Paying For Prayer: I Went Into Debt, Trying To Secure A Miracle

Evarline Okello breaks down in tears as she tells me she is hundreds of dollars in debt, after paying a pastor to pray for her.

She lives in a tiny shack in Kibera, a vast slum in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, and can no longer provide for her four children.

Ms Okello hasn’t earned anything for months, she tells me as we talk on the telephone. So when she heard about a pastor whose prayers could make life better, she wanted to see him. He asked her for $115 (£96; 15,000 Kenyan shillings).

This is known as a “seed offering”: a financial contribution to a religious leader, with a specific outcome in mind.

Ms Okello borrowed the money from a friend, who took out a loan on her behalf. She had been told this pastor’s prayers were so powerful that she would see a return on her money within a week.

But the miracle never came. In fact things got even worse, [/b]she says. The loan her friend took out has ballooned due to unpaid interest. She now owes more than $300, and has no idea how she’ll pay it back. Her friend has stopped talking to her, and she still has no job.

People are being told that God doesn’t want them to remain poor. So they plant a seed,” she tells me.

The Prosperity Gospel has its roots in America, where it gained momentum in the early 20th Century……

…That’s what happened to 26-year-old Dennis Opili. Feeling disheartened after more than three years looking for work, he asked a friend for help.

“He advised me that there is a church where you go and they pray for you. You give a certain offering, then they pray for you, then you can secure a job,” Mr Opili says.

When his savings ran out he borrowed about $120 from cash apps and from friends.

“I believed in what the pastor told me, that I’ll be able to secure a job. So I didn’t have any problems with borrowing, because I thought eventually I’ll be able to pay off the money.”

But when no job appeared, Mr Opili began to suspect that he had been tricked.

…Luckily he has now managed to find piecemeal work, which has enabled him to pay back part of the money, both to the loan companies and his friends.

“I still very much believe in God,” he says. “All I have to do is just be a little more careful.”

……She says both congregants and local pastors at her former church were expected to give a “tithe” of 10% of their monthly income to finance the church and its leadership in Nigeria. And that was in addition to what was called “first fruit” – their entire pay packet of the first month of the year
Sarah says she saw people paying for “seed money” with their credit cards in church services.

“I remember one time at the church a lady said: ‘I have been paying my tithe, and it seems like I still don’t have enough money at the end of the month.’”

The pastor’s response, Sarah says, was to tell people that giving was more important than paying their rent. And she says anyone who questioned why miracles were not happening was told: “You didn’t pray enough, you didn’t sow seed enough. You didn’t have enough faith.”
But it can also appeal to those living in poverty, he says.

“A church that says: ‘We know that you’re suffering, and we have a practical, attainable solution for you,’

will be more attractive than one that preaches some elusive, systemic change.”
[b]”I wouldn’t say that church is bad. The church is good. It is the pastors who are doing wrong. They are the ones who are asking for money.”

Source:- Bbc


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