Consecrated anointing oil and water are for sale and cannot be given to parishioners free at Rivers of Living Waters Ministries International. Archbishop Stephen Zondo said there are costs for producing and packaging the blessed water and oil.
He and numerous pastors countrywide were summoned to appear before the Commission for Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Rights Communities for commercialising churches.
The Commission’s chair, Thoko Nonhle Mkhwanazi-Xaluva, previously told The Citizen that pastors must account for commercialising blessed water. But Zondo said he was not commercialising churches. “I am from the streets, I am streetwise. It was not God who said I must sell water.”
The concept of selling water was introduced after the water pollution in Delmas which also affected the Orange Farm community, Zondo maintained.
“The sick people were coming to church and it was very hot. One gentleman said ‘I know how to clean the water’. So they organised the system to clean the water so that people could have clean water … “But to me it was like encouraging people to take pills with juice … To drink water was healthier than any other thing.” The water business is not part of the church, he said.
He added that, “Since we bless everything that comes in church, in the name of the Lord, then the water came and I raised my hands and I said ‘Father bless this water in Jesus name’. People bought the water and they got healed. Now everybody wanted the water, that’s how the business of water started.”
A shop was then registered to sell water because the business is not part of the church, he explained.
Furthermore he said, “It is not a sin to sell it (anointing oil). Even Jesus himself said in Matthew 25 ‘go and buy oil to them that sell it”.
He said the history of anointing oil can be traced back to the Bible. He emphasised Jesus told his disciples to heal the sick, preach and anoint them with oil.
“So now we are living in a sophisticated type of a country. He (Jesus) didn’t tell us where to anoint them. So we have the oil, we pray for the oil and sell it to you. You go and anoint yourself wherever you anoint yourself. If I can buy oil and say come and take it, where will I get money to buy another one tomorrow. But if I want everyone to have it, I must generate some income so that I can have it,” said Zondo.
He said proceeds from the water go to helping the destitute, taking the children to go to school, rebuilding houses and burnt shacks.