Malawi, just like many other countries, is going through economic challenges and young people are hit the hardest by the effects of the resultant high rate of unemployment. But should a preacher or prophet take advantage of desperate jobless people and give them false hopes while making a living out of them? WATIPASO MZUNGU JNR wites.
Just visit any Labour Office across the country and you will be greeted by young and energetic people whose faces register desperation and anxiety as to whether they will meet a prospective employer or not.
They spend most of their precious time playing draughts and bawo as pastime. Occasionally, they would crack jokes and tell stories.
However, when time clocks 4.30pm, the mood among them changes as everybody starts to worry about what he or she will take home [as a meal for that night].
Charity Selemani, a Blantyre-based Public Accountants Examination Council of Malawi (PAEC) graduate, is among those desperate for the time when God will answer her impassioned prayer for a job.
She, however, says her hope is revived each time she attends a spiritual crusade and a night of prayer.
Selemani is lucky that a week hardly passes without a church or two organising a crusade or night of prayer in Blantyre and she states that she has been to several of these in search of divine intervention [to her predicament].
And it is during these prayer sessions that pastors of Pentecostal Churches pray for people with various socio-economic problems.
Usually, these pastors would promise their faithful that their problems would be history in a matter of weeks or months after being prayed for.
However, Selemani confesses that none of them produced an answer to her prayers.
“I don’t even remember the number of prayer services I’ve attended since I left Baptist Church for Calvary Family Church. But I’m yet to receive my miracle.
“I’ve not lost my faith because I still believe that God will give me a job at His appointed time,” she explains.
But Prisca Shawa of Mzimba has a different view. Having attended fruitless crusades and night of prayers, Shawa does not believe what most pastors in the Pentecostal ministries prophesy comes to pass.
She even doubts the genuineness of the calling of these pastors, arguing others might have forced themselves into spiritual ministries after failing to secure their dream jobs.
Shawa, who works for one of the security companies in Blantyre, says desperate women have been the prey of these ‘false prophets’.
She observes that women longing for marriages, children and jobs are mostly the ones being cheated into trusting these pastors.
“Some of the so-called pastors aren’t God’s chosen servants. Let’s be realistic. Some of them are people who failed to secure employment and have found a church an easy place from where they can make an easy life, decent life,” she argues.
She adds: “Of course, I’m aware of the arguments they advance when their promises and prophecies fail to materialise such as ‘you don’t have enough faith’. In most cases, the failure isn’t caused by one’s little faith rather it is because the pastor made the proclamation without God’s authority.”
Themba Tamula concurs with Shawa, saying some of the pastors are not inspired by God when they are preaching; hence, their prophecies remain mere dreams.
Tamula, an unemployed youth himself, says he will never abandon his church to seek the intervention of Pentecostal pastors in his search for employment.
He observes that the intention among these pastors is to attract many people to join their ministries, which will later translate into more earnings for themselves.
He explains: “Of course, it’s not all. But suffice to say most of them are serving against the will of God and that’s the main reason God doesn’t fulfill their promises and prophecies. Most of them know they’re not God’s own chosen evangelists. So, they’re preaching just to please the ears of their faithful.”
Pastor Wilfred Banda of Kanjedza Zambezi Evangelical Church (ZEC) warns that “we are living in the last days; hence, the need to beware of every person calling himself or herself a pastor”.
He says even Jesus Christ knew ‘false prophets’ would infiltrate the world claiming to be his servants and that is why he forewarned the disciples to beware of them.
“Even their teachings are very suspicious. Usually, these pastors don’t base their teachings on the Bible, but personal opinions. As an evangelical pastor, I’m very worried with their teachings. I’m afraid innocent people will go astray,” said Banda.
He challenged that as long as government and/or business persons do not open new companies, the desperate loafers should forget about getting employed after being prayed for.
“No matter how much these pastors can pray for you, you won’t get employed because God doesn’t create jobs. He has left that responsibility [to create jobs] in our hands.
“I would rather encourage the desperate youth to try other means through which they can earn a living such as entrepreneurship, but not planting false hopes in innocent people,” stressed Banda.