By Iwara U Iwara
In 1978, precisely on November 18, the “Mad Messiah”, Jim Jones, founder of the Peoples Temple in the USA, oversaw, through a sweet tongue-coated scheme, the mass suicide of more than 900 members of his sect who had relocated with him from California to the small South American nation of Guyana. He had promised to build an ideal society for them in Guyana. Many of those who travelled to Guyana with him believed in the sermons he preached, the character he portrayed and the flamboyance of their own stupidity. Meanwhile, on that infamous day in November, a certain Leo Ryan who was a U.S. Representative, had travelled to Guyana “to investigate claims of abuse” levelled against Jones. After the visit, as Ryan and his team waited at the airstrip to catch a flight back to the U.S., Ryan and his crew were murdered on the orders of Jones.
Later that day, Jones also ordered every one of his followers in the Guyana camp to take part in what he tagged a “revolutionary act”. The youngest members of his sect were to die first as a potent mix of fruit juice, laced with sedatives and cyanide was administered. When I watched the 1980 movie which chronicled this criminality, “Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones”, I remember that after the youngest sect members were ‘served’, adults took turns to drink the lethal portion, supervised by well-armed guards. It was heart breaking to see parents using syringes to drop the portion into their children’s throats. I read up that, “more than 400 unclaimed bodies from the Jonestown tragedy are buried at the Evergreen Cemetery in Oakland, California, where many of Jim Jones’ followers were from. A stone memorial to the Jonestown victims was unveiled at the cemetery in 2008.” Indeed, those who hide under religion, in whatever guise, to exploit our worries and fears are never in short supply. Most of these persons, lacking what to ideally do, create their office spaces in our heads and hearts; even walk away with the little sense that should beep danger signals for us.
In Calabar, Cross River State, just days ago, one Tony Obo, the General Overseer of a SHRINE, painfully addressed as “God’s Commandment Ministry” in Calabar South and six others, were caught with the fresh heart of one-year-old baby Success Ime, blood stained male and female carvings with pictures bound to them, a miniature wooden boat and several fetish items. At Okon Edak Street off Atamunu where the SHRINE was located, local residents quickly torched Obo’s place after policemen from the Uwanse Police Station had stormed the SHRINE and made the gruesome discovery. When the police paraded Obo and his co-travellers at their Diamond Hill headquarters, Calabar, he shamelessly told the press that “the idols and pictures of people found in my church were items our youths used for a drama shooting in the church.” We are yet to see any youth step up and corroborate this particular claim, maybe we must wait longer.
I am convinced that Obo and his less articulated likes abound and thrive among us because of our morbid attachment to quick and sensational religious fixes. The woman who prays to God for a child, quickly hurries to spiritual exercises, advertised on colourful posters with “Agbo” concoction-like promises. She is told that pastor ABC or XYZ lays hands and women have quadruplets. Because she has borne no child since she got married, it is her wish that she must have four kids in one swoop and this is the magic prayer point that the likes of Obo exploit. The man looking for a job, with no education or experience, drapes his mind in the outrageous believe that that “man of God’s” prayer will land him a job and a six-figure salary. As killer doses of the religious opium is taken, demonic agents like Obo begin to regulate our raging addiction to completely false benefits. Those who have chosen to be gullible (yes, it is a choice), hurriedly scrape their hard earned income and hand same over to these ‘cha-cha’ fraudsters.
Amazingly, while these pastors have solutions to all the problems we take to them, they never seem to be able to pray themselves into a clear rain of money; they must insist, beg and pick pocket us for money? Hmmm, so a miracle working pastor’s need cannot be miraculously taken care of by the all-sufficient God that he preaches about? O, the General Overseer, Papa, Daddy, Prophet, Ete, Our Father or whatever name may be available as a cunning prefix, must beg to survive?
When we are attracted to worship only in places where the pastors noisily shout over the microphone, blabbing senselessly and claiming that they are speaking in tongues, we can blame no one when the devil’s anointing becomes our portion. I mean, lacking a critical religious mind, we make ourselves available to these merciless fraudsters who end up driving big and expensive cars, bought with our tithes and offertory collections while we brave the odds on foot.
See, we go to church and these pastors offer you a form to fill and return, shortly after you do that almost senile altar call for “those attending service here for the first time”. There are columns in the form asking you to specifically state your name, address, phone number and of course, what you want God to do for you. Because you are looking for the short cuts to salvation, you volunteer this information with a humble and indeed contrite heart. The forms are taken back and studied by the pastor. When you hear them pray and harp on your prayer point, be careful, no God ministered to them, they have taken information from your form and crafted a theft-message around the information. Let the name of the real God be praised.
I have seen pictures of Obo, happily playing father to three kids that I presume are his. It is most unfortunate for this kids that their father consciously oversaw that suspected killing of another kid, so he can be divinely (?) prosperous and make them happy and comfortable. I am sure this kids are yet to completely understand that ‘Pastor Daddy’ is a complete RITUALIST. I am also sure this kids don’t understand that ‘Pastor Daddy’ feeds and clothes them in blood because his money is blood money. They need our prayers because of their childlike innocence. The little child too, whose heart was also taken to serve a satanic purpose SHOULD be in our prayers.
“But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded . . . . is to be put to death.” Deuteronomy 18:20, 22, the Bible says, it is my tacit response to the naive brood of persons who attempt to rain empty curses on everyone who condemns in totality the esoteric entreprise of Obo and his co-travellers. While we cringe at the gory discoveries thrown up by the police invasion of Obo’s business place, there is an additional worry; several of such places still exist within and outside Calabar, administering potent doses of satanic anointing on a hapless people, in search of faraway miracles that can be obtained within the confines of our own houses, if we sincerely believe and pray to GOD.
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