Monday, June 14, 2010

Novella: La Conferencia (Chapter 33)

Faith was amazed; the number of people that turned out for the meeting was a miracle. When they had met briefly after dinner, Fatima had told them to expect double of the number the previous night. Now, she was amidst a gathering of almost two times the number they had forecasted.
Fatima had told them they were just going to worship God for most of the time; Tara leading them and Faith would lead in prayers afterwards. No talking was going to be done; God was going to move in His own way.
Faith had noticed Uche’s absence and expected Fatima to say something about it but she hadn’t. She wondered why. She wished she could know everything about everyone but it wasn’t in her power to know. She only got to know those things God chose to reveal to her. One of such was that George was in a terrible mess.
She had been trying to speak with him with little success. Faith purposed to get him after the meeting; she wouldn’t let him be; he needed help and she was going to see to it that he got that help even if it meant stepping on his toes.
Shade stood beside Tunbosun as they worshipped God. Her new friends had been a blessing to her already. God must have known what would happen to her shortly when He brought her to them. This was the second day of the meeting and her heart exploded in worship. She had never felt this kind of joy ever in her life before. She felt like she belonged here
It was a feeling that was hard to put into words. It was like she was in another realm, touching God’s face and simply enjoying His love; nothing more. Her eyes were closed but she could literarily feel the anointing that oozed out of Tara as she led others in worship.
Shade concluded that there was nothing better than a person discovering God’s gift, and then putting it to its best use – in serving God. That’s where many had missed it. Using their voices to honor the devil; singing songs that hurt God. Only those who choose to use their gifts to honor the One who gave them truly enjoy the height of satisfaction derived from that gift.
Even as she thanked God for Tara’s gift, she wondered what her own gift was. She couldn’t place a finger on one yet but she knew God was not a partial God. He had given her at least one gift, it was going to be her responsibility to find it out.
About thirty minutes into worship, Tara asked them all to hold hands and sing a song. It was a song Shade knew so well because she loved it. The song was a song of power and renewal. Tara asked them to sing it collectively, not as individuals; asking them to tap into the power of unity.
Holy Spirit, move us now
Make our lives whole again
Spirit move over us
Spirit move over us.
They sang it at a normal tempo the first few times, but without warning or orchestration, the tempo increased, and before Shade knew what was happening she began to hear sniffing. Trying not to get distracted, she focused and kept singing but soon enough, Tunbosun, on her right collapsed to her knees, weeping as she kept singing.
Without opening her eyes, Shade could feel the cleansing power of God in the hall. No wonder Fatima had said no talking would be done; God was talking directly to the hearts of the students in attendance; no preaching was necessary.
Even though she didn’t want to hear, she was forced to hear what the girl to her left was saying in tears. She was apologizing to God for the several sins she had committed. As she mentioned them in His presence, unashamed, Shade couldn’t help marveling at what the Spirit of God could do when given the opportunity.
Shade had greeted the girl before the meeting started. She couldn’t have guessed that the girl had done the things she was presently confessing, but God knew. God sees what human eyes cannot.
With what was going on around her, Shade released herself to God too, and allowed His love and mercy wash over her. She opened up her heart totally; pleading that He make her heart whole again indeed.
The problem of every human starts with the heart. If the heart could be made whole again, the life was bound to become better. Only God could do that and Shade wasn’t going to leave that hall until He did just that. He was a good God, and she was going to enjoy His goodness this night with reckless abandon.
“There’s a girl here. God says I should tell you that if you only believe He will heal your father…” Faith was saying and Tunbosun knew it was her that message was for. Still on her knees, the tears came more. She had been hoping desperately for healing for her dad. It was too good to be true.
“I believe Lord, I believe!” she muttered as the tears stung her eyes and she began to sob. She still didn’t know God much but the little she was getting to know about him was indeed amazing.
“I believe, Lord”, she yet said. “You’re too good. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.” She heard Faith mention another case, then another, then another. She was awed at how God cared for everyone. He knew the different wounds and burdens different people were carrying and in His love, He was stooping down to lift every burden for His children. How tripping!
Faith was saying something that caught Tunbosun’s attention for a moment. “There are twenty students here. You hate going home because your home is a living hell. Your parents are always at war with each other and they let out some of the venom on you. God says He’ll pour out His grace on your home if only you would allow Him. He says you should come out.”
Even before Faith finished, Tunbosun could hear the shuffling of feet. Folks were going out. Some were crying, some were just moving forward, sober, yet thankful. The anointing in the atmosphere was palpable. Tunbosun wished it would last all night but she knew they would soon have to round off as the comedy show holding in the conference hall would soon be over.
“Father, thank you for what you’re doing here. I’m grateful you chose to bless me too by promising health to my dad. I’m so grateful God”, was Tunbosun’s prayer to the God that was winning her heart more and more with every passing minute.
The tears were streaming down her face abated. God was doing it again. He was making her feel the love and concern He felt for His children at the meeting. As he spoke to her and she mentioned different cases, her heart responded as God was wiping away tears from many eyes. Many students were being freed from burdens and bondages they had been carrying and suffering for years.
As the folks that came out for a touch for their families returned to their seats, God spoke to Faith. She heard Him clearly. And what she heard Him say brought a fresh stream of tears to her eyes.
She lifted her head and spoke out. “God says there’s a guy here. He says, ‘I know you love me and you want to please me but you are struggling with lust. Pornography and masturbation are getting the better of you; you’re an inch away from ruining your life. Come and I’ll set you free.’”
As she said it, she lowered her head. There was a hush in the hall. Nobody moved for almost a minute. And just then, Faith heard movement. She knew someone was coming forward; she didn’t raise her head. When the fellow reached her and knelt down, she looked up then and looked at him. It was George. His eyes were red; his face tear-stained.
She placed her hands on his shoulders and began praying for him. As she did, he began to sob afresh. “God, I’m so sorry!” he was saying out loud. “Please wash me clean, and restore me”.
There was something Faith was experiencing here for the first time in her life. It was the encounter people were having with God; an encounter that made them transparent before all; nobody was shy or secretive. People confessed their sins openly, wept without restraint before their Saviour and found the help they were seeking.
It reminded her of the moment Jesus said only those who came to Him like children could enter His kingdom. There was no place for pride, fronting or posing in God’s presence. It was indeed beautiful.
When she was done praying for George, she asked him to return to his seat. She smiled through her tears as she squeezed his shoulders. He wiped his face as he rose, but Faith could see clearly that God had touched him. She was so happy. She wished many more who were under the hold of the devil would find solace in Christ as only He could deliver.
There were still many hurting, confused and lost students in the conference; Faith was certain of that. She wished they would all find God. She knew it wasn’t in her power to do that. She would have to trust the One who loved them to do as He pleased. She would trust God.
Seeing him walk back, Fatima smiled through her tears. It had been a very teary meeting. She had been praying, pacing at the back when Faith made the call. Her eyes were opened as she prayed. She had been shocked when she saw George walk forward. She had felt both pain and joy at the same time; pain that George had not told her about what he had been struggling with and joy that he was eventually getting free from it. Sexual addiction was not a pleasant experience; Fatima could tell.
She caught his eyes as he reached his seat. She could see sadness there. She knew him; he was apologizing for not telling her. Fatima smiled in return; assuring him that it was okay. She saw the relief in his eyes, as he gave a weak smile. The addiction must have drained a lot of strength from him.
“Thank you Father for saving my friend”, she said to her best friend as she prepared to round off the meeting. It had been a great meeting; she was glad she had been a part of it. As she rejoiced that she was a partaker of God’s blessings that night, her heart went to Uche who had missed it and she was almost getting deflated when she remembered to cast her cares on God.
“God, I don’t know what’s up with Uche right now,” she prayed, “but I ask that you please touch him wherever he is now and please don’t allow him to do anything he would regret. Please keep him Lord, no matter what it costs.” She felt relieved, knowing she had committed Uche to God. “Thank you Father”, she said as she walked forward to take over from Faith.
“Can we go outside?”
“Aren’t you enjoying the show?” Uche asked.
Christiana was miffed but was trying not to let it show. She wasn’t interested in any comedy. All she wanted was to have this boy where she wanted him; in her arms. She wanted to seal his future and here he was asking if she was enjoying the show. She obviously wasn’t.
She had requested that they talk outside the dining hall but he had insisted they go to the lecture hall. She had been upset with that, knowing it reduced her chances of having him that night.
She had done everything she knew to do in the confines of decency, so as not to scare him away. She had made sure her legs were either facing him, or crossed, with ample flash exposed. She had laughed extra hard at the jokes on stage and touched his shoulders or hands while laughing; anything to keep him aware of her body. And he seemed aware alright.
But Christiana wasn’t satisfied; she needed him to want to have her, and she needed to look for an avenue to make that happen. She thought fast.
“I’m feeling cold”, she said. “The AC is too cold for me tonight. I need some natural breeze for a few minutes.”
Uche looked like he really didn’t want to leave the hall, but she didn’t care about what he wanted, she cared only about what she wanted, and she was going to have it at all cost.
“Pleaseeee!” she pleaded with eyes that would soften the hardest of hearts.
“Okay. Just for a few minutes,” he consented.
“Thanks”, she said. “Ready?”
“After you”
Christiana rose and walked out, Uche following her. When, they got out, Christiana walked to the side of the porch that was least lightened. The darkness would work in her favor; she only hoped Uche would follow without asking her to come to the brighter side.
She turned back and saw he was following her. ‘Perfect’, she thought. When she reached a spot she thought was okay, she stopped and waited for him. He just looked at her. She couldn’t decipher the look; there was no telling what was on his mind. She didn’t have time to bother about that. She needed to take the initiative.
“Do you hug girls?” she asked.
Uche looked surprised at the question. She had obviously taken him off guard.
“Yes’, he finally said but she was sure he was lying. She was already making him do things he wouldn’t normally do. She was pleased. It was a sign that it was all going to end maybe even better than she had planned.
“I want a hug.” She said, picking her words carefully.
“Yes”. On another day, Christiana would have laughed her head off but she had to act the role well. Uche was clearly confused. Observing his reactions to her requests, she had come to a conclusion about him. He had an undoing. He was insecure; didn’t think too well of himself. A guy who knew what he was worth would have been harder to manipulate.
“Why?” he asked, obviously still fighting it.
“I’m freezing. I just need you to hold me. One minute. Promise”, she said. One minute was all she needed to send his hormones on assignment.
“Okay”, he said, opening his arms as she moved closer. She went into his arms and he held her tentatively. She inched closer to him and held him tight, willing him to feel everything she wanted him to.
She could feel his heartbeat. It was just as she wanted. Anyone would have mistaken the rate at which his heart beat as a response to fear. Christiana knew better; it wasn’t fear. It was raw lust. It was the strongest weapon she possessed and she knew how to wield it perfectly.
Christiana knew a minute was already past but she knew Uche’s mind wasn’t on the time anymore. It was time to complete what she had started.
She looked up at him now with the most seductive look possible. The moment was intense; there was no need playing games. “I want us to go behind the dining hall”, was all she said. It was all she needed to say; anyone who had been in the conference for the five days so far knew what that statement meant.
He didn’t answer. He didn’t have to; his eyes spoke volumes. She withdrew from him and took his hand. She literarily pulled him along. She had to be fast before his conscience got the better of him. As she led him towards the dining hall, she suppressed a smile.
She had seen mallams drag cows to the slaughter on different occasions. That was what was happening. She was leading her cow to the slaughter. ‘Uche, thanks for making it so easy for me’, she thought to herself as she turned to face him. She smiled at him; keeping him in the mood. Death was just a few steps away.
Fatima was about closing the meeting when she felt a leading to ask everyone to pray for Uche. She didn’t disclose his name but told them that there was a fellow student who needed prayers to be strong and to do what was right. She was sure the other five knew who she was talking about. She believed the prayer of agreement would make a difference for Uche.
As folks began to pray, she both saw and heard the fervency with which they prayed. Deep within her, she knew God wanted to bring His son back home. The only unanswered question was; does Uche even want to come back?
Christiana wished she could walk faster; she was so eager to add one more trophy to her collection. Just as they about reached the dining hall, she heard someone call from behind them.
She wanted to ignore the voice and keep walking.
“I’m talking to you”, the voice said, and she knew she had to stop; sounded like a facilitator. Uche was the first to stop and turn. She turned and faced the man who had called them.
“Where are you going?” he asked, as she noticed Uche withdraw his hand from hers.
“We…” she started to say, but he didn’t let her.
“Go back to the hall, right away.”
She wanted to argue with him but knew it was no use. She looked at Uche and saw he was clearly embarrassed being caught in such a state.
Uche started towards the lecture hall, where the comedy show was still on, and she walked with him, quiet and steaming. Her plan had been so perfect; she already had Uche. ‘Why can’t this old men mind their own business?’ she thought to herself, hating to have to wait another day to woe Uche. That had not been in the plan at all.
She knew they all would be ushered into their hostels immediately after the show. She had to wait one more day. Her patience was growing thin. ‘Uche, you were a lucky cow today. You won’t be so lucky tomorrow’ she thought as she walked with him back to the hall.
Little did she know that it wasn’t luck that saved Uche; it was the prayers of his friends that had sent deliverance to him and covered him. That covering, however, wasn’t going to last too long.

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