Last week The New Vision, one of Uganda’s daily newspapers, had as its headline something surprising. ‘Benny Hinn lost sh4b’ during the recent crusade in Uganda”.
Mr. Hinn raised yet another controversial issue after announcing in a Light House Television sermon that he had made a loss of US $2m.
He said because most people are poor it was difficult to hold crusades in Africa. I think Christians in Africa have cause to worry about the future of crusades here by renowned pastors.
When I first read this article, I first internalised it, and when I discussed the headline with a colleague, Ghiom, he thought that I was joking around with religion.
When I asked him what else he knew about Benny Hinn. Ghiom responded that the pastor collects money meant for such crusades from well wishers by advertising on Internet. He claimed that he even receives emails from Benny Hinn.
I then told him to log on The New Vision, read the story, and THEN discuss.
According to the New Vision story, unlike previous crusades which were free of charge, this time participants to the crusade had to part with $50.
When we resumed our conversation we both concurred that this was yet another controversial issue being raised by a member of the Pentecostal Church. Well, we failed to understand how a loss comes out of fellowship.
I’m always cautious when talking about leaders of these churches because I fear being labelled anti-God. I also fear being alienated my born-again friends, some of whom are my family.
However, going by the article, it seemed that someone was selling the Gospel at a fee- which I think is un-godly.
I believe that preachers selling the gospel for money are the false prophets widely talked about in the Bible.
This is because neither Jesus Christ, who is the foundation of Christianity, nor his apostles sold a line of the gospel to Christians.
None of the Christians of the early church did this. Instead they gave to those in need.
I don’t normally read the Bible but I know that Jesus asked his disciples to care for the good welfare of his flock and feed them without collecting a single coin or wool from them.
In 1 Cor 2:12 it says, now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit who is from God; that we may understand what God has freely given to us.
Therefore, the church, which is already perceived by scores as another batch of taxmen, who do not remit to the national treasury, should surely not try to justify charging people as Benny Hinn and his host pastor, Robert Kayanja tried to.
Pastoral work is a calling. The essence of a crusade is to attract more followers to Christ, so it doesn’t make sense to charge somebody, my friend, Eugene Mutara told me.
In Rwanda, we haven’t received such reports of paying for crusades, but you wouldn’t get my coin if it is not free.
Pastors who are driven by some sort of greed to begin evangelical work are to be sneered at. I mean, where does all this untaxed church collection go?
Pastors like Gitwaza in Rwanda and Kayanja are already accused of leading opulent lives. While their followers are starving they drive around in Hummers.
Some pastors achieve, in a short space of time, what many of in their flock work for decades trying to get.
A number of my friends say they are torn between atheism and returning to church-having not been there for ages since getting baptised .
By not going to church, they say, they will save their hard earned coins.