By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
Friday, February 8, 2013
The so-called prophecy by Rev. Isaac Owusu Bempah (Founder and leader of Glorious Word Ministry International) that President Mahama will die this year is the most outrageous message coming from the pests that parade our country, masquerading as “Men-of-God.”
I have written several opinion pieces to make it clear that the preponderance of prophecies from all manner of people calling themselves “Men-of-God” is not only annoying but it is also a clear demonstration of the depth of moral depravity to which the country has sunk—which creates the loopholes for such charlatans to exploit.
Those researchers who recently placed Ghana atop of the list of countries considered to be most religious have opened to us a huge window through which to view ourselves as a nation at risk of being thrown apart by the morbid Christianity that has dominated our national life.
Ghana is a secular state and cherishes religion; but when certain elements begin abusing religion to create needless tension, we must sit up.
Yes, we have been religious all along to make it possible for anybody professing any religious faith, doctrine, or belief to use that religion to find meaning to his/her life and not to be coerced in any way to subscribe to any other faith.
It is against this background that the Christian community has expanded to astonishing limits. Proselytizing has reached its zenith in our age. Almost every corner of the country has a chapel. Almost every community has a “Man-of-God” professing Christianity as the only key to unlock the iron gates of life. Prosperity messages have taken over the sermons that the “Men-of-God” deliver anywhere they find themselves. It is as if there is no more “an eye of the needle” for anybody to be wary of.
Every such “prosperity message” is couched in the kind of language that frontloads “claiming in the name of Jesus” as the “Open Sesame.” Being a Christian today means craving for prosperity even without carrying the cross—or looking for a Simon of Cyrene to thrust one’s cross on all the way to claim the crown. (Mark 15:21 “A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross.”)
Itinerant “Men-of-God” are everywhere (in passenger buses, the lorry parks, at radio stations, market places, etc.). They use every space and time for their activities. Go wherever they are, and you will hear them stridently sermonizing and lacing their pontification with condemnatory messages about non-believers and promising them hell fire in the afterlife.
They even go to the extent of condemning other faiths, especially the African Traditional Religions and Islam, which they see as not only an anathema but also as a passport to hell.
Hardly do we hear Muslims and adherents of African Traditional Religion bad-mouthing Christians or even questioning the basis of their faith and trust in Jesus. At least, I haven’t yet heard any Muslim or follower of African Traditional Religions embarking on any crusade anywhere to challenge what the Christians and their leaders practice.
In our part of the world, where Christianity has become a goldmine being exploited by all manner of “Men-of-God,” the religion has virtually become a tool with which to settle personal scores, intimidate opponents, or summon the spirit of the unknown as a smokescreen behind which to hide and exploit the ignorant believers.
So-called “Men-of-God” of Owusu Bempah’s type are all over the place, fouling our air with their self-serving inanities camouflaged as “prophecies.” I piss on them all.
They fail to realize that even when Jesus was ministering unto the Jewish society, the worhsippers of Baal were also practicing their trade. Nowhere did Jesus take it upon himself to scare anybody or to divide the society with prophecies. He concentrated his work of redemption on spirituality and urged his followers to constantly look beyond this mundane life to a brighter one in Heaven. That was the “crime” for which he was crucified in fulfillment of a truly divine prophecy.
And that is why Jesus still survives in the hearts and minds of millions all over the world. Had he gone the way of this Owusu Bempah and others like him, he would have ended up as a nuisance to be thrown out of mind.
But Jesus still “lives” because he exercised his power and authority, living by example, and urging his believers to live above reproach. From him, we can learn that Christianity is a lifestyle to be lived, not a religious faith to be merely professed by mouth as our Ghanaian “Men-of-God” are wont to do.
Despite all that he implanted in his followers, how many of them, in truth, managed to obey his “commandments” to the full? Even those who lived with him, saw his miracles, and witnessed the astounding efficacy of his spirituality denounced him when faced with the reality of the clash between the mundane and the spirituality. How many times didn’t Peter deny him?
Yet, when they regained their composure and got imbued with the force of the Holy Ghost, they performed miracles without waxing in this kind of swoon that Owusu Bempah and others fall into only to emerge with the weird “prophecies” that they torment us with daily. And their prophecies always verge on the gloomy and dreary part of existence. Nothing re-assuring!! Why so?
I am more disturbed at the realization that despite the high rate of proliferation of these churches and “Men-of-God,” the country isn’t benefiting in any way. It is clear that there is a proportional relationship between this incidence of proliferation of churches and the rate of immorality in the country.
Obviously, Christians constitute more than half our national population. If their lifestyle were worthy of emulation, why hasn’t it rubbed off positively on our society?
Sadly, much of what has been reported as heinous incidents verging on immorality has been committed by known Christians. Among the circle of “Men-of-God” itself, immorality is high. Theft of church funds, extortion, adultery, fornication, plain anti-social activities, provision of spiritual support for armed robbers, and many other jaw-dropping occurrences are perpetrated by them.
Just take a cursory look at the news reports about crime and immorality over the years and you will see things for yourself.
Even in their own circles, these “Men-of-God” are at each other’s throat over mundane substance. They have put Marmon far above the spirituality that calls for self-denial and service to God and mankind. How many of these so-called “Men-of-God” haven’t instated such exploitative practices as charging consultation fees and others when approached for counseling by their congregants?
Or how many of them haven’t gone under the cover of darkness to consult occultists and powerful fetish priests/priestesses for spiritual backing and amulets that they bury in their chapels to attract followers? Kwaku Bonsam has exposed some already for us to know how they are desperately whitewashing their sepulchres!!
The frequent internecine fights and splintering of churches have resulted from their own waywardness. Unfortunately for us, our country’s laws are too weak to deal with these churches and their “Men-of-God.” That is why they have grown wings and are all over the place, acting and making outrageous public pronouncements with impunity.
These pastors and their churches don’t pay tax despite all the profits they make, exploiting the fear of the unknown that they put in their benighted followers to catalyze their shady deals when they extort huge sums of money from such hypnotized members. And they do so under various guises (tithes, “Kofi-and-Ama offerings, Missionary offerings, “harvests,” and many others).
Again, because there is no control over how these churches spring up—granted that anybody at all who claims to have received the “call” can spring into action at will and use stagecraft to attract attention to his presence—these churches keep on mushrooming. Go to any public school premise in the evenings and at the weekends and you will see all of them dotted around, sometimes entering into egregious agreements with the school authorities to use the classrooms for fees.
The problem continues to worsen because these church leaders know what the weaknesses of the people are, and they are quick to exploit those weaknesses.
As the situation stands now, it will take very drastic and concerted efforts to clamp down on the activities of these charlatans masquerading as “Men-of-God” and politicizing their Ministry just because they know how to attract the politicians.
It is not too late for our leaders to see how wily these “Men-of-God” of God have become. To me, they are social pests to be flushed out. That is why I will advise President Mahama not to be bothered by the effusions of Owusu Bempah. No one will live on this earth forever. Once we have a beginning, we should expect an end to our lives.
I am reminded of the story of a so-called “Man-of-God” who claimed to have foreseen the untimely death of a church member he had been counseling. During the consultation, the “Man-of-God” revealed that the church member would die on Wednesday of the following week. On Tuesday of the following week, that “Man-of-God” visited his hometown and early the following day (Wednesday), he died. The church member whose death he had predicted to occur on that day is still alive today.
Apparently, the “Man-of-God” could foresee someone else’s death, not his own. Better still, he was not gifted enough to know that what he had foreseen was his own death.
Ghana can do better without these “Men-of-God” who are hiding behind Christianity to do dry and empty partisan politics.
I shall return…
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