On July 8, 2018, Pastor Paul Makenzi put on a menacing, spirited show at the altar of Good News International Church in Furunzi, Malindi.
Dressed in white from shoe to collar during a Sunday service, he danced, dared and dismissed his critics. He had been in the papers earlier that week after Kilifi County Commissioner Magu Mutindika warned against his preaching and activities.
Local FM stations had broadcast Mutindika’s warnings, and the clips had been posted in news websites. Makenzi was radicalising his followers with extremist gospel teachings which made them denounce school and medicine, he complained.
But when Makenzi took to his “stronghold” that Sunday, Mutindika became the subject of his sermon. He was in a foul mood and was going to spit it out.
“Mr Mutindika, is it the education that helps you breathe? Mutindika, is it education which has sustained you from birth? Is it education which helps you expel your waste when you go to help yourself? Be warned Mutindika, you are not attacking Pastor Makenzi. You are fighting the one who sent me,” he said as the worshipers clapped and shouted, urging him on.
That day, Makenzi’s gospel reading was drawn from an article in Taifa Leo edition of July 6, 2018, whose headline screamed: “Wazazi waonywa dhidi ya kanisa linalopotosha.”(Parents warned against the church which is misleading worshippers).
He read it word for word, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, stopping only to dismiss or to challenge it with Bible verses read out by one of his followers.
“Mutindika is not God, he was born just yesterday. The Bible has been there for centuries and the word has been there from creation. Mutindika, respect the Bible or else....,” he warned.
Makenzi compared Mutindika’s protests to the noises made by wild dogs, asking his worshippers to ignore them. He warned those who do not follow his teachings, and instead listen to Mutindika, of grave consequences.
“If what I am telling you is the message from God, and you do not listen to me, just wait and see. Only that it may be too late for you,” he said.
He also dared the government to close his church, saying they would effectively be releasing him out there where he is needed the most.
“Why haven’t you closed this church all these years I have preached? And when you close it, you will be closing the doors, not the gospel. The church does not preach. It is me who preaches. If you close its doors, you will lock me out, and it is good because I am needed out there, not here.”
He also dismissed another regional cleric, Bishop Lawrence Dena who had been quoted in the article, expressing his frustration at Makenzi’s teachings. Dena told the newspaper that every effort to stop Makenzi, including pleas by Kaya elders, had failed.
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Makenzi dismissed the kaya elders as witches, saying the day he would take advice from such people is the day he will know there is no God. He also dismissed Bishop Dena, Mutindika and all others prioritising the Constitution over the Bible as illuminati and devil worshippers.
“They are fighting with what they do not know. If they want to disappear very fast, let them proceed in this direction,” Makenzi warned Mutindika and Bishop Dena.
He turned to the worshipers, asking them who among them had been locked or tied in the church. The newspaper reports had indicated that 43 school-going children had been rescued from the church.
Makenzi said the media also, was an Illuminati enterprise which was constituted as part of the wider strategy to fool the world: “They are taught to lie.”
On the part of the newspaper report that quoted him saying education is evil, Makenzi shouted a wild and loud “correct.” The report was correct, for once.
“If education is everything to Mutindika, I want to dare him to give me a minute to ask the heavens to shut his world, and we shall see whether it will rescue him. I will ground him on the spot, and I will not require any prayers or fasting for this to happen. If education rescues him, we will start worshipping education henceforth,” he said.
Although he preached to them that education was evil, Makenzi reminded the worshipers that he never actually stopped them from taking their children to school. He said it was up to them to make up their mind on it, and that his work ended at the church.
“Have you seen me in your homes stopping you from taking your children to school? Have I stood by you and stopped you from taking medicine? I preach about many other things, including against fornication. I don’t follow you around to ensure you do not fornicate,” he preached.
Makenzi was not done with Mutindika. He had one of the congregants read the constitutional provisions on freedom of conscience, religion, belief and opinion. He gave commentaries in between the readings.
When the congregant who appeared quite knowledgeable on the law read the part about every person having the right to “manifest any religion or belief through worship, practice, teaching or observance,” Makenzi was elated:
“Eheheeeeee…. “, he shouted, throwing his hands up in the air: “to manifest…. even if we want to pray in a somersault position, we are allowed by the constitution to do so.”
They read a few other constitutional provisions, with Makenzi saying Mutindika did not even know the same constitution he was preaching on. He dared him to take him to court, and he would vanquish him without even deploying any legal service.
“We believe education is evil and we are allowed by the constitution to believe so, and to teach others to adopt the same belief,” the person who was reading the constitution concluded.
The previous year, Makenzi had been arrested twice and hauled in court on charges of running an illegal educational institution, failing to take his children to compulsory education and radicalisation among others.
In the first case on running an illegal education institution, he was fined Sh20,000 which he paid and walked away. In the second case which involved radicalisation, failure to take children to school, and trampling the rights of a child, the case collapsed on its own for want of evidence.
“Nobody will stop this gospel,” Makenzi declared on July 8, 2018.