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Hebrew Roots, The Four Waves & Their Roots

What Happened in Africa?

Matthew 6:26

“Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you!

For so did their fathers to the false prophets.”

God draws each and every person to Himself from every nation. Race or culture does not change that many will reject Him. What is expected of each individual in regard to Biblical obedience is the same, regardless of location in the world. The truth of each person’s embracement of Jesus Christ is found in the very basic doctrine of the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13 and Luke 8. 

Notice Luke 8: v. 15 “But they on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience. “ v.18 “Take heed therefore how ye hear…”

 We know that if a person accepts Jesus Christ he becomes new, will be rooted in Biblical truth and will not turn back. 2 Corinthians 5:17

"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."

Those who were not of the Lord, although giving that appearance, will turn back because, as John wrote in 1 John 2:19,20:

“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.”

“Christianity” is not necessarily the Gospel of Jesus Christ as indicated by the denominations in “power” in Africa and throughout the world. Jesus said, in Matthew 7:14, “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”

David Lamb wrote in his 1987 book, The Africans, that in Africa, “The largest denomination is Catholicism, which has upwards of 75 million followers and twelve cardinals in Africa…The Protestant Church has an estimated 50 million members. The majority of Ethiopia’s 31 million people are members of the Coptic Church. In many areas the Africans denomination depends solely on which missionaries got there first. In northwest Kenya, for example, almost everyone is a Quaker.” 1

The Religions of the Oppressed: A Study of Modern Messianic Cults’ historian, Dr. Vittorio Lanternari wrote of events which took place in Africa and other places that have had oppressed people:

“…The growth of religion among the natives allows no place for passivity or acquiescence; hence, the so-called ‘conversions’ are more apparent than real, touching only the surface of native belief and never reaching into their true religious life. These are facts which many enlightened missionaries willingly admit.”

“Bengt Sundkler, commenting on this situation, maintains that it can be demonstrated that groups as well as individuals (in South Africa) have gone from the mission church to the Ethiopian, from this to the Zionist, and finally crossing the bridge of native Zionism, have returned to African animism, whence they started out. Referring to Melanasia…others…have arrived at identical conclusions.” 2  

In his book "Bantu Prophets in South Africa," B.G.M. Sundkler described the Bantu or Ethiopian independent churches as having such names as, "Zion", "Jerusalem", "Apostolic", "Full Gospel" or "Pentecostal." He acknowledges the source of their beliefs to have been John Alexander Dowie.

 "...The initial force behind this movement was an apocalyptic Church in the United States, the Christian Catholic Apostolic Church in Zion, founded in 1896 by John Alexander Dowie, "First Apostle and General Overseer." The main teaching of the church was "divine healing", "triunne immersion", and the conviction that the second coming of the Lord was "near at hand". In 1906 this "theocracy", as they called it, in Chicago...Dowie's second-in-command,  W.G. Voliva---described in a sermon by him as "that scoundrel Voliva, miserable little cur, traitor and thief"--took the lead. He is known for his predictions of the Return of the Lord on certain recurrent dates and for the fervor with which he opposes Copernicus: the earth is flat according to Voliva's Bible. The Zion "theocracy" in Chicago eventually split up into six different American groups. And that was the kind of Church which was to attempt to save the Africans lingering in utter darkness..." 3

Vinson Synan, a Pentecostal, related the spread of John Alexander Dowie’s, Charles Parham’s, and John G. Lake’s Pentecostal theology into Africa. Lake is acclaimed as one of the great Pentecostal missionaries.

“...After his pentecostal experience, Lake abandoned the insurance business in order to answer a long-standing call to minister in South Africa. In April 1908, he led a large missionary party to Johannesburg where he began to spread the Pentecostal message throughout the nation. Coming with him was his wife and seven children as well as Holiness evangelists Thomas Hezmalhalch and J.C. Lehman…"

“Lake…succeeded in founding two large and influential pentecostal churches in Southern Africa. The white branch took the name "Apostolic Faith Mission" (AFM) in 1910, borrowed from the name of the famous mission on Azusa Street. This is the church that eventually gave David duPlessis to the world as "Mr. Pentecost." The Black branch eventually developed into the "Zion Christian Church" (ZCC) which by 1993 claimed no less than 6,000,000 members and, despite some doctrinal and cultural variations, was recognized as the largest Christian church in the nation…”

“In addition to the AFM and ZCC churches, the Pentecostal Holiness Church in South Africa was founded in 1913 under the leadership of Lehman who had come with Lake in 1908. In 1917, the Assemblies of God entered South Africa when the American church accepted the mission already established by R.M. Turney. The Church of God, (Cleveland, Tennessee) came to the country in 1951 through amalgamation with the Full Gospel Church. In retrospect, the work of Lake was the most influential and enduring of all the South African pentecostal missions endeavors. According to Cecil Rhodes, the South African "Empire Builder," "His (Lake's) message has swept Africa. He has done more toward South Africa's future peace than any other man." Perhaps the highest accolade was given by no less a personage than Mahatma Ghandi who said of Lake, "Dr. Lake's teachings will eventually be accepted by the entire world." 4 [bolding added]  

Dowie, Parham and Lake believed in entire sanctification and that salvation in Christ meant a complete deliverance from illness, hence, no use of medicine was allowed. The Africans, who already believed that all illness was demonic or part of witchcraft, readily embraced these teachings. The theology of Pentecostals and Charismatics was then and is still today, well received for that reason. The physical manifestations, trances, convulsions, tongues and slaying in the spirit are no different than what was seen regularly in sorcery, magic, shamanism and other paganism.  

Quoting Sundkler, Dr. Vittorio Lanternari agrees with the belief that the:

“…natives are drawn to the Zionist churches chiefly by their eagerness to be healed…sickness…caused by the presence of the devil in the human person or by the evil spell of a sorcerer.”

“…By waging vigorous battles against witchcraft, the Zionist church is relieving native society of one of it most painful burdens---the fear of black magic and sorcery. Incantations, chants and incomprehensible words, with which the Zionist service is replete, satisfy the people’s atavistic love of mystery and heighten their faith in the invisible power of God. The use of emetics, which combine ordinary local beverages with imported cathartics, soap, and salts, is an important part of the ritual…they drink the potions and they vomit. All of this is accompanied by prayer and singing and finally by a state of trance. The many taboos which govern the lives of the faithful Zionists, as they do the lives of the Ethiopians, affect sexual relations, food (pork is prohibited to them as it is the Jews) and all medicines dispensed by the Europeans, which are described as “the work of the devil.” “…worship of the Christian angels and of the Holy Ghost, whom the natives regard as the spirits of the dead. In many pagan cults the living become possessed by the spirit of a deceased person, who acts through them, but in the Zionist doctrine it is the Holy Ghost who works in the believer, thereby carrying on the tradition…the angels demand animal sacrifices in return for their aid…the Zionist movement assures its followers of God’s imminent coming to earth to redeem the faithful.” 5

"African Zionism is patterned on the Christian Catholic Apostolic Church … using Mount Zion as a spiritual symbol of liberation and presaging a New Jerusalem. From the American church the Africans have taken the basic belief that physical and spiritual health are divine gifts to be attained through baptism. Performed by a threefold immersion in a stream or pool always called “the New Jordan.” In a new guise, this continues the tradition of the southern Bantus, who practiced ritual bathing to attain spiritual as well as physical purification. A symbolic repetition of the baptismal ceremony, used mainly to admit new members to the church, occurs during regular worship services when the celebrant washes the feet of the faithful…Zionist liturgy also reflects the continuing attachment to exorcism and magic and culminates in the coming forward of the sick…Each one in turn is vigorously shaken by the celebrant to expel the demons from the ailing body. After which two other practitioners, having repeated the first ritual, perform aspersions and the imposition of hands on the postulant, while the congregation intones hymns. Healing is part of the oldest Zulu tradition and is so appealing to the natives in these newer forms that a Zionist preacher once described his church as “more like a hospital than like a chapel.” 6. 

When Jesus healed people it was so that He would be glorified and no other.  The (late) John Wimber and (late) Lonnie Frisbee and many others traveled extensively throughout the world and especially South Africa. In his Vineyard testimony tape Frisbee shared of his ability to heal many and stated that his healings, which were filled with failed attempts, were no different in many cases than what was done by witch doctors.  

“…In South Africa in every single one of the meetings the warts were dropping off people’s hands, right in the meeting, instantaneously gone. Big warts…to them it’s nothing, because they have witch doctors, wart witch doctors in Africa and you could go to that witch doctor and he does a little thing and throws smoke in the air, gives you something and the warts are supposed to fall off and sometimes they do…” 7


The Way International began with Victor Paul Wierwille. Wierwille developed many of his theological ideas by plagiarizing from such writers as E. W. Bullinger, George Lamsa, Kenyon and several others. The Way International teachings include: Jesus Christ is not God, denial of the three persons of the Godhead, i.e. no Father, Son and Holy Spirit, 4 Mary was not the mother of God come in the flesh, but the mother of a man, the Old and New Testaments were originally written in Aramaic, pro-abortion, bad seed theology, mass weddings, stockpiling of weapons, American holocaust and invasion, them or us mentality and much more. 5

Victor Paul Wierwille was eventually part of the Jesus People movement, and is remembered by the Jesus Movement website. 

".... Believing that much of the Christian was in error, in 1955 Wierwille founded The Way to educate young men and women in the "correct way of biblical education." ... The Way International raised the ire of other Christian groups, labelled a "cult" because of their antitrinitarian views. One of the largest of all the extremist groups of the Jesus People movement, by the mid-1970s the organization boasted over 20,000 active members..." 1 

It is noteworthy that it was Victor Wierwille who went to the House of Acts in 1968 and gave Ted Wise, the Heefners, Doops and Lonnie and Connie Frisbee, and several others, their understanding of the Holy Spirit. Wierwille worked miracles, cast out demons--which he did while teaching them about the Holy Spirit, as well as teaching them how to speak tongues, all in one night. The Heefners and Doops joined Wierwille and helped set up his national organization. 2

Matthew 7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

When first challenged by Ted Wise, who was one of the founding 'fathers' of the Jesus people movement, about his belief in Christ and even though he rejected the divinity of Jesus Christ, Wierwille passed with flying colors.

"The first person Wierwille met was Ted Wise, who put him through a test he couldn’t possibly fail. Wise said, "You know, it says in I John you test the spirits. We usually ask everybody here to confess the Lord Jesus Christ, or they freak out and they can’t. So where do you stand on this?"

"And that pleased Wierwille," said Heefner, "he liked that up-frontness. And he gave his witness. So by the time he was through with two or three minutes of talking, we said, ‘Okay, fella, we believe you.’ " 3

Lonnie and Connie Frisbee and the Wises began taking Wierwille's PFAL classes and then discontinued. Lonnie then went to join Chuck Smith in Costa Mesa's Calvary Chapel, which caused an explosion on growth. Frisbee eventually joined with John Wimber, who had also been with Chuck Smith. Wimber later split and helped start the Vineyard movement with Frisbee joining him and also others. For More on Lonnie Frisbee and John Wimber, See: What Happened in Africa?; Part 2: Taking the Mark; Quaking Like Quakers; Wheat and Tares; More Manifestations LESS Bible, etc.. 

For More on The Way International beliefs please see: Michael John Rood Continuing The WAY

Next Section:

African Bantu Prophets and Ethiopian Churches

Previous Section: Sin Filled Foundations


1. p. 143 The Africans, David Lamb, Vintage Books Edition 1987

2. p. 250-251 Dr. Vittorio Lanternari; The Religions of the Oppressed: A Study of Modern Messianic Cults; New American Library (A Mentor Book), 1963

3. p. 48 "Bantu Prophets in South Africa," B.G.M.Sundkler; for IAI by Oxford University Press, Second Edition, 1976, orig. 1948 

4.  Vinson Synan, Ph.D. ; Christian Historical Preservation Society. John G. Lake: A Man of Healing.

5. op.cit. Lanternari, p.42

6. Ibid., p.43-44

7. Testimony: Lonnie Frisbee; 5/11/80; #003; Anaheim Vineyard; A Teaching of Anaheim Vineyard

Update Footnotes

1.       click Leaders

2. The Cult That Snapped: A Journey Into the Way International, Karl Kahler, 1999,  p. 60-61

3. Ibid, p. 60

4. JESUS CHRIST IS NOT...A Closer Look at The Way's Efforts to "Divide" The Word About Jesus Christ;


Copyright . All articles are the sole property of and Vicky Dillen. All Scripture King James Version unless otherwise stated.

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