"Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’" - Matthew 7:22-23

Last Friday while I was coming back by city bus from town to home there was a roving preacher inside the bus. In fact his name and phone number was posted in a standing glassboard just behind the driver's seat. It seems he had the consent of the bus company to preach on that bus. He introduced himself as "Brother Sere" pointing his finger to the board. That is one level of boosting our confidence in his genuinity. I changed his name for his privacy. He was speaking in mixed language, native and English. He greeted us and requested to wave our hands as a sign of greeting him back. Very few people raise our hands and wave. Then he demanded again we could raise our hands and wave for Jesus. Again very few people raise our hands and wave. Then before he began to preach he said let's pray and he began to pray. When he finished praying he said "Amen!" and in return he was expected to hear our "Amen". Again very few "Amen". And he repeatedly said "Amen" in order to hear many "Amen", but to no avail. It was such uncomfortable moment both for him and for us, except those few who took it as entertainment and laughed. Finally I had to alight while he was preaching because I arrived to my destination.

Ideally we all should have a hunger to hear the word of God. That is the bread of life: " 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God." Specially for me as I came from Eritrea, which is among the top 10 countries in the world in religious persecution, it is a great wonder and excitement to see believers preaching in public freely. When I first came to this country it was a kind of a miracle for me to see Bible verses written in public transport vehicles. At that time the natives were very welcoming to street and city bus preachers. In fact one time a friend of mine, who came from Eritrea and who was not that much into the faith, thought the passengers could had been hostile to the preacher whom he saw in the bus and he was so ashamed on behalf of that preacher till he saw people were responding enthusiastically to the preacher's message and also giving their offering in a joyful heart.

But now things are so much changed. Deception is everywhere most importantly in the Christian circle. Churches became fertile grounds for fraudsters. Conmen are not afraid to use the title "Pastor, Apostle, Prophet" and swindle God's flock in the name of Jesus. The name of Jesus becomes a hypnotizing tool. Crooks are using it to hoodwink God's people. They know that the name of Jesus is the most revered name in the Christian fraternity, so they used it as our achilles heel. No Wonder our vulnerability is our greatest strength; and our greatest strength is our vulnerability.

In consequence people are tired of manipulation in the name of God. They do not know whom to believe or not. The wheat and the weed; the original and the fake are so much mixed up! And as long us there is desperation crooks will always be there to take advantage of our miseries. However the most distressing thing in this whole scenario is deception becomes a stumbling block for many to come to the kingdom of God. And as for us we can not afford to live in a gullible attitude, we must know that it is okey to be suspicious and investigate. The wisdom of the time calls us aloud in the streets that, "We should be more cunning as serpents than to be innocent as doves in our daily transactions."

Love and blessings

Brehane-meskel Araya