Novel exposes church wolves

Beaven Tapureta Bookshelf
Religion has become a subject of interest for fiction writers in Zimbabwe. The probe being made through the written word seemingly intends to expose the demise of true worship. Lately, the gospel that used to respect personal and communal hard work and persistence has been replaced by a different one underlined by this rush for instant and miraculous success

One may ask, who will help humanity to establish the truth of this gospel of anointed this and anointed that, is it still gospel when it propels individuals who are so-called prophets to unbelievable levels of prosperity that make them compete with the wealthy worldly celebrities? The authors, through their imagined stories, have spun their coin into the arena, trying to fix the puzzle of the wealthy “modern prophet”.

Worth picking in reference is Aaron Chiundura Moyo’s Shona play “Kereke Inofa” (2014, Booklove Publishers). Although the play is limited to the issue of pastors who abuse power and sexually exploit members of their churches, it very well triggers a reader’s own perception of the modern church.

There is also another book, a novel by Patony P Musindo titled “The Emmaculate Calling”, (2014, Son of Encouragement Publishing) which digs deeper into the large-scale commerce that goes on in a certain church or churches. Musindo, a registered and practicing legal practitioner in Zimbabwe and a leadership development expert, tackles issues which are today being taken for granted in matters of religion.

The reader may know and have witnessed genuine Christian prophets in his or her life but these fictional books will help understand different modern perspectives on today’s church, particularly the individuals who lead.

While Sarah in “Kereke Inofa” plays the victimised woman, Emma in “The Emmaculate Calling” is an inspiring agent of change in the church sector. Emma breaks the traditional norm found in Zimbabwe and perhaps elsewhere in other countries where ‘‘Prophets him and him’’ always gets the most publicity or ‘‘celebrity status’’ and not ‘‘Prophetesses her and her’’.

Are women in the church passive observers and victims or they are capable, immaculate leaders who can turn the tables and chase the gamblers out of the holy place?

The wealthy Pastor Gift in Moyo’s play abuses his power to have an illicit relationship with Sarah, a married member of his church. The two have a child whom, at the end of the play, they try hard to conceal.

Driven by the will to stand for truth, Emma in “The Emmaculate Calling” embarks on a ‘‘dangerous’’ journey to investigate a church called God’s Anointed Partners Ministries or simply GAP Ministries after she picks information about the false miracles being done by a number of so-called prophets aligned to it.

The novel has thriller-like turn of situations, exciting secondary ‘‘main characters’’ and its language exhibits Musindo’s inner knowledge of what things ought to be in the church. He captures the substance of his theme with unfaltering descriptions. However, some readers may feel the author bottled up a potential thriller!

Yeukai and Varaidzo are good friends but something separates them, that is, their churches. Yeukai condemns Varaidzo’s church which is steered by a leader who, according to defensive Varaidzo, “can even tell you the colour of your bedspread” in prophecy.

This debate gathers storm until Emma is called to quell it and this is perhaps the point where the author drew the phrasing of the book title “The Emmaculate Calling”. Emma goes beyond solving the dispute between her friends to expose the dark truth about certain churches, particularly the GAP Ministries.

The sophisticated organogram of GAP Ministries, which is spread all over the country, speaks of a focused religious institution but behind the structures, falsehood rules most! There is the National Overseer who is church country leader, then the National Executive, the Apostolic Council, and the provincial boards and overseers. A large number of the office-bearers are chosen through highly charged elections.

It is the race for the Harare Provincial Overseer’s seat that sets GAP ablaze. Some prospective contestants threaten each other and others use unethical means to gain support.

What will interest the reader is the issue of ‘‘miracles’’ and ‘‘prophecy’’ which are catchwords of the modern day church. Prophet Gareth and Master-Prophet Oracle Shoko, for instance, are notorious schemers.

Prophet Gareth hires some people to masquerade as cripples or any kind of sick person. He pays them big hush money so that they are ‘‘healed’’ when he prays for them during his church services.

Only towards the end of the story when Emma has gathered all her details and pinned the Prophet in an inescapable, detective-styled interview that he says this is “necessary to encourage the faith of many and others have actually got healed and received their miracles in the process”.

In a different event, cocaine, a dangerous narcotic, found its way into the country through the help of Pastor Makwerera of GAP Ministries. The drug was expertly stashed in musical instruments belonging to the Pastor.

The control or power that the men of cloth in the novel seem to exercise over situation in people’s lives, regardless of their social standing, is backed by a network of individuals, most likely informers, greedy money-monsters and unrepentant disciples of Satan.

As part of her investigation, Emma goes clandestinely to check on Prophet Gareth at one of his services but, surprisingly, she is fished out in prophetic style. “I know you are a visitor and the Lord told me you have come to check me out,” she is told.

Her phone number is right away recited by the Prophet who then ‘‘anoints’’ her to heal others immediately during that service. Does real prophecy depends on phone details? Only God knows!

Apart from being a lawyer, Musindo also serves as the Executive Director for Student Connect Trust (SCOT) which offers leadership and life skills development training for students and young people. He is a board member of CAIRA Trust and Kairos Trust. He lives in Harare. “The Emmaculate Calling” is his first novel in the Emmaculate Series. He expects to produce about four in the series. He has also written several unpublished articles and poems.

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