Tuesday 10 May 2016

A Kenyan Connection

So many COGs, so little interest.

The Voice in the Wilderness Church of God is a bit different, seemingly based in Kenya. The ministry there seems to operate under the name Hands of Hope. Where it comes from... hard to tell, but the Kenyan contact is a guy called Haron Mokoro.

And yet, looking up the sermon list and other details, Haron seems to be fairly low if not invisible in the pecking order. The Great White Father is someone based in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, called Bill Goff.

Who exactly is Bwana Bill? Is this a registered charity? Why are all the sermons by dudes with non-African names? Is there any affiliation with one of the larger American-based COG sects or is Goff running a stand-alone semi-philanthropic operation?

If the YouTube videos are anything to go by it seems Goff is trying to do some good of a practical nature, so kudos there. Selling Armstrongism - variety unknown - to the East Africans seems a high cost for the support, though.

Anyone able to provide some background on Bill Goff?


Pam said...

As I may have mentioned before, because of my continual research on "religious stuff" over the years, and sharing it on internet forums, I have kept an archive of all my emails (forum and otherwise) since 1998. That way I can do a search on names of people and groups that may have been discussed over the years.

I did such a search just now. Back in 2006, Bill Goff posted the following overview of his ministry on Ron Dart's CEM forum when someone asked him for details about his activities. This is no doubt going to be longer than this blog's comment section will allow, so I will cut it in pieces and put it in as many posts as necessary.

**** Bill Goff, 2006

Bill Goff 2006

I will try to eleberate a little on my church back ground and on the back ground of these brethren of ours in Kenya and Tanzania.

I was born and raised a Catholic and my favorite subject in grammar school was religion. I knew that there was a Creator up there and that He was a loving God but one thing that I didn't realize was that many of the things that I had been taught by that church didn't add up, didn't make sence, like the "good friday", "easter sunday" fitting into the three days and three nights in the grave etc. etc.

Well in 1984 we began reading the Plain Truth magazine and enjoyed it very much, and soon after that we met a family that lived near by who attended the WWC. My wife and I were baptized that same year. Now we didn't like the control that the WWC tried to continually have on us, but continued to attended until 1992 when we left due to them going mainstream.
Since then we have fellowshipped with quite a number of splinter groups but found all of them to be just as controlling as the WWC. The last one of those splinter groups that we fellowshipped with on a telephone hook up each Sabbath is where I heard about these brethren in East Africa.

These brethren there were NOT begging or even asking for any assistance, but after corrosponding for a wile thru E-mail with them I began to ask some questions concerning their living conditions. What they were describing to me was very serious and I wanted to send them some assistance, but first I checked with the pastor of the congregation that we were fellowshipping with to get some of his imput concerning sending some assistance to these brethren, after all, he was the pastor and we are to do things decently and in order.
Well to my amazement, he told me NOT to help those brethren in any way shape or form, he told me that as far as he knows, they don't even work. Well I was not going to take his advise because I felt very strongly that the needs of those brethren was genuine. I was brought up quite close to New York City and was pretty good at knowing if I was being conned. I also grasped enough of the Truth during those years of WWC to know that it's the doers of the Word that our God will justify, not those who are just connected to quire preaching organizations, if you know what I mean?

Anyways, at this point it was a no-brainer in knowing what to do. I purchased a round trip ticket to Kenya for my 22 year old son Joshua and sent him on a fact finding mission. He was already cut out for the job, you see God had already gifted him for such missions, in fact Joshua had already traveled to visit brethren in South America a few years earlier. Now what he found in East Africa was quite an eye opener. The brethren were in dyer straits at the time, you see their Country had been in a serious drought for quite some time and were surviving on the little bit of ground nut "peanuts" and the little bit of maze "corn" that they still had from a previous harvest.

Pam said...

Bill Goff 2006 continued...

Now some (especially those in Tanzania) were close to starvation, but that was NOT the saddest thing that we found. The saddest thing that we found was that all the splinter groups that broke off of the WWC that we know of which are there in Kenya and even all the mainstream christian groups had the same agenda, and not a good one.

You see all those different groups utilize most of their funds and most of their efforts competing for members, they seem to think that the more members they loor into their particular group, the better WORK they have done. They seem to think that there statement of beliefs and their particular incorporated group is the one where God is working. They may even throw you a fish to eat if you come on board with their particular group, but they will never teach you HOW to fish because you may become independant and leave their group.

How sad it was for us to find (I say us because I also have been there to see for myself) How sad it was for us to see God fearing, God loving, God zelous, brethren suffering from malaria because they didn't have the money to purchase them for their children or themselves. Yet many of these people have been connected to the different churches of God for years. How sad to see that half the brethren there didn't even have a Bible of their own. It brings those "velvet lined trash cans" back there in Pasadena to an even higher level of shame, if you know what I mean.

Anyways, the brethren that we have met, the conditions that we have experienced, are heart breaking to say the least, and not because these people are living under such trying conditions, but because there doesn't seem to be many out there who care. Just like the man who calls himself a minister but before his heart could even think to check out this situation and it;s legitimacy, was quick to critize another man's Websights statement of beliefs.

Pam said...

Bill Goff 2006... part 3 (conclusion)

Funny thing, I never even read the statement of beliefs of the man who was willing to put my two little "Kenya hands of Hope" pages on his Websight, but know that no matter what he states there on his statement of beliefs is not all that important to me or the brethren in Kenya because his righteous actions of trying to help speak much louder than any words.
Please forgive me for being a little blunt, but It's time for the Church of God to move from the heart and not from the pulpet of men. The needs of these brethren are quite real, and yes I also know that there are MANY cons out there in those third world countries, we have exposed a few of them ourselves both in Africa and India.

Pleas understand that the assistance need here is not an overwelming amount of funds. We are not trying to save Africa, that's God's department. And please understand that the brethren there are already the happiest people that I have ever met and it doesn't take much to ease their painful living conditions. We have already distributed mosquito nets to most if not all that we are in contact with but still short on Bibles. There is much there that needs to be assisted though like there is a man by the name of Martin who lives with his wife and children in Tanzania. He moved his family into the City because he is an electrician by trade and landed a good paying job. Things were going along well until his company changed their operating policy and demanded Martin to work on Saturdays.

Now I don't know your beliefs, but Martins is the same as mine and he lost his job for refusing to work on Sabbath. When I was there back in January his family was barely getting by on the little mone he was able to make by doing some odd jobs. Since then bad turned to worse because being that they lived in the City, they had no garden to grow any food. Well they were close to starvation because they didn't have the means to move back to the land where they came from, where they could farm their food.

Kenya hands of hope were able to provide the little money that it took to move them back home. Another young man had a serious hernia for 5 years and was still working his farm in order to have food to eat. When we came upon his condition at the fall Feast this year the doctor told us that he needed an immediate operation, that his condition was life threatening. We were able to provide the $85.00 that it took for his operation and 5 day hospital stay.

You see, our brethren there are not in need of hugh amouints of funds, just a little help from some who care. There are 6 Tanzanian boys who are farming but in need of a wheelbarrel and a few large plastic jugs to transport water from the water hole to the garden. They have been managing for some time now but what a few dollars can do for them is amazing.

I need to mention one more thing and then I will end this call. Some of the brethren there are also doing a work of preaching the Gospel. I am in full support of that project because they are doing it in the wright way. They are not trying to draw people into their particular group, they are only pointing people to God. There is only one group that we need to belong to and it's a Spiritual group not any physical group. To be a member is determined by ones actions, actions that originate in the heart. There only request is for some assistance to print and copy their material so they can continue to distribute.

bill Goff

Pam said...

As for how those Kenyan folks that Bill Goff connected up with got started with the Sabbath, here is a short comment from Goff from a 2008 letter posted on the Likeminds forum by Craig White, the prolific UCG promoter from Australia.

*** Bill Goff 2008

One more thing I forgot to mention concerning the history of the COG members in E. Africa. The senior elder there is a man by the name of Joash. Joash lives in Tanzania and he was the first one to hear the "Radio church of God" broadcast many years ago.

Joash connected to Herbert Armstrong, received the literature, and began to travel all around E. Africa preaching the Good news of the coming Kingdom of God. I know Joash quite well, and have visited him at his home. He says that most, if not all of the current COG groups there originated from his preaching the Gospel.

There are pictures of him and his house on my Website.

May God be with you.

Minimalist said...

He could get killed going to Africa!

"The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risk of traveling to Kenya. U.S. citizens in Kenya, and those considering travel to Kenya, should be aware of continuing and recently heightened threats from terrorism and the high rate of violent crime in some areas,"

Stupid Christians ignoring government warnings.

Byker Bob said...

There is a certain breed of Christian that enjoys the adrenalin rush of doing dangerous and subversive things, Minimalist, like smuggling Bibles into Communist countries, or rescuing women from the sex slave trade.

It may be foolish, and some do pay the ultimate price, but the beneficiaries of their activities appreciate what they do.


The Skeptic said...

Likeminds - there's a blast from the past. Are they still around? I participated with that group back in the mid-90's when the shock and pain of the breakup was still very fresh. They were sort of a stepping-stone for me, out of the cult and moving toward realizing the truth.

The Skeptic said...

Any chance Bill Goff is an older guy from New Jersey? If it's the same Bill Goff I'm thinking of, he may have once attended a sister church to ours, back in WCG days (the same minister pastored both churches of adjacent territories) and he is the friend of a friend of ours who attends a splinter group.

Pam said...

BB--you are of course right! (Some of them even do dangerous and subversive things who DON'T enjoy the adrenaline rush, they just are absolutely committed to doing what they think right, regardless of the consequences.)

Then again, I'm pretty sure Minimalist was being just a tad tongue in cheek with his comment about Christians ignoring government warnings in order to do acts of kindness, service, and mercy that they consider to be at the very core of their Christianity. It happened all the time to highly-dedicated Christians throughout history, starting with some of the Apostles.

They are not stupid...just radical.

This, of course, is true of humanitarians of all kinds, whether they have "religious" motives or not. I'm going to guess many if not most of the Peace Corp young people, for instance, were not motivated by religion, but by just plain old human concern for other humans.

Even dolphins, who likely have no religious scruples, help other dolphins... and sometimes humans distress. Risking danger at times to do so.

Compassion and concern and self-sacrifice are beautiful things to see, wherever we find them.

Pam said...

To The Skeptic

Likeminds is still online, but not a thing like you remember any more. In its heyday in the late 1990s (I used to help moderate it) there were something like 300 or more members, and close to 50 who actually posted pretty regularly, and maybe a couple dozen who posted multiple times a day. On some days it would get up close to 100 posts. There were even periods when forum owner Rick Stanczak limited participants to three posts a day to keep it from getting too unwieldy! Much of the content of threads was reporting and discussing about the swirling church politics of the time, revelations about the corruption of the WCG Past (I posted a lot of that...) along with heated discussions about all kinds of debatable doctrines.

Nowadays, there are only a handful of regular posters. The only doctrinal stuff is the perennial bickering about timing of the Passover or which calendar to use for the Holy Days. (Sigh...those arguments have literally been going on for over thirty years in COG circles, nothing new is EVER presented, but new people seem to stumble on the issues all the time, and want to hash it over. No one ever changes their mind because of the discussions. It's all just an exercise in futility.)

There's hardly ever any talk on the forum of church politics these days...more national politics actually, but not even very much of that. Someone even wrote a post on there the other day with the title "Likeminds is dead--Long Live Likeminds." As someone else said, LM had its "season" when it was incredibly valuable for many people in helping them sort through their COG experiences. That season is long past now, and most people have moved on to new things in their lives.

I was certainly grateful that it was available when I first got on the Net in 1996. Many of the people across the land I now consider good friends are people I met on LM, many of whom I eventually met out in the Real World. A decade ago, my husband and I hosted an Internet Forum Open House at the CEM FOT several years in a row. One year we had close to 75 people show up to our condo! (They were about half and half from Likeminds and from the CEM forum...which is now defunct.)

Anonymous said...

It seem Goff was once part of The Church of God, Ministries International.

A Google search:

pull this information up.

Pam said...

"It seem Goff was once part of The Church of God, Ministries International."

Oh, Yuck. That is disappointing. But at least it was "once."

COGMI is a break off of the Church of God, International. Once GTA died, some Ted junkies didn't think his son Mark was "qualified" to lead the church. (As if GTA WAS... gag...)

So they split off. By 2005 that group split up, with one branch ending up as the COGMI.

I happen to know some of the "principal people" involved personally.

Minimalist said...

There's a Christian/Muslim civil-war in Kenya (and much of Africa).
I'm neutral: That is to say, I hope they Neutralize a lot of each other.