Zion Mission Centre

The Zion Christian Mission Centre (ZMC) is a front group organised by Shincheonji (SCJ) for recruitment purposes. Members of SCJ claim that the Zion Christian Mission Centre is “a free seminary institution that teaches only the Bible as it is.” However, none of their NZ instructors have received training at any accredited theological institution.

ZMC in New Zealand

The idea of using a “Mission Center” in order to recruit people into Shincheonji first began in South Korea in 1990. In 2015, a branch was established in New Zealand. Initial teachers included Scott Watson and others sent from Shincheonji’s South Africa branch to “heal the nations”. Classes began as “home bible studies”. ​Through the use of lying and “wisdom”, the team of teachers and students grew rapidly. Students are typically recruited by SCJ members (called “leafs”) entering church services, campus groups and using social media or online forums to pose as people interested in learning more about the Bible. When a potential recruit (or “fruit”) shows interest, they are connected to a “life coach” or “mentor” who is in reality a Shincheonji instructor. Since the COVID pandemic, ZMC has switched to offering online courses. However, much of their recruitment still happens in person through pastor “appreciation” events, worship nights, photo exhibitions and other activities posing as Christian events. In late 2022, the New Zealand branch of SCJ established a “Mission Center” in Latopa, Samoa.

One of the main teachings of SCJ is that the spirit of Jesus Christ is working through a 91 year-old man named Lee Man-Hee. Because this is a controversial claim, LMH’s identity is only revealed gradually through the course of the Zion Mission Center bible studies. Early lessons will appear biblically sound, but this is intentional as they gradually try to earn trust before revealing their more controversial teachings. These include that Jesus is not God, the Second Coming is happening now, and that salvation is only found through Shincheonji and following their leader Lee Man-Hee.

The ZMC Team 

Each course offered by Zion Mission Center is facilitated by a SCJ member called a “Theology Instructor”, and supported by other assistant teachers. Current instructors include Mark Holliday (Auckland branch), Scott Watson (Wellington branch) and Mareko Taafua (Latopa, Samoa branch). To our knowledge, none of these “theology instructors” have any formal theological training from any accredited Bible College in New Zealand or elsewhere. Rather, their main “credentials” are that they personally completed the Zion Mission Centre program themselves as “fruit”, and have since been promoted within the organisation based on their loyalty and service to SCJ.

Although ZMC instructors claim to have extensive understanding and knowledge of the Bible, in reality students are primarily taught to read the Bible out of context and apart from any genuine understanding of the original languages and setting. This is despite Jesus Himself demonstrating that the right way to teach the Bible is to explain, beginning with Moses and all the prophets, “what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself” (Luke 24:27). Shincheonji’s use of lying and “wisdom” during the recruitment process is also deeply concerning, especially since the Bible teaches that “…we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.” (2 Cor 4:2)

Overall, ZMC’s various Bible courses are aimed at coercing students towards believing that only their founder Lee Man-Hee is the fulfilment of the prophecies in Revelation and elsewhere. In what they teach and how they do it, SCJ cannot reliably claim to be a Christian Mission Centre.

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