By Charles Onyango-Obbo/Daily Nation
We have five months to go to the end of 2019 but I think we should award the “Con Act of the Year” to the Kenyan pastor who paraded a fake Jesus Christ and, together, they shook down gullible worshippers for millions of shillings.
“Jesus Loves You Evangelistic Ministries” evangelist Michael Job made an appearance dressed as Jesus Christ at the Kiserian Mega Interdenominational Crusade in Kenya over the weekend.
Taking place over three days, Job was joined by several other reverends and bishops for the “Soul Harvest” campaign and was invited by the local clergy to be a guest speaker.
While it was initially thought that Job was in South Africa, it was the discovery of his Facebook page that showed he was in Kenya for the Christian crusade.
It’s abhorrible but one can understand a crooked pastor getting people to drink Dettol and Jik as blessed liquid; after all, they have some antiseptic and cleansing qualities. Even resurrecting the dead, or asking female flock to attend Sunday prayers sans underwear so that the Holy Spirit can enter them without the interference of earthly garments. However, Jesus just popping up on a Nairobi street like that, one would have expected even the most credulous not to fall for it. But they did.
This whole fake Jesus episode throws up many questions, including, yet again, why people believe these things. But the one that interests us is about how Jesus will return, if you believe he will, and where he might land first.
The popular version is that, first, there will be a “sign”. The son of God just can’t arrive without fanfare. Either there will be huge earth tremors, or storms, then he will appear. This is the apocalyptic view, favoured by people who believe Jesus’ return will also herald the end of our sinful world.
The religious optimists, however, would see him arriving in a large company of angels. I mean, if a corrupt African president who steals elections can drive around in a convoy of 100 cars, how can Jesus land with a small suitcase at the airport?
This Jesus will bestow good things upon the pious, and those who hunger and suffer, and lead them to a blissful life.
The Kenyan pastors who did the latest trick think what shall return is a garden variety Jesus who dances around in the streets and takes selfies.
I don’t remember all the things I read in the Bible in my youthful years, but does the good book have Jesus dancing or partying (that Last Supper/farewell dinner Jesus had with his Apostles in Jerusalem before his crucifixion doesn’t count)?
Then, also, “how” will Jesus reappear? This has many elements. In recent years, there have been diverse views about Jesus’ race. Will he be white, black, brown, or whatever other hue is out there?
If he’s white, will he not alienate the non-white Christians who are the majority now? If he is black or brown, with 20 centuries of Western myth accept him? We saw how the election of Barack Obama as president unhinged some people in the US, and created the backlash that brought Donald Trump to power.
This also goes to the question of where he will appear. A place like the Vatican might look like a natural venue, but that will only be good for the Catholics. The Protestants wouldn’t have it. And if he showed up in Canterbury, the Catholics wouldn’t have it.
With religions, and Christianity, so divided, would Jesus really want to return and get embroiled in our partisan religious feuds?
Then there is the question of which country, if he can’t do the Vatican or Canterbury. There are more Christians in Africa today than any other continent, and by 2060, six of the countries with the top 10 largest Christian populations will be in Africa, up from three in 2015, according to the Pew Research Centre report.
At country level, these are the top 10 countries with the most Christians: USA, Brazil, Mexico, Russia, Philippines, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, China, Ethiopia, and Germany.
So, if Jesus chose to drop into the continent with the most Christians, it would be Africa — though perhaps not in Kenya, which is not in the lead within the continent.
should have immediately smelt a rat upon seeing the Kenyan Jesus. However, if he chose to show up in the country with the most Christians, he would pop up somewhere in America.
So, how would all-knowing God arrange his son’s return, if all the great things about him in the holy book are true? Me thinks he would arrange a simultaneous appearance of Jesus in nearly all the countries of the world and its big cities. Then he can customise him to suit local conditions, changing his appearance and the language.
That way, everyone would feel included. That might not solve all the Jesus problems. Some sisters reject a male Jesus, saying he/she was a woman, and at least a hermaphrodite — i.e. both male and female.
You see where this is going; if Jesus is indeed Jesus and out there in the heavens, and he is a smart fellow, he will likely not want to come back to this our complicated and messed up world. Perhaps it’s why fake Jesus really didn’t look smart at all.
Mr Onyango-Obbo is the curator of the ‘Wall of Great Africans’ and publisher of explainer site Roguechiefs.com