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Distinguishing true prophets from false ones not easy

By Pastor Mairos

The rise of the prophetic movement in Zimbabwe and elsewhere brings both hope and confusion to communities.

The Big Three in Zimbabwe: Walter Magaya, Uebert Angel and Emmanuel Makandiwa
The Big Three in Zimbabwe: Walter Magaya, Uebert Angel and Emmanuel Makandiwa

It brings hope because every prophet claims to receive revelation and power from God to solve problems. Simultaneously, it brings chaos and confusion since it is as difficult to distinguish the true from the false prophets as it is to separate white sugar from fine salt.

Our society is at a loss concerning identifying which prophets speak the truth and ones who speak lies. We are currently witnessing an unprecedented mushrooming of prophets in our nation. It is now very difficult to know for sure which ones to heed and follow and which ones to avoid at all costs.

Prophets in Zimbabwe can be categorised in several ways. Depending on the degree of spiritual power, some prophets can be called major, while others minor. Where authenticity is concerned, some can be called true and others false.

Furthermore, doctrine of the fellowship group can lead to some being called church prophets or sect prophets or cultic prophets.

According to sociologists, the main difference between church and sect is that a church has a formal bureaucratic structure, while a religious sect means a group that has splintered from the mainstream religion on the grounds of religion.

Initially, most prophets in Zimbabwe emerged from the crop of Apostolic sects. These ones claimed to operate by the spirit and had little or no regard to the Bible. They would reveal hidden things about one’s life.

Desire for esoteric knowledge drew many people to them and it is claimed that many healing miracles, signs and wonders accompanied the services of those prophets.

Some of these early prophets operated in some instances like traditional healers. They could travel to different places working wonders. “Patients” would invite them to their homes for ritual or cleansing services.

It is thought that they majored in removing goblins that hindered people’s prosperity. They sometimes walked on fire as a way of demonstrating their spiritual powers. Those prophets did not charge for their services. And their main task was to destroy evil powers.

However, some researchers claim that they ended up “planting” some strange objects which they would then “uproot” in order to prove the genuineness of their prophetic messages and actions.

As time passed a new crop of prophets from Pentecostal churches appeared on the scene. These ones read the Bible and claimed to be used by God to give guidance and revelation to the church.

They operated in the church, but spent most of their time in mountains praying. There was a mysterious connection between their prophetic power and fasting in the privacy of mountains. They did not charge for their services and most were very poor. They served God sincerely and faithfully following the biblical instruction to give freely what they had.

The apostolic sects then produced a new prophetic phenomenon with their prophets wearing garments of all colours: Red, green, blue, yellow, brown, maroon, white, you name it. Such prophets claim to have spiritual powers to discover root causes of problems in life.

They operate in a traditional fashion using clay pots of water and clay plates placed on altars usually in mountains. When you approach their altar you must remove your shoes.

They usually do not charge fees directly but they ask you to buy some cloths for them to use in getting rid of your evil spells. Sometimes they ask you to provide transport fare for them to go to far mountains to intercede for your needs. Some criticise them for being witchdoctors who turned into prophets.

As church prophets continue to mushroom, sect prophets are also increasing.
Church prophets claim to obtain their power from God to heal, walk on water, tell people’s identification numbers and personal names.

Some do extremely weird things like causing people to eat inedible things like snakes, grass and tree leaves. These new prophets preach prosperity and the greater your congregation, the greater also is the money you collect. You may be charged to see these prophets and the use of anointing oil is greatly encouraged.

Now some sect prophets are said to have discovered new powers from the heads of sacred birds and from objects obtained from oceans and seas. These prophets are alleged to be very good at revelations. They can tell you true things about your past, present and future and this is the power that draws many people to them. However, their solutions are very much doubted.

Since both sect prophets and church prophets are increasing in number and in spiritual powers there is now said to be conflicts. The chief one concerns sources of power. Some sect prophets claim that they are giving powers to church pastors and prophets.

They claim that pastors from churches come to them “nicodemously” for powers to work miracles and to attract masses who bring money. Sect prophets are crying foul because they are getting nothing out of these power deals.

One interviewed sect prophet complained: “Pastors and members from different churches come to us for powers and charms secretly, but they go to their churches to give testimonies and get money.”

Asked why they come secretly he said: “You see, most of the people who go to these churches come to us for solutions to their problems. They do not want to join us permanently because it is not fashionable to be in the open and put on white garments. There is some decency and dignity in church buildings and there is music they love.”

If it is true that most church prophets are getting their spiritual powers from sect prophets and sect prophets are in turn said to be getting their powers from witchdoctors, then it is not easy to tell which one is the genuine prophet.

In my opinion, saying and doing what is consistent with scripture, fulfilment of prophecies, calling people to obedience to God and living a holy righteous life constitute the basic hallmarks of a true prophet.

What do you think?

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