Just over a year after he was indicted for defrauding a number of his members of $1 million, prominent Texas megachurch pastor Kirbyjon Caldwell announced Saturday that he has been diagnosed with stage 1 prostate cancer.
“I want to share with you that earlier this week, I received a call from MD Anderson informing me that I’ve been diagnosed with stage 1 prostate cancer. And thank God that my prognosis does not look like my diagnosis. God was very clear that I’ll die from something as we all will one day but it won’t be from prostate cancer,” the controversial leader of the 15,000-member Windsor Village United Methodist Church in Houston said in a Facebook video in which he explained why he chose to share his health condition publicly.
“I wanted to share that with you for three reasons. Number 1) I encourage members to always pray so the folk can pray for them ….2) I wanted to tell you myself before you heard it from someplace else, so you would know what’s really going on,” he said.
Caldwell further noted that the main reason he wanted to share his condition publicly is to encourage others to practice preventive health care.
“The really reason I want to share it with you, I want to encourage you as I have in the past but it’s another level now of encouragement,” he said.
“I want to encourage you to be a good and faithful steward of your health. Go to the doctor, get your check up, mammogram, Pap smear, prostate, whatever…there is no need in being diseased. There is no need in dying unnecessarily,” he said.
Caldwell, 66, who served as a spiritual adviser to both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, was indicted along with his business partner, Gregory Smith, 56, on multiple charges, including money laundering and wire fraud last year.
He and his partner are accused of, among 13 counts, conspiracy to commit money laundering when they raised around $3.5 million in Historical Chinese bonds from 29 investors between 2013 to 2014, ABC News said.
They reportedly tricked investors into believing that they were buying bonds through a Shreveport-based company called Smith Financial Group LLC.
"These bonds were issued by the former Republic of China prior to losing power to the communist government in 1949. They are not recognized by China's current government and have no investment value. Smith and Caldwell promised high rates of return, sometimes three to 15 times the value of the investments. Instead of investing the funds, the defendants used them to pay personal loans, credit card balances, mortgages, vehicle purchases and other personal expenses," a release from the Department of Justice said.
The megachurch pastor maintains that the bonds he sold are legitimate, and his attorney says he absolutely believed the bonds were worth more than he sold them for, ABC 13 said.
He also invested a significant amount of his own money, and even personally refunded nearly $1 million to anyone who was unhappy with the investment.
"Every single person who has asked for their money back has gotten their money back," Caldwell's attorney Dan Cogdell said.
Caldwell is set to stand trial on December 2.