Religion & Culture | Prayer of salvation - Responding to dangers in the Black Church
Lord, I am troubled by the misdeeds in the Black Church. I wrestled with my anger, my disappointment. The lies and deceit weigh heavily on my shoulders. My spirit is broken. I am forlorn.
I seek refuge in your book but my pain I cannot allay. It is Paul, your good servant who spoke of thorns in the flesh, Satan's presence. We were warned against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world.
But my Father, the only devils I see is in the flesh. They are adorned in the finest jewellery and raiment. And with the sugar-coated tongues, they quote scripture and fleece the poor.
My God, how many more damning headlines must I bear? How many more civil and criminal suits must be filed against these devils of the cloth? I can write them all down but my ink runs dry. Lo, these charges run over.
But I write here a few, reminder of the evil among us: Pastor has affair with man's wife, shoots him in church; Montana man shoots wife, pastor; Rape, possible motive in pastor shooting;
A pastor caught in act (with) pants down; Pastor admits he has full-blown AIDS and knowingly infected women in his church; Pastor sentenced to 10 years for not informing (girlfriends) of his HIV status; Missing money: Warrant out for pastor; Megachurch pastor indicted for fraud and money laundering; Pastor allegedly shopped with church's money; Pastor allegedly paid for trips on church dime; Verdict in trial of embezzling church pastor.
These sins committed in black churches, all in a twinkling. What am I to make of this, O Lord?
I am crestfallen, a voice in the wilderness. Let not my entreaty fall on deaf ears. Our history is a brutal one but we survived. No other people could have, but we did. Such was your sustenance.
For centuries we were browbeaten by missionaries pedalling a heavenly meed in exchange for earthly suffering. And if we swayed we were served with "Suffer the children unto me." And if our doubt doubled, we were given a steady dose of "God does not give us more than we can bear." But you are not a deceiving God. You are a good God.
Now, the purveyors of these twisted truths are no longer bearded, white and blue-eyed.
They are black like me. Lo, they wear Prada and drive around in the finest cars. And the poison they serve is far deadlier, far more beguiling than what was served to our forefathers. And that's why the pain is so unbearable.
The white missionaries would get their way with black women. Sexual duress. Today, there is an alluring mystique to the devils on the pulpit. A mystique that knows no boundaries. Lo, sugar-coated are their tongues.
They disarm, seduce, mesmerise, destroying families. Help us O God. To you I look for guidance, to you I look for strength against these principalities that reside in the Black Church.
They pedal in tithes. They babble, all gibberish - a mockery of Paul's teachings. They defile your Son's teachings on humility. They corrupt the revolutionary spirit of your Son, concocting a new teaching: prosperity theology, they call it. Deceivers they are.
They hoodwink the desperate to surrender what they cannot afford to surrender. They drown in riches. In their deceptive ploys they are no different than the dope and alcohol pushers that destroy our communities.
What if they had only used their riches to transform minds, to make men of our misguided boys who are fodder for prisons? Help me Lord for I am seething. It is your Son, Jesus, who rebelled against the temples of his day.
Raise one among us to destroy the modern dens of thieves and philanderers that pervert your teachings. They bring ignominy to your Holy Name. Please God, hear the prayer of thy humble servant.
I plead for the days of yore, when the Black Church was led by your handiwork. Raise among us the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. Raise up, O God, another Zaphania Kameeta, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Bishop Henry Turner, Archibald Dunkley, Harriet Tubman, Barney Pityana and Nat Turner, all God-fearing servants, versed in your Word, but who worked tirelessly to enlighten and edify spiritually, socially and politically.
O God, what they built is now torn down. Raise among us, pastors willing to shake the foundations of injustice. Raise among us pastors who will lead the struggle for economic empowerment.
You who are slow to anger, answer me. Open the eyes of the blind who follow the perfidious to wretchedness and disappointment. Remove the illusion, O God.
Send down the Spirit of discernment. Help us to take back the Word from these wolves in sheep clothing.
Teach us to pray, not only with our mouths, but with our feet and our minds. Let us not sit, but walk; let us not be docile, but be ever vigilant; let us not fear, but follow in the footsteps of David and all the Righteous.
This I ask, in Jesus name. Amen.
- Dr Glenville Ashby is the award-winning author of Anam Cara: Your Soul Friend and Bridge to Enlightenment and Creativity. Feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @glenvilleashby