Pastor Solomon Male; torching the rot in churches
September 4, 2018
Kampala, Uganda | AGNES E NANTABA | Pastor Moses
Solomon Male is an outspoken critic of corruption in churches;
especially by pastors and clerics who promote the gospel of manipulation
and mind control. He also cares for victims of paedophilia and
Male also campaigns for greater financial accountability in churches. He says that the practice of giving land, cars or household goods to pastors in exchange for blessings, known as ‘sowing seeds of faith’, which is widespread in Uganda is not included in the churches’ accounts.
“Those are treated as personal income of the pastors,” he says.
He started on the journey close to 20 years ago in 1999, upon starting Arising for Christ (ARCH) to address the rot of religious cults, homosexuality, and sexual abuses.
Male had just converted to Christianity three years earlier and had served with several pastors in the country. He recalls surrendering his life to Christ at a time when there were factions of Pentecostal churches and pastors tracing their roots to Ghanaian Ghanaian-born former Catholic priest and self-proclaimed prophet John Obiri Yeboah. Two weeks into the salvation journey, Male was appointed a secretary to one faction led by Bishop Makumbi which to him proved to be a revelation opportunity of the dirty games of pastors.
Months later, Male joined self-proclaimed prophet Samuel Kakande and his wife Lois of Holy Church of Christ, “New Chapter” renamed The Synagogue Church of All Nations.
“They were prophets who had just returned from Europe,” said Kakande.
He would serve at the church as second in command for the next four years which according to him proved the existence of fraud in church.
Male says, “I saw people robbed of their property, healthy people manipulated into relationships with HIV positive people after falsifying tests”.
Male left that church in 1992, denouncing it as a cult. The following year, he was arrested as a result of his accusations against the church, but was later released and the case withdrawn.
Once invited to Makerere University’s famous prime time fellowship led by Pastor Martin Sempa, Male had the opportunity of sharing his lifetime experience of serving the Lord with the congregation. And at the end of the service, two young men approached him seeking his help.
“They revealed to me that they are victims of sodomy by some pastors,” said Male.
This would later mark the beginning of several other revelations from young people about being victims of homosexuality and cult by some church pastors, fellow young people and priests.
He says Arising for Christ (ARCH) aims to restore the sanctity of Christ and to rid the church of fake and selfish people who carry themselves as pastors to con the desperate and unsuspecting public. Under the organisation, Male says he has compiled a list of 300 believers who accuse born-again pastors of extortion, fraud, sex slavery and other crimes. He says he has failed to get allies in the fight.
He also started the cult awareness programme countrywide focusing on schools.
“Some pastors wanted to silence me but I vowed never to stop until the vice is stopped,” says Male, “They had no moral authority to silence me”.
In 2012, Male and five others were fined Shs1 million each and ordered to do 100 hours of community service after being convicted of conspiring to destroy Pastor Robert Kayanja’s name and profession.
But even with all the trials in the struggle, Male is not about to resign. He continuously advocates for an end to religious cults and homosexuality; especially in churches.
“Over the years I have realized so many misconceptions and mis-teachings and unfortunately the church has done nothing to correct them,” he says.
He says he is the defacto leader of the crusade against homosexuality and cults in Uganda.
“I am a pioneer in the fight against them,” he says, “I don’t think that Uganda’s religious history can be complete without Male.
“I have been foremost in shaping Uganda’s spiritual and moral history and planes”.
Male, 56, was born just a few months before Uganda secured her independence from Britain in 1962. He was raised by his mother in Ntinda Kigoowa as his parents never married due to religious differences between Muslims and Christians. He attended St Lugalama, Ntinda Primary School, Kyambogo College School and Caltec academy Makerere where he completed the advanced level of education. He is married to Justine Nanziri Male and together they have three children.
Ugandan pastors’ love for America
Pastor Jackson Senyonga
Christian Life Church’s Pastor Jackson Senyonga’s arrest in the US,
Esther Namugoji probes Ugandan pastors’ deep attachment to America...
The recent arrest of Christian Life Church’s Pastor Jackson Senyonga is no doubt a thorn in the flesh of the Pentecostal churches in Uganda, which have been battling tantalising stories about wayward pastors.
Pastor Senyonga may well be innocent of the charges that he behaved lasciviously with a minor while on a flight from Denver to Oakland in the US. Senyonga has explained that he was only inching away from a snoring man, which caused him to lean more toward the girl on the other side. Ugandan pastors have expressed confidence in his moral character, even those who have disagreed with him in the past over different issues. Senyonga is simply being maligned by the oversensitive American culture where many men, even of the cloth, have been found guilty of immoral acts.
But there is an element to this case that Pentecostal Christians rarely get a chance to dissect. Among the Pentecostal pastors fraternity there is a tendency to make America their frequent base, if not home.
For instance, it is amazing that Pastor Senyonga has been away preaching since February and will only return in November, according to his church aide. His wife Eva is also currently in the US. Senyonga’s website lists a US ministry as one of his ministry activities, and he “travels to nations and cities to address key churches and events to stimulate spiritual transformation through prayer, personal transformation and evangelism for church growth”.
Over the last 20 years, it has been a trend for Ugandan preachers to cast their visions overseas, with the pressure to label their ministries ‘international’ following almost every Pentecostal preacher. A visit to ‘outside countries’ is the desired springboard for most pastors. Many pastors spend more time at airports and in planes, and have become pastors of the air, as one top Kampala pastor once quipped.
Some of the powerful churches in Kampala are actually run by assistant pastors, as the heads are busy with ministry in America and other countries. Congregations go for months on end without seeing the man of God and only receiving greetings from their pastor through phone calls relayed by the associate pastor. There are many doors that are opened with a visit to the US. Education opportunities, financial partners and opportunities to widen the preaching circuit abound.
Pastor Simeon Kayiwa has been moonlighting as a professor at the Latin University in California and is to start a university here. Pastors can build networks with willing donors and other pastors, which benefit the orphans and the poor. Others, including Senyonga, have invited volunteer teams on medical missions or to help build schools. There is also a movement that sees Uganda as a missionary base and the fact that there are American congregations eager to listen to them is a positive sign.
All this would be well, if there were not a number of issues arising out of this trend.
Behind the drive to flock America is the lure of the image-is-everything prosperity kind of gospel. There is competition to have the most beautiful church structure, the best dressed choir, a televised programme, website, the most modern musical and public address equipment, sometimes a media house and other expansions. On a personal level, pastors must have a modern car, suits, a mansion and a contingent of bodyguards. All these things cost a lot of money and there are only so many ways a pastor can get money out of an average congregation.
Many pastors have to become resourceful in attracting donors to sponsor their plans. Usually, it starts with a visit to the United States of America, where many rich people are touched by the stories of AIDS orphans and poverty. Unfortunately, some pastors take advantage of this situation to hoard a lot of money, only a fraction of which ends up in a hastily set up orphanage. Sometimes, the physical structures are put up after news that the donors will be visiting to tour the projects. Almost every church has an orphanage or school attached to it. Although many of them are genuinely meeting the needs of the community, some are mere conduits for collecting money. A number of pastors have got into scraps with the Police and parents over orphanages or study-for-free schools that are run on crooked principles.
Many American Christians have been led to believe that President Yoweri Museveni is a born-again convert, when the President himself has said he long abandoned the faith.
A Kampala lawyer told this reporter of a ‘pastor’ who ingratiated himself with an American couple and told them of an orphan he had reportedly rescued from Rwanda during the genocide. The couple used to send money, clothes and other types of assistance to ensure that the child was well taken care of. He also convinced them to donate money to a church over a number of years. When they decided to adopt the child the pastor went into some dubious methods to try and smuggle the child out of the country, but those attempts failed. 10 years later, the couple came to Uganda and was so heartbroken to discover that the ‘pastor’ had been feeding them on a pack of lies. The girl’s mother was not dead, although she was mentally unstable and had abandoned the child. The child’s grandmother laughed at the fantastic Rwanda genocide story and the church they had been sending money to was non-existent.
It turns out that the man used to be a preacher, but had become a businessman in Kampala and America, and as time proved, a terrible liar and extortionist.
There are pressures in the US that many Ugandan pastors are not able to resist. Many try to imitate the swashbuckling lifestyle lived by American preachers and transport it to their home churches. Those who travel without their wives have been lured into intimate relationships with women who don’t mind the fact that the pastor is already married. Some preachers leave the country on a ministry mission only to get married to American citizens in order to become official residents.
According to Pastor Solomon Male of Arising for Christ, there are many such pastors who leave the country purportedly to preach, only to end up on kyeyo, doing odd jobs to make money.
“The church is just a business venture for some of them. They go and deceive that they have orphans and poor people they are looking after, then they come back and live lavish lives. They don’t implement what they solicited the money for.”
Male says a pastor like Stephen Ssozi was really running the church as a personal business and that is why he sold it to Pastor Frank Lutaaya. However, the bulk of the congregation moved out and placed themselves under the care of a more trusted pastor.
Sometimes, money is raised from different churches in multiple fundraising drives for equipment or buildings when only one project is being undertaken. Still, church members will be made to contribute towards the same when they arrive in Uganda or at least be asked to pay for equipment to be cleared at the airport.
There are pastors who double as importers, mixing donated items with their business stock and making quite a handsome profit, both from the donated stuff and from not being taxed.
When Sunday Vision spoke to Pastor Male, he reeled off a number of bizarre cases, some believable and some extreme. He is confident about his sources of information and says he has followed up some cases and found them to be true.
Male also alleges that some have ended up being trapped in homosexual tendencies after getting funds from gay donors indiscriminately. Many so-called pastors have sold their souls to a number of dubious causes, all in an attempt to raise money.
The principal of Kampala Evangelical School of Theology, Rev. Dr. Solomon Nkesiga, says there is nothing wrong with pastors spending a long time outside the country if they have congregations there.
“When you have a good administration at home then you are able to be away to attend to the other congregation,” says Nkesiga.
He, however, thinks it strange for someone to be away for months rotating on speaking engagements if they don’t have a congregation they are leading in a different country.
In his assessment, many pastors have attracted a lot of money around them and, therefore, can afford to spend many months overseas.
“It is not that pastors like to go to America. They are invited to preach or to study. I don’t see any problem, especially if he is doing God’s work,” says Pastor Godfrey Kamese of Praise Christian Centre. He points out that a church must have the quality of continuity even in the pastor’s absence, after all, one day he will die and the church must go on. Kamese says we must understand the genesis of the connection between Pentecostals and America.
“After (the late president Idi) Amin fell, it was the Americans who first came and preached here. The likes of T. L. Osborne and Oral Roberts were responsible for training many pastors. America is to Pentecostals like Rome is to Catholics, Mecca to Muslims or England to Anglicans.”
Kamese dismissed as hearsay, allegations that some pastors do other things apart from preaching while in the US.
“I have never heard of any big name pastor doing kyeyo,” Kamese said while declining to comment on the issue.
A source who spoke to Sunday Vision on condition of anonymity suggested that some pastors are involved in money laundering. The source said pastors sometimes receive money from people who want to hide their illicit proceeds and because they cannot bring it all into the country at once, they spend it in America and Europe. Uganda’s anti-money laundering system is weak, with the draft Anti-money Laundering Bill yet to be debated in Parliament. But a Uganda Anti-Money Laundering Committee would work with security, communication and banking institutions to monitor the situation. Today, detection and prosecution is hindered by confidentiality obligations and lack of proof. But banks are obliged to report single deposits in excess of $100,000 (about sh170m).
However, Solomon Male argues that if a church banked sh1b on an account it can be easily explained away as coming from donations, or offerings. He also says since there are no government audits and churches are tax-exempt, dirty money is easy to cover up.
When the funds raised are diverted to finance pastors’ lavish lifestyles, then their motives are likely to be questioned.
“We have reduced God to America. Going to America is like going to heaven. Our accents are Americanised, the lifestyle is Americanised. This will ruin our pastors,” a young pastor laments.
But the cycle continues, with new generations of preachers seeing the American dream as the only way to make it past the early struggling years of a ministry. Some have fallen victim to Internet fraudsters who scam them over visas or with invitations to ghost conferences.
There are many benefits to the church and the pastor, mostly in terms of fame and finances. But sometimes there is a price to pay in domestic affairs while the pastors are abroad. Many of the churches that have fragmented acrimoniously have split due to the absence of the senior pastor, while a junior pastor does all the work. On the head pastor’s return, disagreements develop sometimes over loyalty and many times over money issues. Sometimes the pastor comes back with a grand plan or project that he expects to be adopted and implemented at short notice, thus breeding bitterness in the now less powerful assistants.
This phenomenon has contributed to the building of a cult status around some pastors. Because the pastor is a rare sight, when he returns from a trip abroad, he is treated almost like a god. The dramatic display of erstwhile pastor Patrick Muwanguzi’s ‘anointing’ when church members fell at his feet at Entebbe Airport on his return from Israel, was an exaggerated and perhaps stage-managed example.
When he is back, everyone wants to talk to the pastor personally. Some pastors have built a kanyama squad to protect them from the clamouring flock and many pastors have lost touch with the people they lead. Sometimes, apart from the leaders, only the biggest tithe-givers are in touch with the pastors.
Where other businesses are run beside the church, scandals are not rare. For instance, Pastor Senyonga’s media enterprises have for long been accused of defaulting on employees’ salaries. His defenders claim this happens without the pastor’s knowledge, but others say his absence definitely contributes to the problem.
“The American dream has wrecked many pastors. They become religious merchants with no concern for the flock, but only interested in money and prosperity for their own lives.
“It has ignited cut-throat competition among them and those who have not yet got access to America become ravaging wolves on the local flock that they rip off ruthlessly,” Male asserts.
But personal repercussions also abound. The recurrent absence of a parent often bears negative fruit and some pastors’ homes have suffered as a result, with rebellious children or depressed wives.
One pastor’s wife called it quits after discovering that the man of God had a parallel family in America. There are some known sad cases of family disintegration directly related to the frequent and prolonged overseas trips.
A church congregation in Entebbe has been in denial for some years about what transpired between the pastor and his wife while in the US that he returned alone from one of the trips. Full of love for the once powerful servant of God, they seldom discuss suspicions that the pastor has inappropriate relations with other women.
“We need to clean up the rot in the body of Christ so as to restore the confidence of the masses in Christianity,” says Male.
Because most pastors are accountable only to themselves, nobody ever knows what they are doing in America apart from what they have been told. Plus, many pastors cover for each other for the good of the fellowship as they counsel or negotiate with their fallen colleagues.
On this side of the Atlantic, the assumption is that the pastors are very busy with a full preaching schedule, even when some are working hard as drivers, store clerks or musicians.
Published on: Saturday, 30th August, 2008