Home Christian News Pastor Is Abusive and Running a ‘Cult,’ Report Charges

Pastor Is Abusive and Running a ‘Cult,’ Report Charges

Screen grab from Facebook: @Apostle David Taylor

The News-Herald of Southgate, Michigan, has published an exposé on David E. Taylor, who heads Joshua Media Ministries International (JMMI) in Taylor, Michigan. Former members have accused Taylor and church leaders of manipulation, abuse, sexual misconduct and of running the ministry as a “cult.”

“You pretty much work every single day. You might have had one day off a month,” says Chris Sorensen, who worked for JMMI for six months in 2017. “I remember I would want so, so much for a day off, and just week after week would pass and I just never got the day off. So you’re always sleep deprived; you never can catch up on sleep.”

Sorensen says that when he joined the church in early 2017, he was on fire for God: “I wanted to be in ministry. That’s what I wanted to do in life. I thought this was my calling.” He had heard about Taylor after reading his book Face-to-Face Appearances from Jesus: The Ultimate Intimacy. After finishing the book, Sorensen says he received what seemed to be a personal Facebook message from Taylor saying that Jesus had told Taylor in a dream to reach out to him. After joining JMMI, however, Sorensen discovered that church staff sent messages like that to thousands of people as part of a strategy to raise as much money as possible. While working for JMMI, Sorensen was expected to send 1,000 Facebook messages daily and meet a $500 daily donation quota. Sorensen and two other former JMMI members, Bill and Lisa Hodi, say that JMMI leaders even told members to claim homelessness so that they could obtain electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cards (i.e., food stamp cards). If people did not obtain EBT cards, they would not be able to eat.

More Troubling Reports

Eyewitness testimony and police reports indicate that JMMI manipulates and mistreats its members. While working for JMMI, Sorensen says he was encouraged to leave his wife, who “was skeptical” of the ministry. He also claims he saw Taylor verbally and physically assault JMMI members. Sorensen and the Hodis say that church members regularly sleep in tents in the JMMI building, which is not zoned as a residence and does not have showers.

The News-Herald reports that since 2016 the police have been called to JMMI 30 times for various reasons. One woman was reportedly assaulted and forced to leave the building when she tried to visit her father and sister, members of JMMI. One father requested the police’s assistance in removing his son from the JMMI building. Another woman filed a missing person’s report out of concern that parents of a friend of hers hadn’t seen him in the 18 months since he joined JMMI.  

David Taylor, Pastor: Accused of Sexual Misconduct

Gospel singer Vicki Yohe, who was previously in a relationship with Taylor, has been outspoken against him, claiming that he spiritually manipulates women in order to have sex with them. Yohe says that during their relationship, Taylor bought her extravagant gifts, such as a Jaguar and $900 shoes. Yohe describes Taylor’s behavior as controlling and says that he cheated on her, also buying expensive gifts for other women. When she threatened to expose him, he threatened her, telling her that she would get cancer if she attacked his ministry. Yohe says, “When you first get with him, he asks you for naked pictures, inappropriate pictures… If you even think about getting mad or you want to break up, (or) if you expose him, he’s going to send those pictures out.”

The Christian Post did a story on Taylor’s ex-wife, Tabitha Taylor, who says she got involved with Taylor after becoming a new Christian. When she became pregnant, even though Tabitha saw signs that he “used women in the church,” she married him anyway, not wanting to have another child out of wedlock. After their marriage, she describes behavior similar to that reported by Vicki Yohe, namely that Taylor was manipulative and controlling and that he conducted multiple affairs with other women.

JMMI at a Glance

A cursory glance through JMMI’s website and Facebook page reveals that the majority of the images feature Taylor and promote his products. The website welcomes people to “experience the dynamic ministry of David E. Taylor,” which includes dream interpretation, prayer and a miracle ministry with testimonies described as “Supernatural Weight Loss,” “The Lame Walk” and “Raising the Dead.”

The JMMI Facebook page features various events Taylor is holding, such as a miracle crusades, and also promotes his books. Some of the posts make interesting claims, such as the following:

God showed David E. Taylor the attack on the World Trade Center before thousands died ahead of 9/11… He tried to save and warn America but was unsuccessful… Now, he’s seen another war coming, a disaster against the whole country of America, and God has given him the answer to avert it!!

‘God Is Not Pleased’

Tabitha Taylor says she went public with her story because of the harm leaders like her ex-husband cause the church:

We’re teaching people that it’s OK to sin. We’re teaching people that it’s OK to live unrighteously, but God is gonna bring judgment to the household of God… We’re preaching in the pulpit and we’re not doing right by the people of God. We’re not walking in love. We’re destroying people’s marriages, we’re destroying people’s homes and God is not pleased.

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Jessica is a content editor for ChurchLeaders.com and the producer of The Stetzer ChurchLeaders Podcast. She has always had a passion for the written word and has been writing professionally for the past five years. When Jessica isn't writing, she enjoys West Coast Swing dancing, reading, and spending time with her friends and family.