Pastor offered me R10 000 to sit in a wheelchair…. stand up and walk

Nigerian preacher and healer Pastor Chris Oyakhilome has been accused by a member of his own church of staging miracle healing sessions.

Some of his followers have said that he has been hiring people to pretend to be sick and disabled and then “be healed” during his television shows and public prayer meetings.

A man who did not want to be identified for security reasons said: “I was offered R10 000 [$1,287.20] to rehearse and pretend to be in a wheelchair three weeks before the all-night prayer called Night of Bliss at the Johannesburg Stadium.”

Last weekend Pastor Oyakhilome hosted an all-night prayer at the stadium. The source told Sowetan that he started attending Christ Embassy church in Randburg last year.

He was recruited by one of the pastors and told he would be paid if he helped to draw crowds. “The pastor told me that they were looking for people to work for the church.

He said that I was going to sit in a wheelchair and be wheeled around while pretending to be physically ill. I would then stand up and walk as soon as Pastor Chris stopped praying for me.”

The source also said that the people who are “healed” every time on stage are actually trained weeks before.

“Even children who are healthy are whisked around in wheelchairs. Some use crutches. “Everyone is allocated a person who tells the congregation about your background, your specific illness and suffering. “The pastor then raises his hands and places them maybe on your legs if you cannot walk, and a few seconds later you get up and walk around the room,”the source said. He said he called the church the day after their offer and turned them down.

“I just told myself that using the word of God to lie to desperate people is immoral, so I refused to take up their offer,” said the source.

A woman who went to the all-night prayer service, said: “When he started healing people, I did not see him call anyone from the audience. The people that he ‘healed’ came from a certain section of the audience and it looked like he came with them especially for the event.

“I saw a lot of people in wheelchairs leaving the venue who had not been healed. It was very sad.

“Lerato Moeketsi told Sowetan she was a loyal follower of the church and was disappointed that she could not make it into the stadium. “I had to turn back because the stadium was full. “There was no way I could go through to receive his blessing,” she said.

Thousands of followers jostled for space at the stadium.

The seriously ill, mostly disabled and in wheelchairs, went to the service in the hope of being healed by Pastor Chris’s powerful prayer. Another woman, Tshinanne Nemutudi, said she went to the all-night prayer service because she believed in Pastor Chris.

“I trust him the way I trust Jesus and God. “She said she had problems with her ankle but Pastor Chris had healed her. “While he was praying, he said we should all touch our body parts that needed to be healed. He said that if we believed then we would be healed.”

Oyakhilome ‘s website describes him as a pastor, teacher, healing minister, television host and best-selling author whose career spans 25 years.

He runs the church with his wife, Pastor Anita, who is the director of Christ Embassy’s international office and also preaches at the Christ Embassy churches in the United Kingdom.

Pastor Chris also hosts a religious programme on TV called Atmosphere for Miracles. At the Randburg branch, brother Onyeka Liozo said what the source and the followers said “was rubbish”. “We have a healing school in Randburg. People ask and get healed.

People must stop lying about this holy crusade,” said Liozo. He said that people come from outside South Africa for help.

Pastor Chris is both controversial and mysterious. The press is barred from taking pictures at his healing services.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Saturday April 5, 2008.
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