They Kept Us as Slaves: AP Reveals Claims Against Church
SPINDALE, N.C. (AP) — When Andre Oliveira answered the call to leave his Word of Faith Fellowship congregation in Brazil to move to the mother church in North Carolina at the age of 18, his passport and money were confiscated by church leaders — for safekeeping, he said he was told.
Trapped in a foreign land, he said he was forced to work 15 hours a day, usually for no pay, first cleaning warehouses for the secretive evangelical church and later toiling at businesses owned by senior ministers. Any deviation from the rules risked the wrath of church leaders, he said, ranging from beatings to shaming from the pulpit.
Just had one of those “Ah hah!” moments. Last year I walked by a group of panhandlers, apparently a family, on my way into a mall in Weatherford. There was a couple and 3 small children. They had a well crafted sign in perfect English informing passersby that the man had lost his job and they needed money for milk for the children. A security guard was trying to talk to the group in Spanish, he had apparently already tried English. They didn’t seem to understand Spanish either, at least not well enough to really communicate. I recognized something in the man’s accent though and offered to help. I translated the security guard’s English warning into Portuguese. Sure enough, the family was Brazilian. I told them they had to leave because what they were doing was illegal. I also asked how they had gotten the sign. The man said it came from “a church.” He did not really know what it said. I tried to give them the address of my church’s outreach program, which was close by and could help with food but they wouldn’t hear of it. The security guard called, not the police, but CPS because the group had children out in the heat begging. The group piled into the minivan and left. The vehicle had North Carolina license plates.