It will take more than prayers to heal this nation

Thursday, February 29th, 2024 08:38 | By
Charlene, daughter of President William Ruto, with American preacher Benny Hinn at a prayer meeting in Nairobi over the weekend.
Charlene, daughter of President William Ruto, with American preacher Benny Hinn at a prayer meeting in Nairobi over the weekend. PHOTO/Print

The recent visit by 71-year-old Israeli-born American-Canadian televangelist Pastor Toufik Benedictus “Benny” Hinn raised a lot of excitement for various reasons.

There are the “unbelievers” who would not be moved even if the Pope entered their house. They are also too engaged trying to survive the extremely harsh economic times that have befallen us.

On the other hand, we have the so called born-again Christians, who eat, walk, sleep and wax lyrical on matters Biblical. To these Christians of the evangelical bent, Hinn’s crusade was a spiritual serving straight from heaven.

Being in the stadium was reveling in the aura of Christ himself in the persona of Pastor Hinn. I happened to watch Hinn’s Sunday preaching on TV, albeit involuntarily, if you know what I mean!

This is my take. Telling people to study the Bible only and keep off books of worldly knowledge, terming the latter as of no benefit, was erroneous.

It is why Christianity has been blamed for much of Africa’s underdevelopment. It is instructive that the Israeli Ambassador, a Jew, did not mention the name Jesus Christ even once when he addressed Kenyans next to Hinn.

A joke is told that while the Jewish state of Israel is protected by the mobile all-weather air defense system, Iron Dome, and a sophisticated military, Africans believe in protection by the Jewish Christ.

This country needs a heavy dose of worldly knowledge to transform her economic fortunes. To paraphrase the Bible, man cannot live on bread, read the word, alone. Another joke going round is that while the rest of the world is eyeing Africa for her vast resources, Africans can’t wait to go to heaven.

Now, you get the drift.

Many preachers have effectively exploited Africans’ ignorance and penchant for superstition. We shirk taking responsibility for our actions through fatalism, totally ignoring that God gave us brains to think critically and innovatively.

If you want something material in this life, you simply have to earn it. This is a lesson that must sink once and forever.

Kenya desperately needs realism to move from the perennial socioeconomic and political doldrums. We have touted ourselves as being staunch Christians, with many of our political leaders elected to Parliament in the name of God.

But how we reconcile our fanatical religiosity with the fact that we usually rank on the top tier of the most corrupt countries in the world is baffling.

Ironically, many Kenyans who become rich through graft praise the Lord for it. “Ni God manze!” (It’s God, man!) How now? This is a complete bastardisation of religion, knowing only too well that one has stolen from the future of millions of poor people, for who the funds were meant to benefit.

While faith healing of disease has its place, it is irresponsible of pastors to make people avoid medical advice when necessary. It is sad that these same pastors seek expensive healthcare in overseas hospitals while preaching miracle healing to their congregants, even asking them to tithe more for more miracles.

Obviously, Kenya’s fortunes will not be transformed miraculously, like in some sort of abracadabra. Healing this nation needs diligence, sacrifice, sincere contrition, and similar Christian virtues. Healing demands that we dust all the reports of historical injustices, and right the socioeconomic and political ills meted on millions of innocent Kenyans since independence.

Someone said on X that religiosity is the heart of Africa’s underdevelopment, noting that some of the most secular countries are the best governed, least corrupt and most developed.

Ultimately, our healing will come from total honesty from public servants in their use of national resources, and ensuring no Kenyan sleeps hungry, or dies from disease, out of poverty. My parting shot is in 2 Timothy 3:1-17. That’s where we are at.

—The writer is a PhD candidate in International Relations

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