What thought goes through your mind when you hear someone say: “I am a man [or woman] of God”? The reason I pose this question today is because we have heard the self-appointed prophet by the name of Shepherd Bushiri (alias Major One) say he is a man of God. As you are aware, he has been in the lime light for quite some time as the founder of the Enlightened Christian Church in Pretoria.
He is a Malawian … and his own people from his home country say, (according to www.fatumasvoice.org) … “Malawians say they saw through the ‘miracles’ prophet of profit and describe him as a con man and a fake who loves money and fame.” He says he does not believe the church must pay their pastor, so he says he earns an income through being a motivational speaker, evangelist, author and businessman. He heads up an investment company called SB Investments. It is an international investment firm with interests in mining, oil, real estate, hospitality, and transportation. He is said to be the wealthiest pastor in Africa with a net worth as at 2020, estimated to be over $150 million USD! (Calculate this in Rands and you will be staggered.)
It seems as though he generated wealth for his business through getting congregants to invest in his company. Much of the challenge against him seems to arise from this. The National Prosecuting Authority in RSA arrested him and his wife, Mary and two others for money laundering and fraud. Crime investigators say the case involves 102 million South Africa rand ($6.6m; £5m). I’m not sure how you read this case, but I don’t believe the NPA would do any arresting unless that have a solid, winnable case. Yes … his church members believe in his innocence. He and his wife were release on R200,000 bail each.
They were to report to the police station twice per week and failed to do so with an announcement being made that they had escaped RSA for Malawi. He then accused the government and judiciary of injustices in in a video recording, laying out conditions for his return to the country. They left the country without travel documents and broke their bail conditions. They are now fugitives. An arrest warrant has been secured and they have forfeited their bail money. Should they not return, their property will be attached by the state. He has said: “I am a man of God” and although he will not say how he left the country, he adds: “God made a plan for me to leave the country.” He says he fears for his life and that the police bribed him to make a rape case go away. (Can you believe this?)
What do you make of all this? Someone could write a best seller about Shepherd Bushiri, his wife, his business and his church.
There was another man who escaped because his colleagues feared for his life.
Ac 9:19 Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. 20 At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. 21 All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?” 22 Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Christ. 23 After many days had gone by, the Jews conspired to kill him, 24 but Saul learned of their plan. Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him. 25 But his followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall.
This Saul is the Apostle Paul. He preached the gospel and people wanted to kill him. He was not in jail when his friends assisted him to escape the mob. In another incident, Paul was stoned for preaching the gospel.
Ac 14:19 Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. 20 But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.
He did not run away! He returned to the city and left the following day for another city. Because of the gospel, the Jews arrested him (Acts 23). A disputed between the Pharisees and Sadducees in the Sanhedrin over doctrine broke out resulting in the Commander of the Guard taking him and put him in the barracks to protect him. Then there was a plot to kill Paul (Acts 23:12-22). This resulted in Paul being sent to and appearing before Governor Felix and later before King Agrippa. It was here that Paul appealed to be heard by Caesar as a Roman Citizen. He landed up in Rome under house arrest for a few years. What I’m trying to relay is that Paul escaped when cruel people wanted to kill him. Yet, when under arrest, and more specially house arrest, he never tried to escape. Innocence in the Kingdom of God says that God is just and sovereign and will permit the right outcome for His glory and for the Kingdom. One last illustration: our Lord, knowing He would be arrested and killed in the most barbaric manner, never tried to escape.
Shepherd Bushiri says he is a man of God. So was Paul. Paul never tried to escape from the judicial system. Bushiri did. Luke as he writes Acts under inspiration, shows us how the true man of God responds to persecution caused because of the gospel. Not because of miracles or supernatural events … but because of the gospel. For Paul, imminent death because of preaching the gospel was a daily reality. Yet at the same time he taught that we must be submissive to the ruling powers because they are God appointed to protect the good people and capture and punish the evil people. I am not God to declare Bushiri a man of God or a fake … but looking at his well-planned escape and the video message he put out, it seems to me he is more fake than authentic. The greatest problem in this whole saga is that the Name of Jesus Christ is dragged through the mud as is the true Church.
Dear God, You know all things. We hand Shepherd Bushiri over to You trusting You to do the right thing. Amen.