reprinted from IN TOUCH WITH CHURCH AND FAITH #166, a Jescom publication.

Makandiwa cashes in” was a recent headline. Religion has become a business. It seems to be as fraudulent as stock exchange speculation where people make money not by production, but by playing with figures. The “prophet” promises prosperity if the gullible pay into his pocket. ‘God is infinitely rich, and he will bless believers with riches.’

Jesus never made a promise like his. His ‘Abba/Father’ has absolutely nothing to do with this cash-dispensing idol. Will the media please stop call such “prosperity cults” churches, leave alone Christian.
It is the immature and credulous who are tricked into such traps. A lesson this country still has to learn: there is only one way to prosperity, and that is hard work and productivity. The Makandiwas of this country create illusions which perpetuate our childish hopes for miracles. They stop this country from facing up to reality. The end result is not prosperity but poverty for the many, and fraudulently acquired wealth for the few.

Karl Marx said that ‘religion was the opium of the people’. This is true for the kind of “religion” Makandiwa and his ilk are propagating.

God created us with brains, arms and legs, energy and the ability for work. “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat”, said St. Paul who earned his living as a tentmaker (2 Thess. 3: 10). –
Some people seem to think that if you pray, God will provide, and you no longer have to work. Wrong. The correct Christian motto is, “Ora et Labora – Pray and work”. The monks of St. Benedict followed this rule and laid the foundations of European culture. In their quiet way they teach people the value of work. They are now at work even in Africa which needs a work ethic (some would say, the men, yes; the women have always been busy worker bees!).

This false religion even invades the Catholic Church. Chain letters circulate which promise rich material blessings if you say certain prayers and send copies of the chain letter to others. If you ignore the letter and throw it into the waste bin( where it belongs) you will suffer some horrible calamity.

How come chain letters originating in Brazil are circulating in Harare if countless gullible Catholics of weak faith had not copied the letter and sent it on to many others? The desire to “get rich quick” and greed, fear and terror motivate these unfortunate people. No calamity will befall them. That is the good news. But they will not receive heavenly blessings either. That is the bad news. They will remain poor if they do not work. “Sango rinopa aneta,” says traditional wisdom – ‘Nature gives to the one who is tired [with work]’.

Prayer is no substitute for work.
Prayer is the empowerment for work.
That is the difference between true and false religion.