Teacher Cecilia has been a model Christian faithful in her New Age church for years. She never questioned her church leader’s incessant penchant for personal projects requiring money. When he needed a house, Cecilia, like many other faithful, saw this as a “God ordained project” and dutifully paid up her allocated dues...as well as his car, college fees and occasional foreign trips would all be funded in the same way.
But the biggest and boldest money stunt came last year when the preacher dreamt of a church Sacco for the general improvement of the congregation and to the glory of “the word of God.” Ideally, each member of the church was required to buy shares in the venture that would be managed by the apostle and his inner circle of church elders.
For a start, they needed a plot in an upmarket location on which to put up a shopping mall. And so the faithful took loans, borrowed money and raided their savings to buy this plot. Cecilia passed by the local land registry and discreetly did a few inquiries. She was shocked to discover that the plot the church had just acquired was registered in the apostle’s name!
Over the next few weeks, Cecilia saw the grand project for what it was - a mega scam! Her financial sense came back in a flood. She realised that over the years, she had never accomplished any of her financial dreams as she had been contributing a tidy sum to many undefined church projects. She took what she describes as an extraordinary emancipation step in her life and defected from that New Age church to a mainstream one and her money dreams have brightened up for her.
According to Steve Ngari, a born-again personal finance banker, the impoverishing nature of some religious outfits is serous and can cast doom on many people’s money security. “By devious quasi-religious schemes, some preachers actually lead their flock into believing that all of their personal money projects are God ordained,” he says.
10 per cent
While not dissuading people from giving the Biblical tithe of ten per cent and funding other structured religious causes, Ngari advises people to scrutinise church projects, especially their social utility and economic sense before parting with their cash. Certainly, it would be foolhardy to plant the ubiquitous “seed” at every lunch time street preaching or sending money to televangelists who never forget to splash their phone numbers across TV screens. Paying for “special prayers” may not significantly alter the cold reality of your situation. In fact, these are some of the frontiers that impoverish many faithful and which you must guard against.
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