Yahoo Plus and the Curse of Mammon

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Aside from paedophilia, another news trend that frequently makes the headlines in our country is the gale of Internet fraud (popularly known as “Yahoo Yahoo”) which has morphed into a raging tide of occult crimes – ranging from items of used clothing being stolen and re-sold for fetish purposes to grisly ritual murders.

These are indeed dangerous times when many people’s regard for human lives (even for family members, friends and lovers) has been completely eroded by an inordinate love for mad money.

I am aware of some African folks who sit in their Ivory Towers and dismiss such reports as urban legends. I am really not interested in convincing them to accept the reality of the supernatural anyway.

I always tell people that if these occult rites have not been working for people, they would have quit them a long time ago.

A study of ancient and modern occult-related crimes and rituals shows that virtually every culture appeases spirits in one form or the other for power and material wealth. Though their requirements and mode of operation differ.

The Nigerian lingo for Internet fraud mixed with occult ritual practices is “Yahoo plus-plus”.

The terms and conditions underlying such occult transactions boil down to offering human and animal parts to demon spirits in exchange for material prosperity.

Sometime in 2018, an Internet fraudster cum ritualist in Ghana, with the aid of graphic pictures, revealed the torment he has been enduring ever since he dabbled in his Faustian trade.

“The spiritualist also asked me to buy a pot, egg, bag and padlock and he will put the money in the pot for me and that the money will be okay for me to use after some few months,” he said.

“Since the day I brought the pot home, I do not feel free. I am being haunted and I can’t sleep till the next morning. It is always like I am being haunted by human beings, lions and fire. They appear physically and I don’t know what to do,” he lamented.

In another sad case in Ughelli, Delta State, a “Yahoo guy” in his 20s became insane and eventually committed suicide few weeks after throwing a lavish birthday party at a popular hotel in the town – spending thousands of naira on drinks for guests who attended his party.

A source revealed that, “All attempts to restrain him were fruitless as he charged at anyone that tried to restrain him [and] continued using the broken bottle on himself until he slumped and died,” a resident of the community stated.

“He ran away from the church his mother took him to the community town hall and started stabbing himself. The more sympathizers tried to stop him from continuously stabbing himself, the more he did so,” he added.

“In the last three years,” wrote Nosa Akenzua in Orient Daily News, “desperation and inordinate quest for quick money among the youths of Asaba and some top businessmen from all over the country has engendered horrendous sorrow, and even tragedy. This arises from their involvement in high-power ritual practices as the gateway to stupendous wealth.”

Many of the people in the aforementioned article throng the shrines of various pagan deities, particularly that of Onishe (Alanwanyi Asaba), a mother goddess whose shrine is situated along the banks of River Niger and is often depicted having gargantuan breasts, (said to symbolize fertility and abundance).

Every culture has a deity that is often tasked with bestowing wealth or fortune in exchange for all manner of votive offerings e.g. Yemoja, Ikenga, Lakshmi, Plutus, Ops, Fortuna, Gad, Jeng gu etc.

Many Wiccans cast such money spells using certain chants, candles, potions and energies drawn from the “Old Ones.”

In the words of Selah Towers, quoted in the New York Post, “Casting spells, I saw results. Usually, it was like — maybe I needed money or I needed a car. I needed love in my life. It was very selfish. It was all about what I wanted. I was really satisfied with my life.’”

In LaVeyan Satanism, this money ritual is called “compassion ritual.” An ancient demonic strongman that is invoked during satanic rites for wealth and is regarded as the treasurer of hell is called “Mammon.” Some Satanists call him “Zeus.”

According to former satanists, his base is in the water kingdom, and his visual representation is of a male figure having golden body parts.

The spirit of Mammon makes humans bow to money in the place of God. It leads their hearts away from God, sears their conscience to do anything to have wealth and ultimately leads them into destruction.

In African demonism, ritual culprits
also make use of women’s underwear or menstrual pads as Voodoo links wherein their victims’ womb and/or its products are offered to demons in exchange for wealth. In some cases, they utilise semen.

In a certain interview, a young man who self-identifies as a retired “Yahoo guy” admits that there are various forms of money-making rituals. One involves bathing in the public.

Another rite involves wiping of a lady’s vagina with a magickally “charged” material after sexual intercourse and there is also one in which the candidate must have sex with a girl after bathing with a local ritual soap.

Once he ejaculates into her, the lady won’t get pregnant again and if she does, she will miscarry. “That one too is very potent and many slay queens have been used for this but they don’t know yet!” he added.

“When I was active, the one I know that is 100 per cent [efficacious] is the one that you tie the person’s picture with thread and bury it beside the grave of a person whose gender is same as the person you want to hit … After the person sends you money, you must buy [a] ram and wear one tira [talisman] round its neck. The ram will die overnight.”

Satan and his demons always require human or animal sacrifices literally or symbolically for every covenant. There is no free gift in magick; it’s always by pact. It’s like the trade of Esau – giving you a plate of pottage but removing your entire birthright.

Evil spirits seduce people with promises of great wealth but what they offer is a counterfeit, diabolic wealth that ruins the lives of its recipients.

In the light of this desperation, we need to turn our attention to God’s Word:

1. It is only God who gives true material possession and will add other blessings that can’t be purchased with money to it.

“The blessing of the LORD makes a person rich, and he adds no sorrow with it” (Prov. 10:22 NLT).

But Satan is the chief distributor of the wealth of sorrow; wealth of torment; wealth of destruction – evil wealth that will ultimately lead one to Hell a place of everlasting sorrow.

True prosperity lies with God. And you can’t receive it unless you are in His kingdom and have His righteousness. Any wealth that is not received in God’s kingdom and by the righteousness of Jesus Christ is a wealth of sorrow.

2. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17).

Satan has no good gift to offer anybody; he hates humanity! He is a master deceiver who disguises his packages to lure in the foolhardy. He offers desperate souls fresh apples but he won’t show them the deadly worms and maggots within it. He offers people sweet wine but doesn’t tell them it’s laced with Cyanide.

Why do you think many who obtain riches from the kingdom of darkness suffer endlessly from serious afflictions, untimely deaths, accidents, barrenness, prolonged ailments and destructive habits that eventually wear them out and render their wealth absolutely meaningless?

Why do you think their successive generation usually suffer from chains of poverty, inexplicable failures and mental illnesses? I will tell you why, because they received a Greek gift – one seeming benefit plus hundred troubles. That’s why many fetish priests themselves steer clear of such rituals. They know better.

3. There is much dignity in decent labour. “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest – and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man” (Prov. 6:10-11).

It’s unfortunate that our value system has so much plunged that there’s a huge disconnect between the dignity of hard work, ethics and integrity and what the society has redefined as success.

As a result, many youths have cultivated magical ideas about money. They don’t desire to work for N1000 but wish to live the life of N500,000. They want to live large and cut corners to achieve it.

With the way wealth is being flaunted by Nigerian celebrities, politicians and even some “prosperity preachers,” it is not far fetched why Ponzi schemes, money-making rituals and Internet scams have continued to attract many youths. These desperadoes want to climb their trees from its leaves and circumvent reality. That’s an exercise in self-delusion!

4. We need to extricate ourselves from this nutured mentality that we can make humongous sums of money irrespective of the political and economic realities of our country.

Nigeria is currently passing through a phase of economic downturn and we need to get our acts together and fashion realistic and productive means of survival, rather than taking the devious route of making pacts with vicious spirits.

Many who resort to Internet scams and money making rituals have little or no labour skills to make it through life. Tragically, the noble culture of apprenticeship that builds a society has been virtually replaced by a culture of greed, narcissism, vanity ‘Logo Benz’ appropriating lifestyle.

Avarice is a form of idolatry. It is one of the shackles of Mammon that drags humanity away from the will and purposes of God.

5. “The trustworthy person will get a rich reward, but a person who wants quick riches will get into trouble” (Prov. 28:20).

If you have a “I-must-be-rich-at-all-cost” mindset, rest assured you will fall into many evil snares. We need to cultivate a balanced attitude towards opulence.

Those wealthy figures we admire in our TVs and magazines also had their small beginnings. They laboured from obscurity into limelight; they lived in self-denial, discipline and endured years of set back and disappointments before becoming a household name – that is, for those of them who toured a noble path.

Start with something small and watch it grow. Anybody that is too big for something small is too small for something big.

Let’s deal with this culture of greed and idolatry that is bringing the curse of Mammon on our nation and sending many people to a Christless grave after a lifetime of horrendous crimes.

A Balanced View of Wealth

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We as Christians need not suffer financial setbacks… The Lord spoke to me and said ‘Don’t pray for money anymore. You have authority through my Name to claim prosperity.’… Our lips can make us millionaires or keep us paupers” – Kenneth E. Hagin

Being poor is a sin when God promises prosperity” – Robert Tilton

The above quotes – called “Prosperity theology” – is a crucial aspect of Word of Faith teachings which found a niche in many African churches in the 1990s. It emphasizes material wealth as God’s will for every Believer.

To provoke a divine release of this great wealth, Christians are taught to give Faith seed, visualize prosperity with their mind’s eye and claim their prosperity through positive confession.

Some of the richest pastors in Africa adhere to this teaching. For instance, a popular Nigerian preacher is estimated to have a total net worth of $150 million with property including four private jets.

Those on the other side of the spectrum, however, believe pastors and Christians in general should be poor because there is something intrinsically wrong with wealth.

Thus, wealthy Nigerian pastors are targets of increasing attacks and ridicule by the media. The economic situation in the country has geared up many social media denizens to seize on these Christian preachers at the jugular.

The way I see it, we are faced with two dangerous extremes: one tending towards idolizing wealth and the other, towards glorifying poverty.

Heresy is often an outgrowth of either an exaggeration or suppression of Bible truth. Therefore we need to carefully examine prosperity and try to maintain a Biblical balance.

Granted, under the Law, God’s blessing was often associated with material prosperity:

“You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day” (Deut. 8:18 ESV).

Individuals such as Job were ultimately blessed with wealth:

After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before” (Job 42:10).

Abraham was “very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold” (Gen. 13:2).

The same goes for Isaac, Jacob, David, Solomon and others. Does this imply that every Christian today must be wealthy? Not exactly.

While the Bible doesn’t condemn wealth in itself, it condemns “those who put their trust in riches” (Prov. 11:28) “and boast of their great wealth” (Ps. 46:6).

It doesn’t say money is the root of all evil , but “the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.”

The Bible also commands wealthy believers, among other things, not to be arrogant nor put their hope in wealth, which is uncertain, but to put their hope in God “who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” and be generous and willing to share (1 Tim. 6:10, 17, 18).

From this, it can be inferred that not every believer will be physically rich but God generously provides for His people. We see this expressed in 2 Cor. 9:8

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”

God doesn’t inflict poverty as a blessing upon believers but promises His abundance. Where many “Word faith” teachers have missed it is that, they interpret abundance and poverty by the materialistic standards of contemporary Western civilization.

Like Christ, our primary purpose as Christians is “not to do [our] own will, but the will of Him who sent” us (Jn. 6:38). It’s from this perspective that “poverty” or “abundance” should be defined.

Poverty, therefore, is having less than all one needs to do God’s will in one’s life, while abundance, is having all one needs to do God’s will and something over to give others.

Godly prosperity is not provided for us to squander on our carnal desires, but for every good work (helping others, supporting the preaching of the gospel, etc.). And the standard for each believer differs in relation to God’s will for his or her life.

The Bible furnishes us with several examples of Godly people who weren’t materially rich even though they followed God’s will. During the period of famine, prophet Elijah depended on a poor widow whose miraculous supply of flour and oil sustained him. Neither Elijah nor the widow became rich, but God met their needs (1Kgs. 17:8-16).

Amos was a shepherd and humble labourer (Amos 7:14); Naomi and Ruth were poor widows, yet they had God’s blessing (Ruth 2:12).

Mary, the mother of Jesus, was “highly favoured” by God, yet she was not wealthy, as evidenced by the Temple offerings she gave (Lk. 2:24; Lev. 12:8).

It’s wrong to always conclude that someone is poor because he/she lacks God’s favour. There is a higher level of wealth than the material.

There may be times when a believer will be temporary tested with insufficiency and there are some Christians who deliberately renounce material wealth that poses an encumbrance to their faith, like those who leave their wealthy backgrounds to serve Christ.

This is what Proverbs 13:7 talks about:

There is one that makes himself rich, yet has nothing: there is one that makes himself poor, yet has great riches.”

Moses turned his back on wealth and luxury because he “esteemed the reproaches of Christ than the treasures in Egypt” (Heb. 11:26). Jesus said to the church in Smyrna:

I know your afflictions and your poverty – yet you are rich!” (Rev. 2:9) Though they were materially poor, they had riches far more valuable than silver and gold.

Today, many Christians enduring persecution and affliction for Christ’s sake may not be materially rich, but they are heirs to wealth of a higher order.

God’s people are never “forsaken or their children begging bread” (Ps. 37:25). Knowing God personally is itself, a treasure. It may not bring material wealth, but it brings an inner peace, joy, contentment and good health that all the money in the world can’t buy.

Another error in the Word-Faith’s prosperity theology is how certain Bible verses are remotely interpreted to unduly emphasise material wealth.

For instance, a verse oft quoted is: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jer. 29:11)

The Hebrew word translated as prosper here is “shalom.” Normally this word is translated “peace”, but it has a much wider range of meanings than the word “peace.”

The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament describes it as: “Completeness, wholeness, harmony, fulfillment . . .  Unimpaired relationships with others and with God.” So the prosperity God is speaking of here is not merely material wealth but complete wholeness.

Another bible verse used is: “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth” (3 John 2)

The Greek word rendered as prosper is euodou which means to “succeed in reaching” or “to succeed in business affairs.” This is not strictly referring to prosperity of a financial nature, but success “in all things.” God’s blessings are not limited to money.

Granted, Jesus for our sake “became poor, that [we] through His poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9).

Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus didn’t carry a lot of cash, but at no time did He lack anything. He regularly gave to the poor (Jn. 12:4-8); paid taxes (Mt. 17:27) and fed thousands of people (Mt. 14:15-21).

Though the methods were unconventional, He exemplified abundance – not poverty – but in the context of God’s will. He became poor for our sake at the cross. It was there he suffered hunger, thirst, nakedness and He was even buried in a borrowed tomb.

But this does not directly imply that every Christian will be materially rich.

Peter, for example wasn’t wealthy. He told a lame man:

I don’t have silver or gold, but what I have, I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!”” (Acts 3:6 Holman).

From the statement of apostle James, it’s clear that there were poor people in the first century church (see Jas. 2:-5). Evidently, they didn’t understand 2 Cor. 8:9 to mean that every Christian must have great wealth as some teach it today.

Some questions might be ringing in some of my readers: “What could be wrong if I believe in the mandate God gave our father in the Lord to liberate men from the shackles of poverty? What could be harmful if I key into the wealth transfer agenda and claim my money by faith? What of the many testimonies of those who sowed a ‘faith seed’ and then became millionaires after one week?” I’ll say:

1. Both the bible and church history furnish us with examples of people who started out well but later deviated from their divine mandate.

They switched from grace to man-made methods; they displaced the cross from the centre of their lives; they made their stomachs their gods and diluted their teachings with ear-tickling lies that appealed to fleshy hearts.

We are not to hang our truth on any man’s mandate, but “examine the scriptures” carefully and apply our God-given reason in what we believe (Acts 17:11).

2. It’s an error to believe that we can somehow “force” God to answer our prayers by slotting in the right positive confession to gratify our carnal desires. God is not a heavenly vending machine.

Our giving to God should be in love, willingly from our hearts and for His glory, not for Him to make us millionaires in return. God doesn’t operate NaijaBet or Mobgidi Lottery.

3. To believe that being poor is a sin fuels arrogance towards the poor that causes one to unfairly blame them for their own unfavourable circumstances.

If you are poor, they believe it’s because of your negative lips; you ought to wield the right words and follow the requirements set by the Faith teachers and boom, you’d become wealthy! This is presumptuous (see Prov. 23:4-5).

4. Prosperity theology breeds modern day Gehazis rather than Elishas.

Many Word Faith teachers and their followers have been known to be overtly consumed by an overwhelming desire to be rich at all cost; evade taxes; exploit people financially; place members under burdensome financial obligations; ridicule the poor and needy; steal and resort to fraudulent Ponzi schemes all in a bid to meet up with their pet beliefs (Matt. 16:26)

5. Because material wealth is perceived as a vital sign of God’s favour, many who subscribe to prosperity theology tend to easily backslide and doubt God whenever they are in a financial difficulty and they’ve followed through their “kingdom regimen” but their condition isn’t improving.

We are not to hang our faith on material things (exotic cars, mansions, yachts, private jets etc.). Material wealth is not always a sign of God’s blessing and lack of it is not always a curse. The point is, “a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possession” (Lk. 12:15).

Finally, we shouldn’t serve God for what He gives, rather for Who He is. He will meet our needs if we are faithful to Him.

The Menace of African Blood Cults

Few days ago, I read two news headlines, one here in Nigeria and another from the US, which had an uncanny link.

In Ibadan, Nigeria, two Voodoo ritualists were caught and arrested for being in possession of two fresh human heads and legs reportedly exhumed from a cemetery.

During interrogation, they confessed that these were occult ritual materials to attain material wealth. They intended to dry the human remains, burn and ground them into powdery form, mix it with soap, bathe with it and add some to a pap for consumption.

“After we have done this, some weird creatures, who we generally call spirits, will bring the money to us,” they said.

In Florida, a Voodoo priest was arrested for brutally torturing and killing a pit bull and disposing its body in a suitcase. Police found blood and animal remains throughout his apartment. He admitted that as a Voodoo practitioner, he has a right to kill animals.

Indeed, since 1993, the US Supreme Court has granted the right to Afro-Caribbean religions to sacrifice animals as this comes under the First Amendment which upholds the freedom of religion for all.

The connection between both stories is African paganism. Meanwhile, this is not the first time such grisly discoveries would be made in the US pointing to the growing influence of these Afro-Caribbean religions

Between the mid-16th century and 1888, millions of African slaves from Bantu, Yoruba, Fon, Lemba, Siniga and other tribal backgrounds were transported to the New World (Brazil, Cuba, and Dominica etc).

From here, these Africans merged African paganism with elements of Roman Catholicism and in some cases, American Indian traditions.

This religious hybrid resulted in Afro-Caribbean cults: Santeria, Giro, Candomblé, Obeah, Mesa Blanca, Palo Mayombe, Voodoo, Quimbanda and others. These religions are now finding strong foothold in the US (especially in Miami) and enjoying patronage even among notable celebrities whilst the original African pagan worship still flourishes in several parts of Africa.

In January 2014, authorities found human fetuses in a jar in the luggage of two women flying back to Miami from Havana. They told investigators that a Santeria priest had asked them to transport the jar.

In 2011, two Miami police department employees were fired for plotting to put a curse on a city manager by sprinkling birdseed in his office. In 2014, piles of headless cockerels and pigeons were found in the streets of Las Vegas, carried out in typical Voodoo style.

About that same time, sets of animal remains were found at strategic sites in Rochelle, New York. Police found decapitated goats and chickens wrapped in three layers of red, black and white clothes and strange symbols written on them.

Experts identified them as black magic rites associated with Palo Mayombe. Such rites are interwoven with African paganism in which sacrifices (animal and human) are offered to demon spirits in exchange for power, protection, fertility and elimination of rivals.

Now, a major difference between the western “white light” cults like Wicca, Neo-paganism, New Age groups etc. and African pagan systems is this: the former deals more with territorial less powerful demons while the latter deals more powerful demons.

That’s why the nature of their rites are miles apart. Wiccans may spend so much time offering cakes, fruits and wine to their deities, singing in the sun and dancing wildly in the forests but Santerios or Hoodoo practitioners, for example, don’t have time for such long, meticulous rites. They offer blood sacrifices to connect more vicious demons for their operations.

There have been historical and contemporary examples of the operations of powers wielded by these African religions, but I will cite the Haitian Revolution of 1791 as a noteworthy example.

This was a rebellion by the Haitans against European colonialism and it was spearheaded by Jacques Vincent Ogé. He was an affranchis representing the colony in France, who purchased weapons and led a revolt against the white colonial authorities in Saint-Domingue.

But before this revolution kicked off, it was preceeded by the Bois Caïman ritual ceremony in which Haitians made pacts with their deities and spirits (loas) to give them victory over the colonialists and it worked. According to a source:

“The Bois Caïman ceremony takes place in a thickly wooded area where the slaves solemnize their pact in a voodoo ritual. The ceremony is officiated by Boukman, a maroon leader and voodoo priest from Jamaica, and a voodoo high priestess. Various accounts from that night describe a tempestuous storm, animal sacrifices, and voodoo deities.” (Kona Shen, History of Haiti 1492-1802, Brown’s University Africana Studies, October 2015)

African pagan systems lay much emphasis on blood sacrifices. At first, initiates seeking success or wealth often start out with offering foods like cooked rice and stew to the spirits at specified locations (depending on the deities being appeased) but as they progress in their exposure, they are ordered to gruesomely torture and sacrifice live animals.

Soon, they start to swig animal and human blood like Cognac and use human sacrifices as “magickal shields” for drug trafficking, money laundering, destruction of enemies and Internet fraud

Sometime in 2016, I came across a public group on Facebook for people who intend to practice all forms of black magick. Its members consisted of Satanists, Voodoo experts and other black witches unashamedly dishing out prescriptions on how to deal with one’s offenders and invoke demons for different purposes.

What particularly caught my attention was a fellow Nigerian guy in their midst who identified as a “Christian” and a witch. I sent him a private message, trying to get him to reconsider his ways and renounce the hidden works of darkness.

When he replied to me months later, he said “Yes, I’m a Christian but I love witchcraft and I won’t leave it … If you study me, you won’t graduate!” How tragic; a case of proverbial frog in the kettle being slowly boiled to its death. There’s no power, or prestige or wealth or fame that the devil offers one that doesn’t lead to destruction in the end.

And it’s only in Jesus Christ that one can find true fulfillment and protection from evil. Those who have had encounters with such traditional diabolic powers can only enjoy safety in the power of Jesus Christ. This is because the glory of God supernaturally surrounds every true child of God and those in the occult know this.

The Bible says “As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people now and forevermore” (Ps. 125:2).

There have cases of occultists who were so shaken up by God’s presence protecting His people in the spirit realm that they embraced Christ and left the occult.

In 2017, a woman known to my family and I personally was kidnapped by some ritual murderers. She’s a Christian widow and a mother of three.

She was taken to their den in a neighbouring state, but when she was brought into their shrine to be slaughtered, the priest demanded they send her away, that their demons have rejected her as a victim. She was later dumped along a street where she was found hale and hearty.

As Satan’s cohorts are getting thirstier for blood and destruction, we need to come under the blood of Jesus Christ and abide under the shadow of the Most High.