Church Wants Name Cleared

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By Catherine Sasman WINDHOEK The Christ Love Ministries, a charismatic church in Windhoek North, has denied Satanist and other ritualistic claims made by purported former members of the church. This follows a broadcast on the NBC Good Morning Namibia programme more than a week ago when the former members charged that not all was kosher at the church. “We heard the rumour that we are cooking and eating people’s hair,” said Pastor Isaac (he prefers to be called just that) from his office. “Apparently we are also cooking and eating DVDs, lock people up and kidnap children. These accusations come from people who have left the church and have sworn to bring the church down.” The police responded to the claims by visiting the church, but found members of the congregation fasting and praying at the church. “We have found nothing to suggest that there was anything strange happening there,” said Superintendent Johan Kellerman when approached for comment. All hell broke loose when family members of one of the churchgoers demanded to see their sister who was also fasting at a weeklong session. She apparently refused to go out and speak to them. Her brothers then accused the church of holding her there against her will. “I asked not to be disturbed and didn’t want to speak to anyone,” said the churchgoer, who prefers anonymity. “The small mistake I’ve made was not to inform my family of my whereabouts and I had my cell-phone switched off the entire week.” The church had in the meantime laid charges of trespassing and crimen injuria against the girl’s brothers. “I became concerned when my father told me that my sister had not answered her phone for three days,” said the brother, Moise Moise. “I went to the church but was told that she was not there. After we contacted the police, she came out but refused to speak to me directly, but preferred to speak through an interpreter. She looked very desperate,” said Moise, who said that they needed to speak to her because her child was sick in hospital. “The church brainwashed my sister. She disappointed me in front of other people,” Moise continued. To allay claims that she was kidnapped by the church, the churchgoer had since gone to the police to make a statement under oath that she was “not forced to be there”. “My family and the police came looking for me,” she states in her oath. “[They] accused the pastor of the church of kidnapping and cutting my hair for rituals. None of this information is true,” the oath reads. “I told my family to stay away during those days [of fasting] because I needed to concentrate on my prayers.” The church also claims that the NBC had not made an attempt to hear its side of the story. This is denied by NBC journalist, Anna Shilongo, who did the story. “We have been to the church four times to speak to the pastor there, but he did not want to comment. We gave them the opportunity to give their side of the story, but they were not willing to talk,” said Shilongo. But the church is adamant. “The NBC must make changes to its report,” commented Pastor Frans Tjaritje. “Those allegations are false. We may consider legal action if the story is not sorted out. The NBC must come back and show the other side of the story.” Said Pastor Isaac: “Charismatic pastors are always bashed. We are spat at, vilified and maligned. Some people do not want this church to go anywhere. This is a Pentecostal praying church that looks after the spiritual welfare of its congregation. We are warriors fighting through prayer. We do not fight human beings, but evil spirits. I don’t have issues with people who make accusations, but they must be able to prove those allegations.”