Jerusalem – Ma’an – Amidst a beaming glimmer of flashing lights stood Korean Evangelist leader Dr Jaerock Lee, at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem on Sunday night.
On Dr Lee’s self-described “crusade to Israel,” the controversial pastor brought at least 3,000 of his followers, from over 36 different countries to an international multicultural festival and mass prayer rally.
In the past, Dr Lee has made bizarre assertions that he has divine powers and can medically heal illnesses including as cancer and now swine flu.
Responding to a question from Ma’an, Dr Lee reaffirmed these claims on Sunday night, adding that he “only obeys the will of God.” In a sermon in 1998, according to the Jerusalem Post, Dr Lee also claimed to be “sinless and exempted from dying."
While his supporters describe him as being “very likeable, very humble,” Dr. Lee’s Manmin Joong-ang Church was ejected from the Christian Council of Korea in 1999 for “heretical claims.” The Korean Ministry Association has also branded him as a “cult leader.”
When asked about what he wanted to achieve on his “crusade to Jerusalem,” he said he “wants to preach about Jesus Christ, the savior, who was born in this land.”
However, Lee’s “crusade” has clear political connotations. The 3,000-person pilgrimage was publicized by the Israeli Government Press Office. In addition, Israeli Ministry of Tourism officials were on hand at Sunday’s event.
He said that neither he nor his followers will visit the supposed birthplace of Jesus, the Palestinian city of Bethlehem, home to one of the Holy Land’s largest concentrations of Christians. His followers, he said are in the region on “prearranged trips” with the help of the Israeli government.
Lee expressed his gratitude to the Israeli government for allowing the event, saying that the Jewish people are the “rightful guardians” of the Holy Land.
“[There are] so many promises in the Old Testament that our savior, Jesus Christ, will return soon. We have a lot of evidence his promises will be accomplished.”
It is estimated that Dr. Lee has a following of some 100,000 members, with 9,000 member churches throughout the world.
Approached by Ma’an, a spokesperson for the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office said he was not aware of Lee’s visit.