(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) – Pastor Vinworth Dayal, head of the Third Exodus Assembly, was unrepentant about the more $28 million he claimed he had accumulated in tithes over many years at his Longdenville church. Preaching before a packed congregation at the church on Friday night, Dayal not only defended himself but used the opportunity to hit out at Anglican and Catholic church leaders who had called on him to declare how he amassed that amount of money.
“If they want to believe that’s $28 million that’s them. Is you give it to me,” he said motioning to the congregation.
“I walk in here tonight, I realise I don’t have to explain. Believe, as you sit under the true God, what is true. If I getting lock-up is because you give it to me and you see exactly how I spend it,” he said to cheers from the gathering. “When you see bags and bags its because it’s all there.”
On December 31, Dayal went to the Central Bank with 28 boxes of old $100 bills and attempted to exchange them for the new polymer bills. That activity attracted the attention of the Financial Intelligence branch of the T&T Police Service and an investigation was launched.
On Thursday, officers visited the church and carted away millions more in smaller denominations. At the church, investigators said they found large sums of $20, $10, $5 and $1 notes in a large cabinet. Officers also visited a home in La Romaine linked to the pastor and seized several documents.
Dayal said he still had a pile of cheques that had not yet been deposited.
During his sermon, he told the congregation that when he spoke with the police officers on Thursday, they “knew” he was different just by his voice.
“I tell the police that come here what kind of person I am. I only have to open my mouth and they know what kind of person I am,” he said.
He asked the church members whether he ever asked them for anything, whether he ever begged them for anything and they responded with a chorus of “nos”.
Despite his show of calm and faith, Dayal advised the congregation that if they were asked anything by anyone “outside” they should “give testimony, a nice one, glorify God, don’t make it too long”.
He took the Anglican church to task for saying he needed to declare how he amassed that amount of money and also bashed the Catholic church for “acting holier than thou.”
“I see they have this man in the newspaper, he said that Pastor Dayal have to declare how he get this, that’s the same people in the Anglican church under a homosexual man (name called) and all this filth they had in the Holy Trinity Cathedral,” he said referring to the fashion show with bikini-clad models held in the church a few weeks ago.
“And they sitting down there and talking?” he asked.
Dayal further claimed the Inter-Religious Organisation was “sitting and discussing” him and judging how his church is different from theirs.
“I was born and confirmed in an Anglican church and when I reach 12 years old, nobody had to tell me, I see it and I tell my mother, I not going back there you know,” he said.
He described the whole situation as one designed by the devil.
“That’s what the devil does try. The devil does try to hit something, Amen, thinking everything will scatter and fall apart, Amen, but The Word is planted in you Amen, glory be to God in the highest,” he declared.
“This is our apostolic church in the last days, this is the Bible church. In three days I become so famous, everyone in the Caribbean know me. It reached as far as Africa and India until I started sending it to brothers. I am not ashamed. What I shame for? I do something wrong?
“Sometimes, it takes a crisis, truly you could see all things work together for good. If it takes that to bring everybody out tonight, what a great thing that is friends.”
Dayal listed the people persecuted in the Bible and said if he was arrested he would be in good company. He said it seemed that people outside the church just “want some action” which is why he was being targeted.
“We are here strong as ever, stronger than before. When the full strength of the sunlight comes and the fruit on the tree, it don’t get back green friends, it doesn’t fall off the tree. It does get ripe. Amen. Hallelujah,” he said.
“You think Satan can break up something that Jesus built? The devil has a lot to learn.”
Dayal quoted from the Book of Daniel, saying God’s will was not a punishment.
“Is God punishing him? No, when he comes to that prison, he going to be the right hand of Pharoah, every knee shall bow Amen. Prisoner first, then vindicated son,” he said.”This is the reality.”
He also quoted from Mathew Chapter Five, Verse 10 which speaks about the blessings that the righteous receive when they are persecuted.
“You don’t have to give up when you going through hard times, friends. That’s when you dig your heels in,” he said.
During his prayer session, which was separate from the sermon, Dayal denounced those who “gave their own spin” to this matter.
“When testing time comes, that’s when they show their colours, what they really are but Lord God You stand by your people and make a spectacle of them. Though they try to slander and blacken them and give their own spin on things, Lord said he will never forsake you,” Dayal said.
“We are grateful for the trials and the testing. This is not strange, this was prophesied and we expected it, we longed for this time.”
Dayal, who said he had kept the word of the Lord for 45 years, held up one of the newspaper reports on the seizure of the millions of dollars from his church and warned the congregation to be wary of the articles they read.
“If you ain’t know what you reading, you gonna miss everything,” he said, adding some of the news reports were done to deliberately “give people direction”.
“Look here, look here . . . see? Person of interest, money, suspicion. Is it money laundering? Is it Al Qaeda, is it ISIS. What is it?” he asked.
He said he would continue to “serve God” until the matter was resolved.