MacDonald and the Questions Regarding Allegations of Gambling …

Several weeks ago, when The Elephant’s Debt was originally released, readers were allowed to publicly share their stories through the website.  But as the concerns and comments began to roll in, we quickly realized that the personal experiences of many people had the potential to overwhelm the central argument that we had advanced.  And so, after much deliberation, we decided to restrict that section of the site to people who had close ties with both MacDonald and Harvest Bible Chapel.

While we do not regret our decision to act in the way that we did, we are aware that just as we were preparing to make our decision, a rather serious conversation was beginning to take place.  More specifically, a number of people seemed genuinely concerned by the accounts of gambling and trips to Vegas that had emerged through the input of other readers.

This update seeks to bring closure to that discussion by offering a sampling of the comments that were made as well as two photos that were emailed to The Elephant’s Debt in response to a reader’s request.  We are not prepared to offer any editorial on these remarks or photos; and you are free to draw your own conclusions from the pictures.

Having said that, we leave you with these two questions.  First, can anyone identify the two oddly-bearded and yet similarly-bearded men that MacDonald is standing with in these photos that were originally posted on Twitter?  Secondly, can anyone identify when and where these photos were taken?

“Not to open up a brand new can of worms here, but even assuming all of what’s been written here is a pack of unfounded lies (and there are nearly INFINITE reasons NOT to make that assumption), shouldn’t the members, elders, and pastors of Harvest Bible Chapel be DEEPLY concerned about how cavalierly and routinely JM tweets pictures of himself chumming it up with large-bearded bros INSIDE LOCAL CASINOS?!? No matter what he’s making, am I wrong in feeling as though he shouldn’t be anywhere NEAR a poker table with the salary my tithes have paid?!? And that question is to say nothing of the MULTIPLE stories I’ve heard wherein James has been recently seen by this or that person throwing cards into the wee hours at tables with buy-ins in the multiple (!?!) thousands of dollars. Above reproach? Hardly. Not by any system of measurement available. If this is slanderous libel, I IMPLORE him to say so directly. I fear he cannot.” (submitted by “A Concerned Member” on 10/16/2012)

“John T, I have not seen tweets such as these either. But word started circulating several years back that Pastor James had a gambling problem. Apparently he has been disciplined a few times by his elders over the last 10yrs for this issue in his life. Each time he has told them he would stop it. So it was kept quiet from the church since he said he would stop it. Who knows where he is with it now, ubt its a hard habit to break. Just go ask an elder about it. If they are an honest man he won’t be able to look yyou in the face and deny it. He will skirt the issue or tell you its all handled. Problem iwth all this is that it just adds to the overall picture that PastorJames has a real problem with money that actually disqualifies him from being a pastor since pastors are not to be ‘lovers of money.'”  (submitted by “Yelp” on 10/17/2012)

“If Scott and Ryan can somehow make it possible to upload images, I can indeed substantiate. Pretty sure the original tweets have since been taken down, though.”  (submitted by “A Concerned Member” on 10/17/2012)

“I have no idea if pastor James has a gambling problem, but I do know for a fact that he has flown to Vegas with executive staff to play poker. At the time I tried not to judge or make assumptions, however I was very disturbed and questioned it especially on two counts: #1) I’ve heard him preach on gambling and I distinctly remember him saying that any money received through gambling is actually a curse on the recipient’s life [but let me reiterate that I have no idea if he actually played for money]; #2) such a trip seems like a questionable use of time and money for someone in a very prominent place of Christian leadership.”  (submitted by “Anonymous” on 10/17/2012)

“Proof? I believe what you are saying but we need pics, names, places, dates!” (submitted by “Yvonne Melchionne Trimble” on 10/17/2012)

Please click to enlarge the image.
Please click to enlarge the image.

26 thoughts on “MacDonald and the Questions Regarding Allegations of Gambling …

  1. Hey,

    You guys have jumped the shark. This sideshow is effectively discrediting your motives.
    The HBC congregation are grown men and women. They obviously want to continue to support James MacDonald – so be it.


    1. Your right the congregation at Harvest are grown men and women, the problem is 80% of them have no Idea whats taking place or are even aware of this site. A month ago when James spoke to the congregation about detractors and the like my wife and I looked at eachothe without a clue. But I have spent the month reading and thinking and reviewing past events in my own mind and the questions need to be answered.

  2. Do you guys have anything valuable to add to the church. You know, build up the church?

    So far we have Anonymous, Yelp and 2 people that are so concerned that they even list their names as Concerned Member. These 4 people sound quite legitimate to me. I would hate the first name Yelp. Imagine that name in school. I am sure the kids were none to kind to you, Yelp.

    While I have no idea the truth behind your increasingly bitter accusations, I would recommend people keep a couple of things in mind.

    You have run this site as disingenuous as possible. Instead of requiring people to register with a Facebook profile, you purposely allow people to slander and make completely unsubstantiated claims. You also deleted a number of comments that proved your accusations false or presented points of view counter to your opinions. All in the name of God and trying to hold a pastor accountable publicly. I hope, for your sake, that you are right on every details and every unintended consequence of this site. I, for one, don’t want to be there when God judges the pureness of your heart in this matter as you seem to be a bitter person.

    The photos of James prove nothing except that he took a picture with someone. They probably prove he was in a casino. They don’t prove he gambled. Maybe he did. Maybe someone saw it. I would get Yelp or Anonymous to post another picture of James betting at that $10,000/hand table you insinuate he gambles at. Or, better yet, get Yelp to post a picture from last nights election party where I heard from a “Concerned Member” that James was meeting with Obama. And we all know Obama hates Israel and is the eventual antichrist. That must disqualify him from the pulpit.

    I also think it is funny that some genuinely concerned conversations were popping up about Jame’s gambling. Because I know, as a concerned member of the church, my first thought would be to vent my concerns on a website trying to extricate my pastor from the pulpit. I would definitely feel that this would be the most productive and God honoring place to air my genuine concerns.

    Just to be clear. You may be right and factual in everything you are posting here. But, the little tricks you have used to further unproven accusations and the seemingly bitter insinuations rampant throughout this site ensures you lose all credibility in my mind. While the majority of people that read this take it at face value, I see the manipulation you have used.

    If you actually wanted to be God honoring, you should have just been pure in all your actions and erred on the side of love.

    1. I find it a bit disengenuos that you are critical of others not using their names yet you dont use yours. Have you been keeping up with this site, it isn;t just the gambling thats a concern here, its much more , from James and his treatment of individuals, to the Harvest staff to the Elders. And yet few words from Harvest other than James is under spiritual attack, and to pray for his detractors. Which is usually used by Christian leaders to silence their critics. These accusations could all be silenced with the truth, in front of the Harvest membership, but that isn;t happening and the silence is deafening. I have attended and been a member at HRM for 10 years, We are commanded by the leadership to tithe, which in itself is not a New Testement command, but we are never told the salaries of the Senior staff. We were encouraged to become part of 5G but now we find out that 5 million of the 30 will go to debt reduction while that was never mentioned at the time of the pledge. I have no desire to see Harvest or James fall like so many churchs and Leaders before it, but better than to live a continuous lie. From the 66 million dollar debt, to the Salaries, to his mansion , to the Elder board and James’s accountability, to ER2, to the 4 Harvests that have left the Fellowship, to Grays Lake being thrown out, to Elders and Pastors that have left en mass , to his association with Furtick and Jakes etc, and on and on. And now these revelations about gambling, just how are the members of Harvest to react, just support James no matter what, blindly? Because it seems as though thats exactly what they want us to do, as if we have been prepped for this for quite a while now. With the Men being asked to all come to church to support James on a Sunday night a few months ago, though never really understanding what that was all abouit. If there’s nothing to this then come before the congregation and address these issues, transparently, and bring with you the leaders that have left to vouch for you. How bout Joe Stowell, a well respected man of God. Maybe the reason no one is using their name is because they fear the repercussions and that in itself should say something. Too many unanswered questions that continue to remain unanswered. Harvest needs a Pastor , not a Celebrity speaker who shows up every few weeks or just sends in the tapes, while racking in the money. The Evangelical Church has its fill of those kinds of Preachers.

    2. I am a 35 year career missionary in Port au Prince Haiti. My husband and I held the largest crusade Haiti has ever had, 100,000, on the one year anniversary of the quake. MacDonald and Driscoll each spoke for 15 minutes and Churches Helping Churches footed the bill, including their arrival and departure on a private jet. My full name and links to our website, archive prayer letters and Creole Christain TV show are all public.

  3. That first picture definitely looks like Luke MacDonald. Hey listen, you people need to lighten up a bit here. When a man is such an important part of God’s kingdom he feels great pressure. MacDonald needs to be cut a bit of slack since he is just blowing off some steam here. You would never understand how difficult it is being so important. The pain of being God’s Great Servant (GGS) has caused James to sacrifice so much for the kingdom. In fact, he has even mentioned often that he “gave his hair for this church.” So, if he’s willing to loose his hair to be GGS, let’s allow him a little room to have some fun, ok?

    1. “When a man is such an important part of God’s kindgom…”
      “You would never understand how difficult it is being so important.”
      Joe, your words only exemplify what all of us here are concerned about: that Harvest has pushed God out of the picture in order to exalt James MacDonald. But the truth is, God doesn’t need James, and his actions are not God honoring.

    2. Mr. Dirt,
      As a pastor, myself, I would urge you to reconsider your words. They are a delicious poison to a pastor’s soul, and will do more to destroy a man’s relationship with God then most anything else.
      I appreciate your concern for James McDonald, but you are not loving him the way that God commands if you truly look at him in this fashion.
      In Christ,

      1. Garry & Jennifer G,

        Is it possible that Joe Dirt is being sarcastic? After all isn’t that a professed spiritual gift by James himself? Touche’

      2. Obviously you don’t love him, Garry. If you did, you would recognize that he is being used in a mighty way. How many have been baptized in your church this year, Garry? Now, let’s compare that to how God’s Great Servant (GGS) has been used and how many baptisms have occurred in his church this year. Its about being fruitful, Garry, amazingly, abundantly, incredibly fruitful. Don’t you know that? This man is doing more for the Kingdom today than any other man alive. His influence is like that of DL Moody or CH Spurgeon. So, cut the guy some slack. Gambling isn’t that big a deal, is it? Surely God will overlook this small, minor impropriety especially once he puts all the good being accomplished on the other side of the scale? If God will do this, shouldn’t you?

      3. Garry – IF these allegations are indeed true, I would say James MacDonald himself has poisoned his own soul and he has done more to destroy his relationship with God then most anything else. As a high profile pastor he will have to deal with the fallout of this which only he himself created. And as a high profile pastor he will be mocked and jeered at.

  4. Interesting that both of the links Carol provided above are no longer valid & it appears pictures have been removed.

  5. Count me as being completely heartbroken if this is true.

    1. If what is true?

  6. The second photo was taken at the poker room at the Horseshoe casino in Hammond, In.

  7. There is much that they feel needs to be hidden and, the reason for the silence is that it takes James time to try And rewrite the history they way he thinks it should be so as to shed no negative light on his own personal character but rather work to discredit the men (elders) who tried so diligently to effect change and were instead torn apart in private (soon to be in public) by James himself.

    As a church, the focus should not be on the elders that have left, but rather on the repentance of the Sr. Pastor and his immediate offer of resignation as a fruit of his repentance. After all, is not restitution part of repentance? He works to squirrel his way through, twisting and turning the truth. It should stand no longer and the elders should not stand for it. After all, how would things change if there were no paid staff who were also elders. How can they righteously stand for what is right if their paycheck would/could/is in jeopardy.

    Finally, the focus of the elders should be on sheparding the body and not protecting a Sr. Pastor. Shepard’s Shepard the flock. Wolves eat them.

    1. I agree that repentance needs to be genuine, and restitution and resignation are necessary at this point. BUT there can not be and likely will not be repentance, because the meetings with any leadership (elders and campus pastors) lately strongly conveys that Harvest is not wrong… Pastor James is under spiritual attack. So how can elders who sign a document and elders and pastors who show only Harvest unity, be expected to discipline and hold accountable the “man” they revere and defend? How can you repent when you don’t think you are wrong?

  8. Very disturbing. As a 10 year member of HRM. I am growing impatient with the silence coming from the
    Harvest leadership. It says to me that what we think doesn’t matter. Maybe the Government thinks it can treat us this way but our church should not. Too many things seem to be kept silent, I am growing more aware of the things I have been silently questioning but putting to the back of my mind thinking I was the only one who had these questions or concerns. Apparently I am Not. Please keep the information flowing because it certainly isn’t getting to the congregation through the Harvest leadership.

  9. Google “Jesse Rockowitz” to see who is most likely in the photos with James.

    1. Oh, yeah, that first one is definetly Jesse. Same San Fran Giants hat he often wears, same reddish tint to the beard, same open collar, first button undone shirt when he’s not wearing a polo. It is indeed sad.

    2. From ESPN Poker
      June 28, 2010
      “Jesse Rockowitz, a 24-year-old professional poker player from Petaluma, CA, won the 3,097-player field and an amazing payday of $721,373. This was his second WSOP cash, but far from his first major score.”

  10. I’d say the first one looks like Luke MacDonald and the other like Fred Adams. Maybe people should check:

    Interesting that its Frederick Adams, South Elgin, IL. I’d be curious how many Frederick Adams there are in South Elgin. Also, the #beardoftheweek looks like the same beard in each picture. And other than not wanting to be recognized why would you want to wear sunglasses inside?

    1. Was there a photo on this site? If so, it is no longer there.

    2. Check it out people. There are two Fred Adams’ living in Elgin, IL and only one of them is the CFO for Harvest Bible Chapel. Let’s all make a little wager on whether the Fred Adams who won over $36,000 in one high stakes poker tourney also works at Harvest. I bet he does:) U think he tithed off his earnings? 5G baby!

  11. On Twitter, there is a missing picture with the following description, which could be one of these men with James MacDonald. Whether it is or not, James had a pix posted of someone with the Twitter nickname of “pocktdeuces” with a playing card (Two of Hearts) as an icon. The picture has since been retracted, but the description is still there.

    James MacDonald ‏@jamesmacdonald
    This is Jesse or @pocktdeuces proud owner of #beardoftheweek
    June 25

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