Sad news from Ghana. This week a mob of angry young Muslims wrecked a Christian church. Why? Because the preacher predicted the death of the country’s chief imam this year. This was an insult. The Muslims community asked for an apology. None came. So armed with machetes, they ransacked the Church of the Glorious Word and Power Ministry. No one was hurt, but they tore it up pretty good.
If you’re surprised at this incident, you should understand that Ghana is a very Christian country with many, many preachers who have made a name for themselves with predictions of various kinds. They’re prophets with important things to tell us. One of the most lucrative sorts of prediction is the doomsday prophecy of death and destruction. That can really draw a crowd and boosts the pastor’s rankings on social media. The top-ranked man of God in Ghana has over 2 million followers on facebook and twitter! They also have radio shows with enormous reach. These men are rock stars.
How do we know it’s true that they are prophets? We know it’s true because they told us so themselves. God is telling them things and their followers believe it. A naïve observer would think that the prediction racket is a dangerous game for a guy to get into. If you‘ve got God whispering in your ear that someone is about to die and he doesn’t, well, that would seem to bring your career as a soothsayer to a dead-end. But no, as you might expect, the preacher-man weasels out of it: he says, “Yes, he was going to die, but our prayers helped save the doomed man’s life. Put some money in the collection box and we can save some more.” They’re also good at waiting until someone actually dies and then claiming God told them that was about to happen. Hey presto! It’s ex post facto prophesying! Give it a try, it’s easy! Anyone can do it! But to make a buck off it you’ve got to know your audience, and as in any country, there is no shortage of people who prefer superstition to logic any day of the week, but especially on Sundays.
The popularity of these preachers can also be set down to the personal spiritual protection they offer. Coming to them for a week-long prayer session can help you increase your financial success in life, or even fend off your own death. Why not give up a week of work and the pay that goes with it to ward off the final curtain? Who cares if you’re dirt poor, the preacher-man has the secret to success. Slip him your last few coins and he’ll let you in on the mystery of how to make money..
Amidst all this superstition, the shining light in the story comes from the imam himself, the one who was given the bad news of his imminent death. He advised his hot-headed Muslim followers to calm down and forgive the preacher. It didn’t work, but at least he said it.