Home » General » Prophecy, Promises and Lies the New Chiadzwa [column]

While in other parts of the world Christians are battling ISIS and Boko Haram, in Zimbabwe there is a bunch of selfish people bent on removing the trust that has always been known to exist in the church.

I love the Old Man in Charles Mungoshi’s novel, “Waiting for the Rain”, because he is a voice of reason. The old man is not a prophet, but he can see a lot of things that others don’t see.

Mungoshi opens the novel by saying: “Things are happening here and there. And whether you see them or not, you can’t certainly say the Old Man doesn’t see them.”

Another old man who made a lasting impression on me because of his patience and tenacity is in the Ernest Hemmingway long short story – “The Old Man and the Sea”. Then, in the nursery rhymes, I am fond of the Wise Old Owl, the one who sat in an oak. The nursery rhyme says: “A wise old owl sat in an oak. The more he heard, the less he spoke. The less he spoke, the more he heard!”

President Mugabe is an old man, but it doesn’t mean he has stopped noticing things. His comments about Pentecostal church leaders at the Kutama centenary celebrations in Zvimba on Sunday last week confirmed a problem in our midst.

The President said: “The rise of robberies and murders doesn’t make a good sign, and yet we have so many churches. As for the Pentecostals, anyone who has no job can just start preaching and say I can dream. The dream I had last night was I can do A and B and you get that. Oh, oh, oh! And our people, that’s what they want, they hurry.”

The President’s remarks can be interpreted in so many ways – yes, as an acknowledgement of the political, social and economic problems we are facing as a country and how they are impacting on people’s lives.

But what saddened me as a Christian apologist is that the shenanigans and scandals by some church leaders are making the whole church look filthy.

As a Christian, I am praying and looking for that church leader who according to the Word of God “is above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money”.

Unfortunately, as the President observed, most church leaders are facing too many disturbing allegations, with others already condemned because of sins of the flesh.

Others, as a result of the difficult social, political and economic times have become great opportunists.

They are taking aantage of the gullible people who are trying to escape from the sharp claws of poverty, job losses, unemployment, divorces and other social ills.

These savage wolves are coming in many shapes and sizes and are not sparing the people.

They are turning the house of God into a den of robbers.

The Bible in the Book of Kings talks about a very difficult social, political and economic situation. It says: “Afterward Ben-hadad king of Syria mustered his entire army and went up and besieged Samaria. And there was a great famine in Samaria , as they besieged it, until a donkey’s head was sold for 80 shekels of silver, and the fourth part of a kab of dove’s dung for five shekels of silver.”

In these desperate times that saw people eating bird droppings, citizens lost their “heads” and could not think straight and clearly, such that two women agreed to eat their children in turns.

In Zimbabwe, there are people who are living out the Shona proverb, “Kakara kununa hudya kamwe”.

In desperation, most people have lost their heads and become prophet addicts, giving their little earnings to some very persuasive manipulators and enterprising prophets and pastors.

It is not only Zimbabwe and President Mugabe that can see the evil of the gospel of amassing wealth at the expense of saving souls. John M. Perkins, a civil rights leader and father of the racial reconciliation movement, recently criticised Pastor Creflo Dollar’s fund-raising campaign for a new $65 million private jet as “evil”, “heresy” and “exploitation”, as he explained the damage prosperity preachers have done to black communities.

“A preacher should not be raising money for a luxurious lifestyle when there are many desperate needs in poor communities,” he argued.

“There is not an accredited Christian college led by blacks in the United States, and now we’re buying an airplane for $60 million for somebody’s convenience. You won’t hear [anyone criticise] that in our community. And there’s death and violence all around us, and the conversation is going past each other,” he said.

In Zimbabwe, as most people wallow in poverty, we also read and see “men of God” unashamedly parading these luxurious lifestyles funded by their desperate followers who in one way or another pay for their services. The problem, just like John Perkins puts it is, you won’t hear anyone criticise this blatantly manipulative behaviour.

The reason being that most of the customers flocking to these churches are so indoctrinated to the extent of even becoming violent in defence of their stylish and pompous leaders. I remember making one woman so angry when I commented that most of the people flocking to these new churches and their flashy leaders are after gaining worldly and not spiritual things.

They are made to pray for blessings and open doors, for food and health, safety and success and getting anything that they want. Their prophets and pastors don’t tell them like Isaiah told the Israelites to repent. They don’t guide them to pray for more faith, contrition and purity of heart, holiness, and love for Christ or courage in witness.

One young man openly told me that the reason he went to these new Ferrari-spirit churches was so that he can become somebody in life.

He said: “What is the point of going to church when you cannot get the good things in life? I don’t want a God who cannot give me the things I want.”

I was worried that since he had so great expectations, what would happen if he failed to get what he wanted or was looking for?

There is so much pressure to give so that you can in turn be given or blessed. My nephew who was working as a finance manager for a big supermarket chain shared a sad story involving two young girls who were stealing from the company.

When the theft of a couple of thousands of dollars was discovered, the girls did not deny stealing the money. Their explanation and defence was that, “the money was needed at church”. They had been pressured into seeding. The girls had positions of influence in the church and they stole in order to keep up appearances that zvinhu zvavo zvakanga zvichifaya.

In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus pronounces severe woes on those who love money, yet he blesses those who are poor.

The New Testament in general views work and business in a positive way, but it also portrays the spinning of money as an area where there are substantial temptations to sin. The rise of robberies and murders that the President pointed out is metaphorically happening in churches and many people are being led astray. Churches are representative of Christ, of honesty, love, comfort and also they are a refuge.

But while in other parts of the world Christians are battling ISIS and Boko Haram, in Zimbabwe there is a bunch of selfish people that are bent on removing the trust that has always been known to exist in the church.

The church is no longer safe. Women are being raped, abused and taken aantage of.

Prophecy, promises and lies are the new Chiadzwa of Zimbabwe, and we are stampeding and even trampling on each other to death for miracles.

We have lost our heads to the extent of being made to perform strange rituals packaged as prayer.

Tinoda zvinhu and we are willing to part with the little money, the little oil and the little flour we are left with in order to get more.

People are risking everything for prophecy and miracles, including their health and Christ’s free gift of salvation – to the extent of losing wives, dignity, houses and cars.

But prophecy has little effect on salvation.

There are far more important things than prophecy – things like love, but not love for money, cars, houses and women. Getting to know God through his word, eternal life, growing and overcoming in conduct and attitude are very important.

Source : The Herald