The faith healing practice in pastorale care : a pastoral assessment

Khoaseb, Martin (2014-04)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Africa is a continent ravaged by challenges of poverty, scourge of disease and many conflicts, some of which are motivated by religious fanaticism. Indeed, it is a continent in dire need of spiritual, economic and social transformation. In the midst of these challenges, however, faith healing practices have flourished among African communities. Healing is a broad concept, which covers a whole range of social, psychological, cultural and spiritual issues and dimensions in response to unwanted threatening conditions that disturb a harmonious and peaceful existence. The concept of healing is firmly rooted in the soil and soul of Africa. To a certain extent, the popularity of healing practices in many parts of Africa is a result of an African epistemology that accepts healing as a cultural reality. The poor majority are mostly exposed to harsh socio-economic and hazardous health conditions. Thus, many poor people are drawn to healing practices for the following three reasons: Firstly, faith healers promise to heal people of all kinds of illnesses and epidemics through fervent prayers. Faith healers are powerful and charismatic personalities that command a great following as a result of their charisma. Secondly, because African culture is spirit-centred and has a high regard for spiritual powers and forces, Africans are amused by supernatural and are therefore drawn to healing phenomena, as it speaks to their reality and reference framework. Thirdly, faith healing practice is a cost free, alternative intervention strategy for managing illness, especially to the poor masses, who do not have access to specialized medical care. The close relationship between psychosomatic diseases and “African illnesses” is also explored. This is quite evident when considering the types of illnesses faith healers claim people are being healed from during healing practices, for example HIV and AIDS, hypertension, ulcers, bad luck, infertility, witchcraft, and so forth. African illnesses are believed to be unexplainable and untreatable by Western medicine. It is believed to be caused by witchcraft, sorcery and evil, and has similar manifestations as psychosomatic diseases. In the context of a vibrant and growing faith healing practice, there is a need to investigate the spiritual and emotional impact of faith healing on healing seekers, especially when the desired healing doesn‟t materialise. The research field has highlighted the emotional and spiritual challenges caused by illness, as well as the lack of supporting systems to sustain people grappling with illness. The realisation is that healing, as a broad concept, needs a multifaceted approach for effective response. The lack of indigenisation of healing practices with African (Namibian) cultural symbols and cultural milieu was highlighted. Therefore, an effective and culturally relevant pastoral care system should take special cognisance of it and thus, the envisaged pastoral approach of hope and compassion build around it.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Afrika is ‟n kontinent wat geteister word deur armoede, dodelike siektes en konflikte, waarvan sekere gedryf word deur godsdienstige fanatisme. Dit is inderdaad ‟n kontinent wat behoefte het aan geestelike, ekonomiese en sosiale transformsie. Nietemin, ten spyte van hierdie uitdagings, het die gewildheid van geloofsgenesings praktyke in Afrika gemeenskappe toegeneem. Genesing is ‟n breë konsep met „n verskeidenheid van sosiale, sielkundige, kulturele en geestelike aspekte en dimensies, wat reageer op ongunstige toestande of moeilike situaties wat heelsame en harmonieuse leefwyse teenwerk. Genesings praktyke is inderdaad „n integrale deel van mense in Afrika se kulturele bestaan. Die konsep van genesing is dus gegrond in die siel en sand van Afrika. Tot ‟n sekere mate is die gewildheid van genesingspraktyke in baie dele van Afrika toe te skryf aan Afrika epistemologie, wat genesing as deel van die kulturele realitiet aanvaar. Die arm massas is meestal blootgestel aan haglike sosiale en ekonomiese toestande. Dus word baie arm mense na genesingsbedieninge gelok vanweë die onderstaande drie basise redes: Eerstens, as gevolg van die beloftes wat geloofsgeners maak dat hulle mense van enige siekte en kwaal kan genees deur vurige gebede. Geloofsgeners het kragtige en charismatise persoonlikhede waarmee hulle invloed uitoefen en baie volgelinge werf weens hul charisma. Tweedens, vanweë die Afrika kultuur wat geesgesentreed is en hoë agting vir geestelike magte en geestelike werkings het; mense van Afrika word amuseer deur bonatuurlike werkings, omdat dit tot hulle kulturele en verwysingsraamwerk spreek. Derdens, geloofsgenesing is ‟n koste vrye, alternatiewe helings-strategie om siektes te beheer, veral vir armes wat nie bronne het om gespesialiseerde gesondheidsdienste te gebruik nie. Die noue werking tussen psigosomatiese siektes en “Afrika siektes” speel ook ‟n rol. Dit is veral duidelik in die tipe siektes wat geloofsgeners beweeer dat mense van genees word na geloofsgebede, byvoorbeeld MIV en VIGS, hypertensie, maagsere, vloeke, onvrugbaarheid, toordery, ensovoorts. Daar word geglo dat Afrika siektes onverklaarbaar en onbehandelbaar deur Westerse dokters is. Die geloof is dat sulke siektes deur toordery en bose geeste veroorsaak word, en soortgelykke manifestasies as psigosomatiese siektes het. In die konteks van „n groeiende geloofsgenesings bediening, is daar ‟n regverdiging om ondersoek in te stel op die geestelike en emosionele impak van geloofsgenesing op siek mense; spesifiek in gevalle waar genesing nie onmiddelik met gebed geskied nie. Die ondersoek het aan die lig gebring dat siek mense emosioneel en geestelik sukkel in hulle stryd teen siektes. Dit is ook uitgewys dat daar ‟n gebrek is aan ondersteunende strukture vir mense wat met siekte sukkel. Daar is tot die besef gekom dat genesing as ‟n breë konsep „n veelvoudige benadering benodig vir effektiewe terapeutiese respons. Gebrek en onvermoë van geloofsgenesings praktyke om inkulturering met Afrika (Namibiese) kultuur simbole en kulturele fassette te doen was ook uitgewys. Dus, ‟n effektiewe en kultureel relevante pastorale sisteem moet kennis daarvan neem en dit integreer by die voorgestelde pastorale benadering van hoop en meegevoel.

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