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The church on trial

KGOSIETSILE NGAKAAGAE
Prophet Shepherd Bushiri is in trouble with the law.

But that, may be an understatement. He is in serious trouble. The Hawks are on him. Now the Hawks, are unlike their unarmed counterparts this side of Old Naledi. They don’t arrest and spend years mentioning a case in court because “investigations are at their infancy”. If they do, it’s usually because they have done their homework, and have burnt the midnight oil over the possible culpabilility of their subject.  I do not say the man is guilty. Far from it. I’m just saying he is up against a stacked deck.

But then, Bushiri has money. Until he was taken away, early this week, Bushiri lived in mansion, earned more than half a million Rands a month, flew in private jets, lavished his infant children with sports cars, filled Soccer City stadium better than Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs; and millions would contribute to his defence. He does not even have to spend a dime. Bushiri, can afford any lawyer he desires to have, and any expert in any field. What more, if the lawyer talks nonsense, he can fire him, and he can make a miracle lawyer. Bushiri is guaranteed to receive justice, without any impediments. Whatever verdict it will likely be; it would likely, be credible.

But there is a worrying dimension to it. The church may be, in trouble. Bushiri is significant for the following he commands as a Man of God. Even more, he is significant for the claims he makes and the life he lives as a leading, religious figure, in the Southern African region. Many churches, would readily disown him for the simple reason that he has led to a serious depopulation of their churches. Secondly, they would disown him because his claims are inconsistent with their poverty-oriented doctrines. Bushiri leads the, “I receive”, band. This band, can walk around any prison and bring down its walls either by mere shouting, or by prayer. Some can even swear at the Hawks until they release their prophet. He belongs to that band of churches centered around a personality. They believe in him. He is a cult figure. “Major 1”, as he is affectionately called, can walk on air, a feat only Jesus has, really achieved. Jesus walked on water, and water has more density. According to his followers, Bushiri can call fire from heaven during a Sunday service. I mean literally. Whether he in fact can do these things or not, is one thing. What really matters is that his legions of followers believe he is vested with supernatural or divine, powers. These followers aren’t uneducated, superstitious folk.

They include policemen, lawyers, and aircraft engineers. You surely cant be a cheap skate if you can convince someone with more knowledge than Isaac Newton, that you can defy gravity.  There’s got to be some quality about you, that enables you to do just that. What’s significant is that he does it all, in the name of Christ.

It’s easy to see Prophet Bushiri, as Prophet Bushiri. But he is representative hundreds of preachers locally and internationally. These

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are men and women, who make miracle money and who can go to heaven and take a selfie with Jesus. Not long ago, one of them lied that he had raised a man from the dead. It was con art, gone wrong. Look, I just have trouble, convincing Judges, and magistrates, that my clients are innocent. Bushiri can convince half the world that, he in fact flew.

These attributes put the man in a very important position. He represents the high watermark of the faith. Some are now saying that, he should walk through the prison walls, or fly over them or just squeeze through the keyhole. Better still, he can simply take the divine powers to the court to evangelize the unbelieving millions all at once. He could say, before the judge, like the Nando’s, legend, “Lord, if I am not guilty, may your fire consume his Lordships gown”, and the Judge would begin to squeal. His following would double immediately, and people would believe in the Lord. Prophet Bushiri has made lofty claims about what he can do for people. People are waiting to see a miracle. If he fails, the public would say, “we knew he was fake. See, he can’t save himself”. In reply, he can always say as Jesus said, when taunted by he murderer who was crucified by his side to save himself; “don’t you know my father can bring me a platoon of angels, to rescue me?”. Prison, could not hold Paul and Silas. The grave could not hold Jesus Christ. Will Jesus, whose name he calls, save Prophet Bushiri?

If Prophet Bushiri is convicted and goes to jail that, some might just say that Christianity is fake. They hold him as a representative of Christianity faith. The Christian body will likely walk into court, with Prophet Bushiri. It will likely stand trial alongside him.

But where did things go wrong? Things went south when the gospel assumed a commercial tenor. Things went south when people began to believe in miracle money. Things went south when pastors believed they had a duty to make congregants rich. Things went south when pastors started living Hollywood lifestyles while the church squealed in poverty and widows and orphans went neglected. Things went south when prophets invited congregants to investment platforms and for, “forex” trading, assuring them, unequivocally, of millions in investment returns. Truth be told, the man might have been genuine in that regard. He deserves a hearing. But he may have run faster than the ball. He might have assumed that he in fact could, and that he would be able to show more millionaires on Sundays and grow his following.

Bushiri, is not an odd case for his kind. He is simply the richest. It’s important to preach the gospel to the lost. But commerce is beat left to merchants; not the clergy.

Whatever the case be, I wish him and his followers justice, and hope that our own would learn from what is happening to a fellow prophet.

Fare the well, Prophet Bushiri.



Chief On Friday

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