The above image of a church is harmless enough. White walls. Bell Tower. Pristine. Clean. Serene. The blue skies not for a moment betraying the dark clouds beneath. Dark clouds heavy with sinister motives, allegations of fraud, and questions - oh so many questions! - that would set this holy project far from the God it purports to honour and worship.
Is the Lighthouse of the Lord Jesus Christ Church under construction in Guanapo Heights a testament to God or an abomination in his sight?
An examination of the few details that have been disclosed to date, will only unearth even more questions. But to date, here are eleven things that we do know:
- The Church is being built by the admitted spiritual advisor to the Prime Minister, one Juliana Pena.
- Ms Pena is the same woman who caused none other than Benny Hinn to (get on the bandwagon and ) refer to the PM as a 'foolish man' (See Here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dCF1DiqJaj8&feature=PlayList&p=16F564287B9E50B4&playnext_from=PL&index=4 )
- The Church congregation numbers no more than 20 -30 persons.
- Neither Ms Pena nor any members of her church appear to have the means to finance such a project.
- It is a known fact that none other than the PM has visited the site on more than one occassion to date.
- The project cost is reported to be in the region of TT$30M.
- The parcel of land that the Church is being constructed on is in fact state lands that were realesed by Cabinet Note shortly before the 2007 General Elections.
- Calder Hart - the former Chairman of UdeCoTT / NIPDEC - engaged the services of a local design firm and if reports are true, insisted that it be done at no cost as it was for the Prime Minister.
- The project is being undertaken by Shanghai Construction and by chinese labourers. The same Shanghai Construction for the NAPA among other Government Projects. And the same Shanghai Construction who are in Trindad on a Government-to-Government arrangement.
- It is being alleged that the project is being undertaken at no cost as 'payback' for the Billions of Dollars in contracts that Shanghai Construction has been awarded previously.
- That Great Stranger to the Truth, the Prime Minister indicated in Parliament that he was aware that the reporters from the Trinidad Guardian who visited the Guanapo Congregation had had an epiphany and had given them one week to publicly proclaim this or that he would expose it to the nation. Neither an admission nor a proclamation has since been forthcoming.
The above aside, may other startling allegations have since come to light about the so called prophetess, her realtionship with people in power and her personal finances.
There is also the curious disavowing of Ms Pena acting in a diplomatic capacity after news of her visit to Zimbabwe were made public. (Click here: http://allafrica.com/stories/200507220508.html , and here: http://www.trinidadexpress.com/index.pl/article_news?id=161601285.
Whatever good that may have once informed the decision to construct the Lighthouse of the Lord Jesus Christ has now been overshadowed by a web of kickbacks, fraud, deceit and misuse of power. Added to which, the myth of the separation of Church and State has been further eroded. And once again, we the taxpayer are left with many questions, few answers and zero accountability.
Are the many, excessive cost overruns on public projects for instance symptomatic of an informal machinery that has been put in place to routinely and systematically milk the public purse dry? Given the absence of political will and testicular fortitude, we may never truly know.