SHIKANDA KAWANGA , Livingstone
IT MAKES sad reading for a Christian nation to record high numbers of clergymen involved in illegal and clandestine activities all hidden in the name of the church.
News headlines have recently been dominated with clergymen implicated in all sorts of scandals which have caused most believers to doubt the credibility of many pastors including the â€˜trueâ€™ men of God.
It is clear that the bad eggs in the church are eroding public confidence in congregations and unless something is done, the meaning of a pastor will become useless, as their lives must be an example to the flock.
The situation is inconsistent with the mandate of a pastor or any other church leader who is expected to lead, nurture, comfort, correct, and protect the flock.
It must be stated that itâ€™s not new that there have been reports of the so-called men of God â€˜getting involved in illicit activities such as robbery, murder, child defilement and rape to mention just a few but the trend is escalating at an alarming rate.
Despite these infamous reports of men of God it is surprising that some still enjoy huge flocks of church members that still believe their teachings and miracles.
This reporter talked to various church leaders as well as ordinary people to find out what could be the best way to retain genuine pastors in congregations and also how to get rid of false prophets.
Livingstone Abundant Life Church reverend Wellington Mbulwe said it is unfortunate for church leaders to associate themselves with criminal actions when they are supposed to provide refuge for their members.
He said church mother bodies should work closely with the registrar of societies to formulate some guidelines that will scrutinise people who want to form churches.
Reverend Mbulwe said there was need for already existing churches to come up with a regulatory framework for administering discipline in the church.
Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia executive director reverend Pukuta Mwanza said his institution follows a strict screening process for its members to ensure the applicantâ€™s doctrine is in conformity with the bible.
Rev Pukuta said EFZ has introduced a code of conduct for all pastors adding that any breach may lead to disciplinary action including the revocation of ministerial credentials or loss of membership with EFZ.
He disclosed that the church mother body has even tightened the monitoring of its member churches following recent media reports.
Rev Pukuta however advised members of the public to go to churches that belong to recognised church mother bodies adding that churches that do not belong to any lack accountability for the conduct of their pastors and practices of their churches.
And speaking in a separate interview, Pentecostal church believer Nakawala Simwanza alleged that social media such as â€˜Whatsapp and Facebookâ€™ was keeping people too busy to have time for prayer and also for reading the bible.
â€œWe know very little of the word of God hence any pastor that claims to have a church people follow and regret after being caught in the web,â€ she said
And New Apostolic Church member Enoch Shibata called on victims to ensure that they expose false pastors so that they face the law.
Some of the infamous acts by pastors that have made news headlines recently include a Kabwe-based pastor armed with an AK47 rifle who was arrested after a failed aggravated robbery at Lusakaâ€™s Manda Hill Shopping Mall.
A Televangelist from a named church in Lusaka made headlines for making an emotional apology after he admitted to attempted rape on a married woman of Lusaka.
Another pastor is on the run after taking off with the registration fees from Namibian youths who applied for funding and training at his organisation.
In Kitwe a Prophet made headlines after miraculously turning water into wine and another for turning sealed bottles of mineral water into paraffin and petrol.
In Lusaka a prominent pastor divorced his wife with an excuse that he had a vision that the roof of the church would be blown off if he continued with his marriage.
And on the international scene, A South African pastor convinced members of his church to eat grass saying that he was trying to prove that humans can be controlled by the spirit and they can eat anything to feed their bodies.
Another South African pastor from Pretoria was turning rocks into bread and snakes into chocolate which he fed to his congregation besides feeding them with live snakes.
In Brazil an evangelical pastor was arrested for having oral sex with his church members, after convincing them that his manhood contained â€œsacred milkâ€.
What boggles the mind is that, despite their weird doctrines, these so-called men of God still command large followings.
SHIKANDA KAWANGA , Livingstone