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Archbishop Deya’s ‘miracle-babies’

November 2004 | by M. W. J. Phelan

In August this year, journalist John Waite brought to public notice an alarming practice carried out in the name of Christ. It should be a major concern for all Christians, particularly those working with believers who know the pain of infertility.

T

he practice is the supply of so-called ‘miracle-babies’ by Kenyan Archbishop Gilbert Deya, who now lives in the UK. He is a dynamic and powerful leader of a 36,000-strong group of Charismatic Christians, with congregations in Liverpool. Manchester, Leicester and London.

Exorcism

Deya regularly performs exorcisms during his services, many of which last for several hours. These exorcisms sometimes involve children and this led to an investigation by the Church of England.

Bishop Dominic Walker, the Church of England’s leading authority on exorcism, condemned Deya’s assertion that a seven-year-old girl was a practising witch, who was adversely affecting her mother’s health.

Speaking on Radio 4’s Face The Facts on 13 August 2004, Walker said, ‘I felt it was quite inappropriate and … an abuse of power. With all ministries there are dangers … of powerful leaders exercising inappropriate power over people’.

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Miracle-babies

This background makes John Waite’s findings concerning Deya’s ‘miracle-babies’ all the more disturbing. Waite interviewed members of Deya’s congregations who had been desperate to have children but had been frustrated through age or medical conditions.

Deya told such people that he could supply them with ‘miracle-babies’. Listening to the stories of these poor people, I found it impossible not to be moved by their genuine desire to be parents — and their absolute but misplaced trust in Archbishop Deya.

Deya’s method is to tell members of his congregation desperate to have a child that a baby will be born to them — sometimes specifying the gender of the child and when it will be born.

In the cases John Waite investigated, the health authorities found no trace of any unborn child during the course of the supposed pregnancy — even with an ultrasound scan. Deya’s wife Mary, says Waite, explained this lack of objective evidence of pregnancy by claiming that the unborn children were ‘Holy-Ghost babies’ that cannot be detected by physical machinery.

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Nairobi backstreets

When the mothers of the supposed ‘miracle-babies’ are ready to ‘give birth’, something unusual happens. Instead of availing themselves of this country’s hospitals with their fully trained staff and excellent facilities, they travel to a small clinic in the back-streets of Nairobi in Deya’s home country of Kenya.

This part of Nairobi is so dangerous that the British High Commission warned the BBC’s team about venturing into the area.

3The ‘birth’ itself was described by one mother as a blur — she apparently had to be told that she had gone into labour.4

In this ghetto, according to Waite and his team, unwanted babies abound. Women give birth in small clinics and simply disappear, leaving the child anywhere. Sharon Higgins, of the New Life Orphanage in Kenya, told Waite: ‘They [the mothers of unwanted children] may go into our clinic, have the baby and then disappear the day after … they abandon their babies. We find babies … in ditches … in pit latrines; one lady came out of a shopping mall and found a baby on the bonnet of her car’.

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No DNA link

Given these circumstances, it seems that the only reason that the ‘mothers’ of ‘miracle-babies’ have to give birth in Nairobi is that unwanted newborn babies are readily available there.

It should be no surprise, then, that in the cases investigated by the BBC there was no genetic link between the couples involved and the ‘miracle-babies’ apparently born to them in Kenya.

One of Deya’s followers, and the ‘mother’ of a ‘miracle-baby’ explained the absence of any DNA link with her child by saying: ‘Because it’s a miracle … The question of DNA, as far as I’m concerned, is irrelevant. All I know is that we pray to God and God answered our prayer. If the crime we have committed is to pray, so be it. Glory be to God’.

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That is all very well, but it further transpires that the normal gestation period of nine months is not required for the production of ‘miracle-babies’. One such baby was ‘born’ just one month after the ‘mother’ gave ‘birth’ to her first ‘miracle-baby’ — which died shortly after it arrived in poor health.

7The parents were ecstatic, certain that the second child was yet another miracle.

UNICEF

Annetta Miracow of the United Nations Children’s Fund told the BBC: ‘UNICEF is going to undertake a study on child trafficking. We want to know exactly what’s happening; what are the reasons; if it’s happening, how are they being taken out; where are the loopholes. They’ll be talking to the immigration officials, to the police, to relevant government departments and so on’.

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According to Waite, a suspicious GP in the UK alerted the Social Services when a DNA test showed no link between a ‘miracle-baby’ and its supposed parents — and after the same child’s birth certificate given to the British High Commission in Nairobi proved to be a forgery. In this instance the UK police have also investigated the case.

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The Times newspaper reported on September 21 (p.4) that the Charity Commission had frozen the accounts of Gilbert Deya Ministries following allegations of child trafficking, and that 20 children had been taken from the homes of Deya’s wife Mary and a couple linked with Deya himself.

Special understanding

Waite interviewed Patrick O’Brien, a consultant from the Royal College of Obstetricians, and asked whether childless couples needed special understanding. O’Brien answered: ‘I think it’s absolutely clear that they are not miracle babies, that they must be babies from somebody else.

‘But of course couples who are suffering from infertility are keen to believe that anything’s possible, so that they [think they] achieve a baby themselves.’

Waite asked, ‘And will they believe literally anything — suspend disbelief, suspend medical advice, suspend what every woman knows about the length of pregnancy — [and] just put that to the back of their mind?’

O’Brien replied, ‘I think it’s understandable. I think people who desperately want to have a child are vulnerable, are motivated, will stop at nothing to achieve a baby’.

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Poor understanding of Scripture

This tragic situation could never have occurred if the poor people concerned had a firm grasp of Scripture. One of the most famous miraculous births of the Bible is that of Isaac, yet Isaac was a literal son of his father Abraham.

The Lord told Abraham that Isaac ‘shall come forth out of thine own bowels’, and would also be the child of Sarah his wife (Genesis 15:4; 17:15-16). Furthermore, we know that Isaac was genetically linked to Abraham because in Hebrews 7:9 we read that Levi, a grandson of Isaac, paid tithes to Melchizedek when he ‘was yet in the loins of his father [i.e. Abraham]’.

There was thus a tangible, genetic link between Abraham and Isaac (and his descendants). The miraculous birth of Isaac did nothing to sever or interrupt this link. The evidence of Scripture thus undermines Deya’s claims that the absence of DNA links between the supposed parents and the ‘miracle-babies’ is a necessary consequence of their being born miraculously.

But there is another consideration. According to Paul we are all ‘in Adam’ in terms of our physical birth (Romans 5:12-15). But if there is no genetic link between a ‘miracle-baby’ and its parents, how can these babies be ‘in Adam’? How can they be ‘in Adam’ if they are not ‘in’ their own parents?

It is most important that ordinary believers have a thorough grounding in biblical truth. Archbishop Deya, like all false-teachers, can only propagate his errors where truth is ignored.

Note

All references are taken from a single source, namely a

Face The Factstypescript, presenter John Waite, producer Sue Mitchell, London, BBC, 13 August 2004 — and can be found variously on pp. 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11.

The typescript opens with the following caution. ‘This transcript was typed from a recording and not copied from an original script. Because of the risk of mishearing and the difficulty in some cases of identifying individual speakers the BBC cannot vouch for its complete accuracy’.