‘Witches, possessed’ flock to Kenya pastor
Kisii, Kenya (CNN) — On one Sunday each month Pastor Lawrence Omambia, the lead preacher at the Community of Christ church in Kisii, Kenya, shows off his gift — healing and exorcism.
From early morning the faithful trickle into his church on the outskirts of town, coming from across the district hoping this Christian pastor can exorcise their pagan demons.
“They come for prayers to be released from the powers of witchcraft,” says Omambia, who was excommunicated from the Catholic church more than a decade ago for emphasizing the occult. “Some are possessed by these demonic spirits, so they come forward for prayers to get healed.”
The pastor says he can heal cancer, epilepsy and possession and says that the power from his hands is like electric currents from Jesus.
Of course it isn’t all that unusual for a pastor to claim healing powers. Witness the blow-dried televangelists of America and elsewhere, who often advertise their dramatic healing powers in infomercials.
But in western Kenya the belief in the supernatural is far deeper, and the line between Christianity and the occult is thin at best.
Many here believe that witches, night-runners brandishing flaming torches and evil spirits populate the night.
And lynch mobs often attack accused witches.
Omambia says witches should be sent to jail, not killed. That he, a Pentecostal preacher, believes in witches, rankles some more traditional Christians.
The Bible seems pretty clear about people who practice the Occult: “For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord”- Deuteronomy 18:9-12. But many Christians and pastors in Western Kenya believe in a complex mix of scripture and local traditions.
“Witches are there,” says the pastor, “but what we do here is more powerful than witchcraft.”