The prosperity "gospel" is believed by many here in Zambia.
Sadly, their role models are often those from America and the television brings these false teachers even into their own home.
(Think Benny Hinn, Kenneth Hagan, in the line of the Tammy Faye Bakers, etc.
Touch the screen and you will receive healing, only after you of course send your money in to me. ) It truly is sickening.
This is one of the very reasons that good pastoral training is needed here.
Many are deceived, confused and at best untaught. At worse, unconverted and they are out to get money and wealth for themselves and teach this to their congregations to achieve that. They use the name of Jesus to get what they want and throw in as many "Hallelujahs, Amens, Yes, preach it brother etc. ".
James was invited a couple weeks ago to preach at a "revival" service that was held in one of the churches of his student at Lusaka Ministerial College. The service was pretty much an all day event, and so we came in about an hour before he was scheduled to preach thinking maybe we would be there for singing and leading up to the sermon.
Well it was more like a tag team or relay "preaching". We walked in as one man was finishing up. A lady took our bibles and my purse to carry in for us. They meet in a school classroom as is very common for churches here, and the windows were all boarded up and it was very dark inside. It took a little bit to adjust to the light before I could see everyone around us. There was maybe 50 people. Zambians like their sound systems and microphones and amplifiers. It doesn't matter if the group is small, if you have any of those things you use them and crank it up!
We sang one song and were introduced as "very good friends". Then the next man was called upon to "preach".
We have been in a couple pentecostal churches here, but this one is the first time I have so clearly heard the prosperity talk.
The belief that God wants to bless you with Wealth and Health and Opportunities to advance your name and place in this world.
So unlike the Jesus we serve who came to die and serve others and humble himself for our sake.
The man stood up to preach and asked to move the pulpit. Then they moved flowerpots out of the way as well.
He was given about 30 minutes, and the entire time he was yelling into the microphone and moving all over the place.
"We need to get into our position" for God to bless us.
"The doors are not yet open".
Then every few minutes he would say, "Am I communicating?"
At one point he said that he realized a black and white tv was not good enough for him because he is a child of the king!
He said "we shouldn't have to meet in a classroom, you deserve better and should be in a better situation. The early church didn't have to suffer like this, they had faith. "
Here is a short video clip.
The ladies will run up to the "man" and shine his shoes or wipe the sweat off his face in the middle of the service. Especially when they are hyped up to a certain level.
It was so awful the things he was saying and so wrong. As we sat and listened, I started praying for James. I knew he had to preach the Word, and I was starting to get nervous for him.
As soon as it was his turn, someone came and carried his bible up for him. He then stood up and said, "I have a Word from the Lord for you" To which there were many cheers and Amens! He then opened up The Word and turned to the passage in Hebrews and preached about Moses and Jesus choosing to live a life of suffering. As he was referring to Moses he explained that he had everything and was living in Pharoah's house with all the treasures of the world, and he laid it aside. (Hebrews 11 )
Then he spoke of Jesus, who left the glory of Heaven and came down to suffer and sacrifice for us. He had no where to lay his head.
Then he said there is a FALSE teaching out there that says, "God wants you to be rich, to be successful, to always have good health and never suffer..." he continued on. At each point there were many "yes" and "amens". He got to the end of the list and once again said, "This is a FALSE teaching". It suddenly got much quieter in there as he continued on.
The Lord blessed the preaching as he sought to be faithful to God's Word and try and teach the people the error of the prosperity teaching.
Please pray for the people that heard the message.
The student that is in James class in Lusaka was evidently different in his preaching, but still not good, he seemed confused in his preaching which we heard after this man. He was pointing people to Christ, but it seemed like the difference was you have to be truly saved and trusting only in Christ and living for Christ, ...then the Lord will bless you as you are first seeking the kingdom. And by blessing you he was referring to some of the same "types" of blessings. (Money, status, health
Just this week though James was at the family conference and spoke with a man he knows named Marshall who is a pastor in the Copperbelt. He started attending the Copperbelt Ministerial College the first year it started. As James was explaining the situation where he had just been preaching, Marshall told him "Yes, that is what I used to be like too, except it was worse! "
It was shocking at first but then inspiring James said because to see the change God has done in him.
Then he talked about when he first came to the college, he was all proud that he was "Reverend" Marshall. They really like the titles here. (whether its Rev. or Bishop or Apostle...) The Reverend has his bible carried for him, his shoes shined, his face wiped off..
Pastor Jim Savastio was preaching on the Call and Character of the man of God. He said that we should not want all these titles or be seeking a name for ourselves. Marshall said that when he heard that he started discretely pulling his name tag out. That had the title, "Reverend".
From that point on things started changing in his life and ministry. He had 200 people in their church and went down to 15 committed people and now have 30 and are building back up.
Here is a picture of him at his church.
The concrete blocks are his "pulpit".