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From: "REVIVAL List" <prophetic@...>
Date: Wed, 19 Mar 2014 22:48:52 +1300
by J. Lee Grady

I´m not an African, but in 2008 some Nigerian friends gave me a
Yoruba name ("Akinwale") because I have been to that country
so often. My visits there, along with trips to Uganda, Kenya,
Malawi, South Africa and Egypt, planted a deep love for Africa in
my heart. My first grandson´s arrival this year from Ethiopia made
the connection even stronger.

I´m often asked to describe how God is moving in Africa today.
Since I´m an optimist, I usually tell of the large churches, the
passionate praise and the intense spiritual hunger that
characterizes African Christianity. But there is also a dark side,
and I think it´s time we addressed one of the most serious threats
to faith on the continent.

I´m talking about the prosperity gospel. Of course, I know a slick
version of this message is preached in the United States-and I
know we are the ones who exported it overseas. I am not minimiz-
ing the damage that prosperity preaching has done in my own
country. But I have witnessed how some African Christians are
taking this money-focused message to new and even more
dangerous extremes.

Here are five reasons the prosperity message is damaging the
continent of Africa today:

1. It is mixed with occultism. Before Christianity came to Nigeria,
people visited witch doctors and sacrificed goats or cows to get
prosperity. They poured libations on the ground so the gods would
hear their prayers. Today similar practices continue, only the juju
priest has been replaced by a pastor who drives a Mercedes-Benz.
I am aware of a pastor who buried a live animal under the floor of
his church to win God´s favor. Another pastor asked his congregants
to bring bottles of sand to church so he could anoint them; he then
told the people to sprinkle the sand in their houses to bring
blessings. The people who follow these charlatans are reminded
that their promised windfall won´t materialize unless they give
large donations.

2. It fuels greed. Any person who knows Christ will learn the joy
of giving to others. But the prosperity gospel teaches people to
focus on getting, not giving. At its core it is a selfish and
materialistic faith with a thin Christian veneer. Church members
are continually urged to sow financial seeds to reap bigger and
bigger rewards. In Africa, entire conferences are dedicated to
collecting offerings in order to achieve wealth. Preachers boast
about how much they paid for suits, shoes, necklaces and
watches. They tell their followers that spirituality is measured
by whether they have a big house or a first-class ticket. When
greed is preached from the pulpit, it spreads like a cancer in
God´s house.

3. It feeds pride. This greedy atmosphere in prosperity churches
has produced a warped style of leadership. My Kenyan friend
Gideon Thuranira, editor of Christian Professional magazine, calls
these men "churchpreneurs." They plant churches not because
they have a burden to reach lost souls but because they see dollar
signs when they fill an auditorium with chairs. A selfish message
produces bigheaded opportunists who need position, applause
and plenty of perks to keep them happy. The most successful
prosperity preacher is the most dangerous because he can
convince a crowd that Jesus died to give you and me a Lexus.

4. It works against the formation of Christian character. The
prosperity message is a poor imitation of the gospel because it
leaves no room for brokenness, suffering, humility or delay. It
offers an illegal shortcut. Prosperity preachers promise instant
results and overnight success; if you don´t get your breakthrough,
it´s because you didn´t give enough money in the offering. Jesus
calls us to deny ourselves and follow Him; prosperity preaching
calls us to deny Jesus and follow our materialistic lusts. There
is a leadership crisis in the African church because many pastors
are so set on getting rich, they can´t go through the process of
discipleship that requires self-denial.

5. It actually keeps people in poverty. The government of Malawi
is currently under international scrutiny because of fraud carried
out by top leaders. The saddest thing about the so-called
"Cashgate" scandal is that professing Christians in the administ-
ration of President Joyce Banda have been implicated. One of
these people stole millions of kwacha from the government and
hid the cash in a teddy bear! Most people today in Malawi live on
less than $1 a day, yet their leaders have been known to buy
fleets of cars and huge plots of land with money that was not
theirs. Sadly, the prosperity gospel preached in Malawi has
encouraged pastors and leaders to follow the same corrupt pattern.
As a result, God´s people have been financially exploited.

When Jesus described false prophets as wolves in sheep´s
clothing, He warned us to examine their fruit. Matthew 7:17 says,
"So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad
fruit" (NASB). What is the fruit of prosperity preaching?

Churches have been growing rapidly in many parts of Africa today,
yet sub-Saharan Africa is the only region in the world where
poverty has increased in the past 25 years. So according to the
statistics, the prosperity gospel is not bringing prosperity! It is a
flawed message, but I believe God will use selfless, broken African
leaders to correct it.

-Lee Grady is the former Editor of Charisma Magazine.