As things grew from bad to worse I decided to visit Aunty Peace, Pastor Emeka’s wife to talk things over with her and let her know about my plans of leaving. The thought had consumed me for days and I needed to talk to someone and since she always lent me a listening ear, she became my number one confidant. After I explained my reasons to her, I was amazed at her response. She had a good laugh and began telling me:
“I know this may sound impossible but I want you to believe with me that God is set to do a mighty work in our Church, there is going to be a great outpouring of God’s Spirit and we are going to experience the love of Christ afresh and be united like never before.”
I wished she would stop sounding like the old prophets in the bible and face reality. Instead, she continued her sermon,
“God is not coming to rapture a weak, dying church but a triumphant church, a glorious church, one radiant and full of life, holiness and love. My husband and I have been praying for a long time now and I believe God has heard us, that’s why he is stirring hearts like yours to seek Him to bring his word to pass in no distant time. I specifically prayed this morning asking God to place a burden in someone’s heart and here you are, an answer to my prayers.”
I was surprised, yet determined to go ahead with my decision.
“Ma, you don’t understand, everyone seems to be lost in their own ways even those we least expected. The church is now like a market place, a place of entertainment where people come to show off with no real relationship with God. This is far from the triumphant church you are talking about. Can’t you see all that is happening? There are just too many things wrong with our church, the members are always quarelling and gossiping, people snub others and segregate among themselves, the message is far from the type Jesus preached. We just go there, get excited and go home with no real transformation. Every time I go to church, I leave unsatisfied and sometimes even drained and empty. I feel it’s better I go to where I will be blessed, somewhere I can worship better and feel God’s presence. I don’t feel it in our church anymore, I don’t even like the pastor again, his messages are one-sided, it seems the anointing upon his life has finished. The other day, I heard that…”
“Shhhhhh…” she interrupted, motioning for me to keep quiet. “My dear, there is no perfect church on this earth. Remember, the church is the body of Christ and no matter how flawed it is now, God is about to sit upon her like a refiners fire to cleanse and purge her before the rapture. You shouldn’t speak against the body of Christ; Jesus loves her and purchased her with his own blood. Meanwhile, who is this church we are talking about here? It is you and I; we are the body of Christ, so you are actually speaking against yourself. See, running away is never a solution; you will only run into more troubles. That church you are admiring from a distance and want to run to has its own imperfections, every church does. That’s why we are here; to bring in the measure of grace that God has given us and use it for the building up and edification of the church, not to criticize her and tear her down.”
She spoke with so much certainty and passion that her words were beginning to convince me. I had to put up my defenses and not give in so easily.
“Ma I know all these, but it’s not like I am leaving for the wrong reasons, I only want to go to a place where I will be blessed.” I insisted.
“I know, but have you considered how you can be a blessing? You should be looking for where you can be a blessing to other people as well. We are all members of Christ’s body; we need each other to accomplish our God given assignment. Just as I said before, I believe God is stirring your heart because he wants to use you for a great work. He wants you to be part of the coming revival. Don’t give into the devils lies; he only wants you to miss out on what God is doing by running to a different place. Trust me when you get there, you will begin to see all their imperfections and begin to run again. That’s how you will keep moving from one church to the other in search of what can only be found in heaven. We are here to make earth become like it is in heaven. There is this prayer journey my husband and I embarked on; we have been doing it for some months now. Every day we take out a certain portion of our time to pray specifically for the church, we use a scripture which pertains to the church to pray and enforce God’s will. We don’t just pray for our local church alone but also for the body of Christ as a whole because like I said earlier, it’s not only our church that has faults, I have heard of worse things happening in other churches. There have been a lot of discouraging news, but we will not relent or give God rest until he shows us mercy and pours forth righteousness upon us. We also entered a treaty, a kind of agreement with one another never to speak against the Church or speak ill of it. You see, your words are very powerful, in fact your words are prayers, God hears them too. When you are busy praying for someone, you can hardly speak ill of him at the same time, it will be counterproductive. You remember that place in the bible where God promised to do unto his children as he heard them speak into his ears. That’s exactly what we are doing: speaking his words back to him. We don’t want to join the devil and accuse the bride of Christ. We don’t want to use our tongue to spoil our prayers by speaking ill things into the ears of our Lord. We hear of all that is happening and take it to the Lord in prayer reminding him of his word and promise to make his bride spotless and glorious. I want you to join us in making this pledge and prayers.”
“Hmmmm… I really wish I could. You make it sound so simple but I have already spoken many bad things about the church countless times, I doubt if God can still use me for anything serious.”
“Nnenna, God says “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray, I will hear from heaven and…”
“I know that ma,” I cut in, “what I am saying is that I…. I don’t really know if God can still use me with all that I have done, you know naa. You know I have history, I know God has forgiven me and cleansed me, but use me? Hmmm, that looks like asking for too much, more like asking for ‘allowance when we have just been allowed’ as we used to say it in primary school.”
She smiled at me and lovingly explained to me for what seemed like the 100th time how God doesn’t remember our past sins anymore and how has not just forgiven but cleared the memory and it’s like we never did such things. I really felt bad that I could drift into my guilt and shame so easily despite the tons of love God has poured into my heart. It seemed like I needed a constant reminder and I silently asked God to forgive me and help me not to make light of his grace and call it insufficient.
“There is no need to shy away my dear,” she continued “we were born and preserved for a time like this, even if we refuse to let God use us, he will raise other men to accomplish his purpose on the earth and we will only be spectators. I don’t want to be a spectator; I want to be a part of what God is doing.”
She pulled her bible closer and opened it
“There is this scripture I have been ruminating on for some time now, Ephesians 5: 25-27.
…as Christ showed to the church when he died for her to make her holy and clean, washed by baptism and God’s word; so that he could give her to himself as a glorious church without a single spot or wrinkle or any other blemish, being holy and without a single fault.
“When I read it, I almost doubted it because of the things going on presently, but God impressed it strongly on my heart and that’s what we have focused our prayers on for the past four days. No matter what I see, I believe Gods word; he has said it, he will do it.”
“Wow, that’s the same scripture I came across in my devotional few days ago, it has stayed in my head since then” I said, visibly shaken. ” Hmmm, does that mean God is saying the same thing to us?”
“Yes, he is. The choice is now yours my dear, either to let God use you to build up the church or to allow the devil use you to tear her down by your words and prayerlessness and even fear.
“Hmmm, devil use me?”
I dreaded the very thought of it and would want no such thing.
“I’m in ma. I blurted out. “I will begin to pray and speak positive words in line with God’s word concerning our church and the church as a whole. I will join in the prayers.”
“That’s my girl, I always knew you had a heart for God and I have not stopped praying for you since I met you. Together we will make the will of God to be on earth as it is in heaven.” She reassured me, her face lit with so much faith and hope.
We said few words of prayer and she went ahead to urge me to encourage other weary hearts I may meet.
“Let the Holy Spirit lead you, not everyone will agree with these things I shared with you, but I am persuaded about them and we must not relent, some may even try to talk you out of it but don’t give in. The truth is that God doesn’t need to use everyone, he just needs few men whose hearts are willing and available and he will work wonders through them.”
“Thank you very much ma, I don’t know what I would have done without you, I would have been running from one church to the other and neglecting the assignment God has for me here.”
“You wanted to become Mrs. Jonah abi” she teased
“Hahaha,” we echoed the laughter as she saw me off.
I left her house with an unflinching resolve to yield myself to God for his use and devote myself to the building up of God’s bride and the advancement of his kingdom.
My phone buzzed as a text entered:
Baby, please can we meet. I am really sorry about last time, I promise it will never happen again.
It was Frank
Oh Lord no, not now. The last thing I need now is a distraction.