“If one has the answers to all the questions – that is the proof that God is not with him. It means that he is a false prophet using religion for himself. The great leaders of the people of God, like Moses, have always left room for doubt. You must leave room for the Lord, not for certainties; we must be humble”—Pope Francis.
On her ‘Delay Show’ on GHOne TV, Deloris Frimpong-Manso sliced mercilessly into Hi-Life musician-turned-pastor-turned-Hi-Life musician, Ofori Amponsah: “You are either a liar, a joker or a confused man.” The musician would not admit that he misled his followers by sneaking to record ‘secular’ songs while he was still a man of God. He even warned FM stations to stop playing his secular hits. He was a new creation.
He admits he was neither called nor ordained as a pastor; he followed his instincts. Yet, he set up a church and had quite a following, leveraging on his popularity as a celebrity. He is presently living with a woman who is not his wife and is unashamed to declare that he is fornicating. He is still a prayerful man, he insists, doing his best for the Lord.
Unlike Ofori Amponsah who was shameless but kind enough to collapse his pulpit when he found out church was not for him, the floodgates seemed to have opened for self-styled men of God who are making a profitable business out of the gospel. Nana Ansah Kwaw IV of Joy News calls them Zelo Too Zelo (020) prophets.
Their English is marked by staccato, malapropistic expressions alien to the parts of speech and all rules of English grammar. They transpose the laterals (r and l) in every pronunciation. They are usually uneducated or have very little formal education. Their suits and shoes give them away; they want them ultra colourful. You wonder why their congregation cannot see through their fraud and fake miracles.
What do they preach about? Nothing really. Can they really preach about anything? Not sure. If you thrust a Bible into their hands and ask them to open Nathan 2: 15, they would find it and prophesy about it. Not many of them know the books in the Bible. They may not know that Philemon is one of them. However, they would be quick to pronounce every Philomena they meet a witch and warn people to stay away from.
These new day men of God did not go to seminary school or any Bible training institution. To make up for their deficit in homiletics, they spew prophecies and other mumbo-jumbo incantations to bamboozle and confound their congregation. The other day, a self-styled man of God told a member of his congregation that in the realms of the spirit, his head looked like a vulture’s. To bring it back to human form, he needed to pay money. If he waited too long to pay, he would die because the vulture would soon be shot.
Why the fascination with vultures? Last week, the People of Bechem in the Brong Ahafo Region chased out a quack pastor for faking prophesies about a planned conference of witches in the region. Prophet Emmanuel Osei, head pastor of Divine Faith Prayer Ministry, revealed that he had prayed to scuttle the conference and challenged the Bechem Township to find evidence of fallen witches at a particular location. The man of God has contracted people to kill vultures and crows to damp them at the arranged spot.
On his own confession, the queen mother of Bechem banished the pastor from the town. What about the crime of deception? How do we settle that? How much money did he make from his congregations? How do we heal the scars of his fraud on the minds of his followers and other Christians? Discerning Christians should be able to tell a quack from a genuine man of God, but when you are in a sea of quacks, you risk being a duck.
Church in Rwanda
To save the situation and preserve the sanctity of the Christian faith, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda has embarked on a massive crackdown on quack pastors in the country, closing down more than 5,000. In addition, all pastors or persons considering a career in ministry are required to have a degree in theology.
In Rwanda, religious caricatures and apostolic apparitions in the mould of Angel Bishop Obinim, Prophet Kumchacha, Dr Opambour and other self-styled men of God, would be filling application forms to start courses in theology. Would they survive it? Can Angel Obinim compose an essay on Apostle Paul’s epistles and their evangelical significance for the Great Commission? Would he know that epistles also mean letters?
We do not expect Obinim and his friends to know anything about the spiritual implications of the relocation of the American Embassy to Jerusalem. We would conveniently leave that for men of God who have built knowledge through years of learning and studying. The oratorical fireworks of Archbishop Duncan-Williams and the rhetorical brilliance of Dr Mensa Otabil make biblical scholarship a necessary requirement any person contemplating church planting or any form of public evangelism.
Signs and wonders
Church these days is not business as usual. Congregants expect intelligent treatment of stories in the Bible in a way that informs, educates and enlightens. For my writings, I have borrowed generously from the sermons of Dr. Otabil and Dr. Ralph Dartey of the Transforming Life Centre (TLC) in Canada. How does a preacher present the saving grace of God to an increasingly polarised population fast-fed on easy sin and cheap sex?
Clearly, the Obinims may not know much while the Kumchachas have made a veritable buffoonery out of the gospel of Christ. The trouble is that people are not hungry for the good news anymore; they want prosperity, miracles and profitable business contacts from church. The poor man who has been ejected by his landlord would appreciate lotto numbers from Angel Obinim than intelligent analysis of poverty by Dr Otabil.
Can a degree fix the problem we have with pastors? These self-styled men of God have allocated unto themselves titles and accolades reserved for accomplished men of God. A theology degree may be too small for a beginning.
Tissues of the Issues with Kwesi Tawiah-Benjamin
Writer’s Email: firstname.lastname@example.org