“The choir will give us another beautiful song, very short, and then we would ask the Priest Mingle to serve us”. That was Lead Apostle Benjamin Ohene-Saffo calling up a Priest at Tema to support the service. What ensued thereafter was intriguing and thought-provoking.
The choir rises up, Sister Lydia gives the tune, and the choir begins, “All thanks and praises be to God, who by His love…”. Priest Mingle walks up to the altar, waits for the choir to finish and take their seats. The Shepherd and Community Evangelist also walk back to their seats on the side of the altar.
Priest Ransford Mingle takes off his nose mask and begins: “My dear beloved brothers and sisters, today is a very good day for us, that our Lead Apostle is here to serve us, and secondly, because today is our Thanksgiving day.” He continues his sermon, beginning with King David’s quote to Arauna, in 2 Samuel 24, that “…No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God with that which costs me nothing.” David had the right to accept a gift from Arauna and offer as an offering to God, but no, he chose to pay for the gift at a cost of 50 pieces of silver, placing an expensive value on his offering.
Priest Mingle continued: “When you read Malachi 3:8, God asked a question: ‘Will you rob God? Yet you rob Me…in tithes and offerings.’ We have not given God what is due Him. The fact is that we do not even plan towards Thanksgiving and Sunday offertory.” The Priest continued to build his sermon: “In Malachi 3:10, the Lord said: ‘“Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,” Says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing, that there will not be room enough to receive it.”
Preaching further, he said: “…But we do not need to test our God, because He is the one who gives us. What we give to God, shows our appreciation for God…”
After the service, during the love feast by the Sunday School, I drew closer to Priest Mingle and asked: “Oko (as I affectionately call him. We grew up together in Sunday School at Osu, and now serving together at Tema), where did you get this scripture from Malachi. I have never come across it. And it is a very sobering message?”
Priest Mingle giggled and responded: “Junior, the first time I read this scripture I was speechless. I was reflecting on the text for Thanksgiving when I had this inkling within me to open to Malachi 3. I did. I began to read from verse 1. When I got to verse 8, I startled. I asked myself, ‘How can anyone rob God?’ I read verse 9 and felt so sorry; I have been drawing curses onto myself all this while, thinking I’m doing fine with my offerings.”
Then he shared an interaction he had with his wife that morning: “I gave the scripture to my wife, and as she read, I could see her countenance evolving into a remorseful person. I just smiled and asked her why. She admitted that she has decided to increase her Thanksgiving offering, because she felt she could do much better.”
“Junior, it is serious.”, Priest Mingle commented. I, pensive and following, nodded in approval. “I told my wife that if only the members could know this scripture, maybe they would give much more to help the church. But you know something, just before my wife and I got to church, I confessed to her that I have a strong feeling the Lead Apostle will call me to serve.’ So when the Lead Apostle called my name, I knew that the message of Malachi 3:8-10 was given to me to share with the congregation.”
“Photographer, photographer!” I heard Priest Tetteh calling (he likes to tease me sometimes), to prompt me that the Lead Apostle would be leaving shortly. I excused myself from Priest Mingle, picked up my camera and quickly ran to the Lead Apostle to hint him of our photoshoot requests.
Later in quietness of the day, I asked myself: “Am I robbing God? Am I doing enough?” But almost immediately, an answer was whispered into my heart: “We are not asking you to give the Church all your money or resources. However, give wholeheartedly, give the Lord the best of what you have and know you can give. Sacrifice the best of you and your resources and appreciate everything He has done and continues to do for you no matter the situation; do all of these in word and deed.” I felt a sudden peace and calm thereafter, I will keep striving.
The Lead Apostle in his brief commentary on Priest Mingle’s message, shared an unfortunate but true perception: “In the New Apostolic Church, here in Ghana, there is this idea that the Church does not need our money. But there is one thing that we forget, my brethren, that the Lord God loves a cheerful giver, and if you give onto the Father in heaven, definitely the Lord will bless you!”
Well, back to you, my dear brother or sister, are you robbing God?