An AP investigation has found that the Word of Faith Fellowship Church used its two branches in Brazil to siphon a steady flow of young laborers.
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When Andre Oliveira answered the call to leave his Word of Faith Fellowship congregation in Brazil to move to the mother church in North Carolina at the age of 18, his passport and money were confiscated by church leaders – for safekeeping, he said he was told.In 2014, three former congregants told an assistant U.S. attorney that the Brazilians were being forced to work without pay, according to a recording of the meeting obtained by the AP.Oliveira, who fled the church last year, is one of 16 Brazilian former members who told the AP they were made to work while being subjected to physical or verbal assaults.Former congregant Jay Plummer, an American, supervised remodeling projects for a church's leader business and confirmed the Brazilians' assertions that the U.S. workers who labored alongside them were paid while they were not.Under Jane Whaley's leadership, the church grew from a handful of followers to about 750 congregants in North Carolina and nearly 2,000 members in its churches in Brazil and Ghana and affiliations in Sweden, Scotland and other countries.
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