These churches popular

2015-08-26 06:00
Moeti Molelekoa Social Observer

Moeti Molelekoa Social Observer

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DURING the 1960s to 1970s Thabong residents were often woken up in the early morning by the sweet sound of the male voices of mine workers singing melodious songs especially on Good Friday and Christmas morning.

This Welkom township is surrounded by mine compounds and the miners would be singing in groups on their way from the different compounds to the local Southern African Methodist Church circuits.

These men in their grey trousers, black jackets and red waistcoats were a marvel to watch and listen to. This auxiliary of the church is known as the Men’s Guild (Madodana a se Wesele).

In those days, churches like the Methodist, Anglican and Catholic church were filled to the brim with these male groups, a main attraction in preaching the Gospel.

In contrast, presently mainstream churches are recording either half-full or half-empty pews while charismatic churches fill stadiums and auditoriums to capacity.

These days, men and women have abandoned traditional churches and can be seen in suits and in high heels alighting from German luxury cars next to the charismatic churches’ buildings.

Most of these churches have developed television ministry and social media exposing them to arm-chair audiences as well.

A classic case is Past. Simon Mokoena’s Tyrannus Church which boasts over a million members across 1 000 branches in the country. The church has its own factory that manufactures regalia for the church.

The Grace Bible Church in Soweto founded by Past. Musa Sono has experienced similar growth.

These charismatic churches appeal to the youth by remaining relevant when it comes to music, sermons and community focus.

It is not only South African pastors who attract big crowds. The Nigerian-based Past. Chris Oyakilhome has branches of his Christ Embassy in South Africa.

Much of what is called a charismatic or Pentecostal expression of church life is driven by what is known as prosperity gospel, which promises a better life for the followers.

I regularly listen to Archbishop Stephen Zondo and he often explains that God is touched by our feelings of weakness. He says God is not a high supernatural spirit that cannot be reached. God wants you to have enough money to provide a wonderful income for your families and the poor.

I do, however, not agree with churches that claim to have a cure for chronic illnesses like HIV and Aids. We all know that no cure has been discovered yet and claims to the contrary are absolutely nonsensical.

In most cases, people prayed for while they are HIV positive claim they tested negative later. Some with a CD4 count of 200 will ask for prayer, and it shoots up to 500 and the church takes the credit despite the patients using antiretroviral (ARV) medication.

With prayer, time and patience, a cure will be revealed.

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