Following our recent front page story about the claims of a man, who spent seven weeks with the Jesus Fellowship and alleged 'unreasonable' treatment and the feeling of being 'a prisoner', we decided to give the Fellowship completely free rein to present their side of things - their life-style and their work.
The following articles had been prepared by them and submitted to us by their spokesperson Liz Donovan.
Source : 27/10/1988 Daventry Weekly Express
What is it about the controversial community-based Jesus Fellowship that keeps them in the news?
With their military-style combat jackets and banners they certainly don't shy away from publicity, even though a lot of it isn't very good.
They've come under attack from some MP's and Church leaders, and there have even been allegations of pressure and brainwashing - which are strongly denied by the Fellowship.
We asked Fellowship spokeswoman Liz Donovan about the attacks that are made on the Fellowship. 'Isn't there something worrying about a so-called Christian group that's always under attack?'
'Far from it,' was her reply, 'On the contrary, it's extremely healthy. Criticism never did anyone any harm! What you may not know, though, is that most of the opposition has been stirred up by a handful of people whose self-declared aim is to destroy the Fellowship.'
What about the allegations of brainwashing? A spokesman for the independent Cult Information Centre recently dismissed these allegations, stressing the Jesus Fellowship was not guilty of mind control.
The Fellowship tries to help men and women in all kinds of circumstances and has adopted a high profile 'Jesus Army' image for this thrust. It is this concern that takes them out into the streets of towns and cities - sometimes throughout the night. Homeless men and women, those on drugs or trapped in vice, as well as many other more 'normal' people are welcomed into the Fellowship's 'Community Houses' where many of the members live. Some stay only a short time, some stay longer, and a number become members of the Jesus Army themselves.
'Of course there's a danger having people like this around,' commented Liz. 'some of them are unstable, some have criminal backgrounds. Many times we've been ripped off, and sometimes the people we've been helping have turned against us.'
Rev. Clive Calver, leader of the Evangelical Alliance, a million-strong Christian Grouping, has publicly declared his support for the Jesus Army, 'In many ways they're like the Salvation Army or the Church Army in the last century. The church has always had its radical groupings, and all power to their elbow! I would wholeheartedly say that the Jesus Army is a committed Christian group that is seeking to spread the gospel.'
'We are totally open,' Liz added, 'anyone is welcome to come along to our meetings or houses to see for themselves.'