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Prosperity Gospel invades Africa
When the Bible speaks about riches it splits down two ways. Heavenly riches are to be sought after; earthly riches are depicted as a snare.
WORLDWIDE CRISIS in THE CHURCH
-by Andrew Strom.
I only began to truly understand the magnitude of this crisis on my recent trip to Uganda. I have ministered in Nigeria many times, but I had always thought Nigeria was a special case - that the awful poison I saw there had not spread so far in other places. Uganda opened my eyes. The whole of Africa is being infected. And I mean on an epidemic scale. An utter destruction of truth, a complete undermining of the words of Jesus, a total loss of the pure milk of the word. Greed and corruption and "prosperity" lies are laying waste to it all on a vast scale.
It is so difficult to put into words the horror of what is happening in the Third World. These are Revival countries - where God has been moving in great power. They are nations full of the simple and the poor - who often make the most devoted lambs of Jesus. And now I feel like we are seeing the "rape" of these precious Third World Christians by a vast army of corrupted charlatans who call them- selves "God's preachers". Leaders by the thousand who have been utterly ruined by the greed-inducing lies of Western Christian media.
And now they are ravaging God's precious sheep.
The Gospel of Greed
This is not a small problem - it is enormous. Right across the continents of Africa and Asia and South America - where God has been moving the most - we find this gospel of greed beginning to utterly dominate the church - particularly in the big cities. In many places it is difficult to find pastors or leaders who are not gorging themselves with it. We are talking about corruption and sickness on such a scale that I do not believe the like of it has been seen since the days of Constantine. This is a crisis unlike almost any other that the church has known.
Just this week I got an email from a pastor in Puerto Rico who wrote the following: "The prosperity and WOF false gospel has made extensive damage to the local Pentecostal/Charismatic church.
Nowadays WOF theology is the "standard theology" heard on Christian media (radio, music and TV). A Spanish-speaking subsidiary of TBN called ENLACE is spread all over Latin America with the name-and-claim-it 'gospel'..."
Another man from Nigeria wrote to me:
"When I heard your message, especially about the report of the church in Nigeria, you were right on the money... This money gospel has reshaped and taken over Christianity in Nigeria totally, and it saddens my heart... You agree with me that it's a major crisis in Lagos. Everything is about money and you seem a fool when you talk against it... "leadership, money, increase." So many, all over Africa."
On one trip to Nigeria I stayed in the home of a pastor of a large church there. He had two brand-new Mercedes parked in the driveway as well as a new Lexus SUV. Inside was a 10-foot wide Plasma television with Satellite TV. And such things are not uncommon at all in the larger churches of Africa. In fact, more and more it is being seen as "normal". And how do they get all this money? By manipulating the poor, precious lambs of Jesus, of course. Screwing it out of a people who live in poverty the like of which you and I can hardly imagine. You should see the "offerings" these gentlemen take up - so manipulative it could almost make you physically sick. And where did they learn all these "money tricks"? Why - from U.S Christian television, of course! And then they multiply it by 100.
So what is to be done?
So what is to be done about all this? Has it already become so ingrained that it is hopeless trying to turn it around? Is the amount of money being spent on television by these sharks so great that the Truth simply can't compete? These are very good questions.
Because television and radio are clearly the dominant factor in this race to destruction.
As I said in a previous article, we have to make a personal choice in this crisis between Despair and 'Resolve'. We can either sink down in despair, or "Resolve" to stand and fight for the Truth and for the precious lambs of God. I have to take heart in the fact that Jesus says HE is the one who builds His Church - and the gates of hell will not prevail against her. I believe God has a plan - and it is a plan that involves you and me - and everyone else who knows the Truth and is willing to fight for it. We are Christ's ambassadors and He has a special mission for us - just like in every similar crisis down through history. All we have to do is stand and speak.
God will do the rest.
I love the example of David who came to Israel during a similar emergency. When he saw that the Israelites were faced by a taunting, God-mocking Philistine named Goliath he did not go aside to hold committee meetings - or even to pray for several days before acting! His heart was stirred within him and he cried, "What shall be done to the man that kills this Philistine, and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?" (1 Sa 17:26).
What God is looking for
This is the reaction that God is looking for. It is a heart response birthed out of a kind of "holy indignation". And it results in a courage that stands boldly for Truth - without even thinking about the consequences. It is those who have this "holy indignation" that God is wanting to use in these last days. The crisis is severe. Who will stand for righteousness and truth? Only those who, like David, have drawn close to God and feel His heart. God's eyes are roaming the earth, seeking such ones to stand for Him at this very moment.
I said in an earlier article that those who have a special calling for "media" are particularly needed in this battle. For that is where a lot of it is being fought. It is a war for the hearts and minds of the church worldwide. And lately the devil has been winning almost every round. But the future is not decided. We have yet to see what will happen when God Himself takes the field - and deploys His truth-tellers to battle. Then we may yet see a different story.
May we all be part of the solution to this crisis, my friends. May we all - under the anointing of the Holy Spirit - simply stand and start declaring God's Truth into this situation. Simple fearless courage is still one of the few things on this earth that makes the devil tremble. It still only takes "five small stones." The time to 'quit ourselves like men' has come - to gird ourselves for war. The eternal destiny of millions of Jesus' precious sheep hangs in the balance. Will we respond?
First published: 01/12/09
Andrew Strom, 01/12/2009