Our “apostle” enriched himself while church members struggled financially

Former Charismatic exposed how his previous prosperity gospel cult-like church and its leaders enriched themselves while ignoring its needy members.

I grew up in a home with my grandparents and my parents where there was always a spiritual hunger. My grandmother was a seeking soul and she decided to join a nearby church, a charismatic one, which my everyone in my family also decided to do. My grandmother got saved by God’s grace, and turned to Christ. However, my grandfather and the rest of our family were still unsaved and were not really convinced.

My uncle was born a hydrocephalus baby and was a paralytic. One day, my grandparents were told by the pastor of this specific charismatic church that if they had enough faith, then he would get healed..My grandfather, despite being unsaved, decided to put his faith in “God” and would pray fervently day and night, and even fasted at times, but nothing happened. One night after the meeting when the pastors prayed and still no miracle broke through, my grandparents were told that they did not have enough faith, that’s why God did not heal my uncle. Shortly after, my uncle died, leaving my grandad disillusioned with Christianity and God. My parents also left that church and God seemed so far away to me.

As I grew up, I questioned that perhaps I really did not have enough faith, or maybe my family really did not have enough faith. But I was determined to meet God so I decided to join back the church. In the beginning, I enjoyed the modern music and everyone seemed so spirit-filled – they would burst out in tongues and sometimes pass out on the ground. These things I have never experienced but somehow I felt left out as others had this gift except me. As time progressed, I was made to believe that I was not baptised by the Holy Ghost because there was no evidence of me speaking in tongues.

Moreover, tithing was an absolute must. We were told that we should tithe 10% of our gross salary else we were robbing God. My tithes would go into an envelope every month with my name so the church would know how much I tithe each month.

Our “apostle” always wore expensive suits, drove expensive cars and always encouraged the flock to tithe faithfully. There were times that a “love gift” was offered up for our “apostle” in appreciation towards him. Many struggling poor of whom I knew personally, gave their last cent towards to this “apostle” and believed wholeheartedly in his vision.

A life-changing experience happened when I happened to pick up a memory stick in the parking lot of the church and wanted to return it to its rightful owner. Curious, I decided to open it and see what was inside.The memory stick belonged to the church secretary of which she had every single member’s name, the amount they tithed every month, and who was the “highest tither”. The church also organised other programs for those who wanted to be blessed financially but first needed to enrol in a program called “billionaires in training”.

I knew something was off but I could not put my finger to it. I started researching on tithing and the history of the tithe, what it was, whom it was for, what purpose it served and if it was still required for the New Testament church. I was also beginning to ask many, many questions now, and I became a “thorn in the flesh” to my leaders. The charm of the worship team slowly wore off and the pastors’ theatrics and sermons became less appealing because I started QUESTIONING EVERYTHING and searched the scriptures deeper and more than ever.

One day, I was at a men’s meeting and when we went forward, I was encouraged to open my mouth and just speak “anything”, then the Holy Spirit would give me utterance. But I knew straight away this was contrary to what I have studied, which actually made me even more suspicious of the church! I was never allowed a personal meeting with the pastor. During our “HOP” (house of prayer) meetings, we were forced to obey a booklet that was drawn up by our “resident apostle”. Our “apostle” always wore expensive suits, drove expensive cars and always encouraged the flock to tithe faithfully. There were times that a “love gift” was offered up for our “apostle” in appreciation towards him. Many struggling poor of whom I knew personally, gave their last cent towards to this “apostle” and believed wholeheartedly in his vision.

One of the assistant pastors had a brother who became born again during that time. He was extremely active within the church and its ministries. As a wealthy businessman, he was always welcomed in the presence of that “apostle” and the other pastors. However, things took a turn for the worst. He lost his business, his expensive car and was practically destitute. He could not afford to attend the meetings anymore without a car. I helped that brother move into a small apartment and contributed financially to his needs. Both the brother and his wife were unemployed, and sometimes would go without food and electricity for 3 days, until someone helped.

His testimony led me to question seriously why this church and our “apostle” and assistant pastor were not helping this struggling brother?! I’ve seen the insurmountable amounts of money collected each Sunday from the memory stick. Surely, there was more than enough to help a struggling family? After all, he was one of our own!

Then I realised that the leaders were only interested in those who tithed and donated huge amounts of money to the church (hence the list of the top 10 tithers). Everyone was measured and valued accordingly by their financial contributions above anything else. Everything was motivated by greed and the prosperity blessings that was preached seemed to only work for the church leaders. The church ran like an MLM business – our “apostle” was the CEO, and the pastors were managers. We were a means to an end, nothing more and nothing less.

That was the last straw that broke the camel’s back.

I decided to leave that church and not return. I did so silently because everyone else who tried leaving the church with the “apostle’s” blessing was met with much resistance and always slandered against afterwards. This was my experience and I thank God my eyes were opened to see the Charismatic movement for what it really is.

John West

First published on our Facebook on 3 August 2017

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