By Raphael Okello
IN October 2005, Pastor Robert Kayanja, of Miracle Centre Cathedral, Lubaga, made astounding prophecies during a crusade in Kenya.
He prophesied that there would be a great political shift in Kenya before Christmas, and an earthquake would emerge from the East African rift valley. It would be felt all over Africa but it would not be devastating.
The New Vision reported this on its lifestyle page of November 7, 2005 but not many people took it seriously until his â€˜propheciesâ€™ began to catch the ordinary personâ€™s eye.
On November 23, 2005, president Mwai Kibaki of Kenya sacked his entire cabinet after losing in a referendum. And in December, an earthquake, which was felt throughout East Africa, emerged from the East African rift valley.
During the New Year overnight prayers (December 31, 2005) at Miracle Centre, Kayanja made another prophecy about Ugandaâ€™s presidential elections.
â€œThere are going to be five candidates who will stand, two will drop off and one would die before the February 23 elections. Of the remaining three, the winner will get 61.8%,â€ he said.
Kayanja had in March, 2005 made a similar prophesy. It quietly passed without notice. However, his repeat of the prophecy on New Yearâ€™s Eve, is causing fear, shock and debate in which he is being ridiculed.
Father Lawrence Kanyike of St Augustine Community, Makerere University said, â€œWhat Kayanja said is a self-manifestation of someone who wakes up and says â€˜I have a vision.â€™ But people ask â€˜why you?â€™ Iâ€™d tell people not to be afraid. Prophets are sent to preach a message of hope not doom. They are supposed to give good news and not damning news,â€ he argued.
A university student who goes to St Augustine Chapel for prayers, and preferred anonymity says: â€œThis is taking the joke too far. These people (todayâ€™s prophets) want to create an impression before their congregation and the public that they are powerful. Prophets who prophesied doom in the bible like Jeremiah always explained the reason God was going to bring punishment to his people. What reason has Kayanja given?â€
In defence, however, Nathan Kiwere, a born-again Christian says: â€œHe (Kayanja) has prophesied before and it has come to pass.â€
In spite of all that, some people believe Kayanja could have just read the political circumstances in Kenya to make his prophecy: â€œHe just read the situation,â€ said Leo Odongo, a staff at Nandos, a restaurant in Kampala. â€œIt was more like studying what was on the ground. It was a time when Kenya was holding a referendum and the ministers were quietly campaigning against the president. So it was more of a prediction than a prophecy which anyone could have easily made.â€
A born-again Christian who preferred anonymity says: â€œI believe in prophecy but a prophecy with such national significance should not be uttered in such a manner. I say this whether the prophecy comes to pass or not. Even in the Bible, prophets had to exercise wisdom. The Bible says prophecy is controlled by the spirit of the prophet.â€
She adds that Kayanja should have been more cautious about giving specific details since God gives you an insight and not specific details. â€œIf the person wins by 61.5 and not 61.8 as Kayanja prophesied, should people say God was not right? He has a gift but it has to be exercised with discretion,â€ she adds.
Anne Mugisha, a special envoy in the office of the president for FDC (USA), writes that: â€œKayanjaâ€™s flock believe that he has a hotline with God and he is preparing them to accept his candidate as Godâ€™s anointed leader for Uganda for the next five years; but more ominously he seems to be preparing them to accept the death of one of the other candidates as preordained by God.â€
l Prophecy in todayâ€™s church
In the Bible, prophecies were a common media through which God communicated to His people. Even today, God still speaks to His people through prophecies yet prophecy seems like an inexplicable sacred thing that existed only in the Biblical times. But is it only a thing of the past?
â€œProphecy still exists,â€ says Pastor Joseph Sserwadda of Victory Christian Centre, Natete. â€œFor as long as the church exists, prophecy will not stop. Living apostles and ministers can be prophetic in nature and in calling. It is the mode of transmitting or expressing the message (prophesy) that confuses people/public. A prophetic message is part of any vibrant growing and living church. It could be by way of information, instruction, exorcising, guidance or illumination. Whichever way it comes, it should benefit the body of Christ. If the prophecy concerns a national issue, then it stands to be tasted if it was true or not by it coming to pass or not. But prophecy is part of the church.â€
Rev Canon Benon Mugarura-Mutana of St Francis Chapel, Makerere University says: â€œProphecy is real. It exists among the people of God. Any congregation of Christians walking in the power of the Holy Spirit experience the gift of the Holy Spirit and prophecy is one of these gifts. Prophecy and prophets are two different things and â€˜prophetâ€™ is not a title.â€
Rev. Dennis Odoi of Grace Assembly Church, Sir Apollo Kaggwa Road believes prophecy and the church are one and the same. â€œThe church is the prophetic voice of the country; it is the conscience of a nation. It needs to give direction to the nation because the nation is in the hands of God and each nation has a redemptive purpose. The people who hear from God are the people who should speak and say what God is saying. For instance if it is AIDS that is to be whipped out, it (prophecy) should say this is what we need to do.â€
Who is a prophet?
Fr. Kanyike says according to the scriptures, a prophet is Godâ€™s spokesperson. Unfortunately in Uganda, people think a prophet is someone who prophesies the future.
â€œThe main task of a prophet is to be Godâ€™s spokesperson. What he speaks may entail the future but does not define it. Many of the upcoming churches have self-appointed prophets who can say anything that can drive fear in people.
The problem is many people expect a prophet to give you bad news but a prophet in the Christian faith is one who brings good news. Unfortunately, those who claim to be prophets seem to behave contrary to what prophets are suppose to be,â€
How do you tell a true and false prophet?
There are true and false prophets and according to Odoi, what a true prophet can do, a false prophet can. The difference is that the false prophet will lead people away from God.
â€œHowever, a true prophet could also speak presumptuously or misrepresent what God tells him,â€ he said. â€œWhen a prophet receives Godâ€™s word and it is not for everyone, he/she should pray about it.â€
What is prophecy?
A bprophet is a person who proclaims the Word of God. According to Fr. Kanyike, Prophecy in a Christian perspective is a proclamation of a message of hope. A prophet is a person who prophesies messages of hope.
There are four levels of prophecy
1. There is the spirit of prophecy, which can come upon any one even if he/she is not a prophet.
2. There is the office of the prophet which functions as a leadership gift.
3.There is the gift of prophecy.
4. Prophecy of scripture that is the word of God.
Odoi says God speaks to the church to help the nation pray. So was Kayanja straying into forbidden ground?
FDCâ€™s Mugisha writes that: â€œTo say that Kayanja has strayed far into political terrain and is seeking an infusion of politics and religion, is an understatement, but because he supports president Museveni, we are not likely to hear the usual suspects telling him not to mix the two.
Although Mugisha implies that Kayanja is campaigning for Museveni, Kayanja has neither publicly said who he is supporting, nor has he declared which of the candidates will die.
In The New Vision of Wednesday, January 4, 2006, Ssebaana Kizito, the DP presidential candidate, did not deny possibilities of forming a coalition with FDC.
Recent press reports quoted Miria Obote, the UPC presidential candidate, asking people to vote for FDC if they did not vote for her, although the reports were later refuted. If these two make a coalition with Besigye, it would leave three in the race, fulfilling part of the prophecy â€“â€“ but that is not the worry.
The question puzzling those who believe in prophecy is not which one of the three will win by 61.8% but which one will die. Is it too late to implore the source of prophecy (God) to change His word? According to the Bible, He has done it before.