A few years ago, there was a growing concern about the mushrooming of pentecostal churches across the country, now the community says that they have to deal with their family members’ questionable decisions to leave all their belongings to their church.
While mourning the death of his mother Aline Amutenya, who died a month ago, twenty-two year old Clinton Amutenya came across a word document on his mother’s iPad where she detailed that she is leaving her house, her motor vehicle and lump-sums of money to the church where she worshipped.
Clinton is one of Aline’s four children – two men and two women – of the late Amutenya who would have turned 59 on the 14th of next month.
Apart from leaving immoveable and moveable property to the church, the late Amutenya also wrote that certain church members, including the pastors in the church should receive up to N$80 000 for themselves.
“If the debts for the overdraft and vehicle asset financier (N$322 454) is already cleared and settled, I believe it will be written off by that time. Before you pay please see if this money is still outstanding or written off. This money must go to ASHWA, Fountain of Living Waters Ministries, AGAPA TV. But add an amount of N$50 000 to the saints amounting to N$100 000,” the document reads.
Clinton was not startled by his mother’s decision to leave the property to the church as his mother had told him and his siblings in 2016 already that she would be leaving the house and vehicle to the church. This decision came after the head pastor at the church, Jacques Sumpi told them that they should leave all their belongings to the church because Jesus was coming in September that year and that they will be raptured.
“When my mother first told me that, [I asked] where we are supposed to go if we are leaving the things for the church. I also asked her whether it makes sense to leave things to the church if they at church should all be raptured,” Clinton said.
He added that any conversation about the church always made his mother uncomfortable and very defensive.
“She told me that she is not leaving the things for us because we did not work for it,” Clinton added.
He said that he does not doubt that his mother wrote the document – which seems to be meant as a will – but believes that the pastor and the church strongly influenced her decision.
“My mother loved her grandchildren very much. If she did not see them for over a month, she would call my siblings and tell them that she wants to see her grandchildren.
I was very surprised to see that she did not leave anything for my two sisters or for her grandchildren,” the son said.
The son said that his mother changed very much after joining the church. For someone who always loved her family, she became distanced. For someone who always provided for her extended family, she seemed to just stop caring.
He also says that he believes his mother could have been healed from her illness, had she not been made to believe that medication is from the devil.
“My mother wanted to relocate to the coast where she is from. We were supposed to go to the coast after she was released from hospital last year because she said that she wanted to be close to the ocean,” he said.
This however did not happen because the church banned its members from travelling.
“I was supposed to drive her to the coast, but she told me just before we were supposed to leave, that she changed her mind.”
Clinton believes that had they gone to the coast as her heart desired, his mother may still have been alive today.
The young adult says there are a lot of things wrong with what that church stands for and that something should be done about it. He is especially concerned because his two sisters are still at the church.
Amutenya was a deputy head of the HIV/AIDS education department and had been working for the University of Namibia for around 20 years. Her son says that he cannot say how many qualifications she had as she loved books and was constantly chasing one qualification after the next.
Walking into her house in Okuryangava, Katutura – it is evident that Amutenya had done well for herself.
Her mother Elizabeth Amutenya described her daughter as a focused, intelligent woman, a great mother and grandmother, a provider and someone who always wanted her family around her. This is the Amutenya, Elizabeth says, she knew before she joined the Fountain of Living Waters in Windhoek.
“She was [like] my husband. She was taking care of me and she was holding the family together,” the late Amutenya’s mother said.
Very disturbed by the healing methods prescribed to her daughter by the church, Elisabeth showed the media two one litre bottles of virgin olive oil – with the name Aline written on. The mother who buried her daughter at the coast last week said that she was disturbed by the fact that her daughter had given up her medication for two bottles of olive oil. “That church is not for God. Something needs to be done,” the mother laments.
Death of church members raises questions
A former member of the church, Sandra Kavakundu (46) says that there are a number of church members who died because they stopped taking their medication.
Kavakundu said that while she was fellowshipping at the church, Sumpi told them that medicine and education is from the devil. This is despite the church constitution stating that one of its aims and objectives should be to start private schools, nurseries and adult education facilities.
“I know one lady who had TB and stopped medication so that she can take the ‘feed’,” Kavakunda said.
The feed is a mixture of olive oil, sand and water that is given to the congregation as a replacement for their medication.
“My daughter also failed her Grade 10 exams in 2016, because we were told that education is from the devil and that education is not important since Jesus is coming to get us anyway.”
The mother of two said she decided to leave the church when Sumpi said that the Bible was written by a man from the streets in America.
She added that she was also disturbed by the fact that he called himself the lastborn of God and that he would deliver people “in the name of Sumpi”.
“He told us that Jesus is coming in September 2016 and when it did not happen he said that we can consider him a false prophet if Jesus does not come in November 2016. Why would I follow a false prophet?”
We lost our daughter and sister while she is still alive
Gideon Kambudu and Pombili Kambudu are calling for the closure of Fountain of Living Waters Ministries after they “lost their sister”.
Their loss was not through death, but they say that they do not recognise who their 34-year-old sister, Nashitye Ndjaleka, has become and also because she has distanced herself from her family.
“Nashitye went to our parents’ village one weekend to bury two bottles of olive oil.
She initially told my parents that she had to bury the bottles of oil because the spirit of death is following them, but we later found out that she was told to bury the bottles, because the family was trying to get her out of the church”.
Nashitye bought a house that she never lived in because she gave it to the church, only to go rent from the pastor.
“She resigned from her job and did not tell any of us. I don’t even know if it still belongs to her.”
Sumpi could not be reached for comment as his phone went unanswered.