By Raymund Antonio
Members of the Missionaries of Kingdom of Jesus Christ, a Christian sect founded by Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, recounted their traumatic ordeal during the January 29 raid by armed federal agents on their churches in Hawaii and Los Angeles, United States.
Three church leaders of the Philippine-based KJC were arrested for federal criminal complaint that alleged their human trafficking activities and illegal fund-raising.
In a statement, 45-year-old Annabelle Juarana, a missionary in Van Nuys, LA, said she had “never experienced anything like this” when armed men raided their church.
“The door to our house had been broken down and armed men had guns aimed at us,” Juarana, a church missionary for 26 years, said.
Another missionary narrated they “lined up outside to be handcuffed, helicopters were circling the compound, telling them to raise their hands.”
“This was something that we only saw in the movies and now it was happening to us. We’re just church missionaries here, we have no guns or anything. We have nothing to hide,” Kapitanna, a native of Lancaster, California, said.
Federal agents conducted a surprise raid at the church compound in Van Nuys and other areas in Los Angeles following an investigation into the immigration fraud scheme that brought KJC members in the US for fund-raising activities.
At the same time, they also raided
the KJC’s congregation in Waipahu, Hawaii.
The church members recalled they were gathered in the worship center and questioned by the agents if they were forced to do fund-raising against their will and if their travel documents were taken from them.
“I told them we were very happy here and we were well provided by the ministry. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have remained here all this time,” Jennifer Callao said.
She also told the federal agents she keeps her own passport and other travel documents.
Callao said they were all traumatized by the January 29 raid after federal agents made them “feel like we were the worst criminals.”
“I told the agents that we could have let them in the gate, accommodated them willingly and answered all their questions if we had known they wanted to come in,” she said.
“They told me they were informed that we had heavily armed guards here. We told them they were misinformed about us here. They were very apologetic and said they were just doing their job,” the church leader added.
For her part, Chelcey Guerrero spoke of two agents who held her and her one-year-old baby Moanna at gunpoint. “We kept telling them she was only a baby, they did not have to do that.”
The KJC claimed while their church in Van Nuys was raided, federal agents also visited their compounds in San Francisco, Delano, Virginia, Houston, Missouri, and New York.
In the Philippines, Quiboloy, founder of the Christian sect, denied the allegations that KJC or its members “engage in any act that violates the law.”