THE rapidly increasing number of prophets and non-denominational charismatic preachers in Namibia has placed mainstream Pentecostal churches between a rock and a hard place.
This was evident during this year’s annual conference of the North Christian Men United (NCMU), which was held at the Apostolic Faith Mission parish in the Okambebe village, Ohangwena Region, from 25 to 28 October.
Until recently, mainstream Pentecostals focused on recruiting members from the “traditional churches” such as the Anglican, Lutheran and the Catholic churches, but they are now forced to fend off a serious challenge from self-proclaimed prophets who are establishing their own “Pentecostal churches” almost everywhere and attracting huge crowds.
The Okambebe conference served as a platform to launch a frontal attack on such prophets who were dismissed as “charlatans” and “witchdoctors” whose sole objective is “fame and self-enrichment.”
Bishop Samuel Carlos of the Holiness Church delivered a speech on “false prophets”, focusing on their identifying marks, their modus operandi and why God allows such “deceitful workmen” in the Namibian society.
He said that a true prophet remains in the church serving under the church pastor, but a false prophet disobeys church authority and goes out to start his own church.
He noted that “false prophets” bring the name of Pentecostalism into disrepute because they identify themselves as Pentecostals while doing unbiblical things such as selling “holy water” and stickers for alleged physical and spiritual protection.
After admitting that “false prophets” are very popular and constitute a serious challenge, Carlos labelled them as “boastful, extravagant, attention seekers”.
He further said that “false prophets” are mostly popular with “gullible people” who would follow anyone claiming the ability to perform signs and wonders, heal the infirm, predict the future and reveal the source of any misfortune.
The Namibian police had been at loggerheads with a number of such prophets, and Health Minister Bernard Haufiku has repeatedly warned the public to reject faith healers who claim to be able to cure even HIV/Aids and cancer.
Although the 200-member NCMU is theoretically open to all Christian men regardless of denominational affiliation, NCMU members, conference organisers and speakers are almost exclusively members of mainstream Pentecostal churches.