As the governments of West Africa struggle to contain the spread of the Ebola virus, I am wondering where all the men and women of God who claim they can heal the sick and who conduct faith healing sessions in countries across the region are.
Where are all the continent’s miracle workers now that people desperately need healing; where are the anointed men and women of God now governments urgently need to contain the spread of Ebola? Where are all the pastors and preachers who have built their religious and business empires marketing miracle cure claims to gullible, ignorant desperate folks in cities and villages across Africa over the years? Have their miracle stocks suddenly gone dry? Or don’t they have any miracle package that is compatible with Ebola? What are our faith healers doing now? Can’t they singly or jointly take the spiritual battle against Ebola to affected communities and demonstrate to the world that their God is truly a miracle God?
Where are the T B Joshuas, David Oyedepos, Enoch Adeboyes, Kumuyis of this world and other anointed men and women who claim to be in direct communication with god in matters concerning healing? Why can’t T B Joshua travel down to Sierra Leone or Liberia and cast this ‘demon’ of Ebola into the Ocean once and for all? Why can’t the Nigerian government allow Ebola patients to come to the Synagogue in Lagos so that they can receive their healing from the quaking anointed hands of Prophet T B Joshua or be delivered by the most revered Enoch Adeboye and David Oyedepo?
Where is Archbishop Nicolas Duncan Williams of Action Chapel in Accra? Have his prophetic and faith healing powers suddenly expired? I mean this is the time for ministration. This is the time to spread God’s anointing and use it to counter the spread of Ebola. Where are the faith healers? I ask once again. The government and people Guinea, Sierra Leone need you now, urgently. The people of the world need your help. Do not retreat. Do not make excuses now the ‘Kingdom of God’ is suffering violence due to Ebola disease. This is the time of reckoning. This is the time to hold you to account for the faith healing claims you have made over the years. Yes, this is the defining moment.
A disease that requires you to put your healing powers to test is here. Where are Africans who believe in miracles and in divine healing and who flaunt this belief as a mark of piety and godliness? Belief is not enough. Faith in miracles, like sincerity, is subject to test. This is the testing time. Will you stand up now and be counted? A disease that requires you to put your belief to test is here. Please kindly step forward? Liberia beckons on you. Sierra Leone beckons on you. Guinea awaits you. What is the need entertaining belief in miracles only to suddenly suspend it when an occasion that demands you to put such a belief to the test arises? Ebola beckons on faith healers and miracle believers. This is your chance to convince and convert skeptics.
Where are all the Christian, Muslim, Traditionalist spiritualists who claim they have powers to cure diseases? Where are African diviners who claim to know the mind of God? Is there any faith healer in the foxhole of Ebola in West Africa?
I mean where are the god men and women? What are they doing now? Ebola is here threatening and charging to destroy economies and decimate population of countries. Please come forward and put your healing powers to the test and help countries in West Africa save lives and save money.
This challenge has become necessary if Africa must move forward and if the ongoing deception and exploitation by fake(faith) healers will end. There is no evidence for faith healing at all. Africans spend fortune on faith healing schemes. This challenge has become necessary if African people and their governments must improve the health care system and be able to provide effective responses to outbreak of diseases like the Ebola. Africans need to maximize their limited resources and stop investing and wasting money in useless cure schemes. Africans need to channel their funds into promoting evidence based health care system.
But this may not happen for now due to pervasive faith healing program in the region.
For too long, many people have often declared that they were called by God and given supernatural powers to heal diseases. They set up churches and shrines. Sometimes they operate from their homes. These self-acclaimed emissaries of a miracle working God organize faith clinics and healing sessions and charge exorbitant fees. Many Africans go to these faith doctors for ‘treatment’.
Today we have are several testimonies of people who claim they received their healing from these faith clinicians- pastors, priests, bishops, Alfas, Mallams, marabouts, one local spiritualist or diviner or the other? And these testimonies are often used to support ‘non evidence based medicine’ and discourage evidence based medical thinking and programs. This trend has had negative effects on the public health care system in the region.
The negative impact is such that when there is a serious outbreak of diseases, the peddlers of supernatural cures disappear into the thin air leaving their so-called flock in a lurch without any effective faith healing intervention. Just imagine that ridiculous gesture from T B Joshua to Ebola patients in Sierra Leone. He sent them tons of holy water. Did the holy water stop the spread of Ebola? No.
So when there is an outbreak of epidemic, many people begin to panic. They are confused as to which measures to adopt to prevent the spread of the disease. Sometimes they shun evidence based measures and instructions due to the confusion that has been created in their minds by faith healers and other peddlers of paranormal cures. Today African governments are asking for help from the international community in order to fight the spread of Ebola disease. Are they asking western countries to send them their faith healers or tons of olive oil? No. Are they asking eastern countries to send them Sheikhs, Mullahs or Rabbis, sacred Arabian sand, incense and perfume to combat this deadly virus? No. African countries are appealing for evidence based medical supplies, tested drugs and competent medical personnel, not prayer, incantation or divination.
Meanwhile, after the disease is contained, our faith healers will reemerge on the scene with their faith healing practices. They will begin once again to market their holy water, olive oil, holy handkerchief, and other faith healing wares. They will begin to perform signs and wonders once again.
It will be back to the religious business as usual. While, the government goes back to dogmatic and ‘faithfull’ sleep till another major outbreak of disease.
I mean this is totally unacceptable and must stop. Meanwhile, the medical assistance which African governments are demanding from Eastern and Western countries are programs and facilities which they are capable of putting in place in their different countries if only they could give enough priority to evidence based medical thinking and research, and stop hankering after miracle and faith healing schemes which fail them when diseases like a Ebola strike.
Leo Igwe is a skeptic from Nigeria