Thursday, June 24, 2010



By Jerry Okungu

Nairobi, Kenya

June 23, 2010

I grew up as a child of God in a respected Christian family. By the time I was born, my parents had been Christians for close to two decades.

In all my life as I grew up, Christian worship both at home and in church was a solemn affair. There were standard hymns to be sung before, during and after service. Church service was never an open ended affair with endless preaching, beating of drums and general chaotic mess like the one we have today.

In those days, Church tithes were voluntary, for a purpose and were based on each according to their means. There were no standard amounts, compulsory contributions or even “Thank You Lord” amounts according to how long one had lived on earth. These are the array of illegal taxations the modern church is busing extracting from its followers.

The good old Christianity was for true believers in Christ. It was led by real men of faith. There were no missionary merchants like the ones we have today. In this day and age, the most notorious exploiters are the money minded fake evangelists that pass for televangelists. I wish they behaved like good old Billy Graham who preached true Christianity and built an empire to serve humanity.

Today, our television screens are awash with fake preachers, fake prophets in sheep’s clothes, fake miracle workers and outright conmen and women, all stealing and robbing in the name of the Lord. One wonders if Jesus were to return today and catch them in the act stealing in the house of His Father! He would definitely not hesitate to whip them just like He did with those money changers he chased out of the temple in Jerusalem more than 2000 years ago.

If Jesus and the 12 disciples traversed the desert lands of Palestine on foot preaching the gospel; if after his death, his disciples and apostles continued in the same tradition suffering to build the church of Christ and praying for the sick and the needy, why are our modern day prophets living in obscene opulence from tithes and other forced contributions collected from their suffering followers?

I long for the days when Cardinal Maurice Otunga was head of the Catholic Church in Kenya. I long for those good old days when Arch-Bishop Festo Olang' headed the Anglican Church or Bishop Birech and Bishop Gitari were at the helms of their churches. In those days a local pastor or a catholic father was a respected village elder. Ordinary parishioners went to him for counseling and spiritual guidance. The man of God was content to visit his parishioners and share whatever meal there was with that family without any cash demands for prayer. He put no demands on his congregation.

My father was a local church deacon for decades. He traversed our villages whenever he was called upon by a distressed family that needed prayer and counseling. He attended to the sick and bereaved families with maximum solemnity and utmost supplication to our God on high. He never dramatized his prayers. There were no theatrics or faked miracles in the air. He never pretended to ostracize demons, heal the sick or cause barren women to conceive miracle babies. He offered all these services on behalf of his church and his God because he believed that his rewards would wait for him in heaven.

Where is this self denial that Jesus so eloquently preached when he was on earth? Where is the spirit of sharing with our neighbors that little that we have that Jesus commanded us to do? Do our priests remember the parable of the young rich man who went to Jesus asking what to do in order to enter the kingdom of God? Didn’t Jesus ask him to give up all his earthly possession, distribute them to the poor and follow him? How come our modern day preachers are more ready to receive than to give?

Where is the good old Christianity of Billy Graham, Desmond Tutu, Bishop Okullu, Alexander Muge Manasses Kuria and Timothy Njoya?

Today, instead of televangelists concentrating on spreading the gospel, they have converted their so called churches into commercial enterprises complete with bank accounts, telephone numbers and M-PESA accounts. Today, there is no televangelist that can deliver a sermon without cajoling and coercing viewers to contact him or her and MPESA something small for their prayers. If it hadn’t been for pure greed for the one thousand shilling notes that two known televangelists had lined up Uhuru Park worshippers to give, perhaps so many Kenyans would not have lost their lives or got injured in a bomb attack. Good Christian priests would have prayed and worshipped for two hours and dispersed the crowd before 6pm.

Now the same corrupt and greedy lot are claiming that they want to enter politics to clean it up! They have forgotten the parable of the log in a neighbor’s eye that Jesus so eloquently used to illustrate the vanity of self righteousness. Before our evangelicals enter politics to clean it up, let them clean their churches that have become battle grounds for property and dens of corruption before they attempt to remove the log from our politicians’ eyes.