Ed Silvoso Responds to 'Aiona, God and State' Article10/25/2010
Editor's note: Civil Beat published an article on Friday, "Aiona, God and State, about Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona's involvement in Transformation Hawaii and the International Transformation Network (ITN). Ed Silvoso, president of ITN, sent Civil Beat an e-mail Sunday in response to the article. It is printed here in its entirety.
Dear Mr. Chad Blair:
I was sent a copy of your article of October 22, 2010 in the Civil Beat, "Aiona, God and State," and as one of the principals referenced in your piece I wish to respectfully bring to your journalistic attention some facts that can help present a more constructive picture to build much needed bridges.
You make reference to Lieutenant Governor Duke Aiona's welcoming The International Transformation Network (ITN) to Hawaii while holding a folder with the State seal on it as evidence that he crossed the line between personal faith and government position. ITN was indeed welcomed to Hawaii by him, but it was also welcomed by the leadership of the Senate and of the House of Representatives, and they too presented documents with the State seal. What L.G. Duke Aiona gave was a warm and straightforward aloha greeting, but the documents with the signatures of Calvin K.Y. Say, Speaker of the House, and Colleen Hanabusa, President of the Senate, along with other members of Congress, are more eloquent as to the work of ITN.
Senator Hanabusa stated, "Through Ed (Silvoso)'s scriptural insights on the role of the church in the marketplace and his Bible based strategies on how to take the presence and the power of God to the workplace have motivated and equipped scores of people to find their spiritual destiny by turning their job into their ministry ...using a strategic alliance of Christians to build prototypes for city and nation transformation that meet the needs and the challenges of our communities and countries. As a result...the Senate of the Twenty Fifth Legislature of the State of Hawaii hereby recognizes and congratulates Harvest Evangelism and the International Transformation Network on its work...and offers its warmest aloha..."
Speaker Say acknowledged, "The House of Representatives, on behalf of the People of Hawaii, commends Harvest Evangelism for over 25 years of service to countries and people around the world, including Hawaii, where their influence has already begun to transform our churches, schools and workplaces and wishes ...a successful first conference in Hawaii." It is evident that L.G. Aiona 's actions were in line with similar ones by the leaders of both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Regarding his participation in the ITN conference in Argentina you touched on, he was invited to attend in a personal capacity, and I can testify that throughout the conference he participated in such capacity. Furthermore, he has never been a member of ITN. The references to him as Lieutenant Governor, then and in other contexts, are not meant to state or imply anything different. It is generally understood that placing a person in context by mentioning his position or profession is the established norm; anything else would be considered dishonoring. The same treatment was extended to the other government officials present.
However, I am more concerned by your reference without context to L.G. Duke Aiona holding hands and praying in Argentina with the First Lady of Uganda. Such isolated insertion does not help the objectivity your article strives for because you are fully aware of the cut and paste videos that precipitated the recent developments. Those videos are absolutely fraudulent and have been produced by unscrupulous political lobbyists who have intentionally violated every tenet of veracity to falsely link ITN to anti-homosexual positions and to anti-homosexual legislation in Uganda in order that L.G. Duke Aiona's participation in ITN events will make him vulnerable to being portrayed as homophobic by association.
I am afraid that your reference without context aids such malicious vilification. As we say in theology, "A Bible text without its context can easily turn it into a pretext.” Since you provided no context, allow me to do it so you can have a more factual picture.
The First Lady of Uganda did attend the conference in Argentina where there were moments of prayer for and with other participants. Both leaders are known as people of prayer and they joined in these spontaneous moments. That is all there is to it.
In chapter 18 of my book Transformation—the same you quote in your article—I describe in minutiae what ITN stands for and how it came into being, as well as what happened at that conference. This was written before the current controversy so it qualifies as an untainted source. One of ITN’s key objectives is to help eliminate poverty and to uproot corruption. ITN is not a political organization nor does it engage in politics.
As a result, ITN has never been involved in Uganda, or anywhere else, in political activities or in anti-homosexual activism. What ITN members did in Uganda in 2008 was to build rural roads, repair a hospital and set up a micro-lending operation. Anything to the contrary is a malicious fabrication, mainly by the person you credit in your footnotes as the provider of "Transformation" videos, heavily edited ones I must say. In addition to maliciously cutting and editing portions, he also inserted opinions and comments of non-ITN members without such disclosure, opinions that we do not share.
As I relate in chapter 20 of my book Transformation, I lived through the horrors of the "dirty war" in my native Argentina, and having seen and suffered its misery I have devoted my life to being a peacemaker with God's help. In close to one million words in print under my name, I have never suggested, espoused or endorsed any action, political or otherwise, to harm people, including homosexuals. I have made specific references to kidnappers and pedophiles and the need for them to be dealt with, but I imagine this is something we both agree with. Through the years I have strived to build channels for understanding, compassion and reconciliation between the Church and all segments of society, including homosexuals. For instance, in That None Should Perish (Regal Books, Ventura, CA 1994) I tell the story of two pastors, one in San Francisco whose church was being picketed by activist homosexuals who chose to welcome them with a hot breakfast and invited the leader to lunch to foster understanding. The other case is a pastor who comforted a homosexual devastated by the news that he had contracted AIDS. As a result, they both became friends.
In Prayer Evangelism (Regal Books, Ventura, CA 2002), I report the incidents of the Annual Gay Pride Parade in Buenos Aires, Argentina, when participants elected to occupy our space right before a live telecast we were hosting across from the Presidential Palace. The media expected a nasty confrontation, but instead we sent a delegation to ask forgiveness for bigotry towards homosexuals and to solicit their cooperation to resolve the space issue. When they decided to drive through our crowd, I instructed our people to make room and to speak peace over their floats, exercising a biblical principle that we hold as a foundational value. The media at the site was at first perplexed, but the next day there was mention in the papers of "a different side of Christianity put on display."
Closer to home, then San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, Jr. welcomed and thanked us publicly when we gave his city a love gift of $65,000 to help the victims of AIDS after a day of feeding the poor, comforting the afflicted, hosting the homeless and building bridges by going to the Castro District to ask forgiveness for the bigotry displayed in the name of religion. During the ceremony, at my suggestion one of the leading pastors in the region publicly repented to Mayor Brown for having co-sponsored an event that fostered animosity toward homosexuals. Following this, San Francisco’s City Hall also honored us. It is a pity this video was not shown to you, but now you have the information.
As to your statement, "The view of Silvoso is that gay people are possessed and in need of exorcism," it is an unwarranted conclusion that is not even supported by the quote you use from my book. The background for my reference to this new believer's experience is based on the biblical teaching that when Christ comes into our hearts there is a power encounter because all of us have been blinded (controlled) by "the god of this world" to keep us in spiritual bondage. This applies not just to homosexuals but also to heterosexuals, bisexuals and transsexuals. The context for the isolated quote you used explains that this person was a drug dealer, a drug user, and a pimp to 37 prostitutes before coming to Christ. Today he is married and a pillar in his community.
It is painfully clear that we all live in a world in desperate need of restoration and healing. We are imperfect people in need of the grace of God and of each other's help to make this world a better place. As for me and ITN, we are committed, as evidenced above, to operate in that spirit to the best of our ability. I submit all of this for your journalistic consideration hoping that this new information will move you to rectify misinformation to help build bridges of understanding and stop maliciously instigated discord fueled by unscrupulous lobbyists that trade in and profit from misquotes.
Sincerely and from the heart,
Ed Silvoso President, International Transformation Network
DISCUSSION: Share your thoughts about this letter and read what others have to say about the issue in our discussion of the governor's race.