African Women Chronicles: Lara (Chapter 5)

That night I slept like a baby for the first time since my mother died. I had peace, inside and outside and I was happy. The following morning, I was up early to tidy the house and make breakfast; I wanted to show aunty Bose that she had not made a mistake in hiring me and giving me a roof over my head. I was determined to be an obedient maid, except aunty Bose didn’t see me as a maid or treat me as one. As the days went on and as we got to know each other better, I was treated like a younger sister. She told me that she was an only daughter and the last child of her parents and had always wanted a younger sister. As far as she was concerned, I was that sister. She treated me with a great deal of love and kindness and she was appreciative of the efforts I made to keep her home clean and cook her meals. Unlike my biological elder sister who rewarded me with physical and verbal abuse, aunty Bose was different; she showered me with praises and patiently corrected me when I erred.
My stay in aunty Bose’s house was actually planned by God; I didn’t know it at the time but I see it very clearly now. It was during my stay in her house and while attending church services with her regularly that I gave my life to Christ, was baptised in water and the Holy Ghost. That was not all, I also desired a deeper knowledge of God and so every day while she was at work, I spent hours reading mum’s Bible, as I had little else to do. The housework was minimal and didn’t take a lot of time and I was not interested in watching television, so I buried my nose in my Bible for hours on end. This went on for about three months until she decided it was time I enrolled for my GCE and JAMB exams. As I began to attend lectures in preparation for my exams, my study and prayer time reduced greatly, but I had already built myself up spiritually so I remained on fire.
My prayers during this period were mainly for aunty Bose; although I mentioned my biological sisters and my father, aunty Bose was my main focus. She had been a blessing to me, she had wiped my tears and made me happy and I wanted her to be happy in return. I knew her lack of a life partner was a major concern for her although she tried to act as though it wasn’t, therefore I set aside quality time daily to intercede on her behalf and it wasn’t long before God answered my prayers and she met and married a very wealthy business man who was based in Abuja. They did meet under strange circumstances, though.
Uncle Dapo, as I now fondly call him, had come to her branch one day to complain about a transaction that had gone wrong due to the bank’s negligence. According to aunty Bose, he was livid and threatened to close down his account and ensure everyone responsible was fired. Aunty Bose was naturally worried because as Branch Manager, she was responsible and knew without being told that her head would be the first to roll. She went to his country home in Abeokuta later that evening to apologise for the bank’s lapses and to assure him that such an occurrence would not repeat itself in the future, but that failed woefully as he was still very upset and made some unpleasant remarks which made aunty Bose leave his house in tears. I remember she came home later than usual that night and was really upset and not just because of the way he had spoken to her but because she had lost control of her emotions. She berated herself for weeping, according to her it was the most unprofessional thing to do. She feared she would lose her job unless God intervened. I was spending a lot of time in God’s presence, and was already accustomed to hearing Him speak, and so as she lamented, I heard the Lord say that the matter would not lead to the loss of her job but rather to her getting married. I told her without mincing words and she thought I was crazy and did not refrain from telling me so. The following day, to her utmost surprise, uncle Dapo showed up at her office to beg her forgiveness for the way he had behaved the day before and asked to take her out to lunch. Lunch was supposed to be business but it became a tiny little bit personal and aunty Bose was really thrilled when she came home that night. Her mood was a drastic change from the previous night. She talked my ear off, saying “Dapo said this, and Dapo said that.” I was amazed at how quickly she had switched from addressing him by his last name.
“So you now call him by his first name?” I asked, teasing her.
“Yes, but that is only because he insisted.” She said defensively.
I laughed. “Aunty Bose, when I gave you an original prophecy last night, you said I was crazy. Now that it looks like I am not crazy, don’t you think you should give me a prophet offering?”
She eyed me playfully. “Just because he took me out to lunch, you now think you’re a prophetess worthy of an offering. Look at you, yeye.” She gibed and we both laughed.
One year later, they were married and with uncle Dapo’s connections, aunty Bose was transferred to her bank’s branch in Abuja. She did not leave immediately but by the time she was ready to move, I had gained admission into the University of Ibadan to study law. We left Abeokuta about the same time; she moved to Abuja to join her husband and I relocated to Ibadan to begin school. We were parting ways physically but we knew we would remain connected emotionally and spiritually forever. She would always be my big sister and I would always be her little sister. Uncle Dapo was very kind and gave me a scholarship to cover my accommodation, tuition and books. It was initially for one year but renewable as long as I was in school and getting good grades. I had saved up a good sum of money from my monthly salaries which I never had to use anyway and aunty Bose took me shopping to change my wardrobe, thus I arrived in Ibadan very well provided for.
During my five year stay at the University of Ibadan, I remained in touch with aunty Bose and uncle Dapo, visiting them occasionally in Abuja. They continued to support me as they had promised to and I went through school without lacking anything. Spiritually, I continued to grow and God began to use me. I preached God’s word in the classrooms and in the hostels at every opportunity I could find. I went to hospitals and prison houses with the everlasting gospel, pulling men out of darkness and into light. I laid hands on the sick and they recovered instantly, I preached and people got out of wheel chairs and walked. I soon became a very active member and later on, an executive of the Scripture Union on campus. During holidays, if I wasn’t visiting aunty Bose and uncle Dapo, I was camping in some village with Christian brethren, preaching the word and winning souls to the kingdom of God. I had a new life, one that excited me so much that I hardly thought of the family I had left in Lagos. I had forgiven my sisters and I prayed for them daily but I had no desire to go looking for them; I did not miss them or long for their presence as we were never close. I missed my father though, and I prayed daily to be reunited with him if he was still alive. God had assured me, on one occasion that my father was alive, and when the time was right, He would bring my entire family together again. I had no idea when and how He would do it but I trusted Him. I knew in His time He would make all things beautiful.
After I finished my law degree, I went to Abuja to live with aunty Bose and her family for one year while I attended law school. By this time aunty Bose had become a director in her bank and she’d had three beautiful children, two boys and a girl. She had two house maids so I lived in her house as a younger sister and guest. I did not need to serve her, rather, I was served. She was very proud of me and did not hesitate to introduce me to all who came to the house. She would say, “Have you met my younger sister, Lara? She is a lawyer and is attending law school here in Abuja.” Although she was proud of my academic accomplishments she was even more so of my spiritual progress. She sometimes referred to me as pastor and when I corrected her she simply said, “It is time you saw yourself as God sees you.” She was right and as soon as I was called to the bar, the Lord revealed His plan and purpose for my life. He wanted me to work as an evangelist, taking His word across the world, although I was to begin in Nigeria. I was also to return to Ibadan from where I would operate. I decided not to go through with my National Youths Service but return to Ibadan and throw myself into what I really loved to do. Aunty Bose and uncle Dapo sent me forth stylishly by giving me a fairly used Toyota Sienna 7 passenger Minivan. They thought I would need it to transport myself and my team as I travelled around the country. I still had not learnt how to drive, but they made arrangements for a driver to drive me in the van to Ibadan. They also paid in a good amount of money into my account to enable me rent my own flat and furnish it and of course, aunty Bose took me shopping to equip my wardrobe for the Lord’s work.
I returned to Ibadan and with help from my brethren in the Scripture Union, some who were still in school, I began to hold crusades in different parts of Nigeria. During this period, I became fully aware of the gifts God had given me to help my ministry. I had a unique combination of the gifts of healing, prophesy and the working of miracles. It wasn’t long before my fame spread all around the country so that whenever and wherever I called for a meeting, the place would be jam packed with hundreds of people waiting for the touch of God.
During that first year, I was also in high demand by other ministries as they invited me to minister in their services. I will never forget one of those services I attended in Port Harcourt. It was an annual women’s conference organised by one of the major ministries in the country. I was the main guest minister for the three day conference and on the last day, just as I rounded up my ministration and went to take my seat, the host pastor came up to announce that she had a surprise for the congregation. She went on to read the brief profile of this special guest who she said she had invited, last minute, to bring a word of greeting to the congregation because he happened to be in town, although for another meeting. Then she asked everyone to join her in welcoming to the pulpit, Reverend Dr Femi Oloruntobi. As soon as she mentioned his name, the congregation began to scream and shout for joy. Apparently, they all knew him and were excited to have him in their midst. For some reason, I thought the name rang a bell but I wasn’t sure where I had heard it and I didn’t have time to think. Everyone was rising to their feet and clapping their hands. As I stood to my feet and put my hands together, I looked over my shoulder and saw a group of five men come through the door behind me that led to the altar. Four of them stood back while one man, who I felt must be the Reverend Dr, climbed the altar and approached the host pastor to shake hands and collect the microphone from her. I could not see his face clearly because he had his back to me and several others who were seated on the altar, and was facing the congregation.
The screaming and shouting in the audience continued for another minute or so and as the noise subsided, he said; “Thank you Jesus, Lord, we are grateful.”
I gasped, wide eyed, and almost passed out as it dawned on me who it was and why the name had sounded familiar. I knew that voice anywhere; I would never forget that voice, because, seven years ago, that same voice had said, “Will an usher please take that young lady outside?”

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