Opinion | Apr 5, 2017

Professional Street Beggars, Or Preachers of the Gospel?

It is 5:15 am by my wrist watch. Akwasi, who calls himself Rev. Dr. Owusu Obempeh, is already at Kasoa lorry station. He wears a Chinese imported suit with a nice white attire probably to match his white shoe. His bow tie looks unusual, weird and absolutely absurd; notwithstanding, self-acclaimed Rev. Obempeh would hardly take his sacred book without his bow tie. Maybe to distinguish himself from the ordinary man or the common street beggar.

In less than 10 minutes, Rev. Obempeh machines are ready for open church to begin. “Hello! Testing mic! ‘Gad’ is good!” He begins with a local gospel song, worship song to be precise. It didn’t take a minute when the open church preacher had finished with his worship. He does this every dawn. His continuous presence at the lorry station, however, makes some market women and drivers wonder if he does have a place to lay his head.

These preachers often strategically position themselves in such a way that enables them to access the crowd for their diabolical intent. They are mostly found along the streets where you have a cluster of passersby, lorry stations, markets et cetera.

Luke 6:38 happens to be Akwasi most favorite scripture. It says, “Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” For whatever reasons he chooses such a verse over numerous verses in the ‘Holy Book’ to begin his service, only the self-acclaimed prophet knows.

The Bible offers more than 500 verses on prayer, fewer than 500 verses on faith, and more than 2,000 verses on money. In fact, 15 percent of everything Jesus ever taught was on the topic of money and possessions — more than His teachings on heaven and hell combined. It is therefore not for nothing that these broad day light robbers have taken captive the name of Jesus to exploit and rob from gullible Christians and passersby their coins without any iota of shame.

For self-acclaimed preachers such as Akwasi, preaching the gospel isn’t a ‘divine calling’ to win souls, but a gainful employment. His preaching tells it all. Professional Street begging is his craft, something he intends to do the rest of his life. After all, over 2000 verses of Jesus’ teachings were about money and possessions.

Whereas some use propaganda techniques to woo their potential victims, others have devised new forms of direct marketing, selling all kinds of black magic in the form of soap, oil, anointed water et cetera, which they claim have some miraculous healing and money doubling powers.

What is worrying, however, is the rapid nature of their growth and how the vulnerable in society, especially, women, the poor and unemployed graduates (who are supposed to know better) patronize their services.

Many of these self-acclaimed prophets, who probably have not been called by God nor have any formal training in the things of God, go about misinterpreting the scriptures to satisfy their lust.

The million cedi question is what do these charlatans do with all the monies they gather from their gullible daily contributors?

Giving per the scripture is to freely transfer possession of (something) to (someone). It is an internal influence, an urge from within that is done without coercion for a worthy course.

Street preachers, though most of them lack formal education, have a specific craft and skill for collecting coins from their victims. Or, probably, Christians are too busy or lazy to read their bibles, thereby end up being victims of deceit and coercion.

A servant of God is expected to preach salvation to the lost ones. In fact, their major role is to disseminate God’s message across the globe. Of course, preachers need money to enable them carry out their mission, no wonder tithes and collections were taken in the olden days to facilitate the dissemination of the good news.

Sadly, modern day self-acclaimed prophets and men of God have taken advantage of this and are milking the vulnerable in society dry of their assets. It is not uncommon to see these so called men of God ‘littered’ everywhere in our towns and villages exploiting the vulnerable to their own merit. What is even frightening is the fact that most of these diabolical activities contrary to scripture are taking place right in our place of worship. They panhandle from coins to paper. Those who can afford are offered several hours of unintelligible prayers; whereas, those who can’t afford are humiliated right in front of everybody. The rich are offered first class seats in the front row and poor pushed outside the church walls. At least one thing is obvious, professional beggars taking advantage of the poor for self-aggrandizement. “None of you should be looking out for your own interests, but for the interests of others.” Scripture advises us.

It is high time Christians took the study of Scriptures serious just like the Berean Christians did in Acts 17:11. “Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” They critically examined the scriptures in order not to fall into the traps of these false, unemployed prophets.

The Christian Council, as well as other recognized organizations committed to upholding the unadulterated teachings of Christ, must also wake up from their slumber and ensure that these charlatans are exposed.

Again, the city authorities must put in place the right measures may be, enact bylaws to regulate the activities of this nonsense. Sometimes the noise these charlatans produce is so annoying. This is unacceptable!

“When a lizard dwells along the banks of a river for too long, it harbors the feeling of being a crocodile.”- Nigerian Proverb. The fact that you carry bibles and microphones on the streets, it does not necessary makes you a man of GOD. Probably what distinguishes these so-called men of God from the common street beggars is the suit the latter wears.

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