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At Kanyari’s church, one has to ‘plant a seed’ to receive blessings

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 AGGREY OMBOKI

By AGGREY OMBOKI
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Pastor “Prophet Dr” Victor Kanyari of the Sh310 “Plant a Seed” scandal has bounced back after an investigative story in 2014 exposed the deception behind the miracles in his Salvation Healing Ministry.

Before that, he had gained notoriety as the preacher who asked for a Sh310 offering, taken from the biblical verse in Malachi 3:10, which exhorts believers to give to the Lord.

After the scandal, he quietly reinvented himself with a programme on Radio Jambo, going by the name Bishop Samwel Maina.

He still asked listeners to give a “seed offering” for powerful intercessory prayers, but had reduced the amount to Sh250.

After a local newspaper exposed him, he went off-air. He now has a television station, Maajabu TV, which broadcasts sermons from his ministry, now based in Njiru, Nairobi.

Tucked between incomplete houses on a former expansive quarry, the blue-roofed building is still new, and undergoing finishing touches.

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A small but vibrant congregation of 100 people or so is in church on the Sunday we went there.

But the church also holds prayer services on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and miracle services on Fridays.

All visitors are welcome and led to a tent set aside for them, where they are interviewed and their phone numbers and occupations recorded in a visitors’ book.

Pastor Kanyari’s silver-grey Range Rover is parked in the compound, and hawk-eyed ushers use walkie-talkies to coordinate security and other activities.

A casual glance at the car reveals paintwork at least three places just below the door handles.

But appearances can be quite deceptive. On May 16, 2019, he shared a photo on Instagram of what seemed like a party for his followers at a newly-built house.

The church has three services, from 7am to 11 am, each lasting about an hour. The main service begins at 1 1am and runs until 2.30 pm.

And only members of his worship team are allowed to record the services.

Before he enters, the prayer and song sessions are overseen by a woman preacher known only as Pastor Baby, an energetic singer and dancer with a powerful voice.

She tells the congregation to trust in the word of the “prophet”, and that he can heal the sick and pray for the jobless to get jobs.

Referring to his lifestyle, she tells the congregation to see for themselves just how blessed he is.

“I hope you all know how blessed the prophet is … He is, indeed, a blessed man of God, and he can pray for you to also receive blessings,” she says.

The session is also graced by 12 dancers from the praise and worship team, who sing a few songs, among them one praising Pastor Kanyari as the father of the faithful. It ends with an offering.

As soon as he steps into the pulpit, marked by shiny aluminium poles, he starts preaching about the importance of giving to the Lord, based on Malachi 3:10.

“Without faith, one cannot please God. You cannot be blessed if you do not follow the Lord. That is what defines faith,” he says.

He then regales the worshippers with a tale of a miraculous encounter at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on a trip to China.

He says a woman he prayed for to get a job actually got one at the airport and not only helped him when he had trouble with his travel documents, but also gave him Sh30,000 in appreciation.

“It is good to always bless others as you never know when the blessings will return to you, even though some of you here never return after your prayers are answered,” he says, to thunderous cheers.

He reminds the congregation that the rich are blessed because they know how to give, adding that God is no respecter of persons, and can bless even those who do not believe in him.

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Pastor Kanyari then preaches about betrayal, saying the most painful thing is to be killed or let down by a loved one.

He warns men about the futility of fighting with women. “You saw the man assaulting a woman in a supermarket on camera and now he is jobless and facing a court case over the offence. Fighting a woman is a lost cause,” he says.

He insists that women have more money and other blessings, including healing and victory over their challenges, because they are more inclined to believe his prophetic messages, compared with men.

“Some even send me money for offering secretly, away from the prying eyes of their husbands, and then call to tell me not to inform their spouses. And they will be richly blessed. But men hesitate when it comes to parting with their money for offerings,” he says.

He makes no reference to his estranged wife, the gospel singer Betty Bayo, but says his three children are not present because one of them was celebrating a birthday.

The service is peppered with calls from him for “offerings” for special handkerchiefs and bottled water.

He reminds the worshippers about the pledge they made to come for the service specifically dedicated to the sanctified handkerchiefs, and seeks to confirm by a show of hands those who came with the money.

The water is “given as a gift” for Sh500, but the amount progressively goes down as the service continues, to Sh200, Sh100, and finally Sh50.

With the assurance of a suave salesman, he says the water is not being sold, but is a gift he prayed for.

“I spent time praying for the water and I can assure you that it will protect the person who takes it from demonic attacks and open the door to all kinds of blessings,” he says.

The handkerchiefs are going for Sh1,000, but only four people take up the offer. He halves it to Sh500, which drives up the number to 12.

“If you made a pledge to come with the 1,000 and failed to do it, know that you are mocking God. One cannot expect to get blessings for free. There must be a sacrifice, like Abraham, who obeyed the Lord’s command to sacrifice his son Isaac, and was richly blessed as a result,” he says.

Testimonies during the service range from the bizarre to the comical.

One woman, Catherine, claims she used to see her husband’s hand resemble a snake while sleeping at night; while another, Irene, claims she no longer takes medicine for diabetes after the “prophet” interceded for her.

Yet another woman claims she was cured of HIV after using anointing oil the pastor had prayed for.

Pastor Kanyari then engages selected worshippers in prophetic revelation. He calls an individual to the front, using leading questions, and gets them to agree with his “vision” for their lives.

The session is punctuated by the “casting out” of the demons said to be behind the worshippers’ problems.

The preacher commands the demons to leave the victims through the powerful microphones, and the worshippers almost always drop to the floor.

If the victim is a woman, she is immediately assisted by church ushers, who cover her with khanga to protect her modesty as she rolls on the carpeted floor.

He then orders the demons out, an action punctuated by a spate of shrieking and jerking movements by the prostrate individuals, after which he pronounces them healed.

Pastor Kanyari then goes into a session of special prayers for people with particular needs, from those infected with HIV to the jobless.

The rush of congregants to the front when he asks for people without jobs to come forward is both touching and puzzling.

Among them are the four women he claims to have healed of HIV, a divorced barmaid, and the woman troubled by snakes in her dreams.

As the congregation streams out at the end of the service, the bottles of “holy water” and “sanctified handkerchiefs” have sold out.

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Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard

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Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.

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However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

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Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard

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President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow

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Drastic life changes affecting mental health

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Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.

KBC Radio_KICD Timetable

Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.

Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.

The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.

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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.

In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020.  It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.

A study by Dr. Habil Otanga,  a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says  that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.

KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.

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Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.

As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.

“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”

Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.

“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.

Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.

“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”

Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.

“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.

Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.

Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.

She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.

Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.

“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added

Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.

“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and  also engage in   reading that would  help expand their knowledge.

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