Fujishima and Michael, I was really glad to read both your observations of Jesus Lifehouse, because I saw exactly those things happening there also. I am a well respected Christian speaker who has been asked to speak and preach at many protestant and pentecostal churches, outreach events and to oversee and lead numerous inter-denominational projects. I attended JLH for several months, during which time I was becoming more and more alarmed at what I was seeing, but stayed as long as I did out of care for those who were there.
Though I neither sought nor desired any position in JLH, I became well trusted by the Life Group leaders there, regularly being asked by them to provide insight from a Biblical perspective. Jesus Lifehouse says it believes the Bible 100%, however it was very clear that verses were commonly quoted out of context in the preaching by Rod and Ryuta to give a very biased view, while verses which would normally be shared to provide balance and overall context were conspicuous by their absence. For example, versus such as Matthew 19:29 “everyone who has left houses or brothers and sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake, will receive a hundred times more and will be given eternal life” (GNB), Matthew 12:48-50, and Luke 14:26 would be presented strongly, that it was “Word of God”, without mention of versus such as 1 Timothy 5:8 “but if anyone does not take care of his relatives, especially the members of his own family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever”. This is why these younger Christians, inexperienced in such leadership positions, valued having other topic-relevant Bible references shown to them for their discussions with members.
However, the worst revelation was yet to come. What I then witnessed I will never forget. While I was still at JLH, Rod got busted for lying big time, in an attempt to fabricate a story surrounding a young member of the congregation. He claimed they had said things which they absolutely had not. Others in the church together with myself were present at that time, and heard exactly what this young person had said. Evidently Rod didn’t count on the possibility of there being witnesses there who could confront him on this. Ryuta was present at this time and, knowing Rod was lying, only commented by saying “I stand by Rod”. Rod hastily attempted to cover what he had said with more lies, but those there easily saw through those too. Obviously embarrassed yet arrogantly defiant, Rod then blurted out “I don’t care! I don’t care about the truth! I’m the pastor of a church! It’s MY church and I can say what I like!”
As I had been a witness to all this, right afterwards out of hearing of others, I was then told by this “owner of a church” in no uncertain terms that I was no longer welcome, saying “I don’t want you to ever come back here”. This was followed immediately by the threat that if I did come back, he would tell lies about me also. He then said “Look, it’s not you… it’s got nothing to do with you, it’s just that I don’t want you in my church.”
As astonishing as it would be to read that a “pastor” could or would say these things, I feel the need to emphasize that I have quoted what he said exactly. I have since heard from several others very similar things from their experiences there, and realize this is just the way the man handles things.
Like Michael, I too witnessed young people’s faith being badly damaged by the harsh defensive attitude displayed if they in any way exhibited that they may not fully accept the (self) righteous authority of the leaders. The sole focus of JLH’s self-proclaimed vision is “getting the young people in”. Living a life of true love for God and one’s neighbors, following the teachings of Christ, and sharing the gospel message to any or all, are not. Jesus Lifehouse is indeed a cult, fueled by motivating young people to believe they will achieve both status and success in their lives if they zealously give themselves to furthering this organization.
(Title added by the Editor)
(Special thanks for Mr.Fuji’s permission for forwarding and translating of the document)