Disgraced Hillsong elites used PEX gift cards funded by church tithes to pay for lavish lifestyle. What are NAMB gift cards funding?

In January, The New York Post detailed how church tithes funded the lavish lifestyles of Hillsong pastors. The church used prepaid cards funded by tithes.

According to the NY Post, “Pastors and staff apparently freely used debit-like ‘PEX’ — or pre-paid expense — cards for whatever their hearts desired, several former members and staff told The Post. The source of the funds was money donated or ‘tithed’ by members, said former Hillsong LA service pastor Nicole Herman, who personally loaded the funds onto the PEX cards.”

PEX is a brand of prepaid cards that allow corporations and nonprofits pay for employee expenses without the liabilities of a typical credit card. These PEX cards allow for expense reconciliation via the PEX app—similar to the popular corporate Concur system and app.

However, Hillsong did not avail itself of the reconciliation and accounting controls.

According to the NY Post, “Recently, lawyers involved in the internal investigation into Hillsong’s East Coast branch — launched after the firing of the adulterous Lentz — contacted Babbitt and asked if she ever had to explain the purchases she made with PEX cards, a typical step for all business card use. She was never told to reconcile anything, she said.”

Apparently, Hillsong ignored typical accounting controls.

That brings us back to the story of the NAMB gift cards. The story, first reported by Baptist reporting legend Joe Westbury, exposed the use of unknown hundreds of dollars of gift cards in an apparent scheme by Kevin Ezell and the NAMB leadership to buy loyalty.

The story provides concrete details.

According to Westbury, “As recently as December at least one staff member in the Northwest received two gift cards from NAMB totaling $450. The employee was instructed that the $300 should be given to his wife as a gift, and the $150 card was to be used to pay for a ‘date night.’”

This is alarming.

What accounting controls are in place for these “gift cards?”

To whom are they given? For what purposes?

How much of the NAMB budget is allocated to gift cards? We need to know dollars and not only percent.

You say, “Trust the trustees?”

Don’t make me laugh. The trustees led by the ineffective Danny de Armas said they know everything and approve of all of what is happening at NAMB. As a reminder, just after de Armas made those infamous remarks, it was exposed that NAMB funds churches with female pastors and uses some of those same churches to train its church planters.

Did de Armas and his trustee buddies approve of that?

If NAMB and its trustees cannot enforce basic Christian doctrine, why should we trust them to get the financial details right?

Excuse the rank-and-file Southern Baptist from trusting these already exposed incompetents with the benefit of the doubt when it comes to money. We cannot and will not trust the trustees unless and until we get real answers—and real answers will require a forensic audit that covers Ezell’s entire tenure at NAMB.

If NAMB leaders and trustees have nothing to hide—why will you not begin such an audit?

Your silence speaks volumes about your commitment to the SBC, its values and financial transparency.