The world today is purely a capitalistic society with competition, greed, avarice coupled with an insatiable lust for materialism, power and fame.And this has eaten deep into the marrow of the general fabric of society. The Church, more so Pentecostalism, has not been spared this baptism.
“Man eateth where he worketh,” we hear. Or, “do not muzzle the ox whilst it treads the ground,” being adulterated from the Bible.
These are catch phrases exploited by some of our Pentecostal Church leaders to rip off their credulous flock.
Questions abound as to why the church, such a revered institution, is riddled with untold orgies of extortion, sexual abuse, “flattening” of others’ wives in counseling rooms. These ‘high priests’ who are supposed to be custodians of their flock’s spiritual welfare are the very ones who, alas, turn predatory to those, they are supposed to oversee!
The crux of the matter is that most of these “servants of God” do not undergo any form of training before being entrusted with an ecclesiastical call. It is common place to find some one who has lived in utter waywardness and reprobacy “turn to Christ,” tell his testimony to a packed church auditorium and get whisked off the pulpit to a standing ovation and wild applause. What happens the next day? He starts a church. Before you know it, he is already “anointing” private parts of his female flock with gusto!
After a short while, the brother-turned-bishop is seen waltzing the streets in a ‘hummer’ proclaiming “kiwedde”.
This exposes a deficiency in the Pentecostal movement as to the criterion of anointing bishops, reverends, pastors and other clergy.
Our brethren in the mainstream faith divides of Catholicism, Protestantism and the like have got certain tenets which provide the basis for ordinance and promotion to any ecclesiastical ladder; chief amongst them is training. Even the Bible contains accounts of people who underwent training before taking on their God-given callings.
There is the National Fellowship for Born again churches (NFBC) headed by Apostle Alex Mitala, which is supposed to be a self-regulating body of the Pentecostal movement. But it is not mandatory for any Pentecostal church to be under their jurisdiction. Such an organisation would help streamline and enforce order and discipline in the Pentecostal movement. Where necessary, errant pastors could be suspended or even expelled.
In the Pentecostal movement to which I belong, no one, apart from God, is supposed to question the actions of the “man of God”, whom God has “anointed”. The pastor is seen as an absolute authority.
Most of the unscrupulous pastors preach what the flock would like to hear, thus appealing to their sentiments. Having captured the flocks’ affectionate domain, they instill faith mixed with fear in them. They are viewed by their flock as the ultimate panacea for their problems and they keep their flock in perpetual ignorance to remain beholden to them.
Unfortunately, this cuts across so many social circles, including the most educated and powerful men and women in the land.
The most shocking of it all is an incident in which a prominent medical doctor at Mulago Hospital was seen carrying a five-litre jerry can full of “holy water” given to him by one prophet. How could such a high profile personality, an accomplished academician at that, be duped by a person who only learnt English through his personal church interpreter? The answer is simple: the enslavement of the mind.
The whole essence of salvation has been misinterpreted, misunderstood and misguided. The author of salvation, Jesus Christ, had his teachings centered on the Kingdom of God; with a call for the lost souls to abandon their sins and live in the holy light of God. It has got nothing to do with material prosperity and the quest for hedonism that has come to define much of the Pentecostal movement.
Today, people, in their hundreds and thousands, throng to born again churches in search of material satisfaction and answers to their immediate problems.
In case one needs a house, a wife, a job, healing, wealth, among others, one runs to the pastor who offers his/her prayers at a fee, code-named “ensigo” (seed).
Many folks, in utter desperation and need, have been compelled to surrender their property as a “seed” in exchange for answers to their problems.
I followed in dismay the ordeal of a helpless woman who “sowed” a vehicle to a pastor in a failed bid to have her healed of HIV/ AIDS. The woman insisted that she had fulfilled her part of the bargain and the pastor had not.
The humble pastor reiterated that “may be it was God who had deceived her.” What a travesty! The list of incidences such as these is endless. The curtain on these theatrics in some of the Pentecostal churches is in dire need of coming down.
Stephen Bwire, The author is a teacher, Tel: 0714762474, firstname.lastname@example.org