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$1500 per session: Salvation mustn’t be a preserve of the rich
11/06/2016 00:00:00
by Learnmore Zuze
 
 
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THIS article is a sequel to a piece that appeared in the Religion section of a weekly newspaper and much credit should go to reporters, Brian Chitemba and Desire Ncube who, posing as potential clients launched into the murky waters of researching and reporting on a sensitive religious topic. Their courage ought to be applauded at a time when most reporters have chosen to sell their birthright for a few shekels.

The Christian community in Zimbabwe today cannot escape the fact that the charismatic movement fronted by prophets, apostles or bishops has given Christianity a new face and their activities have re-defined if not deformed Christianity. And this has been seen through practices such as allowing of secular music in church; the selling of merchandise, kneeling before spiritual fathers and the propping of rock- star like affluent life-styles for clergymen among other such things.

The article titled “The high price of salvation” reports that many prophets, in particular prominent prophets such as Emmanuel Makandiwa and Walter Magaya are charging as much as US$1500 per person for ‘solutions’. Already the two reporters who broke the story have received some serious backlashes from the eager and uncompromising followers of these movements who have come up with all manner of justifications for the practice.

It must be clarified that the research only proved that while “some congregants can have access to the prophets during church services and in their offices, if one wants exclusive face-to-face encounters, then money speaks”. This happens by way of guest lodges. People want personal engagements with prophets hence the astronomical costs.

The concept of guest lodges pioneered by popular Nigerian preacher, T.B Joshua, has guests staying at waiting lodges for a minimum of three days before they have engagement with the prophet. Reportedly, people fork out $300 at Makandiwa’s Life Haven facility in Mt Hampden. The facility reportedly has 27 people at any given time, and this effectively means that one parts with $100 each night. The amount ($300) multiplied by 27 comes close to $10 000 in less than a week.

Again it is reported, at another executive Life Haven facility in Glen Lorne, the minimum charge is $1200 and the maximum $1500. Magaya’s PHD, at the other extreme, charges a minimum of $300, while Executive Board in Marlborough costs up to $900. Comparatively, five star hotels have minimum charges of around $100 per night. Religion has thus become a high return activity. Very few commercial organisations, if any, make such vast amounts in a month or in a matter of days.



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This idea of guest lodges, they say, is necessary and the money is used for the provision of the services and maintenance of the places. They cite that the lodges present a prayerful environment for the believers.

Now, one thing should be clear: Jesus, our leading example as Christians, never accepted money in any form during his ministry. He healed people for free. The idea of guest houses where people pay up to meet with the prophet is a man’s idea - an expensive one too, as one of the prophets even concurred. Jesus Christ had multitudes at any allotted time and if there was any man who could have amassed billions from his gift, then it had to be Jesus Christ, but did he?

As I have pointed out time without number, the true Gospel as espoused in Jesus Christ’s teachings is aimed at showing that money, wealth or affluence do not indicate and should not at all come in the way of salvation. Even Jesus Christ had to be born in a manger to make the point. “Freely you have been given and freely you should give” is the direct instruction from the Bible; no man or woman should profit whether directly or indirectly from the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It has been free from the beginning and will forever remain so.

No individual in the Bible became mega rich or even remotely rich through the Gospel. The Gospel and commerce simply do not move together. The very moment there is profiteering arising from a supposed gift from God there is a pointer to a serious anomaly. There are inescapable expenses associated with running a religious organisation but what is unacceptable is the making of a luxurious life through the Gospel while mocking the poor. The Bible teaches that there should not be anyone who financially benefits from the gift of God, “Freely you have received and freely you must give.”

Honestly, if a commercial hotel is charging far less than what a supposed religious group is charging we have a classic case of profiteering through the name Jesus Christ. Surely, the amounts made in these set-ups defy all reasoning and run parallel to the biblical free receiving and free giving concept. One needs to ask: what will happen to the poor who cannot afford these up market services? Who will stand with the poor? Will they access salvation assuming these practices have anything to do with God-which they don’t?

Salvation is for all: poor, slave, free, rich, small and great. Salvation should not be the preserve of the rich.

E-mail feedback:lastawa77@gmail.com


 
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