Finger of God. This is the latest of many catchwords, "churches" and or businesses to come out of Kenya's booming religious sector. So ubiquitous has this name become in the minds and even acts of some Nairobi-based Kenyans that mention it anywhere and you will receive, in the very least, an expression of want-to-know-more. And this is brought to you courtesy of a TV poster girl, and a jazz music maestro-cum-preacher. What a combination!!
Their names not in any urgent need for mentioning, but I will anyway, Senor Joseph Hellon and former TV anchor, Senorita Esther Arunga, are finding it rough in their pursuit to shed off their celebrity-tagging and live a personalized life defined by one finger and cushioned from the hands of many critics and doubting Thomasses who have dared to challenge the pair's faith.
Whilst Esther Arunga has stirred and snowballed the whole saga to its boiling point, many faithfuls of the Finger of God ministry are not shying away from announcing that they were once touched by this controversially holy finger. Many of them are unexpectedly confessing that they belong or once belonged to this church (read, cult, if you are not a Finger of God-er). And that includes this colleague of mine am beginning to fear her touch and fingers. Let's call her Atuech.
Atuech confessed to me that she has been attending evening prayers at a certain joint - I call it, joint, because she can only give directions using bars and pubs - located in the Central Business District. Every evening after the hustles and bustles of work, she walks nonchalantly towards this joint run by the Finger of God ministries for a praise and worship session. This 'inspiring session', as she calls it, starts from 7pm and ends at around 10am, with songs, dances, loud ululations and preachings satiating the urge for faith-based evening appetizers, main courses and deserts. This table is only reserved for a congregation of twenty or less, she says.
After jumping herself to the comforting eclectic jazz tunes and electric sermons, she leaves this place feeling blessed and holding her finger higher than when she went in. Atuech says the evening praise and worship session is normally graced by all the single ladies, bachelors and the who's and who's in the Kenyan media fraternity. "Most of these personalities from the media industry attend the Church's prayer sessions, yet they are the same same ones who are know casting stones at her (Esther A-ruined Gal) and playing the holier than thou game," she sighs.
Atuech, just like many other lambs of the Finger of God Church came to only knew fully of the Church's un-Church-like activities when the wind finally blew hot.
"One of the Tatuu's (a popular local song group of three songstresses) attend the sessions, so does a former Mr. Kenya, former Who's Smarter Now anchor, celebrities, other journalists from KTN (Esther Arunga's former employers) and even employees from NTV," she laments.
Atuech is however quick to point out that none of the doctrines taught in the sessions - not Church - contravenes what the Holy Book fronts for, except the fact that responsible and speed-governed-kind of alcohol guzzling is highly encouraged.
"I started getting suspicious when Hellon one day mentioned to us that the church eggs on alcohol drinking, something that clearly breaches the teachings of the Bible," she says. It's at this point that Atuech does something that clearly contravenes the beliefs of the purely faith-ed people like I should be.
She touches me!!
Though this is not the first time she has ever done this, the fear that grips my conscience and the alarm that rings through my spine is indisputably hair raising. To make matters worse, she notices the apprehension in my face and... touches me again! Now, now now, surely.
I explicitly don't know what to think at this time. The thought of "I have been touched by a Finger of God-er" sulks my conscience and a feeling of unease clots my blood. But since there's not much I can do, I resign to that fact. But the way that I view and handle Atuech changes from this moment on, lest I start wondering which of my fingers happens to be that finger that is God's Finger.
And That's the Steifmastertake!!