Miracle pastor arrives in helicopter

JOHANNESBURG - Cheers erupt as the man in a wheelchair struggles to stand, his face contorted with effort.
Unable to walk after a car accident four years ago, he has come to Johannesburg’s FNB Stadium with thousands of others in the hope of being cured.

The charismatic Pastor Chris, dressed in an all-white suit, has promised “miracles will shower down from heaven like rain” tonight.

On the ground below the stage where the pastor stands sits a group of apparently sick and disabled people selected by their Christ Embassy congregations to attend the final night of the tele-evangelist’s three-night Higher Life Conference 2013.

In a Zimbabwean newspaper report, Pastor Chris is quoted saying about this conference: “It’s God’s time for you. I will be teaching, ministering to the sick and praying for God’s blessing on your life as He has sent me.”

Expectations and hopes are running high. Congregants believe Pastor Chris’ “healing” sessions cure ailments like deafness, blindness, arthritis and other diseases.

The previous two nights we had seen miniature miracles. First he speaks for an hour-and-a-half — tonight he speaks of being born again.

Then Pastor Chris prays for the select ill. I saw someone walk on stage using crutches, then leave without them.

People have made the pilgrimage from across the continent and buses have carried thousands of others from around Johannesburg, almost filling the stadium for three consecutive nights.

I spot Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi, First Lady Bongi Ngema-Zuma and Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos’s very wealthy daughter, Isabel sitting in VIP front row seats.

Although entrance is free, offerings are collected by ushers throughout the stadium. Watching the Nigerian pastor arrive in a police helicopter on the first night, I thought of the “Son of Man’s” triumphant entry into Jerusalem. The second and third nights, Pastor Chris arrives by car.

Founder of one of this century’s biggest ministries — the Christ Embassy — Pastor Chris Oyakhilome, 51, presides over more than 40 000 congregants in Nigeria and millions of others through his network of churches on all five continents.

He is also a successful entrepreneur with business interests in TV rights, publishing, recording and real estate.

Last year, he was listed by Forbes as the second- richest of the “Men of God” in Nigeria, with a net worth of $30 million.

Bishop David Oyedepo is the richest, estimated to be worth $150 million.

Not long ago, Pastor Chris was accused of embezzling more than $35 million of his church funds and hiding it in offshore accounts, a case which was thrown out of court in 2010.

Two years ago, the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa ruled that Christ Embassy had to withdraw an advertisement promising healing on e.tv.

At access points to the stadium, a wide selection of his DVDs and books sell like hot cakes.

Not everything is for sale, though. To those who accept Christ and to be born again, Pastor Chris dispatches a new Bible and immediate membership to his congregation.

For three nights I am amazed at the enthusiasm of believers.

Cheering and breaking into loud song at the slightest provocation, they clap, dance and speak in tongues. A man falls on my chair while he prays.

Some would associate this spectacle with primitive rituals and practices. One thing is for sure, this is like well-choreographed theatre.

The wheelchair-bound man’s reality continues to torment him.

He has not been chosen or sent by a Christ Embassy church.

He twists and turns, tosses and bends, wriggles and struggles, but to no avail. The pastor can’t see the helpless man. Those near the man lose interest as it becomes clear his legs refuse to carry his weight.

Eventually, he collapses onto the ground. I gulp at the air, feel a lump in my dry throat. I pity this man whose hope has been dashed like a fly hit against a wall.

Without the courage to watch him any longer, I leave the stadium, wondering how he will feel being wheeled home in his chair.

The Higher Life Conference 2013 took place from March 15 to 17. — timeslive.co.za

Comments (1)

Miracles in healling exist but the affected must first believe without it you can not heal regards

charles Angulu - 17 November 2013

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