When ‘Prophet’ David Owuor started his Repentance and Holiness ministry in the early 2000s in the streets of Nakuru Town, it was easy to dismiss him as a hungry man out to eke out a living in the name of the gospel.
At the time, ‘Prophet’ Owuor ministered while sometimes wearing oversized suits with no fashion flair, with a handful of half-interested bystanders giving him audience.
His message was also precise: “Repent for the Lord is coming”.
“When you do what the Kenyan church is doing, to run to prosperity, to big cars and homes and money, then you drift away from the true gospel of repentance and holiness,” the ‘prophet’ once said.
“If the church is preaching any other gospel which is far from repentance and holiness, if that gospel is about prosperity, that means they are preaching the gospel of the devil, which is bent on lying to the people.”
The ‘prophet’ emphatically said the ministry did not require money. He condemned excesses by the church in Kenya and even called on religious leaders “to release the church to the will of the Holy Spirit”.
Fast-forward to 2019 and this man is now practically unrecognisable, his transformation quite baffling.
From his swanky suits, stylish cars and large entourages, ‘Prophet’ Owuor now enjoys the very trappings of power that have traditionally been a preserve of personages in the top echelons of government.
With his iconic long dreadlocked beard, Dr Owuor is easy to pick out in a crowd, although he is rarely spotted in public.
He shops for clothes at select boutiques in Nairobi, mostly along Kimathi Street.
And whenever he visits his favourite designer shop at Nanak House, the busy street literally grinds to a standstill, as his caravan of magnificent vehicles block the street.
His lynx-eyed security detail of both civilian bodyguards and policemen armed to the teeth seal the entrance of the shop and hover around as Dr Owuor shops, engaging with the attendants while being assisted by his retinue of hands.
This kind of fame is wont to attract attention, admiration and criticism in equal measure. ‘Prophet’ Owour’s activities have not earned him any less of these.
Why his lifestyle oozes excessive grandeur and flash for a man of God instead of humility, the humility he once so fervently preached, is a subject of great controversy.
His life on the fast lane has raised eyebrows on more than one occasion. The source of his riches is as grey as it is debatable.
Members of his church who spoke to the Nation revealed that tithing is not part of the church’s tradition. However, they added that “gifting to the ministry is encouraged”.
Even with this big following, Dr Owuor does not have an online presence on either Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.
His followers are warned that whoever claims to be the prophet on these platforms is “a fraud and a conman”.
His crusades, with his signature gospel of Revelations 16:15 (Prepare the way for the Messiah is coming), are quite unlike anything Kenya has witnessed before.
If it is about streets being scoured clean, healing during his revival meetings that are attended by thousands and prophesies that inspire dread, ‘Prophet’ Owuor’s package is served in epic proportions. He is now a popular phenomenon and a movement as well.
After his three-day meeting in Nakuru on Tuesday this week, Dr Owuor announced to his congregants that he was flying to Mombasa to meet President Uhuru Kenyatta, an indication of his proximity to power.
Before he left for Mombasa, ‘Prophet’ Owuor was escorted to a waiting chopper by an OCPD named only as Okiring, a Chief Inspector Mwangi and an officer of the DCIO.
These men are heard in a video addressing the ‘prophet’ as “my lord”. The chopper was allegedly sent to him by the President
Yet it is the video of his grand entry in Nakuru before the crusade in a large convoy that included police escort and outriders with sirens that, for the first time, triggered tremors within government.
Inspector-General of Police Joseph Boinnet expressed displeasure with senior police officers in Nakuru for authorising “misuse of State vehicles”.
The vehicles have since been detained, as investigations into whether they were issued procedurally continue.
In May 2009, ‘Prophet’ Owuor baptised the then Prime Minister Raila Odinga before announcing that he, the Premier and President Mwai Kibaki, would soon convene a national day of repentance.
And on February 24, 2013, with the March 4 General Election looming, the ‘prophet’ gathered presidential candidates for a national fasting and prayer rally at Uhuru Park.