A god of “ridiculous miracles”

WRITTEN BY JO STEPHANIE, AAI NEWS TEAM

Earlier this month Prophet Uebert Angel, a Zimbabwean televangelist, visited Zambia for what was dubbed the Zambia Miracle Night. He was accompanied by his wife, Prophetess Beverly Angel.

It is unclear exactly how many people attended the event but Lusaka’s Olympic Youth Development Centre was filled to capacity with people hoping for a miracle.

And if reports are to be believed there were many miracles. A man was reportedly cured of deafness after fourteen years, while others claimed to be cured of diabetes and high blood pressure. Most notably were reported cases of HIV being cured, though the number of cured patients wasn’t specified.

In such cases one cannot discount the power of the placebo effect. People went to the event expecting a miracle and believed they were going to see someone endowed with special powers from God. The mind is a powerful thing and such ‘miracle healings’ are more likely a result of a strong belief that healing is coming rather than a miracle bestowed by a gifted preacher or prophet.

Zambia Red Cross medical personnel were reportedly on hand to test patients before and after the healing and claimed that diseases were in fact cured at the event. However there was no mention of a follow-up. For all we know the above-mentioned conditions could have returned. And specifically in the case of patients being cured of high blood pressure this is problematic as our blood pressure can change throughout the day. A healthy reading at one point in the day does not mean one has been cured of low or high blood pressure. But swept up in the fervor of the event the faithful do not stop to think of such things.

But let us for a moment imagine that people were genuinely cured of their illnesses at this Miracle Night. There are over 35 million still infected with HIV – why should we be impressed that one or two were cured when millions more continue to suffer from the disease? And a bigger question is that if God existed then why would He allow so much disease and suffering to persist in the first place? Why praise God for healing a few people when billions continue to fall prey to disease? Non-believers often question how a benevolent, all-knowing and all-powerful god can allow suffering to persist and do nothing about it. This is a valid question which so far has not been adequately answered by religious apologists. Furthermore, why are miraculous healings more likely to happen at special events such as the one in question in Zambia? If faith healing were a reliable alternative to modern medicine then we would replace doctors with preachers.

Prophet Uebert Angel, the televangelist who performed the 'healings', is one of a growing number of millionaire African preachers with several entrepreneurial ventures. He attained British citizenship but has since moved back to Zimbabwe and grown his ministry, Spirit Embassy, from there and opened branches around the world. Much is known about his educational background and business ventures but as a Forbes Africa article about the ‘prophet’ noted, “there is still a lot about him shrouded in mystery.” After the miracle night Angel tweeted that it was a night of “ridiculous miracles,” and I’m inclined to believe him. Apart from diseases being cured, some audience members claim ‘miracle money’ appeared in their pockets and unexplained prepaid credit in their mobile phones. I agree that this is ridiculous because surely if there is a God there are better ways for Him to make his presence known. A kind and loving God would do more than give a few random people free phone credit and a little money in their pockets. If God were to come out of the woodwork and prove His or Her existence beyond a reasonable doubt and eradicate poverty, for instance, then sure, I’d be impressed. But we cannot let ourselves be impressed/fooled by unverified reports of miracle money. We cannot be sure those people were not planted in the audience to testify to false miracles. And more importantly there is no irrefutable evidence of faith healing working. We do have many cases though of people worsening their conditions or even dying because they chose faith healing over conventional medicine.

Picture: from spiritembassy.org

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