Prophets Emmanuel Makandiwa and Walter Magaya charge as much as US$1 500 per person for a one-on-one engagement for those seeking spiritual solutions to their problems, figures at hand show.
The Sunday Mail Religion has established that without making the requisite payments, it is almost impossible to have access to the prominent and charismatic men of the cloth outside normal church services.
Some congregants can have access to the prophets during church services and in their offices, but if one wants exclusive face-to-face encounters, then money speaks.
Posing as potential clients, The Sunday Mail Religion made inquiries from United Family International Church leader Prophet Makandiwa’s Life Haven facility and Prophet Magaya’s guest houses.
Followers who want these personal engagements first have to stay for about three days at the guest houses.
Three days at Life Haven in Mt Hampden cost US$300 in a dormitory facility that houses up to 27 people who use bunk beds. For executive lodgings, one forks out US$900 for the three-day stay that comes with room service.
At another executive Life Haven facility in the leafy suburb of Glen Lorne, the minimum charge is US$1 200 and the maximum is US$1 500.
Efforts to access into the facilities last Wednesday hit a brick wall as security manning the premises demanded payment receipts upfront. All payments are made at church offices while bookings can be done via the church’s website.
Said a security guard at the Glen Lorne site, “You cannot gain entry inside; but I can explain while you are outside the gate. Our houses range from US$1 200 and US$1 500 for three days and all payments must be made at the church office.”
The Life Haven facility is built on the same model as that of Prophet Magaya’s guest houses for his his Prophetic Healing and Deliverance Ministries.
PHD charges a minimum of US$300, while executive board in Marlborough costs up to US$900.
Comparatively, four and five-star hotels have minimum charges of around US$100 per night.
“You have to make a booking first before visiting or being allowed into the guest houses. You are assured of a one-on-one encounter with the prophet if you pay the money,” said a lady who answered the phone at PHD Ministries.
Repeated efforts to get comments from PHD’s Overseer Admire Mango were fruitless as his mobile phones went unanswered through the week, and he did not respond to SMS enquiries.
Prophet Shame Hungwe said he charged US$100 for a two-day at one of his facilities.
He defended the guest houses, saying, “The problem with you people is that you can hardly find anything good from us; many churches have their sacred places where they go on several occasion.
The guest house experience presents a prayerful environment and an opportunity for believers to stay with God calming their promises.”
Goodness and Mercy Ministries founder Prophet Tapiwa Freddy, who also runs guest houses, said the facilities had no Biblical foundation.
He said, “To be honest … it is us (church leaders) who introduced it after we saw its dire need. Some people might ask why we make people pay; the answer is simple, we use the money to maintain the place, buy food and many other things that people might what to use during their stay. This is not a business.”
Prophet Freddy said there was nothing wrong if church leaders benefitted financially in the process.
“The Bible also teaches that it is an abomination for anyone to come to the house of God empty-handed,” he added. University of Zimbabwe lecturer and Revival United Christ International Bishop, Professor Marvelous Mhloyi, said Jesus never accepted money to help people. “Jesus is our prime example as Christians and we ought to imitate him. He never accepted money during his ministry. He healed people for free and my bible says we will get reward in Heaven.”
Prof Mhloyi encouraged Christians to seek guidance from the Holy Spirit on any spiritual matter.
Prophet Prince Wonderful weighed in citing Acts 8:18 which showed the apostles never accepted money to assist the needy, and they rebuked Simon the sorcerer for trying to buy the Holy Spirit.
“Merchandising is what the Apostle Peter predicted as one of the signs of a rising generation of false prophets and teachers claiming to be servants of Christ.
“It is clear the Apostle did not sell the epistles they sent to different congregation yet God funded their activities through generous givers in the ministry,” said Prophet Wonderful. “Today we have a crop of man of God who even after collecting tithes, offerings, all kinds of seeds and pastors appreciations (money and goods) still go ahead to sell oil, wrist bands, water among many other things. This shows how covetous our generation has become.”
Nigerian Synagogue Church of All Nations leader Prophet TB Joshua appears to have pioneered the guest houses phenomenon. But last year, tragedy struck when 81 people died when one of his facilities collapsed.
However, guest houses are the more palatable aspects of some churches’ operations, as some young church leaders sell “anointed” condoms, pens and salt among other items