Have you ever heard that ‘Christianity is a mile wide but only an inch deep in Africa’? Those who make such statements need to define their terms carefully. Is biblical Christianity, churches that the Apostle Paul or Peter would recognize, really so vast in Africa? Much of what is considered mainstream Christianity in Africa is more accurately defined as the Prosperity Cult.
The Prosperity Cult (or Health and Wealth Movement) twists Scripture to teach that all of God’s children should enjoy continual physical and financial prosperity. If a ‘Christian’ is not being healed of illness and blessed with riches, it is due to a lack of faith on their part. As Pastor Conrad Mbewe rightly taught at The Masters Academy International Symposium in L.A. last month, the Prosperity Cult is nothing more than witchcraft masquerading as Christianity. These false teachers attempt to use biblical terminology to make God do their bidding, just as witchdoctors (traditional healers) use magic phrases and ceremonies to control the ancestor spirits. Below is the all-too-common experience of Timothy as false teachers preyed on his sinful greed, and his glorious testimony of finding peace with God through Jesus Christ.
"My name is Timothy Olenyo. I thank the Lord for saving me and giving me a sure hope of heaven. Before I was saved, I met with many false teachers. While working in Nairobi, I began to attend ‘miracle crusades’ where the catch phrase was ‘Come and receive your miracle!’ The teachings revolved around such themes as ‘planting seed’ and ‘anointing oil.’ Desperate to get rich quickly, I gave all my earnings at one meeting after another, month after month. My situation grew worse as I could no longer pay rent or provide for my family.
I found myself in a dilemma. The ‘men of God’ kept telling me to ‘keep sowing better seed and believing,’ but obviously my life was in ruins. My mother in the village heard of my desperate situation and told me of another group of ‘people of prayer’ who do not demand money. I relocated to the village empty-handed and in great debt. The village ‘people of prayer’ said that they did not require any money, but they required candles of different colors to commence prayers. After a few days of ‘prayer’ I was informed that the spirits demanded a black bull! (Much like the prosperity cult, this was obviously another syncretistic religion practicing witchcraft in the name of Christianity.) I was devastated and immediately left the village for the city of Eldoret.
Once in Eldoret, my wife and I worked at whatever odd jobs we could find. Financially, life continued to be hard. Once again, I fell prey into the hands of prosperity preachers who introduced a pyramid scheme in the church. They challenged their followers to ‘sow seed’ and receive a three-fold return within weeks. Once again I was deceived, and this was the ‘last nail in the coffin.’ I completely gave up on church and vowed never to return.
In 2008, my three children began attending Sunday school at Grace Baptist Church. In 2011, Pastor Naphtally and Mrs. Ogallo visited our home and shared the gospel with me. A few weeks later, I began attending their church. The Lord opened my eyes to see that my greatest need is not money but forgiveness from sin. My children attending Sunday school at Grace Baptist led to my salvation under Pastor Naphtally’s ministry!
Life continues to be challenging. In 2014, my wife died abruptly, leaving me with six children to care for and no formal employment. However, I have real peace and the riches of being right with God through Jesus Christ."