By Aaron Aroriza, Uganda:
I was told of a certain church whose committee made it a habit to slip 10,000 shilling notes in ten different hymn books every Sunday to stimulate attendance. I'm told their marketing strategy has worked like a miracle. Every Sunday, there are ten lucky miracle money receivers who go back home and tell the tale to fascinated desperate broke believers who in turn flock church the following Sunday to gamble on a miracle. This is excellent network marketing based on word of mouth and faith – quite ingenious if you think about it.
Some pastors will move mountains in trying to woo desperate and gullible believers into their churches. They will also go the extra mile in trying to get some money into the money basket. Okay, I know the money basket is quite outdated but during my prime church going days, before I strayed from church and went back to God, that's where we used to drop our offering. Things have changed a lot since then. The congregation is now full of thieves and most of them have realized that the money offered by the believers isn't God's money. It's the pastor's money. And if it's the pastor's money, it sure can't carry such a big curse when stolen. The pastors have also noticed that they are no longer the only ones who are enlightened enough to know God doesn't need money. To stop the enlightened church-going thieves from taking a share of the offertory, they've designed theft-proof offering bags. Our dear baskets have been thrown out of the window and new and improved theft-proof bags introduced in God's sanctuary.
Eh, I was still telling you about some pastors who will go the extra mile to get some money into God's basket. One time I watched in shock as one famous Ugandan female pastor conned desperate poverty-stricken believers of their last paltry coins. She told her congregation that whoever had a money problem should raise their hands. They meekly did. She told them to get all the money they had in their pockets and raise it up in their hands so she could pray for it. They innocently did. Then came the magicians climax: She told them to put all the money she had prayed for in the baskets her assistants were shamelessly passing around. The desperate poverty stricken, God fearing, church going, pastor trusting believers naively did. She promised them their money would double. She never even had pity on them. And she had the audacity of televising the con job. She must be a psychopath – unable to feel guilt nor empathy.
Now the pastor in Milly's church has pulled off another one. But he's no psychopath at least – this one though I still wish hell on him for having been a major accomplice in the theft of my phone. It all happened one Sunday morning when Milly told me she needed to get in touch with someone later that day at church. Problem was, she didn't have a phone and she had never seen this person she was supposed to meet at church. She only had the person's phone number. I had three choices; to let her sort out her own problem, to go to church with her so she could use my phone later or to give her a phone she could use that day. I chose the last one and regretted it later that day.
In church, after – in Milly's words – a very inspirational sermon, the pastor asked people in his congregation to ask their neighbors whether they had phones. He then told those that had phones but had neighbors without phones to do what Jesus would do and donate their phones to their less fortunate neighbors. Milly never thought for a second because if she had, she would have remembered that she is among the less fortunate ones who didn't have phones of their own. She handed over my phone to her phoneless neighbor on the polite orders of her phony pastor. I'm now advising her to stay away from church and go find God.
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