Kingdom of Jesus Christ missionaries in the congregation’s Los Angeles and Hawaii worship centers were shocked early morning Wednesday, Jan. 29 when armed federal agents conducted a surprise raid as a result of alleged human trafficking activities and allegations of illegal fundraising.
Interviews with them showed that the FBI had been given the wrong information that they were armed, being mistreated, and held against their will due to accusations of human trafficking.
Annabelle Juarana, 45, a church missionary for 26 years, had just woken and was preparing for morning devotion, in the Van Nuys location, when she heard intense crashing. “The door to our house had been broken down and armed men had guns aimed at us with red laser lights. In all my 26 years as a missionary sent all over the world for the Kingdom, I had never experienced anything like this.”
Kapitanna, 22, who was born in Lancaster, California, and decided to serve God full-time five years ago, said, that as they lined up outside to be handcuffed, helicopters were circling the compound, telling them to raise their hands. “ This was something that we only saw in the movies and now it was happening to us. We’re just church missionaries here, we have no guns or anything. We have nothing to hide.”
They were gathered in the worship center and were all questioned by the agents, if they were forced to do fundraising against their will, and if their documents such as their passports were taken from them.
Jennifer Callao, 35, a leader who has been serving when the kingdom workers had barely anything to eat, relates “ I told them we were very happy here and we were well provided by the ministry. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have remained here all this time,” she said, “ I have seen the kingdom from the time it was still very humble, until the time it has been blessed. There is no need for us to be involved in any kind of fraudulent or illegal activity.”
Callao also told them that is it not true their passports are taken from them. She keeps her own passport and legal documents.
She said they were all traumatized by the early morning attack. “ I told the FBI that there was no need to let us go through this, letting us feel like we were the worst criminals. I told the agents that we could have let them in the gate, accommodated them willingly and answered all their questions if we had known they wanted to come in.”
She said that senior citizens and very sick people, were left to stand outside in the cold morning air without any jackets.
“They told me they were informed that we had heavily armed guards here. We told them they were misinformed about us here. They were very apologetic and said they were just doing their job,” she said.
Meanwhile, the church’s Hawaii congregation in Waipahu, Hawaii, was also raided. at exactly the same time, by more than 50 FBI agents.
Chelcey Guerrero, 27, spoke of how two agents held she and one-year old baby Moanna at gunpoint. “ We kept telling them she was only a baby, they did not have to do that.”
Her father, Rolando Guerrero, 88, could not hear the agents instructions to raise his hands, so he walked away and they were agitated, pointing the guns at him.
“He is deaf, he can’t hear you!” her mother, Venie, had to yell.
The FBI raid in Van Nuys happened as agents also visited Kingdom of Jesus Christ compounds in San Francisco, Delano, Virginia, Houston, Missouri, and New York. They also visited long-time members,
Ruby Ragel, 70, one of the Kingdom’s pioneer members in America, who has been serving as a part-time missionary since 1995, said FBI agents who visited her San Bernardino home, wondered why they all had the same answer. “They wondered why we all said we were very happy. And I even invited them and gave them flyers so they can attend our Sunday worship.”
The surprise raid resulted in the arrest of three of the church leaders, who were supposedly in charge of what has been called “immigration fraud.”
The FBI was acting on an affidavit filed to the United States District Court against them for conspiracy to commit immigration fraud last Jan 27, by former members of the said church.
The allegations were categorically denied by Pastor Apollo C. Quiboloy, Executive Pastor of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, in a press statement Wednesday evening, saying that “under no circumstances does the Kingdom of Jesus Christ or its members engage in any act that violates the law,” stressing that they are missionaries that have “ chosen to go into the world to preach the gospel to every creature.”
The statement also said that the filing of a criminal complaint against the three administrators in the United States was part of a “grand conspiracy of lies concocted by men and women who were once part of KJC but struck an alliances with forces jealous of the meteoric rise of Pastor ACQ and the KJC.
It also said that witnesses who had volunteered information had committed various misdemeanors, who had chosen to break ranks and invent cases against their former leader.
In a televised press conference Wednesday night in Davao City, Philippines, Atty. Israelito Torreon, KJC Counsel, stressed, the Pastor Apollo C. Quiboloy’s willingness to cooperate with US authorities to clear the matter. “The truth will come out and we will vigorously defend the KOJC administrators unsupported charges. We look forward to our day in court.”