In April, a South African newspaper the Sowetan, published a report revealing the deception, fraud, manipulation and exploitation underlying the miracle claims of the Nigerian televangelist, Pastor Chris Oyakhilome and his church, the Christ Embassy. The report indicts Pastor Chris for staging and faking miracles. A member of the church in South Africa revealed that one of the pastors offered him 10,000 rands ( 1,400 dollars) to rehearse and pretend to be in a wheelchair three weeks before the all night prayer called Night of Bliss held at the Johannesburg stadium in April. The man was approached by a pastor of the church in the quest `for people to work for the church’ and `help draw crowds’ to the event. The plan was that the man would sit on a wheelchair and be moved around while pretending to be physically ill and would stand up and walk as soon as Pastor Chris stopped praying for him.”
But this man later turned down the offer. “I just told myself that using the Word of God to lie to desperate people is immoral. So, I refused to take up their offer.” He stated.
According to this report, some church members claim that Pastor Chris has been hiring people to pretend to be sick and disabled and then “be healed” during his television shows and public prayer meetings. It says that those claimed to have been healed during miracle sessions are actually trained weeks before the event. “Even children who are healthy are whisked around in wheelchairs. Some use crutches. Everyone is allocated a person who tells the congregation about your background, your specific illness and suffering. The Pastor raises his hands and places them maybe on your legs if you cannot walk, and few seconds later you get up and walk around the room.”
In its reaction, Christ Embassy has denied staging any miracle, describing the report as `rubbish’ and a blackmail by a soft selling newspaper to discredit the church and “this holy crusade”.
Anyone who is acquainted with the South African media knows that the Sowetan is not a soft selling tabloid. In fact the Sowetan is one of the major newspapers in the country and might not have made up this story. Christ Embassy just put up this defense to launder its image and still preserve this fraudulent scheme called miracles.
What the report in the Sowetan did was to let the `cat of miracle scam’ out of the bag of Christ Embassy and the penticostal business.
Miracles are not new to Nigeria, especially to the country’s fast growing pentecostal churches that are springing up everyday and fiercely competing for fellowership and money. And one of their most potent weapons to attract members is `fake’ healing. As a billboard along the Lagos-Ibadan expressway-one of Nigeria’s major highways, says “Miracles happen everyday”
Indeed, miracles happen everyday in Nigeria. But they are all fake. They are all stage-managed by the pastors and their gullible folks to sustain the penticostal hocuspocus. Pastor Chris and his Christ Embassy are alone in this business. Other Nigerian pastors, T.B Joshua, Enoch Adeboye, David Oyedepo, Matthew Ashimolowo and their church members also stage miracles. Personally I don’t know why it took the miracle session in South Africa to reveal this “open secret” about pentecostal churches in Nigeria – that they fake miracles. Again this report reveals how church members themselves are collaborating in this spiritual scam by allowing themselves to be used by these con artists called faith healers.
There has never been any real instance of miracle. Miracles are fantasies which human beings use to explain what they do not understand very well or they don’t understand at all.
Hence miracles thrives more under conditions of ignorance than knowledge. All instances of miracle which I know are founded or informed by hearsay, self-deception, gullibility and fraud. All the miracles talked about in the Bible and other sacred texts are lies, sacred fairy tales and pure fabrications. Jesus did not perform any miracle. Prophet Muhammad did not perform any either. Jesus did not change water into wine in Galilee as the Bible tells us.
Jesus did not heal the sick, raise the dead. He did not make the blind see, the lame walk, and the deaf hear. At the end of his life, Muhammad did not ascend to heaven in a flaming horse (He died and was buried somewhere.) The miracle claims of and about the ancient prophets are false. They are mythical tales created and crafted by primitive minds to support and sustain the transcendental illusions and superstitions of religions. All the miracles attributed to Jesus in the Bible are sacred allusions to make him look divine and get people to believe in him. The same with the Koran and Prophet Muhammad. So, staging miracles did not start with Pastor Oyakhilome and the Christ Embassy or with thousands of churches that litter the nook and cranny of Nigeria. It started with the authors of the Bible and other sacred writings. It started with the founders and purveyors of religious wares. They invented and codified these mythical accounts so that people would believe and believe blindly and thoughtlessly.
And until Nigeria nay Africa embraces critical thinking, skeptical intelligence, free thought and rational outlook; until there are Africans who are ready to live and act honestly and courageously like this church member in South Africa, all these miracle peddlers, mongers scammers and stage managers prowling the continent will continue to prey on, exploit, darken and scandalize Africa and the world.