By: Romeo Adzah Dowokpor
The preaching of the gospel in the streets of the country, especially in the capital Accra and Kumasi has been with us as a people for so many years now. To many a Christian, it is an expression in fulfillment of the Great Commission sanctioned by their Saviour Jesus which enjoins every believer to spread the gospel to all part of the world to win souls for him.
This spiritual mandate is being abused by preachers who have mounted huge speakers occupying every corner of the cities doing what they do best: screaming to the heavens with piercing noise emanating from those speakers most of which are taller than the world’s tallest man Sultan Kösen.
The word of God which is supposed to bring healing, transformation and comfort to man has now been turned into a nuisance with the potency of breaking the eardrums of fellow believers and particularly unbelievers who are the targeted recipients of these messages.
My experience every weekday on my way to work through Kaneshie, Accra, has been one of repulsion at the sight of these preachers who have sworn to cast out every demon in all pedestrians and their divine abilities to reverse every curse that has been imposed on them dating back to their first and 7.5th generations. But all these promises and declarations come at a cost: you must pay, l mean you must give offertory to support their work.
They tell you about how your obedience to giving to support their work will mean having your marital problems including infertility solved; how God will deliver you from that terrible accident the devil has plotted against you and your family; how you will become more brilliant as a student; how your small table business will blossom overnight into a multi-million dollar (not cedi) enterprise etc.
So, it is the normal phenomenon of inducing fear into people and inflicting a psychological response of giving to their proviso for blessings and breakthroughs or risk being consumed by the wicked machinations of the devil that only comes to steal, kill and destroy according to the Bible. Worship and praise songs from some of the finest local gospel musicians are played before and during the mini-church services on the streets of Accra. All these are manifested in a deafening noise.
Receiving God’s words, healing and blessings at the expense of breaking your eardrums and the laws of Ghana is no big a deal to many. As usual, due to our religious nature as a people, some of these obvious indiscipline and outright extortion of monies by these mobile preachers are rather overlooked and regrettably encouraged.
The (Abatement of Noise) By-law 1995 prohibits the making of noise in the capital. The Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) with this authority is expected to restrict the sale of records and recorded music, noise emanating from night clubs, drinking bars, religious services and from other sources which serve as nuisance to the general public. Furthermore, according to the Ghana Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Act, of 1994 (Act 490), the permissible noise level during the day and night with commercial or industrial activities is 60 and 55 decibels respectively.
Noise pollution has a very serious health threat that can damage the hair cells in the inner ear causing a permanent hearing impairment to its victims when they are exposed to continuous noise pollution above 85 decibels over time. It is either these mobile preachers are very much aware of these laws and have chosen to break them with impunity expecting the grace of God to take care of it as is the case of their sins or they are very ignorant of the fact that their blaring speakers can cause health implications to their would-be recipients of the gospel.
This is the very reason why l think they need deliverance; they must be exorcised. Just as deliverance services are organized in some churches to cast away perceived demons and spirits from congregants, they (mobile preachers) seriously need deliverance from the demons of indiscipline and ignorance. The AMA recently did a decongestion exercise in the capital sacking all the street hawkers and those who have turned our streets into markets where items ranging from toiletries, food, electronic gadgets, dogs and what have you are sold. Their activities were in contravention of AMA Street Hawking Bye-Law 2011; but these mobile preachers are still seen around preaching all over the place. Why is the AMA giving them a preferential treatment? They must be rid of our streets with immediate effect. The monies they have made out of the daily collections from unsuspecting people in their continuous break of the law are enough.
When voices like mine are heard speaking against some of these negative practices in this part of the world especially on issues of religion, the immediate tag of atheist, unbelievers and backsliders are placed on our foreheads. We often become subjects of condemnation and attacks of all kinds with some even cursing and praying against us for rising up to speak against wrongs in our society being committed under the veil of religion. As a believer and a Christian for that matter, l very much believe in the Great Commission which imposes a responsibility on me to take the gospel to all the corners of the earth. In fact, if l had my own way; l would have been in London preaching the gospel (preaching with economic benefits of course) or in the Chinese village of Zhangmanzhai where Christianity is almost non-existent which comes at the risk of my life due to their persecutions. But truth is, there are a lot more souls yet to be won for Christ in Ghana and even in my household, so why border?.
What l am against, however, is the preaching of the word of God at the expense of the very laws we have enacted as a country to maintain order and tranquility. We are not in a failed state where everyone does what they please in anyway. We derive our citizenship from this country called Ghana, it is therefore incumbent on us to respect and obey the very laws that govern this country. Indiscipline has taken over this country in all facets of life and those who profess to be working for God in spreading the gospel must be the last to be engaged in any form of it. In the house of God there is order and discipline.
Another worrying trend is the preaching of the gospel in buses and as usual the screams and the demand for monies at the end of it all. And who dare you to complain as a passenger on board such a bus? The unanimous murmurings and sometimes the open rebuke one gets from the rest of the passengers is intimidating enough ‘to put the fear of God in you’.
Most often, while the bus is in motion, it suddenly turns into a church hall where passengers sing aloud in worship and praise to God with some even speaking in tongues. Whether you didn’t catch enough sleep the previous night and decided to take a nap or learning some few notes in the car before you get to the exam hall is none of their business. You must prove that you are a Christian by joining them to pray, sing, shout a big amen or listen to the word of God with rapt attention. The question l always ask myself is this: how would the reaction of these passengers most of whom are Christians be if a Moslem or a traditionalist pops up in the bus and also starts teaching them the words of the Quran or some incantations respectively? Your guess is as good as mine. How about those who wake you up as early as 3am to remind you on the need to hear the words of salvation or risked being thrown into hell? The sounds of their megaphones are as powerful as the strike of thunder in the wee hours of the dawn. Tell you what, they (megaphones) have the potency of bringing into consciousness a man that has been in coma for 77 days. Why must we do all these in the name of religion and the preaching of the gospel? Funnily enough, the very people who do these things live lives that are in complete contradiction of what they implored on others to do through their ‘imposed’ teachings.
We have a country to build; indiscipline will not help us to get there. Enough of the indiscipline under the umbrella of religion and our attitude of apathy towards some of these negative practices in our society. Let us preach the gospel but in obeisance to the laws of the land and also devoid of exploitation and undue manipulation.