One tragic theme that I hear over and over again is the division of families.
Parents divided from their children. Children divided from their parents. Husbands divided from their wives. Wives divided from their husbands. Grandparents divided from their grandchildren. Siblings divided from one another. The loss of aunts, uncles, cousins, and in-laws to a destructive religious group.
There isn’t enough time to retell every horror story of a family being broken up by Janeth Santiago at UFC.
Every brave soul that has come forward could write a book about the devastating experience of being separated from a loved one. And there are many others who have left UFC that have yet to speak out.
Former UFC members and Christians all around the world can clearly see that this division is not the work of God, but a spiritual wrecking ball smashing apart the family unit.
But sadly, UFC members believe that this division is the result of Jesus separating them from the world. And keep in mind that from their perspective, “the world” includes Christians outside of UFC — especially Christians who left UFC.
They have been led to believe that they divided from their family “for God” [their “god” being Janeth and UFC] and that they made some type of “sacrifice for the Kingdom of God.”
They have been led to believe that relatives who left UFC “walked away from God” “left the only true church” and should be separated from and disowned.
I have received reports that Janeth twists Matthew 12:46-50 to justify this divisive attack on the family unit.
It says “As Jesus was speaking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. Someone told Jesus, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, and they want to speak to you.” Jesus asked, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” Then he pointed to his disciples and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers. Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!”
I know that Janeth has put her own twist on this passage, but now we are going to UNTWIST it. We are going to pay attention to what it does say and what it DOESN’T say. We are not going to put any words into Jesus’ mouth and add to the word of God. We are going to leave this verse IN CONTEXT and keep in mind what the rest of the Bible teaches about family.
So, let’s take a look at what happened in Matthew 12:46-50.
Jesus was teaching a crowd of people, and meanwhile, his mother and brothers were standing outside, and they asked to speak to Him.
So someone walked up to Jesus while He was talking, to tell Him that His mother and brothers were outside waiting to speak to Him. Since this was Jesus’ own mother and brothers — one would think that they were more important to Him than the crowd of people. Surely Jesus would put the crowd on hold and go talk to His mother and brothers. But instead, Jesus said something startling. . .
He pointed to His disciples and said that they are His mother and brothers. And that anyone who does the will of God is his brother, sister, and mother.
Now please pay attention to what Jesus didn’t say. . .
He didn’t say that His mother and brothers weren’t His family anymore and that He disowned them.
He didn’t say that the disciples REPLACED His mother and brothers as His “new family.”
He didn’t say that His mother and his brothers weren’t important to Him.
He didn’t tell anyone to disown their relatives, shun them, or divorce their spouse.
He didn’t yell at His mother and brothers, and talk down to them.
He didn’t tell anyone not to communicate with their relatives anymore.
What Jesus DID say is that His disciples were His family members. He used the opportunity to teach an important lesson: That people who love Him and believe in Him are just as important to Him as His own mother and brothers. He didn’t CUT OFF His mother and brothers — He EXTENDED His family to everyone who does the will of God in heaven.
What we can learn from this passage is that Jesus does not play personal favorites — not even with His own mother and brothers. His mother and brothers were important to Him and He loved them dearly, but His disciples were just as important to Him and He loved them just as much. They were His family too. He does not love Mary and His brothers more than He loves Believers.
Mary and His brothers were not an “exalted inner circle” or a “special elite group” closer to Jesus based on the fact that they were related to Him. Jesus considered the disciples to be His family just as much as Mary and His brothers.
This was also a very important lesson for the Jews who knew Jesus. Some of them thought they were closer to God, better than everyone else, and extra-special just because they were related to Abraham. Yet here is their very own Messiah saying that in the Kingdom of God, anyone who does the will of the Father is His brother, sister, or mother. In the eyes of Jesus, the definition of family is not excluded or confined to genetics — but extended to anyone who trusts and obeys the Lord.
John the apostle put it this way “But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn–not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.” (John 1:12-13)
Paul the apostle put it this way “For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are His heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.” (Galatians 3:26-29)
Somehow, Janeth has twisted Matthew 12:46-50 to convince UFC members to disown and shun their parents, children, wives, husbands, siblings, cousins, grandchildren, grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and in-laws. She is clearly putting words in Jesus’ mouth, because He didn’t tell anyone to basically trash their own family and cut them off as if they don’t exist.
In Exodus 20, Jesus said to honor your parents. Ephesians 6:1-3 says “Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.” You can’t honor someone that you don’t communicate with and spend time with. You can’t honor someone that you don’t love. You aren’t honoring someone that you yell at, slander, and disrespect.
Ephesians 6:4 says “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.” Parents at UFC, are you instilling anger and resentment in your children by the way you treat them? Are you pushing them away from Jesus Christ and putting a bad taste in their mouth towards the Lord? Parents have a responsibility to raise their children in the teaching of Jesus Christ. But you can’t do that if you contradict the teaching of Jesus Christ yourself, and follow a leader who forbids you from even talking to your children. Children are a blessing from the Lord. It is an amazing gift to conceive and birth them into this world. Yet somehow you have been persuaded to abandon and neglect the fruit of your own womb and your own loins. This persuasion does not come from the Lord.
In Matthew 19:4-6 Jesus said that “from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.'” And He said, ‘”This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.”
No one, absolutely NO ONE, has authority to divide a husband from his wife. God is the authority over marriage — because He is the one who created men and women to compliment each other and become one flesh through holy matrimony.
Marriage is suppose to illustrate Christ’s Covenant relationship with His Bride, the Church. “As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the Church are one.” (Ephesians 5:31-32) Just as a husband and his wife are one flesh, Jesus and His Bride are one flesh. By faith in His sacrifice, we receive His Spirit and His name, and become a part of His body.
Considering that marriage is suppose to illustrate Christ’s Covenant relationship with His Bride, the Church — we can understand why God hates divorce and speaks against husbands divorcing their wives without a real cause. Jesus said that He would never leave us nor forsake us, and that He is with us until the end of the age. Similarly, a husband and wife vow to love one another in sickness and in health, for rich or for poor, until death do they part. . . and never leave nor forsake each other. Bearing with one another in love demonstrates the everlasting love and grace of Jesus Christ for His Bride.
According to Jesus, the only justifiable reason for leaving one’s spouse is adultery: “Jesus replied, “Moses permitted divorce only as a concession to your hard hearts, but it was not what God had originally intended. And I tell you this, whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery—unless his wife has been unfaithful.” (Matthew 19:8-9)
Another justifiable reason for divorce is abandonment. But if there is no abandonment, and your spouse loves you and is willing to stay with you, you are to remain with them and not look for a loophole to divorce them: “But for those who are married, I have a command that comes not from me, but from the Lord. A wife must not leave her husband.But if she does leave him, let her remain single or else be reconciled to him. And the husband must not leave his wife.Now, I will speak to the rest of you, though I do not have a direct command from the Lord. If a Christian man has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to continue living with him, he must not leave her.And if a Christian woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to continue living with her, she must not leave him. For the Christian wife brings holiness to her marriage, and the Christian husband brings holiness to his marriage. Otherwise, your children would not be holy, but now they are holy.(But if the husband or wife who isn’t a believer insists on leaving, let them go. In such cases the Christian husband or wife is no longer bound to the other, for God has called you to live in peace.)Don’t you wives realize that your husbands might be saved because of you? And don’t you husbands realize that your wives might be saved because of you?Each of you should continue to live in whatever situation the Lord has placed you, and remain as you were when God first called you. This is my rule for all the churches.” (1 Corinthians 7:10-17)
None of the divorces that were filed under Janeth’s direction were justifiable. There was no adultery, abandonment, physical abuse, or any other serious breach or violation of the marriage covenant. They were filed because a spouse decided to leave UFC and refused to submit to the corrupt leadership of Janeth Santiago. Whatever happened to “til death do I part”? It seems that the vow has been changed to “til my spouse leaves UFC” or “til my spouse refuses to submit to Janeth.”
There is not ONE Scripture that justifies divorcing one’s spouse if they leave your “church,” refuse to join, or speak critically of your leader. These reasons are not grounds for divorce, and the Lord will not sign off on such division and contempt for the institution of marriage. Divorcing your spouse for Janeth and UFC is not a “sacrifice unto God.” This is how the Lord feels about it:
“Here is another thing you do. You cover the Lord’s altar with tears, weeping and groaning because he pays no attention to your offerings and doesn’t accept them with pleasure. You cry out, “Why doesn’t the Lord accept my worship?” I’ll tell you why! Because the Lord witnessed the vows you and your wife made when you were young. But you have been unfaithful to her, though she remained your faithful partner, the wife of your marriage vows.Didn’t the Lord make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are his. And what does he want? Godly children from your union. So guard your heart; remain loyal to the wife of your youth. “For I hate divorce!” says the Lord, the God of Israel. “To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “So guard your heart; do not be unfaithful to your wife.” (Malachi 2:13-16)
What some of you call a “sacrifice for God” — the Lord calls cruelty. The Lord is not paying attention to your hypocritical worship. But He is paying attention to how you treated your husband or wife, and how you overwhelmed them with pain and suffering by divorcing them.
It is shameful that people who have left their families are being propped up before UFC as “heros and martyrs for God.” UFC members, let me explain something to you. . .
True martyrs for the Faith do not walk away from their family (as you have done). It is always their family who walks away from them. True martyrs for the Faith do not shun their family (like Janeth told you to do). It is always their family who shuns them.
At this very moment, there are Christians overseas in Muslim nations who are divided from their family — but not because *they* choose to shun their family or because their pastor told them not to talk to their Muslim relatives anymore. But because their Muslim relatives disowned them, shunned them, kicked them out, and even threatened to KILL them. They were put into extreme predicaments where they had to RUN for their life and go into hiding from their own family members. It is not safe for them to be around their family anymore because they would be persecuted to the point of torture, imprisonment, a public stoning, or beheading. So as you can see, they didn’t divide from their family by choice or out of misguided loyalty to a religious group or leader — but because their relatives severely persecuted them, disowned them, and shunned them.
To my knowledge, no one at UFC has been put into an extreme predicament where they had to physically separate from their family. They were not shunned and disowned by their family members. But rather, they chose to shun and disown their family at Janeth’s direction. They chose to disassociate from their own husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, children, siblings, etc. When you take it upon *yourself* to disown your own family — against their wishes and pleas for you to stay, it is not a “sacrifice for God,” you are not being “persecuted for righteousness sake,” and this is not what Jesus meant when He said to forsake all to be His disciple.
“A large crowd was following Jesus. He turned around and said to them,“If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple.And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:25-27)
In this passage, Jesus used a strong word “hate” to drive home a strong point — that we must love Him more than we love everyone else. He was not saying that we should literally hate our own family and treat them with cruelty and contempt. We must always interpret Scripture in light of other Scriptures so that we don’t arrive at a false conclusion. In other Scriptures, Jesus told us to love one another and also love our enemies.
The message in Luke 14:25-27 is not to HATE our family and disown them for the sake of “following Jesus.” The message is to love Him above all– this is the first and the greatest commandment, to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Loving our family falls under the second greatest commandment, which is to “love thy neighbor as thyself.”
It should be noted that you can’t keep the first commandment without keeping the second commandment. In other words, you can’t love God without loving your neighbor as well. Both go hand in hand. How can you love God, and not love your neighbor — in this case, your own family?
“If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.” (1 John 4:20-21)
How can you love someone that you don’t talk to? How can you love someone that you don’t spend time with? How can you love someone that you disown? Is it possible to love someone who doesn’t exist to you? Can you love someone that you have abandoned and thrown away?
Perhaps some UFC members think that they are putting God first by putting Janeth and UFC first. However, putting a leader and a local religious group first is not one-in-the same as putting God first. Because Janeth is not God, and UFC is not God. The LORD alone is God, and according to His word, the family unit is very important. In the book of Genesis, we see that God created the family unit before any church leaders and local congregations ever existed. No so-called “pastor” or local church comes before your husband, wife, children, etc.
I have also received reports that Janeth twists Luke 12:51-53 to justify dividing families.
It says “Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I have come to divide people against each other!From now on families will be split apart, three in favor of me, and two against—or two in favor and three against.‘Father will be divided against son and son against father; mother against daughter and daughter against mother; and mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.’”
In this passage, Jesus was speaking in front of a huge crowd. And He warned them that He did not come to bring peace to the world — because the world rejects Him. And a world that rejects Jesus will not have peace. But instead, Christ brings division — even division within families.
The division that Jesus is speaking of here is spiritual division. Some people believe in Him and others do not believe Him. Some people receive Him and others reject Him. This is a spiritual division between those who believe in Jesus and those who do not. So as you can see, the coming of Jesus Christ did not bring peace to the world — it created division and drew a line in the sand between those who believe in Him and those who do not believe.
Sometimes this division can bring conflicts and hostility — and as I shared above, sometimes it can lead to extreme persecution, shunning, and the need to physically separate from one’s unbelieving family members for safety reasons. But once again, the shunning will always come from the unbelieving family members and not the Christian. As Believers, we do not take it upon ourselves to cut off our own family members — especially not for a local “church” or a leader and then claim that we are “persecuted martyrs” “making a sacrifice for God.”
If our family members do not believe in Jesus, then our faith in Him will bring a spiritual division — but He will not lead us to push them away, disassociate from them, abandon them, divorce our spouse, and treat them as if they don’t exist. If one’s family members don’t believe in Jesus, then how on earth can you minister to them and show them the love of God if you don’t even talk to them or spend time with them? Not all of Jesus’ siblings believed in Him immediately — but He didn’t cut them off. He continued to love them, and at least one of them [James] became a disciple.
Jesus definitely will not bring spiritual division between family members who believe in Jesus. And from what I have personally witnessed, many people who have family members in UFC are Christians. They believe in Jesus and long to be reunited with their loved ones, yet Janeth and her deceptive teachings have erected a wall of unholy division between them and their family. Division between family members who believe in Jesus is not of God, but the enemy Satan, who sows discord and division between brethren. The division at UFC has nothing to do with Jesus Christ, and everything to do with blind loyalty to a false shepherd Janeth Santiago.
Is there *one* healthy, whole, and complete family at UFC? Or are they all unhealthy, broken, and divided?
Ironically, Janeth named her group “United” Faith, when it seems the only thing they are united in is division. In order to be *UNITED* in the Faith, you have to be united with other Christians. Yet according to Janeth and UFC members, there aren’t any “real Christians” outside of UFC and Iglesia Fe Unida. Everyone outside of their group is wrong, lost, in darkness, and unsaved. So riddle me this. . . . how is it a “united faith” when you aren’t united with any Believers outside of your little circle? What type of “united faith” leads you to DIVIDE FROM Believers all over the world? Can one little group be “united” with itself?
I submit to you that any “faith” which leads you to divide from the family of Christ is no faith at all, but a religious cult. And being “united in division” is an oxymoron. It is a contradiction in terms — yet it is a contradiction which exists in the twilight zone of UFC. I pray that UFC members will notice this contradiction and return to their families and be truly UNITED and reconciled!~