Many people assume that the origins of Hillsong originated from Charismaticism, Pentecostalism or the Salvation Army. This is not true.
Hillsong’s roots were founded in the Canadian New Order of the Latter Rain (NOLR) cult. Today, this is internationally recognised as the New Apostolic Reformation cult.
This series of articles looks at the history of the New Order of the Latter Rain (NOLR) and how it overran the AOG in NZ, the AOG in Australia and how this was done through Frank Houston, the founder of Hillsong/Christian Life Center. In this article we will explore how Frank Houston climbed the ranks of the NZ AOG and how he influenced and changed the Pentecostal ecclesiastical structures of the AOG and Australia to the totalitarian NOLR leadership structure. You will notice many of these ideas present in Hillsong and the Australian Christian Churches model.
You can read our articles to see how Frank Houston was influenced by the NOLR cult through the teachings of false prophet and fraudulent healer William Branham and other New Zealand Latter Rainers in his church:
THE NEW ORDER OF THE LATTER RAIN RE-CAP
In our first article, we mentioned the fact that in the beginnings of the New Order of the Latter Rain (NOLR), they attempted to take over Pentecostal churches and fellowships in Canada. The NOLR have never stopped their aggressive campaign to take Pentecostal denominations in their attempt to spread their Gospel of the Kingdom.
Remember – according to the NOLR and NAR, there is dead or religious Christianity and then there is a living or true Christianity. They believe Christianity before them preaches a dead gospel but they claim to preach a living gospel. Their Gospel of the Kingdom proves God is alive by having their gospel message itself manifest signs, wonders, healings and miracles.
We would like you to keep this diagram at the forefront of your mind as we explore the paradigm of the Houston’s progress to power in this article:
This means one is recognised as a leader, apostle or prophet of the Latter Rain if they demonstrate in power, this NOLR/NAR ‘Gospel of the Kingdom’. They have the ability to prophesy, bring miracles, healings and supernatural signs and wonders into gatherings or manifest answers, abundance or material wealth for the benefit of the advancement of the Kingdom of God here on earth.
THE NOLR TAKEOVER OF THE NEW ZEALAND AOG
In New Zealand, the NOLR was clearly in full swing, usurping the Pentecostal denominations through the New Zealand AOG. It was an easy target considering how lax their ordination methods were. Hazel Houston records how Frank Houston became the Superintendent of the entire New Zealand Assemblies of God.
Hazel Houston wrote how Frank Houston became “ordained” as an AOG minister in 1956,
“After the service Ray put his arms round Frank.
‘You’ll do. I would like you to be my associate pastor.’ When Ray made this unorthodox approach Frank asked what he had to sign. Ray smiled.
‘Brother Frank, God has a wonderful record book in Heaven. That’s all we need.’
He never did sign anything but on the spot he became an Assemblies of God minister. This was eventually ratified by the Executive Council, and two years later they discovered he was not even a member of the Assemblies of God. Frank often said a piece of paper didn’t make a minister, although he does not recommend this unorthodox approach.” pg. 76-77, Being Frank.
Who cares if Frank Houston and his wife were booted from the Salvation Army and were involved in a financial scandal earlier? (See previous articles in series.)
A few years later after “pastoring” Ray Bloomfield’s church (called Ellerslie-Tamaki Faith Mission), Frank Houston was asked to pastor a church in Lower Hutt. This request caused Houston to fast and pray until he found “the mind of God” (pg. 110). When Bloomfield responded to Frank Houston’s news from Canada, listen to how Hazel Houston records how her husband responded to Bloomfield and “God”:
“The umbilical cord was broken. As Frank put the letter down he glanced out the lounge room window. The sun was shining on a field of ripe cocksfoot grass. Suddenly it appeared to be blown by a gentle breeze. Every seed head seemed to turn into a human being.
‘I saw a multitude of people praising God,’ he told me.
Like a deep inner prophecy, God said: ‘I will cause you to raise up an evangelistic centre in Lower Hutt that will finally have an outreach to the world.
‘It will touch a multitude of people.'” pg. 112
When they moved to Lower Hutt in December 1959, Hazel wrote of an important event that shaped Frank Houston’s ministry:
“Christmas already broke into an already busy schedule. For the first time, Frank had decided we should go to the annual Christmas camp and national business conference. The business sessions, held in the afternoons, were enough to deter any newcomer. Pastors sat with a copy of the constitution on their knees and their tongues ready to argue irrelevant points. For five days the delegates wrangled over, what Frank decided, was inconsequential to the lives of people.
For a whole week they argued and there were only thirteen churches represented. Delegates were asked to nominate men for the executive council, the controlling body of the Assemblies of God. Frank was amazed that someone should nominate him. Unknown, though he thought himself to be, he decided to let his name stand. He was surprised to be elected.” pg. 114
Why did this happen? How did this happen? The only thing that proved his legitimacy at this point was his associations with Ray Bloomfield and David Batterham and that he received Bloomfield’s mantle of “double portion”. The only thing that seemed to qualify Frank was his “supernatural” power and the church growth numbers. All Ray Bloomfield did was put his hands on Houston and sweep him in AOG’s backdoor without anyone knowing what Frank Houston actually believed.
However, this is the way a prophet and apostle are recognised and established in the NOLR/New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) cult. Think of William Branham. And more recently, think of Todd Bentley of the man-made, Lakeland “revival”. Bentley automatically qualified as an “Apostle” by the NOLR/NAR because he was supposedly used by God to bring revival and was operating in healing, signs and wonders.
It is our opinion that electing a Branham-man like into the NZ AOG was inevitable. The Latter Rainers in the New Zealand AOG would not have considered the policies, regulations, rules nor bother looking at the credentials of Frank Houston. They would have elected him because of his “prophetic” William Branham-like ministry and qualities.
Hazel then highlights an element of the Latter Rain ideology emerging in Houston’s direction in the AOG,
“Then the feeling was replaced by a sense that God would use him to bring the movement into greater evangelism than it was pursuing. He would accomplish more than that. God would use him to release the fellowship into freedom in praise and worship.” pg. 114
The Latter Rain was HUGE in pushing “intimacy” in God and freedom in their worship experiences. Jack Hayford, a NOLR and NAR leader, was also trying to reform and restore the global church into TRUE “freedom in praise and worship” (see his latter work ‘Worship His Majesty’, 1987). It is possible to claim that Frank Houston was “Apostollically Reforming” the New Zealand AOG to the “New Thing” God was doing on the earth.
“He determined that he would also work towards getting the business sessions streamlined so that less time would be taken up with unnecessary argument. His opportunity came when he was appointed superintendent some years later.” pg. 114
Word got back to Ray Bloomfield about Frank Houston’s promotion. Hazel writes,
“God’s desire is signs, wonders and miracles?” Ministers are to preach a “power-packed message of deliverance from sin, sickness and disease?”
The Pentecostal movement in its beginnings preached the gospel that the Apostles preached. Branham introduced the ‘Gospel of the Kingdom’ “power-packed message of deliverance from sin, sickness and disease.”
This is the classic Latter Rain “Gospel of the Kingdom” gospel which Branham claims to preach:
“So I believe that we’ll take God’s Word as the Rule and to go into all the world and preach the gospel. The gospel came not in word only but through power and demonstration of the Holy Spirit. So the gospel is demonstrating the power of the Holy Spirit.
I went into nations where they say, “Now we don’t want missionaries. We know more about it than you do. But the thing we want to see is somebody who’s got faith enough to make God’s Word manifest.” That’s what they want to see.
And that’s how they get converted. That’s how they find Christ. It’s because they believe in that manner.”” [Source] (Emphasis ours.)
This is not Pentecostalism. Here we can see Ray Bloomfield pushing the NOLR agenda through Frank Houston to newly reform the New Zealand AOG.
In response to Ray Bloomfield’s letter, Hazel writes.
“Sometimes Frank wondered if the movement could revive.
Yet when pastors of independent churches tried to persuade him to also go independent, the awareness that God had some special purpose for the Assemblies of God kept him where he was. The antagonism towards these independent groups by some of his fellow ministers left Frank puzzled.
‘How can you fellowship with pipe-smoking ministers in their fraternity when you will not associate with born-again men from other Pentecostal streams?’ he’d ask them. ‘Many of those ministers are not even Christian.” pg. 115
Notice Frank wanted the AOG movement revived and saw that the answer to revival was founded in unity, not division. And also notice his dig at some ministers for being “not even Christian”. This is the typical Latter Rain revival paradigm where unity is emphasised over doctrine. You are either spiritually on board with what God is doing or religiously dead and getting in the way. Don’t forget that there were heretical sects emerging from the Pentecostal churches such as Oneness Pentecostalism (who deny the trinity) and extreme Full Gospel/Foursquare sects.
THE NOLR MAKEOVER OF THE NEW ZEALAND AOG
On pages 115-116, Hazel gave valuable insight how Frank Houston progressed from pastor to prophetic visionary leader. She documents how Frank Houston “presented his vision for Lower Hutt” to the executive:
“There seemed to be no satisfactory reply. He is still puzzled by the narrowness of such a point of view. Although the work of the executive would require much time, Frank’s main vision was still the church. At the February board meeting, Frank presented his vision for Lower Hutt, a city of eighty-five thousand.” pg. 115 (Emphasis added.)
Notice the emphasis on ‘vision’. Houston claims to the board, “I’ve been asking God for direction and I feel we must take the town hall for a crusade” (pg. 115). Now he is prophetically dictating what needs to be done. He is now putting the hat of a governing Latter Rain Prophet on himself in the NZ AOG.
When people asked questions how this could be done, Hazel writes,
“Frank knew he had to bring them to the point where they shared his vision. Without that there could be no success. Seed thoughts dropped into the discussion took root until the whole board agreed to fully support the plan.” pg. 115 (Emphasis added.)
This is frightening insight into how NOLR Prophet Frank Houston manipulated the board to agree with his “vision” from God. And this is exactly how the Hillsong church and the Australian AOG operate to this day: you don’t question the Apostle, Prophet or leaders vision.
And of course, Prophet Frank got what he wanted, bringing together a number of churches from all denominations in his
first Hillsong Conference “town hall… crusade”. Frank got his critics from other denominations and he put them in place with fallacious arguments. (e.g. “We don’t steal sheep, we grow grass.” pg. 118.)
Frank Houston also started seeing himself as the only authority to make final decisions as the “man of God”. In looking for a new church property for his congregation, Frank,
“… could hardly contain his excitement. There had been no time to consult the church board. Nor did he want to for the moment. He’d come to feel that God never works through committees: he chooses a man (though the man may need committees to help him.)” pg. 119 (Emphasis added.)
And when Prophet Frank Houston found a building he liked, how did he present his idea to the board members?
“It’s for sale and I believe that God wants us to buy it.” pg. 120. (Emphasis added.)
Prophet Frank has spoken.
Why would the board members question him? We hope you can start to see the New Order of the Latter Rain manifest itself through the authoritarian methods of Frank Houston at this point. Who can question God wanting Frank and the board to buy this church?
And this is what Prophet Frank Houston did,
“Frank phoned the mayor on Monday.
‘We’ll take the church,’ he said.
‘You had better make an appointment to come see me,’ the mayor said. He was an astute businessman. ‘It will cost you $60,000. Do you have that much money?’ the mayor asked.
‘Yes of course we do.’ Frank didn’t tell him it was still in the bank of Heaven. He believed God had shown him the city council would carry the finance themselves.” pg. 120-121.
Later on Frank Houston had to be honest with the council,
“When we had to tell the council the money was not forthcoming, they were in a predicament. If what they had done became known there would be a public outcry. If they evicted us the same thing would happen. They carried the finance for five years.”
We will look more into this scandal in another article. However, this is the god of Frank Houston and the New Order of the Latter Rain.
Touch not God’s anointed.
This was the aura Frank Houston created around himself in the New Zealand and Australian AOG. The NOLR “Prophets” and “Apostles” were climbing the ranks and swiftly destroying and redefining the Pentecostal institutions and churches of Australia and New Zealand with their totalitarian spiritual regimes.
Here Hazel writes how Frank Houston became Superintendent of the AOG,
“The executive council was not a body of men who agreed on everything, but they were in agreement when they needed a new superintendent. Ralph Read, the current superintendent, had accepted a call to a church in Australia. He was a gifted organiser who had given strong leadership to the movement in New Zealand. The Lower Hutt church wondered anxiously who could replace him.
Our board offered to pay his salary if he’d stay as superintendent in a full-time capacity. Ralph felt that would be out of the will of God. Frank, now assistant superintendent, found himself elevated to the position. Neither of us wanted that. There was already so much to do in the ministry but we yielded to what was assuredly the purpose of God. We knelt in dedication while Ralph Read prayed for us with laying on of hands. Both of us were aware of a special sense of God’s calling into a phase of ministry which would release the fellowship into a period of growth.
It grew from fifteen to forty churches as the bonds of traditionalism were broken by spontaneous praise and worship, often accompanied by dancing.” pg. 125-126. (Emphasis added)
Once again the NOLR paradigm is overriding orthodox Pentecostalism. And Frank Houston made sure that his paradigm was caught by others:
“The ministry in New Zealand was suffering from a lack of trained people. It would also be part of the vision to reach the world.
‘Lord, give me one hundred men. One hundred men dedicated to you at whatever the cost. Then we will make a real impact for the kingdom.’
The aim of the college would be to train young people to evangelise the world. Academic excellence would be important but secondary to the development of their spiritual lives. No way must the fire of the Spirit be doused, although education must not be despised. Students came from Samoa, Fiji, Indonesia, Australia and Sri Lanka.
‘These are your spiritual sons,’ the Spirit whispered.
‘They have laid aside fears and frustrations for the hopes and challenges of faith, but they know God is their partner,’ Frank declared.” pg. 126-7
We want to make it clear. We are not against goals and accomplishments being achieved in the name of Jesus. The issue is that people blur the lines and claim that God gave them a “vision” to achieve something, thus making themselves out to be infallible men. Frank Houston was clearly a man who controlled the New Zealand AOG as God’s vision-seeing prophet and restructured it accordingly so that he was accountable to none. That is incredibly dangerous.
It is clear Frank Houston considered himself to be above church boards and various forms of governing AOG and church infrastructure. And what is concerning is how the AOG executive board and his own church board seem to be more than willing to submit to his prophetic direction.
If you think we have come to serious erroneous conclusions of Frank Houston and his relation to any form of accountability structures in the AOG because of his prophetic delusions, we would please ask you to consider the articles that are still to come in this series.