Thursday, March 21, 2013

Growing in Grace International is yet another pseudo-Christian cult

And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ, and shall deceive many.
Matthew 24:3-5

Creciendo en Gracia (Growing in Grace International) is a pseudo-Christian cult founded in Puerto Rico in 1986 by José Luis de Jesús Miranda, who describes himself as the second coming of Jesus Christ and also as the Antichrist. The organization's Canadian headquarters are in Kitchener, Ontario. Go here to for their English language site, here for their Spanish site. If you check their sites, you'll see that Cresciendo en Gracia celebrates "Christmas" on April 22, which just happens to be the birthday of Mr. de Jesús.

Like many cults, Growing in Grace International has made at least one apolalyptic prediction with a date attached. June 30, 2012 was to be the date of "The Transformation." As reported by Armina Ligaya of the Toronto-based National Post, May 2, 2012:

ST. CATHARINES, ONT. — Doris Rosado watches her teenage daughters, Ninette and Kiara Mongrut, get the numbers “666” tattooed on their wrists, beaming with pride. The number typically conjures up biblical symbolism tied to the Antichrist, but this St. Catharines, Ont., family belongs to a obscure Christian sect for which “666” is a positive symbol of their group’s messianic leader...

...The group, which they say has branches in five Canadian cities and members in more than 130 countries, believes that on June 30 (or July 1 across the international dateline), their Texas-based leader and his followers will be transformed, said Alex Poessy, the group’s bishop in Canada...

...“That day, the body of Jose de Luis de Jesus, who is a human like you and me, his flesh is going to be immortal…. He’s going to be living forever. And that will happen to him, but also his followers.”

But, said Mr. Poessy: “All those that are not believers are going to be destroyed...”

...Mr. de Jesus also predicts that the “transformation” will endow him, and his loyal followers, with superpowers, such as the ability to fly and walk through walls, said Axel Cooley, the bishop’s daughter.

“[We can] run and not get tired. Go through fire and not get burned…. I could be talking to you right now, and then I could go through that wall. So, you’ll know there is a difference,” Cooley said...

...“The world’s not going to end. What is going to end is the system…. All the governments and the currencies will fall. The new government of the 666 will take over,” she said...

...Mr. de Jesus, whom followers lovingly call “Dad,” had a vision in 1973 while living in Massachusetts of two angels coming to him. “The body of Christ manifested in Jose de Luis de Jesus, and all of a sudden, that’s when he knew,” Ms. Cooley said...

...The church had been paying $144,000 a year in alimony to de Jesus’ first wife, considering it part of his salary, according to a 2007 article in the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel. Also, donations from followers in Colombia went to a Colombian bank account in Jose Luis de Jesus’ name, the Sun-Sentinel reported. De Jesus said the Colombian bishop controlled the money earmarked for churches there. However, he also said some of the money went to de Jesus’ wife, including about $60,000 for a condominium.

The group has roughly 200 members in Canada, including branches in Toronto, St. Catharines, Montreal and Calgary. Its newest branch is in Vancouver, which officially opened in March, Mr. Poessy said...

...Usually, Mr. de Jesus addresses his followers during the tracings. But on April 22, his 66th birthday, he gave his last speech before retreating from public view.

In a video posted on YouTube and on their website, cegenglish.com, Mr. de Jesus called for his followers to enter into the final countdown until, he says, their government will come into power. “A government where we will govern everything with a perfect order. This is my last farewell for you. The time is finished… We will see each other soon in Armageddon...”
It comes as no surprise to this blogger to find that "The Transformation" didn't come to pass as scheduled. As reported by Ms. Ligaya on July 3, 2012:

Growing in Grace, also known as Creciendo en Gracia, predicted that its Texas-based leader Jose Luis de Jesus, would “transform” into an immortal being, while non-believers and roughly two-thirds of the world’s population would be destroyed on June 30 (or July 1, depending on the time zone)...

...But Monday, the global economy continued churning, the Holy See appeared intact and there was no sign of a major global disaster.

When reached in Kitchener on Sunday afternoon, the group’s Canadian bishop Alex Poessy would not answer many questions, but said their transformation had not yet come to pass.

“Well, we are still waiting for that,” he said.

However, Mr. Poessy said he believed their leader, Mr. de Jesus, had transformed — but he didn’t see it. “He did transform, that is my understanding,” he said, adding that the group was “really happy.”

His wife, Ileana Poessy, said the followers’ transformation and world devastation would come, eventually.

“We don’t know when…. He’s the boss,” she said, pointing upward.

“[Transformation] is going to come for us for sure,” she added, warning it was too late for others to be saved...

...Still, even when prophecies fail, these groups continue to exist and even thrive, said Lorne Dawson, a University of Waterloo sociologist and religious studies professor who specializes in new religious movements.

Setting a date energizes a religious movement and helps recruit new members, he said in a May interview. When the evidence clearly contradicts their prophecy, members will change the way they interpret the world “as to not face the reality of the defeat,” Mr. Dawson said.

“The leader will quickly come up with an explanation, rationalize, and that rationalization will be spread quickly to all of the membership … and gear them up for another prophecy down the line,” Mr. Dawson said.
HT: Faith and Freedom, June-July 2012

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