Pastor Alph Lukau, who leads Alleluia Ministries International in Johannesburg, South Africa, has claimed that he performed a miracle by restoring a man to life during a church service on February 24. Lukau is now under investigation from the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Rights Commission).
“There are no such things as miracles. They are made up to try to get money from the hopelessness of our people,” said the CRL Rights Commission as reported by the BBC.
The police have opened a case to investigate the circumstances surrounding the “resurrection,” and at least one of the funeral companies involved is suing Lukau.
You can watch a video of the three hour long service that occurred last Sunday here. The part that concerns the alleged resurrection starts around 1:54:00, which is when the hearse arrives. A woman who appears to be a leader in the church tells Lukau that there is a family that is about to take a corpse to Zimbabwe. She says that as the hearse drove over the church door, someone saw the fingers of the corpse “beginning to move.” (It’s not clear how this would have been possible, since the “corpse” was in a covered coffin.)
Lukau steps outside to meet with the family, and a few minutes later in the video, he and people claiming to be the man’s family and landlord stand around the opened coffin, surrounded by the congregation. A woman who says she is the “dead” man’s landlord says with emotion,
“He got sick. He got sicker and sicker and then he started coughing a lot on Friday. Then we took him to the hospital. And then the doctor said cause he’s got no papers, they can’t help him, until we send him to the surgery doctor. That is where he died in my hands.” She breaks down sobbing.
A man who says he is the man’s brother tells Lukau that the body has been in the mortuary. The whole time that Lukau is speaking to the brother and landlord, the man in the coffin’s mouth and chest are moving and his eyes are open. He is clearly breathing, something Lukau seems to point out, although it’s unclear if that’s what he meant.
Holding his microphone, Lukau proclaims to the congregants, “He died since Friday!” and “He was in a mortuary.” Lukau repeats Jesus’ name several times, then asks for the man’s name, which is Eliot. Bending over the “corpse,” Lukau addresses Eliot by name, repeating it several times. He then tells the people around him to lift their hands. He hands over his microphone, places his hands on Eliot, and calls out, “Rise up!” Immediately, the man sits up with his mouth gaping as the people start to yell and cheer.
Church attendees help Eliot out of the coffin and Lukau calls out, “The coffin is empty!” A woman declares, “This is a miracle! Jesus!”
People Aren’t Buying It
According to the BBC, the funeral parlors that provided their services, such as the hearse and the coffin, have been quick to distance themselves from the “miracle” and at least one is taking legal action against Pastor Lukau.
“The funeral parlours herein were used individually and separately through various forms of misrepresentations to suit a particular outcome which at the time was unknown to the funeral parlours,” said Prince Mafu, speaking on behalf of Kings and Queens Funeral Services. The other companies involved were Kingdom Blue and Black Phoenix. All three say they were manipulated, and at least two of the companies deny ever having seen the body of the man who was supposedly dead.
People on social media, particularly Twitter, have been quick to point out other problems with the alleged miracle. For one, the “body” was sweating when the coffin was opened. One Twitter user says she used to work at a funeral parlor and that “the mouth gets stitched and sealed, the eyes get glued and there’s a special lotion for the face. That dead guy looks like he walked out a spa.” Another took a screenshot of the video and pointed out what appears to be a cell phone in the man’s pocket. In true Twitter fashion, the incident quickly became a joke, turning into the #ResurrectionChallenge.
Material Blessings: A Running Theme
Lukau has been the subject of controversy in the past, although apparently has not been investigated by the CRL Rights Commission until now.
In 2016, he held a gala for single and divorced women so they could receive prayer and find husbands. The gala cost anywhere between R450 and R5000, which is currently about $32 and $360 U.S. dollars, respectively. The next Sunday, Lukau’s church held a mass wedding for the women who attended the gala. Lukau has also claimed to heal various diseases and illnesses.
A cursory glance of Pastor Lukau’s Facebook page shows many pictures of him and many posts assuring material blessings. One post says, “Today God will break physical and spiritual barriers standing in the way of your financial miracles. Just as God remembered Hannah and Sarah, He is remembering you for great financial favour this month in Jesus name.”
Another promises, “This season, Almighty God will open one great door that will lead you to many other great doors of breakthroughs and unlimited success. The Lord God will send u a financial blessing that will write off all your debts and make u a lender to nations.” The comments on this post are full of people saying “Amen” and “I receive it in Jesus name.”
In the days that have followed this controversy, Alleluia Ministries International has said that the man was not dead when he arrived at the service, but that Lukau “completed a miracle that God had already started.”