At the Neno Evangelism Centre in Nairobi, Pastor James Ng'ang'a is delivering one of his fiery Sunday sermons-the first since a video of him insulting his bishops and members of his church went viral last Friday.
On the surface, the incident seems to have had little, if any, impact on the membership of the church, save for driving some of Ng'ang'a's church leaders to their resignation.
As Ng’ang’a’s thunderous voice booms above the soft gospel melodies in the background, more congregants walk in, undaunted by last week's video of their visibly annoyed pastor calling some of them names and the chilly weather outside.
Inside the church, fans rotate lazily at the front. The back is, however, stuffy and dimly-lit.
Still, the faithful listen keenly to Pastor Ng'ang'a. Those far from the pulpit follow from TV screens mounted on the iron sheet walls of the church.
Ng'ang'a is in his usual animated element: He leans forward, back and at some point, leaps into the middle of the congregation that roars and claps.
Even in this particular sermon, Ng’ang’a does not shy away from making remarks about the incident, delivering a sermon packed with rebuttals to the video and the harsh criticism it has elicited.
Citing the carefully-selected verses in the Bible, he reminds his congregation of the importance of obedience, and how God will punish those that despise authority.
He accuses his critics of abusing and despising "prophets of God," citing the deluge of criticism, mostly online, from Kenyans who saw the video clip.
Despite the criticism, Nga’ng’a remains unapologetic, insisting to his followers that he was right to use the language he did.
According to Ng’ang’a, even though he used slurs in the viral video, God was using him to express his anger.
“Why are they saying I said rubbish and ‘takataka’ and stupid…arrogant, did I use arrogant? I will use that clip on Tuesday to explain why the anger, why I used these words,” he says to an attentive audience.
But while Ng’ang’a promised his followers a full explanation on Tuesday, he would not wait to offer some of it.
“It is because I am the boss, I am the father and I am not limited by children on what to say when I am angry. Even in my house I switch off the power, it remains on only in my room. Even here in the church I close the door and you haven’t left because I closed the door on you,” he says, in his usual rambling voice, sending the congregants into laughter and claps.
“A father is a father, if he closes the door come early the next Sunday, don’t run away. If you run away then it means he is not your father," he continues.
The statement seemed to target one of his bishops, who, irked by the video clip, called it quits.
Unfazed, Ng’ang’a declares: “There are things I would like people to know. Number one, I am called and chosen by God in this position. Number two, I am not doing things to entertain people. Number three, the trainings of the ministry are different . I am dealing with what you are not dealing with. I am called to do things that are not known. So please, when you judge, be careful!”
During the charged sermon, which Ng’ang’a delivers in a combination of English, Swahili and Kikuyu, Ng’ang’a reveals that since the video went viral, God had appeared to him in several visions, urging him not to worry.
“I have never listened to God with so much clarity. Yesterday God told me, “My son, don’t disturb yourself with these small things. Go and rescue my people," he said.
He went on to relate to his congregation how God told him that he has called him to save a select few and not the entire world.
He tells the congregation how he prayed below a tree at the church kneeling, wrapped in a blanket, after the video incident.
“God told me not to worry because the world can’t hear me, but those that are his will hear me,” he said.
“With all these things happening in Kenya, why Ng' ang' a? It is because I have something very special,” he declared.
All through the sermon, Ng'ang'a kept referring himself as “The Chief General Commander of the army of the Lord.”
He told his audience that the video clip was an indicator that Satan was attacking his ministry.
“One day God will help you to understand why the devil is attacking my ministry. One day God will help you to understand,” he said.
Ng’ang’a also cautioned what he called ‘outsiders’ against criticizing him, not only because he is "a servant of God" but also because he is not their pastor and they do not know him.
While he appears like an ordinary person on the outside,said, on the inside, he is not.
He thanked members of his church for staying loyal to him, despite what he described as negative media reports, which, in his words, have made him more famous.
“I am not a politician. I am not going to contest in 2022. Why (is) Ng’ang’a appearing in the media? That tells you there is something,” he said.
He also criticized the media for questioning his academic credentials and referring to his struggle with alcoholism and prison sentence and vows that nothing will bring him down.
“If they bring me down, then God didn’t call me,” he says.
During the sermon, Ng’ng’a brought to the audience a young man he claimed to have given a Sh60,000 cheque to clear his university fees.
The media he says, will not focus on his acts of charity.
It only focuses on the bad things, but never the positives, like the fact that he was paying for a young man's degree even though he (Ng’ang’a) does not have one.
At the end sermon, Ng'ang'a performed one of his usual "miracles," this time, casting demons out of a middle-aged woman.
Later, the worshipers milled around him, taking their "offering" to the man who called them names three days earlier.
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