A Kenyan Pentecostal pastor of a well endowed church with several staff was informed that the law requires him to pay NSSF and NHIF for staff. He promptly made them sign papers declaring that they are volunteers.
A Presbyterian minister was bought a car registration number KBF. He rejected it as not the registration a Presbyterian minister should be driving. The church has had to buy a KBV.
A church minister who receives 20,000 shillings monthly for airtime is at war with the church treasurer because he wants more.
And a pastor visiting his members’ estate fellowship was offered honorarium of 2000 shillings which he rejected and demanded 5000/=. The fellowship leader had to use her Mpesa to top up.
These are real recent cases of happenings in Kenya. They represent terrorism by pastors that is catching on. It is callous, inhuman and brutal. Whoever questions it is quickly neutralized.
A group of Anglican pastors’ strategy on how to benefit from a parish is instructive: Make one parish buy you a car, then move and make the next one buy you a plot, and the next one build you a house, on and on.
I believe this is happening among Catholics, Baptists and in other denominations where money has come to church in a sizeable amount. Gone are the days when Apostle Peter could say “Silver and gold have I none”
As money increases in church, those at the top butter their side of the bread and make the rest and the poor eat crumbs that fall from the table.
Among the Pentecostals are those who claim that the entire tithe belongs to the pastor. Whoever advices prudence in its use is threatened with curses for daring to raise a finger at the anointed of the Lord.
Of course when tithe was in form of farm produce and animals, there is only so much the stomach of the pastor and family could take. Consequently, there was food in God’s house for others to share. Now that tithe is in form of money, the pastor can ‘eat’ all of it alone and ask for more. There is no longer food in God’s house but there is plenty in the pastor’s house.
Because of this personal benefit when more money comes in, gimmicks have multiplied. Some cleverly disguised, while others are bizarre.
Some sell brooms for sweeping out demons, and others blessed water, allegedly from the Holy Land. Others insist that worshippers wave the notes they intend to put in the offering bag for all to see.
Going to church has become a dreadful experience; a visit by the bishop or pastor to the parish, home or business, a real but veiled robbery. A telephone call from the church leader is stressful. It is mostly a demand for money, expensive gadget, a rejection of what is offered or for another costly renovation.
At the top life is grand. It comes with up market housing, choice of insurance packages, and a sizeable entertainment and travel budget. The contest to assume any coveted office is vicious, expensive and underhand tactics are used. At the other end are brothers and sisters; volunteers by force, who might get some ‘appreciation’. A bishop is said to have rebuked a pastor for calling him brother. Bishops are brothers only to those of their class!
In this way then, a good number of church staff and members are terrorized and held hostage by their leaders with great loss materially and spiritually.
What message do these pastors have for poor Kenyans and those struggling to pay rent, buy cars, or educate their children? “You do not have enough faith. If you tithe faithfully, offer more free services, and give until it hurts, you will be blessed.” Many are trying, the pastors are already blessed.
-Rev. Githinji is an ordained minister of the Anglican Church serving as chaplain at St. Paul’s University.