FAMILIES AGAINST CULT TEACHINGS
The House Of Prayer Expose
HOUSE OF PRAYER CHRISTIAN CHURCH
is now called ‘THE PLACE OF HELP’
Note: Our intention at FACT is never to libel or damage anyone’s reputation. The purpose of our work is to educate the public and also for HOPCC leadership to understand the severity of the allegations against them. Moreover, please know that all statements made in this expose are according to our opinion at FACT, based upon signed affidavits, complaints and evidence we received from alleged victims of HOPCC, family members of those involved, etc. and through our analysis of this information according to the B.I.T.E. model (developed by cult expert Steven Hassan).
Pastor Rony Denis
EXPLOITATION AND ABUSE CLAIMS
Ex-members and families affected by the House of Prayer Christian Church contacted our organization with complaints describing various kinds of alleged exploitation and abuse in detail. The allegations state that Pastor Denis is using members of his congregation to conduct real estate fraud and coercing members who are in the military to give up their financial benefits to the church (GI and VA income).
Moreover, the complaints state that Pastor Denis is allegedly ruining many lives and breaking apart marriages and families. Unfortunately some ex-members have stated the development of serious mental health issues as a result of their experiences with this Pastor and church, such as PTSD and depression.
Some of those who filed complaints with our office had this to say about HOPCC and its leadership:
“This church is abusive, the main one behind all of the wickedness is Rev. Denis, like all cult leaders he surrounds himself around fall men that will defend him in his wickedness. He holds people's spouses hostage, he abuses veterans by using their benefits to pay the church. He pronounces curses of Judgment on people if they do not obey his commands to control them through fear. He prevents people from talking to their families and even moving them away if he needs to…”
“I have been told my story needs to be heard but i have not posted anything on here because i have so many story’s to tell, and I just haven’t wanted to relive all of the years of sexual harassment. It's just too much.”
“No one in the church is not allowed to do anything without his [Rony Denis’] permission. We are trying to stop this guy before he ruins more people's lives.”
“Leader Pastor Rony Denis, has moved children to other church locations, is separating husbands and wives and remarrying them with others.”
“He takes people's money through real state fraud and GI benefits.”
“After I finally got the courage to leave the HOPCC organization Rony Denis would go on to defame my character by calling me gay across the pulpit… Leaving messages on my phone communicating threats that God would visit me soon. After I left I have been pursued and stalked i.e. Facebook and them hiring private investigators to find out where I live, causing my family to live in fear even though we had tried to go on and live the peaceable life. We are unsure of how safe we are. The trauma that we have been through is mentally unsettling and I will never be able to live without the horrid memories and scars that will forever be etched in my family's life.”
“He has gotten away with everything but murder (that we know of) right in front of our faces…It’s amazing to me how people sit around this guy and hear him airing out other people’s personal business and never think he will do the same to them.”
“He divorces spouses if one doesn't want to go to church anymore…I was told by ministers either to let my husband go (another divorce) or "be strong" and stay and my husband would stay because of me.”
“I was threaten… I was thrown out my home and everything was taken, my car, etc, mainly my husband whom I love and still love and miss, family was told I was evil and of the devil. I continue to suffer greatly emotional and financially being I was a house wife and forbidden from working. The church leaders continue to shun me and destroy my name…My husband at the time lost his mind and still has never recovery and still endures this evil practices because he no longer has a wright mind. My husband sign his business and houses over to the church and 2 cars.”
“During my time in HOPCC Rony Denis would set out to crush me and to bring me under subjection and in his words obedience and total submission to him. There was a time that I was so devastated and weakened by his abuse.”
“He began to separate us [family] by telling my daughter that she needed to keep him away from me because I taught him bad things, and went as far as to insinuate that I had inappropriate relations with him. He would also spew words of hatred and venom and tell me to my face in the company of several ministers that he (Rony Denis) was my daughter’s real father not me!”
“Since leaving the place, I have been harassed by several ministers that Rony Denis made call my phone…”
“[Denis] pronounces curses of Judgment on people if they do not obey his commands to control them through fear.”
“The departed are living in fear and in secret locations. Now if their address are known PI's are making deliveries and harassing them.”
Raymond Yorke Jr., a long time worker of the church, from 2004-2016, had this to say about his experience with the HOPCC:
“Each year of abuse from Rony Denis, the leader of the church, became worse and worse. Rony Denis verbally abused me by telling me I was wrong for getting my wife pregnant and that I was making his job harder… Rony Denis worked to try and destroy my marriage by trying to cause division between my wife and me. He told my wife that he could have blamed me for molesting my own son, which never happened. He also said the same thing concerning her father and our son. When my wife and I left the church Rony Denis sent a fake Superior Court of Liberty County, State of Georgia court document stating that he was taking us to court which I believe is against the law. He hired a private investigator to find our new address and deliver us this fraudulent document. My family lives in mental duress because of the anguish that Rony Denis and his church has caused us. We believe Rony Denis to be a very dangerous man. Since we have left we have heard that he has pronounced death upon us. He has called my cell phone and has left harassing and disturbing messages on.”
The alleged fake court document, which was sent to Mr. Yorke with the top part cut off.
“As a minister of HOPCC and also as a US army veteran I was sucked in by the cult leader Rony Denis and abused and taken advantage of due to the desire for being a zealot for Christ and to help people. Rony Denis destroyed my finances and crippled my family. Rony Denis and his cohort Anthony Oloans would fabricate my income and inflate the amount so they could use my credit to put loans in my name. He purchased a home in Hinesville, GA in my name using my VA loan and I had nothing to do with any of the process other than signing the papers, from that point forward my house would be refinanced without me knowing, and also equity was taken out from the house without me signing my signature on any documents, and I received no money from this transaction…I have no control over my house and they are renting my house out and I receive no benefits or income from this.”
“Anthony Oloans tried to get me to take out a mortgage on a House in Greensboro NC 27407. Property known as 2630 Merritt Drive. He did all the paperwork and talked to a mortgage company. He gave them falsified income and falsified job employment…Once again in the year 2015 Anthony Oloans called my husband to see if I would take out a loan to help the church to build a new church but I would be doing this for the Lord.”
“…during my time in HOPCC they would put loads of pressure to take out Navy Federal Credit Union Loans in my name as well as my wife’s name. These loans were being offered by Navy Federal Credit Union to help account holders do some home improvement, but instead they used them to build their new church building. So my wife and I had over $100,000 in loans.”
According to evidence provided, an Army headquarters in Fort Stewart, GA blacklisted a company called People Helping People LLC (and its subsidiaries) that was owned and operated by leaders of the HOPCC, which has since been permanently revoked:
On his website, Mr. Rodriquez states his experience with Pastor Rony Denis, which supports the allegations of real estate fraud and spiritual abuse:
“I found myself doing less and less Church work, and slowly Rony Denis was having me do real estate types of jobs. This would have been fine had it been legitimate Church real estate, but it was more crooked than one could imagine. Ten years of working in the “ministry” and all I was doing was generating over $100,000.00 of real estate income every month and giving it all to Denis, and on top of that they made me purchase property, and purchased property with out my permission in my name, had me put it on the rental market, and give all the money that came from these properties to them. I never benefitted from all this work I was doing. I was told my reward is in Heaven. It was a normal occurrence for Rony Denis to demand reports from me on a daily basis to see how much money I was bringing him, and he would scream and yell at me if the money wasn’t right. He would tell me if the houses didn’t get rented within a certain time, or if all the money didn’t come in that he would kick me out of the church, and say he would pray curses and judgement upon me. He would often refer to it as all his money, not God’s, not the churches, but his. Here I was, young, working with out pay, paying full rent in the church house I was living in, thinking I was doing it for God, when the man was exploiting my willingness to sacrifice, so that he could have two beach homes in Miami and Vero beach. Now I’m still willing to serve God without pay, and since I left that’s exactly what I’m doing, so I’m just qualifying that this part of the story isn’t about me not getting paid, but rather that my willing heart was abused.”
Mr. Rodriquez also alleges this about Mr. Oloans (an employee of the church): “Oloans literally stole my properties by forging mine and my wife's signatures on the 6th of September when I was at Ft. Campbell.” The documents below show two very different looking signatures even though supposedly signed at the same time (according to the time stamp), which we believe lends support to this allegation since it is obvious that the signer of these documents was not able to duplicate the signature properly.
Members of the church are also accused of trying to kidnap Mr. Rodriquez’s son on the day that he and his family decided to leave the church for good:
“The day we left was crazy. There was one brother that I wanted to let know, because we were close through out all of House of Prayer. He was my friend, I didn’t want to leave him in the dark, so I started to tell him what was going on, he didn’t want to here me out, the rest is history. At this time my wife and I had a lot of our stuff moved into storage, but that brother called and told on me. I wasn’t home but my wife and son were. My wife called me and told me to call the police because Anthony Oloans was in our house calling for my Son trying to take him. She had took my Son and locked herself in our bedroom, Thats when two brothers were dispatched to break in to my house to try to get to my wife and Son, they had Denis on the speaker phone, and they kicked down the door to where my wife and Son were. while this was going on, Oloans had pad lock the garage and disconnected the garage door opener so that my wife couldn’t drive out, then he popped the hood, and ripped the battery out. So they broke into my wifes bed room, while her only way of escape was gone, so that they could take my son, and convince us to stay (Real Christians). So about this time I showed up with the police, and confronted Oloans, about why he tried to kidnap my son. Later that day I got word that they said I had lost it and it was evident that the spirit of God had left me. Put yourself in my shoes, worked like a slave for 10 years without pay, your pastor gets mixed up in witchcraft, they try to steal your kid and break down the door to the bed room where your wife and kid are trying to stay safe, and they want me to walk in like a hippy and “say peace be unto all of you devils, go ahead and kid nap my son”.
Online we found information and media articles that seem to support many of the allegations being made against the HOPCC and its leadership:
News articles and videos:
Real estate fraud allegations leveled at church leaders
Former members allege church is a cult
Tempers flare during, after meeting
NBC Local News
Online comments from this website:
“They actually worship the head pastor, Rony Denis. Exposing them is worth it all if only one person gets saved from this criminal organization. What will it take to shut them down? Kool-aid communion like Jim Jones? Hopefully investigations will open soon and hopefully save some lives before it's too late! People are scared to death in there under Rony Denis' spell of psychological abuse.”
“Keep spreading the news! These people are taking advantage of our veterans!”
Informative blog posts from HOPCC.com:
The title of the HOPCC.com website is “The Truth about House of Prayer Christian Church (HOPCC) and Rony Denis Exposed”. We believe it is the most informative website about this church online with over one hundred blog posts including supporting evidence. We advise anyone interested in researching further about HOPCC and its affiliate churches to visit the website.
RECRUITMENT, INDOCTRINATION, AND PRACTICES
Insiders from HOPCC have alleged that the recruitment process as mostly targeting young military service men / women who are away from home for the first time. Allegedly the church will send military affiliated church members to visit local bases to recruit young looking military personnel.
Quotes from long-time ex-member John Rodriguez describing the process:
“The system set up for HOPCC to recruit cult members is set up as follows: targeting young military service men and women who are away from home for the first time. If members are already military they will send specific military members to go on the base to target young looking service men. If they don't have converted service men available, they will send in a civilian who can get on the base, and blend in as if he, or she is a soldier in civilian clothes (close haircut, clean shaven ext.) often they will go to the reception center were solders are brand new to the unit, and often don't have a car. They will act as if they are just another young person who found something to do and not disclose the fact that they are part of a bigger calculated effort. They will through lines like ‘hay man, me and a couple of guys are headed to a church service, why don't you hop in the car with us?’ This is just an example, but each recruiter, known as a ‘soul winner’ has their own style, but it's all based on the same deceptive blend in methods. The Pastor will almost never go because it's to risky for a clergyman to stick out like a sore thumb and be escorted off the base.”
“Once these solders come to a service, instead of taking them back right after, they coerce them to stay for fellow ship, and have refreshments with them. Usually this will take place at what they call a serviceman's home. That is a place that they try to get these young soldiers to move into, promising a greater spiritual environment in a home away from home were dinner is served every day when they get off work. Sounds good on the surface, but this is "serviceman's Home" is the dangerous part for the unsuspecting service man. If they agree to move in, their life will soon fall under TOTAL control of the cult. They will not be allowed to miss any services or church related activities, and it will be mandated that they are their for dinner everyday if not on duty. quickly they are turned in to slaves to turn out production for the cult. They get off work, go to dinner, and Immediately afterwards they are pared up two by two to go back on the base they had just left from work, and now will be soul winning for hours trying to recruit others. A tremendous amount of pressure is put on them as scriptures are twisted making them feel like this is the only church that is right with god, and if you don't produce fruit for it " recruit others" Christ himself would cast you off the vine and throw you in Hell.”
“The way they are indoctrinated once they are in this home is that for 1. They now are required to go to every activity, which includes multiple church services, and bible studies. These alone will serve to slowly indoctrinate the normal church attendee that does not live in the home. But on top of this, every Monday and Friday, they are to attend Q n A (question and answer) . This is the highest and most dangerous point of indoctrination for these kids. It is set up to be an open forum where the solders pick the topics by asking questions, and all of there questions are answered. Again on the surface it sounds reasonable, but because a cult can't have independent thinkers, or any who might challenge the direction of the cult, it is set up so that the pastor has total control of the questions being asked. they do this by stipulating that no one is allowed to ask questions out loud, but they are to wright their questions down on a note card, and pass them to the pastor. As the pastor begins ‘Teaching’ quickly people began to pass in cards with questions that are then generated. pretty soon the pastor has a stack of cards with questions of which most will never be addressed. He rather skims through them to make sure the ones being asked are ones that will further the indoctrination process, or if it is challenging a cult teaching, he will only answer the ones he knows he can put down quickly. There is no debate allowed, if you have a follow up question, it is to go on a card, and passed to the front. by the end of the session, he may have answered a few, yet most remain in the stack and the solders will be told that " If I didn't GET to your question come next time" next time the pile gets bigger soon those unanswered questions get forgotten.”
“Recruiting these young service men is the back bone of the church. Soon these young brainwashed service men will move up in rank in the will give legitimacy the church as not being a cult. many rumors circulate the military bases about these churches, and high ranking officials that were brain washed from young help keep the public image safe.”
“For non-service men, people who are older or have families are told to go to public places like Walmart or local gas station, and try to mingle with the people and invite them to church. They are taught how to coerce people into giving them their phone numbers by being nice. Once they do, they will be on a list of people they continually call and harass until they realize the person is not coming, or they can get them to come and will slowly try to indoctrinate them by nicely getting them to come out to as many activities as they would.”
Complaints received by our organization seem to support these allegations:
“Recruiting these young service men is the backbone of the church. Soon these young brainwashed service men will move up in rank and it will give legitimacy to the church as not being a cult. Many rumors circulate the military bases about these churches, and high ranking officials that were brainwashed from young help keep the public image safe.”
“I have been to this church, and they have other churches, especially in Fort Hood! We saw some of the same people from Fort Hood here, and yes, they come to your house and call constantly! They are very aggressive!”
“I've had a few people in Walmart trying to poach me hard.”
“Me and my husband just wanted to share our experience in the hopes of helping you guys gather the information you need. Shortly after we moved to Ft. Stewart in the winter of 2015 we had went to the local Walmart in Hinesville. As we were leaving my husband was approached by Roscoe, everything about him seemed off, he did not acknowledge my presence the whole time he was talking to my husband trying to incite him and his family to the church off airport road with the blue top. Red flag number one. And with my husband exchanging numbers and being contacted persistently the next two-three weeks he had decided he would finally go try it out since he hadn't found a church to go to out here since moving here.”
“When we lived in Hinesville they stalked us trying to get us to join.”
“They do prey on soldiers. They want members who have a "guaranteed" bi-monthly income. Very strange that money would be such a necessity for worship.”
“I was stopped at a gas station and told my husband was going to die during his deployment, so we needed to give ourselves over.”
Regarding the indoctrination process, an ex-member states the following once the service men and women are recruited:
“They are required to go to every activity, which includes multiple church services, and bible studies…They will not be allowed to miss any services or church related activities, and it will be mandated that they are there for dinner everyday if not on duty…On top of this, every Monday and Friday, they are to attend Q and A (question and answer session). This is the highest and most dangerous point of indoctrination for these kids. It is set up to be an open forum where the solders pick the topics by asking questions, and all of their questions are answered. Again on the surface it sounds reasonable, but because a cult can't have independent thinkers, or any who might challenge the direction of the cult, it is set up so that the pastor has total control of the questions being asked. They do this by stipulating that no one is allowed to ask questions out loud, but they are to right their questions down on a note card, and pass them to the pastor. As the pastor begins “teaching”, quickly people began to pass in cards with questions that are then generated. Pretty soon the pastor has a stack of cards with most questions never being addressed. He rather skims through them to make sure the ones being asked are ones that will further the indoctrination process, or if it is challenging a cult teaching, he will only answer the ones he knows he can put down quickly. There is no debate allowed, if you have a follow up question, it is to go on a card, and passed to the front. By the end of the session, he may have answered a few, yet most remain in the stack and the solders will be told that 'If I didn't get to your question come next time’. Next time the pile gets bigger and soon those unanswered questions be forgotten.”
“They get off work, go to dinner, and immediately afterwards they are pared up two by two to go back on the base they had just left from work, and now will be soul winning for hours trying to recruit others. A tremendous amount of pressure is put on them as scriptures are twisted making them feel like this is the only church that is right with god, and if you don't produce fruit for it by recruiting others Christ himself would cast you off the vine and throw you in Hell.”
Another ex-member of the church had this to say regarding the inner workings of the HOPCC, “All faithful members are required to attend bible college. Even if one is not called to preach, all Christians must know bible…Once you are in the bible college, it is hard to leave because they want that money! Here how it works. HOPCC tells soldiers that God wants them to leave the army and go to bible college. So they do. They live off VA benefits + leftovers from GI bill. Tuition is $2400 a semester. In addition, many of them do not work a regular paid job but work for free which the church calls ‘working for God’. Like maintenance, landscaping, construction, day school. If you are good at anything, you were used! But once soldiers used up their GI bill for bible college, they couldn't go to college and get the education they wanted. To which their reply was, ‘You don't need education, rapture is coming soon! Don't have 401K, rapture is in 5 years. Don't get life insurance because of rapture …”
“Some people will always be Sunday morning visitors. They will never truly see how crazy the church is because Sunday morning they try to make service as normal as possible. but as they slowly work on these visitors to come to more services they will either stop coming altogether know the church is too controlling, or become brainwashed.”
According to all of the complaints and allegations we have received, in our opinion, we believe the HOPCC has a very systematic way of targeting, recruiting and indoctrinating new members. We also believe the church leadership then utilizes various methods of control on its members according to these complaints, which will be broken down specifically in the following analytical section.
ANALYSIS OF THE ALLEGATIONS
ACCORDING TO THE B.I.T.E. MODEL
Our analysis of the allegations received utilizing cult expert Steven Hassan's B.I.T.E. model. The B.I.T.E. model is comprised of four different categories of control:
I. Behavior Control
II. Information Control
III. Thought Control
IV. Emotional Control
This model of analysis is based upon the work of Robert J. Lifton, Margaret Singer and other well respected psychologists and cult experts, and is used by many professionals in the field to distinguish between destructive and benign cultic groups. According to this analysis model, the documented allegations against the HOPCC and Pastor Rony Denis raise numerous red flags in all four control categories, thereby defining this organization as a destructive high-control / high-demand cult.
The breakdown is as follows:
a. Deliberately withhold information
b. Distort information to make it more acceptable
c. Systematically lie to the cult member
a. Internet, TV, radio, books, articles, newspapers, magazines, other media
b. Critical information
c. Former members
d. Keep members busy so they don’t have time to think and investigate
a. Ensure that information is not freely accessible
b. Control information at different levels and missions within group
c. Allow only leadership to decide who needs to know what and when
a. Adopting the group's ‘map of reality’ as reality
b. Instill black and white thinking
According to our analysis of the complaints, signed affidavits and evidence we have received from church insiders, ex-victims and families affected by the House of Prayer Christian Church, we believe Pastor Rony Denis, the leader of the HOPCC, is manipulating, controlling and exploiting the congregants of his church primarily for financial gain and free labor. We have been told by a few ex-members of the church that even though there are many poor individuals and families who are members of his church, Pastor Denis owns a home, in the Hinesville, GA area, that is estimated to be over 7000 square feet, in addition to a large beach home in Florida, two Rolls Royces and a Bentley, which we believe speaks volumes in light of all the above information and evidence.
In an effort to effect change, ex-church members have held protests and most recently conducted a town hall meeting in order to express their concerns and inform citizens about the HOPCC. The Coastal Courier reported on the meeting as follows:
Some quotes from the complaints we received which support this line of thinking:
“He [Rony Denis] commanded all members to get passports, in preparing to move all to Jerusalem. Things are getting dangerous!”
“…if this man [Rony Denis] is not stopped his next venue will be killing people like Jim Jones has done. He has already taught the people that if he tells you to drink or eat something poisonous that you should obey him and only God can stop him!!!! Please someone help, before it's too late…”
“This is a cult! I’ve been in it for 15 years. I just "woke up" after he, Rony Jimmy Jones Denis, claimed he knew the date of rapture and said God was going to take him the night before... Among a million other things he is starting to say and do.”
“Yes this church is a cult. I was there from the beginning, Rony Denis is a very evil man. This man has the same attributes as Jim Jones. If you weren't involved with the them you have no way to make a proper assessment, as to what really goes in being closed doors. Anything can be made to look good on the surface. Check out www.hopcc.com to know the truth.”
When we discussed this with Rev. Yorke, he said he never witnessed any talk of suicide while being a member of the church, but believes it is certainly possible. We believe it is very important that all members of the HOPCC receive and read this expose. If you are able to share this with a member of the congregation, please do so immediately as it might save their life and additional lives as well.
Lastly, we contacted Pastor Rony Denis as part of our investigation in an effort to give him a chance to respond to the allegations against him. We were immediately met with a response from his lawyer, which stated, “I am the attorney for Reverend Denis and his church. You are hereby directed not to attempt any further communication with him or members of his church. All communication must be with me and me alone from this point forward. Additionally, please be advised that if you make any defamatory comments or remarks about Reverend Denis or his church, we will not hesitate to take appropriate legal action.” We believe this response speaks for itself. You be the judge.
Some final quotes from the complaints:
“Rony Denis always has a way of explaining why he acts the way he does, and treats people in the most abusive matter. He would always say it’s good for people not to have money, because all they do is waist it. It’s good for people to have bad credit because it stops them from making bills. Or I’m the only one who God can trust with money. This is why he can’t get saved, every place has done something wrong to someone, he gives himself an excuse of why it was OK to wrong someone. He once told me that one of the reasons he took up so much of my time is because if he didn’t I would use it to goof off. Notice the reasoning of a guilty conscience? He never will ever address if it’s wrong to take people’s money, ruin their credit, or make a slave out of them, but he will always say ‘I did it because’.”
“The mistreatment that I endured at times felt unbearable and the wounds are irreversible. My hope is that this man [Rony Denis] would be stopped before destroying more families.”
“I left that church, many of their members ex-communicated me. Looking back on it, I thank the Lord for allowing me to escape, because I myself would have been an active church member distancing myself from my family. I pray that love ones that are still involved in this church wake up & go back to their families while still continuing to serve God.”
If you have any additional information about the HOPCC that you would like to share, either positive or negative, please contact us.