The feeling was more than she could put into words; she was simply exhilarated. Faith Archibong couldn’t remember the last time she had woken up with so much joy in her heart. She felt like exploding; wanting to tell the whole world how great it felt to be free again. She had just rededicated her life to Christ the day before, and she was still trying to contain the bliss that it brought.
She knew things were not going to be automatically sorted out. She knew she would still have to deal with the scars of her past. She knew difficult times would yet come to test her faith but deep within, she was convinced that no matter what storms came, as far as she was with Jesus, she would be safe and secure. That was all that mattered to her; having God’s backing and approval. She had starved herself of that in the past few years; it was time to bask in it.
She recalled the events of the previous night and marveled at the great work God had done through the girl she later knew to be Fatima. She had been awed by Fatima’s story; which she had briefly told her on their way for the show yester night. She wondered how a Muslim turned Christian could grow so fast and become the pillar for many other Christians; even those who were born into Christian homes, like she had been. The girl was something.
Faith looked around. Most girls were still sleeping, only a few were awake. She wondered what would be going through their different minds. She wondered who would be wishing she was never born, who would be wishing she was born into another family, or wishing to be more intelligent, or wishing she was still a virgin. Faith wondered. If only she could have access to know what was in the mind of people; she would be able to help them.
She was sure there would be many more girls who were hurting, and crying deep inside but looking all so prim and proper on the outside, like she had been before yesterday.
She smiled. When last had she thought of anyone other than herself? She was already changing; she could feel it, and she was grateful to God for it. She longed for a speedy restoration where she would enjoy fellowship with God as she had once done.
She slid to her knees, wanting to pray; something she hadn’t done since her mother died. It felt so good, her eyes filled. “God, I’ve missed You so much. It’s so good to be back home…” she started and she began to talk to her maker and lover.
As she was about rounding off the prayers, she remembered the words God spoke through Fatima the night before. He had said He wanted to use them to reach out to the students at the conference. ‘That is something worth living for’, she thought to herself. “Lord, I’m so awed that You would choose to use me immediately. You’re the best and I’m forever indebted to You.”
Faith rose when she was done and prepared to use the bathroom. She had no clue that God had not even started with her yet. He had a special welcome-back gift for her. A gift He was going to give her shortly.
Uche smiled. He had wondered what the outcome of his letter writing would be. He was still wondering. Fatima was sure good at keeping a poor boy in suspense. He had tried so hard not to look at her facial expressions when she was reading his letter, but the pest to his right had given him no choice.
He knew if he kept his face straight or attempted to look right, that girl sitting next to him was going to mess with his mind. He had wondered what was wrong with the girl. When she had put her hand on his, he had been so irritated by her gesture; he almost said some nasty things at her. He kept his cool however, but he couldn’t deny the feelings she had aroused in him.
Knowing there were no other available seats, and not wanting to interrupt the romantic moment with Fatima by asking her to switch places with him, he knew the only thing he could do was turn towards the left and incline himself in that direction, away from the temptress. Doing that made him see every reaction Fatima had to his lines.
He smiled as he remembered the particular time when she laughed spontaneously; she had laughed so loud, she had to cover her mouth when she saw heads turn. Then, the moment came when she was getting to the end of the epistle; to the crux of whole writing. Uche’s heart had been in his mouth. He could hardly breathe. He noticed she suddenly became sober, only smiling a few times; but not an excited smile. He had wondered what she thinking. He was still yet to know.
After reading the letter, she had smiled at him as she tucked it into her purse. “We’ll talk about it tomorrow”, she had said, still with the smile, but a smile Uche had not been able to decipher.
Now, tomorrow had come and Uche was nervous. He had hardly slept through the night, and was one of the first to wake up. He had planned on looking for her during the briefing, in a few minutes time, to get her response, but he decided against it. ‘It would be wrong of me to rush her’, he had told himself.
He still wished he could have expressed his feelings to her verbally, in person, but he had not been able to do it. He had heard people say writing love letters was a cowardly style. He felt the same way but he knew it couldn’t have been any other way. ‘I might as well be a coward, but Fatima already knows how I feel about her. That’s all that matters’.
He was about to jump down his bunk when he remembered he hadn’t read his bible. Fatima had told him it was the best way to start his day; starting with God, with prayer and the bible. He smiled, as he reclined on his bed. He definitely owed a lot to this short Hausa girl who had brought newness to his life. That’s why he hoped to have more with her than mere friendship.
Uche closed his eyes, and began to pray.
“It’s another day; Lord, I need Your strength”. George said, concluding his prayers as he opened his eyes. He had witnessed miracles the day before; Tara’s morning miracle and Faith’s evening miracle. His faith had grown in leaps and bounds with the help of those two events. However, his weakness had caught up with him on the same day. How ironic.
He was thankful to God however that he had made it through the film show without lusting after either of the two at his sides. He remembered how he had been addicted to pornography and masturbation before he gave his life to Jesus. His addiction had made him view every person in skirt as an object of his lust; undressing them in his heart. He had never done it physically however.
Yesterday was his first time, since conversion, looking at the girl in places he shouldn’t. He couldn’t think of a reason why he felt tempted to look in the first place. Everywhere he had been since his conversion had been full of ladies, some even dressed carelessly, yet he hadn’t thought twice about stealing glances in the wrong direction. He was sure the devil was waging some serious war against Him, and he actually felt incapacitated to fight back.
He had asked for forgiveness and he was sure God had forgiven him. His only fear was that he was going to do it again; he was going to hurt God again and fall into the same sin he had just been forgiven of.
He remembered he had heard a youth pastor say that one of the ways to say clear of sexual addictions was to avoid those things that ignited the sexual desire. George had analyzed this and decided he needed to stop reading secular novels, reduce the number of films he watched, and steer clear of secular music. He had succeeded in doing that.
Times had come that he had almost fallen, but God had been there to strengthen him. ‘Why did I look at Tara yesterday?’ he thought to himself. ‘I won’t do it again’ he proposed in his heart, as he sat up on his bed. He was on the lower bunk. He noticed his leg hit something, pushing it under his bunk. He reached for it and pulled it out. What he saw immobilized him for a few seconds, as he stared at it; unable to take his eyes off.
It was a pornographic magazine. Wondering where it had come from, he looked up and saw his bunk mate’s hand hanging down. It must have fallen off when his bunkie slept off while feeding his eyes.
George’s heart was beaten fast. ‘Don’t fall for it’, his conscience screamed at him. A stronger force, however, seemed to be in charge now. He looked to the right, and then to the left, every other person seemed distracted. He knew he couldn’t look at it there, anybody could walk into him. He slyly put it into his tracks, which he had worn to sleep, and walked towards the toilet. That was the only place he could look at it without being found out.
His heart pricked him with every step he took towards the toilet, but he had lost the fight; he wasn’t even trying to fight anymore. He was going to look at those pictures and allow things progress naturally. George knew he had just placed himself directly in the hands of his worst nightmare. He was at the devil’s mercy now.
Christiana stayed in the bathroom foyer, waiting her turn to use the shower. She had succeeded with two guys now. She didn’t know either of their names and she didn’t care. Her mission was being accomplished without hitches. The guy she had the night before had not been a virgin. She smiled.
The world was indeed getting worse. She wondered how many secondary school students were still virgins. She had lost her pride at the age of ten. Not willingly but forcefully. That was history now. She was the one in charge of her life now and she was going to do as she pleased.
Remembering the satisfied face of the guy, she smiled, knowing he would hate himself when the die was cast. She could hardly wait for that moment.
What amused her most however was the response of the Igbo chap during the show. She had expected a response similar to what she got, but she had still been entertained by his reaction all the same. He had acted like he had just been touched by a leper. If she had not known men; if she hadn’t been used by them, she might have thought the guy was a no-go area. If she hadn’t been a veteran in the business, she would have backed off. But she knew men, even more than they knew themselves. She knew all the keys she needed to press to make them do things they never thought they could do.
Christiana was so sure that the Igbo boy was still feeling the heat from her touch. That was the power she had. She giggled when she remembered a boy she dated; whose life she eventually ruined; it all started with a simple handshake; just a shake. The Igbo Christian boy had gotten a little more than a handshake; she could bet on her life that he was going to fall like a pack of cards before her.
She relished the thought. ‘It’s high time Christian boys too suffer’ she said to herself, smiling.
Fatima woke up and tried to register her surroundings. ‘Where am I?’ she thought. Then, it dawn on her she was at conference. She had had a dream where she had been talking with Doctor Festus and Nurse Maureen until she slept off. She had then woken up, thinking she would be staring at the hospital walls, only to be staring at a drooling neighbor.
She recalled she also had another dream; more like a revelation, where God made her see what He wanted the seven of them, who were at the dining hall together the previous night, to do. She made a mental note to inform the others after the briefing. It had indeed been a pleasant night’s rest.
She knelt on her bed and prayed. She thanked God for all the episodes of the day before; right from her returning from the hospital to Tara and Doctor Festus’ reconciliation, to the news of Uche’s salvation, to Faith, Shade and Tunbosun’s rededication. It had indeed been a wonderful day, and she thanked Him for that. Then, she got to the part of Uche’s letter and a smile played across her face.
She thanked God for blessing her with a good friend like him and talked to God about his letter. She already knew what her answer would be but she needed to get confirmation from God before she went ahead.
“Father, what is Your response to Uche’s request? He wants us to be more than friends; he wants us to be…” she giggled, leaving the last word unsaid, knowing God understood. She was sure God was giggling too.
She waited in silence as she listened to hear what He would say. Soon, she heard God whisper verses of scripture into her mind. She knew those scriptures so well, and they only confirmed what she knew would be her response. She only wondered how she would tell Uche. Was she going to write it down like he did? She smiled, knowing she wouldn’t do that. She would tell him in person.
The verses God whispered to her were Ecclesiastics 3:1 and Ecclesiastics 12:1.