By Jennifer N. Mbunabo
Wednesday, April 1,
His voice was clear
and sharp. Its resonance piercing me deeply, so much, that it lingered in my
ears for long. He must be talking to me. The spirit must have revealed me to
him. I incessantly accused myself.
the foolish things of this world to confound the wise!” Pastor David shrieked,
stooping down the Alter and clamping the microphone. The congregation roused
with excitement. The drummer in the choir beat the drum sporadically and the
pianist fingered the keyboard in a long note. Some members stood and waved
their white handkerchiefs and I heard the man behind me shouting “Ride on
Pastor! You are saying the truth!”
David stood and whirled round the podium, he ran to the end of the Alter, back
and forth. He stopped again and spoke so closely to the microphone. “I said,
God uses the foolish things of this world to confound the wise!” The congregation
went crazy with excitement.
down church, let me land.” He paused. “What did Jesus use to heal the blind man
at the beautiful gate? Spit mixed with mud!”He ran down the podium and into the
crowd. He signaled to the choir and started a song. “I said what did Jesus do
to heal the blind man?”He pointed to the choir and they clung to their standing
microphones. “Spit and mud!” they chorused. Pastor repeated the part of the
song and they responded. There was a frenzy of excitement as the crowd sang along.
After ten minutes of singing the pastor gestured everyone to sit. He climbed up
to the Alter.
book of 2 Kings 5, Elisha told Naaman to wash himself in that dirty river
Jordan seven times so that he would be healed of leprosy. And what did he do after
much grumbling?” He asked no one in particular, as the congregation did not
respond. The sound of the piano played softly. He continued with a roar. “After
he washed himself his leprosy was cured! Halleluyah!” Everybody chorused
halleluyah and waved their hands in the air. Some women stood up and swerved
from left to right before sitting down. The pastor continued. “The book of
proverbs 5 verse 15 says, drink water from thy own cistern, flowing water from
thy own well. Praise the lord!”. And the congregation chorused “halleluyah”.
had become low. The young man sitting beside me nudged me and I looked up at
this is not how we do in this church oh!’He whispered.
at him quizzically. What in the world is this man talking about. He held my
hand and continued. “You must be a new member.”
I did not
know if this was a question or statement of fact. I was stolid.
are never quiet in this church, this is not a cemetery. It is only in a
cemetery that everywhere is quiet”. He was interrupted by an usher- a lady
wearing a net see-through shifon top tucked underneath a bandage skirt. He
nodded and placed his hand over his mouth. I shook my head and looked back at
the usher. She smiled at me and I smiled back and my eyes narrowed down to her
defined waistline and the rhythmic movement of her curved buttocks. I collected
myself and listened to the pastor.
you are a child of the father and you are running from one hospital to another,
because of a small disease-even if it were a big one.” He stared intently and I
felt he was trying to read me. He put his hand in his white laced trouser and
screamed. “O ye of little faith!”
swallowed hard. “There is nothing too big for the lord. The bible says drink
water from their own cistern, flowing water from thy own well! And when you
have a disease you are running up and down meanwhile the answer is within you.”
of my uncle’s words in the past few days. This church is indeed real! I must
change church. I was attending the church for the first time having been
practically dragged here. Angela the usher that came to me a while ago
disturbed me too much that I agreed merely because I had the intention of
dating her. I felt that the closer I got to her, even though pretending I was
interested in her church, the more she would follow me up as one of her new
converts. I met her at the Pharmacy in June 12 shopping complex where I was
dickering for ventolin, augumentin and predisolon tablets.
all these for one person.” She said.
I blew my
nose and turned my face in anger, only to let the anger slip away at the sight
of her. I ran my eyes down her size and breathed hard. She had the most
striking features ever. ‘Yes I am
asthmatic’I said bluntly.
‘Oh I am
so sorry’. She said and lingered on till I bought my drugs. She did not come
out preaching church to me. She started as a friend. I soon realized that we
both attended the same lectures at the 500LT. Two weeks later, when she passed
my hostel on her way to the lecture hall, she smiled at me. I called unto her
in my heart and she replied with a dazzling set of arranged white teeth that I
had never set my eyes on. Did she hear me? She sure could not have because my
heart was not connected to a loudspeaker. Or maybe she was feeling me because
we were meant to be together. The moment she smiled at me, I lost all sense of
reasoning and I shouted” I love you Angelica”. That was the craziest thing I
had done in my entire life. But I did not care. I would do this over and over
again if fate would permit me. I usually saw her with Pastor Ben. She said he
was her fellowship cell leader. I never really got to understand the
relationship after the incident I had with him. I had one hell of a beating
that day. I never knew who told him what
I did. He sure sent two hefty boys to mangle me, and I sustained injuries on my
left arm and both legs which prevented me from attending lectures at school. As
fate would have it, my Angelica came knocking on my door one early morning
three days after the incident.
Joe’ she screamed for me. In my groaning my heart leapt for joy at the sound of
please come in’ I whispered. I knew she could not hear me but I just had to
respond to my craving for her. She walked into my small cubicle all dressed in
a pink turtle neck top with flower patterns and a blue skinny jeans on her
curved hips. She was adorned with a pair of pink dropping earrings. She was
simply amazing. I lay with my mouth wide open staring at this Nigerian goddess.
Was she the daughter of a Greek goddess? Her skin shone like the morning sun,
bright yet dull. What a contrast and a paradox. That was what she really was.
She had the body of Delilah and the face of Genevieve, all in a sixteen year
old. She walked towards me and touched my fore head with her well manicured
hands, I was star struck, I felt she should stay glued to my side and never let
the matter? Why is your face swollen? Did you get yourself in a fight?’ She
said this all in a rush and I did not know what to tell her. Do I tell her that
her father figure Uncle Ben sent his area boys to beat me up because I
expressed my feelings for her? No, that would be a stupid thing to do. It may
drive my Angelica from me. So now what do I tell her?
some thieves attacked me on my way from school after my lectures, they wanted
my phone and I was not ready to give it to them, so I fought with them’
a very foolish thing you did, you could have got yourself killed, all because
of a phone. Anyway since I did not see you in class and I know you to be very
punctual, I felt something must have gone wrong.’
these soft words spoken by her, made me long for her the more. I sure wanted
her to be my girlfriend. She was so damn caring and sensitive. I didn’t know if
this was the right time to say those words. Angelica, please make me a happy
man and be my girl friend or just what? Suffer another beating.
I’ll go and get you some pain relievers, panadol and Ibrufin would do abi?”
She then picked up her black woven bag, hurled it over her shoulder and left. I
waited and waited for her to come back with the drugs but she never did. The
following day she apologized for not coming and said she went on some errands
for her Pastor. That was it!
that incident I was more determined to find out who actually Pastor Ben was.
Angela came to nudge me. She probably thought I was sleeping, but I was not. I
closed my eyes to think of her. I jerked and saw her smile. I felt the hard
stare of someone and I turned and saw Pastor Ben looking at me viciously. I
smiled in return. I will get this girl even if I have to turn into a Pastor.
After all, my neighbor who is in level one is already a Pastor. He laid hands
supposedly on a sick patient and the person got healed instantly. Words got out
on campus that he had the anointing and in a couple of weeks he was ordained a
pastor of the cell meetings. I focused my attention back to the pulpit.
the answer is within you! Quiet everyone. I hear the lord. There is someone
here who has been diagnosed with a terrible ailment- a terminal disease. You
have taken drugs, gone to various hospitals. The lord said I should tell you to
drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well. You are
here listening to the sound of my voice and you are wondering if I am talking
to you. If you believe you are the one run down to the Alter and sow a mighty
seed for the Lord!’
had he finished than men and women jostled down to kneel and drop squeezed naira
notes and some in envelopes, others stood up and gave glory-their hands
outstretched to the ceiling. Angela came to my side, hushing me with her hand.
I could read her lips saying ‘go and sow seed’. I shook my head. I felt it was
not a matter of sowing seed. It was a matter of drinking from my own well. The
past weeks had been hell for me. During the morning and evening devotion my
uncle had continuously told me to drink my urine to cure my asthma and he had
constantly backed his sermon with the story of Naaman. That was why I felt the
pastor was talking to me. This is the church I thought. My uncle must really be
a man of God. From now on I must truly revere him. I had the gumption of
drinking my urine first thing the following morning. But on second thought, I
couldn’t bring myself to do it.
service was over, Angela asked me how I enjoyed it, I told her of my newest
revelation about the church being the church for me.
Brother Joe, there are churches and there are churches! This is where the
anointing is.’ I did not understand all she meant. But what I was certain about
was that I wanted the anointing to be on my head so that Angela and I could
share the word together and locked in each other’s arm go to the school hostels
evangelizing for the lord. Her hands brushed mine and just then Pastor Ben came
the new soul won to Christ?’He asked. He was pretending not to know me, after
sending thugs to beat me up. From all that I had gathered he was a final year
Angela giggled. ‘His soul is on fire, burning for the lord.’
to my burning desire for her. Pastor Ben shook my hands feebly and after a
light hug from Angela they both left after insisting I come for the week day
service at sports complex. I nodded my head grumpily and assured her I was
going to come. I looked forward to every meeting with Angela. She had
introduced me to everyone in her cell group and I was later assigned to work
with her. Day by day we would enter the hostel to preach, I would stand afar
off and she would pull me and I would refuse to go. In the buses I would chorus
‘amen’ and ‘halleluyah’ whenever she finished preaching. I guess this became a
cause for concern to her- the fact that I appeared guilty of being a sinner
unable to forgive myself and preach. I followed her to a leadership meeting on
Tuesday evening at the hall 2 common room. And Pastor David’s words strung my
ear again. There were no drum rolls to emphasize the efficacy of his words
because the meeting was held in the female common room and students were
reading in the next room. It was a female hostel.
quietly ‘The bible says that you are a new creature in Christ, old things have
passed away and behold all things have become new.’ Angela touched my lap in
that reassuring manner. I was distracted. Most of the time I felt she had
feelings or love for me, aside the brotherly love she clings to, especially
with the way she gives me that penetrating look and that unholy hug pressing
the contours of her body on me. I shook myself back to reality.
you be a Christian and you are scared of casting out demons?’He stopped and
searching our faces. He paused, walked around and swung his hand into his
pocket, brought out a white handkerchief and wiped the sweat that had glistened
to his forehead.
your bible to Luke 10 verse 19, ‘Behold, I give unto you power to tread on
serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy and nothing shall by
any means hurt you.” He closed the bible and kept it on a desk. ‘O ye of little
faith, how can you tell the world that you are a Christian when you are afraid
to manifest your power. Did you not see Paul and Peter casting out devils,
healing the sick and praying for people! I beg you my brethren, have faith in
God!’He concluded the meeting by praying a vigorous prayer and admonishing us
to do something for the lord. After the meeting, Angela held my hands and
prayed that I would be an instrument for God. I want to be an instrument for
you, I almost said aloud. It worried me that she did not revere me like Pastor
Ben, she always rattled on about how Pastor Ben laid hands on the sick and they
recovered. She also reminded me of an incident in the female hostel. She said a
mad man had entered the hostel and all the girls were screaming and nobody
could touch the man, but that a senior, female pastor sent for pastor Ben and
when he came he just as little as lifted a finger at the mad man, murmuring
inaudible words which I believe to be speaking in tongues and the mad man fell
on the floor sobbing. That was when the Porters carried him out. Pastor Ben’s
fame grew from that very day. I noticed her eyes sparkled whenever she spoke of
him and I wondered if her eyes dwindled away when she mentioned me. Angela left
me that evening after the usual unholy hug and I strolled to the popcorn stand.
I purposed in my heart that I would make her proud of me. I was going to outdo
Pastor Ben. And for the first time since I started her church I knelt down in
my room and said a real prayer. I even kabashed
much to my surprise. I did not know if my longing for that manifested it or if
I was really baptized with the Holy Ghost. I prayed for an opportunity so that
I would manifest that I have the mind of Christ. As serendipity would have it,
the moment came that very night. I was in the love gutter as it was commonly
called in the University of Benin – a dry gutter opposite the hall two female
hostel where students sat comfortably only at night. I was sitting there when I
heard shouts and screams. My bosom friend Daniel ran towards me shrieking in
come see something o!’ He bent down.
that? be serious guy!’ I stood up.
jus throw way her cloth, say she wan die.’
I jumped out of the gutter.
to the roof of Hall one female hostel, which was behind, on my extreme left. I
looked and truly there was a figure with arms outstretched. I ran to the
hostel, there was a crowd. A slim girl on a bra and pant was laughing
hysterically and saying something about dying. I inquired about what happened
and was told that she was reading in the reading room and all of a sudden
started laughing and taking off her clothes, one after the other. I asked if
anybody had gone up to help her. They said some guys tried but she overpowered
them, but that they had sent for a certain pastor that specialized in the cases
of mad people.
again, not again, not Pastor Ben, I won’t allow him to take this chance away
from me. Who knows this may be the only chance I got. I quickly pushed through
the crowd and entered the hostel. I jumped over a fleet of stairs and over the
flyover. I was on the roof, exactly near the mad girl. I looked at her body,
she had a round tempting backside and I remembered Omotola in Nollywood. I
shook my head, I cannot be lusting after a girl I want to cast out demon from.
I remembered the words of Pastor David. ‘The righteous are as bold as a
lion!’Yes I am righteous, as a believer and also bold. I started to rehearse
and chant. ‘God has not given me the spirit of fear, I shall say to this
mountain, be moved and cast into the sea. How can you be a Christian and be
scared of casting out demons!’ I was fully charged now. I heard some footsteps,
I heard the crowd cheering and I was happy. Yes the crowd is cheering me, they
know I’m the man. The footsteps persisted and I turned, only to see Pastor Ben.
No way, I cannot allow him to take my glory. So I rushed forward. I heard his
footsteps stop. I was glad. This is my show, come on baby. The mad girl charged
and whirled around so fast to face me, her breasts bounced at her turn. I
quickly focused my attention on her face. Her eyes blazed with fire.
alone!’ She seemed to say, her voice was husky, more like five men were
speaking through her at the same time.
command you in the name of our lord to get out of her, in Jesus name’ I said.
She laughed. And I summoned courage to say it again,
said, ‘Paul I know, Peter I know, Pastor Ben I know, but who are you?’
recollected myself, I felt a loud bang on my face and I dropped to the floor, I
saw stars. She proceeded towards me. I crawled back in retreat. My eyes had
shrunk back inside and I was gravely afraid. This mad girl may kill me. She
brought out her cat claws. I shut my eyes and suddenly I heard that familiar
command you to leave now, you mammon spirit!’ It was Pastor Ben’s voice and
immediately to my surprise this mad girl fell face flat to the floor and did
not move. Pastor Ben slid past me and winked. Did he just wink at me? Did he
just say mammon spirit? This did not look like the work of mammon or money. It
looked like the work of Pastor Ben. I quickly ran out of the hostel amidst the
sympathy I received. I went to my room and took out the olive oil that was
stashed away, given to me by my uncle. He called it the devil’s destroyer. I
opened it, downed some drops and rubbed my swollen cheek. And I hoped it
destroyed whatever spirit that had been imbued in me.
JENNIFER N. MBUNABO