Hello Folks. Welcome to the penultimate episode of this series. Again, please drop your comments and dont forget to share these stories. Enjoy.
I could see the man’s lean frame through the glazed translucent glass door of the sitting room from the kitchen where I was helping my Aunt with lunch. It was 3pm in the afternoon, and we were expecting Pastor from a meeting he had been invited to preach in Abuja. The leader of the protocol team had informed me a few minutes earlier to inform Mama that Pastor’s plane had just touched down, so my aunt and I were rushing to get lunch ready. Pastor had a voracious appetite for food, and we were soon to learn that his appetite for sex had reached an unimaginable height as well.
The frail hands wrapped on the door very loudly in two successive knocks before I could get to the door. I opened quickly before the third knock as I did not want the two kids sleeping in the room awakened. They had given made enough trouble for that day already.
“I demand to see Pastor Uche Isaiah.” The old man barged through the open door pushing me out of the way.
“Sir, you almost pushed me against the wall.” I whimpered, wondering who the man was. His wrinkled face gave him off as a septuagenarian and the thick lens of his glasses must be evidence of a terrible glaucoma, so for a second I wondered if he had seen me clearly.
“I deliberately brushed you aside, en ba tha time ama done wityu here today I’ll have you and that so called man of God six foot unda da ground.” The man’s accent had suddenly changed to a thick American accent.
“Sir, who would you love to see?” My Aunty stood at the doorway to the kitchen watching the man pace in her living room.
“Pastor Uche Isaiah. And please do nat make me repeat maself. Am about to lose ma tempa.”
“And who are you sir?” Aunty Francesca moved closer to the intruder. I had been watching the man for a while trying to make sense of his mission.
“I am Pastor Uche’s wife and I could lose my temper as well….”
“Oh yes you could lose your temper,” the old man retorted sharply, “like you always lose your mojo in bed!”
I took a closer look at this man dressed in brown Ankara with a pair of black slippers and wondered if we did not have a mad man with us. Aunty Francesca’s eyebrows arched sharply as we watched the man walk up to my aunt pointing at her two breasts.
“Maybe if you had not been losing some stupid temper, you woulda gat the energy to give your randy husband some good sex…..and maybe he wouldn’t be out there sleeping with my daughter everyday of the week….aint those tits big enough for him?”
My jaw dropped in shock and I began to tip toe quietly out of the way towards my room. Aunty Francesca tried to hide the embarrassment and shock written all over her face. She shot a glance at me, as if to say everything was in order, and I responded with a very blank stare. Deal with it Aunty! I said in my heart. I’m not gonna face this with you.
“Sir, will you please be decent with your language or I’ll walk you out of my home.” She spoke harshly trying to keep her voice as low as possible. I could see her teeth clenching as she dropped the small kitchen pestle in her hands.
“Your home? My twenty three year old baby girl has a home as well. She says your husband pays the rent. ”
The door of the sitting room opened and Pastor walked in with two members of the protocol team closely behind him carrying his luggage. He looked bewildered when he saw the man, and sensing the tension he quickly took charge with his oratory skills.
“Can I know the cause of noise in my house? How may we help you sir?” He looked first from his wife to the old man who was standing beside the window.
“Yes you can Pastor Uche. I am Ifueku Diette Spiff, father of Angela.”
Pastor Uche’s eyes twitched in shock and he shot a quick glance at his wife.
“Don’t play stupid with me man. You greet me with some respect and thank your God that I did not come here with policemen.” Mr. Spiff removed his glasses.
“Err..sir, which Angela is that? As a Pastor I have met several Angelas.” Pastor was bewildered.
“How many Angela’s do you sleep….”
“ Sir, please join me in my study.” Pastor quickly interjected.
Mr. Spiff looked around from Pastor to all the faces in the room and hissed loudly. Pastor quickly dismissed the protocol leader and his assistant.
The next hour in the sitting room quickly changed to a hostage situation. Mr. Spiff announced that he was from the Niger delta and his people had little shame. He narrated how Pastor had impregnated his daughter on two different occasions. She had aborted the first time without telling anyone, but this second time, a complication had arisen; his wife discovered Angela was bleeding excessively. After seeking medical attention, Angela confessed to the family that she had been pregnant for the great man of God, Pastor Uche Isaiah and that he pays her house rent in Surulere. He was not fazed by Pastor Uche’s plenty verbose words, but demanded for the sum of One Million naira for damages to the health of his daughter.
“Before you think and plan too far. Pastor, I am the former editor in Chief of the defunct Concord Press. I still have strong ties with several newspaper editors. Do you prefer your story on the front page of the newspapers tomorrow, or will you write me my cheque?”
We were all stunned and lost for words.
“Your picture of your loins is even on her phone, you want me to show your wife as evidence?”
Sin had gotten the family at the negotiation table with the devil himself, and we had no advocate to plead our cause. I was terribly ashamed of Pastor Uche when he picked up the church cheque book and wrote a cheque of One million naira only in the name of Mr. Spiff. The old man grabbed the cheque like a hungry lion.
“I will be in the bank first thing tomorrow morning, and if the money is not paid to me I will pay you another visit. This time my boys from the creeks will accompany me.”
I left the sitting room after those words and I wept uncontrollably. My Pastor and Uncle negotiated his way out of sin with people’s hard earned money and sweat. Having passed my University entrance examination that year, I made up my mind to leave the house and stop attending the church once I get on campus in University of Lagos. That dream was not possible as I never got accommodation throughout my stay on campus. I had no choice but to continue praying for Pastor, the church and Aunty Francesca who told me one day that she cannot run away from her husband. She has to stand by him all the way.
“Even when he is living in perpetual iniquity?” I had asked, shocked by her response to her husband’s careless use of his loins.
“Honestly I don’t know, but I cannot bring shame to his name. He is my husband; I still have a responsibility to protect his image.”
The thin line between responsibility, love, and spirituality gradually faded in the family over the years. Pastor Uche and his wife became celebrity figures that graced the cover of cosmopolitan magazines and church membership soared into the thousands. Very few people got to know about several scandalous relationships that Pastor Uche kept, and the few of us that knew dared not broadcast such information; at least I still hoped and prayed that there will be a turn around.
For me, at a point, I felt the church was operating under a paradoxical concoction of spiritual influences. Pastor preached the word from the bible so fiercely, and I could see people’s lives changing for good in terms of physical manifestations. However there was a general lack of sense of spirituality in the church. Sometimes, when I looked at the choir singing it felt like an ensemble of musical instruments and sonorous voices without any link to the celestial. Drama presentations in church didn’t feel different from watching stage plays on Broadway. Nobody cared to stop to ask the question; was this church started by God or by man? Aunty Francesca apparently had given up; she also started preaching flowery and meaningless messages aimed at getting people excited and running kilometers round the church because a word had become rhema . Of course excited people in the city of Lagos in a modern church like ours also meant more money for the church and the Pastors. In the midst of all that prosperity, it was difficult to ask questions about the spiritual state of the church. I didn’t ask, but I prayed.
On one particular occasion when I was in my final year I summoned courage to ask Pastor a few questions in his palatial office shortly after the church moved to the permanent site in the heart of Lagos. I told him I had been wondering about the way things were running in the church, and I ended up asking him if he was raising people who would be taken when the roll is called up yonder. His answer was very simple.
“The kingdom of God is here already. We need not wait till Jesus comes. What we are doing now is dominating every sphere of influence. Jesus will not come until we have inherited the whole earth. These mysteries are not easily understood, Jennifer.” His eyes had a sparkle and for a moment I thought I caught him staring at my breasts.
I quickly added that I have heard all kinds of allegations against him as a serial womanizer, and his response was very sharp and witty.
“All those stories are normal concoctions of the enemy against men of God. You don’t worry God will expose all evil doers in good time!”
“Amen!” I said and quickly jumped out of his office after collecting my pocket money for that month.
Two years after, we are at Holy Cross Hospital and I remember the events that led to the tragedy Pastor Uche holds in his hands.
Exactly one month ago, the true story of Angela Spiff and Pastor Uche was published in the dailies. Unknown to my aunt and I, Pastor Uche had been contacted after the encounter in our house by Mr. Diette Spiff and he had been forced to sign an agreement to pay the sum of One Hundred thousand every year if he did not want his dirty secrets revealed. Mr. Spiff ensured Angela continued her relationship with Pastor Uche ; this unknown to Pastor Uche was an additional favour in return for the monthly allowance. Angela was also a member of the Port Harcourt branch, and she travelled with Pastor Uche on local and international trips. After two years of remitting the agreed sum, Pastor Uche stopped remitting when Angela confessed to him that she never had post-abortal complications, as her father had claimed. In another twist, Angela confessed that she had hired Mr. Spiff on that occasion because Pastor Uche had denied responsibility for her second pregnancy and she wanted to teach him a lesson. It was a litany of woes and scandals as the soft sell magazine published pictures and painted scandalous escapades of great Pastor Uche Isaiah.
After Angela’s confession, Pastor Uche severed ties with her, and stopped remitting the usual monthly stipend to Mr. Spiff who went to the papers with the story.
The Sunday morning after the story was published, church became more electrifying as several members said they were going to stand by Pastor Uche. Aunty Francesca wore her best traditional attire and announced to the church that the church was matching on and the gates of hell will never prevail. I almost collapsed where I sat as people roared in chants of victory and halleluiah. No one asked questions. Everybody labeled Angela a demon from the world of mermaids.
While the story made the rounds, church members took up a personal crusade of defending the church and Pastor Uche. At a meeting of church workers, the bold leader of the ushering team asked a question that no one could answer.
“Are we standing for the truth of God’s word are we standing by our Pastor?” He was referring to allegations leveled against Pastor Uche.
The happenings of the weeks that followed revealed, unfortunately that most of the people in the church did not know the truth of the word of God. They knew their Pastor. They were in church, not to worship God but to join the movement of a man.
This was a sad reality as the truth hit us from the pulpit one Sunday.