photo courtesy: www.thegospelcoalition.org
He came into the village one Saturday evening. He was a muscular man, the kind that can break your neck single handedly. He was of average height and light complexion. He had curly hair on his rounded head, a big nose, bloodshot eyes and one missing tooth. No one knew where he came from. Everyone seemed to be suspicious about him. No one was willing to welcome him to their homes. But when he mentioned something about being an apostle and a prophet and even uttered some few strange words, to show that he was filled with the Holy Spirit, our local pastor smiled from ear to ear and extended his hand of brotherhood, which was easily grabbed in a firm handshake. This was followed by a brotherly hug accompanied by words like ‘hallelujah’ and ‘Amen’. “Welcome home brother.” The pastor said, smiling. From then onward, the apostle cum prophet found a peaceful abode in the pastor’s house. The pastor seemed very happy to receive him.
One of the main reasons why the pastor received the man was because he was afraid of having to answer some very difficult questions from Jehovah himself. Can you picture Jehovah, asking you why you did not feed him when he was hungry? How would you answer that? It must be a terrifying experience indeed. Our pastor was also afraid of hell, where it is said that any wrong doer, would have to endure extensive heat, in a lake of fire, with the devil himself turning you over, so that you can roast well, using a big fork. If you have witnessed meat roasting, with some liquid oozing out and producing some funny hissing sounds, then try putting yourself in the place of that piece of meat. I believe anyone can excuse our pastor for being afraid.
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The next day, the stranger went to church, accompanied by the pastor, his wife and their daughter. This time the man was well dressed, having received a suit from our generous pastor. He introduced himself as prophet Jeremiah, an apostle and messenger of God. He uttered some strange, mind boggling words, which were met by loud shouts of ‘Amen!’ followed by loud cheers and ululations, mostly from women. Of course as usual, the male gender was poorly represented in the church, with most of them serving the devil in ‘changaa’ dens. He made it clear that his mission was to bring the message from heaven, to deliver sinful souls from the fire of ‘Jehanamu.’
“Brethren, the fire of ‘Jehanamu’ is real. Don’t be fooled by that liar called Satan. I want you to shout fire! Three times.” He said. This was repeated excitedly by the congregation. He continued, “Turn to your neighbor and tell them fire is coming down today. “This was equally repeated with excitement. To say the least, the church members were very happy. They were even expecting miracles to be performed that day. They were on standby to witness the lame walking, the deaf hearing and the blind seeing.
His approach to spreading the gospel deviated from the norm. Unlike our pastor who waited for the flock to come to church, the prophet went from one house to another. He prayed for everyone and everything. He blessed everyone and prophesied of great things to come. He prayed for the sick, from those suffering from common cold, to those suffering from gout. He prayed for pregnant women as well as those expecting to get pregnant and on top of that, he made it clear that he was a sworn enemy of the devil.
As he went after lost souls, some came to the lord while others ran away, unable to stand up to such confidence from a man of God. Others promised to get saved in the near future, which in the real sense was like asking for one more day to dance with the devil, according to the messenger. He would walk from house to house. He sanctified houses with the blood of the lord.
As if that was not enough, he visited places where most pastors shied away from. Those were the local brewing dens, where men and women alike drunk themselves to a state of temporary insanity. To add salt to injury, some would sing blasphemous songs. Others said that they would not want to go to heaven; if there will be no alcohol. One such fellow was Mlevi, who said, “Prophet, just promise me that we shall have wine in heaven and I will follow you unconditionally.” This just served to irritate the prophet further, who claimed that those were obstacles from Satan.
The messenger did not let himself be discouraged by blasphemous way, in which those people spoke about the lord. The brewer even tried to jokingly offer him some locally made brew, but he rebuked him vehemently.
“But prophet, even Jesus drunk wine and even changed water to wine.” The brewer said, trying hard to stand on his feet, for he was so drunk.
“Yes”, replied the messenger, “He may have used wine as a symbol of his blood, but did he drink himself to a state of uselessness like these people?” he asked pointing at those too drunk to walk back home. Then he broke into a song, then finally prayed a long prayer, which left the drunkards puzzled. To them it was just a case of some misguided individual, interrupting their merry making.
The messenger went further and recruited a few youthful ladies and gentlemen to help take the message to the lost souls. One of the youthful members was the pastor’s daughter, who had just completed high school and was waiting to go to college. The pastor had no objection, to his daughter serving the lord.
One evening, as they were having dinner at the pastor’s house, the prophet said to the pastor’s daughter, in the presence of the pastor and his wife, “Judy, as I slept last night, I had a vision. In the vision, I saw you graduating from college, after studying through a scholarship programme.” To this the pastor and his wife shouted in unison, “Amen.”
The prophet continued, “However, the lord has instructed me to pray and fast with you for a period of one month. Have you fasted before?” Judy, the pastor’s daughter shook her head. “Don’t worry,” the prophet reassured her, “I will teach you how to do it.”
The prophet explained to the pastor that fasting was a period of seclusion and so he should find them a private room, where they could pray every night and early in the morning. The pastor strongly agreed and suggested that they use the room, separate from the main house, which was rarely used unless there were many guests. No one was suspicious of anything, after all he was a man of God.
The prayers began. Every morning and evening, the prophet and the pastor’s daughter prayed for some time, followed by a long period of silence, which the prophet claimed, was a period of meditation. Judy always came from these prayers, looking very happy and excited and the pastor was very proud of his daughter, who had chosen the path of prayer, “Many pastors are struggling with making their children follow their steps of faith and here, our daughter has chosen the good path willingly, thank you lord,” he said silently.
The prayer and fasting went on for a whole month, then one morning, the pastor woke up and the prophet had disappeared. Everyone was puzzled. No one knew where he went. “Could the lord have sent him elsewhere to take the message?” someone asked. Another suggested that the lord might have taken him to heaven just like Elijah of the bible. Even the pastor’s daughter had no idea where he went.
As the villagers were asking endless questions, there were other new developments. The pastor’s daughter started suffering from malaria like symptoms, especially during the morning hours. The structure of her body started swelling changing from that of a girl, to that of a maturing young woman. In addition, she started swelling in the wrong places. First it was the tenderness around her face, then the increasing size of her belly. Need I say more? No need to, any wise person could figure that out.
People in the village were shocked by the disappearance of the prophet. Even the drunkards, who had considered him a nuisance, were concerned.
“Now who will intercede for us in this village?” they asked, albeit jokingly, since the prophet’s escapade with the pastor’s daughter were already evident.
“I knew the man’s flesh was weak” the brewer was heard saying victoriously, and then he added, “Had I pressurized him a little bit more to take a sip of my brew, he would have given in. I could tell from the way his lips were shaking, that he was thirsty for a drink.
On making further inquiries, they discovered that the so called prophet was a convict who had escaped from prison, but had been re-arrested. Apart from Judy, two other girls started swelling in the wrong places and their fingers were pointed at the prophet. The villagers slowly shook their heads, wondering how the devil had managed to tempt their pastor. There were also whispers that the pastor could face possible arrest, for being an accomplice to the runaway criminal, not forgetting the issue of the coming grandchild. This time it was the pastor’s turn to pray and fast.