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Church of God Ministry of Jesus Christ International

The Church of God Ministry of Jesus Christ International is a Christian, neo-Pentecostal[3] and restorationist congregation. It was created in 1972 by the evangelical preacher Luis Eduardo Moreno, his mother María Jesús Moreno and his wife María Luisa Piraquive.[4] The Church has over 930 locations in more than fifty countries and territories worldwide.[2]

Church of God
Ministry of Jesus Christ International
Logo-IDMJI-ESPAÑOL.jpg
OrientationNeopentecostalrestorationist
LeaderMaría Luisa Piraquive
Region48 countries/territories
HeadquartersBogota, Colombia,

Weston, Florida, United States,

Madrid, Spain
FounderLuis Eduardo Moreno and María Luisa Piraquive
Origin1972[1]
Bogota, Colombia
CongregationsOver 900[2]
Aid organizationMaría Luisa de Moreno International Foundation
Official websitewww.idmji.org

The leader of the Church is the Colombian Christian female leader María Luisa Piraquive, while the current General Preacher is Carlos Alberto Baena.

Contents

HistoryEdit

BackgroundEdit

The origins of the Church of God Ministry of Jesus Christ International go back to the wandering of Luis Eduardo Moreno and his mother María Jesús Moreno through various Christian denominations, where he served as preacher. After his marriage in 1966, his wife María Luisa Piraquive joined them.

Luis Eduardo had disagreements with the leaders of the various evangelical denominations in which he worked, due to the fact that he was pressed to give results in terms of growth of the churches at his charge.[5]

BeginningEdit

Disappointed by the permanent disagreements with the leaders of the denominations in which they congregated, the Moreno Piraquive family decided not to attend any church anymore and instead, they decided to pray at their house.

In 1972, during the prayers of a small group of four people congregated at the Moreno Piraquive family house, they experienced the first prophecy from God in the Church of God Ministry of Jesus Christ.[6] In such prophecy, God gave them the instructions about how to direct the church.

As time passed by the church expanded to other departments of Colombia. Currently it has locations in more than 300 Colombian municipalities.[2]

In 1997, the word International was added to the Church's name, and in 2000 the leaders of the church created a political party in Colombia, called MIRA, whose current President is Carlos Alberto Baena.

2014 controversyEdit

In the months before the Colombian general elections of 2014, the MIRA political party was accused by virtually all the major media of the country of holding discriminatory views against disabled people.[7] The criticism came from a leak of a private speech by María Luisa Piraquive in which she explained to some of the church's members that physically disabled believers are not allowed to preach in pulpits in the church in order to protect them and the church from discrimination:[8]

It could happen that there was a very committed brother in the Church, very used by the Lord, very used by God, but unfortunately he had an accident and lost an arm, or any of his body's members. Therefore, this brother would not be allowed to preach in a pulpit, not because his soul and heart are far from God, but because of the consciousness [...] When we say because of the consciousness, we mean the impression this could cause in outsiders, because people are constantly coming to the church, and they will become worried or shocked if they see a preacher that does not have an arm, they would not like it [...] People will say 'what does this mean? I don't like this. I don't like this church, so I won't attend again.' That is what we call 'consciousness.' (Quotation from the leak, translated from Spanish.)

These words were interpreted by some media as an instance of discrimination and defamation,[9] and the church was also accused of money laundering related to drug trafficking.[10] However, in March 2014, the Ninth Bogotan Judge Officer decided that Piraquive's declarations were not discriminatory under Colombian law,[11] and in April 2014, the 286th Attorney of Colombia judged that no defamation was found in the speech.[12] The Office of the Attorney General of Colombia stated in July 2014 that "up until now, there are no clear hints of links between Pastor Piraquive and criminal organisations dedicated to drug trafficking" (translated from Spanish.)[10][13]

Maria Luisa Piraquive denied the accusations and filed a lawsuit in the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, in Washington, D.C., claiming that the church and the MIRA party were victims of religious persecution and segregation, with a backing of over a hundred documented cases of harassment against the church's members and over five hundred tweets and Facebook posts that contained death threats and other violent language.[10] The church's leaders also defended themselves by pointing out that Piraquive's humanitarian organisation, Maria Luisa de Moreno International Foundation,[14] actively promotes disabled people's rights in Colombia[15] and abroad.[16]

Geographic distributionEdit

 
Map of countries and territories in which there are churches and congregations
 
Logo of the Church of God Ministry of Jesus Christ International in Icelandic

Besides the 48 countries and territories in which the church has prayer rooms, there are informal meetings held in Cuba, Equatorial Guinea and Haiti.

Continent Region Country or territory[17]
America Central America Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama
North America Canada, United States, Mexico
South America Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador,
Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela
Antilles Aruba, Curaçao, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic
Africa Central Africa Cameroon
Macaronesia Canary Islands
Asia South Asia India
West Asia United Arab Emirates, Israel, Turkey
East Asia China, Japan
South-east Asia Philippines
Europe Central Europe Germany, Austria, Belgium, France, Netherlands, Switzerland
Northern Europe Denmark, Iceland, United Kingdom, Sweden
Southern Europe Spain, Italy, Portugal
Eastern Europe Poland, Romania
Oceania Australasia Australia, New Zealand

Spiritual gifts and prophecyEdit

The Church's most important feature is its reliance on the gift of prophecy, in which a human instrument is said to be used by the Holy Spirit to speak. This practice reminds of the early Christian Church's gift of prophecy, mentioned by Paul in the Epistle to the Corinthians,[18] by John in his Gospel[19] and other New Testament books.

Unlike other Pentecostal denominations, prophecies are seldom general (i. e., given to the public attending the service), but individual, and refer to the past, present and future of the person receiving the message. Its form is of specific promises (of healing, happiness, economic prosperity, spiritual experiencies, marriage, and so on) expected to be fulfilled by God through His power, as well as commandments on the individual's life, as a "guidance for life". Those to whom the promises have been fulfilled often give testimony of them in public in the religious services.[20]

The gift of prophecy is not the only spiritual gift said to appear in the Church.[21] Of a central importance is the gift of tongues, which is the sign of being baptised by the Holy Spirit, resembling the New Testament's Pentecost day. There are also gifts of healing, spiritual visions, dream interpretation, casting away demons and discernment, among others. Believers are encouraged to ask for these gifts in prayer, so that all the congregation may have a personal experience with God. In a typical prayer room there could be one prophesier for each thirty believers.

Architectural style of the congregationsEdit

 
Facade of the prayer room at Las Ferias in Bogota
 
Teaching imparted in the prayer room at Las Ferias

Initially, believers began to gather in living rooms of houses, with the Moreno Piraquive's house being the first prayer room in the La Estrada neighbourhood, Bogota. Later, the gatherings were held in the locality called Engativa. After some time it was necessary to rent warehouses, which were adequated for the religious services. By 1994 the church started to purchase properties in order to build prayer rooms for the congregation.[22] The church has also purchased former Jewish synagogues and evangelical temples.[3]

The first countries in which the church established prayer rooms, besides Colombia, were Panama and the United States of America. In some places of Florida and other countries, believers congregate in conference halls of hotels.

BaptisteriesEdit

 
Facade of the Baptistery of Cota in Cundinamarca.

Besides using rivers, the sea or pools to perform baptisms, the church uses elementary baptisteries built in some of the church locations.

The Baptistery of Cota was inaugurated on 29 May 2010 in the municipality of Cota in the Cundinamarca department of Colombia.[23] Its construction required an investment of more than 3 millions of american dollars. The baptistery of Cota was built on a 2 hectares property and has capacity for 800 people.[24][25] This building is used for the baptisms of new believers from the churches in Cundinamarca and Bogota.

Maria Luisa de Moreno International FoundationEdit

In addition to its religious activities, the church offers social assistance (e.g. via educational programs and health services) in the countries in which it has presence, mainly in Colombia. One of the means through which the church performs this activities is the Maria Luisa de Moreno International Foundation,[26] a philanthropic institution founded in 2000 under the mottos "Help at all levels", "Architects of hearts" and currently "Helping is our work". This NGO is responsible for the distribution of food and the activities related to educational and social services. It also promotes the rights and well-being of mentally and physically disabled people.[16]

The foundation operates in a dozen of countries, especially in Hispanic countries.[27]

PublicationsEdit

The Zion International magazine is the official magazine of the Church of God Ministry of Jesus Christ International. It covers biblical topics and activities of the church. This magazine is published quarterly, written both in English and Spanish.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ CESNUR. "Le religioni in Italia" (in Italian). Retrieved 25 April 2011.
  2. ^ a b c Numbers based on the locations page
  3. ^ a b "El Legado Histórico de la IDMJI". Revista Zion Internacional (6). 2011. ISSN 2216-0566.
  4. ^ "History of the Church of God Ministry of Jesus Christ International". Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  5. ^ Piraquive, María Luisa (2008). Experiences (1st ed.). Church of God Ministry of Jesus Christ International. ISBN 978-958-442472-3.
  6. ^ (Piraquive 2007, p. 47)
  7. ^ "Discapacitados no deben predicar: María Luisa Piraquive" (in Spanish). 15 January 2014 – via HSB Noticias.
  8. ^ "Escándalo por discriminación en iglesia cristiana contra discapacitados" (in Spanish). El Espectador. 15 January 2014.
  9. ^ "La discriminación de la iglesia de la senadora Piraquive" (in Spanish). 15 January 2014 – via Semana.
  10. ^ a b c "CIDH acepta demanda del MIRA por discriminación religiosa y segregación" (in Spanish). 30 July 2014 – via El Espectador.
  11. ^ "'Declaraciones de María Luisa Piraquive no son discriminatorias'" (in Spanish). 6 March 2014 – via El Tiempo.
  12. ^ "Fiscalía archivó investigación a María Luisa Piraquive por injuria" (in Spanish). 7 April 2014 – via El Espectador.
  13. ^ "Fiscalía niega investigación a Maria Luisa Piraquive por nexos con Los Urabeños" (in Spanish). 21 January 2014 – via W Radio.
  14. ^ Maria Luisa de Moreno International Foundation
  15. ^ "Ayuda sin Límites". Cámara de Comercio de Cali (in Spanish).
  16. ^ a b "Trabajamos por las Capacidades". Fundación Internacional Maria Luisa de Moreno (in Spanish).
  17. ^ The territories which are part of the countries in other continents are treated separately in the table.
  18. ^ I Corinthians chapter 14.
  19. ^ John, chapter 16, verses 7 to 15.
  20. ^ Testimonies
  21. ^ (Piraquive 2007, p. 177)
  22. ^ (Piraquive 2007, pp. 89–91)
  23. ^ Church of God Ministry of Jesus Christ International. "Baptisms in Bogota 29th of May 2010". Archived from the original on 7 June 2010. Retrieved 10 December 2011. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  24. ^ "Zion Internacional Magazine". January (1). 2011. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  25. ^ "Church of God Ministry of Jesus Christ International – Baptistery Inauguration". Retrieved 31 March 2011.
  26. ^ "El Congreso Magazine" (151). 2012. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  27. ^ Maria Luisa de Moreno International Foundation. "Locations". Archived from the original on 25 April 2012. Retrieved 28 March 2013. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)

BibliographyEdit

  • Piraquive, María Luisa (2007). Vivencias (Second ed.). Iglesia de Dios Ministerial de Jesucristo Internacional. ISBN 958-33-2658-5.
  • Piraquive, María Luisa (2008). Experiences (First ed.). Church of God Ministry of Jesus Christ International. ISBN 978-958-442472-3.

External linksEdit