MANILA (PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A South African church has come under fire after its pastor "resurrected" a "dead" man.
The video of the supposed resurrection was shared all over social media and showed Mr Alph Lukau, a pastor of Alleluia International Ministries in Kramerville, Sandton, South Africa, standing over the "dead" man.
The "dead" man, named Elliot, was wearing a white suit and was lying inside a coffin with his mouth open. The video, shared on Twitter by a Chief Erican (@EricanSA) on Monday (Feb 25), showed how the alleged resurrection happened.
On his Twitter account, the pastor wrote on Sunday (Feb 24) : "A dead man came back to LIFE in this service. Oh God take Your glory". The tweet has a picture of him standing by the coffin with Eliot inside, and later after the man was "resurrected".
In the video, Mr Lukau told the audience that Elliot had been dead since last Friday, and was in the mortuary. He then addressed the motionless Elliot and waved his hand in front of his face.
"Lift your hands up, lift your hands up," Mr Lukau told the congregation before speaking in tongues.
He then placed his hands over Elliot and appeared to be trying to bring him back to life. Elliot eventually sat up from the coffin, his mouth open, amid loud cheers from the people.
The video has since earned criticism, with three separate funeral parlours breaking their silence for being duped into the church's scheme.
Kings and Queens Real Funerals took to its official Facebook page on Tuesday, where a joint press statement with funeral parlours Black Phoenix and Kingdom Blue was delivered by company lawyer Prince Mafu.
Mr Mafu shared that the three funeral parlours "vehemently distance themselves" from the social media events that recently took place.
"The funeral parlours were used individually and separately through various forms of misrepresentations to suit a particular outcome which at the time was unknown to the funeral parlours," Mr Mafu said in the video.
The church apparently approached Kingdom Blue for the purpose of acquiring a coffin, while they used stickers of Black Phoenix to brand a private car. The car was then used to misrepresent it to Kings and Queens "for purposes of acquiring transport of the body to the rural areas".
"It is with regret that the outcome of such a plot or scheme has obviously affected our reputation as service providers, our valued clients, and the general public," Mr Mafu said. "We wish to reiterate the message that we remain professional and legitimate in our operations."
He also added that the events from the weekend have since been reported to the authorities for further investigation.
Meanwhile, the Alleluia International Ministries changed their tune following the backlash, according to The Sowetan Live news site on Tuesday. In its narration, Elliot arrived at the church gate alive and kicking inside the coffin.
Church minister Busi Gaca and pastor Rochelle Kombou said the hearse driver ran off when he heard noises from the coffin.
"As soon as they got here, they started hearing movement coming from the coffin," Ms Kombou said in the report. "And you know (in) our culture, if a person is dead and you start hearing movement, people get scared."
They also said that Elliot was already breathing when "man of God" pastor Lukau came to him.
"It was not a resurrection miracle; we are saying the testimony was completed by the one who is chosen to do what he does," she added.
"These miracles of healing and deliverance were not an unusual sight at the church."
Alleluia International Ministries has since defended Mr Lukau, saying the pastor had acknowledged during the service that the man in the coffin was already breathing before the so-called "resurrection".
The church said in a Facebook post on Thursday (Feb 27) that the pastor had declared that the "resurrection" should be verified by interviewing the deceased’s doctor and the mortuary.
The church also criticised the media for publishing what it says was biased information and not seeking clarity from the church.