By Femi Aribisala
Christians are simply scared to death of pastors. Many are required to worship them even more than God.
In a video that went viral on social media, a bishop is ostensibly conducting deliverance on a group of teenage girls alleged to be witches. The girls kneel submissively in front of his holiness, the bishop. However, to his annoyance, one of them has the audacity to contradict him.
The girl says defiantly: “I am not a witch. I am a witch for Jesus. My own witch is for Jesus.” This response angers the bishop to no end. He shouts at her: “You are a foul devil. Do you know whom you are talking to?”
Then, consumed with rage, he gives her a very hard slap. He then condemns her to damnation, even though she came to him for deliverance. He barks at her: “Jesus has no witches. You are a devil. You are not set for deliverance and you are free to go to hell!”
Would the bishop have dared to slap the girl if she were Mike Tyson? I doubt it. Would he have slapped her if she were rich and powerful? Not likely. Would he have slapped her if she were one of the major benefactors of his church? Certainly not!
The bishop then boasts in another video: “I slapped a witch here last year. She came back in February to apologise. She begged me to forgive her. She went back to her witchcraft company and they told her: ‘Ah, if the man says you are dead, you are dead. That small thing can kill you forever.’”
The bishop implies he is so powerful that he can kill people eternally with his tongue. He is angry at a girl who claims to be a witch for Jesus. But he is oblivious to the fact that he is also a regular practitioner of witchcraft on the members of his congregation.
Works of the Flesh
When most people think of witchcraft, they think essentially of the hocus-pocus practiced by “babalawos” and juju men. Little do they realise that witchcraft is essentially a work of the flesh. (Galatians 5:19-20).
Witchcraft is the process of manipulating people for selfish and ungodly purposes. It is practiced by babies, parents, aunties, uncles, friends and other associates. It is also a manipulative device widely used in the churches by pastors to bring Christians under their control and, essentially, to empty their pockets.
Can a Christian be bewitched? Yes indeed! Paul says: “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified?” (Galatians 3:1).
The Galatians were born again Christians and yet they were bewitched. How come? They were standing between two opinions. Like the people of Samaria in biblical days: “They feared the Lord yet served their own gods.” (2 Kings 17:33).
Who were these other gods? They were their pastors. Their pastors bewitched them and enslaved them.
Masters of Illusion
Illusion is everything. The pastor is presented as larger than life. He must admit to no human failings or weaknesses. He puts up a façade that his relationship with his wife is exemplary. He never admits to financial difficulties like ordinary mortals. If he falls sick, the congregation must not know about it.
He crams certain choice scripture verses, which he quotes dramatically on strategic occasions after having rehearsed them repeatedly at home. He presents himself as the example of the quintessential prophet of God; one who regularly hears from God and can therefore readily foretell the future.
He does this by making periodic predictions. It does not really matter if they don’t come to pass. He can always blame that on the lack of faith of his church members. In any case, by the law of averages, if the prediction is sufficiently vague and the congregation sufficiently large, he is confident some people will believe they were fulfilled in their lives. He then makes sure those people testify before the church so that they can be used to validate the pastor’s divinity.
“‘This is my warning to my people, says the Lord Almighty. ‘Don’t listen to these false prophets when they prophesy to you, filling you with futile hopes. They are making up everything they say. They do not speak for me.” (Jeremiah 23:16-17).
In many churches, the fear of the pastor is the beginning of wisdom. Christians are simply scared to death of pastors. Many are required to worship them, even more than God. They manipulate their congregants so effectively that they come to believe that to disobey the pastor is to disobey God.
God describes these charlatans succinctly: “Among my people are found wicked men; they lie in wait as one who sets snares; they set a trap; they catch men. As a cage is full of birds, so their houses are full of deceit. Therefore, they have become great and grown rich. They have grown fat, they are sleek; Yes, they surpass the deeds of the wicked.” (Jeremiah 5:26-28).
Many Christians are unaware that pastors brainwash them and put them under a spell. They habitually lay down curses, putting the fear of men on churchgoers. They casually drop stories of people who disagreed with them and subsequently died or had accidents, as the bishop above implies. But believers should know that it is all one big malarkey.
Paul berated the Corinthian church about this: “For you put up with fools gladly, since you yourselves are wise! For you put up with it if one brings you into bondage, if one devours you, if one takes from you, if one exalts himself, if one strikes you on the face.” (2 Corinthians 11:20).
Emmanuel had had enough. His email to me from Abuja said as much. “That is the last branch of that church I will join. I am now convinced the church is a cult.”
What was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back for Emmanuel? The pastor came to church that Sunday morning and laid down a decree “ex cathedra.” “Anyone who leaves this church for another one is going to die.”
Emmanuel went to the pastor and challenged him after the service. “How can you say something like that?’ he demanded. The pastor had a ready defence. “I am not the one saying it. That prophecy is from the General Overseer.”
The pastor’s logic was impeccable. The General Overseer was an impregnable defence. Nobody in his right mind would dare question his judgment. If indeed it was the General Overseer who said it, then it must be from God himself.
Emmanuel took the choice of least resistance. If the General Overseer is god, then he must resign from god’s church in order to find the one true God. So, resign he did. But Emmanuel did not die. Emmanuel is still alive. Emmanuel is a living testimony that the General Overseer practices witchcraft.
The Bible says: “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” (Exodus 22:18). That means today, don’t suffer him. Don’t tolerate him.
God says: “Check these witches’ words against the Word of God! If their messages are different than mine, it is because I have not sent them; for they have no light or truth in them.” (Isaiah 8:20).