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Religion of Saturday, 11 January 2014

Source: Graphic Online

Comment: Beware of the operations of fake pastors

A wave of turpitude is sweeping across the leadership of Christendom, as some pastors are caught in bizarre rape and defilement cases that have been described as signs of the end time.

In one instance of such moral decadence, the Head Pastor of Grace Powerhouse Ministries, Pastor Ebenezer Asare Kumi, was last December remanded in police custody by an Accra Circuit Court for having sex with his 12-year-old daughter.

Pastor Kumi was alleged to have defiled his daughter while his wife was on admission at the Ridge Hospital in Accra to deliver their last child.

In another instance, a Tema-based pastor was put on trial for defiling a 14-year-old boy and infecting the teenager with Human Immune Virus (HIV).

At Akyem Achiase in the Eastern Region, the Head Pastor of the African Faith Tabernacle, Rev. Paul Nkansah, was arrested by the police and charged with raping five sisters. He was alleged to have confessed to the crime, but explained he had acted on the orders of some celestial powers.

In yet another instance that fits into a popular local mantra, “No mercy for a cripple”, a 38-year-old pastor of the Abuakwa branch of Miracle House Ministry in the Ashanti Region, raped a 19-year-old deaf and dumb woman who was seven months pregnant.

Pastor Philip Osei Tutu was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment with hard labour by the Tarkwa Circuit Court.

These cases show the extent to which some pastors have gone morally bankrupt, as they let lose their sexual arsenal in a manner that even the devil himself would envy.

“This is disturbing, heartbreaking and worrying,” the Head Pastor of Cedar Mountain Chapel, East Legon (Assemblies of God Church, Ghana), Rev. Stephen Wengam remarks.

An elder of the Church of Pentecost, Mr Ernest Owusu Aboagye, says: “Personally, I believe we are in an era of serious moral crisis”.

End time

The increasing spate of rape and defilement cases involving some pastors does not come as a surprise to Rev. Wengam because, as a student of the bible and eschatology, he knows they are signs of the end time.

Mr Aboagye believes such people are not real men of God, but charlatans who are only fulfilling the biblical prophecy about the end time.

He says society looks up to the church to lead the way out of such moral crisis, but pastors engaging in rape and defilement, rather deepens the moral crisis in society.

Negative impact

Mr Aboagye says the Bible stipulates in Daniel 9:19 “… your city and your people bear your Name”, but pastors who indulge in rape and defilement denigrate the name of God. He adds that such conduct by pastors has the tendency to make people lose trust in the church and Christian faith.

Making reference to 1 Timothy 3:1 to buttress his point, Rev. Wengam says anyone who aspires to be a minister of God desires a good thing and must be blameless.

“Our responsibility is to protect the vulnerable and represent Christ well,” he notes.

Rev. Wengam says it is important for the media to give more details about pastors involved in defilement and rape cases in order to establish whether they are ordained or self-styled pastors.

Criminal activities

As ministers of the gospel, pastors are accorded enormous respect and reverence in society even when they sin. And that is based on the biblical admonition in Psalm 105:15 and 1 Chronicles 16:22 which states: “Do not touch my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm” (NIV).

But Mr Aboagye, who is a legal practitioner, does not share that opinion and contends that rape and defilement are criminal offences that must be dealt with as such. He says pastors who commit crime are worse, adding, “That goes beyond morality and ethics”.

In his opinion, society must not leave such pastors to the forgiveness of God, but should deal with them according to the law.

He advises victims of rape and defilement to resort to legal, instead of religious redress.

In the view of Rev. Wengam, stiffer punishment should be meted out to pastors who indulge in rape and defilement because, as ministers of God, they are expected to live exemplary lives.

Way forward

Considering the manner in which many pastors have descended from the high moral grounds where they are expected to reside, the biblical injunction in Matthew 7:15 is something that Christians should ponder over.

"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves” (NIV).

Taking a cue from this biblical caution, Mr Aboagye urges Christians to hold their leaders to high standards and character.

“We should bring common sense approach to the church,” adding that the call to ministry is sacred and so pastors should not position themselves in a manner that would open them up to temptation.

Rev. Wengam says it is important for Christians to learn and understand the bible so that they will not follow charlatans.

He says although the constitution guarantees freedom of association, there is the need for a legislation that will ensure that all pastors belong to an association to help regulate their activities.

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