Pastor Ezekiel 'altars' attract more women worshippers

Pastor Ezekiel's ascension in religious circles in Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Tanzania, where he also performs massive crusades, is reminiscent of Muiru, Kagendo, Pastor Ng'ang'a, and Bishop Joseph Maisha.

Other than Prophet Owuor, the rest started their mission in Mombasa. So did the late Elisha Chitayi of Miracle Revival Pentecostal Church of East Africa in Mariakani, Kilifi County.

Aside from the Kasarani crusade, Ezekiel came to public attention in February when he contributed Sh6.6 million to help 103 poor children in Kilifi. He also gave Sh13 million to fight hunger in Kilifi County last year.

Police broke into Odero's "City in the City" on Thursday and detained him after Coast Regional Coordinator Rodah Onyacha said the pastor was sought in connection with the murders of his worshippers.

According to a church official, 100 parishioners were also arrested and questioned by the police. Odero will be arraigned today.

Most of Pastor Ezekiel's supporters believe that New Life Church relocated from Shanzu in Mombasa to Mavueni after he received repeated threats to his life.

Others claim he relocated to Mavueni, near the house of his wife, Pastor Sarah, to combat witchcraft. He had said his life was in danger in Shanzu.

"I fight witchcraft, Mipango ya Kando, and heal the sick," Ezekiel said in one of his YouTube videos. His primary responsibility is to protect the institution of marriage, he added.

He holds massive crusades in Shanzu and now Mavueni, attracting thousands of people from all over the nation. The majority of worshippers arrive by bus from all across the country.

His lectures condemning "mipango ya Kando" have made him popular among married women. However, men flock to the church because they say Christ despises divorce and separation.

In most of his sermons, he says a woman should not even travel out of the country and leave her husband behind, adding that it has contributed to high cases of divorce.

Unlike other preachers, Pastor Ezekiel calls his places of worship "altars" to differentiate them from other churches, and he sells a "holy white handkerchief, water, and oil" to his followers.

In his pulpits, which draw thousands of female worshippers, are altars where marriage and issues are deconstructed and women are ordered to go back to their husbands regardless of the differences.

Pastor Ezekiel hails from Mbita in Homa Bay county. Those who know him say he was raised by his mother and his uncles.

According to a former classmate, Ezekiel was a devout Seventh-Day Adventist and a prominent duet singer at Miwani High School who enjoyed theological arguments.