Pitfalls of the Pentecostals

What is famous does not last – Tanzanian proverb

My childhood started out with a traditional Methodist denomination, only to be swallowed, consumed and domineered by the “Pentecostal”/charismatic movement. The change even went as far as splitting up our family, but I will probably elaborate on that more in a future post. The recent headlines of disastrous revelations and exposures of charismatic leaders has caught my interest. The traumatic shooting at Lakewood Church is surrounded by confusion and controversy. How can something like that happen in a church? Unfortunately, it has happened in the past, where the lives of innocent people have been taken away, leaving loved ones puzzled with grief and anger.

Source: Pixabay

I want to go a little further and zone in on a growing phenomenon that’s closer to home for me: The growing popularity of African prophets and their mega churches. I lived it, walked in it and eventually ran from it without looking back.

But a little background information; there has been a “copy and paste” of the charismatic movement that started in America in the 1970’s/1980’s era, that is now in full-blown manifestation in Africa. Desperate people coming in droves, looking for a miracle or breakthrough with something that they have been struggling with and want to be free. Often referred to as Pentecostalism or the Charismatic movement, this polluted extension of Christianity, if you will, has flooded the continent of Africa over the past couple of decades.

From Nigeria, to Senegal, to Zimbabwe, there are millions who are flocking these churches. One church in particular, rose from 45 members to an astounding one million within five years! That is wild…and scary. Further studies show that Africans trust these prophets more than their presidential leaders; a 69 and 51 percent ratio, to be exact.

The end-game for most attendees is getting rich or getting healed, and those so-called prophets know how to bank on that vulnerability. I know – not every Pastor or prophet is a scamming loser, but most of those with large platforms are just that. Then you have the smaller churches that want to be on the come up; their goal is to become a mega-church, pressuring parishioners to clean out their wallets and purses to make it happen. A lot of the times, it doesn’t, leaving households in disarray and confusion, and members frustrated, confused and scared to speak up or question the finances. I’ve seen it many times – the same cycle over and over again. The outcome never changes.

TB Joshua was amongst Africa’s leading church leaders. His death in 2020 exposed a ministry that was mirred in scandal and abuse. Photo source: Creative Commons

The intention of those seeking miracles or struggling with poverty is usually good. Unfortunately, they are in an environment or system of bad healthcare systems, poverty-stricken economies, leaving room for these charismatic individuals to pose as father figures of authority over their lives. This is where a lot of vulnerability comes into play when a health ailment or money issues is involved. Only “Daddy so-and-so” has the answer and the final say.

Whatever your spiritual belief is, if it’s not founded in love and community, be weary. You have every right to question their intentions. Over the course of my writing journey, I have raised awareness on abusive relationships. The church is not exempt from that at all. It’s becoming far too common, where men and women, are being taken advantage of because they come looking for spiritual help from a place of void or brokenness.

It’s a painful reality, which is why I made it the topic of focus in my short story, “Church Heroine”. In the story, the main character, Chizoba is on a lost path, trying to find her way to true identity. Well, humanism steps in and she makes certain choices that lead to certain outcomes. I’m hoping this story eventually gets published. In the meantime, I’m sharing an excerpt of the story for your viewing.

Chizoba is the MC of my latest story, “Church Heroine”. Source: Canva Photos

You view the excerpt through joining my journaling list here.

Do you think these types of churches have led to serious problems in the household or relationship? What are your thoughts?