Byson Gondwe is a frustrated Christian. By the time Prophet Sheperd Bushiri of the Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) hit Mzuzu, Gondwe did not have K10 000 for booking a one-on-one spiritual encounter with the Major One.
“I am frustrated. I cannot believe that one needed to pay to have a one-on-one encounter with a man of God,” he told the media outside Mzuzu Stadium where Bushiri was ministering to thousands of souls.
It was not his fault. Gondwe—a Mzuzu resident—grew up believing that one does not need money to meet a man of God over social, economic and spiritual hardships.
Of course, it should be noted that the scriptures clearly teach that one who labours extensively to study and teach the gospel, thus depriving himself of a regular income, has the right to be supported financially by those to whom the instruction is imparted.
Apostle Paul emphasises in 1 Corinthians 9:4-6 that pastors are within their right to receive support and it is his students’ responsibility to provide for their teacher (pastor).
Paul spends a considerable portion of the ninth chapter of 1 Corinthians arguing the case for ministerial support.
A similar, though briefer, point is made in the epistle to the Galatians 6:6. But as 2 Peter 2: 3 emphasises, it is one thing to receive a reasonable level of support for work done and entirely another matter when men and women of the collar take advantage of His call to exploit the people.
Scholar Edmond Hiebert once observed that such charlatans are not concerned about the welfare of the sheep; rather, their aim is to shear them of their wool!
“Such individuals suppose that godliness is a way of gain as stated in 1 Timothy 6: 3. Unfortunately, there are those who use the gospel as a way of lining their own pockets,” Hiebert explained.
The acquisition of extravagant wealth under the guise of ministering on behalf of Christ has become a smear upon the Christian in Malawi and, probably, more countries worldwide where desperation is high.
And there is no reason to believe that the abuse will subside. Paul contends that the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, which some clerics have perverted the faith and eventually will be pierced through with many sorrows.
Jesus Christ—the foundation upon which Christianity was built—also disapproved love of money among religious leaders.
In His attempt to bring sanity to the Church (temple), Jesus clashed with religious leaders who were fleecing people in the name of God.
On two occasions, He cast out of the temple those who were milking the common folk under the guise of spirituality.
Two classes of church crooks received his wrath—those who bought and sold sacrificial animals and those who exchanged Greek and Roman coinage (with their idol images) into currency acceptable in the temple—with extravagant fees charged for the services.
Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe last month warned his nation to beware of founders of modern Pentecostal churches and ministries sprouting at almost every corner of the country.
Mugabe, while addressing government officials and legislators during a luncheon hosted by the local government ministry after the official opening of the third session of parliament, said most of the new churches are after money and manipulate the Bible to hoodwink followers.
“Some of these churches are using the Bible to generate cash with it, anyone who has no job they are now just starting a church,” he said.
“They will say I read here in the Bible and it says I should start a church. They just use one verse in the Bible and they use it like nothing. Haaa, now look at what happens, people are flocking to these churches; they now engage these musicians; these good singers – our pastors, some mean well but some are just dishonest,” Mugabe was quoted as saying.
Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM) deputy general secretary, Reverend Grey Mwalabu, says with the coming to Malawi of German-based evangelist and head of Christ For All Nations (CFAN) ministries Reinhard Bonnke, Gondwe and many others with spiritual as well as social and economic hardships have something to hope for.
Mwalabu says Bonnke appreciates the impact the tendency among modern prophets and apostles has turned genuine solution-seekers away; hence, the German-based minister is set to conduct his November 2015 crusade ‘at no cost’ to participants.
“Bonnke has not worked or preached for money. His ministries are always free. So, those with problems must feel free to come in large numbers and receive their miracles for the lame shall walk and the deaf shall hear during the November 2015 crusade,” says Mwalabu. n