They cover up his unrepentant sins, but never correct him.
He will not be challenged.
His rancor for all who differ with him only gets more maniacal.
His co-conspirators enable vile sins against the Body of Christ.
“Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses.
Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear…
Do not lay hands on anyone hastily, nor share in other people’s sins;
keep yourself pure… Some men’s sins are clearly evident, preceding them to judgment,
but those of some men follow later. Likewise, the good works of some are clearly evident
and those that are otherwise cannot be hidden.”
– 1 Timothy 5
Love certainly does cover a multitude of sins. And when a friend stumbles into sin, we who love such a one corrects them, and when they show heartfelt sorrow over that sin, we forgive them and leave it at the altar. That’s what friends are for!
However, we must know and discern the difference between private sins and the public ones committed by those in public ministry who leave a trail of human carnage behind them. They may say “I’m sorry” when they get caught – but when they justify that very sin to themselves and others, those sins are retained.
In sharing these memories, I am not saying that there was no forgiveness on my part. Time has shown there was no real remorse for sins committed against me and others of whom will remain anonymous – names changed to protect the unwilling. But this was the crossroads of Mr. Prasch turning hostile against me. It took a while to play out – but I can pinpoint the trigger.
The point I’m making is there remains a pattern of behavior in the leadership of Moriel, a public ministry, of which there appears to have been no change in practice or policy. The only accountability James Jacob Prasch has, as he puts it, is to certain Moriel “associated churches” and a rubber-stamp “board” consisting of members whose bread and butter comes from the leader and the benefits trickle down. The “churches” consist of one or two congregations along with home fellowships calling themselves churches. And that’s where this part of the story begins, with JJPs biggest (no pun intended) enabler.
After the passing of my husband in 2011, my college-aged children did not want to remain in the Bay Area where Bill was a Journalism professor at a California State University. Two of them wanted to return to the state of their birth, Pennsylvania. The third was a student at another Bay Area Cal State University and was hesitant to leave her school. But she felt better after looking at the prospects of attending the University of Pittsburgh where she eventually earned her bachelors degree.
This is a very painful chapter in my life and brings sorrow to my heart just bringing up those sad memories. I would have preferred to skip this part of the story, but it is the turning point of Jacob’s attitude towards me. I testify that all I’m sharing is true – although what I say will very likely be challenged by Moriel – I mean what do you expect from unscrupulous men sitting on a nest egg?
I retired from Cal State University in June, 2011, and took a trip to Pittsburgh to be a guest on the Cornerstone Television Network to promote my book, The Fleecing of Christianity. That’s a story in and of itself how the Lord used me to confront the network owners who had added Benny Hinn to their show line-up. (One for the memoirs.) While in town, I first visited the Moriel church plant where David Lister pastored and he introduced me to those in the fellowship. I had already been friends with Carla (not her real name) since we worked together on Moriel’s magazine for years. Back then, they carried the articles I wrote for the Christian Sentinel. The married couple whose house the gatherings took place were Don and Betty (not real names). I hit it off with Betty right away. She was a precious servant of the Lord and made everyone comfortable in her lovely home.
Soon Betty confirmed the Lord’s leading that I should move my family there and I was welcomed with open arms. She even helped me find a house to buy, connecting me with her aunt who was a realtor. I was excited to be part of a home church, something I’d never done before. Betty gave the place such a warm atmosphere one could never get in a church building.
So after the house closed escrow, we packed the rented SUV with a cat, a dog, three 20-something kids, a son-in-law and my sweet little 1-year-old granddaughter, Noel. The moving truck would take a little longer to make the 3,000 mile journey from Hayward. We were looking forward to our new start after our collective 3-year-long family nightmare taking care of their dying dad.
There are many praise reports how the Lord blessed us there in spite of the disappointments and tears our family endured. We had our first Thanksgiving without Bill. David Lister had been so nice to us, even bought me a new desk since mine was crushed in the moving truck. He told me that Bill had called him from the nursing home when he knew he was about to die, though my husband never told me that, and asked him if he would look after his little family when he was gone. David promised him he would. We invited him over for Thanksgiving dinner. I wanted the kids to get to know their new pastor better and he didn’t have any family in the area.
A month before, I had run into my first snag with the Moriel ‘church’ they called Beth Hebron. Looking at the paper trail in my email archive, I found the first mention of this in my email to Betty dated October 10, 2011:
“I would like another opinion on David Lister’s teaching so I’m asking you to check something out – I realized listening to David that he was not using his own words when reading his messages every week. I thought I would put it to the test and so I did a word search on Google putting in a sentence of his message. Bingo! He is reading his message word-for-word from Warren Wiersbe’s commentary. We’re not listening to David’s message, but to Warren Wiersbe.
Check this out. Go to this recent lesson of David’s: [inserted URL now broken)
Then go to Wiersbe’s commentary in 1 Peter (another broken link now that his Bible Commentary is no longer online – wonder if this had something to do with it).
I guess I have been so trained to spot plagiarism because of my late husband’s journalism profession and his dissertation was on plagiarism in the church. I certainly understand a pastor using commentaries to assist in preparing a message – but reading a commentary word-for-word without attribution isn’t even honest. And it’s not ministering to the hearers – I already know how to read. I can read for myself.
What’s your take on this? Also when he did the midrash message a couple of weeks ago – I recognized Jacob’s words – again verbatim.
I don’t mean to snipe at David behind his back. He is very important to me in our mutual work for Moriel. I would just like another’s input before deciding to say something to him.”
She and Don called me rather than responding by email. Betty sounded very shook up and they asked me if I went to David first. I told them I didn’t know what to do considering I was the new kid on the block. I had no authority over him. They advised that if I don’t talk to David, to call Jacob since he was the real line of authority, not them. They just provided the home essentials. So that’s what I did.
I barely got one sentence out and Jacob snapped at me, Did you go to him first? I said, no. This is not some personal slight against me. This is a church discipline issue. I’m just the little widow woman who’s only lived here a couple of months. He told me he did not want to hear another word of it and to go to David.
So, that’s what I did – in a round about way.
I emailed him. I sent him links to two articles on the abuse of plagiarism by pastors with one sentence:
“I love Warren Wiersbe too.”
Then the phone rang. A panicked voice came out the receiver. After so many years, I cannot paraphrase the conversation with any historic accuracy. I know he came over – I believe the next day. He gave me a rundown of how busy he’d been with his secular job and all Moriel responsibilities and how he did that to cut corners. He was so apologetic and even said that he believed God had sent me there just to bring this out in the open. It was something that nagged at him. It was a long conversation. At the end, he came up with a proposal and I agreed to his conditions. I would say nothing to anyone in the church, but he would speak to each one of them privately and ask for forgiveness.
That sounded fine with me. I sure didn’t want to be a part of any ugly scene with my new friends. I cautioned him though, that if he did it again, I’d call him out on the spot. He assured me he was a changed man. So that was the end of that! Or was it?
The Lead-Up to the Break-Up
After that, my ear was more in tuned to his written sermons, listening for words he didn’t know how to pronounce. Many times I suggested he just use notes and talk without reading. He would have none of that. He said lots of pastors do it this way.
So for the next six months, I enjoyed wonderful fellowship with some of the nicest people on the planet.
Then in April, 2012, Jacob asked Carla and I if we would go to a conference with him in Canada because David couldn’t go and help him with the sales table. We were both excited – all expenses paid!
Carla and I shared a hotel room. She is one of the funniest ladies I know. The two of us really bonded that weekend – we had lots of laughs together. Then one night as we lay in the side-by-side hotel beds, we got to talking about Beth Hebron. I casually mentioned my relief that David took it upon himself to apologize to all in the church for his plagiarism. She sat up in bed astounded. She had no idea what I was talking about. She recalls a conversation in which he mentioned that he had been quoting others in his messages without attribution and her reaction was – well that’s no big deal. When I told her what it was about she was flabbergasted.
She called David when we got back from Canada. He admitted that she was the only one he wasn’t up front with. They were long-time friends and, unlike others in Beth Hebron, the only one who worked with him closely in Moriel, and even at his secular job where he managed a yellow pages warehouse. She later told me she could forgive him, but her husband was not very happy about it.
Three uneventful months passed. Then one day in July of that year, all of us were sitting at David’s feet listening to him read his sermon to us. Carla was sitting across the room from me. I was almost falling asleep, my eyes getting drowsy – which is what happens when you’re listening to monotone reading — when I heard the words, “as I watched the dolphins playing in the ocean outside my house. . .”
Carla and I snapped to attention and our eyes locked on each other – a surprised look on our faces. Where are the dolphins in the hills of North Pittsburgh? You can’t even see the Ohio River from there, I’m sure we were both thinking.
So as soon as I got home that Sunday, I got straight to work. I had taken notes, written down suspicious sentences during the sermon. I searched those phrases and they all hit on Warren Wiersbe . I asked Betty to send me the audio of the message and she did so. To my dismay, his entire message was from the same commentary that he used the previous October. The only time he used his own words, was when he looked up from his papers and made an off-the-cuff comment.
I called Betty and she said I must be exaggerating. She was going to check it out herself. The next day she called crying. She had been up all night going from one audio tape after another and discovered that David had been doing this for five years.
What upset her the most was that whenever a guest speaker sat in for David when he was out of town, he insisted they still get taped so he could hear them. She told me that he had been really tough on what a relative of hers taught and hurt his feelings. For a serial plagiarist to look down on the guest speaker, to Betty was the height of hypocrisy.
Then Betty called Carla and told her what was going on. Carla helped her to check other audios and they kept getting the same results. Warren Wiersbe was our virtual pastor. Now Jacob Prasch would call us a bunch of nosy busy-bodies – searching out things that are none of our business. He would just see us as a bunch of tale-bearers who go house-to-house.
But it gets worse . . . much worse!
Carla calls. She updates me on her and Betty’s findings. All of us were shocked – them more than me. I hadn’t invested years of my life under the delusion that I had a real pastor. My Calvary Chapel pastor in California was one that had the true pastoral calling.
At this point, no one had said anything to David. As Carla and I lamented on the phone together, I asked her the question. Have you checked the Moriel magazines and David’s column, Back Pages, he writes for it? She said it hadn’t occurred to her. She had all the issues of the publication so she went right to work. The next time she called, she gave me the news: all of David’s bylines were Wiersbe’s with some little changes of words here and there. That went back a couple of years, maybe longer.
So the men of the church went to work. They formed an elder committee out of the handful of guys in the fellowship. They then took the matter to Jacob.
He was going to be in the States and made the effort to sit down with everyone. He said he told David to write an apology to Warren Wiersbe . JJP’s concern was that Moriel could be sued for the plagiarism. And that he would keep David on as U.S administrator, but that he would no longer be allowed to participate in the ministry side of things.
David read his letter of resignation. That ended Beth Hebron. There was no one in the group that felt led to lead. Longtime friendships with David came to an end… even with a married couple who rented the upstairs apartment in Pittsburgh from David. They moved out and refused to speak to him again. That hit him the hardest, as they were expecting their first child and he was to be the godfather.
Jacob insisted that everyone put a cone of silence over the matter. Then some objected, and he said to just keep it within Moriel and not outside. He got a lot of OKs and nods of agreement. I sat there just staring at the Bible on my lap and said nothing.
Had I not been there – Beth Hebron might still be going on and David Lister would still hold the title of ‘pastor.’
I noticed a real attitude change of Jacob towards me from that time on. I dared to go against one in the Moriel inner circle, even if he was out of line. That’s JJP’s test of loyalty and I failed. Jacob accused me of unforgiveness, but I never took this as an offense towards me. I harbored no bad feelings toward David and still don’t. It certainly lowered my opinion of him, but we remained civil. But to JJP, you must stand behind them right or wrong. What they didn’t realize – maybe they do now – my loyalty is to my Master Christ Jesus. If you hurt the least of His sheep, you touch Him. It’s His forgiveness they need to seek.
Not even a month later, it was business as usual – the Moriel conference had Lister up front leading the group in prayer and fielding questions, waxing eloquently at the resource table in the back of the hotel ballroom. I was not really surprised, but Don and Betty and the others, except for Carla, were so angry when they heard about it.
It was later reported to me that Betty had totally backslid, even promoting the gay pride month online. Déjà vu all over again – remember Mira? I contacted Jacob and told him about the situation and pleaded with him to talk to Betty and bring her back to Jesus. He just gave me the brushoff and said something to the effect that she’s just a drunk and he didn’t care.
Betty had often had us pray for what she called her “besetting sin” without actually coming out and telling us what that was – well, the only way Jacob could have known what that sin was is he must have heard it from David, her pastor. (She never did have any fascination for Jacob.) But JJP can’t keep any confidence. He’d blab it to the world.
The last time I saw David Lister was around 2017. A new Moriel paid staffer I did not know, caught me in the parking lot of the church that sponsored the event. He told me he heard about the break-up of the Moriel church in Pittsburgh and began asking me leading questions. I affirmed what he was saying – after all this was within Moriel.
So I told David about the conversation, and his response was, “well at least I didn’t teach false doctrine.” (No you didn’t; Warren Wiersbe was pretty orthodox.) I’ve heard him say that several times. It reveals that he does not see the gravity of the situation – or he’s in denial. Putting your name to someone else’s writing, even repeating the words that he met with people he’d never met speaking in 1st person as Wiersbe, is not even done by the most infamous of plagiarists. But all he can say is he fed the sheep some good food. My response, we’re all literate – we can read Wiersbe with no help from you.
Tempest in a Teapot
In April, 2012, I took it upon myself to help Jacob Prasch’s ministry and the circulation of his messages by creating a podcast of his teachings on the blogtalk network where I had been doing a weekly show since 2009. At that time JJP was not hostile toward those who believed in a Pretrib rapture, so as long as I had editing control, I added him to the Rapture Ready Radio line-up. With his permission I came up with the name for the podcast: ‘Grounded in the Word’, with Jacob Prasch. Here’s the intro I wrote for the show, recorded with the voice of the founder of RRR Matt Buff (he turned the reins over to me in 2015).
“It’s time for ‘Grounded in the Word’ with your teacher Jacob Prasch. Jacob teaches the whole council of God using the same Jewish interpretation of the Old Testament as Jesus and His apostles did 2,000 years ago. You will want to grab a pen and paper and take notes as you get grounded in God’s Word – your best defense against falling for error in these perilous times.”
I produced that program weekly for the next two years – gratis. A Christian FM radio station in central California took a liking to it. They wanted to air it weekly. We gave them permission, but their demands added to my workload. They had to have the audio at a certain length – to the second. So, before I could turn a program over to them, I had to re-edit it to suit their parameters.
I double-edited the show for a year or so and it took up a lot of my time. It included pouring through his teachings from a portable hard drive the ministry supplied me with. Then finding the best 28 minutes to edit into a radio-worthy product devoid of UMs, coughs, and sound gaps. I also edited out certain comments in the older tapes of things he said that he would no longer agree with. I knew him well enough to know what those things were. He name-dropped those he would no longer support. I watched his back on those things.
In early 2014, I became a bit disenchanted as things in Pittsburgh were becoming a strain. I was able to find another Moriel volunteer to take over the editing. He was a young man, one of three fans of Jacob’s who all seemed to be trying to position themselves near their idol. Mikey was very motivated.
I mailed him the hard drive after spending hours on the phone instructing him on what to do. He would send me the finished MP3 and I would upload it to RRR’s dashboard and I believe I left it up to him to send it also to the radio station.
The quality took a terrible hit. Mikey didn’t understand Jacob well enough to know when he misspoke or said something he no longer believed. He left in coughs and snorts and the quality hit the skids. The director of RRR was forced to drop ‘Grounded in the Word’ after putting up with it for several months. I never did get the hard drive returned, though I got lots of empty promises.
That brings us to the next Moriel fiasco. I’ll make it short, since this installment is a bit too long.
On New Years Day, 2015, Mikey got his revenge. He sent Jacob an email accusing me of “badmouthing” him behind his back. He took a screen shot of two of my replies to a facebook post about rapture timing. He claimed I was blasting him. I simply responded to someone who espoused their own view of rapture timing, neither of us mentioning Jacob or his book. He also told Jacob that my dear friend Jewel Grewe’s publication, Herescope, was targeting him but not by name, simply for showing opposition to the “intra-seal” rapture. But I guess we have no right to our opinion of the rapture?
Jacob’s first reply to Mikey was, “Herescope and frankly Jackie are “small potatoes”. Out of curiosity, what are they saying? What is Jackie saying exactly?”
So he sent this to him:
Jacob took the ball and ran with it. He blasted me to the entire group of Moriellites in emails. The CC list was quite long; and who knows how big his BCC list was. I didn’t even know about it until someone from that list contacted me. Jacob sure didn’t.
Deborah Menelaws, the producer of The Daniel Project documentary (more on that in a future installment) came to my defense. She looked into it; saw the entire context and wrote to Jacob.
I can’t believe you were sent Jackie’s 2 quotes entirely out of context.
That’s NOT good.
I sent the WHOLE conversation. Showing she was responding to somebody else…
Thank goodness we don’t do that with what you write, or scripture.
Later she sent what, if printed, would be a two-page response outlining the matter to the entire CC group. She proved that Mikey was lying. Mikey had no choice but to admit that he got it wrong. Rather than getting an apology from JJP, he asked me to post in the thread that I had not read Harpazo. I can’t believe, looking back, that I complied. He then wrote to the entire list saying that I made things right by admitting I’d never read the book. He told them it was all just a “tempest in a tea pot.”
What Deborah and I didn’t know at the time. Our challenge would put us in the Moriel Doghouse.
My Moriel Memories — Part IV
My Moriel Memories — Part V
[This article, along with other first person accounts you can find at christiansentinel.com, is a portion of my autobiography which is a work in progress to be expanded upon for the book. I praise the Lord for His provision in my retirement, allowing me to finish the course to which He has called me.]