Poverty, prosperity and faith : An analysis of the prosperity gospel in the neo-Pentecostal church Winners Chapel International in Bamenda, Cameroon
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Cameroon has undergone a period of economic crises, which has rendered its citizens extremely poor of which the UN Millennium development goal has its objective to eradicate extreme poverty in Sub Saharan Africa. As a researcher, I wanted to find out how the prosperity gospel preached to the adherents has influenced their views towards poverty and prosperity. Poverty is not predominantly an issue of a certain group of people but an international challenge, it is paradoxical seeing that prosperity gospel is rapidly growing in Cameroon. This dissertation critically reviews the theological interpretation of poverty and prosperity in Winners Chapel International Bamenda. Prosperity theology has been greatly criticized maintaining that it is irresponsible, promotes idolatry, it is contrary to the Bible and that the preachers of this theology quote scriptures in a certain way to argue their claim. A qualitative study with the application of semi-structured interview was conducted in Bamenda. This research discovered that the prosperity gospel has a remarkable influence on the lives of the adherents who view themselves as having observed an economic change because they worship in this church. The adherents believe it is their covenant right to prosper because God wills prosperity for all God’s children. Their belief is that if they play their part God will equally fulfil his part. Poverty is viewed as a combination of wrong mentality and wrong covenant. Their belief is that with faith and the right application of the covenant poverty can be eluded. This research was governed tremendously by the exponential growth of Pentecostalism and the advent of the gospel of prosperity in Cameroon notably in Bamenda an Anglophone region. This research has shown that poverty is not only multidimensional and complex but has several fundamental causes. Urban areas in Cameroon are facing major challenges arising from globalization, demographic changes and migration of the young well-trained people. A conclusion cannot be drawn mainly that poverty is because of wrong covenant and mentality.