Ghanaian preacher makes waves in Athens, US
Fred Vehe says he has walked on streets of gold in the kingdom of heaven. He says he has received messages from God foretelling the current economic crises. He says he hears messages about his parishioners and is a conduit through which God works to help people overcome medical and financial problems.
This, at least, is what Vehe tells members of his congregation, the Christian Worship Assembly in Hartwell. Vehe also leads services at the Classic Center in Athens the second, third, fourth and the occasional fifth Sundays of each month.
Vehe is not what some might think of when they imagine a prophet. He does not wear unusual clothes, he does not talk about the end of the world and he does not yell or pound his fists. He stands in front of his congregation wearing a simple business suit and using handwritten notes to deliver his sermon. As a native of Ghana, he speaks with a strong accent in a deep voice that rarely goes above conversational volume.
Vehe’s preaching style is simple and straightforward, punctuated by occasional clapping, laughing and silent pauses during which members of his congregation shout “hallelujah.”
As a prophet of God, Vehe says, his abilities come through the power of prayer.
“God can show me why people are having problems,” Vehe said. “I pray for them, and the power of God comes upon them.”
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Vehe’s path to becoming a self-proclaimed prophet began when he was a young boy growing up with his mother in Ghana.
On a trip to Mount Aburi for two weeks of fasting and prayer with members of his church, a man of God told Vehe he’d be called to be a prophet.
It wasn’t a surprise. Vehe believed he was destined to be a prophet from his birth.
“I was born in a spirit-filled home,” Vehe said of his childhood with his mother, and the beginning point of his religious life.
But Vehe’s prophetic life did not truly begin until he moved to the United States in 1976. Initially, he worked in New York City as a graphic design artist and studied at the Manhattan Bible Institute. He attended church, but knew he wanted to go somewhere else to begin his own ministry.
It was at this point that he says he received a message from God.
“I prayed for days and days,” Vehe said. “One night, just before I laid down to go to sleep, God spoke to me and said, ‘Georgia.'”
Vehe didn’t know anyone in Georgia, and had to look on a map to find out where it was.
The significance of this message from God came two weeks later when an evangelist from Georgia came to his church and stayed with Vehe at his pastor’s request.
“I knew that God was making a way for me to come down here,” Vehe said.
Shortly thereafter, Vehe left on a train for Georgia with $10 in his pocket.
After preaching for months in small trailers, his ministry grew to the point that he and his parishioners were able in 1987 to purchase 11 acres of land on which he built his current church in Hartwell.
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Many of Vehe’s parishioners claim their lives have been changed in miraculous ways.
Christine Vernon McRae, a caregiver from Elberton, said her bad knees, slipped disc and curvature of the spine were cured through prayer in Vehe’s ministry. “I was healed,” she said.
Gloria Whittenberg, a retired assembly line worker, of Hartwell, said she defeated her addiction to drugs and alcohol with Vehe’s help. “God really has changed my life through this ministry,” Whittenberg said.
And then there’s James Scott, a sanitation employee for Pilgrim’s Pride. He’d been in and out of jail for most of his life. But since joining Vehe’s church last November, his life has changed dramatically, he said.
“God has been revealed to me,” Scott said. “I’ve never been out of jail this long. I got my first job, and I got married.”
Vehe acknowledges that some may be skeptical of his abilities, but he said he is not interested in trying to prove to people that he has any special gifts.
“I do not initiate anything trying to prove that I can do this or that – I don’t go looking for stuff like that,” Vehe said.
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Vehe claims his visions have taken him to the kingdom of heaven, where he observed streets paved with gold leading to a heavenly mansion with tremendous arched doors guarded by angels. He says he returned from his vision with a “heavenly message” to impart to his followers.
“He’s not joking or playing – he’s a man of the Lord,” said Stanley Rucker, who has been a parishioner since 1983. “Ever since I joined, I’ve been blessed spiritually and financially.”
Vehe also said he had a vision several months ago in which he saw President Bush standing outside the World Trade Center in New York. In his vision, he said Bush looked perplexed, was wringing his hands in anxiety and kept repeating “Oh, the economy.”
This, Vehe claims, was a warning from God about the coming global economic crisis.
Vehe also believes he can heal those who are having financial troubles, or suffering from a physical ailment, through prayer and the laying on of hands.
Vehe’s ministry goes beyond the pulpit. He sells two audio CDs entitled “Be Healed” and “Get up Again.” Both detail how prayer may be used to receive healing miracles from God. And he has a DVD entitled “I Walked The Streets of Gold in Heaven,” describing his vision of heaven.
Vehe also has a television broadcast called “Fresh Wind of the Spirit,” airing on both WGGS in Greenville, S.C., and WNEG in Atlanta.
Vehe said he recognizes that his abilities are special, and that he has a responsibility to help those around him.
Everybody’s not a prophet – it’s rare,” Vehe said. “God speaks to the prophet so the prophet can speak to the people.”
Source: Online Athens