As most of you know, I’ve written several articles about House of Prayer, going all the way back to 2017. I was contacted by many former members who claimed it was more like a cult than a church.
I sat down or spoke with several former church leaders and pastors who are now cut off from family who are still in the church. I talked with several former members who are cut off from their own children still with the church. I heard and reported about HOPCC’s unaccredited school for the kids. I listened and reported on allegations of abuse, manipulation, mortgage fraud and fraud being committed against the veterans in the church.
On June 23, federal agents raided the House of Prayer Church in Hinesville and its other affiliated churches in North Carolina, Washington State, Augusta, Texas and California. The raids stemmed from an investigation after a letter was sent to the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Georgia State Approving Agency by a group called Veterans Education Success in August 2020. In it, the group requested an investigation of alleged abuses of the GI Bill program by House of Prayer Christian Church’s Bible seminaries. The letter was written after Veterans Education Success listened and reported on the various complaints made by former church members to include those who once ran the Bible seminary schools. These whistleblowers felt it was time to be heard and for the fraud to be stopped. The FBI raided but no arrests were made. To this day, no arrests have been made. But Military.com reported that officials from state regulatory agencies in Georgia, North Carolina and Texas disclosed that schools connected to the House of Prayer church had been stripped of their eligibility for GI Bill money.
In their investigative report it said HOPCC had collected $7 million in tuition from veterans.
SEVEN MILLION! That explains church leader Rony Denis’ two massive mansions in Georgia and another in Florida and his two Rolls Royce (maybe even three).
Denis might have started House of Prayer Christian Church with good intentions, but greed, power and money does odd things to people. Seven million dollars, used in the right way, could have helped a lot of people.
And if we listen to the former members and review previous reports, not just mine, but other news reports from various former members from across the U.S., it seems that bilking veterans out of their GI Bills wasn’t the only thing Denis and others were/are doing.
In 2017, I reported about church members buying homes in their names through the Department of Veterans Affairs. Those houses were then turned over to a property management company run by a high-level church member, Former members said the homes were often used to provide quick cash for the church through refinancing and lines-of-credit loans. They said some homes were also allowed to go into foreclosure, ruining the homeowner’s credit — especially those who had already left the church. Foreclosed homes were bought by other church members and again managed through the church’s property management company.
Many of the organizations created by the church like their mortgage department, building crew and property rental companies were placed on Fort Stewart’s off-limits list.
And when they felt the heat, they would close one company and open another. There was People Helping People Group and its subsidiaries — Executive Home Rentals, JHS Investments, JT Enterprise, JZS Investments and Peach State Rentals, and later Centex, and Union Park LLC.
Union Park LLC is still listed as the owner of several houses in the county to this day. The FBI has not stated why they raided the churches. There is no update on what else they might be looking into but I hope they are still looking into these allegations of fraud against a vulnerable veteran community here and across the U.S.