What you need to know:
- Contrary to Father Pesa’s assertion, the bible records that it was David, Solomon’s father, who killed Goliath.
- Father Pesa claimed that after the 2010 story, people attacked and almost killed him.
- According to the preacher, the attack forced him to start hiring policemen to protect him.
- His church’s members are not allowed to give more than one shilling each as an offering.
From allegations that he chains the mentally sick taken to his church for prayers to having armed policemen guard him during services to the latest bluff where he claims that King Solomon killed Goliath, controversy has always been the middle name of Father John Pesa I, who heads the Holy Ghost Coptic Church of Africa.
Although to the rest of Kenyans he was an unknown quantity twisting a well-known bible story, to the residents of Kisumu and its environs, Father Pesa and his church are permanent features of their lives.
In this latest gaffe captured in a video clip doing the rounds on social media, Father Pesa was among an entourage assembled by former opposition chief Raila Odinga’s ally Eliud Owalo who paid a courtesy call on Deputy President William Ruto at his Sugoi home.
It was not lost on those watching the clip the bemused look on Ruto’s face as Father Pesa made the wild allegations. Apart from being an astute politician, Ruto is a seasoned preacher whose major contribution to the spread of the gospel was by the formation of North Rift Evangelistic Team (NORET), an outfit that brought together university students in 1990s.
Contrary to Father Pesa’s assertion, the bible records that it was David, Solomon’s father, who killed Goliath the Philistine.
“As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. 49 Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground. 50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.” (1Samuel 17:48-50).
Any other preacher would have buckled under the weight of such a howler but Father Pesa is not any other preacher. He is just Father Pesa. In 2010, he was in the news after a story surfaced in a newspaper that he was mistreating the mentally ill taken to his church for prayers and healing. There were allegations that such patients were chained like animals.
Talking to this newspaper in 2014, Father Pesa claimed that after the 2010 story, people attacked and almost killed him and that some women congregants of his church were raped in the ensuing bedlam.
“The message that I chained my followers spread very fast – but not as fast as the word of God. Within a short time, residents had barricaded the road leading to the church compound, demanding that I release the “chained” followers. They would scare away anyone approaching the church compound,” he said.
According to the preacher, the attack forced him to start hiring policemen who kept a round the clock close protection for him as well as the church and its property. Was there any truth in the allegations? None, he stressed saying that he has powers to heal.
“I have the power to spiritually cleanse people with mental illnesses, and even the sick and the needy. The individuals who were chained were mentally ill and would become violent; they would beat anyone who came to church for Bible study,” he explained.
In that interview, Father Pesa disclosed that his church’s members are not allowed to give more than one shilling each as an offering. It is these monies from the members which he has pooled to enable him to put up the magnificent church buildings, he expounded.
Perhaps what might put the good father at loggerheads with the man he went to visit, DP Ruto, is his (Pesa’s) stance that churches should not hold harambees. According to the prelate, and without showing evidence, the Bible forbids churches from conducting harambees.
This is in direct opposition to Ruto who believes that it is the duty of all able Christians to conduct harambees. Following the biblical command that faith without action is dead, Ruto has been crisscrossing the country fundraising for churches of all denominations and stripes, a passion which has earned him both admiration and condemnation in equal measure.
In an article seeking to demystify Pesa’s church, the Catholic World Report of 11 May 2011 said: The “spirit” of Vatican II was supposed to attract Africans. Instead, spiritually flat post-conciliar Catholicism alienated many of them. Looking for magic and mystery, they gravitate to unclassifiable sects like John Pesa’s and Legio Maria.
On Pesa who was excommunicated from the Catholic Church in 1971, the article said: “Pesa himself wears a white tunic and skullcap — though on close inspection, it turns out to be a variant of a driving cap and has the overlapping “NY” logo of the Yankees faintly imposed on the back. The garb is a little off, but Pesa’s imposing size and his flamboyant and often funny, but unmistakably authoritative, manner mark him out as unique — “a big man” as Kenyans are fond of saying, referring not only to one’s physical size but the talent and influence it denotes. This impression is helped along by the cult-like devotion of his followers, who refer to Pesa by the honorific “His Holiness.””