On December 25, last year, while celebrating Christmas Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Rubaga, the Archbishop of Kampala, Dr. Cyprian Kizito Lwanga called upon his attentive congregation not to be swayed by all the winds of doctrines that come purporting to be miracle workers, through performing gimmicks.
Dr. Lwanga explained that the phenomenon of people falling down under what is said to be the power of the Holy Spirit is nothing but a hoax. According to the Archbishop, the pastors who maneuver this act have mastered tricks of touching people’s heads to disable their consciousness, consequently withering them to the ground.
The Question Of The New Times
Today, myriads of men and women are hostage of their own love for God because they trust this. They have consequently given such unchecked consent to preachers who, in fact, leave a lot to be desired of a godly calling.
Dr. Lwanga acknowledges though, that these are hard times, and many people think God is their last resort. Appallingly, it is also the platform upon which a number of pastors in this city have craftily sought to milk the gullibility of the agonizing population.
People, on this note, long for the days when practicing religion was simple. “Today, it’s full of scams and stunts,” lamented Resty Nankya, a devout Catholic in Naggalama Parish of Lugazi Diocese. “All sorts of people have started churches and claim to have power from God.” She wonders if we were not better off without one miracle in Church!
Televisions are awash with pictures of supposed men of God casting people to the ground. And these media houses have become more marketing tools than they’re evangelistic.
A friendly pastor in Mukono, on condition of anonymity, reveals that whether you’re an honest man of God or not, you’ll have fewer people if you demonstrate no sort of mega power to lure them.
“Africans are like that; they grin in ecstasy when they see fireworks. They hate docility.”
Meanwhile Dennis Magembe of New Life Ministries in Kyambogo revealed that pastors indeed pray hard to have the power of God and God grants it. He quoted Acts 1: 8 as the basis upon which God empowers them with what he calls “Dunamis” Power which is Greek for Dynamic. He acknowledges however, that in Uganda, pastors need it more for winning favor, credibility and market than for scriptural purposes.
In many cases this is how genuine men of God, exploit the gift, and turn into broad day robbers.
“So effortlessly they milk money out of their flock. It is simply by projecting oneself as having the power to touch someone and collapse to the ground,” he contends.
Frank Gashumba, a seasoned social commentator in Kampala, in his perspective, reiterates that these people who throw people to the ground are nothing but cults and fraudsters.
“Such religious multiplicity is very characteristic of poor societies. Like our own,” he adds.
Technology In Church
By 2007, the phenomenon of casting people to the ground had taken another twist. The nation rose up to a shock when the spokesperson of the Uganda Police Force, at the time, Simeo Nsubuga revealed that the increasing ability of Pentecostal Pastors to throw people to the ground had been a stunt sustained by special electronic gadgets that shock people to the ground.
Following the same, a number of pastors were then summoned for questioning, and others detained, including a Ghanaian, one, Kojo Nana who was later deported.
Mystery Confuses Balokole Leaders
But whereas no new electronic shock scandal has emerged since, falling people in church have not stopped. In fact, the phenomenon has heightened among Ugandan worship centers. And still it is as much a mystery.
No one seems to be able to put their hand on how Prophet Samuel Kakande manages to translate his crawling on his knees into such a mighty force that slams so many people to the floor in one round, only to roll back and forth as if they were possessed. The spectacle is on TV every week.
Fellow pastors can’t explain this except to disown him.
“He leads a cult,” asserted Pr. Sserwadda who’s also the Presiding Apostle of the Born Again Faith. Bishop David Kiganda alike attempted to expose and shame crook in Church when in 2003 led his Operation Clean The House but he seems to have failed to clean away a few of his targets. Kakande continues to grow and his company seems to have mastered the survival trick.
Expansion Of The Kakande Culture
All they have to do is show up on TV, just to showcase themselves and what they can do with their power.
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. Yet with deeper scrutiny, many of these shows are merely to place ads for the supposed man of God.
As it turns out, the broadcasting of religious programs is nowadays a strategic tool to oblige the audience to meet the pastor at his Church for prayer. What you never fathom 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, of course, depends on how seriously you are “loaded”!
Anglican Point Of View
According to Anglican Rev. Richard Muyomba of St. Luke Church in Mukono Diocese, when Jesus walked this earth he walked relieving people of demons and in more occasions than one, his beneficiaries fell to the ground under his power.
Rev. Muyomba yet underscores that the snag of today is with qualifying any fall as the power of God. Apparently the devil-worshipping cultists can also have people falling down. It’s all over the television.
“God works for us miracles every day but never have to fall down when we pray or get prayed for. Falling down is not a guarantee of anything,” he adds.
On The Flip Side
On the flip side, most members of Pentecostal Church are very fond of fasting – going on an empty stomach for a prolonged period of time.
Yet when these hungry men and women come to church, they again stand for very long hours and anything like loud sound or a pastor’s push will easily trigger him off balance. He passes out only to reach the ground like a nine pin. And so this explains why many people fall incessantly and leave the church premises just as they came, without any miracle or transformation.
There’s Nowhere To Run To
Whereas previously it used to be so easy for the Archbishop to clean his hands from all such unconventionality in traditional Church establishment, in this era he finds himself and the traditional Church woven in one hot mess as all the mushrooming churches.
In 1992, Catholics first witnessed people literally falling down in Church under the power of God. This, wasn’t but an imported practice that came with a man of God from India, one, Rev. Fr. Joseph Bill.
But now that Fr. Bill’s dead and gone, you’d imagine his powers are way behind us. It turns out, however, miracle powers are still here to haunt the church. Just last week Archbishop Lwanga found himself defending the acts of Msgr. Expedito Magembe who, as irony would have it, does it like Fr. Bill or Pastor Namutebi, for that matter. And it is all out in the open of the famed Bukalango based Mount Sion Prayer Center.
As soon as he steps at the altar, people/demons begin to scream their throats out, and in no time they are spinning all over the place, descending to the ground eventually, rolling and turning under some kind of supernatural force.
Such works as Msgr. Expedito Magembe’s and Br. Mukajanga’s are actually the Charismatic wing of the Catholic Church – they bring you the feel of what Balokole do, right where you are.
Meanwhile the question remains; is there anything to admire from this rather growing trend of people falling down and rolling on the ground under pretext of power from above?