THE well publicized healing crusade spearheaded by a prominent Ghanaian charismatic preacher and “miracle-worker” Dag Heward-Mills has placed into sharp focus the division within the Christian community in Namibia.
Leaders of Charismatic and Pentecostal denominations are promoting the “Healing Jesus Campaign” and describe Heward-Mills as “man of God”, but mainstream churches reject the campaign as yet another money-making tour by a foreign preacher.
Heward-Mills kick-started his crusade at Katima Mulilo in the Zambezi Region (11 to 13 July) and is hosting a similar event at Rundu in the Kavango East Region from 13 to 15 July before moving to Oshakati in the Oshana Region (17 to 19 July).
Those spearheading the campaign are making ambitious promises – “the lame [shall] walk and the visually impaired [shall] have their sight restored”.
Images have already emerged purporting to show people living with disabilities (PLWD) handing their clutches to Heward-Mills after they were “healed” during the Katima Mulilo event.
But leaders of the mainstream churches are not convinced.
Pastor Lukas Joseph of the Evangelical Baptist Church at Oshakati said that his denomination does not recognize healing crusades as genuine healing.
“Those are staged make-believe events … as simple as that,” he said.
“Nothing really happens during those crusades. We have heard and seen it all before,” said Reverend Thomas Uushona of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia (ELCIN).
He noted further that ELCIN does not prevent “curious members” from attending such events, but they should attend mindful of the fact that no real healing occurs at such events.
Reverend Uushona’s views were echoed by a Catholic priest who spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not the right person to comment on the matter.
“Ours is a democratic and free society where no one can prevent anyone who wants to attend. Therefore, we can only warn our people that by attending such crusades they are exposing themselves to all kinds of dangerous doctrines,” he said.
Tens of thousands of people are expected to flock to the Oshakati Independence Stadium for the three-day event, but the Oshana Regional Police Commander Rauha Amwele says that the law enforcement agency will consider the event as all other church events.
“The event will not be given special treatment. The organisers themselves will be responsible for crowd control at the event. We will be doing our usual patrols and will only get involved if notified of a suspected crime inside or near the venue of the crusade,” she said.
Speaking in his personal capacity, Dr. Korbinian Viscaya Amutenya of the Oshakati Intermediate Hospital described foreign faith-healers as “disguised businessmen” who exploit the people’s vulnerabilities to make money.
“That is why Africa is today home to the majority of the richest pastors in the world,” he said.
Heward-Mills is placed fourth on the list of the 10 richest pastors in Ghana. However, his net worth is unknown.
He founded the Lighthouse Chapel International in 1988 and is the author of more than 50 books.