the Spirit Watch
Manipulation And Control Tactics:
Discerning Immanuel Ministries
could something that seems so ripe be so rotten?
Not only is Larry Miller's teaching unbiblical, it is spiritually destructive. A works based theology strangles grace and leads to a false sense of holiness based on following rules. In Miller’s view, only his way of caring for the poor is acceptable. Therefore, the members must listen and obey Miller’s every directive. Once a group leader establishes that his group is the only one doing it right and most importantly, the only one headed to heaven, his control over his followers intensifies and often becomes dangerous.
One example is the rigorous work schedule imposed on the members as well as the control exerted by Miller to his followers. Ex-members testified that they began their days with communal breakfast followed by Bible study under the Miller’s guidance from 9 AM until Noon. There would be a lunch break and then the work of sorting and distributing food and clothing would begin and continue until their dinner break. After dinner the work began again and most nights continued until at least 10 PM and often into the early hours of the morning. The members worked Monday thru Saturday and took Sunday off as a day of rest.
One ex-member explained how Miller would control members at IM.
Larry (Miller) controlled what we ate, how we dressed, and how we slept. He decided after the first missionary trip to India that everyone needed to only eat rice and beans since the orphans in India only had rice. There was no reason we should have more in order to have equality in the Body of Christ. If you were a family, you had more freedom to eat what you wanted in your own apartment but you were strongly encouraged to eat together like the New Testament Church. Singles were more controlled than the families. Larry would guilt the families at Bible studies if he thought they were eating too much. He didn’t want anyone to go to McDonald’s because you would not be sacrificing enough and an orphan kid would die because of that cheeseburger you bought. Larry controlled how much you slept by using guilt to manipulate you into working long hours. There was a member that, according to Larry, slept too much, so Larry threw his clothes out the window and burned his mattress and CDs.
Another ex-member testified of his drastic weight loss of nearly 40 pounds while at IM due to the regimented diet of rice and beans. Miller convinced his followers that it was God’s will that they only eat beans and rice for the course of three years. He later changed the diet to include any food that had been donated to IM, but under the same strict rules given Israel in regards to eating manna. They were to eat only what they needed and not save any of the food for another day. This same member left IM believing he was going to hell for leaving, but said hell was better than IM.
Another ex-member told us of his sister’s horror when she saw him for the first time upon his exit from IM. He said she burst into tears at the sight of his fragility due to the over work and undernourishment at IM. This same ex-member has been diagnosed with depression since his exit from IM.
Yet another ex-member conveyed this interaction between him and his wife.
We had an argument, and I’m going to be completely honest with you here. We had an argument and the result was, I was defending the ministry (IM) indirectly and it hurt my wife and she felt like I was not listening to her so she threw herself down on our bed and began to scream and throw herself around. I thought to myself ‘oh my goodness, something is wrong here’. I jumped up on top of the bed and began to reassure her that I love her and I thought at that point, forget the ministry (IM). Right or wrong, I’ve got to find out what is going on with my wife and it dawned on me after we spoke for ten to fifteen minutes… my wife is being destroyed, we have to leave IM.
Several members spoke of a young girl who was so distraught after joining IM that she attempted suicide, twice. One ex-member quoted Miller as saying after one attempt, “I wonder if she’s even saved?”
Miller teaches his followers that they are in a ministry that is the conduit to God. God is working through IM and they are being blessed because of their affiliation and sacrifice. In addition, since they are feeding the innocent poor they are guaranteed a place in heaven as demonstrated by Miller’s teaching of the Sheep and the Goats as will be shown later. However if they leave IM, they lose their status with God and have blood drenched clothes and hands for which God will now judge them. The motivation for staying is high. Miller’s mastery at manipulation not only convinces members to stay but he also entices them to join IM because he is considered a prophet.
Another example of how Miller used his status as a prophet to manipulate people is seen in his prophecy directed at three married male members. The prophecy again begins with the Lord referring to Miller as ‘My Son’ and giving him directions concerning the men.
One of recipients of this prophecy who is now an ex-member explained the intent of this word from God when it was given to them. He stated that Miller attempted to manipulate them by guilt into dining with the single members of the ministry instead of in separate family units. He wanted them to cut their grocery budget and pay off debts that, according to former members, mostly consisted of medical bills. Miller already suggested the single members to live on rice and beans since ‘Billions of children in this world survive on beans and rice’. This was a call to these married men and their wives to submit to that menu as well. It is interesting to note however, that God seemed to allow their children to consume a more complete diet when he states, “I do have compassion on your children, but my desire for them are not my desires for you.”
Further we read that not only are these men being frivolous with their money but also their zeal for God was lacking. So God was punishing them by giving them more debt and “blowing away” what money they did make. The prophecy states that God would stop punishing them when they showed Him their newly increased zeal by submitting to this prophecy’s commands.
The prophecy also explains why God allowed these few to have secular jobs when the majority of the members did not work outside of IM. God gave them jobs to help them get out of debt, to honor God by giving to His work and to teach them self-denial. They were to use very little money on themselves but instead give most of it either to their debt or IM. Miller did not want anyone to live on a higher standard than the others and therefore create discord among those with less. And finally, Miller reminds the men to do all that had been commanded with a “glad and sincere heart.”
This prophecy was not of the Lord, but rather a manipulative tactic to control how people think, eat, and live. It is hypocritical of Miller to condemn these men for eating with their families while Miller eats with his family in his house in Morris, Illinois. His family is rarely seen at IM and they seldom eat there. Miller also attended cookouts and enjoyed steaks with his friends on the weekend. Miller’s hypocrisy and manipulation are especially tragic in light of the fact that one of the members who received this prophecy put his family on a menu of bread and gravy out of obedience to God.
Miller often shares his prophetic visions with his closest confidants to help him determine if that “word” is from the Lord before revealing it to the rest of the members. If Miller were truly receiving a vision from the Lord there would not be a need to collaborate with other IM members. It appears that he is making sure fellow leaders at IM are onboard with his plans before alerting the rest of the ministry about his latest prophecy. From there, Miller disseminates his will at will, while the rest of IM believes he has heard directly from the Lord. An ex-member gave this example. He stated that after a trip to India, Miller had a revelation that IM members should eat only beans and rice. Miller discussed the revelation with the member and Peters to determine whether it came from the Lord before taking it to the members as a word from the Lord. This is an evil trick against which our Lord Jesus gave this stern warning in Matthew 7:15-17, "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.” (NIV)
An additional test to determine if someone is a prophet of God is taken from Deuteronomy 13:1-2. It states that anyone who might make a true prediction but leads his followers to a false god is a false prophet. From the above prophecy as well as prophecy in the Bible, the god Miller leads his followers to is a vindictive bully. Ex-members have stated that the god Miller teaches lords over families who buy too many groceries and will cause them to become ill in order to place them in greater debt since they do not have any medical insurance.
Miller does not limit his false prophecies and teachings to IM members. During a mission trip to Mexico, IM dug a well for a local church. Miller had a revelation from the Lord. He proclaimed that the Lord would bring a continuous flow of water to their well as long as there was no sin within the church, but if there was sin in the church then the well would dry up. This area of Mexico was notorious for its hot climate and lack of water. Wells would often run dry due to the low water table and it was not uncommon for villages to be without water for days or weeks at a time. When the well ran dry, the young Christians were left wondering what sin had entered their church to make God so angry with them. Miller’s prophecy had a devastating effect on them. While it is wise to search for sin and repent of it, there will always be a measure of sin within the church. The Bible guarantees it. First John 1:8 says, If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. (NIV)
Furthermore, there is little biblical evidence for the idea that God would refuse water to an entire village because of the mere presence of any amount of sin as punishment for sin. In fact, Scripture indicates we cannot presume that God’s provision of rain means righteousness and conversely that his withholding of water means condemnation of sin. In Matthew 5:45b, he reminds us, He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (NIV)
Because of Miller’s deceit, IM is no longer welcome at that church in Mexico. Fortunately, some of the ex-members have revisited this area and have provided funds and labor out of true Christian love for their brothers and sisters in Christ.
 This is reminiscent of well known Bible based cults like the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons).
 IM does not provide medical insurance for their members. Any medical expenses are paid for out of the member’s own pocket.
 Numerous ex-members have been quoted as saying “Kathy Miller (Miller’s wife) only comes to IM if Larry gives her permission.”
 It is Miller’s belief that medical insurance is not needed because the Lord will take care of you. In glaring contradiction, numerous ex-members have stated that Miller along with Peters, a retired employee of Caterpillar, both have medical benefits.
 The physical labor exerted by IM under the watch of Miller in Mexico is nothing short of strenuous. The well dug was done by hand, was 40 feet deep and done by two teams. These teams each worked 18 hour shifts that overlapped making the dig a non-stop project until completion.
 There were times in the land of Israel where God needed to lay down a stern rebuke towards His chosen people and cut off rain. (Dt. 28:24) Again, the reader needs to bear in mind the Lord does not work the exact same way with the church as He did with Israel. Even if Miller does provide a verse for his alleged prophecy, none will be found on the New Testament. The only stern rebuke from God found in the Bible made towards a church is found in Revelation chapters 2 and 3. None of these rebukes resembles what Miller declared.
Comments and Questions may be e-mailed directly to
Steve Hogel at firstname.lastname@example.org