“Prophet” Elvis Mbonye recently wrote an Open Letter to the leadership of the various Christian sects in Uganda. The contents of that letter may have strengthened the faith of those loyal to his fellowship but surprised and probably angered many that have found it hard to believe his claims of having extraordinary power.
For those who may not know this gentleman -- which would really surprise me --, (get out of the cave you are hiding in), Mbonye is what many call a “self-proclaimed Prophet” who rose to fame after growing a following based on the claim that he had an ability bestowed upon him by the Almighty. This is the ability to predict the future.
In a world greatly influenced by science which has led to the disbelief of the supernatural, this “Prophet” has received quite the opposition. Those who disagree with him establish their logic on either the impossibility of the prophecy claim, majorly basing their reasoning on the idea that he does not fit the criteria (but secretly just don’t believe it is a real thing) or the fact that he seems to benefit from all of this. You do not need to look further than the Range Rovers, red carpets and fancy suits. You get my swing?
Over the years, this opposition and doubt in what he does has not deterred him from the mission he chose to bestow upon himself -- or that was bestowed on him by the almighty. The opposition has failed to solicit any response that would show a speck of unease. Not until the letter that ran on media websites last Monday.
The letter is about what Mbonye claims is disunity among Christians in Uganda. Of course many Christians would disagree with him on this one. The disunity among the Christian sects is not a new thing. It is centuries old. But, recently there has been some kind of understanding among sects. Ugandans would raise the “Joint Christian Council” point to counter his argument.
But you have to read closer to understand that his problem is more about how he has been positioned by other leaders than how others are treating themselves.
“It is because of such supernatural feats that some amongst us have either ignorantly or deliberately misguided a few people by labelling the practitioners of such feats as erroneous”, Mbonye writes.
It is no secret that some religious leaders have poked at Elvis Mbonye’s Zoe fellowship. His biggest tormentor has to be Pr Martin Sempa of Makerere Community Church who has called Mbonye’s insinuated abilities a hoax in guise of prophecy. Pastor Moses Solomon Male, the head of Arising for Christ Ministries also recently criticised, in general, religious leaders who were misleading their congregation during the COVID-19 period with claims of supernatural healing and prevention. Mbonye may have said a few things about COVID-19 in this aspect.
Mbonye may have taken a massive hit thanks to 2020's worst calamity failing to show up in his prophecy. In fact, a lot had to be said by his opposers especially Pr Sempa, after he claimed in an interview with Solomon Sserwanja, that he had seen COVID-19 in his future but had chosen not to prophesy it. The reaction after this interview may have led to the writing of this letter.
Despite the controversy in his supernatural claims, Mbonye’s message on unity is a solid one. Churches are some of the loudest and most listened to voices in countries like Uganda where Christianity is a force to reckon with. If in any case there is some form of injustice in difficult times, churches should be ready to work together to inform, mediate, pray and protect their people in any way morally possible. Conflict among Christians is capable of disorganising the safety most Ugandans are enjoying in this COVID-19 period.
Also, in Mbonye’s letter, the assertion that religious leaders in Uganda are not serving God but man is not a far-fetched idea.
“Man of God, woman of God, seek no one’s approval but God’s. We have sought more to be in good books with men; with politicians, with the media, than we have with God,” Mbonye writes.
If you want an example, don’t go further than Pr Joseph Sserwadda of Victory Christian Centre. His actions and words seem to show that he is a sworn ally of President Museveni, a relationship many believe he has benefitted from. The other big religious leader who has clearly shown his political leaning is the Anglican Bishop Zac Niringiye. A man who has opposed the President majorly because of issues to do with corruption. He has constantly sided with the opposition even becoming a prominent voice against the government.
There is no problem with religious leaders engaging in politics. The way this nation should be ruled is the responsibility of everyone. However, religious leaders should show objectivity. When they show or direct hate in politics (or in anything else) it goes against their doctrine. The biggest lesson in Christianity is love and that can be achieved through peace. If an idea is to be opposed, peaceful measures must be considered. This is why I disagree with Pr Ssempa’s extreme methods of dealing with issues he deems unchristian.
For those benefiting and using their following as a social market for political votes, shame on you.
“Prophet” Mbonye is right for the most part in his letter. Unity and the role of religious leaders in society are important aspects that we need to ponder. We may be going off the righteous path because of the differences our church leaders have. That is why our focus should be on the almighty and not these earthly beings. If you disregard the fact that Mbonye was being defensive and trying to get his critics off his back, his letter for the larger part, was solid.