Have you ever been deceived?

In a previous post I mentioned silly phases in my life when I have sort of gone off on a tangent only to realize, sometimes the hard way, that I don’t like the path I have chosen, then quickly try to get back on track. We all have those. Today’s story is about one of those. This past weekend was characterized mainly by the ‘end of the world’ predictions. So if you are reading this, I take it you weren’t ‘taken up’. Now, I don’t know Harold Camping and I may not even agree with the whole story, but I must say that after getting over all the fuss, you gotta hand it to him. That guy believed something and acted out of sincerity. He was sincere, but sincerely wrong (I have always wanted to say that). I have read many books dealing with the whole idea of human motivation and most say that we act not according to what we know as such, but according to what we believe. Some of those who spread deception, especially of a spiritual kind, are only pawns in a bigger game and may even themselves be victims of the same deception they are spreading.

Anyway, my story begins when I was a student in main campus (UoN). I had been part of a group of students who left Nairobi Baptist Church to join Pastor Oscar Muriu to be a part of Nairobi Chapel, then a very small stone chapel between hall 13 (my first hall of residence) and box (women’s hall of residence). It still is at the same location (obviously!) but a lot has changed in terms of size and use of space. The church that meets there now is Mamlaka Hill Chapel, a daughter church of Nairobi Chapel. We were a very close-knit group of students and though very different in terms of our courses, backgrounds and personality, we had such zeal and love for God (and each other) and ministry. We were very involved in each other’s lives and looked out for each other.

I used to like hanging out at the YMCA in my free time. I would sit at the restaurant overlooking the swimming pool and zoob and eat air-burgers ponder life and take notes. It was a great place for quiet time. So one day as I was hanging out there, some guy came and sat next to me quietly and thinking I was too engrossed in reading my bible for me to notice, he kept moving closer as if he was trying to confirm if my version of the bible was the same as his. Once in a while I would look up trying to figure out what I had just read and I would catch him pretending not to look. I think my frustration must have been obvious because he suddenly stopped pretending and just came out with it.

“Are you alright?”, he asked with a very concerned look on his face. At first I was taken aback by his African-American accent. I had been so sure he was a miiro.

“I’m okay, just can’t figure what this means for me, in today’s context,” I offered, referring to some portion of scripture that I was finding hard to grasp. I can’t even remember what verse it was but as we spoke, he seemed to really understand what I was going through. I explained how sometimes you just seem to be going through a dry spell where the word seems to be saying nothing as such. He took this term ‘dry spell’ and milked it for all it was worth (don’t worry if you don’t catch the pun/irony). He asked about how a true Christian who is connected to Jesus can go through a dry spell, unless he was somehow in the wrong environment, one in which the Lord was finding it hard to get through to him. As we talked he kept spewing out verses and he would always insist that I open my own bible and read to confirm that he was not just making things up. I was thoroughly impressed by his knowledge of the bible.

We kept meeting once in a while at the Y and he even once invited me to meet a few of his friends. They used to meet in a hall very near there and just fellowship and discuss and also pray a lot. I also found quite a number of Christians I knew from before. I think the people must have been really good at explaining things because after a while some things that they were saying began to look more true as I continued interacting with them, some of which sounded a bit strange and audacious at the beginning. Soon it was not even shocking to hear them claim that they were the only true Christians in Kenya. They showed me that I had been deceived into believing the lie that salvation could be so simple as ‘praying Jesus into your heart’. As I continued learning all these new things, it saddened me as it began to dawn on me that Pastor Oscar and all my friends at Nairobi Chapel were going to hell.

I was assigned a ‘discipler’ who would basically be my guide through this new life. He was also African-American. We had to meet daily and spend as much time as we could together. Even when we would be apart, like when I was in class or at home I would have to explain everything that I had done, how I spent my time, confess any impure thoughts and pray with my discipler. I was taught that in Matt. 28:19 when Jesus talked of making disciples of all nations, meant just that. So I was this guy’s disciple and when I had matured I would then have my own disciples. All this made amazing sense to me. This guy stuck to me like white on rice. I could not shake him off without feeling guilty. So guilty that I would confess it to him. Then he would pray with me and suggest that this was the devil trying to separate us so that I go and sin. It all made so much sense.

I was really making good progress over the weeks that I was with my discipler. We would audit my thoughts and so many times he would show me that I should be so ashamed of myself for having such thoughts, but that one day all would be well. He once introduced me to his discipler who told me that even for him is was not easy at the beginning. I had reached a stage (I think it was stage 12 or some funny but high number) in the course. They had become so free with me. I could now go to their houses, in posh neighbourhoods just to hang out and pray. I was no longer hanging out with my friends from school and church. One day I was told it was time for me to do the final task that would now confirm me into the church. This was to finally disconnect from the Nairobi Chapel. I was required to book an appointment with Pastor Oscar and go to see him together with my discipler, to formally relieve him of his duties as my Pastor.

I have also told you in the past that I believe that there is a plan being worked out in my life. On the day of the appointment, I was at home and my discipler called me on the land-line (there were no cellphones, and no, it was not in the 1940s). He told me that something had come up and he could not make it to come with me for the appointment. He also told me that under normal circumstances, it would be required to postpone the appointment, but since I had made so much progress, he felt that I was able to handle the appointment on my own. He asked me how I felt about going on my own and I assured him I could handle it.

Oscar was very glad to see me that day. He told me that there were some things he wanted me to take time to read before our meeting and handed me a stack of papers to go through before we sit and talk. He told me to take my time. He went into his office and I sat at the reception and started reading. I figured I would just humour him. I mean, look, here he was, about to become my former pastor (though he didn’t know it yet), it was only fair to grant him this last wish. The articles were about the International Church of Christ (that my guys were affilliated to). I read about mind control and so many other things that basically explained this whole story. By the time Oscar came out of his office I really did not know what to say. He didn’t say much either. He just told me that I should thank God that I have friends who truly care, that he and my friends loved me and had been praying for me for a long time. He also told me that he was expecting that I was going to do the right thing.

As in the story of Haman and Mordecai in the book of Esther, the same gallows that my ‘discipler’ had built for Pastor Oscar, he was hanged on it. (Esther 7:9,10). I booked an appointment with the guy and fired him.

Have you ever been deceived? What was it like?

Tuendelee kuongea.