Creciendo en Gracia – Prosperity Teaching

Creciendo en Gracia preaches a version of the so-called Prosperity Teaching.

De Jesus bears little resemblance to the biblical Lamb of God. He wears fine suits and diamond-encrusted rings, drives a 7 Series BMW, and, until recently, lived in a 5000-square-foot Miramar home with Corinthian columns and vaulted ceilings. He also travels with a battalion of guards who wear dark suits and conspicuous earpieces.

De Jesus says the cost of his security detail, which runs upward of $300,000 per year, is covered by follower Lazaro Seijo. A successful entrepreneur, Seijo is also building De Jesus a house in Homestead. And this kind of generosity is not unusual. Devotees continually lavish De Jesus with money and extravagant gifts. And the doctrine encourages it.

Creciendo en Gracia parishioners, like those of most churches, are taught to sacrifice a tenth of their income to the church. But they are also expected to give an additional sum directly to their pastors and bishops — or to God himself. And during many services, the faithful are told that those who give “beyond their means” — who put “the Lord before car payment and mortgage” — will prosper, and angels will protect them. Some surrender almost everything. “We invest our last dime, our entire life, so one person can understand, so the message can be spread,” says Pastor Ivan Lopez, who works in the Miami headquarters.

The question is: Where does all the money go? Some churches help the poor or at least aid congregations in less fortunate regions, but not Creciendo en Gracia. Even those branches in impoverished countries send funds back to headquarters. And expenses are modest: Most employees receive no wages and all the group’s congregations meet in rented churches.

De Jesus claims the money he receives is spent on headquarters operations, which run about $1.4 million a year, or goes toward buying airtime. As he puts it: “Everything I get goes to making sure the word is spread.”
– Source: Jesus Redux, Miami New Times, USA, Feb. 9, 2006

Usually, believers in the prosperity teaching give money in order to receive. However, followers of Creciendo en Gracia also donate because they believe that De Jesus is God. One successful businessman, Alvaro Albarracin, helps other followers set up businesses that in turn donate money to the church:

Albarracin was named Creciendo en Gracia’s entrepreneur of entrepreneurs. His role: helping other parishioners set up businesses that feed money into the ministry. So far, he says he has had a hand in launching hundreds of ventures, including shoe stores, mortgage companies, a plastic factory, and a winery. The most devoted owners make De Jesus their CEO. The rest simply give him 20 to 80 percent of the take.

One contributor is Leonel Martinez, who owns a twenty-person company that imports medical equipment from Asia and distributes it in Venezuela. He donates about $50,000 each year to the ministry. “Our Apostle gives us the opportunity to give part of our money,” he explains, “so he can travel to different countries and other people can prosper just as we do.”

Albarracin has also established several companies for the ministry. He says he bought a 50 percent stake in the Colombian soccer team, Expreso Rojo, for $300,000 in 2003; he’s now selling his share of the club for more than $1.5 million. Every cent will go to Creciendo en Gracia. “It all belongs to Dad anyway,” he says with a shrug. “He controls everything. I believe strongly that Dad will control businesses around the world one day.”
– Source: Jesus Redux, Miami New Times, USA, Feb. 9, 2006

One Response

  1. levit September 11, 2006
This post was last updated: Oct. 11, 2006