Traffic light preacher at hand for tetchy Joburg motorists

2015-04-06 16:57
(Adam Wakefield, News24)

(Adam Wakefield, News24)

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Johannesburg - The morning commute into Sandton is its own kind of hell. One malfunctioning traffic light or broken down car in the wrong place spells disaster, while the other side of the road, against the traffic, represents nirvana in comparison.

Straddling this divide, on the corner of Rivonia and Protea roads on a traffic island, stands Cheophilus Mdangayi, 29, a native of East London who has taken up residency on the island since June last year.

Smartly dressed and sporting sunglasses in the bright morning air with a backpack nearby, Cheophilus holds a banner in between two reds sticks that says, “'Thy Kingdom Come'. It's coming soon. Be saved.”

Drivers hoot and give Cheophilus the thumbs up as they gallop along in their steel horses.

Commuters on their daily walk nod their heads in acknowledgement as they pass him, while a little girl, sporting a pink dress and blue backpack, high fives Cheophilus on her way to school.

Cheophilus, who describes himself as a born-again Christian who “received Christ in 2009”, says he was led to this traffic light to preach, to touch people's lives, and help them reconnect with God.

“I was led by the holy spirit because, before the day I came here, I asked the holy spirit to lead me,” he says.

When Cheophilus came to this robot, he knew in his heart that he was in the right position, that it was something he had seen before and that did not condemn him.

“God uses me so much to restore the people's faith and to reconnect people with Christ themselves. So, in that point I was very humbled you know. When you serve God, you know yourself, who are you in Christ. Your mind is becoming much clearer because you sit in his word,” he says.

“I have no place to rest, even a roof over my head, so that made me much more confident in the world, to trust it, because I didn't know anyone, you understand, and I came with 400 bucks here in Johannesburg, R400. I preach this gospel, brother, based on the message that I carry. 'The Kingdom is coming'. That is what the message is, it's all about the message that I carry.”

Cheophilus does not beg or ask for help, with people instead approaching him to assist him where they can, so he can continue preaching and spreading his message.

“Let me tell you something, through standing here there's a certain lady that helps me to go and refresh in Soweto. Each and every week, each and every Friday when I go there, I climb on the bus, I preach even in buses. So much souls that have been warned,” he says with passion.

“So much of people's things have been restored in their lives because of me standing there. They thought, me, maybe I'm just here to beg money, it's one of the ways to beg money, but [I] never even ask anyone, to prove that this message is valid spiritually, it's not from my mind. It's not because of my desire or I don't something to do with my life.

In Cheophilus' view, serving God is something to do, showing that the gospel he preaches is valid and truthful. He's been standing at the traffic light virtually every day for over six months now, and he does not lack anything. What does he mean?

“I don't even ask anyone. God touches a person's heart, and says 'Go and bless my son with something to eat'. I never want, I never lack.”

Cheophilus believes that if it was his own desires that had brought him to the traffic light, he would've suffered. “People are blessing me, buying me bags, buying me clothes, buying me phones, tablets, 'Preacher, you need to collect your things'. That is God.”

What concerns Cheophilus is the suffering that he sees in the world around him. People have lost sight of the things they should truly value, instead accepting greed in their hearts and casting aside self-control.

“The spirit also referred me to Second Timothy, chapter three. Paul writes to Timothy, he says 'In the last days there will be lots of suffering'. People are suffering now, you understand... People will have no self¬control. People have forgotten 'I'm a mother now'.

People are very greedy, there's no self-control, they are killing,” he says.

“People forget one thing. These things that are written in the Bible. They are not going to happen in the Moon. They are not going to happen on Jupiter. They are not going to happen in Mars. They are going to happen here on this Earth, because everything that has a beginning here on this Earth, has an end.”

It is here where the interview ends. Cheophilus picks up his backpack and banner, and walks back to his station on the traffic island. He raises his arms aloft, cooled by the onrushing air of passing cars, sending his message out into the universe.

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