US Tycoon to Build Religious Broadcasting Empire in Rwanda

HQ for “the rest of Asia and Africa”

From the Kigali New Times:

President Paul Kagame yesterday held talks with the founder of Family Christian Network (FCN) Decarol Williamson, who promised to build a US$20m Television and radio network in Rwanda. Speaking to the press shortly after the meeting, Williamson’s personal assistant Joshi Uruashi said that Williamson reiterated his willingness to build a modern television to be set up in Gacuriro, Gasabo District that would serve as headquarters to the rest of Africa and Asia.

…Family Christian Network, whose headquarters are in Costa Rica, Central America has over the years reached out [to] ten million people.

FCN is a ministry of Fore Christ, which Williamson founded after a religious experience in 1974. Its website explains:

In August of 1974, Dr. DeCarol Williamson was thrown to the floor by the awesome power of the Holy Spirit. He was instantly delivered and healed from both alcohol and drug addiction. While on the floor he received a Vision from God.

The vision was “to build A Global Army Fore Christ”:

…Williamson believes that like in the day of Pentecost when the church was in one place with one mind and in one accord there will once again come a fresh baptism of power.

Following the example of Paul and Barnabas who made tents to support themselves in ministry, Dr. Williamson founded many companies with the blessing of the Lord and is using these companies to fund the majority of the ministry’s activities so that the ministry would depend on God and not man. God is leading others now around the world to support the army “Fore Christ” to help facilitate this last day revival of God and meet the needs of the poor and suffering.

In fact, Williamson has his own corporate website, where we learn that DeCarol Williamson Enterprises (based in Wilmington, North Carolina) consists of more than fifty companies, ranging from construction through to horse breeding and golf – in fact, his golf package holiday service is named “Fore Travel“, echoing his “Fore Christ” religious venture. FCN has had an interest in Rwanda since 2005, as these rather dull legal documents show.

Details about Williamson are scarce, although he is described as a Vietnam veteran and a USA International Director of the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International. His full name is Odell DeCarol Williamson Jr, and he is obviously named for Odell Williamson (most likely he’s a grandson), who developed the Ocean Isle Beach area of North Carolina after returning from World War II. There is now a Odell Williamson Auditorium and Odell Williamson Municipal Airport, but the name is not without controversy: in 2004 a local weekly named the Indy made mention of

…one [of] North Carolina’s most prominent developers, Brunswick County land tycoon Odell Williamson…[who] was indicted in June 1999 on charges of using his position on the N.C. Board of Transportation to direct public road projects to benefit his private developments. (A judge ruled in December 1999 Williamson was medically unfit to stand trial, ending the case.)

The website of the North Carolina Real Estate Commission has the detail that someone named Odell DeCarol Williamson of Ocean Isle Beach (one assumes another relative of the evangelist) had had his broker license suspended in 1996 for “drug related offenses”.

A 1999 news report from Nicaragua has a short profile of DeCarol Williamson and his mission:

El Ministerio Para-Cristo, Inc., es un organismo que se define sin inclinación denominacional, es decir, no se identifica con bautistas, pentecostales, Asambleas de Dios o cualquier otra organización. Tampoco es nacionalista ni étnico.

However, although his ministry is not related to any particular organisation, he is not apolitical at home: records (e.g. here and here) show various donations made by his wife Jan through DeCarol Williamson Enterprises to the National Republican Congressional Committee.