Christian Life 

Prosperity Gospel invades Africa

When the Bible speaks about riches it splits down two ways. Heavenly riches are to be sought after; earthly riches are depicted as a snare.

-by Andrew Strom.

Rolls RoyceI only began to truly understand the magnitude of this crisis on my recent trip to Uganda. I have ministered in Nigeria many times, but I had always thought Nigeria was a special case - that the awful poison I saw there had not spread so far in other places. Uganda opened my eyes. The whole of Africa is being infected. And I mean on an epidemic scale. An utter destruction of truth, a complete undermining of the words of Jesus, a total loss of the pure milk of the word. Greed and corruption and "prosperity" lies are laying waste to it all on a vast scale.

It is so difficult to put into words the horror of what is happening in the Third World. These are Revival countries - where God has been moving in great power. They are nations full of the simple and the poor - who often make the most devoted lambs of Jesus. And now I feel like we are seeing the "rape" of these precious Third World Christians by a vast army of corrupted charlatans who call them- selves "God's preachers". Leaders by the thousand who have been utterly ruined by the greed-inducing lies of Western Christian media.
And now they are ravaging God's precious sheep.

The Gospel of Greed

This is not a small problem - it is enormous. Right across the continents of Africa and Asia and South America - where God has been moving the most - we find this gospel of greed beginning to utterly dominate the church - particularly in the big cities. In many places it is difficult to find pastors or leaders who are not gorging themselves with it. We are talking about corruption and sickness on such a scale that I do not believe the like of it has been seen since the days of Constantine. This is a crisis unlike almost any other that the church has known.

Just this week I got an email from a pastor in Puerto Rico who wrote the following: "The prosperity and WOF false gospel has made extensive damage to the local Pentecostal/Charismatic church.
Nowadays WOF theology is the "standard theology" heard on Christian media (radio, music and TV). A Spanish-speaking subsidiary of TBN called ENLACE is spread all over Latin America with the name-and-claim-it 'gospel'..."

Another man from Nigeria wrote to me:

"When I heard your message, especially about the report of the church in Nigeria, you were right on the money... This money gospel has reshaped and taken over Christianity in Nigeria totally, and it saddens my heart... You agree with me that it's a major crisis in Lagos. Everything is about money and you seem a fool when you talk against it... "leadership, money, increase." So many, all over Africa."

On one trip to Nigeria I stayed in the home of a pastor of a large church there. He had two brand-new Mercedes parked in the driveway as well as a new Lexus SUV. Inside was a 10-foot wide Plasma television with Satellite TV. And such things are not uncommon at all in the larger churches of Africa. In fact, more and more it is being seen as "normal". And how do they get all this money? By manipulating the poor, precious lambs of Jesus, of course. Screwing it out of a people who live in poverty the like of which you and I can hardly imagine. You should see the "offerings" these gentlemen take up - so manipulative it could almost make you physically sick. And where did they learn all these "money tricks"? Why - from U.S Christian television, of course! And then they multiply it by 100.

So what is to be done?

So what is to be done about all this? Has it already become so ingrained that it is hopeless trying to turn it around? Is the amount of money being spent on television by these sharks so great that the Truth simply can't compete? These are very good questions.
Because television and radio are clearly the dominant factor in this race to destruction.

As I said in a previous article, we have to make a personal choice in this crisis between Despair and 'Resolve'. We can either sink down in despair, or "Resolve" to stand and fight for the Truth and for the precious lambs of God. I have to take heart in the fact that Jesus says HE is the one who builds His Church - and the gates of hell will not prevail against her. I believe God has a plan - and it is a plan that involves you and me - and everyone else who knows the Truth and is willing to fight for it. We are Christ's ambassadors and He has a special mission for us - just like in every similar crisis down through history. All we have to do is stand and speak.
God will do the rest.

I love the example of David who came to Israel during a similar emergency. When he saw that the Israelites were faced by a taunting, God-mocking Philistine named Goliath he did not go aside to hold committee meetings - or even to pray for several days before acting! His heart was stirred within him and he cried, "What shall be done to the man that kills this Philistine, and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?" (1 Sa 17:26).

What God is looking for

This is the reaction that God is looking for. It is a heart response birthed out of a kind of "holy indignation". And it results in a courage that stands boldly for Truth - without even thinking about the consequences. It is those who have this "holy indignation" that God is wanting to use in these last days. The crisis is severe. Who will stand for righteousness and truth? Only those who, like David, have drawn close to God and feel His heart. God's eyes are roaming the earth, seeking such ones to stand for Him at this very moment.

I said in an earlier article that those who have a special calling for "media" are particularly needed in this battle. For that is where a lot of it is being fought. It is a war for the hearts and minds of the church worldwide. And lately the devil has been winning almost every round. But the future is not decided. We have yet to see what will happen when God Himself takes the field - and deploys His truth-tellers to battle. Then we may yet see a different story.

May we all be part of the solution to this crisis, my friends. May we all - under the anointing of the Holy Spirit - simply stand and start declaring God's Truth into this situation. Simple fearless courage is still one of the few things on this earth that makes the devil tremble. It still only takes "five small stones." The time to 'quit ourselves like men' has come - to gird ourselves for war. The eternal destiny of millions of Jesus' precious sheep hangs in the balance. Will we respond?

First published: 01/12/09

Andrew Strom, 01/12/2009

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Rosemary Cameron 08/12/2009 21:20
You are so right Peter. I know a lot of christians in this country who have bought into the health and wealth gospel. They think we shouldn't be sick, poor or have problems. Where does it say that in the bible?

Word-faith preachers not only fleece the sheep financially, they leave them feeling like second-class christians if the promised health and wealth does not materialise. Such preachers really are wolves in sheep's clothing. I am very sorry to hear that they are making such inroads in Africa.
George Orr 09/12/2009 18:21
'When the Bible speaks about riches it splits down two ways. Heavenly riches are to be sought after; earthly riches are depicted as a snare.'

While I wholly agree that heavenly riches are to be sought after; to depict earthly riches as only a snare is misleading and as out of balance as those who would 'fleece' other Christians.

So very often in our attempt to redress injustices we have this kind of knee jerk reaction.

God is and has always been in the business of trying to bless his people, whether it is old or new testament, whether it is spiritually or physically.

The blessing of God restores relationships, heals the sick and prospers the poor.

Jesus came with a clear mandate as He declared in Isaiah 61. That mandate has been passed to the church and leaving people lost, sick and poor is not carrying out our mandate and does not honour God.

Money is not he problem it's the love of money. Wealth can be used for good or ill, but it can be used.
Rosemary Cameron 09/12/2009 21:54
"The blessing of God restores relationships, heals the sick and prospers the poor."

Yes it does, but not always, or at least not in this life. Or am I the only one who has watched a godly friend die of cancer in spite of earnest prayer? And I don't buy the lie that says we didn't have enough faith to see her healed. We tend to have a very temporal view of healing - God's view is eternal. (Job 19:25-26)

If we preach a gospel of health and prosperity, omitting trials and tribulations, we will end up with bitter, disillusioned christians. There needs to be a balance. See Mark 10:29-30.
a h 10/12/2009 02:10
Rosemary, I think we have to accept that people do die and that not every illness is healed under prayer.

I have known cancer victims to both die and be healed so I haven't given up on prayer for the sick, that is for sure.

Actually, sometimes the 'littlesness' of our faith may be the problem also or as Matthew reports it -

19Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, "Why could we not drive it out?"

Mat 17 : 20 - 21

And He said to them, "Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.

21 ]But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting."] it isn't

The littleness of faith is not the same as when having faith like a mustard seed. The mustard seed, although small, contains all the correct information to produce all the elements of a mustard bush or tree. It is a harnessed power, just waiting for the right conditions to spring into action.

Our faith should be like that.

Please don't feel condemned by me, I'm trying to answer your problem for my benefit too. I've pondered this after watching my dad, may father in law and my mother all die. Not to mention friends.

My opinion anyhow.
a h 10/12/2009 02:12
I don't know where the 'it isn't' bit at the end of V 21 came from

should read "But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting."

Rosemary Cameron 10/12/2009 22:46
I haven't given up praying for the sick either. What I do have a real problem with is preachers who tell people "come to Jesus and all your problems will be solved and you will be healed and live in prosperity". Then when it doesn't happen, they say "you don't have enough faith", thus adding condemnation to disappointment.
Paul Whitworth (Guest) 11/12/2009 00:13
It's a self seeking ministry producing self seeking believers. You end up with a bunch of capitalist christians with humanist principles, giving barely a nod in the direction of Christs teaching and the bible in general. Only concerned with visible gain and being honoured by men.

I'd say they've received their reward in full!
Penny Lee 11/12/2009 12:58
I usually find that the most attractive and productive Christians are those who have experienced considerable pain and difficulties in their own lives.

It seems that sometimes the only way (and sadly desire) to reach out to others comes from us being in the same place as them, which gives us a compassion that we maybe otherwise wouldn't have had.

People who are in a dark place most always respond better to someone who has already been there and really understands what it is like. They can offer help and hope without being patronising or 'holier-than-thou'.

No Christian likes having to go through any kind of sore trial and, even although we can't understand at the time why God is allowing it to happen, we always come out of it a better person if we can cling to God and trust Him to bring us safely through it.
Editor 11/12/2009 13:45
Just came across a comment from David Wilkerson (in relation to this 'money' topic.
Riches and the things that are necessary in life are not evil in themselves. And all of us face cares and troubles in this life. The sin comes in the time and energy we spend in pursuing these things, at the expense of neglecting Christ.
-------- end quote----------
Rosemary Cameron 12/12/2009 17:33
I agree with both Andrea and David Wilkerson. I also have some sympathy with Paul Whitworth's view.
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