Bellville has become the latest arena for an ongoing feud between a church and a group of parents.
For at least 11 years, these parents, who call themselves the Concerned Parents Group (CPG) have been warning others about Church Team Ministries International (CTMI).
The parents say CTMI is a cult which encourages young people to abandon their homes and studies to join the organisation’s head office in Mauritius.
Here, they say, followers are forced into marriages, cut off from contact with their parents, and are discouraged from reading “outside” literature on the Bible.
The church has many affiliates, like Grace Gospel Church in Durban.
Most of the press surrounding CTMI has been centred in KwaZulu-Natal, where more churches are affiliated with the group.
Most of the members of CPG are also from the surrounding area.
The longstanding battle between the two groups has been extensively covered, with the church and its allegations of being a cult being featured on Carte Blanche in 2010 and in the Mail & Guardian.
The programme Openbarings also ran a segment on CTMI in 2018/2019.
The spotlight recently shifted to Bellville with the church’s annual “Build” conference which took place from 18 to 21 February at the Bellville Civic Centre.
The CPG says the church is moving its activities to the Cape because of the continued exposure of their activities elsewhere.
The conference in Cape Town was held in conjunction with Cape Town 4 Jesus (CT4J), an organisation which is active especially on the Cape Flats.
At the Build conference Miki Hardy, one of the leaders of the CTMI, was one of the featured speakers.
The CPG protested at the venue, placing banners against the fence and flyers onto the windshields of cars. These were taken down.They also sent emails to schools in Bellville beforehand, warning them about the church.Parents who are part of the CPG tell horrible stories of their relationship with the church.
These are all documented on their website. One parent, Keith Brown says his late son, Stuart, joined the church in 2006 after being diagnosed with cancer.
He became increasingly involved in the church and later left his successful career as a copywriter in Durban and moved to Mauritius to work for them.
When his cancer worsened, he came back to South Africa, where he initially lived with his family. He then suddenly left to stay with other church members as the church was allegedly uncomfortable with visiting him if he stayed with his parents whose open questions were seen as persecution.
Stuart later died in a hospice, with a family left feeling estranged from him.
His other son Geoffrey, daughter-in-law and granddaughters are still involved in the church and live in Mauritius.Brown says the CTMI pastor at his funeral spent an hour condemning Christians and defending his church. Heather Goddard, who put up banners at the civic centre, talks of her daughter Hayley who became increasingly obsessed with the church, cutting off contact and moving to Mauritius.
There she married a man they never met.
Years later this relationship has never been restored.At the time of going to print CTMI had not responded to TygerBurger’s request for comment.
In previous articles in various other media they denied the allegations against them.Rev Barry Isaacs, head of CT4J said the allegations against the church were unfounded.
“I’ve done my research on that ... and asked all the hard questions,” he says.
He feels it’s a case of bitterness from parents in the CPG against CTMI. “It’s a case of where young men and women want to serve the Lord, that’s their priority.”Isaacs has been to Mauritius to visit the church himself and also attended the Build conference last year.
“I wanted to see and find out for myself.”He says he paid for his own flights, in contradiction to what the CPG claims.
He says he did get a discount on conference fees in Mauritius.“I am a born again Christian for the last 51 years. There is absolutely nothing true about what (Keith) Brown (of CPG) is staying.”
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