By now, all of us have heard of the horror that has become of Shakahola village in Kilifi County.
This week, journalists and security personnel ventured into the vast Shakahola forest which is now a crime scene. What they saw on the ground, which we have seen in the media, is more than one could imagine.
The activities that were taking place at Pastor Paul Mackenzie’s Good News International Church looked more dangerous.
Bodies of children and adults have been uncovered from mass graves. 16 followers of the cult leader who told them to starve themselves ahead of the end of the world have so far been rescued.
How could such deaths and ruthless cult behavior go undetected for so long? In the name God we have seen brutal, ruthless acts which can be termed as the epitome of evil. This must shred our hearts.
The activities of the controversial pastor Paul Mackenzie who remains in police custody have torn through the hearts of many and left a lifetime of trauma not only to the villagers of Shakahola but also to the country at large.
What breaks the heart of God must shred ours, too.
Listening to the stories of people who claim to have lost relatives and family members to this act of cult, you realize how much responsibility as a body of Christ we have in telling the world about the true Messiah.
What has happened in Kilifi is ugly, not because it jumped into the headlines overnight, but because Mackenzie manipulated locals through skewed radical religious teachings. He misinterpreted and abused the scriptures.
The media is exploring every angle of the story, including interviews with religious leaders. Some clerics have called for the need for regulation but that call will likely run into stiff resistance because independent churches have previously rejected suggestions on self-monitoring from the National Council of Churches of Kenya.
People like Mackenzie don’t want to be answerable to anyone.
While it is an undeniable fact that all is not well in the body of Christ, it is not true that all churches are allergic to regulations. Those under the umbrella bodies of The National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) and the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya (EAK) already have an internal mechanism for self-regulation.
The failure to self-regulate has deafened the Church’s voice and moral authority in advocating for good governance and accountability in Kenya.
Their only headache is on how to deal with the mushrooming independent charismatic congregations, not under anyone’s authority, and the “rogue pastors’’ with single congregations, not under any umbrella body.
The failure to self-regulate has deafened the Church’s voice and moral authority in advocating for good governance and accountability in Kenya. The umbrella bodies must therefore create a framework and guidelines that would help pastors put systems and structures that will enable them to be accountable and meet regulatory obligations, as well as teach sound Biblical doctrine.
As Christians, we need to be more discerning. And as Paul the Apostle would charge believers “Proclaim the Word of God and stand upon it no matter what! Rise to the occasion and preach when it is convenient and when it is not. Preach in the full expression of the Holy Spirit — with wisdom and patience as you instruct and teach the people.”
I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:1-5)
In times like this, the church must wake up and deal with the tares, or else, the government will cross the line to uproot the tares. Won’t they?