T.P ELIAS SPEAKS FOR GOD
A grey Audi Q7 pulls over at Cresta Rileys Hotel in Maun and two men alight to open the passenger door. A tall and slender man spotting a shinny suit and long nosed shoes alight from the car.
Things come to a standstill as hotel staff dash from their desk to catch a glimpse of the Man of God who is the General Overseer of Gates of Heaven Networks Church, otherwise known as Saving Grace Church in Maun.
Prophet T.P Elias has become the darling of worshippers who patronise his church in Boseja ward in Maun.
Voice journalist in Maun Daniel Chida had a chat with the prophet to find out what makes him so popular.
Q. Hello Prophet. How are you?
I am blessed, thank you.
Q. Please introduce yourself to our readers?
I am the third born in a family of four (3 boys 1 girl). I was born and bred in Palapye. I am the General Overseer of Gates of Heaven Networks Church which is currently based at Boseja ward in Maun. Gates of Heaven Networks is a faith based organisation with more than 4000 members.
Q. How did you become a Prophet?
It is a calling I received.
Q. How did you realise you were called as a prophet? Did you have any signs to this calling?
In April 2009 a voice came and said it was going to use me to draw people closer to Gates of Heaven and it was a long journey characterised by failure of registration of my church because of working in a rural area. In 2011 I registered but it took a year to be approved.
Q. Where does the name Saving Grace come from?
While preaching way back in Hukuntsi, the Lord spoke to me about how he wants to save his people through his grace. The message we preach is a saving grace and people took that as a church name.
Q. How many branches do you have in and outside Botswana?
We don’t have branches anywhere except in Botswana. Maun branch is the only branch I have.
Q. We mostly have foreign churches in the country while our own pastors cannot establish churches outside the country. Is there any explanation to this?
It truly depends on whether God has sent you to go outside or not. May be most of the churches are just sent to establish locally. Some of these foreign pastors are truly sent here by God.
Q. There are so many Pentecostal churches in the country. Why didn’t you join them instead of establishing your own?
My assignment from God did not include being in an existing church before going out on my own assignment. I might as well ask you why people start their own businesses without joining existing ventures already.
Q. You seem to have a big following, not only in Maun but the rest of the country. How did that happen?
It is more spiritual than physical. God announces Himself no matter how much effort we put in trying to announce him and his presence. How did so many people know about Jesus, Paul and Peter in those days when there was not even a television or radio? It is not by might nor by power, but by the Spirit.
Q. Why are prophets and pastors associated with luxury, shinny suits, jewellery and fancy cars?
I would say it depends on which prophet or pastor one is talking about, sometimes I wonder whether it is wrong for one to live in luxury and why people assume that the life of a pastor must be punctuated by poverty and begging. How does a poor man show you the way to get wealthy? There is nothing wrong about the lifestyle we live as long as it is attained in a Godly manner.
Q. Is it true that you Men of God form your own churches to make money through the name of God?
It is unfortunate that we can never really tell whether someone just wants to make quick money and disappear with it or not. Only time will tell who is genuine and who is false.
Q. Prophets have of late been making news headlines for wrong reasons. How do you stay away from bad publicity?
I always try to make the word of God the standard of my life and being prayerful always because after all every man whether Prophet or not, have their own strengths and weaknesses. You may judge someone today and tomorrow you commit the same mistake.
Q. Some of the prophets are womanisers while at the same time preaching the word of God. Why is that so?
We are all tempted just as Jesus was tempted by Satan. Sometimes we overcome and at times we fail.
Q. Will that not make people to see pastors as conmen?
If indeed it’s like that, those kind of pastors need guidance and prayer, remember that they are also people just like anyone.
Q. There has been a growing trend where churches sell ‘Holy’ water, wrist bands and towels including your own church, why?
The materials that we have are not for sale per say. What we require is just a gift that will facilitate us to continue producing more materials while at the same time supporting the ministry work. To run the affairs of the same gospel is not a joke, it calls for lots of money.
Q. Are you not contravening one of the Chapters in the Bible which says, “Jesus did forbid business operations inside the church?
No. There are no business transactions in church. What people give for the anointed material is thanks giving because if we were to sell these materials, there would be no amount of money enough to buy them.
Q. Looking at your age how does your congregation treat you?
My congregation regards me like a father. I always have a large number of people in my crusades.
Q. What is your relationship with Prophet T.B Joshua?
I do not have any personal relationship with him but I believe we are related as servants of the most high.
Q. Have you visited him? If so share with us about the visit?
I have never visited him in person but spiritually. It’s something that human nature cannot understand. I cannot tell when I will visit him in person.
Q. Can you predict or tell the future?
Q. Tell us about Botswana’s political future then.
This is not the right time and platform to talk about it. God will guide me when the time is right.
Q. Do you screen people at your church?
Well every organisation has its own administration and at our church we have procedures to follow before one gets any kind of help.
Q. Do you charge people for the help they get from your church?
I don’t charge people.
Q. Do you think people go to church to worship or out desperation?
Many go to church when desperate for things while a few really go to worship.
Q. Back to your personal life; have you ever tasted alcohol; got detained in a police cell or suffered from asthma?
I have never been into a police cell although I was almost detained at one point. I drank at an early age and learnt that it wasn’t good for one. Asthma was a condition that I suffered from since birth. But I thank God for healing me.
Q. You used to be a nurse with government. Why did you quit?
I may have resigned from government but it is still my passion. I worked for four years and eight months.
Q. Didn’t you go out of the way and use your powers to save patients or recommending them to your church whilst working as a nurse?
Work always remained work and church a different place.
Q. What is the difference between healing at church and at the hospital?
At the hospital we rely on drugs whereas at church we rely on faith in the finished works of our Lord Jesus Christ, that by His stripes we are healed.
Q. We know that prophets heal people. Why don’t you go to hospitals and heal those bedridden patients?
We don’t heal people but God does. It is through faith that one receives their healing. We do not follow patients but they are the ones to follow us because they need our help. Therefore it is always wise and fair if they come to us unless in exceptional cases.
Q. What challenges are you facing in ministry and what do you think could be the solution?
The challenge is when people try to interpret spiritual matters with their senses. I pray for them to have the knowledge and fear of the Lord.
Q. Many churches now have their own television stations which they use to reach out to the masses, when are you introducing yours?
Television ministry calls for great financial sacrifice but I believe God that someday and at the right time, we will introduce ours.
Q. Apart from being at Church, how do you spend your weekend?
I spend time with the people I live with without doing any church work.
Q. Any last word to our readers?
Love is the only thing that keeps us united with God.
Name (s): Thato Patric Elias
Date of Birth: 12 February 1986
Place of Birth: Palapye
Marital Status: Married to Olorato Elias from Moshupa
Number of kids: 1 boy
Car Driving: Audi Q7, 4.2 Quattro
Favourite hangout: Prayer Mountain
Holiday Destination: Only time will tell, my life is in the hands of God
Favourite Music: Gospel