They say ‘there’s no such thing as bad publicity’. The recent media attention on so called ‘prophets’ (‘pastors’, ‘apostles’ sometimes even ‘prophetesses’) has just proved that point accurately.
I’m always fascinated by these ‘men of God’ who claim to have a speed dial to the Almighty himself. They claim to have healing powers and the ability to convey messages directly from God.
The concept of miracle evangelism is not new at all. The movement has been around for decades. It was prevalent in America and Northern Europe in the 70s and 80s.
Remember Reverend Reinhard Bonnke? He ended up with depression after being exposed as a fraudster. As usual, in Africa we always play catch up; so now some of our own are cashing in.
I’m not a theologian or hope to be someday, but my basic understanding of the fundamentals of Christianity are compassion, obeying God’s commands and most importantly, proclaiming salvation in the afterlife. With these evangelists the message is twisted; it’s all about instant babies, instant wealth, and instant husbands/wives.
Their ability to perform so called ‘miracles’ has become the biggest drive; the more complex the miracle, the better. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that Christians should live a life of poverty.
But these guys con people and accumulate extreme worth beyond imagination at the expense of the vulnerable.
I vividly remember a few years ago someone telling me that one evangelical church in Chimwankhunda could collect a few million Kwachas per Sunday service, not bad for a few hours work, eh? The question we should ask is: “If Isaiah or Jeremiah (even Jesus) was living in our generation, would they be driving a Bentley in a convoy of flashy cars? Would they be using private jets? Would they living in huge mansions? ”
‘Magic or Psychic Tricks?’
The recent scandals by one prophet are just the tip of the iceberg. Isn’t he the same ‘man of God’ who claimed that APM should contact him to receive a message from God? If he didn’t comply, he would lose the election?
When Mutharika refused, he switched his prophesy to JB as the potential winner. After the election, I remember watching a video on social media which he claimed was recorded before the election.
In the video, he claimed to have predicted a re –run of the general elections. Obviously this was after JB had just announced this and we all thought there would be a re-run.
As it turns out, there was no second election and APM was declared a winner (legitimately or not).
The point is, these are nothing but very simple magic/psychic tricks.
And then there is this iPad photo revelation , it was priceless.
Even more fascinating was the PR effort afterwards; he claimed that the video was tampered with. I’m sure even if this guy was caught on camera with another man’s wife in bed, he would have an excuse.
To be honest, I was expecting him to offer to repeat the miracle, instead he opted to perform a ‘walking on air miracle’ in a controlled environment of his choosing, his own house.
I have more respect for people like Darren Brown and Harry Houdini who clearly perform great miracles but are quick to point out that they only tricks, they don’t possess super powers.
If they really had divine powers why not just go to our hugely under resourced hospitals and perform these healing miracles on masses of people who really need them.
The SDA hospital in Blantyre would be the best place to start where one of their social media backers is supposedly critical condition, trying to evade prison!
‘The PR Machinery’
They use high profile names in politics, in the entertainment industry to endorse them on social media; it is an old PR strategy.
Followers are easily impressed by the flashy cars, jets and tramped up security. The list of such ‘men of God’ is growing every day.
They pounce on the emotionally frail, financially challenged or physically sick; desperate people searching for some sort of miracle answer to their suffering.
Ironically, when someone like me stands up to them, their response is always the same; “It’s the devil’s work”, really?
One wonders why these guys always move to more affluent areas when they start doing well. If their motive is to spread the word of God, why not move to Mwanza, Neno, Ntchis,i Malomo or some locality in Zambia?
Why not use some of that cash to help the poorest of our society? Their preferred destinations are always South Africa, Europe or America.
Obviously, these places are comfier and the followers pay more. They live in unimaginable comfort whilst the people who made them rich back home are toiling in poverty.
Some people will say I’m just another jealousy hater. On the contrary, I take my hat off to these ‘men of God’ for conning masses in handing over their hard earned money.
I think it is an exceptional skill.
But I cannot help but feel sympathy for all those poor, childless or sick people who buy ‘anointed soap, water or oil’ just to get relief to their suffering.
I know that just by writing this piece I’m doing these guys a favour because it encourages the debate, inevitably raising their profiles even more.
Indeed, “there is no such a thing as bad publicity”
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