Prophet Jay Israel, 24, of Spirit Life Church in East London, has posted videos on various social media platforms showing members of his congregation losing weight “instantly”, getting money from “nowhere” and bottled water changing into “wine” as he prays.
The video, titled Instant Miracle Weight Loss. No Gym. No Forever Product or Any Workout. Bellies Shrinking and All, caught the attention of many, with some ridiculing him, while others praised him for his “awesome work”.
In an interview, the Zimbabwe-born “Israel” refused to give his real name, saying this was his way of detaching himself from his family, which is of sangoma lineage.
“I decided to change my name so I can disassociate myself with everything that has to do with my family and their generational curses.”
Israel said he was an ordinary person who merely knew what others didn’t – mainly what it was like to be “in heaven” because he “died and rose again”.
“I was fasting for 40 days and 40 nights. On the 34th or 35th day, I died completely. I was declared dead. It was in newspapers, in a place called Bulawayo in Zimbabwe,” he said.
The Dispatch attended the Tuesday night service. When the team arrived at the North Street premises in the CBD at 5.30pm, a handful of congregants were walking up and down inside a room with pink walls and black plastic chairs.
They prayed, spoke in tongues, screamed and shouted.
By 7.30pm, hundreds had flocked into the church building and the prophet arrived shortly after in a shiny Mercedes-Benz SLK, accompanied by at least eight men in all-black clothing.
People started testifying with excitement about what had happened to them since the “weight loss” and “miracle” money appeared.
But despite the Dispatch having permission from Israel to conduct interviews with them, the men in black would not allow us to do the interviews or even get their names.
Congregant “Yvonne” enthused: “I feel like a teenager. I was a size 42, but now I’m 38 and have to put on a belt”.
“When the prophet declared miracle weight loss, I felt this breeze in my body. I could not button up the blazer that I was wearing, but after the service, I was able to,” said another congregant, who was not allowed to give her name.
However, Hercules Bootcamp CEO and head trainer Singwa Silinga said losing weight spontaneously was humanly impossible, unless the prophet was a surgeon.
Acting CEO of the Eastern Cape Council of Churches Lulama Ntshingwa said the council was concerned about the damage being done to the image of prophecy.
“We are never able to tell which prophet or pastor is genuine or not. However, we will be having a meeting to discuss the relevance of these churches.” — email@example.com