Popular televangelist Creflo Dollar has responded to critics and the controversy raised in the media over his campaign to raise funds to buy a Gulfstream G650, said to cost $65 million. During a sermon, he told members of his church that no one could stop him from dreaming about owning a $65 million jet, and he advised critics that it was too soon to be upset but that they should wait until he needs a billion dollar jet to preach the gospel on the planet Mars.
In a five-minute video clip uploaded to YouTube on Tuesday, the popular “prosperity gospel” preacher responded to critics while delivering a sermon at his World Changers Church International located in College Park, Georgia. To applause that ends in a standing ovation, Dollar denounced his critics as “enemies” being used by the Devil to discredit him and prevent him from spreading the gospel.
“The enemy has got to discredit the voices of faith and grace and truth because he don’t want you to know that you can walk on the water if you can look at Jesus. I’ve got to discredit that man before he starts showing people Jesus.”
The popular Atlanta-based preacher defended the effort to raise $65 million to buy a jet, saying that no one could stop him from dreaming.
He said, “I dare you to tell me I can’t dream. I dare you to tell me I can’t believe God… because with God all things are possible, to him that believes.”
He went on to encourage his followers to “dream about what the devil says you can’t have,” such as the “best house” and the “best car.”
He told critics that it was too soon to be upset that he wanted a $65 million jet to preach the gospel worldwide, but they should wait until he needs a billion dollar jet to spread the gospel to the planet Mars when life is found there.
“If you think a $65 million plane was too much, if they discover that there’s life on Mars, they gonna need to hear the Gospel and I’m gonna have to believe God for a $1 billion space shuttle because we got to preach the Gospel on Mars.”
Dollar’s comments come soon after the ministry opened a web page devoted to the campaign dubbed “Project G650,” to raise money for a state-of-the-art Gulfstream G650 and urged “members, partners, and supporters” to make donations so that the ministry would be able to continue the work of spreading the gospel around the world.
The uproar that followed reports about the fundraising effort on the news media forced the ministry take down the page.
According the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a spokesperson for the ministry, Juda Engelmayer, said a decision was taken to raise money for a new jet after the old one — a 1984 Gulfstream G-1159A — the ministry purchased in 1999 developed engine problems, forcing the staff to fly commercial.
“The ministry’s current airplane, was built in 1984, purchased by the ministry in 1999 and has since logged four million miles. Recently on an overseas trip to a global conference, one of the engines failed. By the grace of God, the expert pilot, who’s flown with Creflo for almost 20 years, landed the plane safely without injury or harm to any passengers.
“Due to this recent incident coupled with the 31 years the airplane has been in service, we believe it is time to replace this aircraft so that our Pastors and staff can continue to safely and swiftly share the Good News of the Gospel worldwide.”
Dollar decided that the best replacement for the grounded jet was an 18-seater Gulfstream G650, a prestigious state-of-the-art jet used by the top echelon of global business executives, ranked among high-end corporate jets as the fastest and best. It won the Collier Trophy, the aviation industry’s most prestigious award, in 2014.
In what appears to be a denial of reports that he asked 200,000 followers to donate $300 each for a new a jet, Dollar said that he never asked his church members for a “dime.”
He said his appeal was to his network of international donors who demand his presence in their countries to preach the gospel.
The Christian Post had reported that on the web page set up to raise funds Dollar had asked his 200,000 followers to donate $300 each to purchase a private jet. But the fundraising page was taken down following the uproar on social media.
Dollar’s teachings are typical of the popular brand of the Christian message critics brand “prosperity gospel,” which promises material blessings in exchange for 10 percent of church members’ income, a practice called “tithing.”
Critics have attacked the popular “prosperity gospel” movement, saying that its teaching that material wealth is a sign of God’s approval and a visible evidence of spiritual blessing and well-being, places poor working class people under pressure to contrive an outward appearance of wealth to prove the “Lord’s blessing” to the world.
[Images: YouTube via AJC; Gulfstream via The Christian Post]