Many religious worship rituals focus on one central figure leading the service, whether it is a priest, imam or rabbi, there will be one clergyman who will direct the followers in prayer. Organised religion has seen many permutations of what that clergyman will do in order to properly lead a sermon throughout the centuries from a Catholic priest dictating in Latin, to Gospel Choir ceremonies of Baptist chapters. In the early days of Christianity, followers of this new religion were subjected to a different kind of teaching. They needed to see evidence of what this new version of God was capable of and as such those who had the greatest number of followers were the prophets. Prophets were the connection between God and his worshippers, relaying messages that were directly from him.
The last two hundred years or so has seen a great increase in the number of prophets who are leading prayers. By being able to talk directly to God, prophesising has proven to be a very effective way of teaching as opposed to those who simply interpret religious texts and teachings. With the increase in religious tolerance, combined with the retention of old cultures, prophets have thrived in areas such as Africa and the Bible belt of America, prophets have become even more popular.
A common image of pastors and preachers is standing at the front of the church, proclaiming facts straight from God and leading worship through acts of deliverance. Deliverance is the act of removing demons or evil spirits which are otherwise causing the victim distress. Tangible acts of a God’s will such as these make it easier for a preacher to demonstrate the effectiveness of their teachings.
Taking prophecies one step further is the acts of Prophet Uebert Angel, a young pastor from Zimbabwe who already has a huge following because of his seemingly accurate visions from God. Not only has he predicted the passing of Nelson Mandela, but also the terror attack on the Kenyan Shopping Centre in 2013. Uebert Angel is a prime example of how clear evidence of God’s work can be used to reach out to many more people across the continent of Africa.
When atheists argue against the existence of God, one of their main reasons is that there is no evidence of his work; many of them taunt God by asking him to cause a localised freak natural incident. To counter this, devout believers look to the miracles that are performed everyday through the work of God’s followers, or from Jesus Christ himself. The Bible is littered with evidence of God’s work as performed by Jesus and it comes as no surprise that there is a trend for less traditional denominations of Christianity to also perform miracles as a means of proving the existence of God.
Many of Jesus’ miracles focused on curing the sick, blind, lame or deaf and invariably involved Jesus placing his hands upon the ailed body part and restoring it to full functionality. As a symbolic tale, this demonstrates Jesus’ willingness to help and try to aid a fellow human. Jesus has also been the centre of exorcisms, whereby a malignant spirit has been removed from the physical plane and even resurrections (including his own resurrection at Easter). The final category that Jesus’ miracles fall into are those that influence nature, the feeding of the 5000 is a well know story from the Bible as well as what happened when the wine ran out during a wedding.
Miracles such as turning water into wine and bringing Lazarus back from the dead are considered by some zealous believers to be true events, although disputed by liberals as being more of a figurative. In either case it still proves the importance that miracles and tangible proofs of God’s power are integral to the teachings in Christianity.
Contemporary preachers who rely on miracles to demonstrate the power of Christ draw upon the same kinds of miracles that Jesus performed in the New Testament. Deliverances are carried out on a regular basis where demons are drawn out of sufferers of long term incurable illnesses. Even resurrections have been the subject of a certain minister’s demonstrations of God’s work. Prophet Uebert Angel is well known in Zimbabwe as a prophet and a man who has resurrected 29 people. This is on top of the regular healings which Uebert Angel performs every Sunday as part of his service to crowds of 10,000 people, a not inconsiderable number which can only be attributed to his miracles.