The constitutional freedom of worship of the hundreds of followers of Prophet LN Justin was dealt a massive blow when their prophet was forced to re-locate to South Africa sometime in June 2015 following sustained harassment by Government. While those who have the means are able to drive to South Africa every Sunday for church service, my guess is that thousands of his followers, like lost sheep, are stranded unable to attend the church they so dearly loved. For them this development amounts to a serious violation of their constitutional freedom of worship. This matter needs to be addressed so these people can regain their religious rights and freedoms. As a materialist, with little or no inclination towards the occult sciences, it took my friend and comrade a fair amount of persuasion to get me to that church, but once I got there I was easily convinced that indeed Prophet Justin possesses some incredible magical healing powers.
It was Dr Koma’s advice that our propaganda and agitation must be directed at all manifestations of exploitation and oppression, including the seemingly small issues like the persecution of a religious sect. This church is clearly being persecuted. This article verbalises the deep seated anger and frustrations of multitudes of Prophet Justin’s followers. I was there during the first Sunday when church goers arrived in Tlokweng only to find their prophet missing. And I remember their long-faced palpable sense of injustice. They were clearly agitated as they spontaneously debated the future of their church in small groups. Some threatened to take the matter up with the minister while others believed that only the UDC leader Duma Boko could save them. Given that Batswana traditionally lack a sense of persistence in pursuing matters of injustice I would not be surprised if such threats simply fizzled out into despair, disillusionment and defeatism.
Every Sunday morning till evening (from 9am until about 8pm) the church would be absolutely chock-a-block with excited church-goers. Children, men, women and senior citizens thronged Prophet Justin’s church for service and deliverance. Men always seemed to outnumber women, apparently because one of Prophet Justin’s specificity was the ability to deal instantly with problems of libidinal deficiencies and impotence on the part of our menfolk. Indeed he used to brag about the fact that no other church rallied such a huge number of men more than his church. This was more than a place of spiritual worship; it was a special hospital where people suffering from various diseases and ailments were cured - A hospital which neither dispensed medicines nor carried out surgery. People were healed by supernatural powers. Prophet Justine’s work habits were also a marvel to watch. From 9am till late at around 8pm he worked flat out, indefatigably and tirelessly without a food, water or tea break.
Such was the man’s zeal and commitment to his job that when church goers went for their lunch he would remain hard at work helping people. People with all kinds of stubborn medical problems from all parts of the country and further afield from countries like the United States of America, Britain, China, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya, and South Africa descended on the church every Sunday in large numbers. Those who had been delivered and cured of various ailments and illnesses voluntarily gave moving testimonies on how they were saved after medical problems that had haunted them and defied modern and traditional medicine for many years. Among the regular visitors at the church were victims of all kinds of addictions, ranging from hard drugs to tobacco and ordinary beer. All of them were attended in front of all the church goers and left the church very happy to have been helped to kick-off the bad habits that had blighted their lives for years on end. Among the people the Prophet always attended were those who had registered up to a maximum of 100 with their different medical problems and ailments.
He had a soft spot for the elderly members of the church, some of whom did not even understand the English language used in church, and yet this did not in any way dampen their desire to come every Sunday. The church service was also provided every Monday from 6 pm to 10 pm. Over and above this good work, Prophet Justin had a programme of caring for disadvantaged children who literally stayed in church at Tlokweng. The church also donated to the poor and needy members of the community in Botswana and other countries. What I found most extraordinary was that this service was rendered free of charge. Surely Prophet Justin could not be counted among the unscrupulous men and women of the cloth who seem to be driven more by sheer greed and their love of money swindled from unsuspecting church goers than a desire to help people.
And more importantly, unlike many other churches, this church with its Blessing TV, was headquartered here in Botswana and could not be accused of being an unpatriotic extension of some foreign church. When conditions for carrying out his job at Tlokweng became unbearable Prophet Justin relocated to a branch he was already in the process of building in South Africa. People who had spent thousands of their last pulas and Thebes, pounds and cents trying to find a solution to their problems were healed by the Man of God free of charge. Prophet Justin could not be tarred with the same brush as the very well known bogus churches and charlatan prophets who are out to make a quick buck in Botswana and fleece church goers of their hard-earned money in the name of God. Looking at him perform all these miracles I could not help but wonder how this man was a God-given gift to Batswana and the rest of the world. He is like the Biblical Black Moses sent by God to deliver his people from evil spirits.
From humble beginnings as a refugee, apparently from the DRC, he discovered his supernatural powers while he was in Botswana and worked very hard with his wife to put those powers at the service of people afflicted with all manner of diseases and health related problems. Prophet Justin always referred to Dukwi refugee camp as his home ‘village’. In my view Prophet Justin must be counted among some of the most powerful people in this world. When newspaper pundits parade some politicians as the most powerful people in the country little do they realise that they have missed out on the really powerful people like Prophet Justin. In my considered view, Prophet Justin can easily be regarded as Botswana’s TB Joshua because both of them have virtually the same breath-taking supernatural powers. Why do we drive our TB Joshua across the borders to South Africa? Is this what Jesus meant when he said, ‘a prophet is not despised save in his own country, among his kinsmen, and his own house’?
Imagine the hundreds of children he kept off the streets every Sunday through his service! Imagine the foreigners he attracted to this country – the contributions they made to the growth of the economy while in Botswana! Only faceless clowns on the xenophobic fringe would fail to appreciate these facts. We should be proud of having such people in our midst and do everything to honour and keep them in our country. On one Sunday morning a Zimbabwean couple made an astounding and staggering testimony. They had earlier been delivered by Prophet Justin and the husband had been diagnosed with HIV/AIDs with a rash all over his body. After deliverance he went for an AIDS test and the results were negative. His wife corroborated his story. Prophet Justin’s view was that in the mighty name of Jesus Christ there was nothing like an incurable disease. There was another testimony by a woman who had suffered a great deal because of continuous menstruation for five years and had been in and out of different hospitals to no avail. Upon setting foot on the holy church, even before the Prophet attended to her, the incessant menstruation immediately stopped. She was visibly delighted.
Another lady who had been married but could not conceive related her sad story of how she was divorced as a result of that condition. She was delivered and now came back very excited because she was seven months pregnant with her first baby. She was in her thirties. The woman was overcome with joy. A man who had sex in his dreams and woke up to find his private parts gone had his manhood restored in a matter of minutes. Prophet Justin observed that no hospital in the world could solve this problem. People threw away their walking sticks and rose from their wheelchairs and started walking and running freely after being attended. How government contrived to drive such an important saviour of the people, a Man of God, out of the country beats me, to say the very least. This church was playing a significant role in the development of the country and deserved better recognition and treatment as well as a deliberately negotiated partnership with government. I may not be privy to the details of the exact dispute between the church and government but I have been reliably informed that it all revolves around the land on which the church is built.
Government claims that the church is built on its land. Why they allowed such a big church to be built on land they believe is theirs defies simple logic. There was also some haggling over Prophet Justin’s Blessing TV regarding issues of licensing. This again is an issue that is far too minor to precipitate the closure of such an important religious institution. The dispute over the land on which the church is built could have been, and indeed can be, easily dealt with if the government appreciated the good work the man was rendering gratis to the people of Batswana. Indeed a government which cares about the freedom of worship of its people, their welfare and wellbeing should have entered into an agreement with Prophet Justin for government hospitals and schools to refer some of the drug addicts to him, because unlike governments, he has the immediate cure for their problems.
In areas where he clearly has a solution to some of the common diseases that haunt our lives again government should have been referring them to him and pay him so he can run his church effectively. Opportunities for such an important partnership and collaboration between church and government have been squandered, but it is not too late for government to make amends. It is the duty of the government not only to respect the people’s freedom of worship, but also to create conditions favorable for people to realize their religious rights, by among other things, making land for their churches available. Informed by those fundamental religious rights and freedoms of the citizens the BNF proposed the establishment of an Inter-Faith Committee to oversee the registration and supervision of churches and religious bodies in the country. That Inter-Faith Committee must deal with all disputes involving the mushrooming of churches with dubious intentions.
We are opposed to the current arrangement where these duties are performed by government and civil servants. The BNF Inter-Faith Committee would be made up of people with training in theology, law and such other skills as may be necessary in discharging the functions bestowed upon them. It is not too late for the government to redeem itself by inviting Prophet Justin back to Botswana and create conditions conducive for his church to practice and flourish free from unnecessary governmental encumbrances and impediments. Surely the matter of the land on which the church is built and TV license for Blessing TV are not insurmountable problems. We therefore implore the government to bring Prophet Justin back to Botswana.
Dr Elmon Tafa