Sean Feucht Light A Candle
Led by worship leader and political activist Sean Feucht (center), the Light A Candle charity raised $200K for its Afghan Emergency Relief Fund. But it has provided no concrete plans for the money's use. (Photo: Light A Candle)

Charity Run By Sean Feucht Raises Afghan Relief With No Plan For How To Use It

By Steve Rabey

Sean Feucht is a busy man and successful fundraiser for his growing number of businesses, nonprofits and political activities. The 38-year-old worship leader, political activist, former Republican candidate and father of five is best known for his 120-city “Let Us Worship” tour of “worship protest” events against COVID-19 restrictions and racial unrest.

He was also the worship leader for an event in Texas last weekend that has since been widely criticized, in part for its use of the “Let’s Go, Brandon” chant.

But he has also:

— Raised more than $300,000 for his unsuccessful effort to run for Congress in California.

— Founded a political group, Hold the Line, to carry on the momentum from that run for office.

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— Operated a music business for his musical recordings.

— Founded a charity, Light a Candle Project, that has raised over $500,000 in each of the last two years.

Now, Light a Candle has announced successfully raising more than $200,000 for its Afghan Emergency Relief Fund, designed “to meet the needs of the persecuted church in Afghanistan.” But the charity has no experience in the country and has provided no concrete plans. “We’re excited to see what God is going to do,” said Feucht in a YouTube announcement. “Stay tuned as we document the process of how these funds are used.”

“Sean…….what an amazing role model you are….,” wrote one viewer. Another was less positive, saying, “This is b.s!”

As blogger Shannon Leigh put it, “The emphasis on spontaneity and miraculous happenings show that those are things Feucht values over careful plans and sound doctrine.”

Afghanistan has many needs, and many qualified groups are working there. But following the U.S military’s abrupt withdrawal this summer, Afghanistan has emerged as a powerful fundraising bonanza for groups that have not worked there before — and may lack the ability to use donations wisely, as we’ve reported in earlier stories about Glenn Beck’s charity, which raised more than $30 million in three days to airlift people from the country but has since failed to provide a detailed report of what it actually did with those funds.

MinistryWatch reached out to Light a Candle and received no response. But a look at the charity’s financial reports raises questions about the efficiency of its work and the integrity of its financial claims.

In 2020, Light a Candle had income of $538,266 but spent only $244,148, or 45% of income, on program services. In 2019, income was $519,302, but program expenditures were only $260,040, or 50% of income.

In 2020, the charity raised $19,320 for work in Iraq, it’s nearest base to Afghanistan, but used only $9,000, or 47% of that income, on program expenses.

These figures appear to contradict claims the nonprofit made in a self-produced documentary saying the ministry actually spent $100,000 in Iraq that year. According to the charity, ”Heart and Hands: Iraq” is “an emotional, musical documentary following worship leader Sean Feucht and the Bethel Music team through refugee camps as they distribute over $100,000 in food and supplies.”

The description the charity provided in its 990 of its Iraq work is confusing and provides an incomplete picture:

Light a Candle has a long term team that is on the ground in the Middle East. We host short term teams that come to work in the refugee camps with displaced people of Mosul from the war. We work with other organizations on the ground, building community and war. We work with other organizations on the ground, building community and connections. We helped a (sic) orphanage by providing day volunteer helpers with kids, supplies and basic needs. We do a once a year distribution where we have fundraised for diapers, wipes, formula, flour, rice and oils.

Light a Candle also operates a child sponsorship program in India. It claims to spend 90% of donations on child sponsorship programs: “Our child sponsorship program is $39/month and we are very proud to say that $35 out of $39 goes directly to our program on the ground.”

But again, its financial report paints a different picture. Its 2020 990 form reports receiving $267,745 in revenue for the India work, but it spent only $163,985, or 61% of funds received, on sponsorship program expenses.

Its short-term mission work is more efficient. It raised $96,453 and spent $71,163, or 74% of that, on program expenses.

The listed president of Light a Candle is John Feucht — Sean Feucht’s given birth name was John Christopher Feucht. The president position pays $37,467 for 10 hours of work a week.

Feucht’s father worked for Pat Robertson, and the family also studied with Youth With a Mission.

Feucht’s mask-free protest rallies have generated big crowds while violating local COVID policies, an approach Politico writer Julia Duin described as “hippie-religious Covid skepticism.”

The events have also raised controversy over Feucht’s use of security teams that include members of the Proud Boys and other right-wing extremist groups that participated in the deadly riot Jan. 6 at the Capitol.

Asked about the Proud Boys on his security detail, Feucht claimed he didn’t know who the group was but said his events needed armed protection. “If you mess with them or our 1st amendment right to worship God — you’ll meet Jesus one way or another,” he said.

This article is republished from MinistryWatch.

Steve RabeySteve Rabey is a veteran author and journalist who has published more than 50 books and 2,000 articles about religion, spirituality, and culture. He was an instructor at Fuller and Denver seminaries and the U.S. Air Force Academy.

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22 thoughts on “Charity Run By Sean Feucht Raises Afghan Relief With No Plan For How To Use It”

  1. The indented quote in italics includes several spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. Are those typographical mistakes made by Steve Rabey and his staff, or did they appear on the Form 990 submitted to the Internal Revenue Service? If the latter, please add the notation “[sic]” where appropriate to indicate that the errors were made by the charity, the article’s author is aware of the mistakes, and the quote herein appears exactly as it did on the original document.

  2. Thank you for exposing yet another evangelical grifter – they are a never ending group popping out of the word-work like mold….

    I have now become very cautious to donating to ANYONE – regardless of how idealistic the goals sound – because the REALITY is what matters.

    Therefore, I ALWAYS review NOT just an organizations Financial Statements – BUT especially its Form 990 which provides the COMPENSATION of the top dogs…. and lots of other useful information. It does help that I am a CPA – BUT this is a key document that actually tells what is happening more specifically with the organizations funds.

  3. Worship leader. I guess that means song leader, conductor? precentor?

    We’ve forgotten what worship is and have transmogrified it to singing. Not so. Singing is part of corporate worship, for shore: Ephesians 5:19, but it is far more: Romans 12:1-2. Yet, I don’t see ‘worship leaders’ leading much ‘renewing of our minds’. That’s hard work, study, perseverance, learning. Maybe not so much fun.

  4. Meredith Nienhuis

    Perhaps Sean Feucht’s charity would be of much greater benefit by giving its proceeds to Open Doors and Voice of the Martyrs (VOM). They already have a network to bless our suffering and persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ.

      1. I worked at VOM, and have personal experience and lived for years in the town where its base is. My website link here is my own record of what I saw then. I saw real problems back in 2002. Tom White killed himself rather than be a subject of an investigation into a then 10 year old girl. Then the only open publicly known use for the funds was for an orphanage run by a branch office in Africa. Turns out the head of that org whom ran the orphanage was molesting the girls there. That is new in addition to the link.

        This is a scam pure and pure used for child molestations overseas. There is no proof of any good done anywhere, but Wurmbrand does announce in that link that one of their V.P.’s has a conviction for embezzlement. If it smells like a skunk then that is what it is. Funds for “persecution” are the easiest form of scamming idealistic folks out of their money. There is no need for any proof, the money just disappears without any kind of evidence beyond people telling you what you want to hear…

  5. What to do with all the money collected for Afghan Relief?
    Well, Sean & Bethel’s pockets are ready, waiting, and bottomless.

    When this guy tried to bring his “Witnessing” to SoCal with street concerts during the Xmas COVID surge (highest in the state), local radio dubbed him “Jesus Christ Superspreader” and a group called “People Against Biological Warfare” organized against him.

  6. I’m an ex Willow Creek Member. I have been reading with interest what you have written about Willow. Then I went to read some other posts like the one above and I think you have discredited yourself in this post.

    What relevance is that to the article do “mask free” protests have? You never say what the protests were about. Masks, I guess?

    Maybe the guy is fraudster but you lost me with the second half of the piece. It’s political hackery, no? Your not just a tear down artist are you? I hope to hear a response, I sincerely do.
    Regards,
    David

    “Feucht’s mask-free protest rallies have generated big crowds while violating local COVID policies, an approach Politico writer Julia Duin described as “hippie-religious Covid skepticism.”

    1. Sean Fuecht’s mask-free rallies made headlines and is how many people know him. Whether you agree or disagree with his approach, those rallies are pertinent to any recent story on Feucht and a big part of how he was able to raise so much money this year. Steve Rabey, the author of this article, wasn’t engaging in any hackery. He was simply doing his job as a reporter.

  7. Ms. Roys, you seem pretty reasonable and I think your blog is interesting with great purpose. I am not at all in tune with ministry issues other than the slow motion debacle at Willow. Never heard of Sean Feucht but let me add my FINAL point. Given his ministry activity took place in Portland, the capital of Antifa, having robust and armed security was a fine idea, a point the writer managed to not mention.
    Thank you.
    David

    1. I’m sure you can find shortcomings in the fine details of many articles. There’s always more to a story than we can fit in 800-1,500 words. But I believe Steve did his best to report this story accurately and fairly.

    2. If spreading God’s word requires hiring armed guards and street thugs we may be missing a few important parts of the message. Just saying.

      To claim that he didn’t know who the Proud Boys were is disingenuous at best. It takes about three seconds on the internet to find out what that organization is about. Trying to rationalize a ministry associating with a group like this in any fashion is exactly why many parts of the evangelical church has lost so much credibility to witness to minorities and young people.

    3. “Given his ministry activity took place in Portland, the capital of Antifa, having robust and armed security was a fine idea”

      That’s a matter of judgement rather than objective fact, hence not appropriate for a news article. Also, the issue wasn’t simply that he had security, per se, but rather that some members of the security team were associated with questionable groups.

      1. There were 100+ days of rioting in Portland in 2020 and more just last weekend. Also, a worship group was attacked in a park in Portland a few months ago. You didn’t hear about that?

        1. Regardless, there’s a massive difference between quietly hiring security for your events (something that happens hundreds of times in America every weekend), and directly threatening to kill anyone that messes with them or interrupt their services.

          There is nothing remotely Christ-like about that.

  8. Very interesting about” Sean” Feucht, or should I say “John”. I have been watching him closely for a while. His worship concerts are very moving, but I have gotten very cynical and suspicious about anyone who has a large following in today’s climate. Thank you for the insight.

    1. Allison Carver,

      Fair point about mass popularity and its dangers, but I don’t see any of the gatekeepers and “watchmen” voicing alarm over far more popular progressive/”woke”/progressive-adjacent leaders and voices like the two Moores, Shane Claiborne, or Rick Warren. Hybels was finally done in by MeToo and his perverse deeds, but prior to that he was lionized.

  9. I noted and am grateful that you include the term “political activist” in descriptions of Sean… A lot of fans and the american evangelical celebrity leaders themselves will try to eschew this term, but it is what most of them are doing in one way or another. They try to cover it up with various guises (Sean’s being, “worship” events), but what all of them are really after is more worldly power and money. They never say it out loud, but most want to rule over their communities, states or the whole country, often with an iron fist, even though they are a small percentage of the population…

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