A pastor in Kenya who declined to officiate a wedding ceremony in Bahati area, Nakuru County on Saturday has defended himself saying the couple did not meet the standards set by his church.
Joyce Waithera and her fiance Paul Waithaka are said to have arrived at the Mizpah House of Prayer church in good time, ready to walk down the isle and recite their wedding vows. Friends and family members had gathered early in what was expected to be a glamorous wedding.
But upon arrival, the couple was summoned by the head of the church, Apostle Jesse Karanja, to his office where he reportedly instructed them to undergo a HIV test and return to him with their results.
Never mind that this was at 1 o’clock in the afternoon hours after the two expected to have been married.
They returned and the results were negative. Waithera had also been asked to do a pregnancy test and the results were also negative.
According to family members, the officiating minister kept the couple waiting again until 4pm, where he instructed them to undergo yet another test. They did, and the results were negative.
Frustrated, the Apostle asked them to do a third test, this time at a clinic of his choice. The couple obeyed, but this time the results allegedly indicated that the bride was HIV positive and that she was pregnant.
The results shocked them but they were still hopeful that they would continue with the ceremony, after all their status would remain their secret, but the Apostle appears to have had other things up his sleeves.
He again kept the couple and the guests waiting until 6pm and only emerged from his office saying he cannot officiate the wedding because the law does not allow weddings to be conducted past 6pm.
The couple drove away in a huff leaving behind family members and guests to feast on the meals that had been prepared.
Speaking while delivering his sermon on Sunday, Apostle Karanja defended his action saying the couple failed to meet the set standards.
“Basic principles of our Christian Pentecostal ministry were not met. As an apostolic leader I have to answer to God about your life… I have the authority to tell you, ‘you must go this way.” If you don’t do it I have a legal authority from heaven to ex-communicate you,” said Apostle Karanja.
“Yesterday, we were supposed to have a wedding but it did not happen. The main reason is that our standards as a Christian church organization were not met. Every member must adhere to some basic christian standards. Any deviation calls for the church not to perform any christian ordinance.
“We had given the couple up to Friday to fulfill some standard requirements of this ministry because we proclaim living a life of purity. We advocate sex out of marriage for young people. We have set our own biblical standards that everyone must meet. There are other personal reasons that we cannot give you,” said the clergy man.
The bridegroom’s father faulted the pastor for his actions, adding that his son had been a member of the church for the last six years.
“Even if he hates this young man, he should not have done that. This man has been a member of his church for the last six years. He has really heartbroken this young couple. His actions are very suspicious, ” said the groom’s father.
The Apostle’s actions have now raised eyebrows about some church leaders’ role when it comes to their flocks’ medical conditions.
Despite spending close to one millions shillings for ceremony that did not go as planned, the couple says it will still go on with their plans and marry at a later date.