Questionable Religious Group In Cook Islands Proselytizing Under Guise Of Volunteer Work

World Mission Society Church of God missionaries doing environmental clean-up

By Shae Osborne 

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, July 26, 2017) – A quasi-Christian organisation claiming to represent ‘God the Mother’ is in the Cook Islands preaching their brand of religion under the cover of a volunteer environmental project.

It’s not every day you get confronted by a group whose founder is considered to be a deity but that may just be a regular occurrence for Rarotonga residents over the next two weeks.

Ten missionaries from The World Mission Society Church of God set foot on Rarotonga last Friday morning, wasting no time to make their presence known.

CINews received multiple reports of Bible waving and evangelising outside Prime Foods and Bluesky following their arrival, which caused outrage among some onlookers.

The group, who are here to ostensibly take part in a three-hour clean up in Nikao later this week, hope to educate the Cook Islands about “God the Mother”.

Norma Williams and Lottie Chung, two of the devoted evangelists, visited the CINews office, where they spoke of their church’s worldwide success and following.

The World Mission Society Church of God, which does not recognise Christmas or Easter, claims membership in more than 175 countries and began in South Korea in 1964.

The church believes in God the Father and God the Mother, and believe they are restoring the truth of the early church.

The 2.5 million members of the church also believe the founder, 73-year-old Korean woman, Jang Gil-Ja, is a physical manifestation of God —referring to her as the “Heavenly Mother”.

Williams and her group of evangelists claimed to have coordinated with the National Environment Services (NES) to clean up areas in and around Arorangi.

“We wanted to come here, to the Cook Islands, and reveal God the mother’s love through a clean-up campaign,” Williams said.

The group, who are here for almost two weeks, will conduct their three-hour clean-up, leaving them a remaining 12 and a half days — which they plan to spend spreading the word of their beloved God, the mother.

Such practices have led people to speculate the church conveys cult like tendencies.

This claim was emphasised further when an ex-member came forward to share her unusual experience with the church - triggering an on-flow of ex members who believed they were lured into the church - to come forward.

Many believed they were slowly “brainwashed”, were not informed fully of the church’s beliefs, and were later frightened into donating large portions of their income due to talk of the impending end of the world in 2012.

The victims also said the alleged “doomsday cult” isolates its acolytes from their families and friends by “controlling information and using brainwashing techniques”, People Celebrity reports.

One expert interviewed by The Record, a United Kingdom daily news outlet, compared the church to the “Moonies” — another Korea-based religious group whose founder has been accused of leading a cult.

Followers of God around the island have become understandably angered by the arrival of the group who are challenging Christian beliefs, in a country that prides itself on its predominantly Christian denomination.

A born-again Christian believer has complained that she was aggressively confronted by the group upon attempting to peacefully complete her grocery shopping. 

“I was highly offended by her actions and speech.

“I felt affronted on behalf of the people that this false teaching had landed on the island as a direct challenge to the Christian belief and values of Rarotonga. This group of people and their teaching have no place in our nation,” Catherine Leeming said.

Chairman of the Religious Accounts Committee (RAC), Tevai (Bobby) Matapo held a similar opinion affirming that challenging Christian beliefs in a Christian country is a bold move, and is not without its restrictions in the Cook Islands.

“There is a procedure in place that requires religious denominations to seek approval to enter the country and endorse their beliefs.

“We put this in place because otherwise every Tom, Dick and Harry will come over with their differing beliefs.

“If they are not a registered religious organisation then they are limited with what they can and should do,” Matapo said.

He further highlighted that at present there is no law or legislation that governs the process.

“That is something we will have to look at further, after all we do have a religious act here,” he said. The Religious Organisations Restrictions Act of 1975 limits the introduction of new religions to the only four authorised in the Act. Approval must be granted from the Minister of Justice before another religion can be established in the Cook Islands. Such a provision is in violation of the right to freedom of religion in Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Moving forward Matapo said the next course of action would be to notify the police if the group is causing a disturbance, however he was unsure as to the measure of their jurisdiction.

The major role of religion in the Cook Islands is apparent and Matapo believes that the introduction of obscure Christian beliefs threatens the unity of the Cook Islands as a Christian nation.

“Religion can be destructive, just look at all that is happening overseas in regards to conflicting religion.

“We (Cook Islands) need to protect this country’s unity in religion and as a community,” he concluded.

Cook Islands News

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First of all, I would like to ask everyone what is the definition of "brainwashed" I was a so-called main stream Christian all my life believing the Christmas is Jesus' birthday and Sunday service is the Sabbath day and Easter is Jesus' resurrection day. However, what I have been taught was totally wrong. These false teachings have brainwashed me more than 30 years. I think this is when we should use the word "brainwashed". December 25th in Rome was the date of a pagan festival in Rome chosen in AD 274 as the birthday of the unconquered sun which later became the Christmas in 4th century. Sunday worship that is the first day of the week was made by Roman Emperor Constantine in AD 321 as the venerable day of the Sun (Sunday). Easter, like Christmas and Sunday service has little to do with Christianity but has been derived from pagan customs. The name itself "Easter" was originated from the Eostre, or Eostrae, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring and fertility. These facts shocked me and I felt deceived by traditional Christian denomination. On the other hand, The Church of God keeps Sabbath day on Saturday, the seventh day of the week and Passover on biblical appointed time and do not keep Christmas as it is the day of birthday of sun-god. This is why believe second coming Christ who taught the truth of the Passover and 7 feasts and Heavenly Mother as testified in the bible. Everyone has a freedom to choose what to believe. If people want to stay as they are in the major Christian Church, it's their choice. But there are people like me who want to seek and know the prophecies. For them, this message is good news like a cool spring water in the desert. And I want to make a comment about "they were slowly “brainwashed”, were not informed fully of the church’s beliefs". Can a 5-year-old child go to high school and learn mathematics and science? Not at all!. They have to go through basic/fundamental education first. It is the same with studying truth. We need to learn one by one to know the prophecies. Regarding "... and were later frightened into donating large portions of their income....", I am a member of The Church of God for more than 12 years but I have never experienced being frightened into donating money. We do practice law of Tithe and offerings in the bible (Mal 3:7-12) which one of the important God's commandments. Lastly, I would like to ask all people who believe in the bible to read 4 gospel books and book of acts to see how much the first coming Jesus and apostles were persecuted 2000 years ago. Christianity was a conflicting religion to Judaism and Jewish people ended up killing their savior whom they claim to believe. The persecution did not stop there, they persecuted apostles wherever they went to preach. I'm not surprised to see what is happening in CI, because the history repeats itself. 10 members didn't harm anyone during their stay in CI, but preached truth of bible and held cleanup campaign for the environment. They should not be treated as terrorists or criminals.

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