A peep into life in Africa, through the eyes of an African Reformed Baptist pastor.

Water, water, water, everywhere. What else do you expect? I am a Baptist, and I live in the land of the mighty Victoria Falls!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Our Criminal Evangelical Silence


We all know that the dark ages are upon us again here in Africa. It is almost like a dark blanket that is slowly surrounding the land. People who know absolutely nothing of the core values of evangelical Christianity—the new birth, repentance and saving faith, justification and holiness, etc.—have hijacked evangelical Christianity in Africa. Even the term "born again" is being peddled without an iota of the meaning that Jesus had in mind when he used the phrase in his talk with Nicodemus. These are dark days indeed.

Once upon a time in Zambia, in the 1970s and early 1980s, you could go to very much any English-speaking evangelical church on Sunday and expect to attend a Bible study and hear faithful preaching of God's word. You may have been a little uncomfortable with some aspects of their worship. You may have also disagreed with some doctrinal assumptions during the preaching. However, you could not miss the fact that here was a sincere effort at arriving at the meaning of the text of Scripture and applying it to the hearers—both in the Bible studies and the sermons. You also heard an appeal for repentance towards God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. They may not have dotted your "i"s and crossed your "t"s as you do, but you still went home edified. 

George Whitefield preached "You must be born again"
during the Great Evangelical Awakening of the 18th Century
That is now very rare. In most so-called evangelical churches in Zambia today, there are no Bible studies and you cannot last to the end of their worship service if what you went for was spiritual edification. How many of our people are being drawn to churches primarily because they have been falsely promised to be cured of AIDS, get promotion at work, get more money, etc.? How many of our people are giving stashes of cash to so-called servants of God who are in fact nothing more than religious fraudsters? How many of our people now think that worship is dancing to very loud music that competes favourably with the rhumba maestros of the Congo? How many of our preachers think that preaching is shouting nice sounding platitudes through a microphone at the top of their voice with an American or Nigerian accent? This is what church has become.

I liken this delusion to the days prior to the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century. People flooded the churches but it was all for the wrong reasons. They were deceived and spellbound by a priest craft that claimed abilities they did not have but which the people craved after. Superstition reigned supreme in the church. The people were poor but they were promised various blessings if they could only give their remaining money to the church. Out of these funds majestic church edifices were built and the church's top leadership lived like kings and princes. Is this not what is happening in the name of evangelical Christianity today? Or am I the only one who is seeing these things?

Such "dancing queens" are now the height of "worship" in churches
The result of all this is that we have "Protestant" churches on literally every street but the evangelical faith is totally absent. In fact these churches have become dens of iniquity. Church pastors are impregnating young girls in their churches, getting them to abort, agreeing with their parents not to spill the beans for some undisclosed huge amounts of hush-money, and their spouses and church leaders know about all this. As the pulpit has gone, so has gone the pew. Hardly anyone is thirsting and hungering after righteousness. Immoral living is rife. Church discipline is rare. Those who know about this rottenness are looking at the church from outside and pinching their nostrils in disgust. We have the numbers alright but the salt has lost its saltiness—and we know it.

Come on; let us be honest. We all know that the so-called prosperity gospel, which is in vogue in evangelicalism today, is heresy. We all know that the only guys becoming stinking rich are the preachers to whom the blind followers are giving their money. The followers themselves are still in abject poverty. It is nothing but religious fraud. We also all know that 99% of the claims to physical healing by our faith healers are false. We all have relatives who would be alive today if they had not been told they were cured and so should not take medication for their sickness. These men are murderers. This is not Conrad Mbewe being malicious and making up stories. These are all well-known facts. 

Zambian "bishop" (of Restoration Deliverance Church) with Nigerian accent
recently accused of impregnating 10 women in his church
The tragedy is not that all this is happening. The disaster is the silence about all this from those who are supposed to provide spiritual guidance to the masses. In Zambia, and in Africa at large, evangelical leaders who have worked their way up the ecclesiastical ladder are holding hands with religious fraudsters and thus they cannot speak about this engulfing evil. They would rather throw stones at political leaders out there than address the Trojan horse within evangelicalism. They would rather tell the world to stop being worldly than tell those who are raping the church from within to stop it. And yet in the light of this spiritual tsunami, the silence is criminal. 

The problem with this current silence is that the younger generation who are coming into evangelical circles now think that what they are seeing is a viable and alternative form of evangelical Christianity when it is not. They have no clue that only recently believers got together in church for serious Bible study, that worship had dignity and awe, and that sermons were Bible-based, Christ-centred, and aimed at spiritual conversion. Due to our silence, our upcoming preachers are seeing filling your church membership roll with goats rather than sheep and driving expensive cars at the expense of poor parishioners as the sign of pastoral success. They have no clue that it was only recently when pastors stood out in society for their true godly servanthood. Today’s evangelical leaders are misleading a whole generation of innocent souls by their silence.

Martin Luther who said, "Enough is enough" in the 16th Century
In the days of the prophet Malachi, religion in Israel had reached its lowest ebb. The Temple was still full of activity—with all kinds of sacrifices being offered at the altar. Yet, the true worship of God was dying. Those who came to the place of worship were defrauding God and the priests were allowing this. Men were unfaithful to their wives and divorcing at will, and the priests kept quiet about it. God finally put the blame where it ought to have been—at the feet of the priests. He said, “The lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. But you have turned aside from the way” (Malachi 2:7-8). God finally wanted them to just shut the Temple doors and send everyone away! Their silence misrepresented him. They did not care that his greatness was obscured.

Once upon a time, a generation of God's people saw spiritual decay and said, "Enough is enough!" and out of this protest was born the Protestant Reformation. In yet another generation, when liberalism had invaded the Protestant church and was killing its very life, a generation of God's people again said, "Enough is enough!" and out of that protest was born the Evangelical movement of the 18th century. In the light of the darkness that is once again upon us, with churches becoming no more than witchdoctors' dens, is it not time for today's evangelicals to say, "Enough is enough"? How can we be silent in the light of this engulfing darkness? Surely, our evangelical silence must be criminal.

20 comments:

  1. Thank you, brother for your post. I am a missionary in Thailand and the Thai church is facing similar issues. Prosperity gospel is making inroads here and only recently has there started to be some pushback against it from Thai brother and from missionaries. Some here are in love with megachurch more than holiness. God bless you, brother. Keep pressing on for the sake of His glory!

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  2. Thankyou for your bravery, clarity, and godliness. I will be praying for you and your beautiful nation. May God use these words to awaken a generation.

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  3. Thank you for saying what needs to be said! The OT prophets were not popular, neither was Luther in his day. Light bearers always stand in opposition to lovers of darkness who seek to extinguish light and silence truth. May God continue to raise up men across this continent who passionately love God and truth and who will stand against the "unfruitful works of darkness" within the professing "church".

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  4. As an American, I do not have direct experience with the situation in Zambia, but I will pray for your churches.

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  5. Thank you brother! Your words ring true here in our area of ministry in Montgomery, Alabama, USA. May our Father continue to bless y'all.

    Reed DePace, Pastor, First Presbyterian Church of Montgomery, Presbyterian Church in America

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  6. Pastor Mbewe, thank you for your faithfulness. I will pray that God keeps you faithful. Opposing so-called evangelicals will not win you any popularity contests, and we have seen many here in America who have been silenced in their rebukes by the bitch-goddess Success.

    Warmly in Christ,
    Stephen Baker

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  7. The same is True for us here in South Africa Pastor Mbewe but we trust that God will do His work and bring the light of the gospel of grace, the good news of His Son Jesus Christ to every corner of this beautiful continent of ours.

    Thapelo Mpai

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  8. Amen! Thank you Pastor Mbewe for a word in season. Sometimes the power, the signs & wonders are genuine but yet the good old gospel is conspicuously absent.
    As Jesus said,
    "Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Matthew 7:22, 23 NKJV)

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  9. I grew up not far from Jembo on the Great North Road, and I know how hungry people are for the prosperity these heretics promise. I pray for you and your church. Remember that God is in control and He knows those who will come to Him. He will give you a harvest of souls even in this storm of false doctrine.

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  10. Thank you for this work sir. We really need to read the word of God everyone of us even before we go to Church or which ever ever place of worship and after so that we may test every spirit whether it is of God or not. The scriptures say in JOHN 8:31-32 " THEN SAID JESUS TO THOSE JEWS WHICH BELIEVED ON HIM, IF YE CONTINUE IN MY WORD, THEN ARE MY DISCIPLES INDEED, AND YOU SHALL KNOW THE TRUTH AND THE TRUTH SHALL MAKE U FREE" (KJVF)

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  11. Thank you Pastor Mbewe for your true and poignant words! As a Black American it already seems as if the 'prosperity gospel' is the norm and sound reformed evangelical preaching (especially expository preaching) is too traditional, condescending and 'unloving.' Nothing could be furthur from the truth. These 'prosperity, name it claim it' message sound as if they are penned from the ol dragon himself! May God continue to emerse you in his truths and glorify himself thru you.

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  12. Hello Sir,

    Have read your article, and may I say, this 'downgrade' is not exclusive to Africa.

    I live in England, and this epidemic seems to be worldwide.

    The churches are simply copying the world, it shows so greatly.

    Church leaders are intimidated by the world, and seem to have no answer to the crisis they are in, if indeed they see a crisis.

    The fear of God is missing in the churches, and no one seems to know or care.

    What it will take to bring about a change, only God Himself knows. But there must be one. There must.

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  13. As an aside, that picture of those 'dancing queens'...

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  14. Dear Conrad:
    So true. But this is the worldwide picture of contemporary "christianity". Till next year?
    Solano

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  15. Tears roll down my face as God confirms this vile apostasy has reached its tentacles around the globe poisoning not just America. Praise God our Father that we have His Word which reveals our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ and that a remnant of believers discern these errant teachings, whose origin is hell, are a repeat of the darkness which preceded the Protestant Reformation. OH, would to God that pastors in America would stand against the tsunami of doctrines of demons seducing countless thousands gather in finely arrayed stadiums, to listen as a performer on stage lies, twists, and distorts Holy Writ into blab 'n grab/get-your-best-life-now feel-good pep rallies focused on narcissistic men rather than preaching the whole counsel of God to "Repent!" and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Salvation guarantees persecution in this flesh but, we press onward to the upward calling of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. I will pray for Africa, and covet the prayers of the saints in Africa for we in America, likewise blanketed in darkness, as doctrine is abandoned for affluence, popularity, comfort, and lying signs and wonders. May God bless and keep you. Carrie

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  16. Hello Sir

    I feel your pain, please know that God has a ramnant of young people to do His work, I confidently say that I am one of them, just like He did in the times of Elijah when Elijah thought he was the only remaining prophet of God, so it is now, there is an uprising of young people at the appointed time we shall rise by the guidance and leardership of the Holy Spirit, many of us are ready just waiting for Daddy to say to us MOVE!!!!!, Africa is ours and for Jesus, In Jesus Name

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  17. Thank you and God bless you. Most of these prosperity preachers want to live at the expense of the poor followers. May God send us true revival that turn our hearts toward him.

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  18. Just finished reading Iain Murray's Revival and Revivalism: Making and Marring of American Evangelicalism. He discusses a similar phenomenon, only the false "christianity" was Finney and the "new methods". The parable of the wheat and tares repeats.

    Today we have prosperity gospel, purpose driven, emerging church, etc. in the West. (Plus those signs and wonders, including "shepherds" with Nigerian accents in Ukraine and Russia.)

    A word of encouragement to you (as pastors like you encourage us who seek Christ's true Word) from 2 Timothy 4:

    Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

    A grateful brother in the Western Hemisphere,
    Stuart Quint

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  19. I feel like I'm preaching the same! Great and timely!

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  20. How our God answers our prayers! I have lately been overly troubled by what you have highlighted, Pastor Mbewe. I have been asking the LORD to show me a remnant which He has preserved, so that together we can stand and be a voice crying out : ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! Thank you for bringing these realities out-I just wish this would also be in our print and electronic media. Fraudster's just like false teachers MUST be stopped!

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