Sadly, many of the reported converts to Christianity on the African continent are being led astray by a false spirit. The television airwaves in the country of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where most people still believe in black magic, are being dominated by charismatic preachers performing exorcisms as a great spectacle of power. The "Telegraph" reports: "The young Congolese woman lay screaming on the dusty ground, arms thrashing wildly as a white-gowned preacher gripped her head and prayed. As she fainted, thousands of spectators in Kinshasa's Tata Raphael stadium roared with excitement - yet another public exorcism was reaching its climax."
Although the participants would claim that this movement demonstrates the power of God, there are serious problems. The common belief is that those needing exorcism are often possessed because another person has put a curse on them. Human rights groups claim that many of the participants are abused orphan children who were accused of witchcraft and thrown out of their home after the untimely death of a parent or because of some other family hardship. Also, many of the preachers who act as exorcists "were witch doctors who have embraced Christianity because the tribal beliefs are now seen as primitive" and because Christianity "offered more potent powers of casting out... They retain the same beliefs, but do it under the guise of Christianity." Yet, while the people remain impoverished, many of these television preachers have become wealthy celebrities.
The Bible tells of a man named Simon, a sorcerer who made a claim of following Christ (Acts 8:9-11). When he saw the power of Peter and the apostles, he wanted the same power and offered money to Peter in order to obtain it. Peter responded, "Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money" (Acts 8:20). Money and spiritual power do not mix. Simon offered money for the gift; these modern false prophets claim a gift in order to get money. We need to pray for the people who are being influenced by these charlatans. God loves the lost in every country, but there are many false shepherds who would devour them.