There are people silently suffering during this period of Covid-19 containment and curfews - the church addicts. As we all know, Kenyans are God-loving, we are the nation of a million churches with fancy names. We like to go to church at all hours to sing, worship and get close to our maker.
Over time, this church culture has created an interesting breed of human beings. These human beings have morphed into an alloy of sect, cult and cartel. For them, church is not just about God- it is about letting all and sundry know they are special. It is about tending God’s garden usually be pruning the ‘bad seeds and weeds’ that occasionally stray into church.
These folks come in different genders, shapes and sizes with most of them taking various leadership positions. These church cartels have been known to be so zealous in doing good that they have traumatised other members into fleeing the church. They must be suffering this time for they cannot get their usual Sunday fix.
The Church Cartels do not see themselves as mere mortals-they see themselves as having been specially ‘anointed’ by God to serve His faithful. Some consider it their ‘birth right’ to occupy certain positions of power in the church for however long they please. They even know which posts to go for, the ones that offer more visibility and sometimes more cash- all in the guise of doing God’s work.
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For people who claim to have been ‘called by the Lord,’ it is amazing how much energy they deploy into getting into church positions. Some have been known to use bribes, cash and smear campaigns to ensure that get to be and to stay in the office. We all have seen how churches have in recent days become battlefields during changes of leadership. I wonder how these political church ‘beasts’ are faring these times.
Important support cast
These church officials and leaders see themselves as the important support cast for the clergy and so they treat their appointments as cell leaders, deacons, and guild leaders as sacred. They show up every Sunday dressed in their fines apparel and of course we all know that they must sit at the very front of the church usually on specially designated pews.
Every Sunday for them is akin to a fashion contest where they show off their finest plumage for how else with God’s people know that they are blessed? Some take it a step further and insist that their entire families show up in matching outfits so that everyone can see the halo of the Lord upon them. Woe therefore unto anyone how dares encroach on their ‘special seats.’ Any invaders are treated as imposters and will usually receive menacing daggers from these officials- never mind that God’s house is meant to be a place of equal love for every one.
It is just not their own fashion they worry about; they also feel morally responsible for everybody else’s dress and decorum. Somewhere in between reading scripture and fixing their gaze unto the Lord, they still mysteriously find time to notice members of the flock who are displaying ‘unchristian behaviour.” They will be the first ones to notice wives who are wearing dresses that show off all their cellulite or who might lead the men of God astray with their plunging necklines.
The Lord has blessed these folks with laser vision for they are able to easily pick out those who are in the family way despite being unwed- heck they can even tell those who are having secret affairs within the church. A reward awaits these folks in heaven for how they execute and follow up on their concerns on moral behaviour.
They will usually have a ‘word’ with the errant member usually a mix of a bible verse and thinly veiled threats of possible eviction from the church. Members of these cartels relish their roles as the moral brigade of the church-some have been known to go through merciless and bizarre ends to ensure that the right levels of righteousness prevail in the church.
The church cartels operate even outside the usual church hours- in fact that are at their vicious best during such hours. They go into overdrive when it comes to the after-church meetings-those notorious Jumuia and cell gatherings. Once again, they use these sessions to establish their ‘closeness’ to God as they vigilantly pay attention to members who are not making the right ‘holy’ noises or not making the right remittances.
These cartels are so powerful that they determine which members are in the ‘right’ standing and so can host as many jumuias or fellowships as are deemed fit. Just like in church, these cartels are hawk-eyed in noticing who has fallen short of the glory be it from having the worst tea and snacks to owning the same tired sofas for eons. These cartel members live for Sunday afternoons where they do a health check on their members so that they have enough gossip to share and enough material to act as the moral brigade of the church.
How they must be suffering now for there are no opportunities to show off fashion, no opportunities to hog pews and making special announcements. How are they getting along in these days when they have no special slots at funerals or weddings? How are they faring when they are unable to pester and nag members to update their tithes? This must be a tough time for them – they must be in need of therapy.