Tuesday, November 20, 2012

CFAN Boasts of Faith Healing and Exorcism in Ethiopia

(Hat tip to FreeThinker at Sodere for this video)

Christ for All Nations (CFAN), founded by German missionary Reinhard Bonnke, is a non-denominational Christian ministry with considerable global outreach. CFAN is best known for its large scale revivals around the world, with many taking place in Africa. For example, Republic of Gilead posted commentary on one such gathering in Oshogbo, Nigeria, where Bonnke preached about lifting "witchcraft" curses and dispelling demons. CFAN held a similar religious rally in Ethiopia this month, where claims of faith healing and exorcising demons from the possessed were unfortunate highlights of worship. 

On November 5-11th, CFAN hosted an International Crusade rally in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where Reinhard Bonnke and Daniel Kolenda preached to a large audience. In a video segment from the rally, Kolenda speaks through an Amharic translator as he tells the crowd of purported faith healings. At one point, a mother and daughter appear on stage, with Kolenda telling the audience that the girl's sickly legs were healed by faith. The girl sat on a chair, and after someone confirmed that her legs looked healthy, Kolenda rejoiced. "Walk in the name of Jesus!" he cheered. "Halleluja! I tell you, this is the work of Jesus, and every day her legs will get stronger and she will become faster, and soon she'll be playing football." Other African women told the audience that they had been miraculously cured of goiter and lameness, with Kolenda concluding, "Jesus is the best physician in the world."

Kolenda's blog posts at the CFAN website contain equally vivid accounts of faith healing and exorcism. In a November 9th commentary on the Addis Ababa gathering, Kolenda wrote about performing faith healings, burning witchcraft fetishes, and dismissing demons from attendees.  
"After I preached the Gospel we burned two barrels of witchcraft juju.  I prayed for those suffering under demonic cruses and Jesus broke the chains.  Demoniacs were shrieking and the crowd was dancing and rejoicing… it was a wonderful, holy chaos!

Then Evangelist Bonnke began to pray for the sick and all over the huge field miracles began to break out.  For instance, a woman’s goiter disappeared from her throat.  Another woman’s 12-year infection dried up.  A lump disappeared from another woman’s breast after troubling her for 3 years… and many more."
Claims of faith healing, exorcism, and victory over "witchcraft" are par for the course in CFAN's African gatherings. A Charisma Magazine commentary on CFAN's February 2012 gathering in Monrovia, Liberia speaks of faith healing, exorcism, and the conversion of a so-called witch to Christianity. A 2007 video of a CFAN rally in Abakaliki, Nigeria shows worshippers burning "witchcraft" items in a large barrel, followed by chants of "Up up Jesus, down down Satan!". In a 2011 commentary at the CFAN website, Kolenda writes about dispelling demons and lifting curses from African villages. 
"In many of the African villages where we minister, the people have lived in fear of certain curses and demonic principalities that have kept them in bondage and terror for generations. Often these strongholds have names familiar to every local inhabitant, but the people dare not say them aloud for fear of the demon powers behind them. When we come for one of our Gospel campaigns, we challenge these forces with the power of the cross. We ask that a list of the local curses be provided and then through the massive sound system we begin to pray, calling out the curses and breaking them by name, one by one, in the name of Jesus! After each curse is broken, a mighty AMEN rises from the crowd and a palpable sense of freedom and joy causes the people to dance and sing.

In one city, the witch doctors practiced their divination by standing on certain “sacred” stones that they claimed would speak to them. After our campaign, the witch doctors began to complain, “The stones no longer speak.” Through prayer we have the power to overcome the enemy and to break every chain."
CFAN's appeals to superstition in its African campaigns are neither healthy nor ethical. Given the violence and misery caused by superstitious belief in witches in parts of Africa, I find CFAN's witchcraft rhetoric grossly irresponsible. However, I also find CFAN's faith healing claims at the Addis Ababa rally disturbing. Did some audience members leave the rally with false hope that faith would cure sickness? What will happen when faith fails to heal injuries and diseases for them? What if some attendees fail to seek medical attention for health problems, seeking refuge in the empty promises of faith healing? Can CFAN celebrate faith without appealing to superstition and dangerous pseudo-healing?

To learn more about CFAN, click here

To watch videos of CFAN events, visit the GOD TV archives here

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