BETHEL HOSPITAL (SATURDAY 4TH AUGUST, 2007)
Thomas and Shola met the nurse at the reception. They explained their absurd situation to the nurse and expected her to laugh them to scorn but she just smiled knowingly and led them to the doctor’s office. It was there they understood the woman’s smile. It was a Christian hospital with a Pastor as Chief Medical Officer. So, speaking in terms of God’s leading to walk into a strange place was not news to them but there was more.
The CMO introduced himself as Dr. Charles Onuzo. “Nurse Tunrayo told me about your reason for being here, but if you don’t mind, I would want to hear from you again” he said.
Thomas went ahead to explain how God had told him earlier in the day that there was a soul to be saved and how he’d been led to the hospital just a few minutes back.
“This is amazing. I’m glad young people like you are listening to God” He paused and looked at them with a sad smile. “I had been praying all day that God would just send someone to reach out to one of my patients who is about to die. She is a teenager and is not saved and is just a few minutes, at best, hours from her eternity, and here you are.” He lifted his hands upwards. “Thank you Father.”
“Anything you want to tell us about this patient before we see her?” Thomas asked.
“I picked her up on the road early this morning at about 6:30am on my way to the clinic. It was still quite dark but I saw she was staggering and noticed, with the help of my head light, that she was dripping blood. What surprised me most was that she was wearing a theatre robe. That was absurd and it caught my attention.
“I stopped my car close to her. Just as I touched her to ask her name, she fell in my arms, unconscious. She must have been walking a great distance. I rushed her to my clinic but knew it was already too late; she’d lost too much blood and strength, and worse, her wound had been infected. Most importantly, she’d lost a will to live. That she’s still alive, I believe is a sign that God really wants to save her. Someone, somewhere must be praying for her.”
“What was the cause of her dripping?”
“You won’t believe if I tell you she’s refused to talk to anyone since she got here and she has no ID, so we know little about her.” He paused. “To your question, from my observation, I noticed she was cut opened inside and wasn’t sutured back. It was quite easy to discover when I saw the part opened. She was carrying out an abortion that was terminated right in the middle of surgery. That’s still a mystery to me”
“Thanks doc”, Thomas said, suddenly feeling an urgency to see the patient and do what God had sent them to do. “Please, can we see her now?”
“Sure”, he said. “But can we pray a prayer of agreement before you go that God would use you to reach her. To be frank, I don’t why it’s you guys, young chaps like her that God brought, but I know there’s a purpose.”
They bowed their heads, connecting in prayer holding on to the scripture that if two of God’s children shall agree concerning anything, God would do it. After the prayer, Dr. Onuzo called for Nurse Tunrayo to lead them into the patient’s room.
Shola sat on the bed and Thomas sat on the seat beside the bed. Thomas had learnt to do as the Spirit led him, and the leading he had was for Shola to sing a song he had come to love. And she sang gracefully. The presence of God literally filled the hospital room that housed only the teenage patient as she sang the song. She placed her hands gently on the girls arm as she sang the words over and over. Thomas’ head was bowed in prayer.
He touched me
Oh He touched me
And Oh what joy that filled my soul
Something happened and now I know
He touched me and made me whole
As Shola was still singing, the girl stirred and turned her head, painfully but deliberately towards them. Shola almost stopped singing. There was something familiar about the girl. She tried to shake it off but couldn’t. The girl looked at Thomas first, trying to focus on the face, then she turned slightly to the singing voice and her eyes froze on the face before her.
“Sh-Shooola” she managed to say.
Shola was taken aback but not as much as Thomas was. “Easy girl!”
The girl on the bed just seemed to find the strength to talk a little more. “Shola Bankole?” she asked, slowly but clearly. Shola nodded. And noticed tears flood the girl’s eyes so fast and spill over just as fast.
“What’s your name?”
“Moni”, she paused to regain strength. “I was your junior in secondary school; a junior that desperately wanted to be like you” as she said that, the tears increased.
Shola lowered her head; the message was all too clear. Thomas, being privy to Shola’s past, put pieces together. It was at that point he knew he had no part to play than to pray. God had brought them here because Shola and the girl, Moni, needed to meet. Shola was the tool God intended to use. He sat back and began praying silently but fervently for them both. Moni for her salvation and Shola for strength; it was obvious her past was haunting her; she needed strength to overcome the guilt that she had done this to this girl.
For twenty minutes, Moni painfully recapped how her heart had been diverted after seeing Shola at the Home Coming. She talked about the Bayo episode, then the modeling. It was at that point she came to the most painful part; the part that had brought her to this end.
“I went there as early as 5:30. I didn’t want anyone to see me going there; it was my first time. I met only one person there; he said he was the doctor” He paused and coughed. “The guy gave me a little anesthesia but said he didn’t believe in knocking out his patients. He had opened me up and removed whatever it was he had to. Just then, he had a phone call, and can you imagine he left me to receive the call.
“Fortunately for me, he went to the toilet next door to pick the call; I guess it was a private call. But the conversation soon caught my attention. He was saying words like ‘Yes, I have one with me’ also heard ‘You need a fresh one today?’ Strange fear gripped me. I didn’t care if he was referring to me or not. I stood up and started walking out as fast as I could. Thankfully, there was no one to stop me and it was dark. I thought he would follow me but he didn’t. I didn’t take chances but kept walking. It was then a car stopped behind me and I went unconscious, only to find myself here.”
“The doctor said you lost so much blood and…”
“I’m going to die. Yes, I deserve to die!” She said resigned.
Shola took Moni’s left hand in hers and stroked it. “Moni, you don’t have to die”
“Don’t give me that!”
“Okay, why not settle with God?”
“Shola, don’t preach to me. I know who you are and the things you’ve done. You’re the reason for my being on this bed”
Shola’s eyes filled at that stab. “I’m sorry Moni, please forgive me. I was a blind leader of the blind. I didn’t know better myself and didn’t know girls were choosing to be like me.”
“Only if you knew!” Moni sighed.
“Jesus rescued me, Moni. He can do the same for you. Things can still end beautifully for you. He’s turned my life around. I almost committed suicide but…”
Moni was wide-eyed, questioning.
“Yes.” Shola briefly told the story and saw Moni was softening. Shola glanced at Thomas and saw he was still praying. She was encouraged. “And since that Sunday, when I answered the altar call, my life has never been the same.”
“Won’t God regret me, seeing I’m accepting Him on my death bed?”
“No dear. It’s no coincidence that we came here today. God wants you, Moni.”
Moni recalled several of Pearl’s preachings and gave in. “Shola, if Jesus could save you, then I guess He can save me too.”
“Yes He can and He will.” Shola said, smiling through her tears. Thomas held Shola’s left hand and she in turn held Moni’s hand and led her in a prayer of repentance.
After it, Moni’s face was all wet, and there was brightness in her eyes that if anyone needed a confirmation of Moni’s salvation; they had it. Shola felt she needed to do one more thing. “This is Thomas, the man God blessed me with even after I was all messed up” She said facing Thomas.
Moni smiled. “God is weird, isn’t He?” she said, smiling still with tears in her eyes. There were her last minutes; she couldn’t help it. But now they weren’t tears of despair but of gratitude to God who came through for her at her last minute.
“I need one more favour” she said. “Before you call any family members, please call Pearl, my best friend, to tell her that I’m gone but gone to be with her Jesus and my Jesus” she said with a teary smile and dictated Pearl’s phone number to them.
Shola wrote it down. “We would” she looked at Thomas and saw he wasn’t left out in the teary moment. Moni then asked for the doctor. Thomas went to call him. He came, with Nurse Tunrayo behind him. What he saw brought tears to his own eyes too. “I had been praying for the past hour in my office.”
“Thanks Doc” she breathed.
He nodded. And with a few more breathes, Moni was gone to be with the God who loved her till the very end.
SHERATON HOTEL, LAGOS (SATURDAY 4TH AUGUST, 2007)
Pearl, Chuba and Ifeoma were having fun. They had just eaten; room delivery and were maximizing their benefits. They were now settled to watch TBN and they were so thrilled to see the next minister; Pastor Franklin Jentezen.
“I look forward to seeing him live during the Conference” Ifeoma said.
“You had better sit in front for that to happen!”
“You bet we will.” Pearl chipped in. Just then, her phone rang. Chuba was on the seat close to the TV while she and Ifeoma were lying on the bed with faces, close to the TV. She picked the call, and adjusted her position, rising to sit at the edge of the bed so as not to disturb her colleagues.
“Hello” … “Yes, speaking” … “Hi, Shola. How did you get my number?” … “Great, is she okay” … “You can’t be serious! Hey! hey!, stop this!” Pearl lowered herself to the floor, placing her left hand on her head, trying hard to suppress the tears that threatened to burst out as the person talked on.
“I’m still here” she said after a long pause, surprised she was still able to talk. “Did she?” she brightened up a bit. “When?” … “Praise God!” she said through the tears that had now started making their way down her cheeks. “Thanks for calling” … “I will” She said, dropped the phone and hurried to the bathroom. She cried her eyes out. It was too much bear.
“Moni, why?” she repeated over again. When she was a little relieved, she remembered Shola’s words. “Moni said I should tell you she’s gone to be with your Jesus and her Jesus”. She smiled through her tears. She was happy her friend was in heaven but just wished things had turned out better. Both of them alive and serving God joyfully would have obviously being a better bet. As she stepped out of the bathroom, she heard Pastor Franklin’s words.
He was saying. “…God desires the best for all of us and has made all good things available to us in Christ Jesus but there is one thing that determines when and how much of these blessings we get. Do you want to know?” he said
The TV audience shouted “Yes!”
He then said, “The Choices we make in life.” He paused for effect “Our choices determine whether we receive these blessings or not. Turn to your friend and say ‘Choices’”
Pearl thought about it and knew that was the bottom line; we’re all products of our choices. She joined the TV audience in echoing. “CHOICES!!!”
Written by Timilehin Adigun
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