The Big Ask – BattleCreek Church Senior Pastor Alex Himaya Goes to the Well One More Time – Seeks $50 Million

A horrible and shocking thing has happened in this land — the prophets give false prophecies,and the priests rule with an iron hand. Worse yet, my people like it that way!

But what will you do when the end comes?
Jeremiah 5:30-31 (NLT)


“The final key to the way I promote is bravado. I play to people’s fantasies. People may not always think big themselves. but they can get very excited by those who do. That is why a little hyperbole never hurts. People want to believe that something is the biggest, the greatest and the most spectacular.”
― Donald J. Trump, Trump: The Art of the Deal


Grady Alex Himaya is a self-described “visionary.” He is also the senior pastor of a multi-campus Southern Baptist Church called BattleCreek Church, located in the Tulsa area. To be a member of BattleCreek Church requires that you “catch” Himaya’s vision, a vision that always entails members donating ever increasing amounts of their hard-earned cash to finance Himaya’s grandiose dreams.

The faithful would parrot the company line and tell you Himaya’s visions are simply to spread the Gospel throughout Tulsa, the United States, and the world, while, at the same time, teaching you to surrender all to Jesus.

The skeptics among us would tell you that Himaya’s sleek giving campaigns appear to be designed to separate the faithful from their money.

The following three videos illustrate  my point. The first is from a sermon given on 11/19/2017, nearly four years ago.

The next video is an appeal to give to the Christmas 2020 giving campaign.

Less than a year later, Himaya goes to the well once again. This time to ask for the biggest give yet! He wants members to dig deep and uses a slick, six week giving campaign that steadily ratchets up the pressure to be “All In” and meet the giving goal of $50 million.

For the amount of money Himaya is asking church members to pony up he gives shockingly sparse details on how the money will be spent, and I am told the form of church governance allows him him to be largely unacountable, but the faithful don’t seem to mind.

Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous

In a previous blog I showed a photo of Himaya playing golf at Southern Hills, an exclusive country club in Tulsa with his friend, Mike Baab, the Executive Director of the church. Baab is a wealthy man and takes no salary for his work at BattleCreek.

Below is a photo of Himaya, who mentions he was golfing with his friend, Steve Largent.  Largent was a famous wide receiver who played for Tulsa in college and  then went on to an excellent career with the Seattle Seahawks.

David Nasser is Alex Himaya’s best friend. Nasser is also a wealthy man. In 2018, as a Senior VP for Spiritual Development at Liberty University (in spite of not even having a college degree) his salary was $381,774. Nasser’s wife, Jennifer was also on the Liberty payroll. She pulled down a salary of $96,688 in 2018. Additionally, their son, Rudy was on the Liberty payroll. He was compensated $34,237 for unreported duties in 2018.

For some great information on Nasser’s job at Liberty University, see this article in Slate.

Nasser resigned from Liberty University in April 2021. He was then named as the president of the  charity “Angel Armies,” beginning that job in June 2021.  Chris and Lauren Tomlin founded the charity.

The charity has been renamed “For Others” and David Nasser brought his son, Rudy along with him to the new job. I have no idea if David Nasser will be compensated as well as he was at Liberty, but my guess is it will be close.

Below is a clip of Himaya introducing Nasser as the speaker at BattleCreek Church.

It appears that the Himaya and Nasser families are, as Alex Himaya, stated, very good friends. Below is a photo of them on vacation together in the UK.

Here is a photo, shot by Nasser, of the Himaya’s feet, poolside in a warmer climate than Tulsa. This photo was taken on Saturday, November 18, 2017. The video below is from the next day, Sunday, November 19, 2017. I am told that Himaya reads his sermons off of a teleprompter and I believe it because the sermon that was delivered matches the script almost perfectly.

The Pressure to Go “All In”

Next I want to include a few clips from Sunday’s last, big push by Himaya to get everyone to join the All In giving campaign. First, let’s start with his disarming ploy of telling his church members they should not feel pressured to give.

Next, we have the children tugging at the heartstrings of the adults.

Next up we have a teenage girl, loaded down with guilt and shame, but wanting to surrender all and join the All In campaign.

Next we have a young married couple that apparently struggle to make ends meet, but they are going “All In.”

Himaya tells his members that there were 65 people that had never given any money before, but they had decided to go “All In.”  And, just like Generis taught in my previous blog, Himaya gives this group of first time givers special recognition.

Next, Himaya must have forgotten that he had just told his audience about the 65 first time givers, because he tells the church members that what they give is between them and God.  ….Right; more like between you, God, the staff that enter what you gave on the software that tracks donors and their gifts, and the pastors that have access to the donor records.

I have more clips I could add, but I think you get the picture.

Next I want you to see some interesting documents that BattleCreek leaders filed with the State of Oklahoma. The first document is from 2003 and states that the Bylaws for the church were adopted by and may be amended by the Board of Directors.

The second document is from 2020 and was a filing to change the name of the church. You will notice the box checked shows a majority of members of the governing body voted for this, versus the box that states that the members of the church voted.

So, since the church was formed in 2003 the members of the church have never had a vote!

Your job as members is, to be blunt, attend church, sit down, shut up, and dig deep in your pockets to support the vision of Alex Himaya and his fellow Board members.

If you don’t mind being sheeple, this church is for you. If you like to have a say in the business of the church and value accountability then you would be wise to find another church.

BattleCreeks Mission to Egypt

In the video below Alex Himaya stated that their church in Cairo is averaging 3,000 people per week. Additionally, he stated that in the last 5 years they have had almost that number accept Christ every year. According to my math, that equals about 15,000 people, I assume mostly Muslims, have become Christians.

Perhaps Alex Himaya is telling the truth, perhaps there is a mighty move of God in Egypt.

I am skeptical.

Remember the Trump quote at the top of this article? He said “a little hyperbole never hurts.”  I believe Himaya may be engaging in a bit of hyperbole himself.

Why do I say this? First of all, I have looked into the Cairo situation quite thoroughly. Here is a photo of what appears to be the largest meeting room in the building.

By the way, I do not believe this is a meeting of Christians, rather it is a meeting that Alex Himaya’s friend/Egyptian pastor runs for mentoring leaders. Notice the woman dressed in black in the front row? She is covering her face because there is a photographer up front snapping photos. Taking photos of Muslims, particularly Muslim women is culturally frowned upon in the Middle East.

But the point of this photo is to show that there is no way this room could hold anywhere near 3,000 people.

Below is some information Tony George has put out for his mentorship program. I would think this would be in Arabic, but perhaps it is made for American audiences.

Here is a photo of Alex Himaya “ordaining” Tony George.  I was unable to find any information on what type of Christian education George had, although that is not necessarily a requirement to be an ordained pastor.

From other photos I saw this looks to be in the same building as George conducts his mentorship program in.

Another reason I am skeptical of Himaya’s numbers is the fact that I have spent 9 years in the Middle East. I know for a fact that converting to Christianity as an Egyptian Muslim is a very tough decision to make, fraught with danger and one that very few people make. You must be willing to give up everything if you convert – your marriage, your children, your job, all your social connections.  We had a young man in the pastoral internship program at my church in Dubai. When his father in Egypt found out about this he told his son he was going to kill him.  He was serious. The young man decided it was best for him to leave the Middle East, which he did. He also changed his name.

I also had an Egyptian woman in my care group who was born Muslim. She had been a Christian for a long time but was very worried whenever she traveled to Egypt that she may get in trouble because her passport still listed her as a Muslim.

The few Muslims I heard of that converted in Dubai never would worship publicly in a Christian church. This was a point of contention with some expat Christians from the west. They thought they should be willing to be publicly baptized and make a public profession of faith.  There is Scriptural backing for this position, but I certainly understood why most of them remained hesitant to lose everything.  Easy for us Westerners to say that, but walk a mile in their shoes.

I believe that were there 15,000 conversions to Christianity because of the work sponsored by BattleCreek Church, and were there 3,000 former Muslims attending weekly Christian worship services, they would have attracted the attention of government officials and most certainly shut down.

Read the following excerpt from Human Rights Watch:

Egyptian Muslims who wish to convert to Christianity face a serious dilemma. The state does not recognize conversions from Islam and refuses to allow citizens legally to change their religious affiliation, or to change a Muslim name to a Christian name on national identification documents. Among other things, this means that converts face significant hardships in areas of family law governed by religion, such as marriage, divorce, and inheritance. They are also unable to legally raise their children in the faith that they now proclaim. Some obtain fraudulent documents recognizing their new faith, but this places them at risk of criminal prosecution and imprisonment on charges of forgery and falsifying documents.

However, in the absence of any state law or decree recognizing and protecting the right to convert from one religion to another, the Egyptian government claims that it follows Shari`a on such matters. Egypt’s Civil Code governs issues of conversion, and Article 1 stipulates that in matters not covered by the code and where there is no legitimate customary administrative practice, judges should apply the principles of Shari`a.

Egyptians who are born Muslim and wish to convert to Christianity (or any other religion) thus confront the likelihood that they and their immediate families will face official as well as social discrimination, including the automatic nullification of marriage between the convert and his or her Muslim spouse and forced separation from children, who are compelled to reside with the Muslim spouse or a close Muslim relative.

Converts also risk imprisonment. The government has used Article 98(f) of the Penal Code to criminalize actions or other expressions of unorthodox religious views, including conversion from Islam. The article prescribes, among other things, “disparaging or contempt of any divinely-revealed religion or its adherents, or prejudicing national unity or social harmony.” As the testimonies in this report indicate, officials have interpreted this article to proscribe conversion from Islam on the grounds that such conversion disparages Islam and is thus incompatible with public order.

For these reasons, few if any born Muslims have initiated the formal steps necessary to change their religion. One lawyer who represents a Coptic cathedral in dealings with the government told Human Rights Watch that:

“Muslims wanting to be Christians can go to prison. The only thing we can do is send them abroad, but this is very difficult after 9/11.”

Source: Human Rights Watch


Comments

The Big Ask – BattleCreek Church Senior Pastor Alex Himaya Goes to the Well One More Time – Seeks $50 Million — 75 Comments

  1. Todd, just read through and will view the videos soon. You do excellent work. It’s especially good to have your informed experience in the Middle East to out the deception (lies).

    We are all familiar with preacher money grab campaigns. Putting together the extortion in this particular ministry is telling. It makes one wonder about the impact that the megas in our area are having on working families while they build their dynasties.

    With regard to the wealthier citizens that this preacher runs with, the greatest thing a wealthy person can do is to support working families (decent wages and benefits) and provide safety nets for the truly needy (needy orphans and widows, and possibly working law-abiding displaced people while they get on their feet). This is completely lost on this wealthy-people-friend-preacher. Preacher baits working people to support his lifestyle so he can be a player with the wealthy and make them feel good to have a preacher at their behest.

    The games preachers play…

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  2. The Cairo Institute of Faith and Work is on Facebook and here is a translation of what Tony George says in one of his promotional videos.
    “God is creative. God is capable of creation. God wants a form to happen. If I accept the idea that the idea of the form and the idea that I collect his money and the idea that I stay rich. The idea that the world is not from Our Lord is a wrong idea. I want you to be a producer. God wants you to make money and get more money. God wants you to do the highest. God wants you to open up opportunities for people and production. God wants to have prosperity, prosperity and growth in yours. And this is God’s thought. This is the nature of God that we took from him. The nature of God is that I create your product by creating rich works, making money, making more investments, and providing more jobs, and this is God’s nature. Because we once thought or told us to step back and stop this productivity from this fatigue, we are from another world. This is a false thought. The right thought is no, we are present in the world to make change in the world so that we can build in the world to make a difference in the world and to make a difference in the world by making more production, more prosperity, more jobs and more economic growth. And this is from our Lord. This is the nature of God and God’s way with the world.”
    Sounds a bit like the prosperity gospel

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  3. This is from their LinkedIn page.
    tC Egypt is a Christian organization that exists to serve the Christian population in Egypt and the Middle East. We operate with the understanding that this Christian population, the largest in the Middle East, is the door to reaching the rest of the Middle East with the Gospel. We are a community that believes in the healing power of Jesus, provides a shame-free space of healing, prayer, and discipleship nurtured by the young people of Egypt; a community of people who feel they have no place in the established church tradition, those who post-Revolution feel they have been relegated to the sidelines, and are looking for a place to make sense of their pain and find freedom in Christ. We believe that Christians in Egypt are uniquely positioned to create a lasting impact in the region and it is our goal to support and equip them in this endeavor. Because of this, the Coptic Christians are indeed a sleeping giant in the Middle East; if their hearts would be awakened to the truth of scripture then the power of the Gospel will sweep through Egypt and into the Middle East.

    They have places in Cairo and Alexandria

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  4. The “15,000 conversions” might be plausible on the assumption that most of the converts were from within the local christian tradition, which I believe is Coptic and very ancient.

    And one can imagine that this focus on Copts could be justified in the minds of the organization leaders by analogy to Paul’s initial focus on preaching in the synagogues of the cities where he sought to found congregations of Christ.

    Of course, if this interpretation is valid, it also implies the view that ‘Copts’ aren’t really christian , otherwise one would not need to convert them.

    re: the ‘big ask’, it’s deeply sorrowful that the leaders of these giant self-described christian organizations don’t feel the duty to live in ways that image Jesus’ kenosis and in that way provide a living example of the sacrifices that they want the laity to make.

    Paul’s letters were addressed to leaders as well as laity, and include ‘lead by example’ texts such as

    Phil 2,

    “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,[a] 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,[b] 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,[c] being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

    or 2 Cor 8,

    “9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.”

    or Paul’s famous summary command in 1 Cor 11,

    “1 Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”

    —————

    A joke among students in the missions program I was enrolled in decades ago what that they ‘wanted to pursue incarnational ministry to the rich’.

    It was, in retrospect, a kind of prophetic satire.

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  5. Afterburne: But the televangelist drove that right out of him. Our neighbor was pretty cynical about all things Christian.

    And IMO he’s one of the lucky ones. I know people who have made medical decisions based on what I think is a ‘word-of-faith’ based conception of the efficacy of prayer (and of, in their view, the danger of accepting medical diagnoses, ‘don’t say it, lest your words bring it into being’), and it didn’t turn out well.

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  6. Lowlandseer: “Because of this, the Coptic Christians are indeed a sleeping giant in the Middle East; if their hearts would be awakened to the truth of scripture then the power of the Gospel will sweep through Egypt and into the Middle East.”

    I’m amplifying Samuel Conners’s point here.

    If the worshipers are Coptic Christians, they are not Muslim converts to Christianity as implied. This could be a revival, or it could be sheep stealing—breaking up an ancient Christian tradition that is deemed insufficiently Christian by the foreign newcomers.

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  7. It is interesting to re-read the “All In” posts in light of the most recent “Rise and Fall of Mars Hill” podcast (“The Tempest”); specifically, the end-of-year giving campaign. Though the term “Ponzi Scheme” wasn’t used, and isn’t strictly applicable, it is what came to my mind as Mike Cosper described how Mars Hill increasingly relied on the EOY campaign to cover Driscoll’s flights of fancy and reckless spending. Could something similar be the case in Tulsa?

    Also, am I the only one who hears Garth Brooks “Rodeo” in my mind when I read this series?

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  8. I’m also of the thought that most of an almost certainly inflated number of converts are from other varieties of Christianity (Coptic are the main group but there would be others especially in the big cities). The percentage of Christians in Egypt is debated (and political) with numbers like 5%, 10%, 15%, or higher offered up.

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  9. Thinking about the “body life” of the group that has been the focus of these three posts, the thought occurs that:

    The lay members of this congregation, if they fully comply with the leaders’ wishes, will have no margin.

    They will have no residue of resources of time or money under their control with which to respond to emergencies in their own lives or in the lives of others within their relational network.

    They would be forced to rely on the mercies of the congregational mercy ministry (presumably there is one). Under such circumstances, it would be best to make sure that one remains on good terms with the power structure of the group if one wants to be confident that help will be available when it is needed.

    This seems to me to create a ‘dependency of necessity’ that is under the control of the hierarchy of the group. It’s sort of like the situation in Moscow, Idaho in which church leaders are employees of the congregation or of congregationally-affiliated enterprises, but enlarged to comprehensively include every person within the reach of the group.

    Knowing what people, including church people and church leaders, can be like, that seems to me unwise.

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  10. Friend,

    Heck, we see this all the time here in good old USA…. I can not tell you how many times in my approximately 60 years in “American Christianity”, I have heard that “so and so” has “true Christianity”…… or the “authentic early church” or whatever “name”…. Like being a “apostle”…. I.e. true linage from Peter??

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  11. Jeffrey Chalmers: I can not tell you how many times in my approximately 60 years in “American Christianity”, I have heard that “so and so” has “true Christianity”…… or the “authentic early church” or whatever “name”…. Like being a “apostle”….

    The ultimate theoretical End State of Protestantism:
    MILLIONS of One True Churches, each with only ONE member/Pastor/Apostle, each denouncing all the others as Heretics, Apostates, and Antichrist.

    I.e. true linage from Peter??

    THAT’S ROMISH POPERY! ANTICHRIST! ANTICHRIST! ANTICHRIST!

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  12. Samuel Conner: The lay members of this congregation, if they fully comply with the leaders’ wishes, will have no margin.

    They will have no residue of resources of time or money under their control with which to respond to emergencies in their own lives or in the lives of others within their relational network.

    FEATURE, NOT BUG.
    Just like 19th Century Coal Miners at the Company Store in the Company Town.
    Just like sharecroppers in Reconstruction-era Former Confederate States.

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  13. Samuel Conner: I know people who have made medical decisions based on what I think is a ‘word-of-faith’ based conception of the efficacy of prayer (and of, in their view, the danger of accepting medical diagnoses, ‘don’t say it, lest your words bring it into being’), and it didn’t turn out well.

    Pre- or Post-COVID?
    Herman Cain Awards on Reddit are full of these.
    https://www.reddit.com/r/HermanCainAward/
    (At least of the COVID version.)

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  14. Ava Aaronson: With regard to the wealthier citizens that this preacher runs with, the greatest thing a wealthy person can do is to support working families (decent wages and benefits) and provide safety nets for the truly needy (needy orphans and widows, and possibly working law-abiding displaced people while they get on their feet).

    By “wealthier citizens”, do you mean the dragons sitting on their hoards going “MY HOARD’S BIGGER THAN YOURS!”? And a lot of these dragons can quote SCRIPTURE/make long prayers for justification.

    (Can’t remember if it was on this blog or another, but I remember reading about a rural-area school board member – richest man in town, always telling everyone what a Strong CHRISTIAN he was – who voted against school lunch programs for the poor because “that would teach them to be moochers”.)

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  15. Lowlandseer: God wants to have prosperity, prosperity and growth in yours. And this is God’s thought. This is the nature of God that we took from him. The nature of God is that I create your product by creating rich works, making money, making more investments, and providing more jobs, and this is God’s nature.

    O-M-G!!!
    And where are Tony George’s Biblical references for that??

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  16. Todd,

    the juxtaposition of the words of JEREMIAH
    with
    the quotes from Trump’s ‘Art of the Deal’

    Now THAT IS effective writing!

    Grifters have been around since the days when Our Lord threw the money-changers out of the Temple,
    and they will STILL be there even on the Last Day trying to ‘justify’ their greed;
    but posts like yours, Todd, will keep people from falling into the muck hopefully, so that the working man with three jobs and nine children won’t feel pressures to ‘give’ $$$ towards a private jet plane for some ‘preacher’ who won’t fly commercially because it’s beneath him and he sure wouldn’t be caught dead riding on a donkey.
    Great post.

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  17. Wow! I can’t believe Alex can sleep at night with the perpetual hard sell for $$$ week after week with not even a shred of financial transparency or accountability while advertising his extravagant lifestyle for all to see! Great series!! If you have more to share, please do!!! Thank you for holding this guy accountable. All the best

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  18. This has all the trappings of a slow moving train wreck for this church and these people’s spiritual lives. How sad to potentially be seeing it in real time, rather than having it recounted to you by disillusioned attendees years after the fact.

    It’s like being transported back to 2006 and watching young couples go to premarital counseling at Mars Hill.

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  19. marco: This has all the trappings of a slow moving train wreck for this church and these people’s spiritual lives.

    It’s going to wreck more than their spiritual lives. The people that buy in to this “all in” ……. If they don’t wake up and see what’s coming down the pike ……. They are going to allow this to wreck them financially, long term …..and it’s quite possible that it will wreck their marriages and families ….. even extended families.

    Himaya, George, and people like them, don’t care who, or what they destroy.

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  20. I went back and re-looked at the photos. I threw up a bit in my mouth when I saw Nassar’s pool-side sermon note Tweet/Instagram post, and NOT because I have a foot fetish (but it wasn’t JOHN Bunyan on full display in the picture, that’s for sure). I would wager $22M of other peoples money that Himaya more likely used his sermon notes as a coaster than not; more condensation than inspiration on those pages.

    You would think that for a man that close to the Falwells, Nassar would avoid any photos or discussions having to do with men at pools. (Oh yes I did – I went there.)

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  21. Nancy2(aka Kevlar): don’t care who, or what they destroy.

    I’m sure that a way could be found to rationalize the costs along the lines of ‘present sufferings not worthy to be compared with the future glory to be revealed.’

    I just wish that there were more congruence of the leaders’ sufferings to those of the laity. ‘Skin in the game’, so to speak. Poolside sermon-prep IMO doesn’t ‘cut it.’

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  22. Samuel Conner: I’m sure that a way could be found to rationalize the costs along the lines of ‘present sufferings not worthy to be compared with the future glory to be revealed.’

    Just like Citizen Robespierre, the Republique of Perfect Virtue bares her boobs and beckons from the other side of the “regrettable but necessary” Reign of Terror. The Ultimate Perfect Goal justifies Any Means Necessary.

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  23. Headless Unicorn Guy: (Can’t remember if it was on this blog or another, but I remember reading about a rural-area school board member – richest man in town, always telling everyone what a Strong CHRISTIAN he was – who voted against school lunch programs for the poor because “that would teach them to be moochers”.)

    I heard a beautiful young Rabbi from Nazareth saying that he has his reward.

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  24. Good article Todd.

    Here is why I think Alex Himaya is an egotistical clown: He posts pictures of lavish vacations. That is all I needed to see. It is in such poor taste.

    I heard a story many years ago about a mid-level executive that made good money at a publicly traded company. I did some business with the company so I knew many people there but not this guy. His home was featured on one of those TV shows where they come in and do a major refresh on an already killer house. The guy lived in Canada and the dream house was in Aspen, CO. This was all during the housing crisis of 2008-2009 and the company he worked for was going through a downturn like many other businesses.

    Long story short….. word got around about how this guy was on TV with his house in Aspen. The leadership at the company thought it was in very bad taste to show off his wealth during tough times for the rank and file. He did not last another three months at the company. I was told that he had basically lost any leadership credibility he had so he was useless to the company. I will never forget that story.

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  25. Samuel Conner: The lay members of this congregation, if they fully comply with the leaders’ wishes, will have no margin.

    They will have no residue of resources of time or money under their control with which to respond to emergencies in their own lives or in the lives of others within their relational network.

    Yup.

    And if all of their time is spent at the church, there won’t be time to develop and foster social networks outside the church. Which means there will be (a) no sounding board to run things by if odd goings-on occur at the church and (b) no other social network to lean on for simple every-day relationships if things REALLY get hinky with the church and it becomes time to leave.

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  26. Reposting some previous reports about David Nasser, including some from the slate article mentioned:

    https://churchleaders.com/news/381472-this-is-a-mess-liberty-campus-pastor-admits-to-students.html

    “On April 8, 2021, Liberty University announced that Jonathan Falwell, brother of Jerry Falwell, Jr., will replace David Nasser as campus pastor at the end of the semester. Falwell is currently the senior pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church, which is affiliated with the college.”

    The bigger story potentially is David Nasser evidently distancing himself from the situation:

    “This has been one of the most difficult decisions we’ve ever had to make, but we do feel affirmed that God is asking for our obedience to step out of this role in ministry and into a whole new role in ministry elsewhere,” said David Nasser in a video announcement with his wife, Jennifer. “As your campus pastor, I can’t ask you week after week to be obedient and to go wherever (God) leads and then not model that very same thing in our own lives.”

    “The Nassers are moving to Nashville, Tenn., to lead an “exciting, new” non-profit. They did not identify the non-profit by name, although Liberty’s announcement stated, “David Nasser is moving onto the next opportunities the Lord provided, using his voice on behalf of the most vulnerable, ministering on behalf of orphans and foster children.”

    Right, so go from begin closely associated with Falwell Jr. for years — and what exactly has been done to change the culture or hold people accountable there, I’d like to know — to “using his voice on behalf of the most vulnerable”? Some students gave their thoughts on how he used his voice, as well as how certain situations were handled when the stuff on Falwell Junior was coming out:

    https://slate.com/human-interest/2019/12/david-nasser-jerry-falwell-jr-liberty-university.html

    ”The Sunday after Politico’s reporting was published, Nasser called an impromptu all-campus worship service, to be held on the school’s outdoor ski slope as the sun set over the mountains. More than 4,000 students attended to sing and pray; Fox News quoted Nasser calling it “the essence of Liberty U.” One student described it as “very obviously a PR stunt, or a way to reduce the student uprising.” Many students came away from that worship service with the impression that Nasser would address the controversies directly in Convo the next week. But Wednesday’s service passed without a mention of the Politico article; instead, the singer Michael W. Smith performed.

    “When I asked Nasser about the service on the ski slope, he said it had nothing to do with any controversy. “That was related to that moment, not related to the article,” he said. What moment? I wondered. “I feel like we, in the last three years, have been more and more seeing what I would call the wind of the Holy Spirit in our sails,” he said. “I feel like we’re on the cusp of a revival.”

    “Nasser looked genuinely baffled when I asked him why he hadn’t mentioned the controversy to students. He had addressed it, he said, but in a deeper way than just rehashing the same old sordid details. As a pastor, “I’m going to talk to you about the root and not the fruit,” he said. “I’m much more interested in leveraging the moment to talk about: What do you do when accusations come your way? Or what do you do when someone is asking you these kind of questions?” He said “hundreds” of students contacted him by text or DM after the event, but most had questions unrelated to the article. In fact, the vast majority of conversations he has with students are about relationship issues, theological questions, or personal struggles—not politics. “Most of our students are thinking, Do girls think I look good in this shirt? How am I doing with my grades? How am I doing with my job applications?”

    “”I’m always interested in understanding why a student feels unheard, or misunderstood,” Nasser told me. “I don’t think I’ve ever sat with a student and told them not to voice their opinion.” Then he emphasized again the importance of keeping conflict internal instead of airing it publicly. He echoed the same passage in Matthew that Micah Protzman said he quoted in their first meeting: “As a Christian, I should first go to my brother.” When it comes to his boss’s relationship to Liberty students, Nasser said, the most important thing is this: When Falwell Jr. runs into students in restaurants, he always picks up the tab.”

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  27. Headless Unicorn Guy: moochers”.)

    Someone works to earn a living for their family. A moocher cons for the worker’s earnings and then spends it. Parasite.

    How many preachers are parasites?

    Jesus and his disciples, church leaders, were not parasites.

    There’s no fundraising model from Jesus in the NT. We don’t have particulars of how they supported themselves. However, there’s also no trace of a dynasty … no buildings, no books (other than letters and memoirs written down but never sold). No planes, chariots, or trains. Just one donkey for one event. Some ships for public transport but no party yachts. No vacation logs.

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  28. Nasser quote: “Most of our students are thinking, Do girls think I look good in this shirt? How am I doing with my grades? How am I doing with my job applications?”

    He’s implying that the students are shallow, and presenting a list of questions that could come from forty years ago. Meanwhile the students are living through a worldwide calamity that has siezed all their assumptions and plans.

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  29. Friend,

    OK, apologies. The Slate article comes from December 2019, pre-pandemic.

    Still, it’s unfair to paint college students as shallow and unaware. If nothing else, they are highly attuned to their environments. Liberty has attracted enormous attention for years, seeking the limelight and sometimes suffering the consequences.

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  30. Friend: Still, it’s unfair to paint college students as shallow and unaware.

    Nasser makes Liberty’s college boys sound more like 8th and 9th graders who can hardly wait to get their drivers licenses! I hope the male students are not truly that immature and self-absorbed. But, given the state of the Christian Industrial Complex ………. I dunno.

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  31. Nancy2(aka Kevlar): I hope the male students are not truly that immature and self-absorbed. But, given the state of the Christian Industrial Complex ………. I dunno.

    Hmm, great point. The article actually addresses that, quoting a former student:

    “One thing Nasser said to me when I was in the office was that most of the students here don’t actually care about the politics of President Falwell. They care more about getting a clean T-shirt on when they see the girl they like,” former student activist Sam Herrmann had told me. “As condescending as that was, there’s validity to that. When we were trying to find people to help activate change, they just didn’t really care.”

    Truly good colleges encourage students to think critically and abstractly; it’s baked into 400-level courses and the teaching of research and presentation skills.

    Nasser himself, though, doesn’t seem to think highly of Liberty’s students.

    If you keep expectations low, you’ll never be disappointed.

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  32. Charlie L: The Care Portal is a one stop shop that includes “needs” from church members in addition to community members, schools, and DHS.

    The Care Portal is a lawsuit waiting to happen. Himaya and his church want to use this program, which could be laudable under other circumstances, to wedge their way into the schools, where the children and their parents would be targets of their proselytizing. I have serious, SERIOUS problems with that. When the Good Samaritan stopped and helped the guy who had been robbed by the side of the road, he didn’t proselytize the guy. Instead he bound up his wounds, put him on his own mount, took him to an inn and paid for the guy to stay for a few days. Or, as Jesus said, “But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” (Matthew 6:3)

    All of this strikes me as terribly self-aggrandizing. And I think Himaya is also WAY overstating his impact in Egypt, a country with 102 million people. I suspect if he’s making any inroads, it’s with Coptic Christians and it doesn’t look good. 🙁

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  33. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes: I suspect if he’s making any inroads, it’s with Coptic Christians and it doesn’t look good.

    Well since his ‘organization’ doesn’t have to file IRS form 990, we’ll probably never know where all that moolah is going.
    I’ve argued incessantly that religious ‘non-profits’ should not be allowed to blow off form 990, while secular outfits are required file.

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  34. The “care portal” is yet another grift. The ministerial staff, beyond buying sermons, marketing campaigns for $50 million from Generis, relying on teleprompters, can now rely on other sheeple to minister to other sheeple. Kind of like Cristian tinder. Grady Alex has it all figured out! I bet those campus pastors have GREAT hours and GREAT salaries to ease their nagging consciences. What say you campus pastors of BC? Is it worth it?

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  35. Lawrence G.: buying sermons, marketing campaigns for $50 million from Generis, relying on teleprompters … GREAT hours and GREAT salaries to ease their nagging consciences … What say you campus pastors of BC? Is it worth it?

    “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, wealth, fame, success, but forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26)

    “In ‘that day’ many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we preach in your name … and do many great things in your name?’ Then I shall tell them plainly, ‘I have never known you. Go away from me, you have worked on the side of evil!’” (Matthew 7:22)

    Beware of following “visionaries”!

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  36. Max: Beware of following “visionaries”!

    Especially if they Cast a new Vision (or get a new Word of Knowledge) every 30 seconds.

    Supernatural Visions are a type of Paranormal Experience, and from firsthand experience these are rare occurrences, akin to eyewitnessing a sundog or Chelyabinsk-style meteor. I have had only 2 1/2 such experiences in my life (that comes out to one every 20 years).

    I call my 1/2 “Thirty Seconds over Narnia”, and it would fit the description of a “Vision” with one difference: There was NO actual “Seeing Things”, just an incredibly-vivid mental image coming out of nowhere that lasted about 30 seconds. (That’s why I count it as 1/2.)

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  37. Headless Unicorn Guy,

    Was the “vision” to you, for you?

    Or was the “vision” to tell someone else what to do, because you are the middleman from God to others, telling them what to do? (con)

    IMHO, frequency is not the problem. Jesus cancelled the middleman. Because of Jesus, God cut out the middleman intermediary and speaks to each of us individually through His Holy Spirit. Direct.

    Red Flag: Intermediaries, middlemen, any interference between God and the individual, telling individuals what to do, especially extrabiblical, like a $50M campaign for whatever (unspecified), which is definitely NOT biblical.

    The Holy Spirit should have the last word, the bottom line, with each of us individually. When we come together as the Body of Christ, it is assumed that each of us have our own relationship with God, a direct line with God, walking in the Holy Spirit.

    My direct line with God in no way supports a $50M campaign of a non-profit pastor from his M-F/8-5 working parishioners, for … what?

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  38. Any Battlecreek lurkers here? If so, what is missing from these articles on your “pastor Alex?” How or why would someone commit their time, energy, and finances to an organization with little to financial transparency or accountability as it appears is the case with Battlecreek? C’mon Battlecreek is a megachurch with 1,000s of attendees, some of whom must be sacrificial giving. How could one give up their mortgage or car payment to such a place as Battlecreek with what has been reported. Do tell!

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  39. I understand there are preachers who take advantage of their “flock” in more ways than one and it saddens me that this is a reality in our Christian world. HOWEVER, if you do not personally know or have not been in person to a church, it does you (nor anyone else) to speak these words. I have personally heard Alex Himaya speak to a group of youth students 4 separate times. I don’t “speculate” he had a teleprompter, because I was there in person and He did not. He gave the best gospel presentation I have ever heard on one of those times.
    This blog may have a valid purpose in bringing to light heresies in the church or money hungry preachers, but I can assure you that this specific post is incredibly inaccurate. The rules for commenting are “be kind,” well how is this post being kind? This write up on Alex Himaya and Battle Creek is absurd & uncalled for.

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  40. John,
    Here are a couple of things that we, the editors, believe.
    1.If a pastor posts sermons, sells books, and attempts to attract outsiders to his church or teachings, then that pastor is fair game for public critique. https://smile.amazon.com/s?k=Alex+himaya&ref=nb_sb_noss_2
    2. We are called to be a light on the hill. However, we don’t get to tell people what they see when that light is bright. Think about this as a free outsider’s consultation. If we see it, others do as well.
    3. Critique of any kind is often seen as unkind. However, there is value in considering what is being said. I don’t know about you but I find critique hard to take and I have to force myself to listen and learn because it is the most loving thing we can do.
    4. We don’t need to go in-person to a church. Many churches, like Battlecreek, let it all hang out online.
    5. Just because someone presents the best gospel message you have ever heard does not mean that the person doesn’t have issues. Let me give an example. I once heard Ravi Zacarias speak. I thought it was very good. But, in 2015, I began to question what was going on and did so on this blog. It was far worse than I could’ve imagined. As Martin Luther said “Simul justus et peccator.”

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  41. John,

    Hi John. The Wartburg Watch presented the evidence in black and white. You’ve seen Alex preach on 4 occasions? So that supersedes Battlecreek’s lack of financial transparency or accountability? It also superseded the grift from Generis, the “lifestyle” while encouraging others to give real property, mortgage payments etc. to Battlecreek. Dude, respectfully, you are DELUSIONAL. Hop in the car and go Battlecreek main campus, to see Alex preach and turn around and see the word for word teleprompter hanging on the front of the sound crew area…. I doubt they’ll lose it even with the publicity, I bet Alex likes his R & R too much.

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  42. John,

    John, The truth is unkind?!? But not the shameless twisting of scripture and emotional tools utilized by Alex to pressure his “flock” to sacrificial give? You’ve seen Alex “preach” in 4 occasions and that makes you the expert as opposed to three well researched articles? Cool, cash out that 401k, sell those cars, and cancel that vacation and go All in!

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  43. John: I have personally heard Alex Himaya speak to a group of youth students 4 separate times. I don’t “speculate” he had a teleprompter, because I was there in person and He did not. He gave the best gospel presentation I have ever heard on one of those times.
    This blog may have a valid purpose in bringing to light heresies in the church or money hungry preachers, but I can assure you that this specific post is incredibly inaccurate.

    Hey John,
    I believe you should do a little research prior to labeling my post “incredibly inaccurate.” Have you ever been to a Sunday morning church service at BattleCreek Church? Not a youth group meeting, a Sunday morning church service.

    Are you familiar with Kurt Von Eschen? He is on the BattleCreek Church website and is listed as a member of the “E-Team.” His specific title is “Experience Leader.” I am 62 years old and have been attending church all my life and have never before heard of a paid staff position titled “Experience Leader,” but I digress.

    Here is a quote, direct from Kurt, the Experience Leader:

    “As a communicator having the teleprompter is a gift.
    There is nothing worse than someone who’s head is buried in their notes. The teleprompter has given me when speaking the ability to engage the room more versus being tied to a pulpit or music stand. Also, for me it helps me not “rabbit trail” as I can tend to do and then forget where I was going with the whole thing I was sharing.”

    I suggest you clear any further comments with Alex Himaya prior to submitting them, John. It will spare him and you further embarrassment. Even though I have written three articles on BattleCreek Church, I have plenty of embarrassing, factual information I haven’t even touched.

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  44. John: He gave the best gospel presentation I have ever heard

    A very common response from a faithful follower. TWW and other Christian watchblogs have documented several wayward ministers and ministries where someone always drops by to say “Man, he can sure preach!” That ability is actually not considered as a qualifier for legitimate ministry; there are many counterfeits preaching the gospel every Sunday. A touch of charisma, a gift of gab, and a bag of gimmicks have deluded many.

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  45. Ava Aaronson: Was the “vision” to you, for you?

    Here’s the details. Make of it what you wish:

    This was around 20 years ago. I was sitting in my cubicle at work, staring at a screen. The weekend before I had returned from San Diego Comic Con where I had run into my ex-girlfriend Ann – an encounter that had thrown me into a depression.

    Into my head came out of nowhere an incredibly vivid mental image of standing in a fair land with a Carspecken-style fox-girl embracing me. (If you’ve never seen Carspecken fox art, think “Disney’s Maid Marian’s tomboy twin sister”.) For some reason I knew her name was “Misha” and as she embraced me, the depression over my breakup with Ann went away.

    Then the “vision” faded out. I was NOT “back in my cubicle”; I never left it. I was conscious of my RL surroundings all the time, just this “30 Seconds over Narnia” was so vivid.

    Got some interesting interpretations when I told others about it; the most odd being one Catholic ex-seminarian who thought I’d had a Marian Vision. ANother thought “Angel”. I did have an impression that “Misha worked for Aslan” but was not Aslan. Don’t know why I used Narnian imagery but it seemed to fit.

    And that was it. Like both my other “Weird Sh*t Experiences”, never repeated, what do you do?

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  46. A random thought about the business of advising churches how to increase donations:

    I’ve always been a bit uneasy about what looks to me like ‘arm-twisting’ in the section of II Cor 9:1-5 in which Paul appeals to the leaders to get sufficient funds together for the mercy gift to the Jerusalem church. It seems a bit manipulative — ‘I’ve boasted about your generosity and it would be embarrassing to both me and you if your performance did not measure up to my prior words.’

    It looks manipulative to me, and I wonder whether a text like this might provide justification, in the minds of the people do this for a living, for designing and promoting ‘programs’ to increase donations.

    That Paul placed super-high priority on the Gentile churches’ gifts to the Jerusalem church is evident. Perhaps I’m oversensitive to hints of manipulation.

    My sense is that in present-day churches it would be better to encourage people to ‘love neighbor as self’ and for leaders to model that in the way they live and in how they spend their surplus above basic living requirements. It would strengthen horizontal peer ministry in the churches, but would be messy since not under centralized human control.

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  47. further random thought re: present ways of ‘being church’.

    In the little OP church I attended for the better part of decade in the late ’00s and into the ’10s, I encountered a curious appeal to the precedent of Acts 6.

    We know the story — the church at Jerusalem had grown numerically large and the mercy needs (specifically the distribution of food to widows, who had no means of support) were becoming so burdensome that the Apostles found that they were not able to attend to all these needs personally and also fulfill other responsibilities (‘the ministry of the word and prayer’). So the apostles told the group to select qualified people to function as servants to the congregation to fulfill this function in the place of the apostles. Thus the ‘office’ of deacon was inaugurated. (Oddly, in my experience, the welfare of widows is not high among the priorities of present-day deacons, but it has been almost 2000 years and perhaps memory has faded.)

    The little OP congregation had needy widows but no real functioning deaconal ministry. An elder told me that it would be inappropriate for an elder to function as a deacon since the precedent of Acts 6 was that elders should devote themselves to the ministry of the word and to prayer.

    A tiny church with a few elders appealing to the example of a 1st century church of thousands with 12 elders as the reason the elders cannot provide personalized care to individual congregants. I think it was exegesis in the service of personal preference.

    Perhaps one of the attractions of mega-church-dom to would-be “lead pastors” is that it allows them, like the apostles, to distance themselves from the sufferings of individual members of the congregation.

    (this may be a controversial reading; I’ll note that the authors of the Gospels do not always show the apostles in a favorable light; perhaps this tendency continues into Acts; certainly Paul has words critical of Peter in his letter to the Galatians)

    We also remember how this part of the story ended: the megachurch at Jerusalem was not allowed to continue as it was. It was scattered into smaller groups which fled the city and settled elsewhere, and these groups were not under the in-person leadership of the apostles, since they remained in the city.

    The thought occurs that the Jerusalem church is not a great precedent for ‘how to be a church in our day’.

    Perhaps the exodus of people from the churches is a present-day analogue, under different circumstances, of the scattering of the great Jerusalem megachurch.

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