Nigerian Pastor Dies Trying to Walk on Water ‘Like Jesus’ a Likely Hoax

January 15, 2014 Updated: July 18, 2015

An article titled “Nigerian Pastor Tries To Walk On Water Like Jesus, Then Drowns In Front Of His Congregation” is a likely hoax.

The “report” was published on Report Ghana News this week but it was reposted from a Nigerian news site, MJ Celebrity Magazine, earlier this month. Both articles have tens of thousands of “likes” and shares on Facebook.

It claims that “Pastor Franck Kabele, 35, told his congregation that he was capable of reenacting the very miracles of Jesus Christ. He decided to make it clear through way of demonstration on Gabon’s beach in the capital city of Libreville.”

According to the Christian Post, the origin of the story appears to have come from the Scottish Daily Record from 2006, but it appears to be as part of a satirical year-end review.

“A priest drowns in West Africa after trying to demonstrate how Jesus walked on water! Could have been even more tragic, I suppose. At least 5,000 of his mates didn’t starve to death,” the Daily Record year-end review reads. The original URL is not active any more.

Why it was published seven years later on Nigerian and Ghana-based websites is unclear.

UPDATE: According to the Museum of Hoaxes, there appears to have been some short U.K. newspaper reports about a pastor names “Franck Kabele,” saying he died in 2006. However, there were no bylines, no reporter name, and there were no details about the priest or what church he belonged to.

A Reuters story in 1993 was published saying that a minister and students who belong to the Seventh-day Adventist church drowned while trying to walk on water in Tanzania. The Seventh-day Adventist later told Reuters it was incorrect, saying a boat capsized on Tanzania’s Lake Victoria, leading to eight people drowning. They never attempted to “walk on water.”

“The 1993 story about the Tanzanian students and minister drowning must have transformed into an urban legend that circulated in Africa. Details were changed. The students were omitted. The location shifted. But the key detail about a church leader drowning while trying to walk on water remained,” the Museum of Hoaxes reads.