Cleric behind the ‘miracle babies’ reveals how he rose to fame and fortune

Archbishop Gilbert Deya, (right), at a press conference in Glasgow, Scotland in September 29, 2004 with Ms Deonna Dakkins-Scott. PHOTO/AP

What you need to know:

  • Archbishop lifts the veil to reveal dark side of our churches

My first church was called Salvation of Jesus Christ Church, which I started in 1976. It was here that I became a pastor and a man who knew how to preach.

So I can say I have been a pastor since my son Amos was born. In this church in Kibera Laini Saba, I had about 300 members.

I was then rich and a landlord. I had quality members. Private Ochuka who led the failed 1982 coup was my member among others. It was good.

My church ministry expanded to other parts of the city of Nairobi and we had branches in Pumwani, Kasarani, Kibo, and Kibera among other places. All these were poor parts of the city as these are the people that I could reach out to.

The sad story was that the Kenyan government then refused to register my church – Salvation of Jesus Christ. I therefore run this ministry until 1980 without any legal registration. By then I had so many branches especially in Western Kenya and Nyanza that I could not manage to administer. But a saviour was on the way.

Unknown to me in 1980, there was a man then living in Mombasa, who had heard so much about me that he decided to look for me. My fame of miracles had already started taking root.

Maurice Ouma Arao was clever, cunning and very convincing. I liked him at the first sight. He managed to convince me to become a part of his ministry.

He had the education and connections but he did not have any churches. So we decided to register a ministry together – United International Life Ministry of Churches (UILMC) World Mission.

Using my influence with the Provincial Commissioner of Nairobi, Fred Waiganjo, for whom I was managing houses in Kibera. We jointly registered this ministry with Arao being the chairman and I the secretary of the organisation, UILMC.

You cannot believe that Arao was sleeping in my table room on my settee as we registered this organisation.

From here we started working together. He managed the organisation and I did the administration. The ministry expanded all over Kenya. I hear now it is all over East Africa and beyond. I was in charge of Dioceses of Nairobi.

Each region in Kenya had someone who was managing it. We expanded. Others who had their regions included the late John Ndolo of Kisumu, Western Kenya and Bishop Peter Okalo from Nyakach also Western Kenya who was Arao’s deputy.

Coups are not only limited to governments. During this time a coup was planned by one of the members to overthrow Archbishop Arao. He wanted to kill him to take over the leadership of the organisation but I fouled the operation by informing Arao what was happening.

Now it was after this incident that this clever man decided I should become a bishop. So Maurice Ouma Arao went to America as was habit. He had told us that the ministry was registered in USA which I later discovered was not the case.

He came back accompanied by two white Americans, Hall Adams and Bill White. As you know when a white man appears at a meeting or in churches in Kenya it’s as though the power of the holy God has come down. So Arao commanded more respect from us.

It was in 1980 that he decided that I needed to be promoted to the office of the Bishop. Dan my second son was a baby then. I remember the Kisumu YMCA hall was packed, and all the men and women of the cloth were there.

As I sat down for the ceremony to be conducted, Arao was looking very big surrounded by the white Americans. It was this tactic that helped a lot to keep the church in check and in command. It was very intimidating.

As Archbishop Maurice Arao rose to speak, the congregation went wild with cheers, praises and sounds of joy. He was loved by the people.

“Today is a proud day in our ministry. One of the pillars of the church is being ordained to the office of the bishop. It is my greatest pleasure to invite the men of God all the way from America to come and conduct this ceremony. Let’s welcome them the Kenyan style,” Arao said amidst cheers, as he sat down and passed the microphone to Hall Adams.

‘In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen. Thanks Archbishop Arao for inviting us here. We are from USA and we love this great nation Kenya. I and my brother in Christ Bill White, pastors of churches in California, are here to change the lives of people of the dioceses of Nairobi by ordaining the Evangelist Deya to the office of Bishop as authorised to us by the Holy scriptures.’

The no-nonsense American passed the microphone to Bill White who was to conduct the ceremony.

‘Pastor Gilbert Juma Deya you have been called to the office of the bishop. Is there any known reason from anyone in this hall to oppose this ordination?’ Bill White asked a packed hall as the ordination started.

The hall went dead quiet. There was no objection.

Being ordained by a white man was a big plus those days. But I later learnt that Hall Adams and Bill White were Americans of questionable Christian substance when I visited them in California in 1993.

They had a very small church worshipping in a train wagon which was converted to a church hall with less than thirty people. That showed me how Arao was shrewd.

Back to Nairobi I was in charge of about 20 churches. Being a pastor was good but being a bishop came with more respect and fame. I immediately started plotting my next move.

In 1986 a man whose name has been very difficult to remember approached me. He was originally from Kakamega in Western Kenya. He had a registered charity; the United Evangelical Churches of Kenya. It was a perfect name for what I was planning to do next. I had planned to oust Arao in Nairobi as he had inherited all my churches.

He was not paying me and he was getting wealthier by the day. So I paid this man off 20,000 Kenya shillings for his charity and I started off my mission.

I had the gift of healing, miracle and wonders. Arao was a clever administrator. I had nothing to lose. So I needed to move my vision further. I had to act and improve my position in the community and in the church circles.

Arao was a good friend. Behind the scenes I converted the Nairobi churches to my organisation United Evangelical Churches of Kenya from Arao’s United International Life Ministry of Churches (UILMC) World Mission. He did not know what was happening. I operated for two years under cover until 1988 when all the churches in Nairobi were under me.

I then called him and informed him of my mission. I was no longer under him. I now had my own registered Christian ministry.

Our meeting happened in Nairobi. I was wealthy and he was very rich. We arranged to meet in a city hotel one evening. I had called him purposely to inform him about my plot.

‘Archbishop Arao, I have worked with you for the last eight years. You don’t pay me and you keep on going to USA and back and you have become very wealthy. You know we started together. Now Archbishop I will stand on my own. I have a registered charity, United Evangelical Churches of Kenya. I want you to know that all the churches in Nairobi are all under UEC’.

The amazed Arao looked at me. His skin looked much darker. A thin layer of sweat started forming on his forehead. I was the last person he would have expected to betray him.

He could not believe that I had taken his ministry apart and was surprised that nobody in the entire congregation in Nairobi had given him a hint. He stood up, walked round the room deep in thought.

I saw the pain in the man but what could he do? He could not fight me since I was in my territory. The churches were all mine and after all he had enough churches in the country.

‘Deya this is a very bad act. It is an act of war. No wonder I noticed a change of attitude from you but I did not know it had gone this far. How could you do this to me knowing where we have come from?’ Arao said in anger.

‘This is the gospel of Christ. It does not belong to anyone. I suggest we support each other and work together. After all we have the same mission, preaching the Good News and healing the sick,’ I suggested.

This is the way I broke away from the domination of Archbishop Arao and stood on my own. We agreed to work and support each other and became even better friends. We organised for the marriage of our children Jane my daughter and his son in America,” Deya added in excitement.

Archbishop Deya was in the mood to talk. This night he was to reveal the secrets of how the pastors in Nairobi organised to kill him hence his reason of leaving Nairobi and relocating to London. He had never told anyone else this story. It was only those who were involved that knew it.

“What was your involvement in the Morris Cerullo mission in Kenya?” I asked.

Deya’s enmity with Kenyan pastors, bishops and even ordinary Christians started with Morris Cerullo mission to Kenya in the late 1990s.

“I started to support Morris Cerullo in the early 1970’s. I liked the man. He was to Kenyans the most successful Christian performing many miracles.

“So in the days of serving Arao I used to attend his meetings and subsequently, I came to be known. I then joined the committee of Morris Cerullo Kenya.

Many things happen in Christian circles. The man in charge of the Kenyan chapter and East Africa was T. Njuguna, in the late 1980s early 1990s. Njuguna was a good friend of mine. I bought him gifts and we had a close relationship.

One day he went to Uganda for a Christian meeting related to Morris Cerullo. He was given a drink that had poison at the meeting. He was then quickly airlifted to a hospital in Kenya. Unfortunately he died while undergoing treatment.

This sparked a leadership contest for the next leader of this big affiliated organisation. By then I had become a member of the council of elders. Others included the most respected Kenya preacher Archbishop Arthur Kitonga of the Redeemed Gospel Ministries Kenya, Bishop Tuimising, Mark Kariuki and Joe kayo of Deliverance amongst a few other senior Nairobi preachers.

These were the cream of the leadership of the charismatic churches in Kenya.

At this time I needed power and influence. I knew how I was to get it. I backed a very junior Ugandan born member of the leadership, Joseph Karema, and he won as the new leader of Morris Cerullo World Evangelism Kenya, in charge of East Africa. It looked like a conspiracy that Njuguna, a Kenyan who was poisoned in Moses Cerullo meeting in Uganda was replaced by a Ugandan. By backing Karema, I wanted complete access to this man that many feared and respected including the head of state, Moi.

It was in 1990 if I can remember right. Morris Cerullo was to have a Christian crusade in Kenya and I had to take advantage of this. So as the meeting of the elders was being held I had my own plans to make sure I took full advantage of this meeting. It was make or break for me. I did not care at all. I had to get all. After all I had money – I could buy my way around.

So as the meeting dates approached I also had come to know some of the senior staff at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. The idea was that I had to be the first to greet this man. The rest would be history.

I used my money and influence to buy the members of the press. Some were members of my ministry so I did not have any problem in buying my way around.

I bribed them, told them that I was to be at the airport to receive the most respected international preacher Morris Cerullo. I wanted them there. I also went to the airport and checked the security arrangement.

I was assured of meeting him at the private jet on the runway and accompanying him to the VIP lounge. I never let anyone know what my plans were. It was a very private plan that I had and it remained that way to the last day.

The long-awaited day arrived. It was sunny and warm. The fresh Nairobi air was full of expectation. For the next seven days it was the glory of the man I was about to meet that was to be the news though.

Here I was making history for myself stealing the glory of many Christians who had worked so hard as a group for this meeting. I cared less. It was my turn.

I dressed to kill. A good bright suit with matching tie and shoes. I was at the airport very early in the morning with the best car in town – a Mercedes 280 V-boot and my driver, Emmanuel, was in one of his best suits just in case he would drive this great Christian: Morris Cerullo.

The plane was landing at 10am. I was at the airport around 7am to make sure every arrangement was in place and I had to be inside to ensure that the other committee members would not happen upon me at the ‘wrong place’ of the airport and foil my plans.

Ten o’clock came. The noise of a landing plane filled the air. The man was wealthy. He could afford to have a plane and fly all the way from America to Kenya.

He was worth my risk. Before long the plane was within a visible distance to the runway and there it was on the tarmac – a white private jet emblazoned ‘Morris Cerullo’ on the side.

I had airport staff with me giving me directions and instructions on what to do. After the jet parked I was very anxious to meet this man.

The air was thick and my thoughts were rehearsing the first words to say to this great American. The place was teeming with the press and camera men. I could not dare look back at the private lounge for I could sense, almost feel the anger in the air. I was in the process of making history.

The plane parked and the engines revved low. The airport attendants continued issuing instructions. The plane’s staircase came down slowly. One of the airport attendants went up into the plane and then came down.

All was well. After about thirty seconds, this stocky white American evangelist’s hands appeared above his head as though in prayer and slowly started to come down the stairs. This is the same way the Pope appears as he visits many nations around the world.

Here was the moment of history. I would be among the first Kenyans to greet him. On my side was Joseph Karema the then head of the Morris Cerullo Mission in Kenya. My efforts had paid a dividend.

After greeting Karema it was my turn, ‘Welcome to Kenya, the land of wildlife. Here we cast demons in Jesus name,’ I said ‘Thanks, it is good to be here. We thank God,’ he replied.

‘The programmers are ready and everyone is waiting for you,’ I assured Morris Cerullo.

‘Ladies and gentlemen,’ I said as I turned to the cameras. ‘The greatest man of God is here. He has just arrived. I hope to see you all in the Pangani grounds for the crusade.’

We started to walk towards the VIP lounge as I carried Morris Cerullo’s bible. God! This was the moment of heaven breaking loose.

As we entered the VIP lounge, all the eyes were burning holes in me. All charismatic church ministers were there led by Arthur Kitonga. It was a tense room and the air was very thick. Our guest was not aware of what was happening.

After a short address and introduction he was now led by the committee. That evening I appeared in the Pangani crusade. My chair was placed far away from the podium despite being among the elders of Morris Cerullo in Nairobi.

The message was clear. I was the most hated man in town.

It was a week-long Crusade. I never attended the next few meetings that followed. I knew that I had made the most offensive move but I was not yet done. Saturday came. Moi was very religious. He was to attend Morris Cerullo meetings.

I had informants in the presidential escort and the State House who informed me of the president’s movements for that day. As the presidential escorts left the State House Nairobi for the Pangani meeting I was informed of every move.

As soon as they approached the grounds I positioned myself to receive the President. I had talked with the guards who knew me anyway. As soon as the car stopped, there I was opening the door for the Kenyan President.

As Moi stepped outside his limousine I invited him to the meeting in Kiswahili, ‘Karibu Mtukufu Rais utabarikiwa leo (Welcome, Your Excellency, to the meting you will be blessed today).’

Asante sana, mkutano unaendelea aje (Thank you, how is the crusade going?’ the president replied.

Vizuri sana (very well),’ I replied.

The press were there and I was in the pictures everywhere. I was now a different person. Morris Cerullo was introduced to the President by Arthur Kitonga and I walked close to the President.

At the podium I sat not far from the President. I sat on someone else’s chair and I did not care. This was my time. I had messed for everyone else and I knew I had no friend and I did not want any but I had to stay.

After this meeting in Nairobi I was the most hated man in the world by men of God, the pastors. So a plan was set on how I was to be framed for a drug job. But I informed the President of what was happening.

The pastors were called by President Moi and told that I was the president’s friend and they should leave me alone.”

Since then, many of these same Nairobi pastors have been to London to see Deya. It looks like by moving to London and with time, his enmity with Kenyan pastors has slowly been forgotten.

© Gakuru Macharia 2009
Deya and the Miracle Babies is published Copies of the book will soon be available in major bookshops in Kenya. International readers can also purchase from ISBN No. 978-0-9561781-07

In the Sunday Nation: How Deya preyed on childless women with promises of chlidren.