Corruption in the Philippines

From: Ron Halbrook, 104570,155
To: John Isaac Edwards,
Date: 3/17/1999 1:11 PM

RE: RE: Glenn Hamilton's Charges Contra Jim McDonald

Dear John Isaac,

Thank you for your honest inquiries about how Jim McDonald and I conduct our work in the Philippines, growing out of the charges made by Glenn Hamilton. I do not know Glenn personally, though I have heard of him. I have been working with Jim in the Philippines since 1995 and my answers will reflect our work together.

1. Do we use the Lord's money to pay transportation costs for preachers to come to hear our lessons at central locations? We select some central locations to present lessons primarily designed to help preachers because it is so tiring to be constantly moving from place to place. It is not possible to visit all the places from which preachers might come. Therefore, these brethren must incur some expenses in order to come to us. Money is NEVER given out carte blanche to people for any purpose. We at times ask the host to list preachers who may need assistance with transportation costs in getting back home. This is done because so many are so very poor, and some have scraped together enough money to come without knowing how they will get back home simply because they are so hungry to hear the gospel. This does not involve airplane tickets and big dollars, but a few pesos for those who need it to be able to ride a jeepney (a public conveyance, usually crowded).

2. Do we help provide food for those who come? The local host prepares food for those who come. It is very simple fare, mostly rice. It is not unusual that the host will borrow money at exorbitant interest rates to cover this expense. Rather than leave him to bear this burden, we generally help to bear this burden in the following way. We ask him to give us a list of his food expenses, and we try to cover it, since our teaching program is responsible for creating this debt. We have noticed at times that all these expenses are not listed. The Philippine brethren are very sacrificial. We do not think it right to leave them in debt as a result of our teaching programs.

3. Do we send out invitations offering incentives for people to come (free food, free transportation for all, all-you-can eat three times per day, etc.)? No, we do not do this. Some times the local host sends out an announcement giving such information as the dates, themes, times, format, etc. of our meetings. The only incentive we offer is the opportunity to hear the proclamation of God's Word.

4. Is it our usual practice at the end of our meetings to pass out money in envelopes to all who claim to be preachers, in the name of benevolence? No, that is not our practice. Money is never given out carte blanche on any occasion. At times special needs are brought to our attention, relative to a brother or a congregation. Often, we are not able to help at all. When we can help, we first investigate to learn whether the brother or church is faithful and whether the need is legitimate. If Glenn thinks he saw a different practice than this in 1994, he should have approached the brethren involved to inquire about the circumstances and should have rebuked them if he found their answers to be unscriptural. I can positively say Jim and I do not follow the procedure Glenn described in our classes.

5. Did Jim raise over $500,000 for starving brethren, distribute the money to men living far away from the affected areas, ignore the needs of the poorest churches, waste most of the money on preachers not in need, cause many churches to split, and promise to bring another $500,000? No, the combined figure for what Jim and I both raised was about $400,000. We went to each region and met with brethren in a central location, rather than asking men to travel from far-away areas. (The one exception is Palawan, an island we were not able to visit, though we were well acquainted with the severe conditions and the brethren there. Some of them came to Manila and received help with careful instructions for distribution.) No church in need was ignored, but we simply could not reach all the affected areas and churches. Money was not wasted on preachers not in need, but brethren from each church listed the local membership and distribution was made accordingly. Preachers working with more than one church listed themselves only once. No, many churches did not split (I don't know of any which did), but some alienated brethren were reconciled by this outpouring of love from U.S. saints. They said they could see how ridiculous it was for them to remain alienated when saints in the U.S. were sacrificing and demonstrating such great love. Rather than promising to bring another $500,000, we explained everywhere we went that this was an extraordinary effort which could NOT be duplicated when we returned to preach the gospel from time to time in the future.

6. Has Jim McDonald required blind obedience to himself, listed everyone who disagrees with him as false teachers, threatened to get support cut if brethren fail to bow to him, and boasted that he is the eyes and ears of U.S. brethren? No, we have done everything possible to keep doors of communication, study, and discussion open with those who disagree with us on various issues (including eating blood, divorce-remarriage, the one covenant theory, Rom. 14, fellowship, etc.). When we first arrived in Manila with the benevolence, a brother from one of the churches which is moving in the wrong direction came to ask whether their needs would be considered in the distribution. Jim said, "Yes," but no further effort was made to contact us and arrange for receiving help. When we met with brethren in another region greatly affected by these errors, we explained to everyone that distribution would be made to all the saints, including churches under the influence of error so long as we were assured that sound brethren would not be forbidden to preach in such places. In other words, as long as the door of study remains open, we are willing to forbear with brethren in spite of differences. Jim does not boast of his work, but he has explained that he hopes to aid in the communication process between U.S. and Filipino brethren who are geographically separated. As an avenue of communication, he is eyes and ears for U.S. brethren who have questions about the work in the Philippines, and for Filipino brethren seeking information about U.S. brethren.

7. Has Jim McDonald supported men who are known to be immoral? No. Notice that the man making this charge gave no names. When it is Alleged that someone is immoral or unfaithful in any way, Jim tries to gather information pro and con, weigh it objectively, and act accordingly. The brother making this charge has not documented what he alleges.

8. As the result of Jim's alleged evil conduct in the Philippines, is it true that many of the most faithful brethren have nothing to do with him, while others go along with him to gain huge amounts of money along with cars, vans, or jeeps? Does he gather an audience by offering to pay for everyone's meals and transportation? The truth is that when we go to the Philippines, we have so many invitations from sound and faithful brethren, that we are never able to accept all of them. Huge amounts of money are not given to anyone for any purpose. We do not offer to buy cars, vans, and jeeps for preachers, though in a few cases we have put Filipino brethren needing transportation in their work (perhaps a motorcycle) in touch with U.S. brethren who are interested in helping meet that need. (Whether or not anything is done is decided by the brethren involved in such communication, not by us.) Sometimes help is given to repair a vehicle used in the Lord's work, especially one that breaks down while we are traveling in it. We try not to leave a local preacher hosting a meeting or seminar with crushing debts which he incurs in connection with our work, such as the cost of feeding guests (ourselves included). We inquire of his expenses and try to offset them. Help on transportation is not given to everyone or on every occasion, but when some poor brethren have needed this kind of help, it has been extended in some cases. For instance, a poor brother hungering to hear God's Word recently borrowed money at 20% interest in order to pay his transportation expenses to attend a meeting held by Connie W. Adams. He had no idea how he would repay his debt, but he was determined to come. No help was promised or given in this case, so far as I know. We sometimes help such brethren, but there is no promise or general distribution of money for this or any other purpose. These matters are considered on a case by case basis.

I hope this helps you to assess the report you received, alleging many things against Jim McDonald's work. Please feel free to let anyone who has an interest in this matter read what I have written. I regret this delay in giving a full answer to the report which you sent Dec. 18, 1998, but problems related to my mother's death and my father's resulting needs have delayed many things in my life. Please do not hesitate to inquire if there are other questions from yourself or others interested in the Philippine work.
In Christian love, Ron Halbrook

--------- End forwarded message ----------

Dear John and Rhonda,

Thank you very much for forwarding that response to me. As you can tell he was responding to something I wrote to someone who wrote to John Edwards who wrote to Halbrook. I had no idea that Halbrook had ever received it, much less responded to it. The date in March made no sense since what I had written was back in December of 1998.

If you would like me to detail an answer to the responses of Ron, I will be more than willing to do so. In short, I would say that Ron has misled John Edwards. For example, I was PERSONALLY present when Jim McDonald and Ken Marrs in April, 1994, asked all the preachers to line up and handed each of them P1,500 (about $60 at that time) in an envelope. When I questioned them about the need of these brethren, they said they did not have time to find out who had real needs so they just divided up the money they brought and passed it out to the preachers. I was there. I heard it. I saw it. And I disagreed. The fact that Halbrook and McDonald still do the same method of passing out benevolence is without doubt. Ron admits they just passed out the money to every saint who came asking for it. Where is the examination into need? Quite simply there was none.

I have talked with McDonald about these things, and we do not agree. I have never met Halbrook although we corresponded briefly in 1994. But it seems that he knows what I disagree about and he has not bothered to try and correct the errors or talk about them with me.

I appreciate your concern about doctrinal matters. I understand the reaction there to certain names, and I am equally sure that is why Halbrook tried to associate my name with them. Halbrook knows the truth and is trying to deceive. Below I will attach an article I wrote in response to an article Puterbaugh and Little put together last year. I know both Jim McDonald and Connie Adams have copies of these articles (including my response), so I assume Halbrook has seen them also, but I am not certain of that. I have not included Puterbaugh's article (I assume you already know what he teaches), but if you want a copy I can send it along. Let me explain how the review came about so that you can understand my relationship to Little and Puterbaugh.

In June last year Little told another preacher here that he was going to mail a summarized article on Puterbaugh's view on Divorce and Remarriage to over 900 Filipino preachers. That preacher told me. Since that preacher has a better relationship with Little (Little and I argue too much), I asked him to convince Little that it would be unfair to the preachers to only give them one side of an issue. There should be a reasonable rebutal granted. Little agreed, but asked who would be able to review the article without becoming personally insulting to either Puterbaugh or Little. I volunteered. Little immediately agreed since he knows I do not play favorites for anyone, but neither do I casually insult and call names. Later Little called me to confirm that I'd write the review, and I agreed. Then Little told me (Sunday evening), that if I wanted my review included then it had to be faxed to him before 11 am Monday morning. I said okay. I stayed up the whole night and wrote my review, edited it with the help of a friend, and had the final copy faxed to Little at 10am. After reading the review, Little decided not to distribute Puterbaugh's view on Divorce and Remarriage. Instead he sent the review to Puterbaugh. Puterbaugh said he would respond to my review, but still has not done so. In fact, Puterbaugh has since that time modified his teaching on covenant. I do not think he has completely come back to the truth on that issue, but he is closer than he was before. By maintaining a calm, gentle atmosphere with these men, I managed to prevent the spread of much that could have damaged souls here. I believe that is best. Even had the two articles gone out together, I think Little and Puterbaugh realized that truth would prevail.

I would agree that I do not think McDonald and Halbrook originally had any knowledge of the problems they created, but there is only so long a man can plead ignorance. Now they actively defend practices which are wrong, so ignorance is not likely anymore.

Again if you want me to answer in detail the March letter of Halbrook, just let me know. If you have some questions about my review below, feel free to ask. Or if you think I am teaching something false therein, please correct me.

God bless in all you do for Him.

Yours in Christ's service,

Glenn Hamilton