TBN seeks legal advice on returning ill man’s donation

Pastor says give God credit for businesses

Pastor Andre Roebert, the controversial River Ministries head, broke his silence to the Daily Dispatch yesterday.

He reiterated that his congregation’s tithes and offerings were not used to fund his many business ventures.

“The ministry and business activities are kept separate,” he said from the River Park building overlooking East London’s Buffalo River.

If anything, it was the other way around.

“I’ve been in business longer than in ministry,” he said.

Responding to a Dispatch article last week in which the Bhisho-based Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) refused to return donations from a man suffering from a mental illness, Roebert said they were awaiting legal advice.

He pointed out that he was not directly involved. His father, Bernard Roebert, had been station manager and director of TBN Ciskei at the time.

Andre Roebert said he is chief executive of TBN Africa, which broadcasts outside South Africa to other parts of the continent.

TBN Ciskei was not controlled by River Ministries: “I’m not a director of that board and have no say over it,” he said.

He was, however, aware of the problem. The family of mentally ill Manjo Maphuma wants TBN Ciskei to return donations made over seven years, including an amount of R90000.

Roebert said the issue had a lot of legal implications.

He said TBN Ciskei’s delay in responding to the media should not be seen in a bad light since the network was seeking legal counsel.

TBN: The Blasphemy Network

Trintiy Broadcasting Network (TBN), led by founders Paul and Jan Crouch, is the world’s largest religious TV network. It claims to be a Christian ministry. However, while some legitimate ministries and teachers (those who adhere to the orthodox teachings and practices of historical Christianity) appear on TBN, the network promotes such an incredible amount of heretical material – including extremist Word-Faith teachings – that it is often referred to as “The Blasphemy Network.”

Asked about the acquisition of the old BKB building, which currently houses River Ministry, Roebert said it was purchased for the relatively low price of R4,5 million at a time when the wool industry was in a slump.

The River Park Trust owned the building and revenue was generated through renting out parts of it. “The business generates wealth for the ministry,” he said.

One tenant is Link FM.

“They are not part of River Ministries, they are a community radio station and are just tenants of River Park,” he said.

He said River Ministries supported the station financially a few years ago, “like we have many other organisations”. He was subsequently asked to serve on their board in 2002.

“I serve on a lot of boards to provide integrity and as part of what God has done in my life,” he said.

Roebert said the River Corporation’s decision to buy the Halyards Hotel in Port Alfred came about after years of struggling to find accommodation places for church camps and conferences.

“We needed a facility for members to go to on a frequent basis. Whenever we tried to book places for the various missions we were not allowed to book too far in advance and it was problematic. God spoke clearly to me and said why not buy a hotel,” he said.

He conceded that alcohol was sold at the hotel but said this was because it was a requirement of the star rating. Liquor was available but not promoted, he said.

Last week’s Dispatch article revealed that Roebert and his wife Jenny ran a vast network of businesses, including a game farm, a printing company and River Air Charter Services, which has a jet stationed at Lanseria Airport.

“One has to remember that all this is not about me, it’s about what God has done through us. God has to get the glory for all this,” said Roebert.

• Original title: Pastor says give God credit for businesses: Legal advice sought on returning ill man’s donation

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Religion News Blog posted this on Thursday July 19, 2007.
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