South African based Malawian leader and founder of the Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) Prophet Shepherd Bushiri says his ministry is for those who believes—a direct response to people who, consistently, questions authenticity of miracles he does.
He made the comment in an exclusive interview he gave to Africa’s bestselling magazine, the London-based New African magazine.
Said Prophet Bushiri: “Those are things of the spirit. The things of the spirit are for those who believe. Some don’t believe Jesus healed the sick or rose from the dead. Others don’t believe he was the Son of God, others believe. My ministry is for those who believe.”
The Prophet, however, accepted that there will always be some bad eggs in out there who gives the ministry a bad name—something he agreed with the South Africa government move to regulate churches.
He said he supports the move by the South African body—the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL)—which was set up by the Jacob Zuma government to investigate and make recommendations on the commercialisation of religious beliefs and violation of the law by religious groups.
The ECG leader said his church was one of the first to cooperate with the commission. He elaborated saying the move will help to root out the bad eggs who give a bad name to everyone.
He even challenged the perceptions and concerns that charismatic churches, such as his, thrives on exploiting the poor and the vulnerable.
Explains Prophet Bushiri: “There is a difference between reputation and character. You can destroy a reputation, but not character. Reputation is given by people and character by God. There are ‘men of God’; and then there is also persecution.
“Some churches have gone through a phase where people have messed up, but also through a phase where there is persecution. We should be able to admonish the men of God who do wrong things. Sometimes good character gets tarnished with bad reputation.
“The Bible says that in the name of Jesus every knee shall bow. That name is character. I am not for practices such as eating grass, drinking petrol or exploiting people as you mention some churches make people do in South Africa.
“On the contrary, we give a lot back to the people. At the end of the day, we conquer all with love. Remember, even Jesus was given a bad name and crucified for his good works.”
The Prophet further addressed the challenges of acceptance at the heart of not just his church, but the prophetic ministry.
“It’s very difficult running a ministry. Many churches are closing down in America, almost 1000 a year, because people are more focused on other things. But we are a prophetic ministry. Most churches have pastors, evangelists, and apostles, but God sent his prophets as well.
“In Africa the prophetic ministry is not well understood so there is some scepticism. To grow up on a particular diet and to change your diet is a challenge. So there has been resistance to what we do. There has been some opposition and some persecution.
“However we have had a lot of success. In just two years, we have gained 300,000 registered members in Pretoria alone, and as you said, millions of followers in Africa and around the world,” he said.
As one of the most successful entrepreneurs, with a net worth of more than $150 million—making him of Africa’s richest—Prophet Bushiri reiterated that there is hardly a conflict of interest between running businesses and ministry work.
The Prophet, who is the President of the Shepherd Bushiri Investments (SBI), noted that he is not just a man of God; but also a family man and he does not believe that the church must support his family.
“I am a family man with a beautiful wife and two amazing kids aged four and two. I must be a good role model for my kids and not depend on my congregation,” he said.
Beyond that, he added that in Africa needs to create entrepreneurs to generate employment and make the continent prosperous.
“We have to break the chain of dependence. And with the blessing of God, we need champions to drive that process,” he said.
He attributed his success to his strong belief in himself, saying: “I believe I can do something for my government, not that the government must do something for me. That has been my motivation and belief.”
His philosophy, he adds, is that he has never thought about being from a poor background or a poor country.
“I believe in Africa, and I believe in supporting Africans. Donald Trump says, “America first”, we must say “Africa first”, he said.
In the long run, he explained, Africa must have things made in Africa and sold to the world.
“African problems must have African solutions. But we must not rely on others for help, or on foreign investors or governments. It is our responsibility as individuals to drive this change,” he said.
New African is an English-language monthly news magazine based in London. Published since 1966, it is read by many people across the African continent and the African diaspora. It is the oldest pan-African monthly in English, as well as “the bestselling pan-African magazine”. It is published by IC Publications, which also publishes African Banker, New African Woman and African Business.