Sep 13 2019. view 3798
The WOW (Works of Wonder) Life Church and in turn the ADC (Apostolic Diocese of Ceylon)
have been mired in controversy and accusation once again, this time by U.S. minister and
author J. Lee Grady, a Coalition of Indian pastors from the Grace & Truth Coalition and many
from the Sri Lankan Christian community. “It’s not surprising to find a New Age guru in the
nation of Sri Lanka. But when that same guru mixes Christian faith, the Lord’s supper and
prophetic revelation with bizarre New Age teachings, you can understand why church
leaders around the world are concerned” Lee Grady wrote in an impassioned letter titled
Beware of the Latest New Age Deception.
Just a few days ago, The National Christian Council of Sri Lanka (NCCSL) shared that they were “deeply concerned and disturbed at the misinterpretations of the Holy Scripture and the propogandation of erroneous teachings based on such misinterpretations by Kirby de Lanerolle”. While strongly condemning his teachings and practices, the NCCSL also labelled WOW church a “cult”. Rev. Dr. Kirby deLanerolle recently spoke to the Daily Mirror Life about the accusations leveled against WOW, the miracles, prophecies and more.
Below are excerpts of the interview.
What is WOW Life Church and why do you think there is such a fuss about it? You are being specifically targeted as well.
What needs to be understood first is that we are one of the churches under the Apostolic
Diocese of Ceylon, the ADC. The ADC has been established from 1991. And WOW is one of
the churches that I preach at. The ADC has a bunch of churches throughout the island. Let
me give you a background so it’s clear.. There are over 1000 free churches nationally to
which I have been appointed as Coordinator for the Government. The ADC is a diocese that
oversees about 600 of these free churches. I'm the Chief Overseer of the ADC, and these
free churches come under the covering of one umbrella. Most of the free churches have
been independent for so many years. The diocese now represents maybe half of all the free
churches, so WOW Life is one of those churches.
There is widespread accusation that your followers are more devoted to you than to God or religion.
I don't agree with that. What we always promote is Lord Jesus Christ and his saving grace. Of course the people love me very much. I love them as well and I’m devoted to my people in
the service of God as any leader should be.
You’ve had quite an eventful past, but your past notwithstanding, many have questioned your purpose for being at the helm of a religious organization and of the power you wield.
The word “cult” has also been thrown around quite a bit.
Simply, everyone has a past. When I was young - you know, 14, 15 - I was doing what any
other 14, 15 year old would do. And I had a past, and then of course I had a hunger for God
and wanted to serve Him. I was a seeker like anyone else and finally came back to my
grandfather’s faith - he was a Methodist priest - I was passionate about representing Him.
The bible is full of stories like mine - Paul, David... I see David in my story as well, he had a
past. So I think that it's important that someone has a past, and I’ve always been an
absolutely open book to the flock and even publicly I never covered anything up. In fact it's
part of my sermons about my past and how I’ve changed. I think it's a good example. If I can
be transformed and lead a Christian organization today like Paul did in his time, I believe
that anyone can. In the natural I looked unqualified for the job, but Jesus qualifies you for
His calling. Eventually I did get trained and qualified and gave my life to serve the Lord.
I've been ordained by Bishop Paul T Maran of the Indian National Apostolic Diocese and Rev
Dr Neil Obeyesekara. The INA have 11,000 churches under them, and he requested me by
virtue of letter to take up my call. For me to head such a big organisation wasn’t in my plan,
I wanted to have my own church and then of course spread the word of God. But he called
me into this and so I took up his request. This was 4 years ago and that's when I stepped
into the diocesan structure which I now represent.
Your credibility was put into question during a sermon recently. What do you have to say about that?
Their issue with me is not about theology. Countless opportunities have been there to
discuss theology if it were in fact a point of contention. There was no council or appointed
forum of pastors or theologians to discuss and identify any deviations from accepted
theology. The sermon was made with an objective to “cultify” me and warn people so that
they could in some way halt or affect our growth; because their people are leaving them.
We are growing and they are slowly diminishing. The person giving the sermon in fact
mentions this in his talk.
What are your thoughts on the allegations of you being a false prophet?
In the New Testament, the Book of Ephesians, they talk about 5 offices. It’s called a 5 fold
ministry that the Christian church must have. The first is called an apostle. Paul T Maran and
Rev Neil are apostles. So it says apostles, prophets, pastors, preachers and evangelists;
these are offices that run a church. It’s only when you have these five offices that a church is
very healthy. I didn’t ever call myself a prophet, those over me recognised my office and
calling and anointed me in the office as they did my wife in the office of a “pastor”. People
call me Kirby and this is my preference. Sometimes they will call me “prophet” like someone
calling someone “Pastor”.
So basically, Christianity has got 41, 000 denominations. There’s the Protestants under
which the Anglican church was divided then the Methodist movement started and Charles
Wesley and John Wesley broke away from the Anglican church and they were called heretics
at that time. And from then onwards there have been different revivals and everyone called
a heretic by the previous one. So if some refer to me as a heretic or false prophet today it
doesn’t move me or deny my calling; history shows this as the response of the old
persecuting the new and progressive reformers. I think with 41,000 denominations we have
no right to call anyone a false prophet. The bible clearly states that in the same body the
“foot” should not say to the “hand”; “I don’t need you”. So when we take communion,
According to 1 Corinthians 11 & 12 we actually meditate on the different parts of the body
and we accept every part. I accept the church that I came from as part of the body. And I
also accept people who are different as one part of the body. It’s important to understand
that the head is Christ and there are different parts of the body. Just because I disagree with
someone, doesn’t mean I will dishonour someone.
There has been significant dissension pertaining to the miracles performed in your church, Diamonds, weight loss... It said believed that that the miracles you perform have supernatural undertones and nothing to do with religion.
I personally believe that if you know Jesus you have to believe in miracles and signs and
wonders. It’s the signs and wonders that become controversial, but in the bible there are
places where Jesus performed healings, miracles, signs and wonders. And so in the story of
Paul; it’s written in the Book of Acts 19 that Paul was a man with extraordinary miracles.
There were ordinary miracles and there were extraordinary miracles. I believe in the
supernatural. And we do have miracles and signs and wonders. For instance, the miracle of
the wine in Cana Galilee was Jesus’ first miracle. He turned water into wine. It wasn’t grape
juice, it was wine. Someone can ask the question, weren’t there people who were sick at
the time and needed healing? But Jesus said this is the way He chose to show His glory. The
first miracle was a sign of wonder. Someone can say, what’s the need for that? One things
for sure, it causes people to believe.
You’ve also been known to make Prophecies. How does that work and are your predictions always accurate?
The prophecies comes through deep contemplation and there are times that I set myself
apart and I fast and I pray and then I hear from God and so I hear names and problems and
issues that people have. A lot to do with sicknesses. Sometimes I hear for the nation. I don’t
always get it right, because hearings from God need to be interpreted, but I’ve definitely
gotten more accurate than before.
But one could say that these prophecies are staged? After all, there may be many in the gathering who may be sick, for instance...
When I got into the New Testament, and then I went into the book of Acts and I saw when
Paul was converted, there’s a guy called Ananias who came to Paul. He says the Lord said
“Ananias, go to the street named Straight and go to the guy called Paul. He’ll be praying”. So
he was given the name of the street and the name of the man. This was more than just an
“impression” When I saw stuff like that, I realised the level of communication I could have
with God. So what I did was, I started going really deep into it and asked God, you spoke to
them in the Old Testament and the New Testament, can’t you talk to me in a language that I
understand? In 2013 - and this is where the fasting comes in - I fasted and I prayed and I
said, Lord talk to me like that the way you spoke to the others. And what happened was that
in 2013 for the first time, I woke up in the morning with a still, small voice in my head that
was saying something and I started writing it down. And from that day onwards, up to now
everyday I would hear - and sometimes full sentences. Sometimes it’s very symbolic where I
see visions. Now the names, I get sometimes full names. Sometimes I interpret only parts. 1
corinthians 13 clearly says that “we know in part and prophesy in part” I’ll maybe get 1-2
names a day with the people I’m going to minister to, but then why is it needed? It’s needed
because it brings people tremendous faith to know that God knows them by their names.
And so the prophetic is a gift that recognises people, and people feel loved and esteemed by
You have a page “Happy Breatharian”. There has been significant contention about what Breatharianism denotes. By definition, it is the belief that it is possible for a person to live without consuming food.
I do not preach breatharianism. The Happy Breatharian is a brand name. However Fasting is
not something unnatural for a Christian. Jesus says in Matthew 4:4 that man shall not live on
bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. What that means is that
we have to live a life that is not over indulgent, so that's what we do. Fasting is not
something new. In fact, the founder of the Methodist movement, John Wesley actually
practiced fasting. He spoke about constant communion and encouraged fasting; they say he
didn’t ordain anyone who didn’t practice fasting. So fasting is not new and that's what I
practice, but it's also scientifically now proven that calorie restriction is very healthy, which
is what I do and I have a page called the Happy Breatharian that actually teaches - it’s not
only a spiritual page - it’s a page that teaches people how to fast and how to live healthy. I
live a calorie restricted life and there are certain days where I would go on long fasts. Fasting
in my culture is a very holy thing to do. Look at all the luxuries we have today. How do we
live in a world with these luxuries and yet not be affected by them? It helps one to be in the
world but not “of the world”.
But what of the practice of Breatharianism itself?
I always stated that my objective was to redefine Breatharianism. I’m trying to show people
to restrict calories. Some say I tell people not to eat, which I have never done. But I do maintain that calorie restriction is very good and I do train people to calorie restrict and also
how to fast and fast well. Once in a while we do a 21 day fast - I’m very liberal on the fast. I
say if your addiction is chocolate, then it’s 21 days of no chocolate. Of course when I fast try
to keep it to water as much as possible and then some juice. My preference in general is to
be on juice and on something light, but I love my food. I’ve explained everything, but some
people have just taken bits of what I'm saying and they’ve twisted it. Fasting is a biblical
concept. Even science has caught up. 4 years ago the Nobel Prize for science was given for
the findings on “autophagy” which is cell cannibalism that occurs on a fast. For this you have
to go at least 24 hours without food.
Why do you think are people leaving traditional churches and joining charismatic churches such as yours?
Relevance, empowerment, practical living and the supernatural. Also I’m not interested in
converting people. That's the Pentecostal, western Christian thing that happened 50 years
ago in this country. I believe one's testimony, love and servanthood draws people not an
agenda to convert. My methodology is completely different. That doesn’t make me a cult.
My methodology is being scandalised and when the old guard call me a cult, they think that
our churches will leave us. Those that understand and know our purpose are many. These
won’t leave. My pastors have been on the ground for 30 years and understand this kind of
church politics. These free churches are now being represented as one body and they
understand the benefit of it. This is a democracy and we have a right to believe in Jesus and
worship him the same.
My grandfather was a Methodist priest and my parents became Pentecostal first, then
charismatic later on. Now all pastors under me are still Pentecostal although we are
progressive charismatic. As we go on we have to be relevant to our country and our
community. We teach the Bible to everyone and make it simple and practical. We teach a
lot about food and diet and exercise, marriage, practical living and values in the
How might someone different feel welcome at WOW?
I’ve been an open book. Everyone knows my past. We have had tremendous transformation
in our lives and in my life. Everything we were addicted to, all our old habits are broken. And
so we really deal with people who have been addicted, who have been on drugs. And we
have solutions for that. All are absolutely welcome and not only are they welcome, we
believe and can testify that their lives will be transformed and renewed.
Pics: Dasun Muthugala