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VIDEO: FBI investigating House of Prayer Christian Church
Veteran Education Success letter from 2020 alleges Church violated GI Bill program

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Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) raided the House of Prayer Christian Church the morning of June 23. The church is located off Airport Road in Hinesville.

For years former members of the church have stated it was less a church and more like a cult.

Per Courier correspondent Lewis Levine, law enforcement officers were seen carrying weapons around the area of the church and a group of women and men were seen standing outside one of the buildings on the property being guarded by a female officer with a weapon.

According to various news agencies, two other churches that are affiliated with House of Prayer were also raided June 23. One was Assembly of Prayer in Augusta, the other Assembly of Prayer Church in Killeen Texas.

House of Prayer Church leader Rony Denis reportedly lives in Augusta.

"I can confirm that the FBI is on scene executing a court authorized search warrant," said Jenna Sellitto, the FBI Public Affairs Officer from Atlanta. "No arrests have been made. Our investigation is ongoing, so I cannot provide further details at this time."

While the FBI can't comment on the ongoing investigation several former members have alleged abuse toward children, lack of accredited education for the children, real estate fraud, and fraud committed against veterans.

In August of 2020 a letter was sent to the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Georgia State Approving Agency by a group called Veterans Education Success, requesting they investigate alleged abuses of the GI Bill program by House of Prayer Christian Church’s bible seminaries.

The letter stated:

"We recently received complaints by former students of House of Prayer Christian Church (HOPCC). A Veterans Education Success staff lawyer interviewed several former students, a current student, and former employees. The contact information for each student and employee is provided at the end of this letter. The information presented here is compiled from those interviews as well as publicly available information. Based on the interviews, Veterans Education Success respectfully requests that a targeted risk-based review be conducted of HOPCC."

Some of the allegation in the letter include:

  1. HOPCC is allegedly deceiving VA and defrauding veterans of their education benefits
  2. HOPCC officials allegedly lie to VA inspectors
  3. HOPCC allegedly charges VA students a significantly higher tuition
  4. HOPCC allegedly misled VA about teacher qualifications
  5. HOPCC students say they were required to recruit new students during class time 
  6. HOPCC allegedly changes its curriculum to keep students enrolled longer 
  7. HOPCC student veterans deplete their veterans education benefits and never receive a completion certificate
  8. HOPCC provides students with a very low-quality education
  9. HOPCC does not provide students with financial or academic records
  10. HOPCC is allegedly engaged in other criminal activity and operates like a cult
  11. HOPCC allegedly manipulates veterans into donating their VA disability compensation to the church
  12. HOPCC is allegedly engaged in mortgage fraud 
  13. HOPCC may be under FBI investigation 

Based on their interviews with former members the letter further stated:

  1. HOPCC is likely violating multiple VA regulations
  2. VA should disapprove GI Bill enrollment at HOPCC under 38 USC § 3696
  3. HOPCC is likely violating the 85-15 rule

The full letter can be downloaded below.

In 2017, the Courier reported several former church members, including a former pastor, claim that church leader Denis convinces vulnerable church members to buy homes. Those houses are then turned over to a property management company run by church member Anthony Oloans via a power of attorney. Oloans is a minister of HOPCC and Denis’ “right-hand man,” according to former Pastor Ray Yorke and several other former members.

Former members allege the homes are often used to provide quick cash for the church through refinancing and lines-of-credit loans. They say some homes are also allowed to go into foreclosure, ruining the homeowner’s credit — especially those who leave the church. Foreclosed homes are then often bought by other church members and again managed by Oloans.

The church created a mortgage department, a building crew and a property rental department that was once called The People Helping People Group. Oloans was one of several managing members of that group and others created later.

Fort Stewart’s Armed Forces Disciplinary Control Board includes The People Helping People Group and its subsidiaries — Executive Home Rentals, JHS Investments, JT Enterprise, JZS Investments and Peach State Rentals — on its off-limits list.

Many former members still have family in the church. Gladys Jordan’s eldest son, Cesar Vargas, stayed with the church after she and her younger son were kicked out when she began questioning certain aspects of the church. Since 2016, the church has not allowed her to have any contact with her son, who is now at the Assembly of Prayer Church in Augusta.

A few years ago, the Courier spoke with Lynette Rosario, who was a member of House of Prayer from the age of 3 until age 16. Rosario alleged church leader Denis frequently took three young girls and his daughter on trips to Florida, along with a few other top church officials. She said parents trusted Denis with their children. These girls were around 11 to 15 years old when Denis allegedly beat them with a belt because they were speaking with boys. On a second trip, he allegedly made the girls sleep in the attic, in their own urine and feces, for a whole week.

Previous articles here:

They're a cult

Tempers flare

Church draws focus of activists

Real Estate fraud?

Members defend church

VES letter against House of Prayer