Just the Facts

On June 23, the FBI conducted three simultaneous raids on churches associated with the House of Prayer Christian Church (HOPC). Thus far, the FBI has not released any public statements regarding the raids. SOFREP is currently reaching out to them in an attempt to glean additional information on what is happening in this strange turn of events.

Your typical southern small-town church, or it would seem from the outside. The Assembly of Prayer Church on Old Tobacco Road in Hephzibah, Georgia, was raided by armed FBI agents Thursday morning. You’ll note that the sign reads, “Church of all nations.” Image Credit: augustachronicle.com

Meanwhile, a little digging revealed that House of Prayer Christian Churches of America, Inc. was incorporated in Jacksonville, Florida, in 2006, but they list their home state as Lousiana. Officers and Directors as listed as follows: Gerard C. Robertson, President; David A. Reip, Officer; Dennis Nostrant, Director. All three men are recorded as being from Hinesville, GA. Hinesville is the location of one of the three House of Prayer churches raided yesterday morning.

If you’ve clicked on the link above and read the page, you may have noticed that HOPCs company type is listed as “Foreign Non-Profit.” That set off all kinds of warning signals in my brain? “What country could be behind this? Are there terrorists involved? Russians? How is it that foreign countries can register as non-profits in the US? Where is the money going?” 

Assume nothing. In this case, foreign means “from another state.” Yes, I found it a little confusing as well. This is all public record, by the way. No protected or privileged information is being given out. Image Credit: sunbiz.org

Then I remembered a truth I learned a long time ago in the military. “Assumptions are the mother of all screwups.” I assumed “foreign” meant “from a country other than the US.” Silly me, right? No, it turns out, in this case, foreign doesn’t mean that at all. Here is how the state of Florida defines “foreign” as it relates to business entities;

“State law views business entities as either foreign or domestic. A domestic entity is one formed and operated within the same state. By contrast, a foreign corporation is one formed in a different state.”

Still with me? Good, it was necessary to clear that up so we can narrow our focus on what is going on here and who is behind it. I mean, the FBI doesn’t just go raiding churches daily for no good reason.

Fire and Brimstone and VA Payments

Here is what brought the matter to our attention. HOPC churches are located primarily outside military installations; numerous reports of their members entering military bases and trying to solicit members. No problem so far; houses of worship have been known to do that. There are reports of the recruitment crossing lines, however. For example, amber Fritz-Randolph, leader of the Fort Hood Fallen Facebook page, reported to the Augusta Chronicle that members of the church in Killeen have snuck into barracks and threatened soldiers. The Chief of Media Relations at FT Hood is addressing this and has said the FBI is investigating these allegations, and the police are looking into it.

The real problem here is the allegations that the church is acting like a cult and targeting servicemembers to get access to their benefits. In 2020, a veteran’s advocacy group named Veterans Education Success (VES) asked the Department of Veterans Affairs to investigate alleged abuses of the GI Bill program by HOPC-run bible seminaries. There is more; in a letter to the Georgia Department of Veterans Services, VES alleges that the church “deceives the VA during inspections and targets veterans in order to access GI Bill funding, VA disability compensation, and VA home loans,”