The Body of Christ is a network of religious communes founded by former Southern Baptist minister Sam Fife, C.E. "Buddy" Cobb, and Dr. James Meffen in 1962. The Body of Christ is also known as "The End Time Ministry," "The Movement," and "The Body." Today, the cult has around 7,000 to 10,000 adherents in two dozen communes (called "wilderness farms" by the cult) located in Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Ohio, Texas, British Columbia (Canada), Guatemala, and Peru. The cult's headquarters are in Miami, Ohio. The NEW YORK TIMES also reported that the cult owns "a fleet of planes" which it uses to reach the communes.
The cultists study and follow the teachings of Sam Fife and Donald Barnhouse, the other major theologian of the Body of Christ before his death. They speak in tongues, practice faith healing, believe in demon possession, and believe that the Bible should guide their lives. They also believe in an upcoming period of "Great Tribulation" and feel that it is their duty to prepare to be the leaders in this "end of time" and to set up shelters where people can take care of themselves after electricity, food supplies, and other necessities are cut off by the coming disaster. To this extent, they raise animals and grow their own food on the wilderness farms in order to be self-sufficient. According to Dr. Meffen, who left the Body of Christ, the cultists speak of themselves as "manifested sons of God" and believe that once they have perfected themselves, "Christ will be manifested through them." The cult employs a subtle recruitment process. Dr. Meffen and fellow defector Charlene Hill claim that the cult finds people who are unhappy and channel them into the Body of Christ and also "infiltrate existing churches and Bible study groups." Members of the cult live in poverty, with poor clothing and no radio or television. Any property they own must be turned over to the cult, and many older followers even sign over their pensions.
The various settlements and branches have different names. The Dallas group, which disbanded in 1983, was known as The Dallas Northtown Church. A major commune near Europa, Mississippi, is known as The Church of Sapa. Many other branches are simply known as "Christian Ministries." Leaders insist that there is no single organization called "The Body of Christ," and claim that the far-flung communes are really autonomous, separate entities with no official connection. According to critics Meffen and Hill, the members consider themselves to be one group in fellowship and also speak of themselves as "The Body of Christ" when they are together.
Critics charge that families are broken up if one spouse joins the cult without the other. The Body of Christ has also been named in several child abuse cases. Charlene Hill, who stayed in the Body of Christ for eight years with her husband and three children, claims that the children are disciplined severely and possesses a tape recording of her daughter relating that she was spanked "hard" if she didn't answer questions in school.
Mrs. Hill also claims that the cultists must constantly listen on headsets to tapes made by Fife and Barnhouse, and that they must also read their speeches. She also claims the group teaches that it is not wrong to "distort the truth when talking to reporters." Many ex-members believe they have been brainwashed, and the cult has lost some members to deprogrammers such as Ted Patrick.
The cult carries out a brutal policy towards possible defectors and those who break the rules of the cult. Charlene Hill claims that shortly before she left, the group told her she was possessed by demons and tried to exorcise them by tying her to a bed and whipping her with a belt, then submerging her in a bathtub filled with cold water. Shari Smith, another defector, claims that she was beaten with a wooden paddle and that rebellious members were tied to beds, chairs or the floor and thrown into cold showers with their clothes on until they repented. Smith herself was once kept in a cold shower for four and a half hours.
The Body of Christ came under public scrutiny when one of its leaders, Reverend John Hinson, was convicted in 1977 on charges of kidnaping in Mississippi and sentenced to ten years in prison. The conviction, however, was overturned when Hinson appealed.
As for Fife himself, he was killed in a plane crash in Guatemala on April 26, 1979 at the age of 54. He was on a small private airplane carrying himself and three cultists to visit the group's Quiche Theological Institute and one of its settlements in Guatemala when the plane crashed, killing everyone on board.
The Move (also known as The Move of the Spirit or Move of God) is the unofficial name of a non-denominational charismatic Christian group that was started by an ex-Baptist preacher named Sam Fife in Miami, Florida in the 1960s. There he began a small church near SW 22nd Street and 72nd Avenue called "The Miami Revival Center".
This group has been associated with the Pentecostal-charismatic Latter Rain Movement. There is no official name or doctrine, but members number in the thousands, and many live together in commune-type farms all over the world. Farms are in operation or have been in operation in the United States, Canada, Spain, Ireland, Scotland, Great Britain, Australia, Japan, Guatemala, Colombia, and Peru. Additionally, non-communal congregations, called "city bodies", also meet or did meet in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Ecuador, Venezuela, Kenya and South Africa. Many city bodies still have community associations here in the United States as well.
It was a common practice to hold a crying child's nose and mouth [depriving them of air] to force them not to cry. I've witnessed 'problem children' in playpens with plywood over the top weighed down by concrete blocks. Children are used as slave labor to manually till the farm fields. And parents are instructed to take their children out of 'services' and beat them for perceived misbehavior [as defined exclusively by the elders]. Under age sexual encounters are not uncommon and 'wife swapping' has been a constant, persistent rumor. Children are routinely denied education, medical care and interaction with other people 'in the world'.
Due to the large number of ruined families it is strongly recommended that you stay away from this group.
The movement started in the early 1960s through Sam Fife's ministry first at his church in New Orleans then in his prayer group in Miami. Between these two incarnations of his start of this cult, Fife received a 'revelation from God' that he was to father the coming great prophet, or something like that. After leaving New Orleans, he wandered through the country seeking pure women to impregnate. I was told by Patrick Burke, Sr. (former Jefferson Parrish, Louisiana Sheriff) that after a few months he was called to go to Lubbock Texas to pick Sam up. Sam had been found wandering barefooted and drunk 'preaching' on the street corners there.
Based on an 'Amway' type model other groups following Fife's teachings sprang up throughout United States, Canada and later other countries. Self proclaimed to be an apostle, Fife drew together a group of other ministries who believed his vision of the role of the church in the end times. In fall 1971, Fife began to preach what was referred to as the "Wilderness Message" and within a few years thousands of his followers had moved to a number of communal farms in mostly in Canada, Colombia and Alaska.
Sam Fife was 'killed' in a plane crash in Guatemala on April 26, 1979, despite claiming he would never die. A growing number of people, primarily family members of those who were seduced by the cult, believe that Sam Fife didn't die but faked his death and lived out his life among the population. The fuel he used to fire the fear he induced in the devotes had dwindled after the turbulent sixties and the end of the Viet Nam war. Much of the 50% 'tithe' collected from the residents of the communes simply vanished with him. I have completed an exhaustive search for any legal, political or news paper report in Honduras during the entire year and found NO CONCLUSIVE EVIDENCE of the supposed crash. The only thing anyone has to prove his death is that Sam Fife quit showing up in the United States.
Following Fife's 'death', his teachings were carried on by other ministries in "The Move", notably C.E. "Buddy" Cobb. In 1982, Cobb and others founded Covenant Life College to educate young people in the group in theology, teaching and other skills. The Move's traveling ministry now operate under the name International Ministerial Association (IMA).
The number of people involved in The Move has been in a long, slow decline, which began with the closing of some Move farms in B.C. in the early 1980s. As the children of the original devotes grow older and the 'elders' are no longer able to block outside communications from seeping in people who have been raised in the communes are seeing a better life and the threat of an imminent return of an angry Jesus seems less and less likely. Further, the Great Tribulation that appeared so likely while the Soviets and U.S. stood on the brink of global war, seems to have failed to come 'in five years' as was prophesied. Without a need to hide out in the wilderness (also dwindling), people who would have been incited to stay in the communes until they could come out an rule all those of us who might have survived the 'trib', are looking at their wasted lives and money, their children's futures and their meager lifestyles, and leaving.
"This is ... the move of God in which God is bringing forth a many-membered manchild to govern the world, through whom Christ will govern the world during the millennium that is to come. Therefore, we are in God's school of Divine Government, and God is training us as one many-membered man, teaching us, training us, preparing us to be the government through whom the Spirit of Christ will govern the world. The way that he is teaching us and training us is by letting us practice on one another, by teaching us to govern one another and to be governed by one another after the order of Melchisedec, which is a theocratic spirit government order."
So let me ask you, if they can't run their own affairs, what makes them think they can run everyone else's?