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A spirited fraud.

Byline: BEGENA P PRADEEP

A BAHRAIN religious group is trying to track down an African spiritualist who allegedly accepted thousands of dinars from people in Bahrain after promising to resurrect their dead relatives, the GDN has learned. Reverend Dr Bernard Ankomah pledged to use the money to launch a Christian gospel channel in Africa.

However, three years later, the people who brought him here are unable to contact him - saying he does not reply to their e-mails and his phone numbers are not in use.

It is the latest in a series of allegations that religious leaders could have conned believers in Bahrain out of their hard-earned cash.

But Pastor Koshy Eappen, whose group called The Father's House helped bring Dr Ankomah to Bahrain, was reluctant to accuse the preacher of any wrongdoing yesterday.

"I still don't want to believe that he has cheated us because I am not a judge," he told the GDN.

"But many people who had given money are asking me if I have any news about the preacher.

"I had tried to contact him by e-mail and there is no response.

"I made many phone calls to his numbers and they don't seem to exist now."

Dr Ankomah led services for two days at the National Evangelical Church (NEC), Manama, during a three-day Christian convention in June 2005.

He claimed to have the power to resurrect dead people and the third day of his visit was held at The Palace hotel, Adliya, because the NEC could no longer contain the crowd.

The Ghanaian, who is reportedly settled in the UK, also addressed church leaders and pastors at the Alan Morris Hall in St Christopher's Church, Manama.

He collected BD30,000 during his visit after accepting donations of at least BD100 each from 300 believers, saying it was to launch the gospel-based channel in Africa, said Pastor Eappen.

"Believers willingly gave money after they were told by the preacher that it was to start a gospel channel in Africa," he said.

"No one was forced and it was a public meeting attended by hundreds of people from various churches in Bahrain.

"Just before the Bahrain meeting, he was in Kuwait and since we had heard about him a lot earlier, we decided to invite him here for the benefit of believers."

However, worshippers who attended the events told the GDN that many people parted with their cash after Dr Ankomah claimed during personal meetings that he had the power to resurrect the dead.

The preacher also promised to keep contributors updated by e-mail about the TV channel, but nobody has so far received any feedback.

Mr Eappen claimed he had no clue that Dr Ankomah would collect money from worshippers.

However, one such contributor - who spoke to the GDN on condition of anonymity - said he was mesmerised by the preacher's talk and stood in a long queue to offer the BD100.

"No one, who I know, who gave the money has received any feedback yet," he added.

"God knows that we gave the money out of faith and we will get blessings in return.

"If we are cheated then God will punish him."

Another Indian worshipper said he also paid BD100, but claimed he did not do it to resurrect his dead relatives.

"I have attended many meetings by many Christian preachers in Bahrain and most of them claim they can perform miracles," he said.

"But this preacher said he could resurrect dead people and had recently brought back to life four dead people in Kuwait.

"However, he did not make the claim publicly - only when the worshippers went to meet him personally.

"I was not very sure of this and did not give money for the resurrection because birth, like death, is God's will and should not be contested.

"However, I know many people tried to meet the preacher personally to know if he could resurrect their loved ones."

Another Indian worshipper who attended the meeting said his female schoolmate gave the preacher money after he convinced her that he could bring a famous Indian singer back to life.

"I remember very well scolding her for falling for the trick, but she refused to listen," he said.

"When I asked her a few days later about it, she replied that the resurrected would be reborn in some part of the world with a different identity.

"She still does not believe that she was tricked."

The GDN reported last week that the homes of two preachers, who had previously visited Bahrain, were raided by police as part of a wide-ranging investigation into the finances of Indian spiritual leaders.

However, neither Brother Thangu nor K P Yohannan were immediately arrested.

But Indian guru Santosh Madhavan, who made a number of fundraising trips to Bahrain, has been arrested.

It is claimed he duped his followers here out of up to BD60,000, but is now facing a string of charges in Kerala including rape, drug possession and fraud.

begena@gdn.com.bh

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Publication:Gulf Daily News (Manama, Bahrain)
Date:Jun 11, 2008
Words:848
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