“Please kindly tell the next person at the reception to come right in. God bless you.” Pastor Chris said.
Mr. Emmanuel beckoned on the next brother awaiting counselling, to come in as he walked out of the reception.
“Good morning Pastor.” Brother Dennis greeted as he entered the Pastor’s office for counselling.
“Please have your seat man of God.” The Pastor offered.
“Thank you sir, and thanks for the priviledge.” He said.
“You are welcome, so what exactly do you need God’s counsel on?” He asked.
“There’s really no problem sir.” Dennis said.
“And there will never be in Jesus name.” The Pastor added almost too quickly.
“It’s about the will of God sir.” Dennis started.
“Ok…so which of the will(s) of God.” Pastor sighed.
“It’s about God’s choice for me in marriage.”
“That’s beautiful; I was going to ask you soon if you were intending to be a Reverend Father.” He teased.
“So what about it, now that your vision seems clearer?”
Dennis chuckled before he responded, “God spoke to my heart concerning Sister Tara.”
“Sister Omotara! Wao! We thank God anyway.” Pastor Chris continued.
“Since you said it was God that spoke to your heart, then we need to return to God for confirmation, and proper timing for a go-ahead. So I will ask you to continue praying fervently.” “You remember the part of the scriptures that says, the fervent prayer of the righteous availeth much?”
“Yes Sir I do”. He answered.
“Good! So continue praying.” Pastor Chris ended in the common Pastoral way.
Dennis expressed his gratitude and they prayed together.
Dennis was a young vibrant man, in his late twenties, he was just like David in the bible, filled with the Holy Spirit and a fine looking young man, he possessed all the qualities that would make a lady swallow her pride. A dark and handsome man, and masculine in every way. A member of the prayer unit in God’s Grace Bible Ministry. The branch where Pastor Chris headed in Port-Harcourt. Dennis had a right heart for service, he believed a man was either serving God or wasting away. His commitment to God’s work was enviable. He wouldn’t take prayer meeting for granted. All of these qualities could make any insincere sister see him in a vision for life partner.
Dennis has a degree in Physiotherapy, medical rehabilitation from the University of Ibadan. He is now back in Port-Harcourt, he’s homeland where he works for Krielson Medical Rehabilitation Centre.
He met Omotara just when he started attending God’s Grace Bible Ministry, just after he left his Parents’ church, where he was born, baptized and confirmed. He left there church ever since he understood the fact that you don’t go to church by proximity but rather by revelation.
Omotara a soft-hearted lithe lady, who just graduated from the Rivers State University of Science Technology, has always been faithful in church, upon her arrival from the school.
She was one of the Sunday school teachers in church. She could teach with aptness a verse of the scripture for the next two hours. Analyzing and explaining from the surface to the depth of unimaginable. She loved God and also worshipped Him with a pure heart.
“Come in.” Dennis said from his sitting room.
Chidinma stepped in gracefully to the room.
“Good evening Sister Chidinma.” Dennis greeted.
“Evening Sir.” She answered.
“But you came quite late.”Dennis said.
“Am sorry I almost forgot I promised you a visit. A friend of mine came by the house and didn’t leave until few minutes ago. He dropped me off at our place. I'm so sorry.” She replied.
“It’s alright, you are here now, you are welcome to my small apartment.” Dennis said looking round his neatly furnished two-bedroom flat. Although he was not a lady, he still had everything in place. His neatly hung floral curtain with its white lining. The rightly positioned air-conditioner was faithful with its duty which made the room cosy. The rug was neatly laid and the well arranged electronics all made the house more homely.
“So what do I offer this spectacular woman of God?” Dennis asked as he stood to his feet. “Or rather let me borrow one of our slangs back then in the family house of the Nigeria Christian Corpers’ Fellowship. So what do I offer this womanaga?” He giggled.
“Youth and slangs can almost never be separated. If you the high and spiritual brother Dennis use slangs, then I should not be considered carnal for using them.” Chidinma said as she swayed her unpacked hair.
“Sister Chidinma! I am not approving of carnality. Those ones were spiritual slangs. Moreover it made our stay in the house more interesting.” Dennis said as the conversation went in a colloquial manner.
“Slang is slang; I don’t find such thing as spiritual slang in my bible.” Chidinma chuckled.
"Anyway I’m fine, thank you for the offer."
“The Christian Association of Nigeria will soon ban all Christians from watching Africa Magic if care is not taken.” Dennis said flipping through the channels with the remote in his right hand.
“And why would you say that?”
“Why not, if they continue to emphasize that sex story is all they’ve got to display?” He said.
“I agree, they just hid under the caution they put on the screen, of not suitable for teenagers below sixteen, because of its values and strong languages.” Chidinma added.
“I bet it should be changed to not suitable for serious Christians.” Dennis remarked.
It was getting quite penumbra, the time was fifteen minutes to six.’
Dennis stepped out of his room with his bible and jotter in his hands, and announced to Chidinma that he had to leave for his unit meeting right away.
Chidinma liked Dennis a lot. She was also attracted by his masculine beauty. How could a man as handsome as his be unengaged, a tongue talking, fire branded, bible quoting, rhema receiving brother as his! She thought. Maybe he was jilted, but who would jilt such a handsome brother, she thought. Such brother that one could lose on the verge of ‘Praying about it’. Much more than this, Chidinma admired Dennis for his commitment to the things of God. She maintained their friendly relationship.
“Brother Dennis make sure you see me in my office before you leave.” Pastor Chris said, as he returned to the office.
They were just rounding off their meeting but still had few announcements to share. Omotara came for the meeting, since it was a prayer unit meeting and anyone was welcome.
Dennis rushed to see the Pastor in his office, just as the grace was said hoping he would be able to see Tara if he was quick enough.
“Sister Omotara thanks for coming for our meeting.” The brethren chorused.
“Dennis dashed out of the Pastor’s office quickly to meet Tara. All that the Pastor said back there didn’t receive a warm reception in his heart. His mind was on Tara all through the meeting in the Pastor's office, he thought that how on earth would he lead a prayer point, and then stared at Omotara while others prayed, during the meeting. His heart was surely after her.
“Good evening Sis.” Dennis hurried after Omotara who was already walking out of the church premises. “Good evening.” She said turning back to see who it was that greeted from afar.
“Oh it’s you Brother Dennis.”
Dennis raised several topics to ensue them in a discussion as they walked along. It was such time when there was particularly nothing to say but a discussion needed to keep them talking.
“You should turn to the right, isn’t it? I thought you live on Bode Johnson Street.” Tara asked as they approached a T-junction.
“Yes I do, I just want to walk you down the road a little further.”He said trying to impress her.
“Oh, I would be fine. Anyway why didn’t you come in your car?” Tara asked.
“It’s gone for medical check-up.” He chuckled.
They discussed a little more and Dennis returned to his route.
Dennis had not taken enough time out to pray as the Pastor asked except in his morning devotions. He was so attracted to Tara, that he always wished he was in her class during Sunday school.
“Charles, open this door before I break it.” Dennis said aloud in front of Charles’ door.
Charles opened the door almost immediately. They have been friends right from their undergraduate days, good ones at that.
“Young man good afternoon, but why did it take you so long to open the door.” Dennis stepped in.
Looking around mischievously he said, “Or is there any sister lurking around?”
“Lurking you say! You are just not serious, if I had a guest should that be a problem? OR you think everyone is like you? Charles laughed clapping his hands, by now they were already settled in the sitting room.
Don’t worry, because you do it, doesn’t mean everybody does it. “Charles said almost winning the argument.
“Do what? Abeg don’t meddle with my integrity here. I was just kidding; why are you making it appear like you caught me in the act. Please can we drop this carnal discussion?” Dennis teased on.
“Oh now it has suddenly become a carnal discussion?” Charles added as he dropped the tray with a glass of juice before Dennis.
“Charles, it’s enough now. At least I raised the issue.” Dennis shouted.
“Ok, you agree I won then.
“Guy what is it with you now?” Charles started again. He was an extrovert to the core.
“What do you mean?” Dennis queried.
“A whole Physiotherapist beeping my phone, why were you beeping me for God’s sake? Charles continued.
Dennis replied almost immediately in the most popular Nigerian way.
“And is there any crime in flashing your phone when I had no airtime?”
Ok, there is really no crime, but do you know I stood up from the toilet seat just to pick your call and alas it was a mere beep.” Charles said.
“What! You did what?” Dennis started to laugh aloud.
“Yes!” Charles answered.
This time Dennis was laughing hysterically on the floor.
“You are such a clown Bro!” Dennis added
“Hope nothing fell on the floor on your way to reach your phone! Or did you clean up before coming out? He winked.
“You are not serious.” Charles wanted to hit him but he dodged it.
Dennis wouldn’t stop talking about it, “You did that because you are still a bachelor, you know?”
“Of course, at least you know in a few months time that will definitely stop.
“But come to think of it Brother Dennis you haven’t spoken to me about God’s plan for you in marriage.” Charles changed the topic.
“It is as such time like this you refer to me as ‘Brother’, anyway you mean my fiancée?”
“Obviously I know you don’t have one, if you do I would know, but what are your plans concerning it is my question?” Charles probed.
Dennis told Charles how he thinks Chidinma is trying to come closer, and his plans to tell her that he has no intentions towards her. He also told him how God had spoken to him about Omotara. Charles was so happy and even teased him with the fact that maybe God preserved her for him, because he also wondered why such a pretty sister would be unengaged. Dennis jested too about it by asking him, if he was there when he received the vision.
Few weeks later, Dennis had an appointment with the Pastor. He came to the sanctuary in time and headed for the Pastor’s office. Pastor Chris had just finished attending to a partially paralyzed man; he entered right away, greeted the man of God and sat down.
“How has been your day Brother Dennis?” Pastor inquired.
“Splendid. Thank you sir,” he bowed and quickly asked about the partially paralyzed man he saw coming out of the Pastor’s office on his arrival.
“Pastor Sir, is Mr. Cornelius now a member of our church?
“Who is Mr. Cornelius?” Pastor Chris wondered.
“I mean the partially paralyzed man I saw coming out of your office a while ago. He explained.
“Oh you mean that man!” He sighed.
“Not at all, a member recommended this church to him for help, moreover how come you know him by name.” Pastor asked.
“I know him, he is such an impatient man. He came to our office for medical rehabilitation, and he managed to join the queue. Anyway he did at last and met the consultant on duty.” Dennis said.
“Ok, that means he is not in any way different.
Pastor Chris narrated how Mr. Cornelius caused a scene in his office few weeks ago because he was rich and wouldn’t join the line, but wanted to see the Pastor right away.
“Only God knows how much impatience would have cost him.” Dennis said
“You can say that again. It is in church they, make all the compromise, I don’t know why people think God’s business is a casual business. He couldn’t join the line because he thinks he just wanted to see a pastor, but he could wait patiently in line to see a medical practitioner. Anyway I pray that God heal him and block every loop hole in his life.” Pastor Chris added.
“I hope you have been praying hard concerning what we spoke about the last time?” Pastor Chris changed the topic.
“Yes Sir I’m doing my best, I think I have a strong feeling and conviction about it now.” Dennis replied.
“You mean a feeling or conviction, Brother Dennis?” Pastor Chris queried.
“Yes Sir I mean a strong conviction to go-ahead."
“Ok then, first of all I will like to tell you to be very sure, because most times sister’s are the one trying to be double sure, brothers always think they know it all, because of the size of their bible is like a concordance, they think they don’t need to pray, they don’t read books on marriage. Sisters are the one trying to gather details, don’t be like that. Secondly get busy with the assignment that God has given you, don’t be distracted by this issue. Get committed to your assignment such that each time God looks down upon the surface of the earth he will not have to consider another man for your work.”
“Finally I would have loved you to pray some more but if you think you are sure about the go-ahead, then I will not hold you back.” Pastor ended.
Dennis left the office after the Pastor had prayed for him .
Omotara lay on her bed and kept praying. She’s laid on her belly for hours making supplications to God. Her phone beeped continually, but she didn’t pick it up.
She had always received Dennis’ message monthly, he also received his calls once in a while. She had always been courteous enough to reply all his messages.
It was Dennis calling severally. When she was through with prayers, she decided to send him a message telling him she was busy while the phone rang.
She continued to hum the song she heard in her spirit as she came out the place of prayer. She returned from the kitchen with a glass of water, as she settled to continue with the business of pressing her phone.
Dennis called in. “Good afternoon Sister Tara.” Her caller sounded.
“How are you doing today? Just decided to say hi and I would also love to check on you at your place later in the week if you don’t mind.
“Thank you sir, that would be lovely. Tara answered.
“I hope you would still remember your way down here.” She added.
“Yes I should, I have been there times. Thank you very much.”
“Thank you for the call. I await your visit.”
She ended the call.
Omotara raised her curtain to see where the screeching of car was coming from.
It was Dennis.
She rushed to her room to redress properly. Her room was upstairs in the five bedroom duplex apartment she resided. It was her Uncle’s, Mr. Taylor.
She had come to live with them after her graduation from the university.
She added all more powder and greased her lips slightly. Although she was not aware of Dennis’ motive for visiting, she definitely understood that looking appropriate all the time was no sin.
She rushed downstairs.
She was still on the stairways when she heard a knock.
“Come right in.”
Dennis stepped in a polo shirt and nice jeans to match. He had his suede shoes on.
“Please make yourself comfortable.” Tara said as she led him to the major sitting room.
“Thank you, and how has been your day?” Dennis asked as they settled on the cushion.
“Splendid! Excuse me”, she hurried off to the kitchen.
She returned with a tray with a glass and juice.
“Please have this.” She dropped it on the table.
They were soon engrossed in a long conversation. They discussed a lot about themselves, from the physical to the spiritual. Quoting and un-quoting scriptures.
They giggled at intervals, laughed and enjoyed themselves. Dennis enjoyed her companionship more than Chidinma’s. He was very relaxed.
Then there was silence.
Dennis knew this was his best time to let the cat out of the bag. He summoned courage.
“Sister Omotara I admire and love you a lot.” He started out.
“Thank you Sir.”
“More than that I am sure God will have us partner together on the road to destiny. Dennis dropped the bombshell.
“Sorry?” Tara’s eyes widened.
“Yes, I love you and would love to ask you for a serious relationship.”
Just then his phone rang, he checked the caller quickly, it was Chidinma, he rejected the call right away.
What sort of indolent interference during such a delicate matter.
“Oh!” She said still surprised.
“I am sure the Holy Spirit is leading us to be together. He tried to convince her. He felt he was convinced enough since he mentioned it in his morning devotion that day as the Pastor had asked him to pray some more.
The Pastor expected him to fast and pray, although he didn’t tell him in plain terms, he expected that he should know better considering his level of commitment to God.
The Pastor expected him to fast and pray, although he didn’t tell him in plain terms, he expected that he should know better considering his level of commitment to God.
"No problem Sir, I will go ahead and speak to God about it." She said calmly.
“Thank you for coming once again. Tara said. The duo stood in front of Dennis’ car.
Dennis entered his car.
“Bye” Omotara waved.
Dennis decided to return Chidinma’s call right away as he drove home.
“Sorry I could not pick your call the other time. I was in the middle of something.” Dennis said to Chidinma over the phone.
“That’s no problem.” Chidinma answered.
“How has been you day Sir.” Chidinma said.
“My day has been great.” Dennis quickly continued before Chidinma could interrupt him.
“Sister Chidinma I am sorry but I will like to tell you that God has spoken to me about his will for me in marriage, and you were not the one he mentioned to me.”
“Sorry? Was that for me?”Chidinma asked.
She continued, “And why are you informing me about God’s will for you in marriage. Anyway that’s Ok. Am sorry if I ever disturbed you with my call at any time.” She felt very embarrassed and ended the call right away.
Dennis felt bad, and wanted to explain that he didn’t mean to be rude, but the line was off before he could utter a statement.
Anyway he would not let Chidinma disrupt the joy that was still fresh in his heart. He increased the volume of his car stereo has he drove off.
“It’s been four months now Sister Tara since you promised to get back to me. But I haven’t received any reply from you.” Dennis said as he drove Tara home after the prayer meeting that evening.
“Am sorry Sir, I should have given you a reply but I believed time was the best instrument to test such matters.” She responded.
“Please would you stop referring to me as Sir! Anyway what is it you want to do to my heart? Sadden it or give it more reason to live.” Dennis continued his manifesto.
“Well I don’t know what that means; I just wanted to have good reasons for giving you whatever answer I will give you.” Tara answered.
“Don’t tell me you were looking for every reason to say NO.” The car was parked in front of the Taylor’s gate by now.
“Anyway it’s a YES to your request Bro.” She grinned.
“Oh Yes! Thank you thank you, he said with joy expressed on his face as he hugged her from the driver’s seat.
“Yeah, but I need to leave now, because Mr. Taylor wouldn't like this scene you know.
She was referring to her Uncle.
“Alright then let me leave because I don’t want any clash with my in-law.”
Tara stepped out of the car and waved him goodnight.
Dennis turned on the stereo player in his car, increased the volume, and drove home gladly.
Their relationship blossomed; they informed the Pastor every step of the way. It was three months into their relationship; they prayed together several times and were most times in company of one another such that almost every member of the church knew about these two love birds. Everything went well with them.
Omotara had gone to pay Dennis a visit in his apartment.
They raised several discussions and laughed together at all the funny issues.
“Dennis I need to tell you something.” Omotara started.
“Am all ears dear.” He fondled his right hand as a sign of encouragement.
“Sweetheart I have not taken time to share my past with you all these while.” She continued.
“I had a rough one dear. Richard was my very first love; we met in my second year in the University. I was already born-again, but my feet were not to firm in the faith. Although I had the faith I didn’t understand that faith was a fight and that if you were not fighting you would be a victim soon.” She paused to see her fiancé’s reaction.
“OK, go on…” Dennis said.
“So I was always visiting Richard and we didn’t put too many cautions in place, yet we were both committed worker’s in the fellowship.”
“We slipped into sin! We had sex!” She dropped the bombshell and quickly continued before Dennis could gather strength to say a word.
“It was once, but I was already pregnant while we were asking for forgiveness and planning restitution. The shame would be too great. I didn’t take time to discuss it with anybody except Richard. I suggested abortion, since every other option appeared impossible considering the home I came from.”
Dennis felt he was in a cinema, as the lines dropped from Tara. Maybe it was a joke, maybe she was trying to test his love for her, he wished.
Tara continued. “Richard complied with the abortion process.”
“The process was badly done, as there was severe bleeding afterwards.” Omotara managed to swallow the saliva that filled her mouth, as tears rolled down her face.
“Then the doctor brought the news that there were complications, and my giving birth would only be by a miracle.” Tara was already on her knees crying loudly.
Dennis’ mouth was widely agape. The shock was unbearable. He least expected it from her.
The prim and proper Sister Tara!
The very innocent one.
The same one who explained the scriptures with so much depth.
Gosh! But why didn’t she tell him before he proposed to her.
Dennis wondered away in his thought.
“Brother Dennis!” Tara shouted.
“Oh!” he said, recovering from his lost thought
“You are not saying anything?” She said searching his eyes for a reaction.
“Yeah, that was in the past. Since you have sincerely pleaded for forgiveness, then God will definitely take control.” He gathered himself together finally, although those words were not coming from his right senses. How could he, marry a barren woman, on what faith level would he try that.
“Pastor I don’t think I can go ahead with the relationship.” Dennis said as he sat uncomfortably before the Pastor.
The atmosphere was tense in there.
“What do you mean Brother Dennis? What! This was why I asked you to go ahead and pray about it for months, the Pastor raised his voice.
“Am sorry Sir, but I can’t go ahead” Dennis paced around the office.
“Moreover I thought you said God led you into it isn't it?" Pastor Chris probed further.
………………………………….To be continued………………………..………..