This is a testimony of a TPM worker Sister Juliana(Pseudo name), who was trained at the TPM Headquarters in Irumbiliyur under Sister Kumari who passed away recently.
On 18th April 2020 within the walls of Irumbiliyur, a death occurred. The deceased person was seen off in a hurry without the usual pomp and show exhibited at the funeral of TPM (Clergy) Stalwarts. COVID-19 has proved that TPM Workers are no god. However, I am sure that there would not have been a dearth of condolence messages singing paeans and the Chiefs signing off with the customary quote “One more stone added in Zion” at the Funeral Service of Sis. Kumari.
Who was Sis Kumari? Was she a Center Mother? What stakes did she hold in the power corridors of TPM? Why was she never transferred from Irumbiliyur for nearly two decades, unlike TPM transfer policy? How could she hold her sway in a male-dominated setup like TPM? Why was she indispensable to the successive Chief Pastors of TPM?
The Job Profile
Well, answers for many of the aforesaid questions have been buried along with her! However, for the knowledge of the readers, Sis Kumari was the highly rated (Personal) Secretary of the TPM Chiefs, in other words, Irumbiliyur Phone Room Incharge (That was her so-called designation). She is privy to total assets and liquid money of tpm.
Anyone, be it a Center Pastor or a Believer, had to go through the ears of Sister Kumari to get an appointment or a phone audience with the Chiefs of TPM. The globe-trotting Chiefs were updated with all the developments of the organization by Sis Kumari. She also conveyed the message of the Chiefs to Center Pastors and others as mandated by the Chiefs. Having direct access to the Chiefs and being privy to all their conversation made her the most powerful and indispensable person in TPM power corridors. You grease her hand with thick money envelopes and your appointment with the Chiefs is fast-tracked.
Apart from her responsibility as the Phone Room In-Charge, She handled many responsibilities such as managing the many requirements of Irumbiliyur, booking tickets; exchanging currency for NRI believers at the current market rate; hospitality; assigning duties to sisters; conducting Praising meetings for the workers, training Leader of newly inducted Sisters; etc. Enjoy a conversation with Kumari and see how bossy, concealing and controlling is the woman. You can listen to her after 1.40 minutes.
I would like to share some of my experiences when I was being trained under Sister Kumari in Irumbiliyur.
The newly inducted sisters were divided into groups of 20-30 called as 1st Area, 2nd Area and so on. Each group had a leader and Sister Kumari was the Leader of the 4th Area. During my training, I was grouped in the 4th Area.
The terror that she unleashed while training her group made everyone shiver at the thought of being grouped in the 4th Area. Such was the terror that senior sisters used to show pity on us at our destiny of having Sis Kumari as our Group Leader. Though all, including Sis. Griselda (Overall Training In-Charge) knew that she was terrorizing the new recruits but no one dares open their mouth against her.
I can never recollect her speaking in a soft and gentle tone rather she would be arrogant in her speech, there was no love in her words, she used to address us as “vaadi…podi “ only. Though we had forsaken our worldly life and reached Irumbiliyur to start a celibate life she would always bad mouth us as if we were at the verge of running away with a person of the opposite sex!
She was an epitome of the Egyptian Taskmasters! She made our lives hard. I believed that the Holy Spirit will lead us to all truth through the Scriptures and make us a chaste virgin for Christ. But she (and many higher-ups in TPM) believed that even though the Holy Spirit and the scriptures may fail to mould a person but her iron-fisted training will do the magic. Training at Irumbiliyur itself is inhumane then one can imagine the training at the hands of Kumari.
Training to Lie
All the trainees except for the 4th area headed by Sis Kumari had a timetable like training. But for the trainees under Sis Kumari, there was something more. During my training time, Sis Kumari was overseeing the construction work of a Faith Home some 75 Kms from Irumbiliyur. The then Chief pastor Wesley had mandated that no training workers should be made to work in Construction sites. But Sister Kumari feared none. She used to send us two by two to the said construction site at her convenience.
She used to instruct us that if the security personnel at the main gate asked us where we were going then we should say that we are going to Adyar FH or some believer’s house. Many times she used to give us 5-10 minutes to pack up and make us start at around 7 pm and we (only two of us) used to reach the construction site (a rural village with no one around except for a few drunkards) at 11 pm in the night, travelling in a government bus. Once it so happened that when we were digging pits, Pastor Sathyanesan came there for a visit. But, before Pas Sathyneesan reached the spot, she instructed her assistant through the phone to shove us into the pits and cover the pit with sheets so that free labour is not noticed. Personally I had a harrowing experience in the dark pit gasping for breath for around an hour or so. Also, she used to transport us back into Irumbiliyur in a mini truck hiding us behind a stack of bricks. The security personnel at the gates of Irumbilyur were fooled and the sisters behind the bricks were “smuggled” in the mini truck. She even instructed us to tell lies if any other area Incharge questioned our absence from Irumbiliyur. Why was all this done? Was she purposefully doing it to torture her trainees? Or was she saving money? What about making us tell lies and make us hide like thieves? Was this all part of our training?
The Cold war and Betrayal
There was this uncanny cold war between Sis Griselda (Overall Sisters Training In-charge) and Sis Kumari wherein each one tries to find fault with the other and the scapegoats are we the training sisters. Once, Sister Griselda noticed two of us sneaking into the Sisters quarters after completing our outside Irimbuliyur errand (as instructed by Sis Kumari) during the Morning Bible Study time. She took us to Sis Kumari and asked if she had sent us out during the meeting time. But to my utter dismay, Sis Kumari outrightly lied having sent us anywhere. Subsequently, we were punished and made to stand near Sister Kumari’s room without food and without entry into our staying quarters for 10-12 hours. Moreover, after having worked continuously in the construction site the trainees under Sis Kumari used to doze off during Bible Studies. Sis Griselda used to keep a close watch on us and punish the ones sleeping by making them stand on one foot in the meeting in front of other brothers and sisters like school-going children. Do you think that Sis Griselda was unaware of the activities and lies of Sis Kumari? No. She knew everything but never wanted to spoil her superficial relationship with the all-powerful Sis. Kumari.
There is a weird practice in Irumbiliyur during the training of sisters wherein different groups along with its In-charge has to spend 3 days and 3 nights fasting in the upper chamber without any contact with the outside world…oops…I mean the Irumbiliyur world, which itself is a different world altogether. It is told that our experience in those three days is going to decide the way our ministry is going to unfold. During those three days Sis. Kumari made our life miserable. She conducted meetings continuously from morning 5:00 AM to next day 3:00 AM all the three days. There were no breaks in between. If we used to doze off she used to literally bang on our heads with her knuckles. All this is bearable but what waited at the end of the three-day meeting was blasphemous. As we followed Sister Kumari and walked down the stairs, Sister Kumari was greeted by a sea of other sisters who kept on saying “Akka your face is shining”. Though there was no visible shining they were subtly trying to do a “Moses” on her and She like Herod (Acts 12: 20-23) never corrected them rather was seen absorbing all the praises.
Sis. Kumari might have been a gifted person making a lot of profit for her masters like the woman in Philippi (Acts 16:16). But Jesus says “Ye shall know them by their fruits” (Matt 7:16). The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness and temperance. With all responsibility I say during my time with Sis Kumari, I never found her showing the fruits of the Spirit towards me or any trainee. I know many believers have a very good opinion about her, especially about her hospitality. But Jesus says “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.” (Matt 7:18) How could she be so cruel to her junior Sisters and act so friendly with certain workers and believers (especially with the NRIs)?
Sis Kumari used to utter lies at her whims and wishes. She used to say lies to the people who came to her seeking the appointment of the Chiefs. She even made us speak lies in an emboldened way. But the irony is that TPM claims that their white-clads are the 1,44,000 on Mount Zion. How will they justify the verse: “ And in their mouth was found no guile: …” (Rev:14:5).
Sis Kumari lived a life filled with arrogance and was ready to tread the wrong path for the sake of the organization that she was serving. She is the master of cover-ups of the scandals committed by various TPM Clergymen and women. In many cases, if believers came up with complaints against the clergy to the Chiefs she made sure that those matters never reached the Chiefs. It may be a different game all-together if this drama was enacted in collaboration with the Chiefs, only God knows.
To the believers of TPM, especially the rich ones, you pay huge money to the white-clads of TPM but their only agenda is to get your money, buy lands, build faith Homes and establish TPM. They are least bothered about you and about the spreading of the Gospel. You strengthen their hand paying them more money; they strengthen their organization by brainwashing innocent Sisters into their celibate ministry and make their life hard with unbiblical lifestyle and a heavier yoke. Keep your daughters and sisters away from this cult. It is not what they say and shows outside. Beware!
To the Chiefs of TPM, I want to say that right under your noses in IBR the junior sisters are tortured both physically and mentally by people having the same traits as Sis Kumari. Your training taskmasters train the young sisters through artificially induced hardships. This is hypocrisy. At least, show an iota of love towards the training Sisters and make sure that you don’t release goons like Sis Kumari to tame the young blood. Try Love instead.