From the archives | Pastor Enoch Phiri reflects on his journey on controversial show AmaBishop

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Pastor Enoch Phiri of Restoration House.
Pastor Enoch Phiri of Restoration House.

It started out as a show for church leaders to have conversations about issues within the church.

But then it quickly turned into a drama with jaw-dropping truths being revealed with each new episode.

If it wasn’t men of the cloth embroiled in sexual, financial and psychological abuse, it was demonic practices, money laundering and criminality in the many different churches. 

People who had experiences with these dubious pastors were invited to AmaBishop to share their painful experiences. 

Pastor Enoch Phiri of Restoration House in Johannesburg was a panellist and host on some episodes on the Moja Love show.

Pastor Enoch Phiri is part of the Amabishop show on Moja Love.

He tells Drum that although the conversations needed – and still need – to be had, it was a difficult time for him. 

“It was very painful in a sense that some pastors felt like I was attacking the church and abafundisi (pastors). 

“I didn’t anticipate that. But bringing the likes of Mboro (Prophet Paseka Motsoeneng) was amazing. After the show, Mboro even blocked me on WhatsApp.” 

Read more | Woman who recorded Bishop Makamu on her case - 'I want him to be arrested and never do this to anyone again'

Mboro appeared on an episode where he was questioned about his ability to perform miracles and him receiving a gift of R1 million from Malawian-born fugitive Pastor Shepherd Bushiri. 

While all this made for great Sunday TV and amazing ratings, it brought to focus the suffering of believers at the hands of some pastors. 

“My point is the church must be fixed. I believe in the church so much. Pastors need to uphold integrity and preach the gospel, that’s uncompromised," Pastor Phiri tells Drum.

“I am a pastor and sometimes it is hard for me to go to church because of how we are also exploited in the church. It becomes difficult. There have been times I paid school fees for children and people will come back and be ungrateful. 

“I will tell you something people don’t know which is very painful. Do you know some women come to church to take advantage of the pastor sexually? They seduce and then blackmail. This is something you will not see on TV but I am telling you that is happening a lot."

Read more | 'We cannot modernise or upgrade religion' – pastors call for responsible leadership in churches

Phiri and Bishop Joshua Maponga, who's also part of the show, faced backlash when the last episode of the show aired. 

It involved a friend and colleague of theirs, Bishop Israel Makamu, who was embroiled in a scandal after he was heard in a recording allegedly asking for sex from a girl who worked for his church. 

The Reatsotella host had to appear on the show to explain himself. But viewers called Phiri and Maponga hypocrites for not putting him on blast and holding him accountable like they did with other pastors who appeared on the show. 

Reflecting on the furore, Phiri says: “Bishop Makamu’s episode shook me the most. He is my personal friend. If I can call Makamu now and say ‘Mfana I need petrol’, he would be there in a flash. It was so conflicting. I have known him for years. What happened to him broke me."

Another one of Phiri's friends, Bishop Zondo of Rivers of Living Waters, has been charged with rape and is expected back in court next week. "Bishop Stephen Zondo is my friend," Phiri tells Drum. "It’s a mess.” 

Read more|Column | Dear fake pastors, stop freestyling religion, it's unholy

AmaBishop is expected back on TV screens soon and Phiri says he is thankful for the lessons learnt.

“I am grateful for it because we raised issues that had never been spoken about in the country. The abuse of women and children in the church, abuse over finances, rape and many others that can’t be tolerated.

“In terms of approaching situation, I will tell the truth. In my truth, if you are a father and your daughters are getting abused in church, it breaks you.

"I will tell the truth on the basis that women must not be abused in church, they must not be exploited and anybody else for that matter.”

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