Febi was listening so intently that nothing else mattered at that moment to her. It was like the pastor had been in her house and had seen how she was treated. She would have taken him for a mind reader if not that he had said something about ‘preaching under the auction of the Holy Spirit’.
She didn’t know when the tears began rolling down her cheeks but she didn’t hold them back. When he called for those who wanted to accept Jesus to come forward, she immediately stood and began walking toward the altar. There were many who came out. Standing beside her was a tall teenage boy wearing an expensive lace outfit, but she barely noticed him.
Standing at the altar, Dayo knew that he had made the right decision. Pastor Francis had quoted Deuteronomy 28:13 to let him know that success was God’s will for everyone but the condition was obedience to God’s word. He had long postponed giving his life to Christ but now was the day and there was turning back this time.
The pastor asked them to confess their sins to God. Silently, he apologized for all his misdeeds. He confessed his pride, apologized for times he had put others down because they weren’t wealthy, repented of cheating in exams, sleeping with girls and dumping them after, and so many more. The more he confessed his sins to God, the more relieved he felt.
They were ushered to a room where counselors spoke with them, and gave them materials to help them grow in the Christian faith. Soon after, they all returned to the auditorium to join in the rest of the service.
At the end of the service, announcements were made as to people who came because they needed counseling, welfare or tutorials. They were told the respective places to sit after the service. When the service was over, some teenagers left the auditorium immediately, while some gathered in different circles to have meetings. Others, who came for help, sat at the designated places, waiting to be addressed.
Sitting on the first seat on the first row among those waiting for counseling, Febi kept thanking God in her heart that He had made her see the advert and had made her come. She felt new. She knew she would still be going home to face the real world, but she was still content that her life had taken a new turn.
Looking behind her, she saw about twenty teenagers. ‘I’m not the only one in pain and some sort of confusion’, she thought to herself. She was pleased when she saw a group of young folks coming in their direction.
“Good morning friends”
“Good morning”, some chorused while others just stared.
“My name is Segun and I’m the head of the counseling team. With me are other counselors…”
While he was talking, Febi did a mental count; they were twenty of them. She assumed then that it would be a one-to-one counseling. She hoped it would be a girl that would counsel her. Opening up to anyone was going to be one high hurdle to jump; now opening up to a guy was going to be a lot more difficult.
Soon after his introductory talk, Segun asked them to take numbers. Febi was number one, and coincidentally, they were twenty, so no counselor needed to have more than one person. Before he assigned them to their counselors, he said a few more things.
“Your counselors would be responsible to you and you to them. You are to totally open up to your counselor. We are here for you and your secrets are safe with us. You might have to meet with your counselors often. You should call whenever you want to see or talk with him or her. Your counselor is also free to call you whenever he or she feels a need to be updated on your state of development. Please trust your counselors; it will help you a great deal.”
He then told the counselors to go to their assigned teenagers, while he excused himself. The way they moved showed they had already taken numbers before they came over; Febi wondered which counselor was number one. For a few minutes, she waited and nobody came. She began to feel that familiar feeling of rejection again. She was about to ask if she had been ignored when she noticed Segun running back and looking in her direction.
“I’m so sorry. I had to see a friend behind. Like you know, I’m Segun – Segun Kolade. What is your name?”
“I’m Febi Popoola.”
“Febi, it’s my pleasure meeting you.”
Rising up, he motioned to her. “Would you mind if we moved to that other row, so that you could feel free to talk?”
“No, I don’t” Febi was pleased to have a break as she walked behind him. Her palms were all sweaty. She did not trust herself not to cry. She did not know if she’ll sound reasonable. She wondered if he wouldn’t laugh at her when she confided in him. While she was still contemplating her choices, he asked her to sit down.
Looking up at him, she saw a guy who was ready to listen to her. Before she knew it, she began talking. Slowly at first, then the words began tumbling out. She had bottled those feelings in her heart for so long that she felt she would burst at the speed that she was letting them out. Taking brief glances at her counselor, she noticed that he was listening intently and he didn’t seem in hurry. She was encouraged to go on. At some point, she began to cry, and he offered her a handkerchief. It was the first time in years that she had felt loved and listened to.
When she was done, she covered her face with the handkerchief and wept some more. He didn’t say anything at all; she actually thought he had left her. But when she looked up again, he was still sitting there, looking at her with so much understanding. In her heart she was grateful to God one more time that she came to the Good Shepherd church.
She had talked about her parents’ divorce and how the family had been before that. She talked about her father’s second marriage and how he had been physically and verbally abusing her. She told him her terrible she felt about herself. The list was so long and heart-rending. She ended up saying “I don’t think anybody likes me and I feel I’m ugly too. If not, why wouldn’t anybody talk to me in school?”