United Families International (UFI) founding leader, Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa, has continued to hog the limelight, with some people insisting that the media was out to discredit him, but said it was part of the persecution that Jesus said believers should expect.
Those who have thrown their weight behind the popular Prophet said no one was qualified to speak ill of him except the one who called him into the ministry, based on the scripture in 1 Chronicles 16 vs 22, which says: “Touch not my anointed and do my prophets no harm.”
The sentiments in the scripture were originally spoken of Israel’s first king, Saul, even after he had fallen out of favour with God.
Father Oskar Wermter, Director of Jesuit Communications, refused to pronounce judgment on Makandiwa, saying he did not know much about him, but warned people to be wary of false prophets.
“Scripture says there are both good and false prophets and everything has to be tested so that we keep what is good. We can only know the genuine prophets by their fruits. The leaders of the church have to decide whether people who claim to have charismas (spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit) are genuine or not,” Wermter said.
“The Bible says you will know them by their fruits, for example, if someone claims they have gifts of the Holy Spirit but cause a lot of divisions or strife in the church, we then say those are fruits of ambition, maybe even of avarice or wanting to get rich.”
He added that it was possible some people would go to churches because they would be in despair and seeking healing. He said it was not wrong for journalists to investigate men of the cloth as long as they did it thoroughly.
“Journalists should not write stories because they are cynical or despise a particular religion and then write their own opinions — that would be wrong. If someone makes claims, they should be substantiated,” he said.
A pastor who refused to be identified said it was only normal that after making such a huge impact, trials would follow, but if God was involved, then he would prevail. He said: “When you make such an impact, you should expect trials and tribulations. But no weapon that is fashioned against him will stand, because the battle belongs to God.”
In recent weeks Prophet Makandiwa has courted a lot of controversy both in Christian and non Christian circles over his spiritual link recharge cards, which led to a legal suit on copyright infringement by motivational speaker Pascal Nyasha, and after appending his signature to the anti-sanctions petitions on March 2 this year.
While some observers claim the prophet has now been elevated to the status of a demi-god, his followers and others who believed in his calling say he is being persecuted for his faith, something Jesus Christ warned his followers would happen to them.
There have also been claims that a lot of the controversy was being stirred by some pastors who are jealous of the phenomenal growth of his church, something they had not been able to do themselves.
In most of his teachings, Prophet Makandiwa emphasises that whatever is happening in his ministry is not about him, but the one who sent him. He says if he fools himself into believing that it is about him, God will depart from him and the after-effects will be clear for all to see.