By Mike Ebonugwo
The Lagos commercial bus had barely left the park when a voice with strong American accent suddenly and repeatedly shouted, â€œpraise the Lord!â€. And having obtained the desired chorus of, Amen! urged all present in the bus(except the driver) to bow their heads in prayer.
There was momentary hesitation as many curious passengers immediately began to turn obviously to identify the owner of the â€˜Americanâ€™ voice which incidentally belonged to a gentle man in red blazers with trousers and shoes to match. Some of the passengers also did not fail to notice that the preacher had his hair set and retouched, which gave him a feminine look.
After the prayer in which the preacher prophesied a lot of blessings on his listeners, he began to preach his message for the day.Â It was a message that was delivered with a lot of passion and conviction, a reason for which most of the passengers listened with rapt attention and enthusiastically chorused Amen! where appropriate.
So moved were they that when the preacher began to share out envelopes, urging them to sow generously in his ministry so that God will abundantly bless them, many readily accepted the envelopes and were only too glad to â€˜sowâ€™ as required so that they will not miss their own share of the promised heavenly blessings. After collecting the envelopes and praying over them, the preacher offered parting words of blessing and exhortation before disembarking from the bus.
But no sooner had the preacher disembarked than a passenger, by name Obinna, complained aloud about what he described as the commercialisation of the word of God by some people â€œmasquerading as men of Godâ€. Referring to the recently departed preacher, he said:
â€œLook at that man now. He just entered this bus with one purpose in mind: To use the word of God to deceive us so that we will give him money. And he has succeeded because almost everybody in this bus gave him money. And as he has come down now he will go back to IkotunÂ to board another bus so that he can continue where he stopped with us and by the end of the day he would have made a lot of moneyâ€.
Another passenger sitting directly behind him took it up from there. â€œWhen I even saw his jerry-curled hair I wondered how he can be a true man of God. But then Iâ€™m not surprised. Many of todayâ€™s so-called preachers dress anyhow and even plait their hair like women, the way some musicians and footballers do these days.
Some of them go as far as wearing ear rings. And yet they call themselves preachers and expect people to listen to them and even believe what they are saying. I can never fall mugu to such fake preachers,â€ declared the passenger by name Nnamdi.
But a lady passenger in the bus did not take kindly to the comment and stated thus: â€œYou donâ€™t have to talk like that. In any case, who are you to judge? Itâ€™s only God who knows whoâ€™s a real preacher and a fake preacher. And since weâ€™re not in a position to judge, what is expected of us is to listen to the word, no matter who is preaching it, and act accordingly.
Critising a preacher on account of his appearance will not please Godâ€.
A fellow passenger by name Mike immediately concurred, adding: â€œThe Bible says we should worship God by faith and not by sight. The most important thing is that the man preached the truth according to the Bible and that is why many of us in this bus responded very well to him. He has the message and that is what moved us.
That is why I donâ€™t regret the money I gave him. So, his appearance should not bother us. In any case, itâ€™s possible that he has lived in America for many years. And you can confirm that from his accentâ€.
But Nnamdi quickly responded: â€œAbeg forget that thing. Which America him go? These days you donâ€™t have to go to America to speak American slang. I know one guy in Alaba that speaks in the same way, meanwhile, he has not been to Americaâ€. This sent the other passengers into laughter.