In the past few years it has become common to see videos and pictures and also listen to news stories of some ministers of God clearly giving “absurd” directions and instructions to members of their congregations in the name of healing, deliverance and spiritual intervention and directions.
For instance, a video monitored on You Tube by this reporter, showed a minister of God kissing a woman in front of the congregation in the name of driving demons from her.
Also, in another video, a self-styled prophet is seen using his leg to step on a pregnant woman’s stomach bump, in the name of delivering her of evil spirits, while another pastor in a video which was circulating on WhatsApp was seen inserting her finger in a woman’s female genital in the presence of her husband and a congregation, claiming he was teaching the congregants sex education, particularly how men were supposed to caress their women to ensure they reached orgasm.
Other spiritual directions by men of God on social media for women desperate for marriages, include asking the women to bring the photographs of men they wished to get married to so that the pastors will pray on them after which the men would have no option but forced by the holy spirit to come and marry them.
Distribution of toffees
Recently, on Aljazeera, an international television network, a Ghanaian minister of God was shown distributing toffees he referred to as “children’s toffees” to his congregation telling them that the toffees had the spiritual ability to make women fertile, to replace wombs and increase sperm count, particularly for men with low sperm count.
Other videos on social media also show a pastor lying on top of a woman in what he described as “missionary sexual intercourse position,” claiming to be impregnating the woman spiritually, which he said, would manifest physically. How the physical pregnancy was supposed to happen, he did not say.
There have also been instances where children confess to being witches in front of an entire congregation in live telecast of church services, claiming to have killed some people from their families.
Riding on vulnerability
In an interview with a former General Secretary of the Christian Council of Ghana, Rev. Dr Kwabena Opuni–Frimpong, he explained that most of those ministers of God exploited the vulnerability of their church members, particularly women and children who needed help, and took advantage of their conditions to tell them things that would satisfy them.
“Some women even give more respect and honour to their pastors than their husbands, by kissing their feet, kneeling before them and obeying their outrageous directions and instructions in the name of giving them solutions and interventions to their problems,” he said.
He argued that due to the trust some of the women had in the men of God, and their anxiety to receive God’s power through such men, they resolved to do everything their pastors told them, sometimes leading to human rights abuse and intimidation.
What leads them?
When asked what could let women and men to follow such “outrageous” directions from self-proclaimed prophets, Dr Opuni- Frimpong said society had placed so much responsibilities and pressure on women which made them desperate to look for interventions from wherever they could.
He further noted that the society was well dominated by men, therefore, it was very difficult for women to penetrate, a situation which sometimes frustrated them to and lead them to some of these churches and pastors.
Additionally, Dr Opuni –Frimpong explained that the emotional and psychological trauma some women went through in their marriages and society at large, drove them to the mercy of these churches and pastors who preyed on their vulnerability.
“Women who are emotionally and financially strong will not fall prey to some of these things by the pastors and prophets”, he said.
In situations where some members of a congregation are sick and need critical medical attention, they turn to the men of God, for what they expect to be instant healing, due to their desperation, and rely on their holy water and anointing oil and other possible solutions, Dr Opuni-Frimpong stated.
“Demeaning human dignity”
In the name of being men of God, he said some of the proclaimed Ministers of God ask people who contact them for prayers to do things like asking them to eat grass, taking concoctions, with some of them sleeping with married women, all in the name of helping them find solutions to their problems.
“These ‘prophets and men of God have torn families apart and have taken advantage of the vulnerabilities of those who come to them for spiritual guidance, to extort money and abused their dignity.
“These are not Christ-like and are demeaning to the dignity of humanity contrary to what the Word of God on which these so-called pastors profess to claim their authority, teach,” Dr Opuni-Frimpong lamented.
He said such acts also disgraced the Christian faith, as the Bible urges Christians to hallow the name of God.
On the way forward, Dr Opuni-Frimpong said some orthodox churches in Ghana over the years had played key roles in women empowerment through the establishment of schools and training colleges with the support of civil society organisations and other related partners.
He urged churches to continue to empower their congregation who were in need, both financially and materially, emphasising that women were strong and intelligent and not shallow-minded as some people perceived.
Also, Rev. Dr Opuni-Frimpong said such acts also disgraced the Christian faith as the Bible urged Christians to hallow the name of God.
He further urged the Ministry of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs to bring some of these self-styled prophets to order.
The acting Director of the Pantang Hospital, Dr Frank Baning, in an interview said some people became overwhelmed by their frustrations, and to them the only way to deal with such situations was through spiritual means.
He said as was characteristic of African culture, “we do not take control of situations and it is part of our thinking and our mindset.
Instead of seeking solutions for our problems we pray for divine intervention.”