Hearing a friend, a devoted mzalwane (Christian) expressing his disgust at how some pastors “are soiling the name of God to fulfil personal interests, has gotten me bombarding myself with endless questions. Fortunately these questions are not introspective. I am not soul searching.
Of all these questions only one inspired this peace. It is a question about our reluctance to ask why some among us make themselves available to be fooled by those who claim to be messengers of the one above us. This question is more about the hypnotised audience of this magic show than it is about the magician.
Lately we have, on several occasions, been audience to eyebrow-raising sermons and claims by men who some in our society have come to accept as true custodians of God’s teachings and bearers of His supernatural powers.
Where do I start? Last December the self-proclaimed bishop of Rebirth Family Centre, pastor Hamilton Nala, publicly claimed that through prayer and “Faith Water” he can heal HIV/AIDS. This shocking claim was seconded by HIV positive congregants in his church, much to the annoyance of KZN health MEC and rights group TAC.
It was reported that HIV positive people who believe in the healing power of this cleric’s “Faith Water” have stopped taking ARVs.
Daniel Lesego. Now here you have a “man of God” from Garankuwa, north of Pretoria. He is the founding and senior pastor of the charismatic Rabboni Centre Ministries. A man gifted with mind-boggling power to turn humans into herbivores. Wait for this, with his prayers he can also throw you into a deep holy nap and then take a walk on your limbs. How about that?
And then, not to be outdone by other “men of God”, a ZCC congregant by the name Nelson Modupe told everyone who cared to listen, that includes the North West High Court, that it was thanks to his powerful prayers that heavy storms didn’t disrupt the 2010 soccer world cup. And that for this Eskom should acknowledge the power of his prayers and pay him 250 million rand or give him a partnership in the company.
It sounds ridiculous I know, and I am glad that I am not making it up. But the fact that there are people who believe such claims; who vow to do whatever it takes to prove the authenticity of these dodgy spiritual leaders, should worry us sick.
I think it is about time we turn our attention away from these pastors and take a closer look at the people who fall for their brand of gospel. One explanation is that if we want to have a good understanding of this brand of gospel, we need to pause and take a look at how our society is structured. It goes further to say that, while at it we are most likely to going to find that poverty and lack of opportunities play a significant role.
I must say to a certain extent I think this view holds a grain of truth, although it doesn’t explain why others from similar social conditions do not fall for claims made by these religious leaders.
Questions such as this should be reason enough for us pay some more attention on the victims of this brand of gospel than those who preach it. Some of the answers produced here can empower our peopleand help them to develop the ability to put everything they hear or read to close examination. Once this is done what we will have is a society that, despite its poor background, is able to differentiate between fakes and real articles.
Howling at these pastors every time they make bizarre statements or stage make-believe performances is not helping. Anyway they don’t seem to give a toss what we say, and whatever we say won’t stop them from turning our people’s challenges, be it unemployment, poverty or disease, into a religious football.
I could be wrong but that’s just how I see it.