By Brilliant Pongo
Last month I took part in a radio discussion about prosperity gospel preachers and I was inspired to write this article by the comments made by those who listened to that discussion.
The comments and contributions were very interesting. Some contributors said it is not right for us to judge while other contributors were of the opinion the prosperity gospel preachers were in it, for the love of money.
A majority of the comments blamed the poor congregates for foolishly following and enriching these preachers materially in the hope that God would in return lift them out of poverty.
On the radio discussion we focused on the new breed of young prophets the likes of Emmanuel Makandiwa and Uebert Angel who have taken Zimbabwe by storm with their razzmatazz way of life and gospel preaching style. The question is, ‘are these men of gold or God?’
Should the clergy be paid? What does the bible say about this?
I found Matthew chapter 10 verses 5 to 11 of great interest for we find the perfect blueprint and supreme example of how those who want to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ should go about it:
“These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them, saying, “Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; 6 but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 “And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’
8 “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons; freely you received, freely give. 9 “Do not acquire gold, or silver, or copper for your money belts, 10 or a bag for your journey, or even two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for the worker is worthy of his support.
11 “And into whatever city or village you enter, inquire who is worthy in it; and abide there until you go away,” It is worth repeating vs. 9 “Do not acquire gold, or silver, or copper for your money belts.”
What must be happening is that these preachers are to be looked after by those with means, as the word says in vs. 11 “and into whatever city or village you enter, inquire who is worthy in it; and abide there until you go away”.
This is not what we are witnessing now with these millionaire preachers, they are now so rich they do not even live in the same neighbourhoods as their congregates and too rich to even visit the dusty environs of their free giving flock.
What we are witnessing now is the opposite of scripture, indeed the prosperity gospel preachers have taken with them bags full of all sorts of tunics (socks, shirts and suits worth thousands of dollars) and trunk loads of sandals/shoes.
They have brought baskets and pillow-cases in which to collect gold, silver, and copper yes it is money they are after. We also learn a very important lesson in the book of Isaiah that we should not seek payment in the ministry (Isa. 45: 13).
In the New Testament this principle is reinforced in 1 Peter “feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being Lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.
“And when the chief shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” (1 Peter 5:2-4) Is preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ a calling or a chosen career for you? That is what makes the difference.
If it is a career then it is for the money and the immediate rewards that go with it. The salutations in the market places, (what car do you drive? I drive a Bentley, Lexus etc.) and the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts.
On the other hand if it be a calling it is service to God and to fellow men which shall be rewarded by the Chief shepherd with a crown of glory that fadeth not away (1 Peter 5:4).
Several other blessings are poured upon those called in this ministry when they diligently fulfil their duties while here on earth. “By their fruits ye shall know them.” The gospel of Jesus Christ has boundless powers for moving people towards greater spirituality and devotion to living righteous lives.
It can bring a spirit of beauty and peace and can inspire love and unity among people. Those called to preach this living gospel should however be reminded that they are not of the world even as he that sent them is not of the world.
In the book of John in the 17th chapter verse 15 the Saviour offers prayer for you: “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.”
Preachers can greatly benefit us as individuals.
Gospel preachers can lift our spirits, give us courage, and move us to righteous action. Even those that have made preaching the gospel a career help people know some of the scriptures and for that, they have their reward.
However, it is disturbing when one does not practice what one preaches. One has to understand that when one is preaching the gospel it becomes inescapable for one to live comfortably to that which one preaches.
The tragic incongruity of all this is that it is the very people who I am trying to awaken to this great scam who are the first to leap up in defence of those who are defrauding them.
Nonetheless I take comfort and draw strength from Paul of Tarsus for indeed, the apostle Paul never grew weary of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He preached it, wrote about it, and lived it. It was important to him and he wanted it to be important to others.
The churches of Galatia desperately needed to be reminded of the importance of the gospel. It was being distorted by certain individuals causing some to desert and fall away from the faith. Paul, armed with the gospel, reminded them then and reminds us today about the importance of the one gospel.
And what Paul says about it has much greater meaning for us today. We need to be impressed with the importance of the gospel. There has been an upsurge in the number of those preaching the prosperity gospel in Zimbabwe most of which is very sweet to the ear and uplifting when you listen to it.
Sadly, the same cannot be said for the same preachers when we scrutinise their opulent lives and contrast that with the abject poverty of those who are milked endlessly by these supposed men of “god”.
I plead with those involved in amassing earthly wealth at the expense of their poor congregates to do the virtuous and honourable thing. We want modest preachers who follow the ways of the great prophets and those who have gone before.
It is thus, for us to awaken our brothers and sisters to free them from the devil’s trap, the snare which has a strong hold on their lives, the evil spirit used by these con-artists who masquerade as preachers while they rob God’s people will be exposed in the name of Jesus Christ, for He is indeed our Redeemer.
It is important for this gospel to be defended because it was planned by God. The death of Jesus was no accident. Paul said it was “according to the will of our God and Father” (Gal. 1:4).
Peter said that Jesus was “delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God” and adds that “God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer” (Acts 2:23; 3:18).
This is what the gospel of Jesus Christ is all about. And these false prophets are doing their part however, unbeknown to them they are doing the devils bidding and in the process they are fulfilling scripture, blinded by greed.
The congregates are also as it were drunken by the promise the promise of material riches and the desire to grab hold of the wealth of this world such that the words of these false prophets draws them like magnets would iron, like opium to an aficionado their words have become to the congregates still in their bondage, but as God lives and in the mighty name of Jesus Christ, these false prophets shall fall one by one till all of God’s are set free.
It is my sincere prayer that the eyes of all those who are yet to see this fraud be opened for indeed true is the word of the prophet Hosea, “My people perish from a lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6).
Bless your people with wisdom God bless them with knowledge that they may have power to see the fraudulence of those who masquerade as sheep yet they are wolves, let them see those who preach for gold and help to choose those who preach for you almighty Jehovah God.
To all the prosperity gospel preachers the question is, are you in it for God or Gold (Mari kana kuti Mwari?). I am grateful for the true preachers of God and the wonderful gospel teaching that has blessed my life.
I ask God to forgive those who blaspheme against his name in the comments that are to follow this article and those who are used and are still overcome by the devil help them, God, to be free of Satan’s control, cure them from hate and relieve them from their love for money; in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.