Go Sally! It’s your birthday! We gonna Party like it’s your birthday!
Hi guys! Yup, today is my birthday. And I just turned 35. I’m not hiding my age anymore o. There’s no use. I’m getting old jare.
Anyhoo, I am here with an entire chapter of In The Name of Papa as a birthday gift. You guys stopped at episode 16. And just in case you haven’t gotten the memo, Love, Your Enemy is now In The Name of Papa.
The book will be released on the 21st. Excited, anybody? Well, I am. Please, enjoy this mouthwatering excerpt.
Whom the son sets free…
~John 8: 36
The media wing at the BCC headquarters before Love began to run the church, boasted of a single room which the media head, two writers and the production crew, together with their equipment, shared.
Love, upon resumption of her duties had given out her office to the team and promised an entire annex for them when the new administrative complex on the permanent site was completed. The production crew then took up space in her office, changing the entire look, but leaving a sofa for sleepovers on vigil nights.
It was on that sofa Love stretched out after she left the church service just as it began. Morning sickness came down hard on her that made her unable to sit still.
The guys in the control room didn’t think it unusual that she walked in, gave no explanation and took to the sofa. She had already built a relationship with them as she did with other units in the church. Love was the type of boss that liked to be involved with the working processes of her staff as much as she could.
The production crew consisted of a team of seven males and two females, all unmarried and young. She found them to be the most dedicated amongst the church workers. They used to be understaffed and disorganized until she came onboard. She gifted them with three interns and provided everything they needed to get their job done. This endeared them to her; they adored her with childlike fascination.
“Mama, your coffee.”
She accepted a cup of instant coffee offered to her by one of them. A hearty smile filled her face. The ban on her coffee life by Leye was adversely affecting her moods. She was determined to cheat her way through it at every given opportunity. Her first pregnancy had seen her not going a day without coffee, and she had birthed a healthy baby without complications. She felt Leye was being unnecessarily caring. He had hidden her assortments of coffee beans and filled the kitchen with varieties of teas that were safe and specifically made for pregnant mothers. He also got her supportive bras, pregnancy pillows and a list of other items she didn’t need. But she wasn’t going to complain. She understood and appreciated his reasons.
“It’s time!” someone in the room announced.
Love rested her eyes on the video monitor wall which held a series of plasma televisions and computer monitors. She focused, particularly, on what was called the output monitor that had the main feed. Presently, it displayed Papa making his way to the stage after being invited up by Adonijah.
“He’s on,” the producer announced into a headset microphone. He was a chubby fellow, the oldest and most longstanding member of the production crew. “Camera 1, you’re a little blurry. Focus.”
The view on Papa became sharper.
“Camera 3, what on earth are you doing on the choir? Your babe dey there ni?”
Love’s eyes shifted to another screen and saw a panoramic view of the church as the camera which was held up by a crane, panned slowly over the entire hall. It was a full service. Several members from the Ikeja branch were present. Press and visitors were also attending. Everyone wanted a piece of George Omotosho.
The door to the control room opened and the editor who had written out Papa’s speech came in with a copy of said speech.
“Good morning, Mama.”
“Good morning,” Love replied, just as Papa began.
“Brothers and sisters, I greet you in the name of the Lord, this lovely Sunday morning,” Papa spoke. Absolute quiet came on.
“As already explained by the general overseer, our regular Sunday service would be a little altered today. Please, bear with us. A very important issue needs to be addressed. And it is in that light, I come to you today with a contrite heart…to respond…”
He halted, staring into the teleprompter.
“What’s he doing?” the editor asked.
“He’s about to abandon your speech,” Love answered.
“I had a sexual relationship with someone other than my wife twenty-four years ago,” Papa announced.
The editor groaned. “I spent all night writing two awesome pages of…”
“Shh!” voices chorused.
“I was a forty-four year old man with a wife and four children,” Papa continued. “I was a pastor. I had a church under my care. I had younger ministers looking up to me. And yet, I took a young twenty-four year old lady, perverted her mind and led her into an immoral relationship with me. How did I do it – sleeping with her in hotel rooms and coming to church to lead God’s people at the same time? I don’t know. But I did it. Like David, God’s beloved, I strayed. I had followed my own lust and given up control of my soul to the flesh.
“And yes, it felt good while it was going on. If I didn’t have my regular fix of this woman, I didn’t feel complete. My marriage was dying, my wife was neglected and ill-treated, yet I kept on. I didn’t care.”
The editor sat beside Love and whispered, “The blogs will fry him, Mama. They will pick phrases out of context and twist everything he says. What I have here, on this paper, gave no room for any of that.”
“I understand,” Love responded. “But hold your complaints.” She fixed her concentration back on Papa.
“You see, as a man of God, when men begin to revere you, when they start to rely on your every word, when they do not make any decision in their lives without consulting you first, when it seems like the very ground on which you walk on is the miraculous, you start to become a god on your own terms. And that was what happened to me. I told myself that I was covered by unlimited grace. I was untouchable. I could get away with anything.”
“Oh God, he should stop already.”
“And I did. I got away with it all until she fell pregnant. She came to me and said, ‘George, I’m carrying your baby.’”
Papa went silent again.
“This is hard for him,” Love murmured, chugging down her coffee which she had suddenly lost taste for.
“She was happy. She was going to be a mother, carrying the child of the man she loved. It was her dream manifesting. That was her reality. But for me, it was a wakeup call. It began to dawn on me that I had totally gone off course. This woman, this young impressionable woman whose mind I had twisted into believing that we were doing the right thing was now going to be savagely dumped and abandoned by me. I began to see the enormity. I began to be disgusted over all I had done and was about to do to her. But I had to do it. I had to choose between her and my family. Between her and the church…”
Love rose to her feet up abruptly.
“Any problem?” the editor asked.
She hurried out and found her way to Leye’s office, shut the door and vomited in the restroom. When she stepped out, she turned on the television and continued with Papa. But she didn’t pay much attention. She sat behind her husband’s desk and sent out a prayer for the old man, and for Alice, whom she had heard was handling the heat of the scandal poorly.
By the time she was done praying, Papa was bringing his confession to an end.
“My son, Pastor Omoleye, did what any good son would. He should not be given a bad name for his actions. Were there other persons involved in the so-called conspiracy to hide the son I had with Sister Phoebe from me? I will make no comments on that, since I was not privy to what had happened, and only Omoleye has come forth, admitting to being responsible. But in the end, none of that matters. And I’ll tell you why. I am no longer the person I used to be. I have dumped the old body of sin and taken on a new one, a new heart. I am forgiven. You can go ahead and call me unprintable names. I don’t care. I have been set free and who the son sets free is free indeed.”
There came applause that started quietly but spread through the hall in loud ovation.
“He counts my iniquities no more. He has erased my past. The yoke of sin is broken and I stand here, a transformed man.”
Love watched as members of the congregation, one after the other, rose to their feet in continued applause. She smiled.
“Please, remain seated,” Papa instructed, and like zombies, they settled down again.
“Sister Phoebe and I have ironed out our differences and are happy over the fact that we have back our son whom we thought had passed away. He is an intelligent, talented, God-fearing young man. He is not here today. He wishes not to be thrown into this messy saga, and I’ll ask that you please, respect his privacy…”
Still smiling, Love turned off the television and began out. She walked past the control room, out of the building and back into the cathedral. When she sat beside Leye, he took her hand.
“How are you feeling?”
“In conclusion!” Papa took on a serious tone that matched the sudden expression on his face. “My relationship with Pastor Alice Monoyo… It is alleged that she and I have been involved in a sexual union, and that this has been going on for three years.” He shook his head. “All lies. Wicked lies. Pastor Alice is one of the most upstanding spinsters and pastors in this church. She is so upright sometimes, it’s scary. She has been a light, a shining example to the young people of BCC. They can testify.”
The crowd broke into a short round of applause.
“Her personal life is the mirror of that upstanding commitment. But asides being all that, Alice is a woman I deeply love. My fiancée. Yes, we are to be married soon. So, take down your lies, retract your statements, delete your libelous accusations about her from the web,” he said facing the camera pointed directly at him. “Or I will use everything I have within my legal parameters to bring you all down. Read my lips. I am not joking. This altar is the Lord’s and should not be used to issue threats; and that is why I am not threatening anyone. I am simply telling you what I would do. Leave the future Mrs. George Omotosho alone or face my wrath.
“And lastly, to my BCC family…” His tone went somber again. “To every one of you here, I ask your forgiveness. I have let you down and brought ridicule to this place. I am at your mercy. What the leadership decides should be done to me will be well deserved. Thank you for listening. God bless you all.”
Love went up on her feet first, and everyone else followed as Papa made his way back to his seat. Pastor Adindu took to the stage.
“I stand with Papa,” he said into the microphone and got a resounding ovation. “Mad love in the house for Pastor George Omotosho,” he added, laughing. “In the book of Isaiah, God says ‘Come now, let us reason together. Let us settle the matter. Let us talk, man to man…”
The church began to go wild.
“And God continues, ‘although your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow! Though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool!’ Second Corinthians chapter five, verse seventeen, ‘the old has gone, the new is here!’ Psalm one-hunded-and-three, ‘As far as the east is from the west…!”
The frenzy that had now taken over the entire building made it difficult for Adindu to continue. Love, still standing on her feet, observed the scene with pleasure. Things had gone better than she had anticipated. She would sleep well at night knowing a huge chunk of the debris had been cleared.
But her eyes caught Adonijah’s face on one of the huge screens as the overhead camera panned his way. Having had numerous encounters with him, more than she would have loved to, she could now read his expressions fine. If her suspicions were right, he was presently bowled over by the response and show of love Papa was getting from BCC members. It was widely known that he, Adonijah, was the man of the people, having bought their loyalty with charitable works. But what he hadn’t been able to compete with was the love the people naturally had for Papa. He was a man easy to follow and respect. He never had to break a sweat to be adored.
Love enjoyed the look of perplexity on Adonijah’s face. If he ever was going to fill Papa’s shoes, he had a long way to go.
He had come to her in the morning, just as she had emerged from a shower, wondering what church to visit. Her eyes had moistened at him before she drew him for a hug.
“Asher?” She made no show of hiding her surprise.
“Everyone’s going to church. Dad is going to be doing his great reveal… It’s the last place I want to be. I figured you would want to hide away for some time too.”
A silent grin made its way to Phoebe’s lips. “I was actually thinking of which church to worship with today. I don’t think anyone wants to see me at my church.” She laughed. “But since you’re here, we can just spend time together.”
He handed her a gift bag.
“Something small,” he called it. “Though not enough to make up for all the birthdays I missed.”
“This is so sweet, Ash. Thank you.”
They spent the morning together, bonding over breakfast and music. Asher did most of the singing while Phoebe sat in awe and pride, harmonizing where she could and for the remaining part, blushing at him like one falling in love for the first time. She saw him as something partly made up of magic. He used her rusty, old guitar and created heartfelt music with it. Phoebe couldn’t have been happier.
“So I borrowed one of dad’s cars and I’m thinking that maybe we can go and see a movie?”
“You and I?”
“Yeah, mom. When last were you on a date?”
“I…” She giggled quietly. “I can’t remember. But please, let’s see the movie.”
The dress she had on was a long, flamboyant maxi dress that had blue as its base color. She stood before her mirror and pondered briefly over changing into something else. But she stuck to her decision in the end. She picked a small vial of perfume from the gift set Asher had given her, doused on some of it behind her ears and on her neck and picked her purse.
“You will not take me to see that type of movie again, Ash.”
Arm linked in her son’s, Phoebe enjoyed a leisurely stroll down the wide aisle of the Lekki shopping mall. It was lined with high-end stores that didn’t arrest her attention. She was more interested in the ice-cream cone in her hand, topped with chocolate ice-cream and another flavor that had some alcohol in it. Asher had chosen the combination for her, pronouncing the name of the other flavor twice over so that she would remember it, but one taste of it had her forgetting the name. She was now set to go home but Asher insisted on taking her shopping.
“The movie was not that bad,” he said, responding to her statement.
“There was bad language and blood and killings and sex in it. The sex particularly made me cringe. Sitting down there and watching it with you and you were not even flinching.”
“Was I supposed to flinch? I’m not a virgin, Mom.”
“You’ve had sex?”
“But you’re only twenty-two.”
“How old were you when you…?”
“You don’t ask your mother such questions.”
“Was dad your first?”
“All I’m saying is that such movies shouldn’t be watched often.”
Asher laughed at the way she deflected his questions.
“They are not good for your faith.”
“Maybe I don’t have that much faith to begin with.”
Phoebe stopped. “What does that mean?”
“I grew up with Imaan. I was allowed to be a Christian, but I sometimes practiced Islam. Or even nothing at all.”
“Son, you don’t practice your faith. You are your faith. You are either Christian or Muslim or something else, or nothing at all.”
“You mean atheist?”
“Yeah.” Phoebe continued walking. “Those ones don’t believe in anything.”
“Well, I think faithlessness is also some type of belief. The belief in not believing in a god.”
“There’s no such thing.”
“That’s what it is, Mom.”
“Whatever it is, never mention to your dad that you’re just a practicing Christian.”
Asher made an abrupt stop before a cosmetic store. He pressed his nose to the glass wall like a little boy.
“What are we doing here?”
“I said we’d go shopping. Well, I lied. You’re getting a makeover, Mom.”
“A make-what? Abeg, no o. Thank you. I do my makeup fine.”
She patted her hair, looking at her refection on the glass door leading into the store. There was a lady inside already smiling at her.
“Mom, I can’t have you looking like you’re from the seventies. Go in there and let them glam you up.”
“Asher, this is an expensive shop…”
“And I have the money.’
“Now, you’re sounding like your dad.”
“Mom, I will spend everything I have in my account on you.”
Phoebe was touched by his words.
“I appreciate that, baby but I don’t think it’s a good idea spending so much on me.”
“Mom, it’s just a makeover. And after that, we’ll buy you an entire box of makeup that works best for you. It won’t cost much. I promise.”
Asher pushed the door and together they went in. He was given a divan to sit on while Phoebe got attended to. He ignored the pile of magazines in a rack beside him and entertained himself with his phone. He didn’t know how long he waited, but soon, the makeup artist in the store was calling his attention. He lowered his phone and looked up. Phoebe swiveled around to face him. He showed approval and amazement.
“How do I look?” she asked, chuckling.
“I’ll take it that I look dashing?”
He winked. Phoebe and the makeup artist laughed. He went over to them and took several selfies with Phoebe. They stayed a bit longer as the store attendants assembled a box of makeup and cosmetics for Phoebe.
“This is too much, Ash,” Phoebe complained. He ignored her, paid the bill and guided her out of the store. And just as they stepped out, Asher’s eyes strayed upon the form of a person from his past. His chest tightened as he looked away. There was sudden urgency to leave the mall.
“Asher?” the person called. She was a girl about his age.
“Is there anything you want to pick for the house?” Asher asked Phoebe, pretending not to have heard the girl.
“I think that girl just called you.” Phoebe nodded in her direction.
“Asher?” His name was called a second time. Asher forced his head in her direction, and the moment their eyes met, he was attacked by memories from his second year as a student in the United States. His mouth went dry at the sight of her. Large, round eyes stared back at him. Skin with a shade of almond brown, glowing but not-so-spotless, reminded him of mornings his eyes did nothing but worship her in all her chocolate delectableness. He recalled how she would smile back like she thought the world of him. And she certainly did. He was her sun, moon and star and everything else in-between. But he had used her solely for pleasure, cheating on her unapologetically and leaving her with a broken heart.
“Hi,” he greeted.
For lack of what to say next, he introduced Phoebe to her.
“Good afternoon, ma.”
“Good afternoon, dear.”
“Mom, this is Barbara. We were in school together.”
“Nice. Lovely to meet you, dear.”
“Same here, ma.”
There was a moment of awkward standing and staring.
“We’re in a hurry. We should go.” Asher linked his arm with Phoebe’s.
“Can I get your number?” Barbara requested.
“My number… Um… Okay.” Asher called out his phone number and she gave it a dial. His phone rang.
“That’s mine. I’ll call you later?”
“Bye, Ash. Bye, ma’am.”
Asher began to walk away even before Barbara disappeared.
“She’s so beautiful,” Phoebe said.
“And she likes you.”
“She’s my ex,” Asher revealed and regretted it immediately. Phoebe began to ask questions about Barbara. He lied in most of his responses, giving nothing away about the relationship.
“You should give her a call.”
“To see if the spark I just felt between you two can grow into something bigger.”
Asher frowned at her lightheartedly. “Chill, ma.”
On their way home, they listened to the radio. There was a request show on air; a collection of random songs was played at the behest of listeners who called in. For a while, Phoebe was taken by her thoughts, until a song came on that brought her attention back into the car.
“Who’s this?” she asked. “Who’s singing?”
“Never heard of her.”
“You’ve probably never heard of a lot of people, Mom.”
“I love her voice and the song,” she stated, head bopping to the music. Soon she was humming along, and because she caught on to songs so easily, she was able to mouth some of the lines in the chorus. When the song came to an end, she asked for an encore. Asher tethered his phone to her car’s stereo and in seconds he was streaming Miley Cyrus’ We Can’t Stop for her entertainment. The song put Phoebe on a high she couldn’t explain. Asher didn’t join in her excitement, but he was entertained by her all through the journey until he pulled up outside her home.
He turned back at the front door, leaving her with a hug. When she got in, Phoebe sat on her bed going through photos of Asher, from his infancy to the present. He had placed them in an envelope, put together with a toilette set in the gift bag he had presented them to her. She went through each photo with a different kind of smile. Sometimes she stopped and sobbed, feeling pain over the fact that she had missed huge milestones in his life, angry at all the people who conspired to take them away from her. Other times, her simple smile stretched into laughter.
Her phone dinged. She peeped at it. A message had dropped in that made her smile vanish. She returned the pictures into their envelope and got off her bed.
In a short while, she was outside her house, flagging down a taxi. A yellow one came from across the street. She read out the address of a house in Ikeja from her phone. The cab driver haggled over the fare with her and begrudgingly, she gave in to his bargain. She was in a good mood. Normally, she would pay half the charge to the same distance.
Phoebe rested her head and stretched her legs in the backseat of the cab, coasting deeper into the past, to the moments etched in her mind forever, when she had felt Papa’s kisses and had been held by him. Those had been the best moments of her life, but she was coming to a place of honesty with herself. She was ready to let go. Nonetheless, she mused over them one last time and continued to do so until she arrived at her destination.
She reluctantly paid her fare and walked into a large compound in which expensive cars were parked. She walked pass them to the front door of a duplex that towered over her. Taking in a heavy breath, Phoebe pressed her finger on the doorbell that stood an inch below her head level.
The door opened, and out came the smiling face of Blessing Kanayo.
“Sister Phoebe,” she greeted. In her hand was a glass of wine.
Phoebe let herself get hugged by the woman who was clothed in her usual manner of being sensuous. Her dress stopped a little above her knees, and on her chest was some cleavage.
“How are you, dear?” Phoebe asserted her elderliness in a deep tone. Blessing caught on.
“I am good, ma. Please, come in. Everyone is here. We thought you wouldn’t make it.”
“I was spending time with my son,” Phoebe said with some motherly pride, walking in.
“Oh. We all watched Papa’s broadcast this morning. It streamed live during the service.”
Phoebe curtly ended the conversation by continuing into the house, even though it was her first time there. She found the living room, drawn in by the voices of people within. Upon peeping in, she was met with familiar faces. She counted those present and they came to an impressive number of twelve. Four of the men were once members of the dissolved board of directors, each of them moneybags in their own standing. When it came to cash donations in Bethel Christian Center, they could easily be counted amongst the top ten that gave regularly – and bountifully.
Last week, Blessing had invited Phoebe for dinner in some unknown restaurant and those particular men were also present. After each of them introduced themselves to her, she was asked to go public with the story on Papa.
“We’ll give you anything you want,” said the one called Cyril. A thorough-looking man in his sixties with cold, dark eyes and an imposing personality.
“All I want is my son.”
“We don’t know anything about this son you speak of. But we will give you everything else you desire. Just grant an interview to one of the huge media houses.”
“To what aim?”
“You’ll know soon.”
And that had ended Phoebe’s conversation with them because she had left their presence in annoyance. Afterwards, she made a call to Blessing and threw hostile words at her.
“You’ve changed so much from the sweet, kind Blessing I used to know.”
“I was a little girl back then, Aunty Phoebe.”
“Your mother would be turning in her grave right now over this betrayal of yours. She was a dedicated member of BCC. She loved Papa and believed in him.”
“Maybe not as much as you love him. Look, Aunty… em, Sister Phoebe. Don’t try to pin any type of moral card on me. There are no saints here. We all do what we have to do to get by.”
“By pulling down a man of God? What if someone is doing this same thing to your husband?”
“Can we talk about this in length some other time, maybe over dinner or lunch? You seem very angry right now, and I apologize…”
Phoebe hung up. She ignored Blessing’s subsequent phone calls – even after she went public with her story. She had only decided to give ear to her and her cohorts when Cyril himself called her earlier that morning. Something commanding and ruthless in the man’s tone had always left her intrigued.
Curiosity, also, had dragged her to the Kanayos. And as she stood at the entrance of their living room, she noted that Obi was absent.
“Go in.” Blessing came up behind her. Phoebe held her position at the door.
“You have to tell me what’s going on here, Blessing, or I’ll turn around and leave.”
“But you came all the way.”
Phoebe presented a firm stare.
“Well, these people you see here today, and others that are yet to join us, they…we all are about to break away from BCC.”
Phoebe gave the people in the living room a glance and returned her eyes to Blessing who was sipping her wine. She threw a dirty look at her that went from the top of her head to her feet.
“Does your husband know about this?”
“You and all those people inside there, you have all lost your minds. And I don’t want to be involved in this nonsense. I can’t believe I wasted money on a taxi, coming all the way here to be told this rubbish.”
She hissed and began towards the front door.
“If you join us, you won’t have to get into taxis again,” Blessing said casually. “You’ll have your own luxurious car, your own house, and you’ll be one of the founders of a new ministry that will shake the foundation of BCC. And this means you’ll be a shareholder.”
Phoebe spun around. “You people think you can just get up like that and start a ministry by dirty means? You think God’s work is a business or some money-making type of venture?”
“Madam, look at this house. See how big it is? You know how much it costs? No, you have no idea, but my husband bought it. Not with money gotten from some outside business. No. It was with money from the church. People freely donated to him to buy it. We didn’t spend a dime. Décor, furniture, all gotten for free from church members. You’ve seen how many cars we have. Each one of them bought by someone who was moved to bless their daddy and mommy in the Lord. Now, while that is sinking in, think about the Omotoshos and all the wealth they have. And even BCC itself that is now buying companies and building complexes all over the Island. Does anybody need to tell you that God’s business is the most profitable business in the world?”
“The Lord have mercy on your souls! Don’t ever drag me into this nonsense again!”
Phoebe turned back to the door. She made to grab the handle but the door burst open and Adonijah stepped in. He was as surprised to see her as she was to see him.
“Phoebe?” he greeted.
“Go to hell!”
She stomped out of the house in anger. Her phone rang. It was Asher calling.
“Baby boy?” She forced on calm to her tone.
“Just letting you know that I got home safely.”
Phoebe smiled. “Sleep tight, baby.”
“Yeah, Mom. Goodnight.”
She hung up, gave the Kanayo resident a glance and then continued out, grumbling as she went.
Adonijah spent his morning in silence. His breakfast was left untouched and so were the sermon notes he had brought out to the dining area to work on. He sat staring emptily into space, not responding to anything around him. Maggie had walked by a couple of times and had now returned to gawk at him in typical dramatic fashion, swinging her head this way and that as she waved a hand in his face.
“I can see you,” he mumbled before taking her eyes in his. “What do you want?”
“What is going on? Why are you sitting like this as if you’ve had a vision?”
“Can’t a man sit in silent meditation in his own home again?”
“Silent meditation? Are you fasting?”
“Must I be fasting before I meditate?”
“I am just asking nau. No need to chop my head off.”
“Carry your asking and be going.”
Maggie straightened her posture and crossed her arms. “I hope this isn’t about the slap on the wrist that Papa got yesterday after his confession.”
“What slap on the wrist?”
“Don’t pretend that you didn’t see the way the church reacted. As if he had told them he was giving each person a million naira. And not to talk of how the blogs and media have now changed mouth. I heard the children talking about it late last night. Most of the blogs that published things about Alice have retracted them all. Hmmm…people really fear Papa o.”
“I do hope that is not what is worrying you, oga. You are still the General Overseer. Your name is still very much respected…”
“My name counts for nothing,” Adonijah spat.
Maggie’s arms uncrossed themselves and rested on her waist. “Aloy. Aloy!” she called in warning. “Don’t start this your nonsense o! You badly wanted general overseer and God gave it to you. Now, you’re here, being ungrateful, trying to rub shoulders with the man who has made you everything you are today–”
“Don’t you ever say that again! No man made me! I made myself. What I am today is my sheer hard work. And I can be bigger and better because I am still working hard to get to the place of my dreams.”
“What dreams again? You want to go and open your own church before you’ll know that you have gotten to the top?”
Adonijah gave her a look that brought fear to her face.
“Hmmm, Aloy. Aloy. Aloy o! Whatever is running around that head of yours should better stop it o.!If it needs to be cast out, come to me and I will cast it out, but please, try and cage it first. Where you are and what you have is more than good enough. Thank God for it and live out your days enjoying yourself. I have warned you.”
“Abeg, carry yourself and go. Mrs. Global Warning.”
Maggie left him and he freewheeled back into his thoughts. The meeting at the Kanayos the day before was the reason for his strange behavior. In a hushed session that dragged well into the night, Adonijah was reeled in slowly into the plan to break away from BCC and start a new ministry. They explained that they wanted him to be General Overseer. He had laughed at their idea at first and told them it was going to fall apart as soon as it started. But when they laid out the plan, and how they were going to cause a major falling away of the members of BCC, just to bring them into the new ministry, Adonijah’s interest was arrested.
“Imagine not having to answer to Papa anymore,” Pastor Blessing said in her weird accent, dark brown eyes dreaming into the air. “Not having to live in his shadows. Not having to do all the hard work and end up watching someone else take all the glory. Imagine all that, sir. Wouldn’t you want to grab it with both hands?”
Adonijah had stayed silent, giving permission to her words to make a residence in his mind. And she went on, until she worked her magic completely into him.
“But why me?” He looked into the faces of the men and women before him one after the other.
“Because you are untainted,” Cyril answered. “No scandal. No mistresses. No illegitimate children. Your wife also has a clean record. Your children are model kids. The members of BCC adore you because you have been generous to them.”
“I did it in the name of the church.”
“And that is why you’re perfect for the new ministry.”
He had laughed. “Perfect? You don’t even know what that means, Cyril.”
Feeling a little disrespected, Cyril stuck out his chest. “I beg your pardon?”
“I bought the adoration of the people. Just like you bought your way to status in BCC. That’s the same thing my money did. The people of God don’t love me because they love me. I bought their love…”
“And that is why we need you. No one understands church politics like you do. We need your vast experience. In BCC, you are drowning in a sea of Papa-centric adulation. But when you begin to run your own show, it will be all about you, Bishop Aloysius Adonijah.”
And the words sank in, upon which he mulled all night and all morning. The defectors, whom he had named The Other BCC, had a solid plan. He had been let in on their blueprint and it seemed marvelous. Only on paper. For it to come to reality, the plan needed him. He was to cause the major falling away from BCC. It all rested on his shoulders.
And this was why breakfast was the least important thing on his mind this morning.