PROPHET Shepherd Bushiri has once again found himself in the firing line.
This time, he was slammed for taking advantage of the poor while Mzansi faced the coronavirus pandemic.
The backlash was the result of a 30-second video in which Bushiri asked his followers for an offering during a Sunday online service.
The video also showed the church's banking details and Bushiri, who’s popularly known as Major 1, urged his followers not to hesitate.
I want you to put your offering in a church account. Put your offering, put your seed, put your tithe, don't hesitate, don't listen to the devil, don't listen to what people say, don't listen to what your man says, listen to what God says.
"Give your tithe, give your offering, give your seed and God will bless you."
But social media users didn't take too kindly to his urgings. Yesterday, many people criticised the leader of Enlightened Christian Gathering Church, with many going as far as calling him a fake prophet.
They accused him of milking the poor of their hard earned money while the country was battling the spread of the coronavirus.
@KurisaniSilinda: "A whole prophet says you shouldn't listen to your husband, yet the husband is the head of the house according to the Bible. This one doesn't have compassion. We are in a middle of a crisis, economy wise, but he's still milking people."
@Diegochuene: "Dear South Africans, this man don't care about you. All he wants is your money."
"The devil works hard but Bushiri works harder."
@KingModjadji:"Instead of donating money or food parcels to his poor congregation in this difficult time Bushiri is asking for money."
However, speaking through his spokesman Ephraim Nyondo, Bushiri said he was not asking for money for himself, but on behalf of those affected by the coronavirus.
Nyondo said the church had over 700 branches in over 25 countries. He said church services were watched by over 45 million people, of which a million are in Mzansi.
Nyondo said: "When the prophet was asking people to make contributions, he did not specifically ask South Africans or ECG South Africa to contribute, he asked all followers and viewers across the world to do so.
Nyondo said Bushiri resorted to having online services in the wake of Covid-19 because Christians needed to feed in the word as we are living in the end times.
The prophet is one of the world leaders helping in the fight against the pandemic worldwide.
As it is, many countries have no ventilators and hospital beds. The prophet is partnering with different humanitarian organisations in building those,” said Nyondo.
He said this wasn't the first time Bushiri asked for contributions from willing members in order to provide food, blankets and to construct shelter to support initiatives that help those in need.
Nyondo said the church had over 10 000 workers worldwide who relied on the church's providence for salaries and rent. "Now is the time we need to contribute more because people are not working, but need to draw assistance and support from the church. Contributions are not for the prophet, but for the church.
"Prophet can survive without any donations, but the church will crumble and those who rely on it will starve,"said Nyondo.
“As a church, we have so many projects including the support to combat the problems people are facing on this coronavirus. It’s our obligation as a church to take part to help the community and people who are suffering and to help the campaign. Also to do some charity over this pandemic that we’re having right now.
“It’s because of this as a church we’re calling for all people who have got offering to support the combat which we’re doing as a church to send your offering and seed into the account we’re putting on the screen.”
He further explained that the account he was giving people belonged to the church, not him, urging followers to not listen to the critics and continue giving towards the ministry.
“Yesterday we had people who would like to support the projects which we have as a church. I saw some people attacking our work, that’s how people are and that won’t stop us from doing what we’re doing. We’re calling for all well-wishers across the globe to contribute now.
“This is not a personal account, this is a church account you’re giving to. If you have your offering, seed or tithe send right now, we will not be stopped by anyone. Don’t give up in supporting what we’re doing.”
Bushiri trended on social media most of Monday following a video in which he urged his followers not to listen to the devil or their minds and give money to the church.