The trouble with miracle movements

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By Learnmore Zuze

The last quarter of 2008 and early 2009 saw the advent of new and fast growing religious movements in the country. The subsequent years were to witness the dawn of a new era for most Christians. The incoming movements changed the face of Christianity altogether.

Prophet Walter Magaya
Prophet Walter Magaya

This new school of thought (with emphasis on the prophetic and prosperity) stole the hearts of many. Breaking away from the conventional Gospel which focuses on heavenly prosperity, the focus of the new movement is on the hear-and-now. It promises wealth to its followers.

It is punctuated by flamboyance as opposed to the humble lifestyles led by Christ and Biblical prophets. It claims that where possible every Christian must be worth millions. Money is everywhere as the watchword is prosperity (on earth).

The irony though is that Zimbabweans remain a poor lot in a country where fiery speakers continuously declare blessings upon their lives week-in, week-out. Reportedly, the dead were raised and fresh wounds were healed instantly.

As a consequence, most Christians left their traditional churches en masse as they pursued this new phenomenon. In particular, there was a mass exodus to UFI and Spirit Embassy by worshippers from mainstream churches like Methodist, AFM, and the Roman Catholic among many others.

Most worshippers seemed to have been deprived of basic tenets of their faith in the traditional churches and this new dispensation promised restoration. The number of worshippers which flocked to these prophetic and prosperity movements was alarming.

I recall motorists having to wait for over thirty minutes to make way for multitudes trooping to one well-established miracle church in Harare in 2009. I also recall how commuter omnibus operators made big business owing to the crowds wooed by these movements.

On the other hand, to say that traditional churches were left depleted is an understatement. A number of my pastor friends admitted to the negative effect that the movements had had on their congregations. Most pastors fought a futile battle in an attempt to control the “damage”.

Today, as 2014 kicks off, it would appear that tables are yet again turning in proving the trouble and futility of miracle-based gatherings. A new prophet has emerged in town and worshippers are flocking to him as never before.

The same worshippers who left their churches in droves are yet again gathering in crowds at the new spectacle. Prophet Magaya founder of the Prophetic Healing and Deliverance Ministries (PHD) is reportedly drawing larger crowds than his predecessors.

Having read about the development, I had to personally attend one of his sessions and discovered that indeed the majority of his followers are deserters from the previous movements and they number in the thousands.

These miracle-loving worshippers are now heaping praises on Prophet Magaya describing him as ‘more powerful’ than the pioneer movements. Scores of the worshippers at Magaya’s congregation wore armbands from UFI or Spirit Embassy.

A personal friend who was a staunch UFI member and usher told me that this new prophet is just what the doctor ordered. His sentiments were echoed by many miracle-lovers I mingled with in the mass gathering.

The exodus to Magaya’s church was fueled by a miracle he reportedly performed on a Chitungwiza mad man. He restored the man’s sanity after thirty years of mental instability. It is further reported that Prophet Magaya, after healing the man, built a house for him and furnished it in typical today’s prophet style.

He also assigned two people to monitor the man’s welfare at the house. And just like his predecessors, Prophet Magaya’s wife is also a prophetess. The history and rise to prominence of Magaya started in 2012 when he visited the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) in Nigeria where he received a prophecy from TB Joshua.

Typically, his predecessors also have a spiritual father who hails from Nigeria’s neighbour- Ghana. Most congregants confirmed having left AFM for UFI and insisted that they had found a “permanent home” at PHD Ministries. But, is Magaya’s ministry going to be the last ministry to perform breath-taking miracles? Are these worshippers following God or men?

Another million dollar question is: does it necessarily mean that God’s power is obtainable only in West Africa? Why do pastors come back with “power” after visiting West Africa? These questions continue to beg for answers my friends. Miracles however, need to be taken with great caution.

The Bible puts it in the clear that miracles do not come from God alone. Miracles themselves do not indicate the authenticity of a prophet at all. The widely held view that someone cannot perform miracles unless they are anointed of God is a very dangerous assumption because we are told in the book of Exodus that pharaoh’s magicians and ‘prophets’ where veritable miracle workers.

They could counterfeit miracles done by God. These men would also help the Pharaoh with predictions. Such men helped King Nebuchadnezzar with interpretation of dreams and visions. They actually lived within the King’s quarters.

No incident in the Bible casts a darker shadow on miracle-workers than the account in which Apostles Paul and Silas met one sorcerer called Simon“…who mesmerized the whole of Israel with his miracles”(Acts 16:16) yet he was empowered by an evil spirit.

Note well: the Bible referred to Simon as a sorcerer but Israel (people) regarded him as a prophet. The Bible actually records that Simon was an extremely popular ‘prophet’ in Israel. Brethren, prophets of God are not simply anyone who can work miracles.

Jesus actually rebuked people who flocked to him for miracles and not for the word that he preached. In his rage he said (about miracle-lovers), ‘…a wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign.” (Matt 6:39)

‘It pained Jesus to have people who chase after miracles instead of the Word of repentance. They were filled with sin (just like today’s people) yet they would not believe unless they saw a miracle. For that reason Jesus told them, “But none will be given to it except the sign of Prophet Jonah.”

Performing miracles proves nothing. The true Gospel has never been and will never be about earthly riches or miracles. The true Gospel is heavenly-focused emphasizing instead that people leave their sinful ways in preparation for the Second Coming of Christ. (Rev 1:7)

This is the last hour. Take heed that no one deceives you.

Learnmore Zuze can be reached at [email protected]