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Chi Alpha Area Director No Longer Credentialed

Eli Gautreaux was a leader in Texas where convicted sex offender Daniel Savala operated.

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Eli Gautreaux, a Chi Alpha leader who was in a position of leadership over college chapters in Texas and New Mexico, no longer “hold[s] credentials with the Assemblies of God.”

Chi Alpha’s then-Director of South Texas and New Mexico Eli Gautreaux speaking in 2019 / Video screengrab

Gautreaux is the latest in a line of Chi Alpha leaders who are longer with the ministries. In November, National Director Scott Martin resigned his position. Chi Alpha World Fellowship is a network of Christian ministries sponsored by the Assemblies of God that has a presence on more than 300 college campuses.

Gautreaux started the Sam Houston State University Chi Alpha chapter, and also served as the director of South Texas district and North Texas district and over New Mexico, areas where convicted sex offender Daniel Savala had access and influence.

Savala was indicted by a McLennan County, Texas, grand jury on September 14 for indecency with a child and trafficking of persons. In October, Savala was also charged by the Houston Police Department with sexual assault of a child and indecency with a child by sexual contact, the Waco Tribune Herald reported.

An email obtained by MinistryWatch shows that Gautreaux, as early as 2012, was defending Savala and asking others to send letters in support of leniency in sentencing Savala, who was facing sexual abuse charges in Alaska. “Judge Carey needs to see character in terms of positive influence he has on others and the sacrificial way he pours his life out as an offering,” the email said. Savala pleaded guilty to the charges of sexual abuse in Alaska.

In 2018, the Assembly of God General Council and National Chi Alpha received the first report about Savala’s involvement with local Chi Alpha chapters. They “made relevant Chi Alpha leaders aware of his status and warned them to cease contact and not permit students or leaders to be around him.”

However, despite the warning, reports and testimonials by survivors on the Chi Alpha survivors’ forum demonstrate that Savala remained in contact with Chi Alpha chapter leaders in the areas that fell under Gautreaux’s supervision.

In May 2023, District Superintendent Dr. Tim Barker apprised the South Texas Assemblies of God ministers in May 2023 that Gautreaux was “placed on leave” as part of the ongoing investigation in Savala’s involvement in Chi Alpha.

While the Assemblies of God did not directly respond to a MinistryWatch inquiry about the process for revoking a minister’s credentials, its website states that “[o]nce charges are filed, a district hearing occurs by the district credentials committee. Action is then referred to the General Council Credentials Committee to consider the recommendation of the district.”

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A dismissed minister’s name isn’t published until “an additional period of time” elapses. The Assemblies of God did not state the date when Gautreaux’s credentials were revoked, but a letter dated December 20, 2023 by Assemblies of God Director of Mission Support Tim Laffoon said that Gautreaux was “no longer eligible for U.S. Missions status.”

The Chi Alpha website still features videos of Gautreaux’s teaching.

In November, Pastor Randy Weaver who leads the Lone Star Cowboy Church in Montgomery, Texas, defended Gautreaux during a church service. He told the congregation that Gautreaux and his wife are “good people.”

Gautreaux is on the church’s board and sometimes preaches at Lone Star Cowboy Church, Weaver said. Gautreaux offered to step down from the board, but Weaver declined the offer. Weaver quoted Psalm 105, “Touch not mine anointed.” Weaver shared no message of sympathy or support for Savala’s victims.

Weaver said the church would continue to support Chi Alpha ministers, but would be “wise about who we support.”

Lone Star Cowboy Church did not respond to a MinistryWatch inquiry about whether Gautreaux is still on the church’s board.

Ronald Bloomingkemper, who is an advocate for victims and started the online forum XA and the Lions Den for survivors to share their stories and receive support, reacted to Weaver’s defense of Gautreaux.

“The reality is that under the leadership of Eli Gautreaux, Chi Alpha fostered a culture of perversion, spiritual abuse, bullying, and sexual abuse, allowing Daniel Savala years of unrestricted access to groom and abuse students,” Bloomingkemper told MinistryWatch.

“It’s time to stop empowering unhealthy leaders and ministries. Healthy leadership takes responsibility,” he added.

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Kim Roberts

Kim Roberts is a freelance writer who holds a Juris Doctorate from Baylor University. She has home schooled her three children and is happily married to her husband of 25 years.