Berean Look-alikes Needed in Plenty

Photo by John-Mark Smith on

Crazy things are happening in my country, and they are frightening. Abysmal. Awful. I am talking about indoctrination. The wickedness of Shakahola.

The Shakahola Massacre

Here is a little recap for those not in the know. Some dude named Paul Mackenzie (I refuse to refer to him as Pastor) shows up, gathers some people, and herds them deep inside Shakahola Forest. His message is simple but lethal: there’s a shortcut to heaven-fast unto death. As I write this, the Kenyan government is still digging up mass graves and unearthing bodies of the unfortunate faithful.

Last I checked, 240 bodies had been recovered, with more than 400 people still reported missing. Most heartbreaking is that Mackenzie’s modus operandi sent innocent children to heaven first, followed by women and men, and finally, Mackenzie is expected to meet them in heaven. I was disheartened to learn that some children’s unsolicited journey into heaven was hastened by strangulation or beatings when fasting seemed to delay the process.

Kenyan Police exhuming bodies of the Shakahola Massacre- Courtesy Tuko News

The Bereans

We live in perilous, dangerous times. People have bizarre motivations, and we could end up damaged if not careful. Paul and Silas preached in Berea on the good news of salvation, of Jesus the Messiah. Boy! Weren’t the Bereans eager for the word of God! They were described as noble and fair-minded and listened to the word keenly. However, they needed to be sure, so the Bible records that they:

“…Searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. Therefore, many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men.” (Acts 17: 11-12)

The preaching must have been captivating, stimulating, and thought-provoking for them to spend days confirming the word. The truth is, they did not allow emotion to overrun them. They used logic- if you say it is in the Bible, we will find it.

Distant Shores Media/Sweet Publishing, CC BY-SA 3.0

Signs of a Cultish ‘Church’

The world is asking how anyone would allow themselves to be hoodwinked into believing these obvious phony messengers. We can cut them slack because some needs (like healing from a painful disease) can cause people to believe what they would ordinarily not. Perhaps I should cite myself as a one-time near-victim:

See, once upon a time, I lived and worked in the Middle East and attended a church that I initially thought was affiliated with one of Kenya’s familiar, big churches. Time and again, member numbers would rise and fall. When some ‘rebels’ left the church, I inwardly and vehemently defended the Pastor with the typical, ‘Touch not my anointed!’ Sooner than later, I guess others screamed, “Touch not my anointed,’ this time directed at me because it was my turn to exit. My eyes were now fully open. I realized I had been living in a trance. Turns out that this fellow we were following was hiding from the authorities back in his home country.

Photo by Nikko Tan on


From that experience, I learnt to flee, really flee. Run, too, should you encounter any of the following:

  • Dad, Mum’s church
  • Mr. & Mrs Ministry
  • Ridiculously long name, an uncomfortable mouthful really
  • Seed business or prosperity gospel
  • Focus on miracles (most often, they are stage-managed)
  • Theatrics in the name of worship and prayer
  • False doctrine, e.g., self-proclaimed Jesus

Let’s save ourselves, our families, friends, and generations by heeding this word:

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1).

Remember, the line between faith and foolishness is fragile. Stay away from the latter.