Bishop Gilbert Deya’s miracle babies were not miraculous after all but the fruits of “an intricate web of deceit”, according to a former cleric with the Deya Ministries.
The Rev Rose Atieno Kiserem, who was a senior pastor with the church headed by Bishop Deya, on Thursday confessed that the so-called miracle babies were a “hoax” intended to “hoodwink and dupe” the church’s followers.
Stealing a baby
In May 2007, Ms Kiserem was jailed alongside Bishop Deya’s wife, Mary, and Ms Miriam Nyeko for two years for stealing a baby. She was released from prison in September last year.
And on Thursday, she had this to say about the miracle babies: “According to my own experience and beliefs, the so-called miracle babies were a hoax created by the Deyas and their accomplices to deceive me and other God-fearing people.”
Mrs Kiserem offered a glimpse into the secret operations of the UK-based Kenyan preacher who is wanted by Kenyan police for child trafficking allegations.
She spoke out three days after Bishop Deya’s adopted son, Paul, was held by police on suspicion that he had knifed his four-year-old son to death before stabbing his wife and then himself. The attack reportedly devastated and “disorganised” his adopted father at a time when he is embroiled in a legal battle to stop his extradition to Kenya.
However, the bishop has exhausted his appeal options and is now an unsuccessful asylum seeker, facing imminent deportation.
The Rev Kiserem said she was recruited into the Deya Ministries by the bishop’s “cronies” who were her friends. She was first hired as an interpreter in the many crusades that the Deyas held across the country.
“They told me my experience as an English teacher would be helpful in advancing the cause of the ministry,” she said. “I had a successful career as a beauty consultant, and attended to the grooming needs of the country’s high and mighty before the grand fall.”
Her arrest came as a surprise when the police knocked on the Deyas’ door at Mountain View Estate in Nairobi in 2004.
She recounted how, as a senior a “powerful intercessor”, she was called to witness the “miracle” birth at a clinic in the city’s Huruma neighbourhood.
“One of Mrs Deya’s friends, Ms Miriam Nyeko, had arrived in the country a few days earlier,” she said. “Then Mrs Deya called me and we headed to Eastlands. I sensed something was amiss because Mrs Deya had called a taxi despite having a driver and two cars.
“After a few minutes, I asked them where we were heading, and immediately Ms Nyeko went into labour! Then Mrs Deya told me she had prayed for her Ugandan visitor during one of her visits to the UK, and that their prayers had finally been answered as the woman was now in labour.”
At the clinic, which Mrs Deya told her she had been “specially anointed” to facilitate the birth of miracle babies, the two were ushered into a room as Ms Nyeko “consulted” the doctor.
“I wondered how a woman in labour could have the strength to talk to a doctor for over an hour,” the Rev Kiserem said. “But I consoled myself that this was no normal birth, and that this was God’s way of showing His might.”
The woman was then taken to the delivery room “and Mrs Deya told me to go into deep prayer because Ms Nyeko had always wanted a baby boy”.
After four hours of non-stop prayer, they were called to the delivery room, where Mrs Deya handed her a camera “to record the miracle”. She, however, noticed something was amiss with the newborn, whose skin looked rather rough for a baby only a few minutes old.
However, her greatest shock was when the new mother and her baby boy emerged from the room: the infant was suckling on a bottle of baby formula.
“I asked what was happening, and Mrs Deya told me that this was the new trend. Modern women never breastfed their children because they had to maintain their shapes,” the Rev Kiserem recalled.
A few days later, reports of a child trafficking syndicate started appearing in Kenyan newspapers, and shortly after they were arrested.
While they were in custody, Mrs Kiserem said, Mrs Deya told her to memorise the words: “These are true miracle babies. God is still doing miracles. Archbishop Deya is a man of God and Kenya will be cursed if you arrest him.”
The magic words did not impress magistrate Teresah Ngugi much, and the women were convicted and jailed for child theft on May 3, 2007.
DNA evidence showed that the baby did not belong to either Mrs Deya or any of the other accused women.
“The actions and claims of miraculous birth deserve no mercy. No amount of the sentence can undo the damage done to the life of the child who may never know who his biological parents are,” the trial magistrate said in her judgment.
On Thursday, the Rev Kiserem said she lived a quiet life after her release but had now realised that Bishop Deya had no plans of apologising to her.
“He doesn’t even communicate with me despite the trauma I have gone through as a result of his ministry,” she said.
The Rev Kiserem claimed some senior politicians benefitted, and continued to benefit, from the Deya Ministries.
After she spoke out, she said she was now fearing for her life.
“I have been receiving some threatening calls from people I don’t know,” she said. “But I won’t relent in my fight for justice. This is a David Vs Goliath battle.”
Mrs Deya has served her sentence but is facing another child trafficking offence.
Mrs Kiserem, who now has her own church after being released from Lang’ata Women’s Prison a year ago, intends to sue the Deya Ministries.
She claims her association with the ministry, which she considers the worst mistake of her life, still haunts her family. Her husband, she said, died a month ago from the trauma of her conviction.
She says her “considerable standing as a pastor, counsellor and gospel singer” was tainted by the miracle babies saga and wants to sue the Deya ministry for Sh20 million.
She also claims not to have been paid Sh5 million owed for her work as an interpreter for the church.
“I have had to endure a lot of agony... It has been such a trying moment after the realisation that I had used part of the crusade to propagate lies,” she said.