THE MAKING OF A CULT LEADER
Roger was not the kind of an ordinary rabble rouser. He was a decent communications graduate who became a radio broadcaster and eventually would be converted into an activist during the period of discontent. This was in the late 70s. His radio broadcast could be heard everywhere and he was successful since he gained a lot of listeners and adherents in the process. He was not only announcing to the world that he lost his faith in government, he would also promote a way of life without faith.
He continued with his tirade against establishment until complaints were filed and charges, one after another were slapped on him. No amount of pleadings could convince the courts on his innocence. After a few of trial, he found himself in the penitentiary, lumped along with suspected and confirmed rebels serving time for violating laws against national security.
In the Penitentiary
His early months under incarceration were purely shocking. He could not get any peace of mind. The dormitory where he was assigned was congested to the brim. There was no privacy, the smell was filth incarnate and everyone was guarding their respective butts for virginity’s sake.
He was however lucky to have landed where principled rebels were confined. These were the fanatical group, the non conformists, the pure insurgents, social dissenters. They were arrested in their mountain lair planning a revolutionary take over of government. They studied a lot during their waking time. And they never wanted any institutional assistance at all. In their collective mind, if they survived the harshness of the unforgiving treachery of the jungle, institutional regimen was picnic.
Here Roger found his common ground with this crowd. He would sit down with them to learn the philosophy of their resistance; here he would get a close up of their defiance. But what made Roger intrigued with his new found association was their adeptness in curing themselves. They did not bother the institution if one or several of them would get sick. They can even conduct surgery among themselves. After all, they can treat anyone with fatal gun shot wound and medicate the patient until he achieves full recovery.
He would learn the mechanics of acupuncture, something he knew nothing before. He shunned needles and hospitals but in that situation, he must have to love the steel and its invasive capability. After all, from what he had observed, those who underwent acupuncture were instantly healed. This was one skill he would rather learn with competency. Not because he wanted to be a practitioner of the science but only for his personal upkeep.
While into the therapeutic regime, he found time reviewing his faith. He had none before and he thought that he might have overseen something which he might consider. He began reading the gospels and treated it as his own diary. There were passages which respond to his quest for philosophical answers. From that time on, his evenings would be dedicated to catechism although in the beginning he was feeling awkward and uncomfortable.
Days passed, weeks progressed into months and years. He never wished to be released anymore. He knew that politics would eventually change. He would rather wait for that day, instead of crying his heart out for nothing.
Days of Preaching
One fine day, he thought of sharing what he had learned. He would quote directly from the good book anything that would be referred to him. He could see the radiance from the face of those whom he would counsel. He would also be that competent medical man whenever he would fancy treating a prisoner from another cell block using his proficiency in acupuncture. He went around preaching his new found faith. He went around also curing the sickly among the throng. He would even combine the two skills he gained knowledge if only to project to his fellow prisoners that he was the savior himself. And he never lacked notice. As a matter of fact, he even gained a number of fanatical followers.
He would volunteer to the prison hospital as attendant to gain access to those who are extremely sick. He wanted to prove that his acupuncture can also address the severely inflicted. He would proceed from one station and ward to another and explain to the patients the healing power of believing. His first week was full of doubting responses. It was a challenging effort to overcome the skepticism and distrust of those at sick bay. He met a lot of suspicions and mistrust. The people here after all were hopelessly helpless, desperate, distracted at most despondent. They were not only confined in the hospital, they were also serving time in a prison camp.
Challenge to Faith
He sought permit from his medical supervisors if he could be allowed to assist in the ward of those dismally afflicted. These were prisoners who were bed ridden and wheel chair bound. He was permitted and there he began a ministry where the entire prison community would be virtually converted.
He silently moved inside the ward and began to pray in whisper just to catch the attention of the nearest patient. After he was noticed, he started to move in the middle of the ward with an old worn out book raised above his head. He proclaimed, “Anyone who believes in the word from this book will be cured!” He drew the interest of the patients although the rest would try to consult the nearest patient. He focused his interest on an elderly patient in wheel chair and uttered “Old man, how long are you in that condition. You must be paralyzed since birth!”
There were whispers and mutterings, others amused. “I am paralyzed…. since two years ago. I just woke up feeling numb…. and from that time on….. I could… no longer stand.” came a haltingly response.
Confidence in his Faith
Roger adroitly pulled out four acupuncture needles from his book, went near the paralytic, knelt down while introducing the pins as if waving and swaying ritualistically. He stood up after a few seconds, walked backward facing the old man and after a few paces, reaching the middle of the ward, he echoed, “Old man, if you believe in me you are already cured!” There were hustling and some patients could be seen grinning ear to ear. In Roger’s mind, he knew the exact meridian points of persons suffering from temporary paralysis. He knew he can make the person stand and walk.
Roger again intoned, “If in your heart you believe, stand up!” The old man struggled and stood up. Other patients, the ambulatory ones, went to his succor but stopped at the sight of their peer slowly rising up.
“Old friend” Roger continued, “never for a minute discard your belief. Walk towards me. You can do it.” The old man lifted his left distended foot. He leaned a bit and began to move the other foot. “Go ahead, don’t mind the world. Walk towards me!” And the old man did just that, walked towards Roger until both hugged each other. The entire ward was astounded, stunned as a matter of fact. They could not believe what transpired in their midst. Roger cleverly removed the needles from the legs of the old man and decreed that faith not him that worked miracle for the old man. Roger knew that his culture was personalistic. The people would always ascribe to a person even if it was only a sleight of hand that did the trick.
Spreading like wildfire
News spread far and wide in the prison community. His followers multiplied a hundred fold. Gangs were emptied of membership and there was mass conversion. Roger became a saint overnight. Others would even subscribe that Roger was the savior himself.
The entire prison population was primed to take over the chapel renaming it according to what Roger wanted to organize. The families of prisoners quickly transformed. Everyone was proselytized all at once. The fearful community, cowering in anxiety and trepidation became a bustling commune conjured in entreaty and prayers.
Roger that instant not only became a preacher but became the church.
Not only that. On the day, he was released; he was already an established religion!