Healing miracle or a scam? – ‘Sick’ people allegedly got R500 each
Thousands of congregants of the Spirit Life Church in East London watched in awe last week as Pastor Jay Israel performed “miracles” when he healed seven people who had been ill, paralysed and wheelchair-bound for many years.
However, a Saturday Dispatch investigation has revealed that at least three of the seven people were in fact standing upright and mobile just moments before entering the church during a two-day crusade last Thursday and Friday.
Only hours before the “healing”, three people alighted a Toyota Avanza and a Volkswagen Citi Golf and sat on wheelchairs before they were pushed inside Spirit Life Church.
About an hour later, the two women and a man were presented to a packed church gathering as being paralysed. One was presented as being crippled in a car accident in 2003, another had a severe stroke that left her wheelchair-bound, while the third one was said to be “too sick”, to the extent that she could not walk.
Israel Senior then prayed for the three who were miraculously healed before they walked out of the church, much to the disbelief of the thousands of congregants packed into a warehouse in Arcadia.
The Saturday Dispatch was tipped off that on Thursday and Friday last week, Israel would have his healing services called 2 nights of Miracle of Rain.
Three church insiders, who spoke on condition of anonymity, contacted the newspaper before the crusade claiming three of the people were actors hired from other provinces. Each were allegedly paid R500 each.
After the Dispatch received a tip-off, a team monitored the “sick and disabled” people a day before the church proceedings, at the time they were wheeled into the church in wheelchairs and when they were supposedly healed inside the church. We also monitored those who were “healed” frolicking on the beach the following day.
The stakeout revealed that:
l On Thursday the man and woman climbed out of a Toyota Avanza in Bowls Road in Arcadia unassisted, stood on their own feet before sitting down on the wheelchairs. They were then pushed into the warehouse in Atlas Road – where the church operates from – about 200m away. The man had allegedly been in a wheelchair for 15 years before he was miraculously healed.
l On Friday, a woman got out of a Citi Golf near the church premises and stood outside the car for a couple of a minutes before also sitting down on a wheelchair and being presented as another paralysed person in need of a miracle.
All three were seen at Eastern Beach on Saturday, with one having completely changed her hairdo and look.
Two of them refused to speak to the Dispatch about the freedom that comes with their so-called new-found mobility. However, a Gauteng-based woman, who gave her name as Lungile, admitted to being paid to act as if she were paralysed.
She was the one presented as being wheelchair-bound due to an unknown illness.
“That money is finished now and we are all back home. We would like to come and do another job.”
Contacted for comment, Israel Senior played the victim. He maintained that he had been chosen by God to heal the sick.
“I have read in shock your mail and would like to clearly state that I serve God with a pure heart and conscience.
“The healing power of God is real in our ministry and the majority of those healed by God are still part of our church and attend services weekly.”
During one of his sermons that the Dispatch witnessed, Israel said to congregants: “The anointing of Spirit Life if something else. The devil is in trouble tonight”.
He then prophesied that one of the “three paralysed” people had been involved in a bad accident in 2003 that had left him wheelchair-bound. “I heard the Lord saying ‘tonight is your night’. God is about to transfer your life. God is about to do a thing.”
He then stretched his hands and touched the man who then stood up.
But a Dispatch source very close to Israel confirmed the pastor hired the actors so as to increase his popularity.
“He’s young and naïve and what he does is wrong. He does not know the consequences of this,” said a source.
Church members who were approached by Dispatch for comment refused to discuss their leader with newspapers.
SACC provincial leader, Reverend Lulama Ntshingwa it were unscrupulous churches like Spirit Life Church that were giving religion the bad name. He called on people to stop seeking miracles but seek God.