Picture: Pixabay
Picture: Pixabay

Letter: Don’t paint all pastors with the same negative brush

By Jonathan Annipen Time of article published Nov 1, 2019

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Letter - OCTOBER is observed by many church circles as pastor appreciation month.

I think this is a commemorative feature, which should be adopted by all churches and denominations. It will give rise to a culture of respect, not only for men and women of the cloth, but for any individual who genuinely aspires to the road less travelled.

Very often we read negative narratives and reports on social and mainstream media which discredit, humiliate and seek to demoralise religious leaders - in this case, pastors.

Most often, this is sheer religious bigotry and is not a true reflection of the character of the vast majority of clergymen.

Historically, this creed of individuals have aimed to develop communities and have sought to empower their flock.

My mind travels to the likes of the late Dr EJ Moodley, who built the first church in Phoenix.

His life’s ambition was to get people out of poverty and inequality, to rescue them from the clutches of substance abuse and to ensure they reached their greatest potential.

Through his interventions, marriages were saved, families were restored, children had opportunities to complete their tertiary education, and the hungry were fed.

He left an indelible mark in this community.

This social relief and rehabilitation programme continues with Dr Moodley’s namesake, Pastor EJ Moodley II, who recently commissioned a feeding centre. It feeds about 300 people daily. He has also invested in a rehabilitation programme that has helped at least a dozen youngsters escape drug and substance addictions.

The Moodleys are just one example.

Dr Arnold Soobramoney, who heads the Cherith Care Centre in Phoenix, provides shelter for the homeless.

He is doing a commendable job - paying for and providing meals and uniforms for needy children.

Pastor Daniel and Caroline Govender, who run the Phoenix Survival Centre, provides a shelter for homeless widows and single moms.

Their social action programme reaches a variety of communities.

Pastor Bryn Naidoo, of the Upper Room Church, is unsurpassed in his free shopping clothing initiative, which is done annually. Those who require clothing are invited to shop off the racks - free of charge.

Evangelist Phillip Theophilus has regular feeding programmes throughout the city and feeds thousands of hungry and homeless individuals at his expense.

If we look, we will find many more, who do the same.

So, as we commemorate this month of appreciation for our Christian leaders, let’s honour their investments in our lives, spiritually and otherwise. Their visits when we are ill, their prayers when a child is born, when we purchase a vehicle, or when we lose a loved one - these contributions can never be repaid in kind.

Perhaps the greatest gift of honour we can afford them is to pray for them in return.

God bless our pastors!

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