A friend recently tagged me on Facebook to an item on an online news website and asked me what I thought of it. It was the news that more than 50 pastors in Kitwe had gotten together at the Oasis of Love Ministries Church to pray for the weak Zambian kwacha.
The way in which the Zambian kwacha was depreciating was indeed a great worry to anyone who earns money in Zambia. On one day recently I remember hearing of it going from K10 to $1 to about K12 to $1 within hours. If that does not alarm you, nothing else will.
So, the fact that a few pastors decided to get together to pray about this should not surprise anyone. After all, a currency that heads in that direction is likely to hurt all of us—church pastors included. I would have joined in the prayers if that was all that was going on.
What bothered me was when I read that each pastor was asked to pull out a kwacha note from his pocket and raise it in the air during the prayer meeting. While other pastors were praying in tongues others were now prophesying that the currency should appreciate in three months.
Later, the kwacha notes were collected and taken to “the altar” where some senior pastors who were present continued to pray over the notes. Then the pastors collected their money again and continued to pray over the notes so that the money gains value.
Whereas many people responded in the comments column and simply called this a joke, I responded to the person who sent me the link saying that this was witchcraft. Since the query was on Facebook, someone else asked, “How is this witchcraft?” Here is my answer.
Bank notes are not the economy
As I have already said, there is nothing wrong with people getting together to pray for the Zambian economy. Prayer is basically a humble acknowledgement that we desperately need God to intervene in our situation. So, I commend whoever initiated this—up to that point.
However, when educated people start confusing a piece of paper with a national economy that begins to worry me. What has gone wrong is not the piece of paper in our pockets. It is the national economy of Zambia that is sick. We cannot carry that in our pockets.
What we ought to be praying for is that God will give wisdom to our national leaders so that they can come up with a team of well-trained economists who will put together fiscal policies that will drive the national economy forward. If we need a miracle, that is where we need it.
The thought that simply by pulling money out of our pockets, raising it in the air, collecting it in a basket and putting it on some imagined “altar” is what is going to turn the economy around belongs to the world of witchcraft and not to the world of biblical Christianity.
This is senseless witchcraft
It is the witchdoctor who counsels you to kill a white chicken and put its feathers on the four corners of your home to keep away sickness, even if that sickness is malaria. What has the feathers of a chicken got to do with the malaria parasite that is ravaging your body?
It is a witchdoctor who calls you to his den, then takes you on top of a hill in the middle of the bush so that he can remove whatever curse is standing in the way of your progress. Is this not what is now being done by church pastors, resulting in many women getting raped on hilltops in the bush?
It is this darkness of witchcraft that has now invaded the evangelical church through so many of these ministries. People have stopped thinking simply because “the man of God” has spoken. They have fallen prey to the mentality of African traditional religion.
For instance, when a person says that he has applied for so many jobs but he is not being employed, these “witchdoctor” pastors do not even ask questions about that person’s qualifications. They immediately start prophesying a job for him within a few months.
Similarly, when a person says that his business is not doing well, they offer to go and march around his business premises chanting phrases and sprinkling oil around the place as a way of reversing his fortunes. Of course, he has to part with some “seed money” before they do it.
Is this not what is causing so many women to be raped by these “witchdoctor” pastors? The women go to them to seek help in relation to their troubled marriages. The “man of God” tells them that if he has sex with them the evil spirits tormenting their marriages will go.
This epidemic is inside evangelicalism
Once upon a time, these things were the preserve of cults that were clearly distinguishable from evangelical Christianity. Sadly, today this is the common fair in many “born again” churches while the wider evangelical community looks elsewhere in criminal silence.
Who among us does not know of a relative or friend who has been defrauded or raped by these charlatans? Who among us has not lost a relative to death because the person was told to stop taking medicine since the prayers of the “man of God” had supposedly cured him?
These “witchdoctor” pastors have become an epidemic. In the prayer meeting being referred to, the district commissioner said, “Everyone is a prophet now… They are cursing the land with their fake miracles… They are the same crooks who are raping young girls.”
Yet, arresting the known notorious culprits alone will not solve the problem. We need to see that there is a womb that is giving birth to these “prophets”. It is the growing syncretism of evangelical Christianity with traditional religious beliefs within Charismatic circles.
When evangelical pastors take out bank notes from their pockets and pray and prophesy over them as a way to heal the economy, they are on their way to do everything that the district commissioner was worrying about. It is the same faulty “witchcraft” logic at play here.
The approach of biblical Christianity
True Christianity is first of all about a person’s relationship with God. The foundation of reconciliation has been secured in the person and redemptive work of Christ. Individuals must come to him in genuine repentance and faith for them to be reconciled to God.
As pastors, this is the most crucial question we should ask when anyone comes to us with any problem: Are they reconciled to God in this way? We have no right to turn God into a fetish or lucky charm to bring people goodwill irrespective of how they live. God is holy!
Once we are convinced that a person has come to saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, our task as pastor is not to simply pray for a breakthrough in their lives but to counsel them along biblical principles. People need to learn to think God’s thoughts after him in their daily lives.
Understanding this is what will cause the Zambian church to offer its members who are godly and astute economists to the government to help the nation build its economy on biblical principles for sustained growth. Witchdoctor antics performed on bank notes are utter folly!