News of a Kenyan pastor identified as Paul Mackenzie Nthenge accused of leading a religious cult is making rounds on social media. Nthenge was arrested on April 15 after he reportedly told his followers to starve themselves to death to ‘meet Jesus’. Nthenge, a taxi driver turned pastor, is said to have buried the bodies in shallow graves spread across his land. Police launched an investigation into the Good News International Church and its notorious leader after a tip-off led them to a forest where Nthenge preached. He was arrested earlier this month and is now in police custody awaiting a court appearance. So far, the death toll has reached 90. ALSO READ: RGB warns public against false teachings Religious leaders weigh in According to Antoine Rutayisire, a renowned Anglican Church pastor, ignorant spiritual leaders will always be misled by the devil and in seemingly innocent intentions end up with calamitous results that dishonour the name of the Lord. “Sometimes the devil operates like a judo master, the power that was meant to overthrow him is used against you and you end up on the ground, overpowered. That pastor was just ignorant but I don’t think he was ill-intentioned, at least if we can trust his confessions,” Rutayisire says. His advice to church leaders is to know their bodies before pushing it to the extreme looking for extraordinary spiritual results, noting that fasting has rules and if not respected, results may be detrimental. Rutayisire says some teachings are abused because of their biblical promises. For instance, the Kenyan preacher who misled Christians thought they were walking in the footsteps of Christ because he fasted for 40 days. “You try it without water and some sugar, beyond 21 days, you’re dead or your kidneys risk damage,” he says. Rutayisire adds that unfortunately the Bible trusts that we’re reasonable beings but very often we act in total abdication of our brains because we have been taught that we don’t reason in spiritual matters. This, he terms as the root cause of most of the calamities most heard in the ‘name of faith’. “Scriptures inform us not to follow blindly, see how many times Jesus calls religious leaders leading blindly other sightless people. On many occasions, the Bible warns people not to follow leaders who mislead them. The best warning is Isaiah 9:15-16 where God says, “The elders and prominent men are head, prophets who teach lies are the tail. Those who guide these people mislead them, and those who are guided are led astray.” For Peter Nkunzingoma, a lead pastor at Christian Life Assembly, false teachers have existed from time to time, and believers need to always be aware of that and take time to study the word of God themselves. He says church leaders ought to know that it is a higher calling from God, to whom much is given, much is required. “We will be held accountable by God on how we have provided guidance to God’s people and cared for them,” Nkunzingoma says. ALSO READ: RGB: Closure of substandard churches is in public interest As of 2018, the government enacted a new law requiring faith-based organizations (FBOs) to obtain legal status before beginning operations. It also called for legal representatives of FBOs and preachers with supervisory responsibilities eventually to hold a Bachelor’s degree in theology.