For the intellectual miracle could be described as God’s great supernatural intervention in the natural affairs of men. But for the layman miracle could equally be described as wonderful surprising healing and deliverance performances by Pastors or men of God through the name of Jesus the Christ. For the uninitiated Jesus is still performing miracles through His servants. But for those who see clearly and broadly refusing to be drawn into or hoodwinked by the miracle merchants most of what we see today that pass off as ‘miracles’ are nothing but spiritual fraud or 419.
Make no mistake about it folks. Unadulterated or undoctored miracles still occur here and there, far and near, in our generation because Jesus is still alive! But majority of these publicised miracles are doctored and adulterated, thus faked, to ascribe to the perpetrators an aura of spiritual power or sophistication they possess not.
Jesus Christ did a lot of miracles here on earth while living with our forebears in flesh and blood thousands of years ago. Such awe-inspiring miracles like raising Lazarus from the death three days after his demise, feeding the hungry multitude with just few loaves of bread and fishes and turning water into wine in a social gathering.
Even post-Jesus His disciples had continued to do miracles by invoking His powerful name. Before His departure He had instructed them to perform miracles greater than what He did with faith as their source of power. We believe that Jesus still heals, delivers and saves even today through His direct and indirect interventions via angelic ‘soldiers’ scattered on earth.
While we belong to those who pray and worship the Almighty at home (refusing to be drawn to the disoriented crowd of the hoodwinked) we hold however that among the fake prophets and pastors turning worshipping God into a lucrative venture one could still find some serious-minded spiritually-strong men of God delivering on the commandments of the Most High and His begotten Son. By their fruits we shall seek them out. Or as the Bible enjoined us: by their fruits we shall know them!
This writer had witnessed at close quarters how a so-called man of God could force a ‘miracle’ on someone in order to be taken seriously or boost his evangelical ego. I was still in college in Benin city decades ago when living in Nigeria was a pleasure to behold. During a long vacation I had gone to the oil-rich city of Warri for a holiday.
There, this mercurial man of God had come to town from the Edo State capital. And the crusade was hyped up as one to be fraught with signs and wonders! I had attended not because I was looking for miracle but to witness how this (now late) controversial flamboyant pioneer evangelical preacher would perform on stage. In Benin city he was celebrated as he waged a mortal war with witches and wizards and fought the Ogboni confraternity.
He did not disappoint as he mesmerised the large gathering with his ecumenical swagger, polished English and series of ‘miracles’. He had mounted the stage singing a worship song backed by live musical band to the thunderous ovation of the faithfuls. I was moved by his melodical professionalism that I applauded in appreciation like the rest of us present.
As we left the arena at wee hours of the night a polio-infested young man was shouting on top of his voice for help. “My crutches, my crutches please!” he had pleaded with no one in particular. Recognising him (having seen him hours prior on stage with the departed man of God both demonstrating the power of ‘miracle’ healing as regards his crippled state) I had approached him and asked for explanation over what was the problem.
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He told me upon inquiry that the Pastor had thrown away his crutches thinking or believing that he had been made whole but in the end his physical state had remained the same! He wanted to go home but he could not locate his crutches hence his supplication for them to be provided for him otherwise he would crawl back home!
Two weeks ago (precisely on March 14th this year) I had stumbled on a news story in ‘The-Punch’ newspaper online that made me sad. A disabled woman who was used by Pastors to fake miracles opened up and spilled the beans. Ms Bose Olasunkanmi, (44) the woman allegedly used for fake miracles by some pastors in viral videos, had shared her story with Afeez Hanafi.
Bose had sustained some grievous injuries following an accident in 1999 according to her. As a widow she became a glorified beggar and serendipitously met one Ms Fatila Musa one fateful day who offered her one thousand Naira. Noticing her physical challenges Fatila cleverly proposed a ‘business’ to her and she accepted heartily.
Fatila then took her first to a church in Ogba area of Lagos, Radiant Army Deliverance Ministry where Pastor Tony Anthony used her to fake a miracle! After acting her own part of the ‘film’ Bose was rewarded with nine thousand Naira by Fatila.
Following her successful outings Fatila took Bose across the country from Port Harcourt (Pastor Godswill Abbey’s church) to Abakaliki and finally back to Lagos. This time they visited the Mountain of Liberation and Miracle Ministry at Ojodu-Berger which was the last church they went to. The name of the man of God, according to her narrative, was Pastor Chris Okafor.
Following the ‘miracle’ Pastor Okafor performed on her Bose was given ten thousand Naira. She confessed that as they left the ‘mountain’ of a church Fatila called her and said one brother Henry from the church would give her N400, 000 (four hundred thousand Naira). She later sent Henry’s mobile number to her and she dutifully called him. Henry asked her to send him her bank account number and she did. After some days the good brother sent N400, 000 into her account!
Ms Olasunkanmi told the journalist upon inquiry why the ‘good samaritan’ Henry donated the money to her that he had adviced her to get out of the miracle-faking business. She said she used the money to rent an apartment and shop from where she was arrested by the police for controversial healing.
Ms Bose Olasunkanmi said she regretted doing what she did blaming poverty for it all. She said if she had known that her videos would be put online she would not have done what she did — lying and helping morally-corrupt men of God to deceive their congregations by mounting fake miracle healings and deliverances. But the worst culprit here is not Bose but Fatila Musa, the criminal middle-woman in this religious scam.
In Nigeria there are other Boses and Fatilas out there aiding and abetting the so-called pastors in their search for dominance, money and power in a crowded evangelical ministry field. While some of the pastors were busy visiting fetish priests and marabouts for power to do miracles others simply engaged the services of the Boses of this world to fake theirs.
Across the borders Nigerian pastors are still doing ‘wonders’ and ‘miracles’. As poverty , diseases and crime spread across the federation the pastors are spreading their evangelical tentacles taking ‘prisoners’ in a time of religious peace. Some fly in their private jets while others do everything (including ritualism) to make it and ‘belong’.
In South Africa Pastor Chris Oyakhilome was once involved in a scandal over staging miracle-healing sessions. Some members of the Christ Embassy church in Madiba-land had accused him of hiring people to pretend to be sick and disabled and then ‘healing’ them during his television shows and public prayer meetings.
The maker of man, though supremely gracious and infinitely merciful, must have had enough of our transgressions. He must have been irredeemably disappointed at our accumulated and accumulating sins. So, He could have decided to inflict on us the biblical Egypt-like plagues. It was HIV/AIDS the other time and yesterday it was Ebola virus. And now Covid-19! Conoravirus has proven to be the ultimate leveller that respects no age, gender, religion, status, class or race.
The question against this backdrop is: has humanity not yet posted worse trespasses than Adam and Eve? And Soddom and Gomorrah? Instead of praying and fasting for His grace and mercy or intervention let us beseech Him to end it all! Yes, let Him visit us with Armaggedon or Apocalypse now!
By Ozodinukwe Okenwa…