Ezekiel Fajenyo and Sunday Patrick
Christianity, to all those truly concerned with its fate in contemporary context, is not altogether in a perfect form through Christ is perfect. It is a relationship and though should exhibit love, transparency, friendliness and shared responsibility in the pursuit of credible direction and significance as symbolized by Christ, the perfect Master. Except the relationship is perfect and orderly as Christ wants it, it grows only in a debased, questionable and sterile relevance.
Christianity is about truth, the pursuit of excellent mastery of the Word and sincere adoption of Christ-like qualities as life’s guide. It is a privilege to be in relationship with Christ, the Author and Finisher of our faith; but it is dangerous to see such relationship as a privilege to castigate His anointed hands, kick against His commandment on love and yet wish Him to continually treat us as sincere partners in holiness.
Christianity in troubled waters for reasons which are best known to Christians and not threats as posed by other worshippers the world over. It is a relationship which has gone sour; it has been soiled by the very attitude of the travails of fellow Christians in troubled spots (as we see in parts of northern Nigeria today or had happened in places like Iraq, Egypt, etc). The relationship is thoroughly poisoned, abused and murderously defined by hatred, mischief, envy, jealousy and witchcraft. Christians – or so we wish to address ourselves – take delight in throwing arrows of disintegration, even in the name of Christ! We cast aspersions and wildly throw around words which betray the faith and wound the true essence of our unique relationship with Christ.
Why did we have to write this letter to all “pastors” concerned? We are only joining voices with many of such voices which had cried out before, asking why Christians should be the destroyers and betrayers of their own faith, an ignoble attitude which is hardly ever found in people of other faiths. Many others, at seminars, workshops, sermons, crusades and media-talk-shows have spoken (and are still doing so) on why Christians are the greatest mischief-makers to fellow Christians all over the world, like several women married to the same husband.
The reactions to an internet material titled, “Churches Rap T.B. Joshua” on May 9, 2012, will go on for some time. And the reasons are obvious. Christians all over the world must feel disgusted at the way and manner Christianity was reduced to sheer meaninglessness and infamy by “pastors” who were reported to have participated in a workshop organized by Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe, in preparation for that country’s “National Day of Prayer set for May 25, Africa Day”.
Every African who knew what Zimbabwe went through before attaining her present status should be happy at the development. Zimbabwe is a major historical place in the continent and its development over the years should be a source of pride to every African, regardless of the country. The announcement of its National Day of Prayer in Zimbabwe should also attract Africans because every nation needs prayers to survive with its people, to conquer forces of retrogression and starvation and launch into an experience of socio-political awareness. What is wrong in praying for a land which one loves so much? A land whose independence everyone struggled for with much passion and enthusiasm?
What rather shocked people in the announcement was the issue of T.B. Joshua which completely overwhelmed you – or a few among you – that you completely neglected to talk of the National Prayer Day but how not to allow Joshua into Zimbabwe, though you do not have the immigration powers to ban him.
The tone of your disapproval of the person of Joshua was so acrimonious and sharply condemnatory to the extent that many people were shocked that the whole of Zimbabwean “pastors” would fail to honour African activists and freedom fighters by praying (or organizing to pray) for their country but held meeting only on T.B. Joshua, a man who Zimbabweans had thought prophesied the death of Mugabe (which turned out to be false!)
Joshua, at a moment like this, (National Day of Prayer) should not be an issue among you “pastors” of the Evangelistic Fellowship. First, Christ deserves to be thanked for making Zimbabwe a close-knit country over the years. Second, the prayers should have been directed towards strengthening the political and socio-economic base of the country so that inflation and reductionist trends would leave the land alone (some African countries are in a similar situation. Third, prayers suggest absolute belief in the Almighty God and not opportunities to desecrate the international image of a man of God. National survival, growth of the citizenry and a robust future should be of attraction to you than the personality of Joshua.
In the quoted report, not even a line was written to show the real purpose of the National Day of Prayer but other people in a similar situation would have boldly told the world the glory of the moment, the rare achievements in the land, the way forward by government – all of which God Almighty should address urgently. If the workshop was organized by politicians and political party leaders, people would understand (because Joshua is seen by some Zimbabweans as pro-Morgan Tsvangari while he hates Mugabe) but at least those in “God’s service” should have shown some spiritual maturity, discipline, wisdom, sense of decorum and sincerity of purpose, which members of your cabinet are so distant from. While the former may see Joshua as a foe for political reasons (not fundamental truth), you should have been bold enough (except if motivated with coins) to stay on a neutral ground; you should have left issues in the hands of God in respect of the National Day of Prayer instead of turning your own Synagogue to a centre of political argument. That is why we are bothered. Politicians may wish to condemn Joshua to honour Mugabe but how do we qualify your attack on Joshua, as if he brought terrible inflation and political misgovernance to Zimbabwe?
Rather than speak of the event planned for May 25 (Africa Day), you demeaned yourselves as a body of “over 100 denominations, churches, Para-church movements and individual Christians of the Evangelical persuasion”. In sheer numbers, you should be more than 2,000 people altogether. If Joshua were a white preacher from the West or other places, certainly you would not mind welcoming him at the airport but not Joshua – a popular Nigerian with world-wide followership, just because he is a friend to your Prime Minister. Could this be an act of spiritual immaturity, senility, blindness, impurity? Do we now know why one arrogant leader said he was “luckier than Jesus” not long ago (and to which you said nothing?) Joshua never said he had edge over Jesus, yet he should be maliciously crucified? Are you not asking why a Nigerian should come and pray for Zimbabwe?
The EF2 President and spokesperson of your fellowship (we wonder if this word means anything to your clique) Dr Goodwill Shana pointedly said Joshua was not wanted in Zimbabwe because his teachings were judgemental, partisan and unorthodox and that he may not bring good tidings “to help the country to move forward” and because “he is notorious for issuing death prophecies”.
We are at a loss as to what Dr Shana (we do not understand what goodwill is here) meant by these statements because he was rather terrified by fire of yet unheard prophecies, or he was very afraid of Joshua whose prophecies have kept shaking the entire world. Millions of people have often welcomed his prophecies and prayed to enjoy such when positive or ward them off, if negative. That of Israel was once surrounded by your kind of “pastors” and “prophets” (some 400) who did not want the voice of truth to speak to the man in power. Macaiah, the great, fearless and courageous prophet told the man the truth, regardless of the possibility of jail. Ahab never returned from the war in Ramoth Gilead, as prophesied by Macaiah. The 400 others were brought to shame in his palace. Why should Christian leaders be so robotically inter-twined with power that they will not be identified with truth? Is loyalty to Christ not sufficient? Is the grace of God not sufficient, if we must follow the example of Paul? Is the Zimbabwean Constitution the Bible? Is the Christ in Zimbabwe different from the one the world is used to? Why should you – at your age and experience of many years – dislocate the essence of Christianity by condemning the prophecies of Joshua? Have you equally not been judgemental, ornamental, doggish and paralytically unorthodox? What would any Christian learn from your spirit of intolerance, hatred, envy and blackmail? And how are we able to be sure that the over 2,000 Christians of “Evangelical persuasion” were persuaded along the line of attacking Joshua instead of praying for national deliverance and healing from years of agony, political recklessness and social impatience? Did Joshua constitute a problem for that country? If Africans know not what love is, why are we deceiving ourselves celebrating National Day in any country – after all, different nationals fought (directly or indirectly) for the independence of Mozambique, Ghana, South Africa, South Sudan, Zimbabwe, etc. Africans are proud of their own and will not mind what happens, as long as true freedom is obtained. We are proud of Mandela, Toure, Nkrumah, etc. for this reason. They understood the sacrifice of fellow Africans; they respected fellow Africans and would not have organized a workshop whose subject matter is to deny Joshua entering Zimbabwe!
It should be a moment of sober reflection and gratitude to God; people should be welcomed from all over the world since they are not bombers, kidnappers, ritualists, killers and questionable militants. Zimbabwe should mean much more to Africa than the coldness in the hearts of some “pastors” who want to satisfy the palace at the expense of the salvation of their souls.
We do not understand Dr Shana’s self-inflicted definition of “judgemental teachings”, though it is true that “God is redemptive”. He forgot that even King Hezekiah was told by an angel of the Lord that he was going to die; he had to turn to the wall, wept bitterly and showed mind of total surrender after complaining and his years on earth were increased! Elijah confronted Ahab’s Baal prophets (850 in all) and eliminated them and asked Ahab to go for a good meal – he was fearless, regardless of the fact that he stood before the king. If “pastors” must eat some leader’s shit, what business have they climbing the pulpit? The Disciples of Christ stood their ground and simply moved away from where their evangelical mission was not welcomed. Your “Evangelical persuasion” is something which may take a century to properly analyse and digest!
One Bishop Trevor Manhanga of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Zimbabwe (also a member of this fellowship) could not hide his political persuasion, even when he wears the cassock. To him, Joshua’s closeness to the Prime Minister would not affect the political fortunes in Zimbabwe, despite Joshua’s reliance on “artefacts”. Yet, he also joined in this fellowship against “judgemental preaching” and partisanship! He referred to a burning Nigeria on which Joshua could do nothing and that those who visit Nigeria “should know that the water they are given has no significance here and will not serve as a lucky charm to bring them power, political or otherwise”. Yet this man is a Bishop, who hates the Prime Minister!
Are hatred and envy qualities of a seasoned Bishop in a much politically troubled land? Should he dismiss Nigerians as if he is not an African? Could Nigeria be burning more than Zimbabwe at this hour? If God is “not interested in the outcome of football games”, is He not interested in people’s spiritual edification, deliverance and healing? Is there anything in life God does not know of? Does this Bishop (despite his presence in Zimbabwe) know the number of Zimbabweans who daily visit Nigeria for the salvation of their souls and purification? Does he know people from all the continents of the world make The SCOAN a home? Hasn’t he been watching what happens in Emmanuel TV? If several thousands of people are being delivered of evil spirits and terrible worldly encounters, what has been the contribution of the likes of this Bishop in Zimbabwe or do people have no reason to know? If he spoke so bad-mouthed about Joshua, what would he say of non-Christians in his own country? Yet, we all say Christianity must grow in the spirit of love and as the Lord Himself approves. Has this Bishop ever seen Moslem, Buddhist, Taoist, etc. leaders speak against one another in that manner, especially when talking of a “National Day of Prayer”?
This Bishop spares odious companionship with the likes of Shana even though he does not wish to hear “of the death of Michael Jackson” which does not “assist and mould people to be better citizens”. But the prophecies in the Bible – from Genesis to Revelation – how pleasant are they to him? What impact was made on this rare “man of God” by prophecies made in Books of Ezekiel, Isaiah, Kings? Do some people qualify to belong to where they claim they are? If prophecies are not important to this Bishop and his “fellowship”, what is he doing in the Church of the Lord? We thought what should anger a Bishop was to discover that a prophet has lied? Or that he never said anything good of others? If Ahab had listened to Macaiah, he would have lived some more years. Hezekiah was wiser. So these stories meant nothing to this “man of God” and his “fellowship”?
This Bishop allegedly said Joshua’s presence “will have no bearing on our politics. Our authorities have nothing to fear”. Is this man the Chief Press Secretary to the President? And he was living when the leader said he was “Lucifer than Jesus”? Did he protest that kind of message which may likely be his prayer point on the National Day of Prayer? Is Christianity not in trouble? Are we helping it to grow? Could Islamist militants speak of Joshua the way this Bishop did? Or is there a different Jesus in Zimbabwe?
We are concerned with the faith of the church in contemporary times. A Cameroonian, Erebe Ayissi, allegedly called Joshua “a son of the devil masquerading as a man of God” – is this not judgemental and partisan? Would he have said so if Joshua were a Cameroonian, benefitting the administration he serves? But his uncouth mannerism and lousy disposition may be understood because he is an anxious politician, wishing to make some noise against an internationally reputed Nigerian. One Godwin Chitsinde, a “pastor” in this group who heads the Spoken Word Ministries, said Joshua’s planned visit to Zimbabwe was bad because of his “interest in politics”. Did this not suggest that all of you “pastors” are afraid of Joshua and that his presence will dwindle the quality and substance of your own presence in Zimbabwe (though he is a Nigerian)? Pastor Vukani Dhladhla of Abiding Hope Ministries allegedly said Joshua’s prophecies were wrong because of his flare for “telling someone his phone number or the colour of his underwear” instead of being “about the Word of God”. He also said Zimbabweans “have our own reputable apostles and what rides us is that he is coming on a partisan ticket without consulting the churches”. If not fear, what do we call this, in Jesus’ name? How many pastors from other countries have your “fellowship” invited to share in the glory of the moment? How was the issue of partisanship handled by you? How did you resolve the issue of prophets not dictating “phone numbers” and “colours of the underwear” but yet prophesying “deaths” and doing “diabolical miracles”? How did some of your “fellows” arrive at such names as Spoken Word or Abiding Hope Ministries whose spiritual symbolisms and testimonies are so hollow, myopic, sectional, arrogant and reckless? How do you convert people to the faith in Zimbabwe? What exactly do these ministries and ministers do in the name of Christianity except show pretence and ill-discipline when discussing the faith? How much were some people paid by some Ahab to heap attacks on Joshua when national interest in a universal context should be addressed?
Evangelism is essentially about winning people (souls) for Christ. Do we take it that the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe has no mission than to attack Joshua because of his prophecies on the death of leaders or his partisanship. Must personal and official hatred for the Prime Minister translate to hating and attacking his personal friends, even if they are prophets? Are we not being reminded of the vampish Baal prophets here? Could Joshua be causing more sleepless nights than the diabolical mannerisms of political leaders in that country whose motives in governance are dictated by “agents of satan”? Does Joshua have the power to cast his vote in Zimbabwe?
Could he mount the soap box and proclaim prophecies before Zimbabweans? Does the constitution regard him as a citizen? Why are you “pastors” (and of evangelical persuasion) trying to pick crickets from the hole with teeth? Why call a spade another name? Of what specific political interest could Joshua be pursuing in Zimbabwe which makes some “pastors” want to dig their own graves in fear, before his arrival? How could he be more feared than a million Napoleons if political rascality, greed, disrespect for people’s wishes and pride have not been allowed in politics? Is Joshua the one to make “judgemental preaching” before God does what He wishes for a people?
These were the reasons why we started off by lamenting the troubles of Christianity. People find it difficult (especially some “pastors”) to separate politics from religion; prophecy from earthly endeavours. Joshua is undisputedly respected worldwide because of his total loyalty to God and he has delivered many “pastors” who were yet to be born-again in the true sense of the word. His coming to Zimbabwe or your coming to Nigeria will assist to transform the spiritual life of many of you “pastors” by becoming true men and women of God. What kills people is gloomy ignorance and even God says His people get killed because of lack of wisdom. Joshua, as an African, should be a “material” of whom all of us should be proud. His coming to Zimbabwe if he chose to, would have been a special blessing to that country rather than to himself. Even leaders from more advanced countries are his friends because the glory of God is not about nationality or sex; it is about whom God Himself chooses. When will some notorious African “pastors” learn the rule of the game?
Why fear Joshua if all hands are clean? Why fear his prophecies if occultism has not taken over people’s hearts? Why judge him as an “agent of satan” when there is no solid proof of your being “agents of light”? Why preach spirituality when you speak of authorities having “nothing to fear”? Why should a politician speak authoritatively on a man as not being “a man of God” as if we are talking of endless corruption, graft and ideological impotence of his own country?
We pray for Zimbabwe and all other countries of the world, in the spirit of The SCOAN! We know there is nothing God cannot do for people; He is an agent of awareness, baptism, uprightness, honesty, humility, understanding and of love. Rather than pick on Joshua for attack in a country of millions of people, you should study the Bible aright to know what the disciples of Jesus did when He was removed from them – they preached, suffered bruises, were imprisoned, flogged, molested, yet Christ remains proud of them. A word is enough for the wise.
Happy Celebration to all Zimbabweans!