It is the 19th century British newspaper magnate, Alfred Harmsworth who is believed to have coined the oft used “man bites dog” maxim in journalism. He observed that unusual events, such as a man biting a dog, are more likely to make it into the news than when a dog bites a man. In fact, journalists have further argued that there is no news in a plane that does not crash.
Whereas this may be true, when all that we ever read, hear, or see in the various news media are about men biting dogs and planes crashing, it can have the unintended consequence of distorting our perceptions of reality. Dogs may develop a phobia for humans while air travel may greatly decline. A balance is thus necessary. In the recent past, the church has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. From wrangles over property, to impropriety in use of finances; and from the flock being fleeced to sex scandals. The frequency of such reports paints the picture of an institution lost in sin and a clergy gone rogue.
One rarely hears of any good news about the Good News preachers. While it is true that all may not be well in the house of God, it is inaccurate to dress the Body of Christ wholly in such tattered clothes. For though this Bride may not be anywhere near what would be expected of a heavenly queen, she is nonetheless being well prepared for the ultimate ceremony.
There actually is a lot of good that is happening in God’s house, which unfortunately goes unreported. Apart from the few men biting dogs, there are serious men and women who go out of their way to feed and preserve them. Similarly, there are careful pilots committed to landing their passengers safely at the pearly gates of Heaven. We recently lost one such great man of God, Bishop Peter Njiri, the Presiding Bishop of the Kenya Assemblies of God (KAG).
In his life and ministry, Bishop Njiri distinguished himself as a man of deep spirituality and high integrity. During the constitutional review process, I had opportunity to work with many churchleaders, and there is much I could say about them. But, having worked closely with Bishop Njiri, I can testify that this soft-spoken leader proved to be a true servant of God who loved nothing but God and His people.
In a nation where many men and women of God have been known only for their insatiable pursuit of wealth and fame, Bishop Njiri was rarely in the limelight and yet reaching out to and supporting the poor and needy in society. He initiated several projects to provide education, health, and sanitation to many indigent communities. For example, having been moved by the plight of street children, Bishop Njiri donated a personal five-acre piece of land in Kitengela to put up a home for destitute children. Similar homes have since been established in Naivasha, Kitale, Nyeri, Meru, Limuru, Molo, Kakamega, and Moi’s Bridge. Over 2OO children have been educated up to Secondary school, with 21 of them proceeding on to college and University.
Sitting at the helm of such a large Pentecostal Church – with over 3600 congregations, some may speculate as to how Bishop may have got his resources. It was not from passionate seed planting appeals. The good Bishop was an astute farmer and businessman who supported himself from his own sweat. He was once the best Kenchic contract farmer and the best Farmers Choice contract farmer. With many other successful business ventures, he not only provided for himself, but also liberally gave to many individuals and institutions. Bishop Njiri is therefore testament to the fact that not all men and women of God are in ministry for personal gain. In the midst of the many dog biters, there is a remnant whose only interest is to prepare God’s people for the coming Kingdom and to support those in need while they wait.
It is in this vein that we must appeal to fellow servants of God to abandon practicesthat taint the image of the Church and commit to fulfilling our noble mandate of being examples in life and doctrine. If we must seek prosperity, let us seek the genuine prosperity of our members and our society. We must avoid dog biting incidents that only feed the news media and instead focus on issues that progress the nation whether or not we get media coverage.
- The writer is the Presiding Bishop of Christ is the Answer Ministries. [email protected]