The Embassy of Heaven Church has been flooded with email from angry people about our involvement with the Grays. The secular media has led their readers into believing that we have brainwashed John Joe Gray into a weapons standoff with the secular forces. What is the Church's relationship with the Grays?
In 1998, the Grays sought out the Embassy of Heaven Church for assistance in separating themselves from the kingdoms of the world (2 Corinthians 6: 14-18). Based upon their written confession of their allegiance to Jesus Christ, the Church expatriated them.
In retaliation, the political subdivisions of Texas launched an attack upon the Grays to prevent them from separating. The secular courts refused to acknowledge the Kingdom of Heaven and sent swarms of secular police to persecute the Grays. Several Church vehicles were stolen from the Grays by the secular police. They also provoked John Joe Gray to bite a secular policeman, which is a natural defense mechanism of one who is being hurt. They successfully created an incident in order to manufacture secular felony charges.
John Joe Gray knew that one of the tenets of the Embassy of Heaven Church is not to take up weapons against our enemies. In his own mind, the only way he could defend his family, property and himself, was to disassociate from the Embassy of Heaven Church. That he has done. He now claims to be part of the militia..
According to recent newspaper articles, the Grays have a sign that says "We are militia and will live free or die!" If this is true, then the Grays are the militia by their own confession. We believe that the Grays are receiving direction from those who call themselves the militia.
The Embassy of Heaven Church is not the militia and never has been. The Church is under Jesus Christ and He is not willing to share His Church with any foreign interests. The Church will remain separate.
The Embassy of Heaven Church has never suggested or encouraged anyone to resist evil by the use of weapons. The Church has always preached, love your enemies and do good to those who persecute you.
The Church does not have communication with the Grays and we do not expect to be able to communicate with them directly. We have not encouraged them to use weapons. However, we are sympathetic to their situation. The secular forces have frustrated the Grays to take extreme measures.
Even though the Church does not agree with the decisions that John Joe Gray has made in regard to weapons, the Church is still in the middle of the incident. The reason the Grays are prisoners on their own land is because they have separated from the world and the world has declared war to prevent them from being separate. And separation from the world is a practice of the Church.
The Grays are not the first to separate from the world (secular). Neither will they be the last. As long as secular interests refuse to submit to the Kingdom of Heaven where Jesus Christ is Lord, people from all over the world will continue to expatriate from the world.
And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
"I declare that I am reborn as a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven. I give my allegiance to Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I will love one another as He commanded. I renounce all allegiance and fidelity to every foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty whatsoever and to the world itself.
John Joe Gray, Alicia Nell Gray, and Racheal Elaine Dempsey each signed an expatriation statement as a requirement for Citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Embassy of Heaven Church
Paul Revere, Pastor
On Wednesday, August 30th, Angela K. Brown of The Associated Press called me for an interview. After our one-hour conversation, she chose not to mention the Embassy of Heaven in the following article.
Sunday, September 3, 2000
TRINIDAD, Texas Sep 03 -- With holsters slung across their hips, three bearded men wearing camouflage hats and torn jeans sit in folding chairs at the end of the dirt driveway.
Homemade signs in various sizes and colors hang from the gate, barbed-wire fence and tree trunks: "We are militia and will live free or die!" "Disobedience to tyranny is obedience to God!" "Notice to all public servants. No trespassing -- survivors will be prosecuted."
For six weeks, a felony assault suspect and more than a dozen of his relatives -- including seven children -- have been holed up in a remote part of a ranching community some 50 miles southeast of Dallas. The adults stand guard 24 hours a day.
John Joe Gray, 51, charged with trying to take a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper's gun and biting him after a traffic stop, says he won't surrender.
He has a two-year supply of food and arsenal of weapons on this 50 acres beside the Trinity River. He's even built a bunker marked "kids inside." In a handwritten note delivered by a friend, Gray told authorities to bring body bags if they step on his land.
"We don't want to hurt anybody, but we're going to defend our property," said his wife Alicia Gray. "Joe didn't do anything wrong, and we just want to be left alone."
So far, authorities have done just that.
Henderson County Sheriff Howard "Slick" Alfred has taken no action to prevent people from delivering food and supplies, nor has he set up round-the-clock surveillance. Alfred insists there's no plan to storm the property.
"There's never been a standoff or a siege. This isn't another Waco," Alfred said. "Joe Gray is just something else in the normal work day. I really think he'll get tired of all of it. He's just kind of pinned in there."
The subject of another Waco is a sensitive one in Texas.
In 1993, David Koresh and about 80 of his Branch Davidian followers died after a standoff at a compound near Waco, about 75 miles from Trinidad. It began 51 days earlier when federal agents tried to serve members with search and arrest warrants, and the ensuing gunfight killed four agents and six Davidians.
Waco became a rallying cry for religious and militia groups, some of whom -- fueled by Internet rumors of increased police surveillance, federal involvement and an impending raid -- now are calling on members to go to Trinidad by the busload.
So far, several have responded. Michael Treis heard about the Grays' saga a few weeks ago and drove to this East Texas town from Alexandria, La., where he leads the Yahshua Messiah Seventh-day Ministry. Treis, his wife and teen-age son have been staying with the Grays ever since.
"It's pretty bad when a pastor has to strap on a gun and protect a family from an attack like Waco," said Treis, adjusting his shoulder holster. "If things start taking a turn for the worse, there'll be more people here."
Authorities hope that doesn't happen.
Ed Miers, a former police chief in nearby Malakoff, has been mediating. He's trying to ease the Grays' distrust of the government while urging authorities to back off further. But false reports spread by some radical groups could hinder negotiations, he said.
"One lie in a situation like this can be volatile," Miers said.
Others want law enforcement to be more aggressive.
Keith Tarkington believes his ex-wife, who is the Grays' oldest child, is keeping their two young sons on the property. Tarkington has not seen the blond tots since April 1999, when Lisa Gray Tarkington moved in with her parents, he said.
Their divorce was final in August 1999, according to documents filed in Henderson County District Court. Tarkington was given full custody of 4-year-old Joe Douglas and Samuel, who will turn 3 this month.
Sheriff Alfred said removing the children was too risky even before the so-called standoff, but now he does not want to risk bloodshed by storming the Grays' property.
Tarkington already fears for their safety. He contends that the family would not leave the compound even for a medical emergency. And the house has no air conditioner since the electricity was turned off months ago for nonpayment.
"I just want my kids back, and the police should do their job and go in there and get them," Tarkington said.
Mrs. Gray will not say if Tarkington's children are there. But she says she has seven grandchildren and confirms that seven youngsters are staying on the property.
Tarkington says authorities have long feared Gray, a carpenter who has been involved in the militia and distributed anti-government literature for years.
Mrs. Gray explained that the family believes the government is so corrupt that people should only recognize God's authority. The Grays also were involved with the Republic of Texas, which fosters the idea that Texas is an independent nation, until the group splintered after the 1997 standoff in West Texas involving its former leader.
In December, highway patrol officers in nearby Anderson County pulled over a speeding car in which Gray was riding and found weapons. Gray then allegedly got into a skirmish with a trooper. Gray was indicted in March.
Gray and his family left the property occasionally until in mid-July, after hearing a rumor about an impending police siege.
Chip Berlet, senior analyst with Political Research Associates, a think tank in Somerville, Mass., is an expert on militia activity. Based on what authorities have learned from other standoffs, he said, Henderson County officials are handling the Gray case appropriately.
"This is a dilemma for law enforcement because they know that going in there with extreme force can end in tragedy, but on the other hand, it sets a bad example in terms of people obeying the law," he said. "But the issue is not whether law enforcement is insulted but whether justice is done. Ultimately, the government has more power."
Meanwhile, the Grays are fishing, hunting and living like others do in the country, Mrs. Gray said. The family has generators, a spring-fed well and cell phone and gets food deliveries from friends.
Their house and cabin, hidden by a thick grove of trees, are a few hundred feet away from the narrow dirt road that winds between cow pastures and cotton fields.
Jonathan Gray, one of the couple's children, says they have no plans to leave.
"We've lived here 16 years and never had a problem with the law," he said. "We're a peaceful people -- until we're provoked."
Reporter: By Angela K. Brown, The Associated Press
Copyright: 2000 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.
Copyright 2000 by WFAA-TV Co., A Belo Subsidiary
The following information is in the Church records: