No miracles but manacles await Pastor Jerome’s promised coming
Buddhist sensitivities were outraged this week after Jerome Fernando, the self-proclaimed prophet, made an unwarranted attack on the Buddha, casting him in inferior light to Jesus, and claiming the Buddha, born 500 years before Christ, was searching for Jesus’ light.
In a controversial video released on April 30 on his YouTube channel, he has not spared the other three main religions either. Islam, Hinduism and even his ancestral faith, Catholicism, get their equal share of public denigration.
The video, which went viral this week, shows the hot gospeller striding, like a cock on the walk, to and fro on a carpeted floor, dressed in branded clothing, sorrowing for Buddhists who have never heard of the Buddha’s love. He weeps for the Muslims who have never known love as a name for Allah among 99 other names. He pities the Hindus for their ignorance in worshipping animals as their Gods because they do not know, animals are sacred only because they are creations of his Almighty God. As for the Catholics, he says, they can get no hope from the Pope.
His congregation may have never heard of The Compassionate Buddha’s supreme love and kindness not only to humans but to all beings; or, having never known of the All Merciful and All Compassionate Allah, never could know that His 47th name al-Wadud meant ‘The Most Loving One’ or that the Hindus held Brahama – the Ultimate Reality – as their own Creator in the Hindu Triumvirate over 3000 years ago; or that the Pope had never been held out as a beacon of hope but only as infallible Servant of the Servants of God.
Jerome’s sweeping denunciation of other’s faiths in their religions’ founders and the trivialization of their age old beliefs, had the frenzied gallery of devotees rising to their feet, cheering, clapping, waiving hands in the air in ecstatic delight to hear they were the blessed children of a superior God, the most supreme, whose Prophet was Jerome.
If God had made man in His image, seems Jerome was striving to make God in his own.
The man who claims that God speaks to him in the night and uses him as His megaphone to convey His messages to Jerome’s flock of sheep, declared, ‘you may pray to St. Peter to help you. But St. Peter comes to me in the night and tells me to help you, for he is in heaven and I am the one on earth’.
At best, it was a cheap way to score brownie points by putting down another’s god and elevating his, boasting, ‘my god is greater than your god,’ in the puerile manner schoolboys brag, ‘my dad is bigger than your dad.’ Nothing more than a dash of evangelical hyperbole, pastors have in their repertoire and commonly use to fleetingly drive the captive audience to new egoistical heights.
He would have certainly assured the poor lost sheep that had strayed in from more ascetic flocks, they had strayed at last – Hallelujah – to an oasis where the grass grew greenest. Lost in rhapsodic joy, they, perhaps, forgot that to subject God to a shallow superiority contest is to traduce the eternal in profanity’s dust.
At worst, was it a calculated move to inflame bigotry’s simmering fires? Was his unwarranted attack on other religions as being barren of love, his callous disregard to the tender feelings of those embracing other faiths, his rough shod ride, trampling upon their religious petals without remorse, nay, with unbounded glee, and claiming sole monopolistic rights over God’s ‘apage’ – the Greek word for a love divine that transcends all other loves – part of a carefully choreographed plot to rake the coals of religion and provoke a backlash for vile political ends?
Or was the plan designed to enhance his mundane status from a mere evangelizing pastor, preaching his brand of the gospels to a local elitist cult, to that of a persecuted prophet, hounded by a Lankan religious mob, for spreading the Good Word, even as Jesus was by the Romans for preaching his message of love?
No doubt, western bleeding hearts would embrace him to their bosom and fill the till of his Glorious Church to launch an international crusade to stop the Sinhalese inquisition to deny a prophet his right to preach. Was it a cheap attempt to take the self-bestowed ‘prophet’ title to the next level, a rash bid to up the ante and risk losing even liberty and reputation, to gain the glory of a tyrannised prophet willing to be martyred for a holy cause?
Whatever the reason for his derogatory slurs on all the four main religions in the island, it could have swiftly led – in a nation, dangerously taut with racial and religious tension – to another damning round of communal violence. For that reason alone, it must be condemned.
Already on the fringes, the first stirrings of bigotry’s beast are being sounded to amass at battle stations.
Fortunately, the President took no chances. He pre-empted the chauvinistic call by swiftly ordering the police to investigate Jerome’s inflammatory comments. Furthermore, an intensive probe was ordered into his speeches and organisation. The President took the wind out of warped patriotism’s sails by declaring that he would not allow any individual to destabilize the country and said anyone instigating religious disharmony should be probed and stern action should be taken.
Pastor Jerome is, of course, no stranger to controversy. His close association with his mentor, the prophet of all prophets, the controversial Uebert Angel had raised many eyebrows, even among his adulating cult. On March 19 this year, he had begun his razzmatazz evangelical event at his ‘Miracle Dome’ speaking of angels.
It is a night to remember, for Jerome is about to manifest another miracle beneath his aptly named Miracle Dome. He says, ‘Joy is a tangible thing. It’s real. It’s a commodity of God. It’s a heavenly reality. It’s part of the real estate of Heaven. Listen to the words that are coming out of Prophet’s mouth. Joy is the oxygen of angels. Angels invade environments of joy.’
Lo and behold, no sooner he says those words, who enters? Well, speak of the angel. None but the angel himself, manifested in the flesh. The angel comes not direct from Heaven but all the way from Zimbabwe. As he strides into the Miracle Dome with a host of cherubs following him, Pastor Jerome falls prostrate. A reverent hush falls. And we are reminded of the words in Corinthians: ‘And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face, he will worship God.’
Jerome remains prostrate until the invading angel takes his seat. Then he rises, walks up to the seated angel and goes down on all fours in unabashed worship. Receiving the angel’s grace, he rises and says: ‘What was I just talking about? I said in a joyful environment, angels will come. I just said it and you see. My Father did tell me one day. “One day we will come without telling you’’. He said it to me. I said, Oh! Okay. I’ll wait for that day. But did I know it was today?’.
Glory to God. Jerome had shown his first miracle for the day. Then he begins to eulogize this dark angel who has miraculously materialised at his Miracle Dome in Ja-Ela and explains why this angel means so much to him.
He says of his angel, Uebert Angel: ‘I introduce to you my father, the master of prophecy – the Godfather of the prophetic movement – the ambassador of ambassadors – the diplomat of diplomats – hey, the one and only measure, there’s no two – the prophet to all prophets – a teacher to all teachers – angels learn from this angel – Angel, my one and only spiritual father’.
What wayward angels may have learnt from this ‘Teacher of all Teachers’, Uebert Angel, was revealed by Al Jazeera 4 days later.
The man whom the self- styled Prophet Jerome idolises and unabashedly worships as his one and only spiritual father, reveres as Prophet to all Prophets, holds as Teacher to all Teachers, and venerates as the Godfather of the Prophetic Movement was exposed by the international news channel as Godfather of a Zimbabwean gold smuggling and money laundering mafia.
In an undercover operation Al Jazeera’s investigative journalists secretly filmed Zimbabwe born British national Uebert Angel Mudzanire offering to use his diplomatic status as Zimbabwe’s Ambassador-at-Large to launder 1.2 billion dollars for the reporters who were posing as Chinese nationals.
Angel and his business partner Rikki Doolan also claimed that their laundering operations had the approval of Zimbabwean President Mnangagwa, who had made him ambassador and presidential envoy in March 2021.
He told reporters he would be able to carry large volumes of dirty cash into the country using his diplomatic status. Central to Angel’s gold-for-dirty money operations is Henrietta Rushwaya, the Zimbabwean President‘s niece. She told Angel and the reporters on a phone call that smuggling 100kg of gold each week would be no problem.
Following the revelations, published on March 23th by Al Jazeera, President Mnangagwa stripped Uebert Angel of his diplomatic status on March 30.
But there were more skeletons to come out from the Angel’s closet that had been rattling even earlier.
Born in Zimbabwe on September 6, 1975, he moved to England and set up his Spirit Embassy in 2007. He later rebranded it as the Good News Church. Later he was accused of fraud and racketeering by a former member of his Manchester church.
A proponent of a ‘prosperity’ gospel, he has faced criticism for peddling a pseudo-theological belief that the reward of financial and material gain is the divine will of God for all pious Christians. In a video released two months ago, Jerome praises Angel’s power to conjure miracle money.
He says, ‘My Father went to Nigeria’. Jerome shows a video of Uebert Angel proclaiming to his Nigerian audience, ‘If I be a Prophet of God, let miracle money appear now. It is happening.’ Jerome then cuts in to say, ‘the money began to appear in people’s handbags, wallets, multiply in their very hands.’ The video then shows Angel screaming with evangelistic fervour, ‘This raw money just appeared into the hands of this man. He has got four million naira in his bank account.’
Jerome was thoroughly impressed with his mentor’s feat. He says, ‘Ever since my Father came back, he was attacked by other apostles who asked “where is this in the Bible?”. They were attacking a man with 3 financial degrees who was a multi-millionaire. You know what this is called in the Bible? This is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, speaking against what God had just done’.
Though it left Jerome convinced, there was more to Angel’s miracles than met the eye. In January 2015, a Zimbabwean judge issued an arrest warrant after he failed to appear in court to answer fraud charges relating to a $300,000 Bentley. The warrant later cancelled in February 2016 when court was informed, the accuser had settled the matter out of court.
He has also been accused of sexual misconduct.
In one of several documented cases of sexual misconduct, Angel was accused of asking a female congregant to send him nude pictures of herself on Twitter and WhatsApp. The digital communication records were authenticated by Twitter for IP addresses.
He has faced other allegations of infidelity and has been unrepentant when confronted with evidence of his wrongdoing. ‘You see moral failure is not a crime’, he says.
But gold smuggling and money laundering are penal crimes. And moral transgressions. The fallout that fell from Al Jazeera’s shocking revelations enveloped Ja-Ela’s Miracle Dome in grime. And not all the waters in the nearby lagoon will wash one speck of it.
Only 4 days before the exposure, Miracle Dome’s Prophet Jerome had embraced the gold smuggling and money laundering racketeer, Uebert Angel, as his one and only spiritual father in front of his rapturous followers. Was this the fount, was this the source, the Pierian Spring from whence he drew his spiritual inspiration to deliver gratuitous lectures to ‘infidel’ Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus and Catholics to renounce their ancestral faiths and gain new birth on his glorious path to find Heaven’s riches on earth?
A mentor’s sins visit the protégé. And this prophet of prophets’ prophet, having cockily sown the wind, must now reap the whirlwind.
He had strode into every temple, mosque, kovil and church and shattered the idols enshrined in people’s hearts. He had remorselessly taken liberties with the nation’s religious tolerance and risked outstepping the ambit of its patience.
The police announced, on Thursday, Jerome Fernando will be arrestedw upon arrival at the BIA. Jerome has tweeted, he will be returning to Lanka on Sunday but is reported to have cancelled his scheduled Sunday sermon.
For those who have lost their moral compass and aimlessly drift to any port in storm, it‘s best to scour the original texts to regain their moral bearings. Helpful will be the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus says: ‘No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and money.’
And where Jesus warns: ‘Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.’