I was glad to be outside now, away from those hurtful words and hateful glances. I just sat there and waited.
I began to remember all that had happened: It started after I completed my membership class, Bro David called me and encouraged me to join the work force of the church. I loved to sing and worship God so I decided to join the choir, when I met Bro David later and told him, he welcomed me and asked me not to hesitate in letting him know if I needed help with anything. He offered to mentor me.
During one of my meetings with him, he kept asking me questions about my past life and insisted I answer them because according to him: God needs to uproot my past in order to brighten my future. He also said that by sharing it, I would be obeying the scripture that says ‘…confess your sins one to another’ but that if I kept hiding them, then it would mean that I haven’t been saved from them yet. I believed him and trusted him with all, even the details. He promised never to tell anyone, but did just the opposite.
I told him about Frank, the guy who got me pregnant while we were dating, though he promised to marry me, but he wasn’t ready to start a family yet and he convinced me to have an abortion. He also took me to an expert because according to him, he wanted a clean job that will not affect our ability to have kids when we were married. Frank broke up with me three weeks after the abortion; he said it was over because he wanted to focus on building his life and career.
I was devastated and I felt so used, that was when I realized that he just wanted to clean up his mess and dump me by insisting on the abortion. Though I objected to it, but he smooth-talked me into it and swore to marry me in few years time when he had the money, he even gave me a ring. I believed him, something I now regret; it has always been my weakness. That was the same way I believed Bro David when he promised to keep our secret, but now I know better. I have been so naïve and gullible.
While saying the closing prayer at the end of rehearsals the day after we spoke, he began saying that God instructed him to pray for me. He called me out and began to pray for me.
“I feel this strong urge for us to intercede for the life of Sister Nnenna, the devil is seeking her life and we won’t let that. Since she came into this church, the holiness church, the devil has been after her because of what she did. Let’s pray, pray brethren!” They all started murmuring prayers, asking God to forgive me.
“Brethren, you don’t understand, that’s why you are still praying like that”, he continued. “I don’t want to go into the details but let me give you a little information, maybe that will help you pray better; the sin of sexual immorality is a grievous one and the Lord detests the hand that is swift to shed innocent blood, brethren lets plead God’s mercy over her life.” That was when they began to shout on top of their voices asking God to have mercy on me while I knelt down and fought back the tears.
The whole scene played back in my head like it was happening all over again; it reopened the wounds of my heart and body that were beginning to heal. Frank had left me just when I thought I needed him most; I was still recovering from severe pains and discomfort resulting from the abortion. The guilt and shame was also taking its toll on me and hurt even more than the physical pain. Now, when I thought I had found forgiveness and refuge in God, He was revisiting my past, leaving me with doubts and questions about His grace. Maybe my sin was too grievous after all, maybe I needed to pay for it in a way, maybe I needed to be shamed to understand the gravity of my offense and how angry it made God.
God doesn’t like to shame us
Pastor Emeka’s words re-echoed in my head.
Just then, Mrs. Ade broke into my thoughts
“Good afternoon sister Nnenna, please did you see my husband anywhere around here, he is not picking my calls?
Mrs Ade was the wife of Deacon Adejumo, one of the Deacons. She was a notable member of the church known for her outspoken nature and strong devotion to the ministry. She was a strong voice in the women wing of the church; everyone always wondered why she wasn’t made the women leader. She had the charisma and carriage of a leader and she carried that aura everywhere. She was fondly called Mrs Ade.
“Yes ma, he is inside. They are having a meeting.”
“I know about the meeting but its taking too long, I thought they would have finished by now, I didn’t think it will take this long. I have been waiting for some time now. Meanwhile, what did they tell you?”
“I don’t know yet ma, I was asked to wait outside briefly, am still waiting”
“Ok. I just wish they will obey God and carry out the necessary disciplinary action, Justice must begin in the house of God, sin cannot be allowed to grow and thrive. I pray God will help them to take the right decision. My dear, I have been praying for you and I know that the will of God will be done.”
I just nodded my head and said nothing.
She paced up and down for a while. Few minutes later, she stood up to leave
“Let me go get some groceries, I guess I will be heading home from there since the meeting is not yet over. I will send him a text.”
“Ok ma. Bye”
I was really exhausted by now. I kept wondering how all these people got to know about my case, I imagined how many more knew and what they were saying at my back.
“Father, please I am really sorry, how many more times do I have to say it?”
For a second I thought about leaving, just walking home from here. By the time they are done, I will be gone. I didn’t understand why I was being made to go through all this humiliation. I thought of even leaving the church and staying on my own.
“Lord I will leave for good, I was thinking your salvation was free but I see that I must have to pay a price. I don’t know if I can pay the price.”
I was lost in my thoughts when Deaconess Chioma came to call me in.
“Sister Nnenna, you may come inside now”.
“Thank you ma”.
I walked in and she motioned for me to take the empty seat beside her. I didn’t want to look at anyone’s face, my mind was already prepared for whatever they would say but I still felt very nervous. It was like I was in a law court, sitting before the judge and my accusers. I wondered if I had any attorney standing in for me.
Pastor Jerry began after clearing his throat.
“Sister Nnenna, I must say that this has been a tough decision for us. Though I was disappointed that you could do a thing like that and still keep coming to the presence of God, I still chose to give it more thought and prayers. I know this may be hard for you, it is even harder for us but we must do the needful, am really sorry that we have come to this conclusion, but just know that all we are doing is to protect the image of this church. We still love you and we will keep praying for you. We do hope you find a place to continue to serve God, but here, we can’t condone sin…”
“Sir, this is so wrong! Pastor Emeka broke in “This is not what Jesus would do. How else do I explain to everyone here that God has forgiven her and we should do same? I will keep saying it that I am not a party to this decision.”
I have never seen Pastor Emeka so angry before and it pained me that I was responsible for it.
“Nobody said God has not forgiven her, we all know that. All we are saying is that we cannot condone sin, we can’t let it under our roof, in the body of Christ.” Pastor Jerry affirmed
“What about the adulterous woman? What about the tax collectors?” Pastor Emeka asked still fuming
“Didn’t you notice that they didn’t go to the extent of shedding innocent blood? That was the height of it; she took matters into her own hands and took the life of a baby who contributed nothing to her sinful lifestyle. If we don’t punish this, then how do we continue preaching the message of holiness God has entrusted into our hands?” Pastor Jerry answered back.
“Oh my God! Pastor Emeka screamed. I can’t believe this! I can’t believe we have been sitting here arguing over this matter for hours and I still can’t figure out when we became the judge of men’s lives. Sir, please I beg you in the name of God, let’s not do this.”
I could feel the compassion in Pastor Emeka’s voice
“I am the senior Pastor of this church and my decision stands. Nobody is judging her; we are only doing the needful. You were not there when God called me and you have no clue how he specifically warned me about this. I will not disobey Him”.
The look on Pastor Emeka’s face was that of anger and frustration mixed with love and compassion, one could see how hard he fought to keep his calm.
Everyone was silent for what seemed like ages.
Deacon Iliya was the one to break the silence.
“Sir, excommunication will be an extreme measure, why don’t we go with what Deaconess Chioma suggested earlier on, let’s give her two weeks suspension instead. We can watch her within that period and if she shows signs of repentance we will restore her. That is how it is done in my parent’s Church.”
“Deacon Iliya, this is not your parent’s church, don’t ever forget that! Pastor Jerry said, almost flaring up
Deacon Adejumo cut in; “Sir I think I agree with him. The suspension will still pass the message to the other members, let’s not take an extreme measure that we will regret”.
Pastor Jerry was visibly torn in between his ego and the opinion of his board members.
Bro David spoke “Daddy Jerry I agree with you but since we are having this contention, let’s go back to the bible. The bible says clearly “come out from among them and be separate”. It’s unwise to pamper sin. I think we are on the right path.”
“I wish you understood half of that bible you are talking about”. Deacon Kanu retorted
The atmosphere was really getting uncomfortable, there was tension everywhere and I could feel the heat.
“Its ok, everyone. Since we have been unable to come to a conclusion and it will be unfair to send her outside again or adjourn the meeting, Let’s do what they do in the National Assembly, we will vote. Everyone tear out a piece of paper, write suspension or excommunication and pass it down to me.”
I waited for them to bend and write but all eyes were on me, at that moment I prayed for the ground to open up and swallow me so I could get some shelter.
PS: The previous episodes (Christanese 1 & 2) can be found on the blog, don’t forget to subscribe so you wont miss any episode. Feel free to share and drop your comments.