Being the hard working Kenyan that i am i woke up very early Saturday morning wondering what i would write about because this past week i had writers block for a couple of days .I stared at the ceiling,re-read the weeks papers,started reading a book by Coelho again,watched CNN then finally decided to check what was on the local channels,maybe my inspiration would come from there.
Most of them had nothing interesting,it was either cartoons or they were playing music then i turned to the national broadcaster (Kenya Broadcasting Corporation)KBC and i found this preacher.It was a televangelist with a shiny black suit,the quintessential pastoral voice that almost all Kenyan pastors have and he was asking people watching to send money to a number that was posted on the screen for prayers.Viewers were told any amount would suffice but he was smart enough to start the figure off from 200 Kenya shillings going upwards.There was even a promise that God would definitely answer the prayers,as if he had privileged access to the good lord’s ears.In simple words the pastor was selling prayers!
When Martin Luther launched the Protestant reform in 1517 the selling of indulgences by the Catholic Church was one of the contentious points.It seems some of these televangelists and shepherds of the flock have conveniently forgotten this part of history and are repeating the same mistakes that forever split Christianity.
One of my favorite online publications is the religious section of the Huffington post,everything from whether hell exists to what Jesus would have thought about the Palestine conflict are discussed here.Muslim writers,Buddhists,Catholic priests,writers all discuss everything and anything under the sun. The most comments however are usually reserved for the Christian articles and the most active commentators are either atheists or agnostics who for one reason or another have been disillusioned by Christianity.
Why the disillusionment?In Kenya i maybe in the minority but i have begun to question the direction the church is taking by selling prayers,how do you sell something that for all its intents and purposes is meant to be sacred?We seem to have lost the reverence for the divine and have brazenly commercialized religion and it is no surprise ,just visit any Kenyan town,residential estate or village and there is likely to be a church promising all manner of things from its megaphones with no care whatsoever for its neighbors.It has become such serious business much that in Kenya i bet the number of churches and sects that get registered is equal to that of new business.Just look at any of the local channels over the weekend and you have an offering of at least 10 televangelist all promising wealth,health and success if you support them by “planting a seed”which is an euphemism for sending money to support their spread of the gospel.
Two weeks ago there was an article written in the Sunday Nation asking whether you would buy your pastor a car which you can read here.Personally i would not because i have seen first hand the kind of mismanagement and apparent lack of disregard for common sense in some fundraisers churches have.Every so often a church will be seeking to build a bigger,grander structure than its neighbors,putting up a multi purpose hall,buying its pastors a bigger and better car ,yet most of its congregation is weighed down by debt and the rising inflation.
This blatant request for money is what led me to ask myself what Jesus would do if he was sited on the couch with me that day,watching this preacher asking for money just so he could pray for them?What would he also make of the recent happenings in the church of a certain famous Kenyan pastor whose followers chased the driver of a bulldozer in Nairobi city with stones because their church which is built illegally on council land was being brought down-that was not very Christ like behavior.Ho about the numerous fights over leadership positions in some churches that we have witnessed over the years or the apparent mismanagement of either church money or tax payers money by people who on Sundays turn into Bible thumping Christians shouting Hallelujah and speaking in tongues?
Listening even to what passes for sermons nowadays all i hear are promises of success ,good health,bigger houses and cars and Christs core message has been lost in all the din the pastors are making.How about being kinder,helping out the homeless,feeding the hungry,not taking bribes,honest work and visiting those in prison or hospitals who have no one to come and see them?who is telling Christians about that?
Mahatma Gandhi is famous for saying that “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”