About twice a year, this missionary comes to my home church in Chambersburg. Lets just say that his name is Behrooz. Ever since I was a little boy, I get this weird feeling every time Behrooz gets up on the stage. This mysterious feeling can be explained by a simple notion: I think that the man is a shyster … a con man … a thief … a swindler … an embezzler!
If you have ever seen “The Music Man”, you know the story of Harold Hill, another con man. From Wikipedia, “’Professor’ Harold Hill travels from town to town, taking pre-paid orders for musical instruments and uniforms, claiming that he will teach youngsters to play and form a town band” but plans to skip town after he gets the money.
This is what I have always fantasized Behrooz does to make his living. I imagine him setting up a bunch of under-paid Indian people on a soundstage in Southern California and telling them to act like they’re poor and destitute while he shoots low-quality video footage and takes really stupid looking pictures that are supposed to tug at people’s heart-strings.
I imagine that Behrooz is a born and bred American with no natural accent. I imagine that he gets up on the stage and starts speaking in an excellently perfected Indian accent, telling us about the poor women that are brought to the “sewing center” and given a new life. He gives a plea for money that will go to (with Indian accent) “vuying new zo-ing ma-zheanes and vund a new wideo CAM-ra.”
When Behrooz leaves church, he hops into his junker of a car and goes to a special place where he is able to deposit his earnings from the previous church into his Swiss Bank Account, which he draws from frequently at his leisure. He flies home to Southern California to his huge house which overlooks a vineyard where concord grapes grow to support the winery which he built from the ground-up using the money he had received from offerings at churches all across the United States.
I highly doubt that this is the case, but this is what passes through my head every time he gets on the stage. Why? I have no clue. Maybe it’s because all the pictures of him and his family look so comical! I mean, they look so happily placid and resigned to their lifestyle. It is absolutely hilarious to see! I wish I could find a picture, but, alas, I can not.
So watch out … anybody can be a con man and, even more importantly, anybody can be conned.