Need prayer? Send a message to the M-Church
A Nairobi based church published a newspaper advert recently announcing an SMS service that enables people to receive help in matters such as marital problems, lack of a partner as well as to offer political/leadership solutions among other issues
From basic communication to lotteries, sales, making payment and product advertisement, mobile phones have not only changed the way we live but also the way we conduct business.
In 2006, Safaricom introduced M-PESA, a mobile money transfer service which was followed by M-KESHO, a mobile bank account from Equity Bank…and now there is M-CHURCH, an SMS powered service that people can use to receive spiritual when they need it.
To demonstrate this, a Nairobi based church published a newspaper advert recently announcing an SMS service that enables people to receive help in matters such as marital problems, lack of a partner as well as to offer political/leadership solutions among other issues.
Cost of message
“M-CHURCH powered by the holy spirit presents a ground breaking new programme which makes it easy for Christians to solve their questions of life,” read part of the advert from the Oasis of Grace Church in Nairobi.
This mobile church service is also recommended to those who want to secure good business deals, those who are childless, as well as to help solve conflicts in marriage and other relationships.
However, obtaining the message comes at a cost. One needs to subscribe to a four digit number offered. Every message costs Sh30, which is deducted depending on the number of services you have subscribed to.
Benjamin Maruate, a job seeker in Maralal town tried his luck. After reading the newspaper advert he sent the word ‘Job’ to the four digits number and waited patiently.
“I received the first message which gave me guidelines on how to secure a job opportunity and which describe what the Bible says about unemployment.
“But I ended up receiving messages on love, marriage, how to get a spouse and dozens others that I had not subscribed to. I have a lost about Sh1,890 because I was receiving three unsolicited messages a day for a period 21 days,” he says.
According to Simon Ndirangu the director of Information Convergence Technology that issues the four digits numbers to companies, one is supposed to send the word ‘STOP’ to the number offered to unsubscribe from the SMS service.
However, Mr Maruate says he has been receiving several texts confirming that he has been unsubscribed but he was still being deducted another Sh10 every time he received the message.
“After sending the word stop, I received about four messages that said that I was no longer subscribed but in the process I was deducted Sh10 per message, I lost Sh40 in less than 30 seconds,” he explains.
He says that he has been trying to contact the Church through a help line offered but the number is either busy or rings unanswered when it goes through.
Mr. Amos Mirera, who works with Smart Pen Ltd, a company that gives media services to churches and other organisations, says that the M-CHURCH is intended to spread the gospel and help people in matters of life using biblical truths and principles.
“The service is used to update church members on new church programmes, church meetings, prayer requests and networking. The mobile technology is changing the world and the church is embracing this change in a positive way,’ he says.
However, according experts, there is a fine line between the intention to make money and the desire to help Kenyans use the Bible as a reference for solutions to their life issues.
“The M-CHURCH may be a good idea for the Church but the mobile crime is rampant. Again, many Kenyans may not trust it and they would even like to compare it with SMS gambling games that have been going on for a while now and which took the by storm towards the end of last year,’ says Sam Wambugu, a technology expert.
So is there a relationship between the SMS lottery services and the M-CHURCH idea? Mr. Mirera, does not think so.