Spiritual strongholds still exist in the region David Livingstone evangelized over a century ago. Rural people in Tanzania, Malawi, and Zambia remain in fear of witchcraft and other pagan beliefs that enslaved their ancestors. But they face a modern deception as well: the “prosperity gospel.” “Falsehoods abound there due to insufficient educational opportunities,” according to Rick Cornish, the founder and president of Teaching Truth International (TTI).
In August, Cornish returned from teaching 75 bush pastors who gathered in Mbeya, Tanzania. The student-pastors shared disturbing stories of people influenced by those who sell high-priced “holy” water with the promise of protection from evil. People swayed by false teachers will eat snakes or drink gasoline after hearing arrogant proclamations, such as, “If Jesus can turn water into wine, I can turn anything into anything.”
Cornish says Muslims use videos of the bizarre activities of prosperity-gospel adherents to warn people to run to Islam, “and many do.”
Since the only “Christian” radio broadcasts out of Mbeya have featured distortions of truth, TTI recently bought air time for a ministry partner and local pastor, David Akondowe. This pastor now delivers a weekly, one-hour message that counters prosperity preaching, Islam, and other deceptions. The fruit of this outreach effort is already evident.
“Theological training and resources combat those spiritual infestations,” Cornish says. His organization partners with TGC International Outreach to obtain free resources for church leaders in areas of the globe that need biblical support. “They are making a difference in the lives of thousands of pastors and thus tens of thousands of Christians by distributing books that better equip leaders to communicate God’s truth.”