Cult Leader’s Response to Biblical Counsel

Here is a letter that was sent one year ago to Michael Howard and Harri Wiherkoski by some Christians attending the meetings in Tampere, Finland. (Out of Africa).  Some were very mature Christians and about 60-70 years of age, so it was not just some bunch of rebellious kids. Very gentle and loving in their approach, yet bringing the same issues that are being told in all the testimonies today. They never got an answer from Michael. Some of them left the fellowship and then later on Marko heard Michael calling some of them rebellious or “backslidden” etc.
The typical backstabbing thing. 

Dear Pastors,

Thank you for the newsletters that inform us well about the activities of Out of Africa, Kalibu Academy and other projects in Malawi.

The latest newsletter raised some issues that we have thought about both together and individually. Now we want to share these thoughts also with you.

You wrote: ”Many have come and left offended, because they simply cannot understand the depth of what the Lord is saying and doing.”

We are a group of people that came excitedly to listen to the Pastor 2,5 years ago. We sincerely wanted to participate in the intercession and teaching about revival. We believe that together with Pastor Howard we understood the depth of what the Lord wants to do and say. After all, that’s what the Pastor had taught us already for several years.

Consequently, the inability to understand this was not the reason why so many people have left Huutavan Ääni just like us.

Part of a prosperous church is reciprocity between the leaders and members, not commanding in a pyramid structure led by only one person. We believe you too understand this if you are before God with sincere and pure hearts. It is not God’s will that only the thoughts of one person are considered as right. The Holy Spirit draws people in if the spirit in the church is right. If there is no Holy Spirit, the church will not prosper. The issue cannot be that all the church members are wrong or rebellious. We think that Pastor Howard should also consider the possibility that he does something that prevents God from working in spite of all the prayers and sincerity of others.

We have noticed that some reasons for people leaving include the following:

  1. Controlling pyramid structure.

Dictating things from above may be appropriate for the headmaster of an African school, but here in Finland it is not fitting for a church leader. We don’t live in Africa, where the colonial policy has taught people to act as subordinates. We have been taught to use our own judgment and take initiative of our own.

We should obey God in everything, because He is our Lord and Father. We don’t believe that it is according to God’s Spirit for one person to have absolute power in the church. In this church there is a pyramid leadership led by only one man.

  1. Constant slandering of church members in sermons and conversations.

In Pastor Howard’s sermons church members are called miseries and loosers. God has created us in His own image. “With tongue we bless our God and Father, and with tongue we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God.” Jam. 3:9. We believe that if the leader of the church constantly calls people names in a negative way, he calls these negative spirits in the church. “Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.” Jam. 3:10

  1. Constantly criticizing other pastors and speakers.

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” Matt. 7–2.

  1. Lack of apostolic order.

If the apostolic order is talked about in sermons and books, where then are the elders and deacons of this church? It is not enough to say that we are not ready. Most church members have been believers for a long time, so we wonder why the apostolic order is not followed in the church.

  1. Continual shouting in the sermons.

In Finland shouting has been always considered as uncivilized behavior. We are not uneducated or stupid, but can get the point already with normal tone of voice. Many church members have tried to address the shouting issue several times, but Pastor Howard has not been able to adapt his sermon style to better suit his listeners. We agree that shouting can be ok in Africa, but now Pastor is teaching Finnish people in Finland.

The reason for people leaving the church is not that they would not be able to receive such strong sermons, as the Pastor says. Instead, the reason is that the Pastor does not receive any kind of feedback from anybody, although church members may have clear views about some persisting problem. One example is Pastor’s small female “fan club”. The Pastor should have addressed the problem already long time ago, because the Bible commands us to fix our eyes on Christ, not on pastors or other people. Such thing is idolatry. This problem really belongs to the Pastor, not only to those women.

Spirit of control in the church

We agree with you that God is the God of order.

Similarly we agree that the members of the church should obey the leaders of the church, if and when they are in Spirit and Truth. “Nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.” 1. Pet. 5:3. We understand this to mean that the leaders should not subdue the church in a wrong way either.

We should follow Jesus Christ. Paul says: “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” Gal. 5:1. A good church shepherd leads his flock like Jesus, not lifting himself up above all criticism.

We should resist the wrong spirit of control, like the Bible also tells us.

The Holy Spirit cannot work in the church where there is a spirit of control, God does not give His anointing to anything like that. For example, in the newsletter you wrote: “During the intercession we don’t allow any criticism or judgment.”

During the past few moths we have come to some meetings hoping that the above things would have changed, but this has not happened. Instead, Harri has caught the shouting as well. Also, people are still called names and slandered. Considering that the leader of the church is a man of such wide reading, listening to such language is absolutely appalling, as well as the arrogant manner the church members are being treated.

We hope you to understand that there are many people and intercession groups in Finland that cry to God in Spirit and in Truth. Many other churches organize regularly prayer meetings in Tampere alone, and it would be good if the church recognized those as members of the body of Christ and blessed them instead of cursing them.

Praying for you and wishing God’s blessing for your life

A group of God’s servants hoping for change



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