June 14, 2014
Online gospel enables missionaries to sit behind computers and spread the word of God to large numbers of people never before imaginable with conventional means. With the ever growing number of Internet users in Africa, online missionaries can expect to find it easier to spread the word of God to more people. At the same time, those who have established business empires by manipulating the less fortunate, in the name of God, are bound to also benefit from the Internet and expand their empires.
Liberty University in Virginia, USA, reported that they were able to reach out and spread the Gospel to 1.3 million people in a 3 day Internet evangelism campaign. This could never have been possible using conventional outreach methods.
Some argue that persuading people to accept God over the Internet is more effective and the results more reliable than doing it in person. People tend to be pretentious during one on one discussions on issues of faith, but are more likely to be truthful over the Internet. This provides a more accurate measure of positive responses to the missionaries.
Africa is no exception. A number of online faith organisations are mushrooming throughout Africa, including the Internet Outreach Coalition for Africa, Cybermissions Africa, Africa Youth Ministries and many more.
Although only 160 million Africans have Internet Access
, there are 700 million mobile subscriptions in Africa and most of these will eventually become Internet capable. This will lead to a significantly larger pool of Africans to which missionaries can easily reach.
While many men and women of God are driven by faith and the need to reach out and preach their faith to others, many more are greedy businessmen and false prophets bent on exploiting the scriptures and prey on the most gullible of people.
According to Forbes magazine, the richest pastors in Africa are from Nigeria and they include David Oyedepo of the Living Faith World Outreach Ministry ($150 million net worth), Chris Oyakhilome of the Believers’ Loveworld Ministries ($30 -$50 million net worth) and Temitope (TB) Joshua of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) ($10-$15 million net worth). Others are scattered throughout the African continent. Some of them, including Chris Oyakhilome, make effective use of television networks to reach out to their remote congregations throughout the world.
The most disturbing thing about some of these businessmen is not the amount of money they are amassing in the name of God, but allegations of false prophesy, money laundering and bribery. Some have claimed the power to cause gold and diamonds to rain from heaven while some have claimed the power to heal many incurable diseases such HIV/AIDS, cancer and paralysis. In many cases, the claims have been proven to be false. In the book, Dances with Devils
by a South African investigative journalist, Jacques Pauw, cases of false claims and bribery by TB Joshua were revealed.
The growth of the Internet in Africa will go a long way to aid genuine men and women of God wishing to spread the Gospel. By the same token, false prophets will take full advantage of the growing Internet to exploit the weak. We are watching and it is our moral obligation to expose the fraudulent use of ICT to exploit the less fortunate.