Yes you and I, in this social media generation contribute to making these Bizarre prophets thrive. Every-time we come out in with panic mode “Jesus Must Come NOW!” statements, every-time we mention them by name, retweet and share their tom-foolery on social-media , we give them free publicity. In that sense we are hypocritical , in that we complain about them but don’t work to reach out to them, nor pray for them, nor simply teach our people how to discern and test ministry with scripture. Let us saturate the airwaves with the truth and not give them free PR.
What I will call it is simply Bizarre…very strange, unusual, especially in a striking or shocking way. The major concern is it doesn’t seem to add any value apart from shock and awe.
Here are some reasons why Bizarre Prophets Thrive in Africa.
- Our history. We come from a culture of spirit mediums, sangomas, juju, and superstitious beliefs of good luck and bad luck. In some of our cultures, the sangomas were given tremendous authority by the chiefs, to even decide legal disputes, by merely reading bones. Majority of their functions were fortune-telling, predicting the future and identifying spiritual causes of misfortune. It’s this cultural backdrop which paves the way for a ministry expression that mirrors those same functions to thrive. “Tell me my future, tell me ID number, tell me why I am having bad luck” these ideas make the right atmosphere for the Bizarre to manifest.
- Desperate times. Desperate situations open up people for desperate solutions, which open them up for the most bizarre methods to solve their problems. The poverty in Africa is well documented, in terms of its brutality to our people. Most of these people fall victim because, they are looking for drastic measures to solve their drastic situations. Simple solutions like read your bible, pray everyday are viewed as weak and ineffective. Those same bizarre things we don’t understand from the outside, those who are inside that world, want exactly that.
- Naive audience. The majority of the audience who fall victim to this brand of Bizarre ministry, demonstrate shocking levels of naivety. It can be attributed to a childlike, unbridled trust in the spiritual leadership, performing the acts. No one in their right mind, would allow themselves to be treated like how we see them being treated. Some of it is just a shortage of common sense.
- Biblical illiteracy. We are in a church generation that is biblically illiterate. Bibles are now just decorations, that gather dust or apps in a smartphone which only get opened in a church service. Our generation is very lazy to read the word of God for themselves. Lack of a personal relationship with the word of God, opens them up to believe anything done in the name of God, even if it doesn’t align with the word of God.
- A lust for quick fixes. Our people seem to have an insatiable lust for quick breakthroughs, quick miracles, quick money, everything must be quick. Sorry to burst your bubble, but many things in the Kingdom of God are subject to a process. Don’t desire in an instant what God has set to deliver to you through a process.
- Heavy handed church leadership doctrine. We are seeing the role of a minister moving from being a servant to a ruler. A lot of the doctrine being preached globally is very heavy handed in terms of issues of submission, honour, rebellion etc. These subjects are precision instruments but are being used like blunt tools, indiscriminately in our churches. That applies not only to the ones where these Bizarre acts are occurring. This heavy handed leadership philosophy sets the stage for the Bizarre to thrive. Any place where power has no checks and balances, abuse flows.
- Silent prophets. Sometimes the Bizarre thrives because the Bizarre is not afraid to make noise, but the real authentic ministry choses to hide its light under a bushel. The silence I am speaking of here, is not in terms of speaking out against the individuals, but the passivity in terms of sharing your authentic gift, sermons and teachings to the world with greater intensity than the bizarre. You can fault the Bizarre prophets on many things but one thing you can’t fault them on, is that they push their product to the world. Sometimes they gain milage because you are silent and sitting on your gift.
- Personal Ignorance. The scary part about this whole issue, is that the Bizarre prophets actually believe they are in the will of God and doing ministry that is helping and blessing people. If you tell them, your concerns they are shocked that you cannot see the good job they are doing. Some of it is personal ignorance.
- Personal arrogance. The other issue is, some of them are beyond correction, they believe that they are right and everyone is wrong. Anytime you want to correct them, they pull out the persecution card or the “don’t touch the Lord’s anointed” card or the don’t judge me shield. They are not open to hear the opposing view, its viewed as either jealousy or demonic attacks.
These few are not a reflection of us all, we stand in opposition against their practices but not against them as human beings created in the image of God. Some of the acts performed really go against the human dignity, that is enshrined in us all, through being made in the image and likeness of God. We pray for change, we pray for restoration and we pray and believe that God’s plans for us in Africa are greater than the misconduct of a few mortal men.