Abel sat in his new office looking at the computer screen; it was off but he stared as if he was watching a movie on it. It had been a hectic day for him. It was the day of his official ordination as a Bishop and the general overseer of the church. He sat there thinking about his life and how far he had come; he thought about everything he had to endure in his life. An abusive mother who told him when his father died that she wished it was him instead, the many labours he bore to get himself through school and finally Bishop Chukwu’s psychopathic ego that he had to nurse to keep his position in the church.
If you told Abel twenty years ago that he was going to become a pastor, he would have laughed in your face. He was a twenty five year old homeless graduate who had no job and found shelter in a small church nearby. A church with at most eight members; it was a new church and Abel could tell that the founding pastor was having a hard time recruiting members.
“What will you give me if I help you increase your church members?” he asked the pastor “what do you mean ‘help me increase my members’? It’s only God who increases the congregation of a church. He didn’t make me general overseer for nothing” “general overseer? Of where? This place?” Abel laughed at his reply “I have a background in sales and marketing so whenever you need me, you can find me there” he pointed at a bukka nearby where he frequently washed plates for a free meal.
A week later, the pastor came looking for him “How do you plan to increase my members and how many members can we get per week?” he went straight to the reason he came “buy me a meal and I will give you the strategy I have planned”
The pastor took Abel to a restaurant fancier than the bukka and Abel gave him an entire feasibility plan of a church including sample fliers and things that will bring people to the church. He even went as far as telling the pastor how to dress “the way you dress is the way you are addressed” he advised. The pastor was very impressed by all the things that Abel presented “so what do you want in return because if it is money you know that I don’t have it right now” “what I want is simple… make me your second in command” “deal!” that was how Abel and Chukwu became partners. A partnership that would direct stinky bubbling water under its bridge.
Within six months The Assembly of Christian People Ministries saw exponential growth and within three years it became the most popular church in town with a new, bigger and better church site. “People are just trooping in every single Sunday, I don’t even need to start performing miracles” Bishop Chukwu said to Abel as they shared a Cuban cigar “now this is the type of church you can say that you are general overseer of… thousands of people and you didn’t even need to do any rituals” “I’m telling you” things were going smoothly and Abel didn’t need to do intensive marketing for the church as he did before; this forced him to learn how to preach
It was no easy feat, learning the bible and preaching to thousands of people. The first day he stood at the pulpit to deliver his first sermon, his greatest fear was if the audience could see the sweat dripping down his trousers because of how nervous he was. He tried to speak but his voice was nowhere to be found not until he saw the love of his life Rita… Rita Ugwu
He felt the same way he felt the first time he saw Rita from the pulpit sitting cautiously in the audience; the only difference was that he was the general overseer and Chukwu was not around to destroy the love that they once shared. His sermon was about being judgemental towards your neighbour; and for reasons unknown, it touched Rita to the point that she went to commend him after the service.
It wasn’t her true intention to talk to him closely after she had lost the election; she wanted to stay clear of him until she could devise a means to take back the position of the general overseer. As far as she was concerned it rightfully belonged to her and no flimsy election was going to take it away from her
“Your sermon really touched me and I don’t know why. Maybe because I have been very judgemental of late” she said to him as they walked towards his office. “Self-honesty is the beginning of repentance” he responded “how are you doing?” his question came out of nowhere. He didn’t want the conversation to end because it had been a while since he had her attention like this; so he kept asking her questions until she followed him into his office without knowing.
He poured her a glass of wine, he knew she loved wine and her presence made him happier than he had been in years. Rita had no idea what was going on, Abel was easy to talk to that afternoon and their conversation made her laugh harder than she had laughed in years
“I have something to tell you” Abel’s tone removed the smile on Rita’s face. There was a long pause then Abel finally told her how he felt about her and how he never stopped loving her
“But you are married… What about Ene” Rita was shocked
“Yes I am but it doesn’t change the fact that after all these years… you are still the one that I love” he put his hand on hers and she removed hers
“Abel…” she started
“I know… I know… I know… I’m a man of God, I am married, what will people think?… so many things to consider but before you reject me I want you to know that I can do anything for you… I will give anything you ask of me Rita, that is how much I love you”.
“Anything? Even your position as general overseer?”