Posted: October 12, 2011 in OPINION

The Kenyan church hardly makes news headlines for good reasons. The media has been on the church’s case like a tick whose sole survival is that drop of blood. The media has succeeded in highlighting the dark sides of the Kenyan church. It’s not the media’s fault however that these negativities have been dogging the church.

From the leadership wrangles that were characterized by fighting in the Full Gospel churches, to the Pastor who was said to be carrying bomb during the referendum campaigns, then came the story of M-pesa pastors and the luxurious homes and lifestyles that they lead at the expense of their struggling flock and so on and so forth.

Bishop Kitonga with raised hand

And since the church took a stand against the new constitution during the last referendum, things have never been the same again with its relations with the media. Most media house (except Christian ones) were in support of the new constitution.

That be as it may, the church has been behaving badly and by far giving the media every platform to paint it as dirty and irrelevant.  Like I said, it’s not the media’s fault that the church is making negative headlines.

My main point of reference toady is a curious headline that appeared in a local daily today (12/10/2011). Personally I had been following this story from an insider who confided in me about the drama happening in their church. I did not want to write about in the spirit of collectively taking responsibility about the mess we soil ourselves with. I called one of the senior people I know in this church and inquired of the state of affairs.

He told me things have gotten so “dirty and too personal for us to meddle in.” Because of the confidence he has in me and the fact that he regularly reads my blog, I will not talk about it. But I was shocked at the extend to which a church leader can go.

In the news today was the same story being settled at the Kiambu magistrate court – in the full glare of the public and the media.

Founder of the Redeemed Gospel Churches Inc. Bishop Arthur Kitonga has gone to court seeking orders barring the Rev. Peter Gachara (of Redeemed Gospel Church in Kiambu)  from carrying his duties following sexual harassment “allegations” leveled against him by UNKOWN people.

Rev. Gachara is the senior pastor of Furaha Worship Centre (a branch of Redeemed Gospel Church) in Kiambu and also oversees the RGC churches in the region.

Bishop Kitonga to the court: “Rev. Gachara ignored a letter of suspension given to him last week following a number of sexual harassment allegations against him.”

In the said letter the Bishop had said among other things:

“We have received numerous complaints from various sources touching on sexual immorality in your conduct. This has damaged the church reputation and yourself as a minister of the gospel. You are suspended both as the sub-region overseer and pastor from 5th October.”

Rev. Gichara however in a sworn affidavit denies the allegations faulting the decision for lacking proper investigations and failure to give him a chance to tell his side of the story.

He further argues that the suspension is illegal and contravenes the church’s regulations and wants the court to revoke it. He further wants the court to bar Bishop Kitonga from “interfering” with his church leadership.

The presiding magistrate Dolphine Okundi certified the matter as urgent and ordered an inter-perte hearing later this month.

Bishop Kitonga ordained Rev. Gachara in 2009

Rev. Peter Gachara of RGC Kiambu

Now, this whole thing sounds a bit sour to me. A lot of things are at stake here. But more important to me are the many questions on my mind.

  1. When will the church leadership ever stop victimizing its congregation on the basis of rumors? When the Bishop says, “numerous complaints,” isn’t the accused entitled to such kind of complaints? It’s unfortunate if such a grave matter in treated so casually by playing to the rumor gallery.
  2. What happened to church discipline? What happened to the biblical way of conflict resolution? If a bishop goes to court to resolve a dispute with his church leader, how do you expect a congregant to sit down with another and resolve their differences with fists or court orders? Church discipline is key as given by Christ in Mathew 18. If the leadership of the church can’t adhere to it, who will? Who will?
  3. And what about forgiveness?
  4. So, who gave some people the mandate to pass harsh judgment against others? I say this with humility and unreserved respect for the leadership of any church. But then again, I tend to think that church leaders confuse between being a shepherd and a judge over the flock. Leadership is about being a shepherd – tending of the flock and getting the lost back on track. This is done with love not condemnation. You do not send the sheep away because they strayed. None of us, whether a pastor, Reverend, Deacon, Apostle Bishop or whatever other title, has the mandate to pass judgment on any single person. Christ came for the lost. We have no mandate but doing what Christ came to do. Isaiah says, “Our righteousness is to God like filthy rags.” Paul says “we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.” And that “Anyone who says they have not sinned, they lie and make God a liar.” So how can a sinner pass judgment on another sinner? Church leaders are not despots.
  5. Rev. Gichara’s response was in a “sworn affidavit.” Wait a minute! Sworn affidavit? Last time I checked, the bible was clear on “Not swearing” but instead “letting your YES be YES and you NO be NO.” How then do we swear in a court of law to proof our innocence?
  6. Is anybody thinking about the Kiambu congregation that is likely to split because of this mess? In trying to discipline Rev. Gachara, where is the greatest priority? In holding the congregation together or in doing away with the Reverend? Despite the grave mistake, it’s wrong to ignore the fact that Rev. Gachara is father and mentor to people in that church. And that any move is likely to affect innocent followers. Hence the need for careful and calculated decision.
  7. And Lastly, there is no copious evidence whatsoever (or mention of it), that the accused has been previously involved in anything else that would warrant such a measure. Thus, the Bishop needs more cogent reasons to give more cogent reasons for this decision. It makes it easy for anybody to believe that this has been motivated by nothing else but personal vendetta. Our God is a God of second chance. Though we are great sinners – He is a great Savior. We cannot demonize somebody for tripping. Though a righteous man falls 7times, he will rise again. HALLELUHYA

I’m not trying to confute anybody in this whole issue, neither am I in any way trying to suggest that errand believers (regardless of the position they serve in) should be spared discipline in the event of wrong doing, but there has to be a proper mechanism of doing this not just to restore sanity in the church, but more importantly to be a testimony to the dying world. I know we all appreciate congenial relationships, but when people appear to be different from us or differ with us in ideology or principle we tend to be hard on them.

The church has a duty to shake its salt to the rotting world, not to pollute it with its stinking issues.

While addressing the issue of sex abuse scandals in a Christmas address last year, Pope Benedict XVI told Catholic Cardinals and Bishops gathered in Rome that the worldwide “humiliation” the church has experienced as a result of the scandals must serve as a spur to reform.

However, the pontiff argued that the abuse crisis must be seen in its social “context”, suggesting that part of the blame lay with permissive attitudes in western society dating from the 1970s.

However, survivors of clerical sex abuse condemned the Pope’s statement as another attempt by Church authorities to evade responsibility for the scandal.

The pope added that “We know of the particular gravity of this sin committed by priests and our corresponding responsibility,” he said. “We must ask ourselves what we can do to repair as much as possible the injustices that occurred.

“We must ask ourselves what was wrong in our message, in our entire way of configuring the Christian being, that allowed such a thing to occur.”

The Pope Benedict XVI

Now, this man’s words are some food for thought.

RESPONSIBILITY! Where does it stop?

  1. Original Kenyan says:

    We as Christians need to be vigilant & …”work out our salvation with fear and trembling…” but even then such is the nature of our fallen world. The only place we’ll be rid of this craziness will be in heaven

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  3. The church of Jesus Christ is moving on bigger & better inspite of the negative publicity. It’s not by might, but by the spirit of the Lord. Jesus never came for a perfect bride. He covers the imperfect bride with his garment of righteousness.

  4. the blessed wanjogi says:

    From your writing, i can tell tht you’re neither born-again nor educated- biblically-wise that is. The bible also talks about honoring the authority. I wish you had full details of what happened on that particular sunday, I witnessed it all.The primary objective of every church is to teach its people both in theory and practical. if a pastor cannot control his lust, he is unworthy of his ‘calling’. And for you to say there’s no history or evidence, i say, “dig deeper” and “do your research in a better way”

  5. Gobanga John says:

    The writer of this article got it all wrong; thus, he needs to get the proper context of the matter and also apply biblical references without partiality when commenting on such matters.

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