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25.12.2005 General News

Miracles on offer as Ghana preachers prey on weak

By Reuters
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ACCRA (Reuters) - Devout Christian Elizabeth Abrokwah believes prayer will deliver the child she so desperately wants, overcoming the hurdles of age and menopause.

"In African custom, without children you won't be happy in the marriage. I know God will intervene," the 53-year-old woman says with fervour as hundreds of people clap and sing in the rising Sunday morning heat in Ghana's capital Accra.

Faith and prayer can deliver babies where medical science fails, says Pastor Evan Lordsfield, a preacher at Pure Fire Miracles Ministries which Abrokwah attends.

"We don't believe in clinical reports. With God all things are possible," he said. "Even if you are 50, if you believe in God, God will do it."

Pure Fire's enthusiastic services are among many in Ghana which articulate a passionate Christianity, often welded with traditional African beliefs in which every problem has a spiritual cause.

Relying heavily on their own interpretation of Biblical texts, many of these preachers have no formal link to conventional Christian churches. Their passionate delivery and message of hope find favor all the same with thousands of Christians in the West African country.

However, there are fears that some exploit vulnerable people by raising false hopes or looking for blessings, in the form of cash or gifts, in exchange for spiritual help or "miracles," such as babies for barren women.

Lordsfield says pastors do not ask churchgoers for money but adds that some feel "called by the Spirit" to bless the preachers.

His colleague Pastor Elias Buckner says: "When they get pregnant, when they realize God has given, they come and thank God. If you don't have, that is OK."

GOD EVERYWHERE

God is everywhere in Ghana, his name scrawled on public transport minibuses, or "tro tros," while quotes from the Bible adorn roadside container shops.

In the night and early morning, preachers broadcast promises of wealth, health and hope when some of Accra's poorest residents are getting up to go work.

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