African Women Chronicles: Lara (Chapter 7)

As we entered my office I made a point of letting him know I only had a few minutes to spare as I was on my way home to rest and prepare for a vigil meeting when he drove in from Lagos. Fortunately, he understood and was as brief as possible. He had a series of crusades planned over a six month period in various parts of the country, with the first scheduled to hold in Akure in less than two months. The purpose was to plant churches in all the locations where the meetings would hold. He said he had already invited all the ministers who would be in attendance at the various meetings, but after he met me at pastor Preye’s church the Saturday before, he felt the Lord was urging him to invite me to participate in all the meetings. He had prayed about this and the Lord had confirmed that I was to minister and share a stage with him in all the meetings.

He concluded by saying, “I understand you are currently in high demand by a lot of ministries and that you probably already have other appointments scheduled for the period I am referring to but I know when the Lord speaks to me. He said you are to minister in all the meetings and whatever meeting clashes with this should be cancelled as it is your arrangement and not His.” He grinned as he finished, looking very pleased indeed.

If he didn’t look like the cat that got the cream, I would not have been so upset. The man was even more arrogant than I had thought he was.  He was also very annoying and my dislike for him seemed to be on the increase with each time we met.

“Thank you, reverend.” I said, trying to remain calm although I did not smile, as far as I was concerned, there was nothing to smile about. “I will pray about this and get back to you.”

He shrugged his shoulders and rose to his feet. “By all means, do.” He reached into his suit pocket and pulled out a business card which he stretched towards me. “I am certain of what I have told you. I hear when God speaks to me.”

“So do I.” I snapped and snatched the card from him.

He was not perturbed by my bad manners; as a matter of fact he totally ignored it and maintained his cool and of course, his smile. “In that case, I look forward to ministering with you.” He opened the door and turned back to look at me one more time before walking out. “I shall take my leave now.”

“About time.” I muttered under my breath as he shut the door behind him. I threw the card in my top drawer and left my office fuming.

I did not like the man; he had embarrassed me and sent me out of the house of God over seven years ago. If aunty Bose had not come after me I do not know what would have become of me that night and where I would be today. If, like him, aunty Bose failed to extend the love of God to me, where would I be today? I probably would have left the church and stayed out for ever, and then he wouldn’t know me, let alone invite me to minister with him at his crusade. How dare he come to my office and tell me he hears from God? If he did, he would not have sent me out of the church. Was it God who asked him to send me out of the church? No, it wasn’t; it was not an act of love and so I was certain it was not an act of God because God is love. He was used by the devil that night and it was high time he went on his knees and repented. Until he had done that, he had no business coming to my office to talk to me about God. As I drove home, I banged my hands on the steering wheel several times in anger and hot tears streamed down my cheeks. “Lord, this is not fair! I will work with anyone you want me to work with for the advancement of your kingdom, but not him. Send him far away from me, I never want to set eyes on him again.” I cried but the Lord did not answer me that day, He was silent.

My ministration that night was a complete failure, no one noticed anything but I knew the spirit of God did not work through me like before and I knew why. I looked peaceful on the outside but I was not peaceful on the inside. I was in turmoil, emotionally and mentally. I was angry with the reverend, angry with myself and yes, I was angry with God. Why did He want me to work with the reverend? He had blessed him spiritually and financially in spite of how badly he had treated me, was that not enough? Why did I have to work with him? I did not want to work with him or have anything to do with him. I did not like him and I was angry he was making progress.

I did not pray about reverend’s church planting meetings; I did not have to because I already knew that God wanted me to minister with him and that made me angrier because I did not want to do anything with the man. His attitude irritated me and the less I saw of him the better for me and my peace and sanity. Over the next five weeks, I carried on with my daily tasks and tried to put reverend Femi out of my mind, but one week to the event I finally got myself to pick the phone and call him. I had to minister in his meetings so I might as well let him know; and the earlier the meetings started, the earlier they would come to an end and I could put a wide gap between us and get on with my life. Hopefully, I wouldn’t see him in the future. He sounded very happy to hear from me and probably would have spent some time exchanging pleasantries except that I cut him short.

“I will minister at your church planting crusades over the next six months.” I went straight to the point.

I half expected him to make some sarcastic statement like, I told you so, but I was surprised. He simply said, “I will ask my PA to call you now and arrange logistics for you and your team. See you in Akure next week.” That was it, he hung up. I didn’t know if his attitude was better than I expected or worse but I did know that I still disliked the man.

Over the next six months, we shared the same stage at crusades held in different parts of the country, and when the meetings were over, we slept in the same hotels; however, we saw little of each other. His PA was responsible for everything I required so I didn’t have to have any contact with him. I should have been thrilled but I wasn’t. I thought it was very rude of him not to honour me with his presence, especially during dinner. In spite of my dislike of him, in the six months that followed, I grew to respect him and I also understood why he was greatly admired by all who knew him. He was not only highly anointed, he was also highly organised and disciplined. These traits were reflected in everything around him. His meetings started and finished on time and every programme was properly scheduled and timed from start of the service to finish. He did not spend time with other ministers in the hotel between each service but stayed locked up in his hotel room where he communed with the Lord and when he emerged after hours, the result was evident for all to see. I saw thousands come forward to give their lives to Christ because of the working of miracles and healings that they experienced. I certainly learnt a lot just by observing him and how he worked. Finally, it was time to return to Ibadan where I had invitations to minister already lined up by reason of what God had done through me during the six month church planting meetings with Reverend Femi. Before I left Ijebode where the final crusade was held, he sent for me so he could speak into my life. As I entered his hotel room where he was waiting for me in the company of his PA and the vice president of his ministry, the Lord said to me very clearly, “kneel before my servant.” So I did; I wasn’t ecstatic but the Lord had spoken.

He placed his hand on my head and before he opened his mouth, I was instantly slain in the Spirit and fell at his feet. He reached out and picked me up. As I knelt again at his feet, he said to me. “You have served God faithfully in this ministry the last six months. If I be a man of God, a miracle is coming your way within 48 hours.” I did not doubt him, I knew by now that although I did not like him, God worked through him and spoke through him.

I had no idea what the miracle was but I knew if Reverend Femi said it, then a miracle was certainly on the way. The miracle did come within 48 hours and it was a miracle I desperately needed. I travelled that day to Ibadan and the following day which was Sunday, I was ministering in a church in a special evening healing service. I had spent time in reverend Femi’s presence for six months and I could tell from the way I ministered that evening that the anointing on his life had rubbed off on me. I did not know why, after all I did not like the man. Anyway, it didn’t matter why, what mattered was that the anointing upon my life had increased. A lot of things happened in that meeting that had never happened anywhere I had ministered before. I felt God’s hand on my life like never before and I knew the only reason I did not raise the dead in that meeting was because there was none present.

Just as the service was coming to a close, a young woman dying of cancer was brought in on a stretcher. Her family members heard about the healing service and decided to bring her to Ibadan for God’s healing touch, since the doctor’s had sent her home from the hospital to die. I had finished ministering and was escorted out of the church auditorium to the church office when the host pastor informed me that I was required to pray for the dying woman. I went with him to the reception area where the woman and her family members were waiting for me. As I entered the room, I suddenly gasped in shock and stopped in my tracks. It was eight years since I left home and sickness had ravaged her body but I could recognise Nike instantly. As I looked in dismay at my sister’s almost lifeless body which lay on the stretcher on the ground, I heard a male voice exclaim, “Omolara! Is it really you?” I knew that voice as I knew my own but could it really be the person I thought it was? Very slowly, I tore my eyes away from Nike who appeared to be in a lot of pain, and raised my head to look in the direction the voice had come from and just as I had suspected, there was my father, whom I had not seen in about ten years and standing beside him was my immediate elder sister, Tola.

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