Last week I attended a meeting in one of our town offices. The aim was to find out what was going on with the team at the office an reach out to offer help as needed or if needed. I arrived at the office at 7:30 am even though the meeting was slated for 8:15 am. Having nothing especially urgent to do I got on my laptop and answered a few e-mails. It wasn’t soon before the meeting started.
Before I describe this meeting I will talk about meeting we have at the Head Office…where I work. Usually if it is a general meeting, depending on the officiator, we have a preliminary introduction or a prayer. The later is less preferred. Once this is done with the meeting commences.
At the other offices, there is a need to start a meeting with prayer, which is preferred and there has to be an ice-breaker. Something that will force the masses to move, to participate and once they do this then the meeting goes on. I make this important aside in the hope that you will relate to how I felt during the aforementioned meeting.
While I consider myself a Christian, I hardly make it to Church – yeah I am one of those. I do pray regularly when I am in trouble or desperate mostly and every now and then I give thanks to God who mostly ignores my wrong. It is in this context that I find myself in an early Christian-ish office meeting.
We started the meeting quite straight forward with a prayer but then someone was invited to lead us in worship. She went ahead to lead us in a worship song with most of the people in the room raising their hands, speaking in low voices, some in tongues.
I was taken aback. “This is an office…a non-Christian one at that…” while I was still mulling over the thought the leader asked us to raise our hands and talk to God directly. Asking Him what we may want. I went along but was really uncomfortable.
Once the worship session was over we sang songs to thank God. We were called to dance and I realized that the words of the song referred strongly to the professional deliverables of the team. The teams are expected to sell products and when they do not they are placed on notice and eventually fired.
The songs revolved around asking God to remove any unfavorable reviews on them, providing customers who would sign up for accounts and generally giving them success days ahead despite their circumstances. I found myself wondering whether the effort of my hands counted for anything if God was charged with taking care of all the sales business.
The experience in the office made me realize a few things. I have previously been at a place where I truly, wholly believed that if only I prayed I would have had it better. Now I am at the point where I believe that prayer, combined with intentionality, action does get one somewhere. I have less reliance on prayer than on me actually showing up and doing my part. I am less reliant on prayer and faith but more reliant on practicality.
Secondly I started to understand the desperation of the poor. When one had nothing to lose, it is easy to see why they would fall for the lies of the false prophet. When your heart has been taught to believe in the supernatural, then it is easy to be taken by fanaticism on any level.
In Kenya, we currently have pastors and priests who lead their flock astray, always promising a better life, “…if only you believe…” Many people genuinely look to God for deliverance but then there are those who are vulnerable and therefore exploited. People have been known to sacrifice their property and lives for the sake of their faith, all because they believe that eventually they will be able to solve their personal issues.
I may not be the Christian I once was, when I was in my late teens, but one thing I know is that God does not support a lie. Which is why my heart breaks when I see the desperate praying and calling on to God.
Can they tell that they are treading a thin line between faith and fanaticism? Will they be able to tell when someone takes advantage of them? Will they be able to reconcile their everyday lives to their faith? Are we perpetrating a culture which supports the existence of false prophets?