Thu 12 Aug 2004
Archbishop's 'Miracle Babies' Raise Child Trafficking Fears
By Helen William, PA News
A disturbing world in which a religious guru convinces British women they are pregnant by God with a “miracle baby” was exposed today in a radio investigation.
The claims prompted fears of child exploitation and baby trafficking.
Both the Church of England and the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology have called on the Metropolitan Police to investigate the claims involving members of one of Britain’s fastest growing Evangelical churches – The Gilbert Deya Ministries.
Its head, the self-styled Archbishop Gilbert Deya, pronounces the women worshippers as pregnant “by Jesus”, according to the BBC Radio 4’s Face the Facts investigation.
They then travel to Archbishop Deya’s Kenyan homeland where they apparently give birth to babies within days in backstreet clinics in the slums of Nairobi.
British authorities have already taken one of these so called “miracle” babies into care after tests revealed its DNA did not match either of its supposed parents. Later its Kenyan birth certificate was found to be a forgery, according to the programme.
Dominic Walker, the Bishop of Monmouth and the Church of England’s spokesman on deliverance, said: “Charismatic church leaders are very powerful. And they can abuse that power.
“I believe in miracles but with the DNA evidence I don’t believe these are miracle children.
“I think some sort of baby trafficking is going on and it needs an urgent police investigation to get to the bottom of it.
Medical evidence clearly showed that these women were not pregnant, according to Consultant Patrick O’Brien, from the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, who feared the pronouncements were exploiting would-be parents.
He said: “Childless couples are very vulnerable and so desperate that they would believe virtually anything. These are not miracle children but someone else’s children and the authorities should find out whose.”
There are 36,000 members of The Gilbert Deya Ministries in Britain which also boasts branches in Europe, Africa and Asia.
Archbishop Deya has been at the centre of controversy before when he was investigated in 2000 for allegedly exorcising demons from children.
But he remains unfazed by fears, prompted by the DNA evidence, that the “miracle” births are a scam.
He told the programme: “The ‘miracle babies’ which are happening now in our ministry is beyond a human imagination. It’s not something that I can say I can explain because they are of God and things of God cannot be explained by human beings.”
His wife Mary describes the children as a “holy ghost baby” that “came through prayer, that was why the doctor could not find” them.
Archbishop Deya claims to have helped post menopausal women give birth – including a 56 year-old who has had 13 “miracle” babies in three years.
Worshippers cannot be shifted in their belief of the miracle babies are a genuine gift from God.
Funds have been flooding into the church in response to the so-called “miracles”.
Members, many of them middle class and well educated, are expected to contribute a tenth of their income. A new church building, worth a million pounds, is being built in south east London
Charles Nyeko, a product designer, is the proud father of Daniel whom he describes as a “miracle I never thought I’d see in my lifetime”.
Daniel was born in Kenya last month but just two months earlier scans carried out by British doctors confirmed that his wife Miriam was not pregnant.
“Now we have the proof,” he told the programme, “a miracle from God. We don’t understand how it has happened, we are just grateful that it has.”
Kenyan authorities are now insisting on DNA tests to establish whether Daniel is really the Nyeko’s child.
Mr Nyeko hopes Daniel will be allowed to travel to Britain, but does not know when his wife might return.
He said: “Miriam is in a terrible state with no idea what will happen and we don’t know what to think”.
The church was registered as a charity in Britain in 1996.
The Charity Commission launched an investigation in 2000 after worried relatives of church-goers complained of their increasingly bizarre behaviour.
Archbishop Deya was the subject of investigation by child protection bodies after conducting exorcisms on young children.
The BBC has agreed to had over its findings to the Metropolitan Police.
Face the Facts is on BBC Radio 4 on August 13 at 12.30pm