Moreleta Park, Bruce Wilkinson and the Amazonic “Jesus”
On 16 May 2010at the Moreleta Park Dutch Reformed Church, Pretoria to 7 000 people. He did not preach from the Bible. Instead he exegeted the revival that started in Andrew Murray’s church.
Before coming to Moreleta Park, Dr. Wilkinson prayed that the Lord would set this church free again. He asked Him what is going to happen to this church in the next five years and “I got an immediate sense of an answer. Immediately He said; “Well, they will be onto their third service in five years. This will fill, this will fill a third time. [Applause] But they must break through in ways that they have not yet broken through.”
When Dr. Wilkinson heard that Moreleta Park had started small groups, he did not believe it, because it goes against the tradition of the Dutch Reformed Church to do something less formal and new. [Note: According to theirpage 15, group membership is a prerequisite for membership of the church.] When he overcame his disbelief, he knew that they were in the midst of a growing revival that they have not yet identified. He explained that it is happening all over the world. Once a church has grown to Moreleta’s size, it bursts open into cell groups. And this is God’s doing it with a strategy in mind. The new model is finally here. This is the global new model of what God is doing. Cell groups are the next global move of God.
Not so fast. ‘Moreletas’ should see read
“Yes, hidden in the fancy rhetoric about the cell structure is the move towards an apostolic reformation of the Church, the leadership of self-appointed apostles and prophets, heavy shepherding, the removal of bible-study and classic bible teaching with a shift towards seeker-sensitive, social programs and self-indulgent “sharing”, and the tracking and databasing of all church members.
It is a shift away from preaching the gospel for individual salvation, and the subsequent teaching, bible instruction and discipline which is needed for individual sanctification; a shift towards “growth” because numbers are all-important in the race to convert the world, therefore anything that does not contribute to numerical growth in your church MUST GO. It is also a shift towards mass conversion of people-groups, and a shift towards what is called “discipling” which is another word for CONTROLLING church members once you have them under your cell roof!
Even the supposedly biblical and attractive proposition of ending the monopoly on ministry that the Pastor and elders have had for many years, transferring power to the people, and showing them the principle of every-member ministry – even this has a sting in the tail, for not only are the members of cells strictly led by shepherds, mentors, disciplers and elders in a pyramid structure to rival that of Rome’s priesthood, BUT the effort being put into the transferal of ministry functions is primarily to “tap the resource” that is in the churches: ie, to train up millions of obedient little workers to go out and harvest “the unchurched”. Put in that light, the “paradigm shift” doesn’t seem so innocuous or benevolent.”
Moreleta Park is committed to achieving results, bring in the ‘harvest’ through their small groups. Theirfor August to December 2009 bristles with instructions on doing just that. As far as I can tell, they only study Jesus Christ as an example and not as Saviour.
In the Bible Study Guide there is a commitment form Moreletas have to sign. Tricia Tillin explains the danger in:
“The Cult of Confession: encouragement of self disclosure to members in the group. Often in the context of a public gathering in the group, admitting past sins and imperfections, including doubts about the group and critical thoughts about the integrity of the leaders. This serves several purposes. It provides a ‘release valve’ for the convert to purge the old ways out of his system; and gives the leaders foreknowledge about possible threats to the group. It also gives the leaders a list of sins to hold over the person’s head if there is any threat of withdrawal.”
Here is the first five commitments in the Moreleta Park Study Guide:
My commitment as a care group member
1. Unconditional love – I undertake that I will not allow anything to taint my love for each one of the group members. Even if I don’t agree with someone’s opinion or ways, I will still love him. Even if we have disagreements, I will still care for them and God’s love and grace will take priority. I will lovingly reach out to others who have not yet joined a group and I will endeavour to reach out to them and encourage them to become part of the group.
2. Availability – I will avail my time, energy, insight and gifts to the group. I undertake that the group will be of high priority to me and this will be evident through my willingness to sacrifice and afford my time to the group.
3. Committed intercession – As expected by our loving Father, I undertake to pray for each member of the group on a regular basis. I believe that God hears and answers each prayer and that each person will experience the blessings of God through prayer.
4. Transparency – I promise to share my feelings, struggles, burdens and joy with the group. I will be open and entrust the group with my problems and life goals.
5. Absolute honesty – I undertake to be honest with the group members, even if it is about hurtful and sensitive matters. I will speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15), conscious that the Lord uses us to form one another.
I presume that the Moreletas do sign that form before they study their marching orders as set out in the guide. And march they must. Moreleta Park is committed to reach 10 million souls in 10 years in exchange for for their:
“During the Eastern Cape conference demons attacked my body. We were unable to break the effect thereof until I phoned my son, Pieter, late that night asking him to pray for me. He claimed 10 million souls, saved and baptized in exchange for the attack on my life. It immediately stopped. The Moreleta Park congregation was led to formulate a new goal for the congregation, namely 10 million souls within ten years. The overriding aim is to reach 10 million souls with the Gospel and to make them disciples of Jesus Christ. (Emphasis added)”
And so, back to the sermon:
Dr Bruce Wilkinson says, “Four weeks ago I was at one of the great churches at Atlanta, Georgia and their minister of music is a young man [Note: unnamed] whose father I discipled for about twenty years. And this young man and his wife with four children are just remarkable, like your worship team here. He is the number one worship leader in all of Europe. He has his own label. He goes throughout Europe leading praise and worship meetings. And as I spoke for a week at this conference, the church almost this size, I had lunch with him and I said to him: “You have been all over Europe. When have you seen the Lord the most? Tell me.”
He said: “It wasn’t in Europe. It wasn’t even in the US. It was down on the Amazon River.”
“The Amazon River?”
“Yes. They invited me to come lead worship. It took us two days on a canoe down the Amazon to find the place [Note: unnamed]. There were people from all over that were there.”
He said: “The worship was so intense. The hearts of people were so hungry for the Lord that”, he said “the worship was beyond anything I have ever experienced and we were pleading with Jesus to come Himself.” [Note: When Jesus Christ and Him crucified for the forgiveness of sins is not preached, people do starve, just like Bruce’s Bibleless sermon.]
“I stopped eating and I leaned forward and I said: “Did He come?”
“Yes, He did.”
“He did? What happened?”
He said: “It was when the disciples were praying for Peter in prison and didn’t believe that God answered their prayer.” He said: “Here we were for two days asking for Christ to come and just walk among us and He said ‘yes’.”
“He did? What was that like?”
He said: “He showed up at the back of the room.”
“This man is not a, mmm, this man is very reasonable. Just for those of you who is thinking he is wild eyed or something. “What happened to him?”
He said: “He began to quietly walk down the aisle”
He said: “Everybody on both sides of the aisle fell down. Quietly we stopped singing. Everybody, everybody saw Christ. Everybody! We all got quiet. And as He walked, everybody fell down and everybody was healed. Everybody in the building that were sick, were healed. Everyone. He came across the front. He stopped. He went in the back and He said: ‘Continue worshiping’. And He left.”
[Chuckle.] Oh, may He come. May He come again.
7 000 people and nobody corrected Bruce:
The Bible says:
Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. (Mat 24:23-27)
Bruce asked the people to raise their hands if they had a sense that they wanted more of God. The raised hands were confirmation that the Lord has prepared the place for a miracle. But the only way that could happen is if the church will be more obedient and if they would humble themselves by kneeling and crying out to the Lord that they really want it. Bruce wanted to encourage them to break through and said,
“Tonight will be the first major breakthrough. Tonight will be a night of many miracles in this building. But it must be preceded this morning by something highly unusual, because we’re not here talking to you as an individual. I am not talking to you, Bruce to you. It is Bruce to Moreleta Park church, a great body of believers. And God is inviting the church, as a group of people, to break through in a way that South Africa has not seen for 150 years. God does not want the good old days what we talk about. He wants today to be the day in which He breaks through. But you and I must make a choice as a church…”
“It is the church of Moreleta Park that is asking for a revival. Is it not? …
“And therefor I have a question for you. How far will you go in getting prepared for God to come? How far will you go? How far will you humble yourself? How sincerely will you cry out as the coloured girl did? She shook heaven’s door. One young girl shook the throne of heaven with a plea of sincerity that God couldn’t say no to. He couldn’t say no to the girl. One girl. Will you r e a l l y beg heaven to come? Will you humble yourself? Will you seek the throne of heaven directly, directly in your mind, in your heart, in your imagination? Will you enter the throne room of the Almighty because of the blood of Christ we come boldly onto His throne and will you ask heaven: “God Almighty, I want it. You. I’ll do anything You ask. I will do anything You ask. Just ask, but one thing I will not accept, that You will not come.”
“I believe, therefor, that the first step, that the purpose of this service was simply to one thing. It is to prepare the way for tonight. It is to humble our hearts together this morning and then it is to watch God tonight do the first miracle that He is going to do at this church. And it is going to be a big one.”
At the end of the sermon he coerced the people to come forward, to kneel down and to cry out to the Lord. Soon he had to stop the people in the aisle, as there was no more space left in the front and the crying out commenced. According to his own estimate, 6 000 people threw of the restraints of their heritage and did as they were told to do, with the tantalizing story of Jesus appearing on the Amazon still ringing in their ears.
In Moreleta Park’s June/July Newsletter page 4 we learn that miracles happened all over the place [wonderwerke oral heen]. One person is quoted as saying:
“Wow… Jesus was verseker daar, dalk nie in die vlees nie, maar ek het Hom so ervaar dat daar nie regtig woorde is nie.”
My translation: “Wow… Jesus was surely there, maybe not in the flesh, but I experienced Him in a way that words cannot describe.”
I find it incredible to believe that Jesus Christ would turn up if He were not preached during the sermon or that their newsletter would not report on the big miracle of that night as prophesied by Bruce.
I also find it curious that Bruce Wilkinson chided the congregation as if they were a staunch Calvinist church. Moreleta Park is a platform for Elza Meyer, Stephan Joubert, Angus Buchan, Dion Forster, Tony Campolo and Bruce Wilkinson himself.
No, getting the Moreletas to kneel in the church and to cry out for Jesus Christ to appear bodily, is not pushing the boundaries at all. They are ready to go much further in their blind obedience to their pastors who insist that they need to be like Jesus. That is a pretty tall order, considering that on their, they only have Law, obedience and works, but no Gospel.
[Note by DTW: Bruce Wilkinson is also best known as the author of the New York Times #1 bestseller The Prayer of Jabez. Contemplative prayer at it’s best, Bruce Wilkinson teaches people to recite this 33 word prayer from 1 Chronicles 4:10 every day to receive great blessings in their lives. He apparently has been reciting this prayer over and over and over again for the last 35 years and can report a great blessing in his life as he sold over 22 million books on telling people to recite the Prayer of Jabez over and over and over again. There have been no reports from other people who bought the book and helped make Bruce Wilkinson a fortune.]