor. 4:4: “The god of this age had blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, which is the image of God. “
Romans 10:14-15: “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
Throughout these radio programs there seemed to be an “attitude problem” displayed toward Western missionaries and virtually no credit given them for being the ones with beautiful Gospel feet. Siu goes on to say:
“Way back 150 years ago when the gospel was first came to Hawaii … immediately the Hawaiians set forth to become missionaries to other places … so they actually, Hawaiians were ones that evangelized Micronesia ...”7
You would think that the organizers of a very large event like WCGIP could get their historical facts straight for a radio program. The Gospel came to Hawaii 182 years ago. They did not set out immediately to Micronesia but some 32 years later. The two Hawaiian Christian couples went along with Western ABCFM missionaries. The Hawaiians did not evangelize all of Micronesia but helped evangelize Kosrae, Pohnpei and the Marshalls. These missionary efforts were a joint effort of the ABCFM and the Hawaiians. Missions in Micronesia continue to be a joint effort, though the national churches are doing most of it today. With misinformation are these third or fourth generation Christians trying to create division in the body of Christ?
Terry LeBlanc, also featured on the radio program, was openly critical of white Western missionaries to the point of calling them names.
“...we don’t know what to call white people, Caucasians or haoulis or Pale Faces …”8
Do we really need name-calling in the body of Christ? Are we not to be fair and loving to all, and not respecters of persons? LeBlanc also says:
“There’s a myth that we have labored under for centuries in indigenous communities and the myth is that we are a godless heathen people.”9
If Canadian Indians are saved then they are no longer heathen and I know no Christian who is claiming this. But LeBlanc is actually claiming that they were NEVER heathen. This is patently false as they did not have the Gospel message and were worshipping false demonic gods, including the false god the “Great Spirit”. He goes on to say:
“And yet all brings glory to God in its own special way, and that’s true of human beings and cultures as well.”10
Do all cultures bring glory to God? What about Nazi Germany? What about Saddam Hussein and Iraq? What about cannibals in Papua New Guinea? What about Iran and North Korea? What about American culture? Does ANY culture bring glory to God? Not even Israel is bringing glory to God today, let alone the Gentiles. We must strive to evangelize individuals who will, in turn, try to effect change in their cultures. But more importantly they need change in their own lives and then to apply biblical precepts to any cultural activities in which they participate.
Read the article called A New Culture by Juanita Simpson, also available in the June 2002 edition of the Pacific Waves Newsletter:11
“God is now calling forth from among the indigenous communities of the world that good deposit which He has made in them of their cultures, their languages, their musical expressions and all that sort of thing ... as an expression of praise and worship unto Himself.”12
God did indeed “confuse” the languages at Babel, but He is not the originator of cultures and musical expressions. Those must be brought into subjection to the Spirit through the written Word of God by believers. Our cultures and expressions of culture through the arts are certainly not God-instituted and are fallen into sin in a multitude of ways. We can worship God as peoples and nations from many cultures with our arts, but we must not mix what was dedicated to false gods with our worship of Jesus Christ. Israel adopted the cultural ways of nations around them to their disgrace. The Levites brought strange fire before the Lord to their judgment. Uzzah and Israel ignored the commands of the Lord in bringing up the ark to Jerusalem and Uzzah died. It’s a serious thing to claim to love the Lord and not obey His commands. When we are crucified with Christ we lay down our cultures and everything about us at the foot of the cross (Phil. 3:7-9) and allow God to reshape us into the image of His Son Jesus Christ.
LeBlanc further mistakenly argues:
“Western cultures seem to be acceptable as they are, as cultures in which we express our faith commitment to Christ, whereas indigenous cultures are almost uniquely denigrated and set aside as culture unacceptable in any way ..”13
I don’t know where LeBlanc has been hanging out, but this is not true. If he had visited churches in many countries he would know that expressions of worship vary in many, many ways, and are often molded to fit more closely with cultural ideas. No one thinks that Western culture is “acceptable”, at least no one in this generation. There are many practices in the Western church that are a legacy of Rome that should have been done away with centuries ago. Indigenous people are not “denigrated” and “set aside”. Many indigenous churches today are nationalized and have great control over how they worship the Lord and do evangelism. The idea is to mold what we do to the law of Christ, the written Word of God, so that in everything we do we are being salt and light to the world. We must not just put on cultural floor shows to try to draw people together into some kind of ecumenical unity.
Danny Lehmann, director of YWAM Honolulu whose radio show Word To The World featured these guests, has had a good past record as an evangelist. But his organization, YWAM, is now promoting unbiblical doctrines and it is my hope that he will either try to effect change from within YWAM or get out. I have talked with a number of YWAM leaders on issues such as their endorsement of and alliance with Benny Hinn and their anti-evangelism methods in dealing with “Messianic Muslims”, but all to no avail. YWAM is now openly promoting the agenda of the Third Wave as well as the New Apostolic Reformation. In fact I would venture to say YWAM is one of the largest promoters of the NAR in the world. Let’s look briefly at how Lehmann has obviously bought into the “world evangelization” methods of the WCGIP, as he mentions that phrase himself more than once in his radio show. He also gives bigotry a little promotion when he states:
“The book of Revelation the Bible doesn’t say we’re going to be all one block of one color of people, it says every kindred, tongue, people, language and nation will be there, uh, languages, peoples and cultures in heaven.”14
This is a straw man argument. No Christian that I know of, with the exception of certain cults, believe that only one color of people will be in heaven. Nowhere does the Bible mention that “cultures” will be in heaven. When the Bible talks about nations, tribes and languages it is referring to genus, people groups—not cultures. Cultures are the traditions of men. The Bible warns us against the traditions of men.
Mark 7:8-9: “You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men. And he said to them: “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!”
Lehmann also made this ridiculous claim:
“... Every nation will stand around the throne of God … and some people will be playing diggerydoos and some people will be playing electric guitars and some people will be dancing the hula.”15
So there will be electric generators in heaven where God is the only light source? Women will be swiveling their hips suggestively in front of God Almighty? This brings up a point … if Christians might be embarrassed to dance the hula in front of God, is it appropriate to be dancing this dance that was formerly a dance to the false god Pele in churches? Lehmann goes on to state:
“I think this is true when we go into other cultures and we talk to people that are especially from other religions and they feel like, well they have to put on. Muslims, for instance, that you have to sit on a chair in church or sit on a pew. Well, that‘s offensive to a Muslim because they never sit in the presence of God in Mosques.”16
First of all, we are to witness to Muslims. No Muslim has the presence of God in their mosques and no one is forcing any Muslim to come to a Bible study and sit in a pew that I know of. In fact, in most Bible studies today people are free to sit on the floor. Try going to a Mosque and see what Muslims require you to do!
But the most telling aspect of this statement is that Lehmann makes no distinction between Allah and God. This is exactly how YWAM is handling their “evangelization” today by saying that Allah is God. In our last “Pacific Waves” we showed that, without a doubt, Allah is not God. He is a false, vindictive, evil god of hate, fear and death. Lehmann also says:
“… Several of these … redemptive analogies ... are in most if not all cultures.”17
People need more than an analogy to be saved. They need the Word of God preached to them, and they cannot grow without it.
YWAM and the WCGIP are bringing many cultures together for fellowship and sharing of cultural differences and similarities. If this were their only goal it would be fine. But there are agendas lurking just beneath the surface in this movement that are to be avoided. The blurring of lines between the false gods of the past and Jehovah God, YHWH, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the great “I AM”, is reprehensible. The Third Wave manifestations in these meetings are patently lacking the fruit of the Spirit of self-control and peace, and instead glorify the traditions of men. The fact is that this movement is yet another way for C. Peter Wagner and his false apostles to gain control of the churches.
I want to be sure that those reading this article understand my position clearly. I have been and always will be a champion for indigenous people movements, especially when they are in the business of preaching the Gospel—to their own “Jerusalem” first, then to their neighbors, then to the uttermost parts of the earth. Much work is still left to be done in Micronesia and the rest of the world. It’s going to take anyone and everyone who is a true believer to get the job done. The harvest fields are ripe, but the laborers are always in short supply. It’s my hope that those who have an interest in Micronesia will dedicate themselves to the goal of reaching the islands for Christ.
But I do not endorse movements that, for all their good intentions, are a mixture of good, unbiblical and heretical theology. How can we effectively bring the Gospel if that Gospel is tainted by the world, the flesh and the devil? We as Christians must stand firm in the “faith once for all delivered to the saints”. We must not get involved in ecumenical movements that look like the world, act like the world and, instead of bringing the Word to the world, are bringing the world to the world.18
1--By way of introduction, Sandy Simpson is a commissioned missionary with Liebenzell Mission USA working out of Hawaii primarily with Micronesian islanders from the islands of Guam, Saipan, Yap, Palau, Chuuk, Pohnpei, Kosrae and the Marshalls. He grew up as an MK in Palau where his family came out as missionaries in 1962, learned the language and became so much a part of the culture that he was even asked, at one point, if he wanted to become a Palauan citizen. He has written music in Palauan as well as translated songs and other materials, done concerts and preached in the Palauan language. Since 1989 he has been working in Guam and Hawaii serving the people of the Evangelical Churches of Micronesia in teaching Bible studies to Christian leaders as well as doing counseling and visitation. He is also the director of the Apologetics Coordination Team (ACT) of which the Deception In The Church web site is a ministry. ACT was established to help island church leaders grapple with the onset of the apostate Third Wave movement. He read over 200 books on the history and culture of Micronesia and Polynesia in the writing of a treatise on Micronesian music with a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and CAHA which is a video script detailing the use and advancement of music in Micronesia. That treatise is available at MARC in Guam. For those who disagree this little introduction was written so that you could at least know where he is coming from and understand that he has a deep knowledge of the islands, indigenous people, and this subject matter on which he has spent the last decade studying.
2—Richard Twiss, Word to the World with host Danny Lehmann, KLHT, 2001, show #541
4—Richard Twiss, Word to the World with host Danny Lehmann, KLHT, 2001, show #547
5—Ibid., show #548
6—Leon Siu, Ibid., show #544
7—Ibid., show #549
8—Terry LeBlanc, Ibid., show #541
9—Ibid., show #542
12—Terry LeBlanc, Word to the World with host Danny Lehmann, KLHT, 2001, show #542
13—Ibid., show #544
14—Danny Lehmann, Ibid., show #542
15—Ibid., show #544
18—Additional note: Danny Lehmann has since taken down the audio files for this program which were formerly on the Calvary Chapel web site. (http://www3.calvarychapel.com/honolulu/Chapel/Missions/lehmann/wtw.htm). We have the full audio from the KLHT radio broadcasts and the transcripts. We are prohibited from posting the audio files in their entirety because they are copyrighted, but we quote from them for the purposes of proving that what they are teaching is unbiblical. If you wish to procure the original programs you will have to write to KLHT in Honolulu and request them.