By now, you’ve heard the story or, better still, you watched the drama unfold on television.
Generally, we all have an idea of what to expect when we tune in to the news in the evening – politics: which presidential aspirant campaigned where and promised what, corruption scandals involving those we’ve entrusted to run the country, disheartening news of a fatal accident.
Once in a while though, we get an unexpected bonus, like we did last week, a bonus that Kenyans are still talking about.
I’m referring to that story on NTV, where a pastor allegedly paid a woman to give a false testimony.
The woman, Esther Mwende, claims that the pastor, Michael Njoroge, paid her Sh2,000 to pretend that she had a deformed mouth, which the pastor “healed” during one of his church services.
As was bound to happen, the story generated heated debate, with amused, but angry Kenyans agreeing that it is about time crooks who masqueraded as men of God were exposed.
If indeed this pastor is guilty of what he’s accused of, then he’s not a lone player in this conning game.
A day after the story aired, someone told a group of us how a year ago, while flipping channels on a Sunday morning, he saw a familiar face in one of the many church services broadcast on television.
The familiar face was that of a cousin. She was on a wheelchair, next to the pulpit, where the pastor was energetically exorcising the “demons” that had bound the poor woman to a wheelchair.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with this picture so far. I believe in God, I always have, and I wouldn’t roll my eyes in disbelief if someone I know told me that she had been cured of a disease that doctors tell us is incurable. Miracles have been known to happen.
But I digress. The person narrating the story was confused. As far as he knew, this cousin of his, a mother of two, had never been crippled, nor did she have any physical deformity.
In fact, he had been with her a month or two before, during a family gathering at their grandparents’ home. She had been fine, no wheelchair in sight.
He tried to convince himself that the woman he was looking at was just someone who looked like his cousin, but the likeness was too uncanny.
To ensure that his eyes were not deceiving him, he called three relatives and asked them to switch to the channel.
They all called back with the same answer – that was indeed her, it couldn’t be anyone else. But if she had been involved in an accident that robbed her of her legs, then no one knew about it.
Meanwhile, the fiery preacher was jumping up and down, imploring heaven to drive out the demons that held her hostage, and give her back her legs.
Most of the congregation was in a frenzy too, loudly praying for a miracle.
The “miracle” came a few minutes later. This man tells us that his cousin suddenly stood up, began to walk back and forth, much to the consternation of the congregation, and then she began to run, jumping up and down, screaming with happiness, tears of joy streaming down her eyes.
By then the congregation was clapping and shouting Amens so hard, he had to turn down his television set’s volume.
That evening, this man, still hesitant to acknowledge the deception he had watched, called his cousin, only for her to retort, unapologetically, “Watoto lazima wasome (My children have to go to school)”. Case closed.
At a loss of what to say, this man simply wished her a good evening and hang up.
“What would you say if it were you?” he asked us. Indeed, what would you say?