In the last decade, a new wave of evangelism swept the country. Self-proclaimed prophets sprouted in different parts and they all had one message: “God had sent them to relieve many people from the suffering …” We examine some of the scandals that rocked the church:
Kanyari and his fake miracles: From the moment he first appeared on TV, his message was consistent. God was a loving and forgiving being who could heal all diseases and transgressions. All God needed, Kanyari said, was tithes. “Send Sh310 to my number and get your blessings”. It was dance and jubilation, always live on TV, until an investigation led to the truth. Everything was scripted, including the miracles. He has since rebranded and now calls himself Pastor Mwangi. He still seeks for donations to pray for believers.
Leadership wrangles in churches: It has been a season of blows, abuses, locked churches, splinter groups and boycotts, all in the name of fighting for leadership. The Nairobi Central branch of the SDA church dominated news last year. But before that, African Independent Pentecostal Church of Africa (AIPCA) had fought for decades forcing President Uhuru Kenyatta to broker peace. At Got Kweru in Migori where the remains of the founder of the Legio Maria church Simeon Ondetto lies, many endless leadership battles have been fought.
Pastor Ng’ang’a and his vile mouth: Pastor Ng’ang’a of the Neno Evangelist church, has transitioned from the young man whose opening line was the Sindano song about the metaphorical “injection” that Jesus gave him and taken a path where he liberally abuses his followers, threatens his bishops, excommunicates those who disagree with him, and goes on social media to spew abuses. “I am two in one. Ng’ang’a the man, and Ng’ang’a the spirit,” has been his style of explaining his ways.
Sex and the church: Catholic priests have made headlines for going against the celibacy oath. Pope Francis’s recent lifting of pontifical secret rule where victims of sexual abuse and the priests who were involved were kept under lock was received positively. There have also been many cases of defilement in other churches, including the recent case where a pastor in Kitui allegedly impregnated more than 20 girls.
Finger of God: They came with their pompous English words and political ambitions. Musician Joseph Hello, Quincy Timberlake and former TV presenter Esther Arunga wanted to form a political party and vie for the presidency. Many called it delusions of grandeur, but they said, at least at that time, it was a call from God. Controversy followed them, especially Timberlake and Arunga, all the way to Australia, where they relocated.
The Return of Pastor Deya: When he was caught in the ‘miracle babies’ scandal where he was accused of kidnapping children, many thought it is the end of his evangelical life. They were wrong. He is back, resolute, unapologetic and bolder. He had a stint at Kamiti Prison but posted a Sh10 million bond and has talked about going back to preaching.
Pastor Makenzi and the 93 children: In 2018, a video of children at the Good News Church headed by Paul Makenzi went viral. The children were denouncing education and pledging allegiance to the church. A similar situation has been obtaining in Mwingi where Kavonokia sect members have denounced medical treatment.
The immortal pastor: “Our god is not dead. He is just on a long journey” is a narrative that followers of Jehovah Wanyonyi have maintained for the five years that their pastor was reported to have died in Chemororoch village in Soy Constituency. The widows and children of the self-proclaimed god still believe he will be back.
Prosperity and showbiz gospel: The rise of pastors who only teach about a God who blessed with material wealth those who praised Him. They have body guards, streets are swept before they walk on them, they display their wealth on social media sites where they also post photos of them playing golf in other countries.
Homosexuality in the church: Cosmopolitan Affirming Church (CAC) in Nairobi openly declared that they provide space for gays and lesbians.
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