God save us from religion: Some Malawi pastors telling patients to ‘rely on God’ instead of taking medication

Healing is an integral belief in Pentecostalism, which places an emphasis on a direct personal experience with God through prayer and worship. While the world commemorated the International Nurses Day on May 12, 2017, four-year-old Dyson M’mangisa curled up in a hospital bed at Mulanje District Hospital, praying for God to save him from the religion of a paediatric nurse who failed to assist him because of her religion beliefs.

Pentecostalism believes in the power of miracles and spiritual gifts, such as speaking in tongues and divine healing.

Grace Mahata (not real name) belongs to a church that forbids blood transfusion among people. On this day, she had a patient to assist but at the same time uphold the teachings and practice of her church.

In her three-year career as a nurse, Mahata never came across such a scenario until this day when Dyson’s was on her lap.

She least expected to be the only duty nurse in the paediatric ward on this day when Dyson was admitted as an in –patient due to malaria and anaemia. The clinician who attended to the young boy recommended that that he be given a 450 ml pint of blood.

According to Dyson’s mother, Sellina M’mangisa, it took over 3 hours before her son received the blood.

“This was after the nurse found another workmate to conduct the transfusion on her behalf as she had finally settled that it was against God’s will. It was unbelievable,” says Mmangisa who earlier vowed to beat the nurse if anything went wrong with her son.

In some churches, blood transfusion is abominable. However, the question whether medical personnel belonging to these churches can be excused from facilitating blood transfusion has never been clearly addressed in the public domain.

The churches have their basis drawn from a number of verses in the bible, saying God clearly forbids blood transfusion. They cite Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 17:10 and Acts 15:28 among other s as some of the verses in the Holy Book.

 Literature from the website of one church argues that no one can say for certain that a patient will die because of refusing blood or will live because of accepting it.

“Surgeons regularly perform such complex procedures as heart operations, orthopedic surgery, and organ transplants without the use of blood. Patients, including children, who do not receive transfusions usually fare well or better than those who do accept transfusions,” the church argues.

The site goes on to add that God views blood as representing life as He says in Leviticus 17:14. As such, individuals from some churches avoid taking blood not only in obedience to God but also out of respect for Him as the only giver of life.

Therefore, the question of whether the medical profession exempts individuals with such religious beliefs to uphold up their values at the expense of patients’ lives always pops up.

Nursing officer at Mulanje District Hospital Gloria Chirombo says the profession does not necessarily accept or prohibit expression of religious beliefs during practice. However, one thing that it clearly does is ordering the practitioner to aim at saving lives regardless of other human life extensions.

“When taking a pledge of service, every nurse say will not permit consideration of religion, nationality, race or social standing to intervene between our duty and our patients,” says Chirombo, citing from the internationally recognized nurses’ pledge of service which every nurse makes.

Executive director for the National Organization of Nurses and Midwifes in Malawi (NONM) Dorothy Ngoma believes that nurses and or clinical officers who would rather put their religious beliefs in front of saving lives are definitely in the wrong profession.

Says Ngoma; “When one joins the profession, they already know what it involves and what is expected of them. It is not right for any medical professional to refuse conducting or facilitating blood transfusions because when it is ordered, it means a life is in danger of being lost.”

She adds that medical people not comfortable with facilitating blood transfusions should probably switch to professions that conform to their religious beliefs.

Another contentious issues bordering on religion and health care revolves around the uptake of medicine.

In Phalombe, a month before the Dyson M’mangisa case emerged, another child, seven-year-old Vanessa Khwale, faced a different type of violation of her right to receive medical attention.

Visiting her home, Vanessa was basking in the sun on a traditional sleeping mat outside her father’s house; inwardly asking God to save her from her father’s religion which forbids taking medicine.

The girl had been sick for over seven days, from general body pains, headache and constant fevers.

She is a third born daughter in the family of Mr. and Mrs. Khwale of Mtengo Village in Traditional Authority (T/A) Mkhumba in Phalombe District.

The family belongs to a church that believes human beings are not meant to take any medicine when they fall sick. The church argues that Jesus Christ already provided them with divine healing through His death on the cross.

Born in a family that upholds this belief, Vanessa falls into a forced choice of rejecting medical treatment. And at her age, there is literally nothing she can do about it.

Neighbors to the family attest that it is not the first time the little girl and his two siblings have been hidden and kept ill in the house without getting medical attention.

“Their father is an elder in their church and I must say it has not been easy for the children. Time and again they end up suffering because of his decisions,” says one neighbor, a Mrs. Muhula.

She adds that a few years back, one of the two children almost died when she was attacked by pneumonia.

“The father stood his ground when he was advised to take the children to hospital until the village chief intervened with a threat that the family would be banished from the area if the child dies at home’” says Muhula.

Asked whether he knew that Vanessa had rights, including that to medical care, the father showed no remorse and maintained that taking medicines was wrong regardless of rights.

“On 1 Peter 2 verse 24 the Bible says and I quote; ‘He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.’ End of quote,” says Khwale looking less concerned with his daughter’s ailment.

Khwale seems unrepentant despite his family escaping death by a whisker two years ago.

In 2015, the family almost perished when a serious cholera outbreak hit Phalombe with the District Health Office (DHO) registering one death and 96 cases.

The family and some fellow members of their church refused medical care.

“It took a delegation of representatives from Phalombe DHO, district council and the Police to force them to go to the hospital when the outbreak spread among them,” says Aubrey Masubi, a health surveillance assistant (HSA) working in the area.

The constitution of the Republic of Malawi provides for children’s rights on Section 23, subsection 4 which says ‘all children shall be entitled to reasonable maintenance from their parents,’ (which ideally includes good health care and environment).

It is sad to note that there are still many children who are not enjoying protection provided by the laws of the land, simply because the same constitution provides the right to religion and beliefs on Section 33.

Vanessa and Dyson have gone through the worst experience in the name of religion. A look into their eyes, one can see a plea to God to save them and the rest of the children from the perils of religion.


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6 thoughts on “God save us from religion: Some Malawi pastors telling patients to ‘rely on God’ instead of taking medication”

  1. Jesus is Lord says:

    Bit of common sense needed. The Bible speaks of both sick people needing a physician, and people who entrust physicians and spend all their money to get better but get more ill. But Pentecostals are not Christians and not saved, for they trust on “repent of your sins” to save them, not Jesus. And “speaking in tongues” is demonic – the only example is in Acts 2 and it’s the exact opposite of the Pentecostal version. But also, don’t blindly trust doctors, their basis is that we are just chemicals, evolved from apes. Chemicals do not cure everything.

  2. BORN AGAIN says:

    I want to say that Winston Msowoyas’ comment is completely out of context. There is a lot of mixing issues in the article and Msowoyas’ comment. This church is just an extreme of many churches that mislead the people of God.

    Because of this I am forced to give my FULL testimony of Biblical Healing below:

    Firstly, I like what one Clinic in Lilongwe always says. They truthfully say ” WE treat , But God Heals”. So the Church you are talking about needs sound Biblical Teaching on healing.

    I for ONE, I am the VERY LIVING testimony that GOD, through HIS WORD Heals. And you can be Healed without swallowing any tablet from the best hospital you know on Earth. I got sick from unknown disease from May 24, 1984 to August 20, 1986 ( ALL MONTHS AND DAYS INCLUDED). I was on MASM from a very reputable organization. I went to Excellent Private Hospitals in Blantyre, including Queens, nothing worked. They tested me with the best hospital equipment at that time , but never found the disease. Then my girlfriend ( now my wife) called me to come to Lilongwe to be taken care of with my Late Brother in Marriage and my Sister in Law ( Senior Clinical Officer and Nurse , respectively). I came to Lilongwe end July 1984. They tested me everything with the very senior Laboratory Technician, they found no disease in me, but then I was very sick. The last process was that I should go for Barium Meal Ex-ray at KCH, but then Dr. Mohammed was not in the country at that material time to read my results, because I was told no one else would read the results at that time except him. So I was left with no solution. My Late Brother in Marriage and Sister in Law were both confused of the negative results. So I went home (to my girlfriends’ house) very confused. Then, my Late Cousin ( MHSRP), introduced me to an African Doctor ( Sing’anga) and we went on August 2, 1984 after Chigwirizano, Unit 6 in Lilongwe. I had taken all the concoction for full 4 days and went back to the sing’anga on instructions on August 6, 1984 to see the progress, but nothing worked. However, I was travelling every fortnight from Blantyre to Lilongwe to a Sing’anga in Lilongwe up to December , 1984. Then I gave up life. In March, 1985, a friend introduced me to another Sing’anga in Thyolo , I had taken again all the concoction, but nothing happened. I was again introduced to another sing’anga at Ntaja, Nothing happenned. Again up to December, 1985. Then in March, 1986 another friend introduced me to another Sing’anga using the spirits from Zomba, but was at Soche East Location in Blantyre. Nothing happened again. I was given all what it takes from a Sing’anga, but nothing worked. I was almost retired on Health Grounds in my Organization. BUT the Almighty GOD had a wonderful plan for my LIFE. That at a given time and place, I should know HIM, through HEALING by the Preaching of HIS Word. Listen GOD HEALS!!!!!!! I completely gave up life in April, 1986. I had grown very thin. Ndikamayenda chizungulire chokha chokha! It was better for me to die. And I correctly asked myself ” What is the purpose of Life?” . Why should I live? Brethren, I am NOT ashamed to testify. Thank God, in August, 1986 there came in Malawi an International Evangelist by the name of Reinhard Bonkie where my work mate kept going for the past three days. . And stubbornly pestered on me for three days that I should go to this crusade to be prayed for and that I will be healed, but I refused and threatened that I would beat her if she continued talk to me about this false Evangelist. BUT by the Grace of God, she put down her foot, that she will never stop talking to me until I go to the Crusade at Upper Stadium, in Blantyre to be prayed for. Hallelujah!!!! God is Great, on August 20, 1986 at 15:30 Hrs, a miracle started working in me. After my work at about 15:40 Hours , a very powerful Voice called me by name just at the corner of National Bank Victoria Avenue Branch. Mentioned the name of this Evangelist. And my foolishness of being stubborn for nothing was revealed. I foolishly obeyed the voice, went to the Crusade at Upper Stadium, at the end of the day, after the LIVING Word was preached, I believed the Gospel. And finally, the Evangelist said , We will NOW Pray for the SICK. I raised my hands and the Man of God Prayed for us all. Glory be to GOD , this was my turning point. I GOT HEALED 100 % on AUGUST 20, 1986. Now nearly 31 years enjoying abundant life. I still celebrate GOD”S HEALING. YOU CAN ALSO BE HEALED WITHOUT TAKING YOUR COMPLEX MEDICINES. I am NOT ashamed to give you this testimony. If still in doubt , Call me on +265 999 389 658.

    Finally, there are people that have written and commented before on such topics. But many do not have the knowledge of this topic. From August 17th to 20th, 1986, I talked nonsense of the Evangelist because I did NOT have the Biblical understanding of the Biblical Healing. Never just criticize on wholesale. That church in question needs to be taught the WORD OF GOD so that they do not bring the Name of JESUS CHRIST into disrepute.

    May God bless you for reading this testimony!

  3. d. ngwira says:

    verses dont talk about blood transfusion. What wrong is sharing blood if the purpose is to extend life for someone(nothing wrong)

  4. winston msowoya says:

    This is a misleading evengelical rhetorics purposely to suck the Church goers financially.God himself says that nothing will come without working for it.How would you expect to harvest without tilling the land.Our Churches of these days,are full of crooks who live to deceive their Church members for their own interests even Jesus once lamented thus: Time will come when people will use the name of my father,to enrich themselves.Indeed,this is what is happening today especially in Sub-Saharan Africa where counterfeit Prophets are mushrooming.I strongly urge my fellow Christians to go for medical treatment and checkups,your Church leaders are satanically misleading you for their own economic gains.

    1. kaitano says:

      Hard days for Christians!!!

  5. Fallacy says:

    According to Ngolongoliwas comments in regard to PACs meeting, are these kid have enough food to eat? am just asking.

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