Pastor Deya and 5 Religious Scandals that Shook Kenya

  • Left to right: Pastors Gilbert Deya, Victor Kanyari and James Ng'ang'a
    Left to right: Pastors Gilbert Deya, Victor Kanyari and James Ng'ang'a.
    File
  • Religion in Kenya holds a preternatural position, with clergymen working hard to leave an indelible mark in the hearts of believers and Kenyans in general.

    From claiming to possess powers to determine which section of the congregation has been approved to go to heaven, to others possessing the power to cure HIV virus, many pastors have found themselves wading in the murky waters of religious scandals, some of which threatened their freedom.

    Kenyans.co.ke looks back at six of the scandals involving pastors that shook the country.

    1. Pastor Gilbert Deya

    Gilbert Deya Ministries Pastor Gilbert Deya
    Gilbert Deya Ministries Pastor Gilbert Deya.
    Twitter

    Pastor Gilbert Deya seems to have made a return to the religious arena after fighting a 15-year scandal that attracted investigators from both Kenya and the United Kingdom.

    The controversial pastor hit the headlines in 2004 after an investigation dubbed 'miracle babies' exposed him for allegedly stealing babies under the banner of 'Gilbert Deya Ministries.'

    In the scandal, Deya was exposed for allegedly running a child trafficking ring, claims he has denied.

    After denying the claims, the bishop who ran his ministry in the United Kingdom was deported to Kenya after failing to secure residency in the country.

    The embattled evangelist was detained for nine months at Kamiti Prison after landing in Kenya, and only got freed in May 2018 after posting a hefty bail of Ksh10 million.

    2. Pastor Victor Kanyari

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    File image of Pastor Victor Kanyari preaching at his Salvation and Healing Ministries church
    Facebook

    Pastor Victor Kanyari of the Salvation Healing Ministries became the talk of town in 2014 after former KTN investigative reporter Mohammed Ali exposed alleged deception in his miracles, claims Kanyari has vehemently denied.

    Kanyari gained notoriety as the preacher who asked for Ksh310 offering, derived from a Bible verse in Malachi 3:10.

    3. Prophetess Lucy Nduta

    Pastor Victor Kanyari's mother Prophetess Lucy Nduta
    Pastor Victor Kanyari's mother Prophetess Lucy Nduta.

    Before her son, Victor Kanyari, was dragged through the media mill, Prophetess Lucy Nduta paved the way with her claim that she could cure HIV virus.

    She reportedly charged her congregation promising to cure the disease that had claimed many lives in Kenya at the time.

    4. Pastor Joseph Hellon

    Kingdom Embassy International Pastor Joseph Hellon
    Kingdom Embassy International Pastor Joseph Hellon.
    File

    In 2010, Pastor Joseph Hellon's church, Finger of God at the time, rose to the spotlight after former KTN News Anchor Esther Arunga quit her job to join the church.

    In February of 2020, Hellon was arrested on suspicion that the church was illegal.

    He was taken into police custody for operating an illegal society and was released a week later due to lack of evidence.

    He proceeded to change Kingdom Embassy International in March 2019 and claimed in the media that he had warned Arunga against Quincy Timberlake whose troubles continue to hound her to this day in Australia.

    5. Pastor James Ng'ang'a

    A photo of Pastor James Ng'ang'a of Neno Evangelism delivering a past sermon at the church.
    Pastor James Ng'ang'a of Neno Evangelism delivers a past sermon at the church.

    Arguably the most controversial pastor in Kenya today, James Ng'ang'a of Neno Evangelism Center found himself behind bars over an accident in which one person lost his life in 2019.

    Initial reports claimed that Pastor Ng'ang'a was behind the wheel when the accident occurred, but he pleaded not guilty to the charges.

    He was charged with giving false information to the police, conspiring to defeat justice and failing to report an accident. He denied the charges.

    He served time at Shimo la Tewa prison in Mombasa.

    6. Pastor Thomas Wahome

    Pastor Thomas Wahome of Helicopter of Christ Ministry
    Pastor Thomas Wahome of Helicopter of Christ Ministry
    File

    In 2018, Bishop Thomas Wahome of Helicopter of Christ Church hit the headlines after claims emerged that he had a list of congregants would go to heaven.

    It was alleged that he charged Ksh1,000 for his congregants who wished to know if they were on the list to heaven or hell.

    He is said to have believed that he had been granted a special access to the Book of Life which, according to the scripture, contains names of people that would live eternally in heaven.

    In a separate instance, the pastor reportedly charged Ksh1,200 for his congregants to earn a chance to touch his clothes for them to receive healing.

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