Beware of public relations stints, it does not always produce the desired results
In the aftermath of the wide media coverage of the incident where a man was claimed as raised from the dead in a church gathering led by Pastor Alph Lukau of Alleluia Ministries, I have been asked by some for an opinion.
I at the time before sets of facts were made public had no opinion, as to whether this happened or not meaning if it’s truthful or a false claim. I argue it is difficult to have an opinion devoid of some basic facts.
With the emerging facts at least as made public from the chocked cocktail of Alleluia International Ministries (AIM), the concerned funeral parlours who for their own reputational damage risks have issued various statements, we are all beginning to see a mountain of lies, undeniable utter deception, and a concocted miracle, that was intended to make someone very famous, went completely pear-shaped. It ultimately has Pastor Alph Lukau of the Alleluia Ministries in more than a bad space now cited as a fake prophet who was willing to deceive the world in apparently raising a man from death. I can see a set of potential criminal charges emanating from this public relations stunt that went horribly wrong with more than just lost of reputation but conspiring to deceive.
As was expected Alleluia Ministries in their official lengthy statement plays the victim and considered the outrage of the public as an attack on them. It is a matter of public debate as to what informs the Alleluia Ministries statement and the adopted posture. I, therefore, believe Alleluia Ministries, its leadership who broadcasted this fake miracle for which Pastor Lukau, the so-called family members of the dead man, the landlord, and the individual himself must be pursued to get to the bottom of this deception.
However, on another level, there is a need for us to allow ourselves to hear the unspoken yet reverberating conversations in the backdrop. The unfortunate and condemnable act that has Pastor Lukau in the centre has other dimensions to it which makes up the reason for this musing.
This issue as it unfolds in our public discourse has many angles, dimensions even innuendos attached to it. It contains a set of matters that include the questioning of healing as a Christian Faith reality to varied perceptions of discomfort with practices by some and ultimately reservations for a certain type of identity, namely the African not from South Africa. It on another level reiterates and embellishes recent discomfort with ‘strange practices from, may I add an exceptional and insignificant minority that often erroneously compels a focus on the entire functional Christian Faith as we have seen with the ill-focused work of the CRL. Two weeks ago, at a gathering of Religious Formations hosted at Rhema Bible Church someone made this salient point, ’when a parliamentarian rapes a worker at parliament, parliament is not regulated, yet when someone or individuals associated in church leadership commits a crime, the entire Christian Faith must now be regulated.”
It is right here that I plead that we warrant separating matters to appreciate the full context of what is unfolding through the roleplay of a man claimed to have risen from the dead.
Perhaps we warrant separating matters to assist our discourse as to what really is unfolding in front and behind the scenes.
The contextualisation of the Christian Faith in its fundamental essence has the resurrection of Jesus Christ a central. The resurrection of Jesus Christ as foretold in Biblical Writ is arguably a distinct belief that makes the faith what it is. The Christian Faith as extrapolated from the ministry of Jesus Christ also has healing as a common and central theme. Therefore, on healing and raising people from the dead Jesus Christ stands central. It, therefore, remains a belief issue. It is obvious that if one chooses not to believe something as possible nothing may convince them otherwise. However, it does not automatically that very thing is not possible could not have happened.
What we all are reminded, particularly, for those who accept the Biblical Record as the sacrosanct and Holy Writ, it contains recordings that the historical Jesus Christ raised at least two dead people from the grave. One of those was the son of the widow of Nain, which transpired at the entrance of Jericho as recorded in Luke 7:11. His other raising was that of a friend Lazarus who lived in Bethany, the same who was dead for 4 days already, as we read from John 11:43. Jesus’ own resurrection as recorded in the synoptic gospels of the New Testament, must also be added here to contextualise the aspect of resurrection from the dead.
I also know that raising people from the dead is not a strange phenomenon where faith is at work no different to any other healing Jesus Christ, his disciples and later Paul and many others were a part of as recorded in the Holy Writ. Paul raised Eutychus from the dead as recorded in Acts 20: 7-12. Again, it is a case of do you personally believe it or not as one’s prerogative.
Yet, we also know that history is replete with charlatans, sorcerers that pretend to be faith healers who for many centuries have engaged in these acts to fool people with their tricks. In my simple understanding, they do so by the power of Satan aimed at distortion. We have in South Africa and elsewhere at least from what I know in the ’80s onwards seen how people were paid to pretend to for example cripple only to be healed in the miraculous sense in a crusade or church gathering of specific preachers. Yet we also have seen people healed before our own eyes. Given the unfolding facts, lies and counterclaims in the Alleluia Ministries claims, it would be difficult to not frame this incident as part of that which will go down in history the acts of charlatanry.
It goes without saying that the evidence of the man being dead should be modern science which would dictate that there is in existence a record of him being medically certified dead, taken up in a mortuary etc where he was embalmed. If the man was declared dead by an accredited medical professional and lives now after Pastor Alph Lukau prayed for him, disputing it could be irrational. It does not mean the medical professional may not have been bought too. Yet we would prefer to assume that the ethical codes that govern the conduct of medical practitioners as leading the profession. The evidence suggests that the parlours claim they have never received as their records will attest the body of this adult male in the white suit. One parlour group went further to claim it would be unethical to have a man with an open mouth left as is to be received as the final image of the deceased.
In our recognised polluted world and space of a 21st Century cocktail of religious practices often in the name of the Christian Faith, with a heightened awareness of the unpalatable acts of some who pretend to be healers leading people to participate in what can be considered unorthodox practices (i.e. drinking petrol, eating grass etc,) we run the risk of declaring everyone a charlatan.
Another aspect that reverberates in the background to this suspicion on the Lukau miracle, must be raised here is our more recent obsession to narrowly condemn only fellow African pastors who either have made SA their abode or visit it as preachers in conferences or outreach meetings.
While there is more than sufficient evidence that some of the pastors have come here on granted visitors visas and overstayed their welcome or have paid some corrupt home affairs officials to extend their illegitimate and illegal staying, we dare not assume all did so. It is precarious to assume all internationals from Africa arrived here and continues to live here illegally, while we do not have those same perceptions of European internationals.
We also must ask why we have a problem only with the African pastors or evangelists when the country over many years had and continue to have European and American “white “or old Western world pastors visiting it, establishing churches or offices and having periodic revival campaigns. We know that among the good there is also the bad, hence we can comfortably accept of those who entered SA some were charlatans. To pretend all of the European and old Western world evangelists and preachers that came to SA were all led by the Holy Spirit is to be self-deceiving.
Therefore, this tendency to find nothing wrong with so-called “white “evangelists that visit and come to set up churches in SA when we have major issues with fellow African preachers’ smacks of self-hate or Africa hate if we practice such an ambivalent. It also shades the incident of Lukau who was not born in South Africa.
On another level, the incident of Alleluia International Ministries (AIM), is obviously going to be used as evidence if not cannon fodder by the CRL Chairperson Ms Xalavu to re-emphasize her personal crusade to have the Independent Christian Church fewer other denominations and faith streams regulated by all and any means. This is not in any sense to protect Pastor Alph Lukau or any of the pastors who in recent times have been in the news for what is considered grotesque unorthodox practices and, in some instances, potentially criminal activities. The mind should always be that where wrong is found the necessary constitutional provisions and structures take sway. I am all for a proper investigation in the lie of a man as was claimed raised from the dead.
I am for the idea that every country is sovereign, the fact that borders are a historical accident or orchestration as we know accredited to the ideology of a gathering of 1885 European leaders who met in a Berlin Conference to divide Africa and arbitrarily draw up borders that exist to this day, does not change its current reality. It equally does not negate the adopted sovereign state status frame 21stcentury countries are constitutionally based on. It cannot be that we choose to uphold this sovereign-state-status when it suits us and discard it when it does not.
If anyone seeks to migrate to SA or anywhere in the world, let it be that he/she complies with prescribed laws and follow the due process. Should he/she be found in the country without valid documents let them be arrested and deported? If he /she is engaged in corruption with Home Affairs officials let the law take its course and let those be exposed, sentenced and upon having served their sentence be deported.
Let us be cautious not to allow the other matters that already have been framed in a preconceived notion dictate our conclusion on this incident. Can we please engage these matters on the individual basis they are, and quit pretending an individual act of a solitary member of the Christian Faith warrants treats of regulation at every turn. Prosecute the wrong, charge the criminals, led the law take its course just leave the majority of Christian Church representation out of this which so often is used in a blanket sense by among others non-Christian believers, a CRL leadership and others.
Let us also accept no amount of Government regulation ever will stop these crimes just as criminal law by itself does not automatically stop a crime that unfolds daily. I want to assert we will have these unacceptable and despicable even treacherous and criminal acts again, what we cannot do is to every time this shows up, take the entire Independent Christian Faith on trial in the question of its fundamental beliefs when the same is not meted out to other faiths. The right to be an independent member of the Christian Faith cannot be disrespected because someone determines everyone must belong to a denomination.