By Hilary Mulenga
A lot of people are flabbergasted at the latest incident involving a well known pastor who was conned out of cash when he acquired fake stones.
The circumstance in which the failed transaction was carried was not only suspicious but raised eyebrows considering the high standing of the victim pastor in society. There are a lot of questions hanging in the air about the incident.
For example, did the evangelist know what he was getting into? Considering that he was once a deputy minister in government wasn’t he aware of the laid down procedures in acquiring the precious stones? And when he and other pastors prayed over the stones, what was the motive? Were they guilt over the transaction and trying to exorcise the stones of ‘bad spirits’ considering the way in which they were acquired?
However much as we would want to speculate, we can only leave the loose ends to the investigating authorities. But there is something that we cannot simply forego about this case: the fact that the man of God was involved in this lucrative business.. Has the time come when men of God are just like ‘us’, that they can venture into businesses that have a sour taste as far as our society is concerned? Has the love of money invaded the corridors of the church that now making money is more important than being a shining example of transparency to all?
These questions could easily be answered if one goes back in history to the time Zambia was declared a Christian nation by former president Chiluba.
The country saw an upsurge of Christian sects. We know that most of these sects are breakaways from other churches. Selfishness and conflicts over material things has led to many forming new sects all in the name of evangelization. We, as well, know these sects create self-employment for their leaders and that they are a profitable venture. In a religious country like Zambia, it is very simple to prey on people’s minds and make them offer you large sums of money all in the name of offering it to God.
On the other hand, the separation between the church and the state has meant that the church is no longer accountable to anyone outside its circles. Unlike the state, which everyone can take to task if one feels aggrieved over something, the church operates freely and in most cases, members cannot question its authorities.. So, the church goes scot-free and a suspicious person will have all the reasons to believe that the worst is possible.
It is possible that like the pastor involved, much crime and corruption in the church is being baptized in the name of God. It is possible that a lot of dirt is being swept under the altars of God. It is possible that the house of prayer has again been turned into a den of thieves just like the Temple during the time of Jesus.
Between you and me, we know that it’s a long time project to change the mind of the Zambians who are highly religious. However, as long as filth practices are not countered within the church itself, it will have no bigger impact on changing society.
Have you ever wondered why, despite being religious, we see corruption everywhere in our country? Is it not because the church has failed to give impetus to a better society? And if the church has failed to do so, is it not because it has failed to remove the plank from its own eye?
The church insists on baptism and repentance of sins for its members but I think it is the institution itself that needs baptism and repentance.