The bible talks of the gospel as the power of God to save – it is good news – at least as it sounds, and it is which saw Brenda Nalubega happily strolling into the ominous gates of Revival Church one Sunday morning. She was full with faith, decked out in hope but with little reckoning to what the old saying warns about; all is well that ends well. She little knew that her search for peace and comfort would soon drown her young and personable self into a living day nightmare.
Nalubega tells of this rather spine-chilling ordeal with nothing but angst.
“He asked me to his house for prayer but there he made me his woman instead,” she wails, as she envisages wistfully how her life could have turned out if she had not sought anyone’s help at all. Let alone Pastor Yiga’s.
A few weeks ago Nalubega again had to drop her now-desolate eyes on to the pastor who had turned himself into a ravenous predator at her expense. It was in a courtroom, Brenda making her case for a well-deserved child support from this man who lecherously turned what was supposed to be a prayer session into a dirty romp.
In the event, this city pastor not only sired a baby with his innocent lamb but infected her with multiple ailments.
Brenda hitherto battles HIV/AIDS and TB at Mulago Hospital even as he rears a toddler all by herself.
How To Start A Church
This infamous Kawaala based Christopher Yiga also known as Mbizzaayo, a code name for which his teaching is like, is neither young in age nor new to controversy. It is regrettable that this erotic behavior is no way unique to just Yiga. There’s such widespread anguish in this country about how so much has been exposed, yet too little ever gets done to curb the growing menace of the mushrooming churches.
According to Dr. Joseph Sserwadda, the Presiding Apostle of The Born-again Faith, this whole mess stems from a legal and political mistake made in 1989 when the NRM government enacted a law, went ahead and passed it in 1990 – the NGO law. Here, all churches that were not of traditional type were ordered to register with the NGO board. The NGO board then became the recruiting agent for Balokole churches and the Minister of internal affairs, in effect, became their Archbishop because he was the one deciding who’s registered and who’s not.
Bishop David Kiganda of Christianity Focus Center, Mengo-Kisenyi, speaks of Yiga’s doctrine as worlds apart from what the mainstream church is comfortable with. In consonance with Dr. Sserwadda, he reiterates that; “it is the government that ordains such people.”
Bishop Kiganda also speaks on behalf of the National Fellowship Of Born Again Pentecostal Churches in Kampala.
The Dilemma That Lingers
Today, Ugandans have almost become hostage of their own religiousness so much that they have given such unobstructed consent to men and women who, if truth be told, leave a lot to be desired of a sacred status as servants of God.
No doubt these are hard times and the intervention of God would come in rather handy. However, this is a platform upon which a number of pastors in this city have craftily sought to milk the gullibility of the agonizing population.
According to Moses Solomom Male, the Executive Director of Arising For Christ ministry and a hardened critic of fraudulent activities in Born Again Churches, there are many people who are very sick and in dire need of help, others are faced with social, marital, and financial problems; these problems make the people so vulnerable and the “fake pastors” so conveniently take advantage of such as these, promising healing, wealth and visas for the poor who seek to go to the Western Cities.
Strange as it turns out, this is a part where Dr. Sserwadda finds himself painfully riding on the same cart as his long time dissenter and mocker, Solomon Male. He puts it on the “massive registration of NGOs purportedly called churches.” He adds that these are utterly wolves in sheep’s clothing.
Dr. Sserwadda, nevertheless, has publically disowned the person of Pastor Male as any authority that should speak for the Born Again Faith which too is in itself nowhere surprising.
Male has never before had any easy words on the Presiding Apostle of the Born Again Faith. He has come out and accused Dr. Sserwadda of being the chief doer of the dirty jobs of covering up for the heathens in the church, hence making the House of God a market place for thievery, gimmicks and homosexuality.
Dr. Sserwadda has since extenuated himself quite explicitly; pointing out that Mr. Male is just as heathen as the likes of Yiga and Kakande of Mulago albeit, unfortunately, government has, for all this while, forsaken Balokole to be the Punching bag of an enraged society. For instance, Male is one of such who masquerade as ministers of the Gospel.
“The government never learnt a lesson when Joseph Kibwetere torched over 1000 people in this country,” he invokes.
Voices Of Urgency Among The Born Again Churches
Meanwhile Solomon Male’s claim to fame actually leaps from his outspokenness on corruption in the Born Again Churches, especially those that promote the Prosperity Gospel which he refers to as the gospel of extortion. He has also opposed witchcraft, magic, divination and homosexuality in Church.
Having been a member, in 1987 and minister with the today, Synagogue Church Of All Nations, IN 1992, Male left, denouncing the Church as a cult. In 1993, Male says he since began his activism against what he calls falsehood in Church and in 1999, he founded his own Non Government Organization, Arising For Christ Ministries in bid to restore, according to Wikipedia, the sanctity of the Church.
But one of his most monumental works can be traced back in 2003. Dawn fell hard on to all Ugandans who lived then, to learn that God – or even just the idea of God – could actually ever be in cahoots with the devil to damn his own people. And that’s exactly how it sounded to hear that a seasoned minister of the gospel could at the same time give allegiance to the devil. On day one, it was such a puzzle to everyone but it had come to stay, and it was the mission of Moses Solomon Male in conjunction with an American blonde, Rochelle Gibler who had once been an acquaintance of Prof. Simeon Kayiwa of Namirembe Christian Fellowship to corner Prof. Kayiwa to defeat. At this time Simeon Kayiwa was not only a force to reckon with in faith and academia, but at that time the reigning national overseer of the one and only fraternity of Pentecostals in the country, the National Fellowship of Born Again Pentecostal Churches in Uganda.
Rochelle Gibler wielded the sympathy of Moses Male and got down with the accusations of practice of witchcraft, human sacrifice and homosexuality, among others, against Prof. Kayiwa. Days became weeks and months before any investigations ever came to be. And they were never expeditious when they were installed. He was exonerated finally, an event Solomon Male would never be happy with.
The Psychology Of Extortionist Pastors
In the present day, Ugandan Televisions and radios are clouded by people who profess to be men of God, garlanded with all kinds of titles that seem to affirm their influence with God. They insist that as evangelists, they’d not have it any other way if they are to reach a wider audience and preach to them about this living hope in God. It sounds valid; but when the idea of these shows is merely to place advertisement for the supposed man of God, it then becomes conning.
As it turns out, the broadcasting of religious programs is nowadays a strategic tool to oblige the audience to meet the pastor at his base for prayer. What you never figure out from the word go is the fact that you would never have any “genuine” prayer if not for money. And how much prayer you get, needless to say, depends on how seriously you are “loaded”!
It explains how Mbizzaayo has turned himself into one of the richest clergymen in the city solely because of his newly found theology which never requires anyone to be obliged to God more than it does to pay their way out of their problems. And this is singularly what his show on TV comes to do – to rally people to shop prayer from the supposedly anointed ambassador of God.
In the long run Pastors create side businesses which further enrich them. Pastor Yiga has since created schools, and the renowned Revival band which plays secular music. He also owns a radio station and TV Station.
How The Church Looks At The Scandals
Clearly the Born Again church is faced with such a myriad of scandals slowly but surely eating away at its prestige and credibility and the Dr. Sserwadda as head of the Born Again Faith was best suited for the question of Discipline in Church.
He made clear that the government has no capacity to filter out rogues, cults, false prophets, and other people who have no spiritual and religious content to provide but are just simple businessmen. And any Church eldership at this point has its hands tied;
“If someone has the legal authority to exist, you can only deal with them on grounds that they are your brother. But what about if they say I am not your brother; I don’t want your advice and I don’t need you because I exist on the power of this government document,” argues Dr. Sserwadda.
The Church’s power will possibly come if the new NGO law ever gets passed by the next government. Only then Churhes will have to seek a new home in Uganda’s constitution and at that stage Church leaders may be able to the organize themselves and tell government who the true churches are and who are the cults. As it is now, government has registered the Mormorns / Latter Day Saints, Jehovah Witness and considered them Born again/Balokole Churches. “We are the only ones who can tell them because to them, anything that is not Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox is Balokole,” he reaffirms.
Organisations of the Church
Dr. Sserwadda also explained to Red Pepper that for anyone to become a minister of the Gospel, it is required, first and foremost someone gets saved, and they go to a Church and it is here that they learn how to be a disciple and that’s the most relevant part. He expressed that one needs to be a disciple to know so much as how to become a Pastor.
Dr Sserwadda dismissed any cause for strife over Pentecostal leadership as futile and uncalled for in the Born Again circles. “We were never here to belong to organizations whatsoever. The Word fellowship that you hear us use here and there was because when Balokole, being under torture, pain, oppression and suppression, were looking for friendship with each other to fight together. Once people started getting legal backing, it died. Now that there are no new laws that seem to give people legality without the need to associate with others, that might humble Pastors to say I am your brother, you are my brother; where are my mistakes?”