• The phone call comes 10 days after García faces, in prison, a civil lawsuit filed by the victims who denounced him for sexual abuse against minors and for which he pays a sentence of 16 years and 8 months.

From jail in Los Angeles, where he is serving a 16-year sentence after pleading guilty to sexual abuse against minors, the leader of the La Luz del Mundo church, Naasón Joaquín García, sent a message by telephone to his faithful gathered in the city from Guadalajara.

Followers in Mexico see the jailing of the so-called “apostle” as a challenge that will strengthen his church rather than weaken it.

Thousands of faithful gathered this weekend in Guadalajara on the occasion of the Holy Supper, the most important festivity of the La Luz del Mundo church and that did not have its top leader present because he was imprisoned in California.

Between cries of surprise from his faithful, Naasón Joaquín García communicated by phone from prison.

“I don’t see the bars that separate me from you. I see your beautiful faces…because you are children of God,” he told them.

Even outside the temple, the sound of his voice aroused emotions among dozens of devotees guarding the entrances to the sanctuary. Almost everyone closed their eyes. Many raised their fists. Some knelt down and wept.

Near the end of the call, Joaquín García asked his followers to raise their hands and voices to God and repeat after him: “I promise you, Lord, that whatever the suffering, I will never abandon you.”

It seems that many members of the church, founded in Mexico in 1926 and now active in many countries, are not ready to abandon Naasón Joaquín García as their leader. Many believe that he was sent by God to preach to them and are convinced that he is innocent, despite his guilty plea.

Naasón Joaquín García, 53, was arrested in California in 2019.

He initially faced more than 20 charges, but most were dismissed after a plea deal with prosecutors. The church maintained that prosecutors hid or manipulated evidence and said that Joaquín García pleaded guilty because he did not believe he would get a fair trial.

In Hermosa Provincia, the Guadalajara neighborhood where the La Luz del Mundo temple is located, there are cafes, clinics, a recreation center and a store that sells Bibles and religious-themed children’s games. Photographs of Naasón Joaquín García hang on the walls, smiling and dressed in a tuxedo. On the main avenue there is a sculpture that says “innocent”.

The imprisoned leader is the grandson of the founder of La Luz del Mundo: Eusebio Joaquín González, a military man who began preaching in 1926. Church members know him as Aarón, as a result, he said, of God asking him to change his name. . .

Aaron’s wife was the first member of the church. She today claims a membership of more than $5 million dollars from 50 countries.

Since September 8, Joaquín García faces a new civil lawsuit in Los Angeles, which was filed by the five victims who were named in the criminal case, in addition to three more victims preparing another legal complaint.

On June 6, Joaquín García pleaded guilty to three counts of sexual assault on three minor victims, for which he was sentenced to 16 years and 8 months in prison.

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