Where do you go when you love God and your beer too? Look no further; in South Africa, an eccentric preacher has found a way to marry the church with the tavern. His church, the Gabola Church is the unlikely union of beer and prayer and religious misfits have found a home. The name of the church is very clear about the resident Bishop’s vision. Gabola means: Drinking in Tswana and the five hundred-strong denomination has captured imaginations. Bishop Makiti has baptized more than 2,000 people, each with his favorite alcoholic beverage.
He says, “If you drink beer, you get baptized in beer.”
Beer and God the solution to crime?
Freddy Mathebula, owner of a tavern Matiki has his services says, “Since the church started, crime has been reduced and we have received a great response from the community.”
Matiki himself says with God in the taverns, “we would see crime being reduced and love and respect promoted,” before adding, “People who drink beer are happy and peaceful.”
News24 reports that there is palpable and overwhelming brotherhood in the services with men sharing their beer and others helping each other buy more. The church does not allow youths under the age of 20 and its impact on crime might be undermined by the exclusion of the youths. However, one cannot ignore the fact that this is a union of brothers spreading love and joy.
Matiki says, “There is no more fighting in taverns. Crime has gone down in the neighborhoods as we appreciate each other as brothers.”
Might be just another weird church
In 2017, worshipping in a tavern is not even the weirdest thing that has happened in religious circles. Zimbabwean pastor, Paul Sanyangore grabbed international headlines for claiming to talk to God over the phone during a sermon. Theo Maseko, a South African Pastor also featured in the news for making congregants drink engine oil while many other contemporaries have also given the world news fodder for making church members eat grass and insects.
Matiki maintains his distance from such clerics arguing at his church, “All we do is drink, praise and appreciate God at the same time. We don’t promise anyone magic.”
The SA Council of Churches has, however, said Matiki’s Gabola is not a church.