By Bernard Wainaina
Matthew 24:24: “For there shall arise false
Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.”
It was five days after of the tragic event, when the Synagogue Church of All Nations’ guest house collapsed in Lagos, Nigeria,
that we were told 119 people,among them an inordinate number of 67 South Africans had been killed.
So far. We don’t have the final count of the bodies yet. This number may rise.
This must be the lowest form of disrespect that self made prophet, TB Joshua, could dish out to his followers and worshippers around the world.
But to this day, there is no sense that the
‘prophet’ is taking any responsibility for the tragedy.
The local religious fraternity, including the religious leaders’ forum, has also been dead quiet.
The lack of deserved condemnation is
But the issues raised by the Lagos tragedy run deep, and for the first time, perhaps the issue of false prophets can be put squarely on the agenda.
Our journalists have not pursued the subject of healing ministries, even those here in our own
country, with any vigour.
It is time questions are asked about those who trade in false hope.
One wonders how a man who claims to know so much about people and their misfortunes could not predict the collapse of a building under his nose, killing the very people who came to him for hope.
It says something about a rebuff from the most
high, showing once and for all that this could be the false prophet the bible tells us about.
You will recall that the God of Moses, in particular, trades in miracles and delivers a big
showcase to rebuff those that don’t believe him.
A short story about the Egyptians being beset by disasters when they refused to listen to Moses comes to mind.
There have been stories about this place having dodgy characters, reports of dark things happening to young people, especially women, who are put up in this guest house in the
name of deliverance.
Few journalists have had the courage to
investigate the claims.
I say now it’s time to blow the lid off this
While some have claimed deliverance, many have also been let down and have not emerged from this so-called guest house throwing away their wheelchairs.
They have awaited their miracles and thousands of dollars later, had no sign of release.
There is another dark narrative that is spoken of in hushed tones.
The fact is there are allegations of people being
sacrificed by some of these false prophets.
Could it be that some of these people were just sacrificed?
Until there is a clear denial this may well be what many people end up believing.
TB Joshua must come clean and assure the world there is nothing criminal going on under his watch or in his name.
Or much worse, in the name of Jesus Christ.
Acts 17 tells us, “As spiritual adultery increases in the Church false prophets will flourish as highly sought after speakers and Christians will accept more of these false teachings”.
It is not for us to judge, however. The judgement sits with God.
The bible is very clear that even Satan can easily masquerade as a servant of righteousness.
The big question is why would Joshua rush to make claims about terrorism?
There has been no evidence that the collapse
was caused by a bomb or any detonation.
All indications are that this was a structural collapse induced by unauthorised or bad workmanship as two floors were being added to a building without fortifying its foundation.
If this is the case, Joshua must be arrested. He can’t possibly be above the law.
Any by-laws of a local authority surely should demand that permission be granted for physical altering of a building.
Blaming Boko Haram is a cop-out because it diverts the attention of the authorities.
TB Joshua must be held to account if indeed he is the servant of Christ, as he claims.
He must be honest that this tragedy was of his making and face the consequences.
The families of the deceased must have recourse and someone to be held responsible.
One hopes the Nigerian authorities are not tiptoeing around him.
His operations must be shut down until the safety of thousands of pilgrims still making
their way to him is guaranteed.
Thousands of people came to him to seek hope and met their demise.
That does not buy him a licence to kill.
This is a test case of equality before the law.
All African governments whose citizens were victims in this ignoble tragedy must not be complicit in this and must insist on a full international investigation to establish the
cause of the collapse that killed so many people.
There is too much impunity in the world and this must not be left unchallenged.
The drama clearly has all the hallmarks of a cover up.
No one can convince me that there was any other reason why so many days went by before anyone could even tell the world about such a tragedy.
Reports of emergency services personnel being
blocked by Church security simply help to fuel this emerging and probable narrative of a cover up.
Families of those who perished deserve the truth whatever it may be.
It is not too much to ask this prophet to come clean.
At the end of the day ‘prophet’ TB Joshua has displayed every sign of a false prophet in that he has taken this matter so lightly.
I am certain on the Sunday following this tragedy he was busy collecting offerings next door with not a care in the world.
By now one would have expected some statement of compassion to the families… none has come forth.
This does not exhibit character that glorifies God. Christ taught us to beware of these
kinds of prophets and recognise them by their bad fruit.
Our universe hinges on a delicate balance of
sanity and stupidity.
For centuries, scientists have been trying to determine the optimal levels of each that are least tolerable in conducting our daily affairs as human beings-not insane,nor utterly stupid .
But, like dark matter or why there’s no
swimming pool creepy that can climb stairs, this equation remains a mystery.
What is now certain is that when TB Joshua’s church in Nigeria issued a statement about its catastrophic building collapse, the balance snapped and a fiercely evil geomagnetic storm of stupidity shook the planet.
Like solar winds from that giant fireball in the sky, stupidity usually washes over us with minimal effect.
In extreme cases, we may scream in agony and revulsion at computer screens or television sets,or even throw a coffee cup across a room, but mostly we continue with our daily lives and allow the equilibrium to return over a quiet dinner or a glass of wine.
A weekend after a shocking event like this one usually restores the balance. Everything is forgotten and other more “stupid” tragedies push ahead in our media headlines.
The higher the exposure we have to these avoidable man-made tragedies, the more resilient and complacent we seem to become.
But when I read the statement issued by The Synagogue, Church of All Nations, about the building collapse, which killed 119 Africans, it felt like there was some kind of a cosmic
A rapture of stupidity somewhere amongst the stars.
I was so furious I felt a little shaky, trying to combine swear words as if that would increase their impact. Our Journalists tend to be
passionate about current affairs, but it takes a lot to reach that point.
The statement began with, “Emmanuel – God is with us”.
No problem here.
It’s a church.
What else would that be said?
But remember Boko Haram and Al Shabaab also invoke “in the name of Allah” in their heinous terrorist crimes against my fellow Africans.
Then came a brief and clinical summary of the disaster.
The church then went on to peddle its conspiracy theory about a terrorist attack: “This incident was preceded by the appearance
of a strange aircraft which flew very low over the building, four times and then disappeared.”
Not poor construction.
Not illegal floors being built.
Not greed for tithe and fame.
But a mysterious aircraft that made a part of the church cave in, somehow.
This nonsense was followed by a denial that the church had blocked emergency crews from rescuing people and was refusing to co-operate with disaster management teams, relief agencies, various governments and, well, pretty much everyone.
These were “sad and inaccurate reports” it claimed.
Despite on-the-record comments from senior diplomats that the church was closing rank.
Of course, there was also a perfectly logical explanation for the collapse.
“The church views this tragedy as part of an attack on The Synagogue, Church Of All Nations and in particular, Prophet TB
Joshua. In due course, God will reveal the perpetrators of this unfortunate tragedy”.
This was an annoying but not unusual message from a church.
A call to release responsibility and accept that God works in mysterious ways.
To have faith. That’s everybody’s right.
To overcome and hold on to your beliefs. That’s your right too.
But then came the clincher.
TB Joshua’s clan felt it necessary to describe those who died as “martyrs of the Kingdom of God”.
Dozens of people who were crushed to death when a massive (possibly illegal) building sunk down like a sand elephant on top of them.
People who had paid a lot of money and flew
thousands of kilometres to feel the healing touch of a man who claims to be a prophet, capable of curing anything from cancer to Aids.
It reminds me of another tragedy where our sick and dying Kenyan folks drove across the border to our neighbouring Tanzania for the ‘infamous’ “Loriodo Cure”.
Many died in the course of this torturous journey or thereafter.
The last I heard of that story is that the star witchdoctor got rich and abandoned his “noble” mission to fully run his growing real estate after conning thousands of my compatriots.
The man in our current case-TB Joshua- sits on the Forbes list of millionaires for selling the equivalent of fresh air.
These people are not martyrs.
They are victims of a terrible tragedy, which, in all probability, could have been avoided.
And my heart burns for their families.
They too are victims.
To spew out a ridiculous conspiracy theory is one thing.
Politicians do it all the time.
But to then go and describe as “martyrs” those who perished in the name of false hope is
In fact, it’s a crime against sanity.
A nasty assault on rational thought.
I have never criticised those who believe nor have I questioned their right to faith.
I stand firmly for choice, as long as it doesn’t
impact negatively on others.
But in recent months, the dark side of religion has forced its way into our lives.
The monsters in black balaclavas have burnt
images into our brains of good men pushed down to their knees and savagely beheaded.
Or streams of cowering men paraded before being exterminated – shot in the head and pushed into a river, one by one.
Or young girls being kidnapped from their
homes and schools.
To claim that those who died in the church collapse are martyrs is not only stupid but also evil.
They had no choice.
They came to be healed or to be inspired and will now return home in body bags.
That is,if their remains are ever found in the rubble.
The magnet of hope is a powerful one.
I get it.
And those who wield it are usually secretive.
Evangelical churches are nothing new… the poor get rich, the ill get healthy, the dying are cured and the lonely find love.
In the rush of holy euphoria, the devoted eat grass out in the gardens.
Good for them.
The faithful will not stop flocking to these churches.
But maybe this will make us all think just a little about what lies beneath this charade that “false prophets” like TB Joshua call religion.
“The African Story as told by Africans”.©African News Digest®
“The African Story as told by Africans”.©African News Digest®