Why should a church support an American missionary family at forty, sixty, eighty or even a hundred thousand dollars per year when a national pastor–who already knows the culture and language–can live on just a small fraction of that?
Among the chief proponents of foreign support for national pastors is KP Yohannan and his ministry Gospel for Asia (GFA). In his best-selling book Revolution in World Missions Yohannan writes: “The primary role for Westerners now should be to support efforts of indigenous missions works through financial aid…” (147). He bemoans the untold millions of dollars being wasted on Western missionaries and structures.
On the surface, supporting foreign nationals appears to be the cheapest, most efficient way for the West to use their missionary funds. Beneath the veneer of this plea, however, are a number of dangers that may make this method more destructive in the long run.
1. It discourages personal responsibility.
When a Chinese cow plows a Chinese field, it is not the responsibility of the French to give it the feed bag (1Tm. 5:18). When a Zambian pastor shepherds a Zambian congregation, it is not the duty of Brazilians to support him (5:17). Except for extreme circumstances (like funds for famine relief, Ac. 11:27-30), it is a sign of an unhealthy church that expects others to support the pastor that labors for them in preaching and teaching. Continue reading
John G. Lake, Zion City evangelist and co-founder of the Apostolic Faith Mission in South Africa, laid out one of the strongest pentecostal cases for the superhuman ability to overcome sickness. Mary Baker Eddy, founder of Christian Science, in her 1875 manifesto Science and Health, disavowed the reality of sickness and death–arguing suffering comes from mental errors. E.W. Kenyon believed physical healing is God’s intention for humanity. Kenneth Hagin claimed: “I have not had one sick day in 45 years.” Continue reading
The Prosperity Gospel heresy is so dangerous because it contains elements of truth. If it were completely false, no one would believe it. God does sometimes bless people with material prosperity and well-being.
But Scripture also warns of the dangers of promising health and wealth, especially when it is used to draw people to God. We could define the Prosperity Gospel message thus: Jesus came into the world to make people prosperous, not to remove God’s wrath upon them. God’s will is never suffering, but always health and wealth. Continue reading
One of the characteristics of false teachers is that they “entice unsteady souls” (2 Pt. 2:14). As the angler baits the hook, so do false teachers adorn their promises to fool the unsuspecting crowd.
Pastor Lesego recently grabbed headlines in South Africa when he convinced his people that eating grass would help them get closer to God. We have at least one example in Scripture of a human grass-eater, but this was a sign of God’s judgment (Dan. 4:25). The only hope God gives for the King Nebuchadnezzars and Pastor Lesegos of this world is deeply felt repentance.
Not to be outdone, pictures have come out of Pastor Alex jumping on people. The Rabonni Centre Ministries Facebook page said: “Pastor Alex showed great faith when he paced towards the congregants, who were earlier called to sleep by the Man of God, and stepping and jumping upon them. He was handed a microphone and thereafter the sleeping congregants began to wake up and sleep as he commanded them.”
Some observations from the picture tell us much of what the Prosperity Gospel is all about.
- The audience is full of women and children. Paul warned us long ago that false teachers would worm their way into the households of women who lack spiritual insight and moral substance (2 Tim. 3:6). The men in this culture are certainly not a paragon of virtue, but even they don’t fall for this level of cretinism.
- There are no Bibles. Prosperity preachers may open with a verse, but only as an aid to launch into an appeal for money. Paul praised the Berean church when they checked and double-checked everything Paul said (Acts 17:17).
- There is lots of laughter. I can assure you that a common text among prosperity preachers is not the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:4. “Blessed are those who mourn [over their sin].” They do not teach about hell, judgment, repentance, and sin. Rather, they are like “irrational animals” (2 Pt. 2:12) that follow their fleshly desires by promising health and wealth.