Earlier this week, I took a trip down the village and was so sorry to learn that my favorite shopkeeper, Paul was buried about a month ago. Paul was my favorite because he was one of those people who literally start from the bottom.
His journey to entrepreneurship started with ten shillings he jokingly says he stole from his wife’s purse. He bought a packet of salt with the money and repackaged it into tiny wrappings that went for Kshs. 2. He kept the profits till they were enough to purchase other household items and repackage them. This went on till he made enough to open a kiosk. After five months, the profit margins improved he opened a shop which he operated until his death.
Yet no one was willing to divulge on the cause of death. One of the people I asked went mum for a few seconds then answered, “moko tek pimo wuod ma.” (Somethings are difficult to explain brother). Others completely ignored the question.
I finally found someone who was willing to open up on the death. Paul had apparently been on antiretroviral therapy and had been strictly sticking to the prescription. Then a church support group for persons living with HIV/AIDS came along. Support gave way to prayers, and prayers gave way to miraculous healing. With the healing, Paul had no more need for ARVs. The withdrawal from the drugs led to serious health complications which led to his death.
That is not the first case of someone who has been misled by their church. In 2012, one Fr. Francis Limo Riwa- a Catholic priest from Tigania, urged members of his church to partake in urine therapy as it cured many illnesses including HIV/AIDS. He encouraged members of his church, and other Kenyans who cared for their health, to drink their urine first thing after waking up every morning.
Despite there being no proven benefit to urine, and contradicting himself when questioned by the media, people still believed his urine therapy gospel. “I believe in conventional medicine…. Urine therapy should be taken with a lot of care because if one has a complicated illness like diabetes, HIV or cancer, it is good to consult a physician,” he advises according to the African review, Tuesday, September 25, 2012. http://http://bit.ly/2rt48eD) Fact is, urine has no medicinal value.
One particular church made the headlines for using potassium permanganate and needles to con worshippers of how they had been cured of evil spirits. Another is famed for having its members scrub roads and take their ailing family members out of hospitals for their Mighty Prophet’s rallies. Nobody talks about the many that die in those stadiums after days and nights in the cold. I could go on forever with the examples, but the point has been made. The church is letting down its members. It is not serving its purpose.
The church is supposed to provide for the spiritual needs of its members, to alleviate their suffering (at least emotionally) and to stand by them in times of despair. Preaching the gospel to a troubled soul is like planting seeds on a sandy ground, pointless. That’s why churches have fellowship groups and run guidance and counseling centers.
It is because of that role that makes the church even have an influence in the society today. Sadly, that influence is mostly used to satisfy the egos of the church leaders. Why would one ask people to drink their urine? Didn’t another one order worshippers to eat grass? Why would a pastor ask members of his church to kneel down so that he can walk on their backs while delivering a sermon? It is all for the ego. Some are in the church business for the money.
The church should not sell hope. Preying on its member’s desperation for gain should be the last thing on their agenda. The church should accept reality and adjust accordingly. They should not create an alternative reality and a fantasy world for their believers where they have everything under control. Selling hope is bad, selling fake hope is plain inhumane and immoral. I am not disputing that miracles do exist, but it won’t hurt the church if they accept that the best they can do in some situations is to stand by their members in hard times.
People should also not suspend their reasoning and bend at the whims of selfish religious leaders. If Paul had employed the same reasoning that got him from a 10 shillings capital business to a shopkeeper in his battle with HIV/AIDS, maybe his children would still have a father figure around them. Desperation should not be a reason to not use common sense. Let’s agree that HIV/AIDS has no cure for now and spending hungry sleepless nights in a stadium in cold weather won’t cure cancer. Seeking professional medical help while the church prays for you and offers you emotional support can help though.