Miracle Babies

THIS TRANSCRIPT WAS TYPED FROM A RECORDING AND NOT COPIED FROM AN ORIGINAL SCRIPT. BECAUSE OF THE RISK OF MISHEARING AND THE DIFFICULTY IN SOME CASES OF IDENTIFYING INDIVIDUAL SPEAKERS THE BBC CANNOT VOUCH FOR ITS COMPLETE ACCURACY.

FACE THE FACTS
Miracle Babies – Programme 4
Presenter: John Waite
TRANSMISSION: Friday 13th August, 2004 BBC RADIO 4

WAITE
This week we travel to Kenya, to the slums of Nairobi, where so-called “miracle babies” are being born to British women, courtesy of one of Europe’s fastest growing religious movements. The evangelical church concerned has its roots here, though its charismatic Kenyan-born Archbishop is now based in the UK. Where he has some 36,000 members all over Britain. Nevertheless, he’s maintained close links with these back streets of Nairobi, links which have proved vital in helping infertile and post menopausal women achieve their dreams of motherhood. We’ll be investigating however whether those dreams could have a far more sinister explanation or is the Archbishop’s church a place where truly anything is possible – even miracles.

CHURCH ACTUALITY – SINGING AND PREACHING

ARCHBISHOP
Now you might not believe in miracles and here this gentleman here his wife is still in Kenya – gave birth last week and it is a miracle.


VOX POP
It’s a miracle to me because with the Christian faith I have seen that even where people don’t believe it happens.

WAITE
And the man who makes it happen is Archbishop Gilbert Deya – a former stonemason turned preacher with followers across the globe, from Africa to America, India and Europe. He first came to England in the mid-90s and now has churches in Liverpool, Manchester, Leicester and London. Where his top of the range Mercedes with its personalised registration is a familiar sight. And where, we were told, he can make the blind see, the dying revive and childless couples conceive. Even those – like Ghanaian-born Benjamin Mensah and his wife – for whom the medical authorities had given up hope.

BENJAMIN MENSAH
The doctors said we should never have babies because everything that you trust, everything that’s not fashioned properly so we shouldn’t be able to have any child.

WAITE
What was the effect on the two of you hearing that news?

BENJAMIN MENSAH
Very bad, very bad. Something you say to somebody and that thing becomes his downhill, it breaks the person down.

WAITE
So desperate was the couple to have a baby that they made a weekly pilgrimage to London from their home in Holland.

BENJAMIN MENSAH
We would come every Friday after work.

WAITE
You flew to England?

BENJAMIN MENSAH
Yes for three months before we see the bishop in three months, so we had to be coming every weekend. We saw him and just about three or four minutes he just said to my wife – Woman you need a baby? Next year by this time you’re going to have a baby boy. He was specific, even about the sex of the boy. And I said – What? To my wife I said – Look – I said – listen, honey after all these three months and this man of God speaks only three minutes to me and tell me this – is it going to be possible? I’m a believer but I have my doubts. But true to his word that same month my wife got pregnant.

WAITE
And the Archbishop’s growing fame came to the ears of another childless couple. So, after 12 years of marriage, Edith and her husband made their way to Archbishop Deya’s main church in Peckham, south London, in the hope that he could also help them.

EDITH’S HUSBAND
We’ve always wanted children, there’s no time when we ever said we never wanted children. We do that, we are in a loving relationship, we’re married, we care for one another so much. We consulted one or two gynaecologists for the purpose of IVF treatment but when we did realise that this church – they’d been praying for people and they’ve been getting a result, so we decided to commit ourselves to that place.

WAITE
According to the Archbishop, at the root of all ills – physical or spiritual – lie demons. And so every week at his services – which can run for hours, both day and night – he drives demons out. A method I saw for myself when I was invited up on stage to witness him preach to a congregation of about a thousand three weeks ago. Under bright TV lights, a bank of cameramen capturing the scenes for the church’s global congregations, Archbishop Deya invited those touched by sin to come forward. And there was no shortage of takers.

ACTUALITY

ARCHBISHOP GILBERT
Come on people.

WAITE
The gentleman in front of me is lying prostrate on the floor, he’s been writhing around and his legs are now twitching. Now he’s jumping again. He has written to the Archbishop to say that he is possessed with devils and asked the Archbishop to help him to cast them out. Somebody has been wailing in the congregation. The Archbishop has called for her to be brought up on stage. And our young lady has come up to face Archbishop Gilbert.

ARCHBISHOP GILBERT
Go – go – you can’t stay in her body. Leave now in the name of Jesus.

WAITE
And she’s fainted.
In the hopes of having a baby, Edith underwent such an exorcism and felt the benefits immediately. Having suffered since birth with asthma and sickle cell anaemia, her husband says her health took a sudden turn for the better once the demons had been driven out.

EDITH’S HUSBAND
When people go on the floor what happens is that their spirit that is creating the problem inside them leave them, it goes away, that is what brings them down on the floor.

WAITE
And Archbishop Deya’s services, like the one I attended, show just how many others are in a similar position. As the Archbishop turns his attention to those who have problems conceiving, women of all ages begin to cry out – the demons preventing conception being called forth from their bodies. And the group who’ve gathered on stage with us stand almost mesmerised by their leader’s words.

ACTUALITY

WAITE
There must be 25 people on stage. They’re holding their hands up in supplication. Their eyes are mostly closed.

ARCHBISHOP GILBERT
Do you believe that Jesus is able to make you complete?

CROWD
Yes.

ARCHBISHOP GILBERT
Do you believe?

CROWD
Yes.

ARCHBISHOP GILBERT
Are you ready to receive?

CROWD
Yes.

ARCHBISHOP GILBERT
This lovely girl in 12 months you have a baby boy.

WAITE
The Archbishop has pointed to a tall girl, she’s collapsed on the floor with the thought – within 12 months she will have delivered a baby, a “miracle” baby boy.
As for Edith and her husband it looked like the Archbishop’s work had been a success when in January last year she began to suspect that she might be pregnant – her swelling stomach being just the first sign.

EDITH
I started having changes, start feeling movements, which I’ve never felt, for something to start moving – feel a kick, a child kicking your stomach is a joy. A baby is growing inside you.

EDITH’S HUSBAND
I was already communicating with the baby. I would go and talk – are you going to be like daddy, are you going to be like mummy, I can’t wait to hold your hand, I can’t wait to take you to school. It was an exciting time for us, you know.

WAITE
But when pregnancy tests proved negative, the couple’s GP referred them to their local hospital for a scan and medical staff told Edith that they could find no trace of a baby. Instead they concluded that Edith was probably suffering from an enlarged liver and spleen, which could have explained the symptoms she was experiencing. It wasn’t a conclusion that the couple were willing to accept.

EDITH
I didn’t believe what the screen was showing but I keep insisting that I know myself, you understand, better than any other person – that is I am pregnant.

EDITH’S HUSBAND
You feel that initial disappointment but after that you say no, I’m going to believe God, I’m not going to believe what a human being is saying about me.

WAITE
And they were buoyed on in this belief by other members of the church congregation, like Edith’s cousin, Veronica.

VERONICA
As a student nurse I know the symptoms, I know the presentation, I thought this was really baby.

WAITE
So as a student nurse you recognised the signs that she was pregnant?

VERONICA
Yes, I recognised the signs because I was watching, I saw that the baby was there.

WAITE
And Veronica wasn’t the only medical professional in the Archbishop’s band of believers. Dr Francis Obeng is a GP with 27 years experience, and at one point in the unfolding story of Edith and her husband examined her and confirmed the miracle.

OBENG
I laid my own hands on it and I felt the movement of the child.

WAITE
You felt the child?

OBENG
I felt the movement of a child, I felt that the head was down and the leg was on the right side, the legs and hands on the right side.

WAITE
Edith’s GP, however, and her local hospital remained unconvinced. No scan or pregnancy test revealed a baby. But then Archbishop Deya’s own wife came to Edith’s aid. As someone who’d had to endure the scepticism of traditional medicine herself. A mother of 15, Mary Deya had experienced a stream of NHS hospitals which had been unable to detect the babies she insisted she was carrying, she told Edith. But that was because these were special embryos -“holy ghost” babies Mary calls them – that can’t be detected by mortal machinery.

MARY DEYA
There’s virtual baby, there’s ordinary baby, there’s holy ghost baby, this your baby is a holy ghost baby, came through prayer, that was why the doctor could not find.

EDITH’S HUSBAND
She can see the baby, she can see the baby because it’s a gift that God has given to her. She can look at you and tell you what is wrong with you, she told us that she can see the baby.
We were really very happy.

WAITE
And so, despite the disbelief of British doctors, Edith came here to Kenya, with Archbishop Deya’s wife, Mary, and was taken straight away to one of the back street clinics the church uses in the slums of Nairobi. An area of poverty and squalor, and so rife with crime that we were warned about coming here by the British High Commission. And rightly says a visiting teacher.
VISITING TEACHER
It is one of the most dangerous places in Nairobi because the security is so bad, small police, they have guns and they work with knives. They attack people in the way, immediately they discover that somebody’s holding money you’re going to be mugged.

WAITE
Even the man who claimed to be the doctor for the clinic admitted to us it was not the best environment for a woman to have a baby.

DOCTOR
This place is very, very small place and at the same time is in the ghettos that you can see. So you might not expect maybe women who are coming from maybe middle class places and sometimes you do come and find them here, maybe it’s due to the services and at the same time we are also cheap.

WAITE
Bu the back street clinics, we discovered, have quite a history of helping women have “miracle babies”. Once again courtesy of Archbishop Deya’s church, Mr and Mrs Odera for example – a couple both around 60 – had their first miracle baby four years ago – long after Mrs Odera had gone thorough the menopause. Since then the Oderas have had 13 miracle children and have been featured in promotional videos for the work of the Deya Ministries, and adverts asking for donations. Now though, at their modest home – and perhaps understandably – Mrs Odera wants the miracles to stop.

ODERA
I’m begging God to leave be now. I’m so tired. If God would hear me it would stop.

WAITE
As for Edith she was surprised to be told by the Archbishop’s wife that she’d gone into labour. And the birth itself it seems passed in a blur, although there was no doubting the baby passed for her to cradle in her arms. No doubting too the genuine joy of her husband back in Britain when Edith phoned to tell him that they had a daughter -Sarah. But tragically the baby was weak and lethargic. And just 18 days after her birth, baby Sarah died. Once again Edith was comforted by the Archbishop’s wife and, impossible as it might be to believe, claims that she then gave birth to a second “miracle baby”, this time a boy, born just a month later. News Archbishop Deya himself relayed to his congregation in London – where, sitting among them, was Edith’s husband.

EDITH’S HUSBAND
The whole place went wild, everybody they were screaming, jumping, you know, my head was spinning because I mean this is something that I had never – nobody has heard of something like this before, you know. So the only realistic conclusion that we could draw that this is a miracle.

WAITE
The conclusion it seems of the whole congregation like Chris Maruginie.

MARUGINIE
I can’t find a word to express our thought – tears, a dream come true. Obviously now people have heard it, knowing that this is to prove again and again what the Archbishop can do. People come now with strong faith, people who have problems can believe in that – if that can happen to her, mine will be taken care of at some point.

WAITE
Something the church makes a point of underlining in its advertising appeals for funds.

ADVERT APPEALING FOR FUNDS

MUSIC
God has blessed us with miracle babies that the world has never seen anything like before. Your donation is very useful to your miracle. Please send your donation and expect your miracle. Ten pounds, a hundred pounds, a thousand pounds – make cheques payable to Gilbert Deya Ministry.

MUSIC

WAITE
And there’s no doubt reports of miraculous happenings have helped to swell the church’s coffers and seen an influx of well educated, well-off, professional worshippers. The Peckham services are currently held in a rented school hall. But members – encouraged to donate 10% of their income – are paying for the construction of a new church building for Archbishop Deya in a prime London location.

VOX POPS
It’s making everybody say wow – we ask God, if you can give Edith two babies within one month you can provide us money to buy a building to worship. We used to worship in the school and we have no idea the next week …
Yeah … given us the loan for this property.
Everybody’s give us the loan and we raise money – 250,000 – and now we have a building worth a million because it raised our morale to say – God you can do it.

WAITE
Work on the new premises is well underway with no expense spared on the development of a church built to hold up to 3,000 worshipers.

VOX POPS
One of the best church’s nobody hardly knew because we are putting marbles on the floor, granite, make it as beautiful as we can.

WAITE
And even before the new church is finished other “miracle babies” have arrived. On stage with the Archbishop two Sundays ago, he introduced a rather nervous looking man.

ACTUALITY

ARCHBISHOP
Now you might not believe in miracles but here this gentleman here, his wife is still in Kenya, gave birth last week. And it is a miracle. And your name is?

NYEKO
Nyeko, Charles is my name.

ARCHBISHOP
The father of the latest miracle babies.

WAITE
But Charles Nyeko might well look anxious for questions are now being asked by the British authorities concerning these so called “miracle babies”. Questions that were prompted by Edith’s return to Britain last October with the body of the first child, Sarah, and the second miracle baby boy. Her GP, certain that Edith had never been pregnant, alerted social workers. A DNA test was conducted, and revealed that neither child shared the DNA of their supposed parents. And the boy’s Kenyan birth certificate, supplied to the British High Commission in Nairobi for a temporary UK passport, was found to be a forgery. It was more than enough to act and, in mid- November, 20 officers arrived at the couple’s home.

EDITH’S HUSBAND
I saw the whole estate was full of police cars, all over. I – my wife and the baby was inside the bedroom, the door – she’d locked the door with a key, they break the door down.

EDITH
I was pleading, I was literally begging this man, I was just crying, I said – Please, please, please…

EDITH’S HUSBAND
They had me – had my hand, handcuffed me and took me straight to the police station.

WAITE
Developments which make the most recent father of a supposed miracle baby – product designer Charles Nyeko – somewhat nervous. Like Edith and her husband, Charles and his wife had been trying for years to conceive. When they were told by the church that they had – like Edith, too – the pregnancy couldn’t be detected on hospital scans or in normal tests. So Charles’ wife set off for Nairobi. And, just days before I interviewed him, he’d been phoned late at night with the news that he now had the son, Daniel, that he longed for.

NYEKO
The shock, I couldn’t take it in, I couldn’t understand what really happened over there. But thank God the baby is alive, baby’s kicking well – a baby boy – it’s a miracle.

WAITE
But I mean British doctors that you saw in the middle of May said she’s not pregnant and here we are a couple of months later and she’s had a child, do you yourself have any private doubts? You weren’t there, you know that there’s issues over the DNA being different – do you really believe in your heart this is a miracle baby?

NYEKO
I do believe clearly that it is a miracle baby.

WAITE
Well of course there is a far more down to earth explanation.

ACTUALITY – NEW LIFE ORPHANAGE

HIGGINS
This is our baby nursery, where all of our tiny babies are. This is where they begin.

WAITE
As we saw for ourselves at the New Life Orphanage, the slums of Nairobi are not short of desperately poor women who cannot afford to look after their new born. It’s not short either of babies who have no parents around whatsoever. In other words, according to Sharon Higgins, at the orphanage, a steady supply of brand new infants is not hard to come by.

HIGGINS
We find that the desperation of mothers especially, they may go into our clinic, have the baby and then disappear the day after they have the baby. And so they abandon their babies, we find babies that have been put in ditches, that are in pit latrines, one lady came out of a shopping mall and found a baby on the bonnet of her car.

WAITE
Events in Kenya now seem to be moving apace. With Annetta Miracow of the United Nations Children’s Fund about to launch an investigation.

MIRACOW
UNICEF is going to undertake a study on child trafficking. We want to know exactly what’s happening, what are the reasons, if it’s happening how are they being taken out, where are the loopholes. They’ll be talking to the immigration officials, to the police, to relevant government departments and so on.

WAITE
Back in Britain, however, Edith’s husband remains unmoved in his belief that he and his wife have now had a series of miracle babies. Because in June, a third child -another boy – was delivered to them. And, any day now, Edith expects what will be her fourth “miracle baby” in less than a year.

EDITH’S HUSBAND
The current situation is that she’s pregnant and the pregnancy is following the same pattern of the previous pregnancies she has had.

WAITE
So she’s pregnant again?

EDITH’S HUSBAND
Yes.

WAITE
Within almost days of the last baby.

EDITH’S HUSBAND
Last one, yeah, she is. I am proud about it, you understand?

WAITE
What about though the authorities who are suspicious aren’t they? Why should the DNA of your son not be the DNA of you or Edith?

EDITH’S HUSBAND
Because it is a miracle, because it is a miracle. That is why it is not. The question of DNA, as far as I’m concerned, is irrelevant. All I know is that we pray to God and God answered our prayer. If the crime we have committed is to pray, so be it, glory be to God.

WAITE
Because one child has already been taken into care, Edith’s latest miracle baby is staying for the time being in Kenya at the home of Archbishop Deya’s wife Mary. The British High Commission there refuses to issue a temporary passport for the child until Edith and her husband agree to DNA tests to establish whether they’re his parents. Effectively of course that impasse maroons Edith and the miracle offspring in Africa.

ACTUALITY

EDITH
Hello Joshua. Ah oh look at you.

WAITE
Edith clearly loves her miraculous babies. But then consultant Patrick O’Brien of the Royal College of Obstetricians says childless couples need special understanding.

O’BRIEN
I think it’s absolutely clear that they are not miracle babies, that they must be babies from somebody else. But of course couples who are suffering from infertility are keen to believe that anything’s possible, so that they achieve a baby themselves.

WAITE
And will they believe literally anything – they will suspend disbelief, suspend medical advice, suspend what every woman knows about the length of pregnancy – all those things, they can just put that to the back of their mind?

O’BRIEN
I think it’s understandable, I think people who desperately want to have a child are vulnerable, are motivated, will stop at nothing to achieve a baby.

WAITE
All the couples we’ve spoken to strongly resist suggestions that they – or others connected to the church – have used so called miracle births as a cover for what’s at best a short cut to proper adoption, and at worst plain baby theft. But that’s what the authorities suspect and they’re critical of the author of these “miracles”, Archbishop Deya, for deluding his followers in this way. Not that the Archbishop is a stranger to controversy. A few years ago his practise of exorcising demons from young children prompted an investigation by the Church of England. When Dominic Walker – the Bishop of Monmouth and the church’s expert on exorcism – viewed the Archbishop accuse a seven year old girl of being a witch who had been harming her mother’s health.

WALKER
I felt it was quite inappropriate and I felt it was abusive and it was an abuse of power. With all ministries there are dangers and dangers of powerful leaders exercising inappropriate power over people.

WAITE
Now as you know the programme that we’re doing is about this church and “miracle babies”, what do you make of that?

WALKER
Well I believe in miracles but I don’t believe that people can have babies miraculously that have a totally different DNA and I think it’s very difficult when people are claiming that something’s a miracle when perhaps it’s a criminal activity. It seems to be an abuse of religion to cover an activity that is totally wrong.

WAITE
Several more women are currently lined up ready to go to Kenya to have a new batch of babies. And according to the Archbishop the issue of forged birth certificates will be found to be not proven. He has video evidence, he told me, of a “miracle baby” being born, though no independent witnesses were present. But will those babies be the result of bona-fide miracles or bare-faced crime? Something I put to Archbishop Deya – how does he explain their supposed miraculous births?

ARCHBISHOP DEYA
The “miracle babies” which are happening now in our ministry is beyond a human imagination but it’s not something that I can say – I can explain because they are of God and things of God cannot be explained by human beings.

WAITE
But it’s not a miracle to the British authorities is it, you know what they think of that, they think these babies are not the babies of these women.

ARCHBISHOP DEYA
Unless somebody’s blind, how can you say the woman is not pregnant, a pregnant woman has a bloated tummy, big one …

WAITE
There are other reasons for having a bloated tummy Archbishop, I mean there are lots of reasons – a woman could be overweight for a start, they might have a bloated liver, as Edith is supposed to have – there are many reasons for a bloated tummy.

ARCHBISHOP DEYA
We witness they are pregnant, they went to Kenya and they came with the babies, so we believe that where the tummy was big the baby has come out.

WAITE
So why does it have to be in Kenya, why can’t it be in a British hospital where everyone could see what was going on, why does it have to be – not even a proper hospital in Nairobi – I mean in the back streets, in the slums, away from prying eyes – why do these women have to trail all the way …?

ARCHBISHOP DEYA
Can I answer that question? Here they are believing the machine and these are “miracle babies”.

WAITE
But they’re going to Kenya because that’s where the supply of babies is – we don’t have a ready supply of babies here, we can’t get round the adoption laws, we certainly can’t steal babies easily in this country. There are loads – and you know Archbishop – many people who believe that’s exactly what you’re doing in Kenya and that’s why the women have to go there.

ARCHBISHOP DEYA
I think that is up to you because I will say if you say that you must be abnormal because you understand this, John, sorry to say this, they went to Kenya where you believe they’re stealing the Kenya children, whatever it is, and they came back with the tummy flat and they came back with a baby! Can this …

WAITE
Well you sort of made of that point. But what I’m saying is aren’t you taking advantage of women who are desperate and will believe almost anything to have a baby? You have a great deal of power as the kind of charismatic religious leader you are, we’ve heard on the programme from the Bishop of Monmouth, that power can be abused, aren’t you abusing yours?

ARCHBISHOP DEYA
Jesus cannot use people if they abuse their power. My anointing is given by God and to say abusive I not understand because I don’t abuse the power I have and I have nothing to do with the women who are giving birth to baby because we are not relative.

WAITE
No but don’t you delude them, don’t you almost hypnotise them into believing this is what is happening – they are pregnant and going to have a child?

ARCHBISHOP DEYA
You don’t understand what is called the power, which you are talking about. This is God’s power and you cannot use God’s power to do evil.

WAITE
But you’ve been in trouble before – for exorcising demons from children.

ARCHBISHOP DEYA
Not before, even now if I get a child I’ll cast the demon out of the child. Jesus casts demons out of the children. Demons are dangerous.

WAITE
So you make no apologies for casting demons out?

ARCHBISHOP DEYA
And I will not until my death. This is my mission and I will do it. By the way you said about deluding women’s minds and they believe in that and get a baby, the Bible does not contradict my miracles – it’s the law and the authority contradicting them.

WAITE
Well that’s exactly right and that’s – that’s a big problem for you Archbishop – as long as the law and the authorities contradict them these women are effectively marooned in Kenya – they cannot return, their children are taken away from them – what use are their children if they can’t keep them?

ARCHBISHOP DEYA
If the British people – the authority’s people – don’t want to get them back that is humiliation – it’s not right, it’s not good at all.

WAITE
Isn’t the truth of it here that there’s a lot of money in these miracle births – that spanking new beautiful church that you’re building – huge amounts of money have come in as this news has got around?

ARCHBISHOP DEYA
I don’t think you are right. I’m a minister of the charity and I’m running charity here in the country, we are not making money for these miracles at all. British people are behind me. I am convinced that I’m serving God and I, Gilbert Deya, am agreed to stand for Christ which the British brought to Kenya, I brought it back to them. Even when they cut my head off I’ll still stand to fulfil the scripture of the day.

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BBC Radio 4, Face The Facts, UK
Aug. 13, 2004 Transcript
John Waite, Presenter
www.bbc.co.uk

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