It was a beautiful morning indeed. For the first time in days, George woke up with praise on his lips. His heart was free of the shame and guilt that had filled it since the first glance he had on the porn magazine. He could worship his God again, and that brought so much joy to him.
If anyone had told him prior to the meeting that he was going to walk out, confessing and repenting of his sins, he would have said it was impossible but that was exactly what he had done. The grace of God in that atmosphere had been too strong and overwhelming for him to have refused. The moment Faith mentioned his case, he was awed at God’s great mercy, and he knew he would be a fool to wait another day; it was his day of deliverance and he wasn’t going to let it pass him by.
George remembered what happened after the meeting, and he smiled. When he returned to his seat after the altar call for repentance, apart from the relief of being free from his sins, the other feeling that plagued him was fear; fear of rejection – fear of criticism. He wondered how his friends, who had definitely respected him and looked up to him, would see him. He dreaded the look he would see on their faces.
He had wanted to sneak out of the hall immediately after the meeting but before he could even move, he saw folks walk towards him. Without words, they took turns hugging him and at that moment, all the fear was gone. He was practically astounded that they would empathize with him and not condemn him at all. He couldn’t have been more grateful. Even more surprisingly to him were the tears he saw in their eyes when they hugged him; they felt his pain. He was indeed blessed to be surrounded by such great friends.
George had apologized to Fatima for keeping his struggles from her and he thanked Faith for allowing God use her for him. He had received hugs from Tara and Tunbosun but he hadn’t spoken with them. He was sure they had forgiven him but he wondered if their friendship would be the same as before. If their friendship became strained, he decided he wouldn’t blame them. They were human; it was bound to happen.
‘Father, I thank You for bringing me back home. I’ve missed You so much’, George said to God as he yet worshipped on his knees by his bed side. And as he did, he received an inspiration at that moment; he had an assignment to do while at the conference.
He was to reach out to boys who had the same problem of addiction to pornography and masturbation. As he shared his story, he was sure many of them would open up. As he was about to rise to his feet, he heard God make an addition which made his knees weak. “There’ll be girls among them; girls have these problems too.”
“I was dazed beyond measure when I saw him walk towards his seat”, Shade was telling Tunbosun. “My eyes had been closed but when I opened them after the prayer, I saw him.”
“I was surprised too. I knew there was something wrong with him”
“Yes. He had not been himself lately but I couldn’t place what it was. We had talked on several occasions, on personal basis and also because of our group project and I couldn’t just shake off the feeling that there was something eating him up. I couldn’t have possibly imagined that it was sexual addiction.” She paused. “But I’m so glad God came through for him yesterday.”
“It just reminds me of the fact that only God knows what is in the heart of everyone. It never shows on the face what people are thinking, desiring, doing or carrying-”
“Carrying?” Shade asked. “I don’t get”
“Diseases” Tunbosun said, making a face.
Shade giggled. “Now I get. But why did your mind go there?”
“I don’t know…guess I just remembered my father. Anybody looking at him wouldn’t know he has cancer-” She paused. “had cancer” she finally said and noticed that Shade frowned.
“I’m so sorry”
“Don’t be. If I had mentioned it yesterday and you were sorry for me, it would have been okay but not now.”
“What happened between then and now?”
Tunbosun smiled as she said it. “God healed him”
Shade was wide-eyed. “Serious?”
“Did you call home?” Shade asked.
Tunbosun shook her head.
“So, how do you know?”
“God said it through Faith last night.”
“Oh!” Shade exclaimed. “It was your father?”
“I believe so. I can’t wait to call him and ask him to go for another check-up. I’m so sure God has healed him.”
“I believe so too. Congratulations!”
“You could say that again.” Tunbosun said. “Guess we should go to the bathroom now.”
“Yeah” Shade said, and rose to leave when Tunbosun held her back. She looked at her friend. “Watsup?”
“How are you feeling now?” Tunbosun asked.
Shade understood what her friend was asking about. Since her episode with Stanley, Tunbosun had asked her every now and then how she was doing. “I’m much better now, thank you.”
“I’m glad to hear that. Have you seen the Stanley boy lately?”
“No, I haven’t.”
“What will you do when you see him?”
Shade thought for a moment. “I would walk up to him and tell him I have forgiven him.” She saw her response brought a frown to Tunbosun’s face. “I’m actually considering inviting him for the meeting tonight.”
“I’m not so sure about that but it’s your life sha” Tunbosun said. “What about Utibe?” she asked, not wanting to talk about the Stanley boy again.
“Utibe seems to be finding God gradually and I think Okpara is warming up too.”
“Seems so.” Tunbosun affirmed. “Saw them at the meeting yesterday. Have you spoken with Utibe lately?”
“No, I haven’t” Shade said, and then added. “The last time we spoke was after the briefing yesterday. I miss talking with him.”
“I feel you. Try to make out time to talk with him even if for a few minutes.”
“I would really love that; more than you could imagine.”
“Then make it happen” Tunbosun said, as they made their way to the bathroom.
It was going to take more than the whistle to get Fatima out of bed. She had slept exhausted the night before but that was not her reason for still being in bed. She was dead worried about Uche. The gap he had created between them in the past couple of hours had made her know how strong her feelings for him were. She felt bereft. She missed him.
Fatima was sure she did what was right when she refused him but seeing him drift away made her wonder if there was another way she could have passed the message across without hurting him.
What bothered her the most was the girl that she had seen Uche with. That girl obviously had something up her sleeves; Fatima wondered why Uche couldn’t see that.
“Father, I’m so confused and scared. Please show me the way to go”, Fatima pleaded with God, hoping and desperately desiring that Uche’s eyes would be opened to see the truth.
Tara got up late. After the meeting, she had taken some time out to worship, and that went deep into the night. She had been refreshed spiritually but her body had also demanded rest.
She looked round and saw most girls in her room were ready to leave for the lecture hall. As she stood from her bed, she saw someone walk towards her. It was Faith. What a pleasant start to the day.
“Good morning Tara”, Faith said as she got to her.
“Morning”, she replied, trying to suppress a yawn.
Faith giggled. “Just waking up?”
“Something like that. Don’t mind me.” She stretched. “What brings you to my room this morning?”
“Aren’t you happy to see me?” Faith asked, faking a frown.
“Oh sure, I am!” Tara smiled. “It’s not everyday a prophetess walks into your room first thing in the morning.”
Faith waved her off. “Be serious for once Tara.” She paused and then sat on her bed, patting the bed. Tara got the message and sat.
“You want to tell me something?”
“Can I quickly have my bath? You are ready for the briefing; I am not.”
“It won’t take long”, Faith insisted.
“I know it is none of my business, but I felt I owe it to you to tell you”, Faith started, noticing the questioning look on her friend’s face. “I had a dream last night and it was revealed to me that you still haven’t forgiven mummy for what she did to you.” She paused, watching for Tara’s reaction.
“God asked me to tell you that you should forgive her. He says when you do, you’ll enjoy a greater release of His anointing when you lead people into worship than you’ve experienced so far. Unforgiveness is the only thing standing in your way presently from reaching that height God desires for you.”
Faith studied Tara as she spoke and couldn’t blame her for the struggle she was facing. When a mother forces her own daughter to commit an abortion, hatred is automatic. But not where God is concerned. Forgiveness is expected.
“What do you have to say to that?” Faith asked.
Tara was quiet for some time. “Thank you so much dear. I know I have to forgive but the knowledge doesn’t make it any easier to do. I would have to think and pray about it for a while. Only God can help me to achieve that.”
Faith gave her a hug. “God will strengthen you through it.”
“Amen. Thanks sis.” Tara kept her head down; it was obviously a weight she was still bearing.
“You had better hurry and take a bath; it’s almost time.”
“Let me run. We’ll see at the briefing. Bye’
“Bye”, Tara said, then called out. “Faith!” Faith stopped and turned to face her. “Thanks again”
Faith smiled. “Anything for you dear. Hurry up!”
His shoes were shining black and his uniform well pressed as usual. Uche was waiting for the whistle. He was feeling things he had never felt in his life. Christiana was responsible for this and he was okay with it. Though he had been skeptical about what she wanted them to do the night before, he had been disappointed when that facilitator saw them and sent them back to the hall.
Through the night, he had thought of little else than Christiana. He had stared at her so much the previous day that her facial features were engraved on his heart. If he were an artist, he would draw her face flawlessly. She had flaunted her body all through the day and Uche had indulged himself a couple of times. The moment that had set him on fire was the point when she had asked him to hug her.
The last person he had ever hugged like that had been his sister, in the days when their going was good. Christiana made him feel wanted. She made him feel relevant. She was not like Fatima who he cared for but who threw his love right back in his face. He missed her; Uche was sure he might never ever meet another girl as pleasant as Fatima. He would have decided to remain friends with her as she suggested but he still didn’t understand why she had refused him, in spite of the reasons she gave.
Meeting Christiana didn’t make matters easier as she totally stole his heart and attention. Uche actually felt privileged that a pretty, attractive, and highly-sort-for girl like her would shun all other boys for him.
‘I am so lucky’, he thought to himself. He had seen different boys on several occasions look at him with eyes that spoke volumes. Left to him, he would have been so intimidated by their glares and run away from the girl but Christiana seemed to notice and she kept making him feel all the more important; holding his hand and smiling at him. When she looked at him, she made his heart beat madly as she looked like a girl who had found her life’s love. He felt so unworthy of it yet so happy about it.
With that, Uche tuned his mind off Fatima totally. ‘Fatima, Christiana is giving me all I ever asked of you and even more. I don’t need your friendship’, he thought to himself just as the whistle was blown.