Pastor Lesego Daniel, of Rabboni Centre Ministries, is a highly unusual person. In order to be closer to God, the South African preacher is encouraging his congregation to eat grass. He also tramples on them for added effect.
The pastor is said to have claimed that humans can eat anything they choose to sustain themselves. When he put up pictures of the grass-eating event on Facebook, he faced severe criticism from thousands of people across the world. Rabboni Centre Ministries is now a trending topic on social media. But none of that has bothered Mr. Daniel’s followers; they defend their pastor and swear by his methods.
21-year-old law student, Rosemary Phetha, said that the grass instantly cured a sore throat that she had been battling for over a year. “Yes, we eat grass and we’re proud of it because it demonstrates that, with God’s power, we can do anything,” she said.
Doreen Kgatle, 27, has a similar story to tell. She had suffered a stroke two years ago. “I could not walk but soon after eating the grass, as the pastor had ordered, I started gaining strength and an hour later I could walk again,” she said.
Facebook users, however, had a very different point of view on the pastor’s methods. Several comments of outrage appeared on the photographs that show followers strewn across a lawn, shoving fistfuls of grass into their mouths. In one photo, Mr. Daniel actually appears to be walking on a group of people.
“Why is he stepping on people?” asked one commenter. “This is inhumane. Shocking.”
Another commenter wrote, “Is this a scene in a movie… this can’t be real. God created animals to chew grass and made human beings to dominate over animals. Any person who reduces human beings to animals is definitely not of God.”
“This is disgraceful. You should be ashamed to call yourself a pastor! You’re making God and His followers look like idiots!” was one comment on the church’s Facebook page.
David K Carr said: “They have crossed the line of sanity to stupidity. All we can do is pray.”
The pastor has yet to respond to the criticism. He seems to have convinced his followers to eat grass by telling them that Jesus’ disciples (there were more than 12, he says) also did new things that seemed unusual at the time.
“There were many disciples and you don’t know others,” he said. “Let God show you as they were deliberately not revealed in the Bible because God wanted someone to do them, new things. Nathanael was a disciple, yet there is no book of Nathanael, what about the miracles, signs and wonders, what about how they who were not mentioned, taught.”
I’m afraid most of that is not clear, but his followers appear to have understood quite well. Why else would they willingly lay in the grass and eat it? Unfortunately, the experiment didn’t go down well with many of them. Some of the pictures show men and women clutching their stomachs and throwing up into buckets and toilets.
Apparently, grass-eating is not the only bizarre method that Pastor Daniel follows. According to a Times Live report, during a service of at least 1,000 people in a marquee, he screamed ‘sleep’. Six people obeyed his command. He then ordered other congregants to slap and trample upon the sleeping people. The six of them remained completely unresponsive until he told them to wake up.
“You can leave them like this for six months, I love this,” he said. “I don’t want to be bored. You can even make police go to sleep when they come to arrest you.” In the past, he has also attempted to heal a woman from a demonic pregnancy.
The church is located in Setlogelo, Ga-Rankuwa, a township north of Pretoria. It was established in 2002 by Pastor Daniel, who “listened to the word of God and started the ministry.”