94) T.V. Evangelism and Evangelists
The current trend in evangelism is through T.V. broadcasts. It has two advantages: it reaches a wider audience and it ushers in a comfortable inflow of money for the evangelists, apparently to run more of the programmes. The viewers are happy and so are the evangelists. Besides the inflow of money, they become widely known and popular over a much wider area than it was possible during the days before the advent of TV.
The number of TV evangelists in Tamil Nadu is surprisingly high as are the number of commercial TV channels willing to accommodate them. Christian religious programmes in Tamil are telecast by channels like Raj digital, Jaya TV, Vija TV and SS Music. Besides there are a number of English channels (round the clock): GOD channel, Miracle net, Daystar and New Hope TV. Also Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada and Hindi channels. They all proclaim one decisive overt objective: To reach the gospel to the ends of the earth so as to bring the second coming of Christ sooner.. And their concealed objective is conversion.
I have been watching some of these Tamil and English programmes, not to satisfy my emotional or spiritual needs but to evaluate them in my own light.
These evangelists can be broadly grouped in to two categories. 1) Those with objective of propagating Christian faith and theology in a forceful and authoritative tone (unlike sermons in the churches which are docile and time bound - 15 minutes) aimed both at receptive Christians and indifferent non-Christians. 2) Prosperity gospellers who offer miracle healing and additional incentives like monetary gains, jobs, promotions and the like through their prayers. The first group of evangelists are much less watched than the second who are articulate, expressive, dramatic and capable of drawing huge crowds to their meetings and a large viewership for their TV programmes.
Prosperity evangelists are well dressed, well groomed, healthy and happy. Some of them are globe-trotters. They are, by and large, dressed in expensive clothes and if the entire family is involved in evangelism, one can guess how extensively furnished their wardrobe should be. There is a very popular family centred in Madras: father, mother, son, daughter-in-law, grand son and grand daughters all of them claiming to be evangelists in their own right and having been anointed by fire and Holy Spirit. They live off the contributions from their votaries and TV viewers, soaking up a substantial part of the money for their personal use. They live in luxurious style in expensively furnished living quarters and office areas, all air conditioned, possibly, unlike Jesus whom they proclaim to the people who was poor, homeless, and never asked for money to support himself or his disciples. Raising themselves up to the level and life style of modern social and economic standards of high society, they travel in expensive cars, demand five-star hotel accommodation wherever they are invited to organise their meetings, at the expense of the local people vast majority of whom could ill afford to support such expensive evangelism. But they do lend their support, nevertheless, because of the faith drilled into their minds that God will repay them hundred fold if they uphold the ministry, even with what little they could spare. Invariably such meetings end up with more demand for money to build a new prayer house or to expand the existing ones , which buildings eventually end up as family property under a thin veil of family-trust, assumed to be the gift from God for their service to Him
When one evangelist lady from the west who always presents herself in very expensive dresses was questioned why she was extravagantly dressed, she asked them not to be jealous for she would be dressed even more gorgeously in heaven in the presence of God. Which was not the answer to the question.
One evangelist, a sadhu in saffron robes demanded .,some two years go, Rs.60 lakhs for developing a studio with equipments for the making of his TV programmes. The amount was promptly subscribed by his followers. His present demand is for rupees thirty-five crores for the expansion of his studios and TV ministry to Nepal, Tibet and other North Indian Languages. GOD channel is a typical example. Only last year it demanded eight million pound sterling from its viewers for its broadcasting