“My brothers and sisters, good morning and welcome on this glorious day God has given!”
My cup of fresh-brewed coffee on the table beside me, I reached for a bagel and snuggled further into the couch’s soft recesses. Watching and listening to evangelist Brother Bantine on television was such an uplifting experience! He was so charismatic, so excited serving God.
As usual, he was seated in a plush royal blue armchair, sipping his first latte of the day. Sister Amy sat nearby, her attractive and sophisticated suit modestly complimentary. My husband, who had passed away a year ago, used to say the pair of them reminded him of strutting peacocks, but I thought them to be God’s humble servants.
This morning Brother Ford, a young preacher called to minister at an inner city dilapidated mission, was sharing. I was appalled at the bare-bones condition of the building and attached medical clinic the cameras slowly scanned.
“Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us dig deep into our hearts, inflaming dormant passions unto good works in His Name. Join me in prayer for this Brother’s destitute ministry. Place your hand on your television screen as we agree together for their financial needs.”
Misty-eyed, I reached for my purse and scribbled out a check for Brother Ford.
“This is my way of witnessing,” I murmured, “giving to God’s ambassadors.”
The program continued with a performance by a Tabernacle Choir, followed by a touching testimony from a newly converted well-known celebrity. It was so moving to see how this evangelist’s ministry had developed into such grand successes for God’s Kingdom. At the program’s end, Brother Bantine pled for financial assistance to keep Glory Road advancing. I decided to send in another substantial gift. I would have to eat sparingly until my next Social Security deposit, but I nonetheless felt holy and blessed for contributing to such a worthy cause.
The doorbell rang. My neighbor, definitely NOT a Believer, wondered if I could baby-sit while she drove to the pharmacy.
“Oh, I’m sorry, dear. I haven’t tended a child for years! Why don’t you try Birdie two doors down?”
Besides, I didn’t want to miss Glory Road’s afternoon program scheduled in another hour. It was highlighting Brother Bantine’s latest trip to The Holy Land and I longed to experience where Jesus walked, even if it was via satellite.
I quickly began tackling the mounting stack of dirty dishes so I would be free, when the phone rang, startling me out of my daydreaming. Rinsing the suds off my hands, I grabbed the nearest towel with one hand, adeptly picking up the phone receiver with the other.
“Oh, hi, Dorothy. What’s up? Today? Oh, dear, I know I promised to help out this week, but my schedule is full already. Maybe next week.”
A few minutes later, I turned on the T.V. in anticipation of the live broadcast.
“We are taking this opportunity to announce that “Glory Road” will no longer be aired by this station. A long-standing federal investigation has just revealed that this organization’s founder and president, Rev. Bruce E. Bantine, has been embezzling funds from numerous outreach programs as well as accruing several years of unpaid income taxes—to the tune of over three million dollars . . .”
Following this bulletin was an expose of Bantine’s opulent lifestyle in detailed video, including his private jet, a state-of-the-art yacht, and TWO million-dollar residences.
I was stunned! I had been deceived while a hoaxer had bilked thousands of people and me out of our money in the name of the Lord.
“How COULD he?” I complained to God. “How could he piously smile into that camera every day, preaching about Your love, all the while stealing?”
And as I prayed, a voice down deep in my heart answered,
“How could YOU, my daughter?”
As I searched my soul, I saw empty promises I had made. I felt God’s disappointment in my self-gratifying sacrifice to the flamboyant, ignoring what I felt to be less worthy. I saw myself through God’s eyes, and I was ashamed. I remembered how Jesus had worked His miracles among the least, poorest and most wretched of humanity and He was GOD! How could I do any less? I cried, repenting, and asked for His help to change my wrong attitudes.
“Hello, Dorothy? I was wondering if you still needed someone at the mission supper tonight. I just had an opening in my schedule . . .”
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