Cape Town – Christians in Cameroon are abandoning churches that claim Covid-19 does not exist, British publication The Observer has reported.
The defecting Christians said they saw some congregation members following church instructions to ignore barrier measures against the virus, even when in contact with those infected with or dying of Covid-19.
The Observer reported on Tuesday that 37-year-old Annabella Tabot had left the Tabernacles of Freedoms Ministries because her pastor deceived her.
Tabot said the pastor asked her 60-year-old Covid-19 positive husband not to go to the hospital, saying he would be healed of the “evil spirits” making him sick, through prayer.
“His health condition kept on deteriorating and he finally died. Luckily the government came in and isolated him and the other family members were not contaminated,” she said.
Last month, the Tabernacles of Freedoms Ministries was closed down by government after it claimed that the virus did not exist.
Members of the church in Yaounde then moved from house to house and street to street, calling themselves end-time evangelists.
The group leader, 32-year-old Prudence Mayah, told the publication that God had revealed through pastor Ngoa Atangana that nations were wasting their time and resources fighting Covid-19.
She urged people to kneel and pray and accept that there was no such thing as the coronavirus.
Many of the church’s 300 members defied government orders and continued worshipping in front of the closed church.
Tabot said more than 100 members left the church when her husband died. He was suspected of having Covid-19 and had been forced into hospital by the state.
In May, one of Cameroon’s popular pastors, Frankline Ndifor died days after being diagnosed with the virus, leaving hundreds of his supporters panicked. He had laid hands on congregants in an effort to “cure” them of infection.
The Association of Pentecostal Churches in Yaoundé reported that at least 270 of its congregants exited from six churches that preached against the existence of Covid-19.
Protus Ngala, pastor of Redemption Ministries, said 11 of his followers had left.
“I have gone to some of the people,” said Ngala. “I made some questionnaires and passed them over to the [remaining members of the church] to try to know what needs to be adjusted. I try to do all of those things to make sure that I am a better leader. I understand that I also could be defective.”
Ngala said he had always believed that Covid-19 existed but thought it could be treated through prayer and fasting.
Governor Naserie Paul Bea of Cameroon’s centre region said the Christians were changing churches after a rigorous campaign he led to educate the public on the dangers of Covid-19.
He said churches that did not respect barrier measures to protect against the virus would be punished.