I went there that day without any belief in my heart. But she invited me and I didn’t want to disappoint her so I obliged. Though I got off work real late, I still managed to make it to the venue late at night.
I was dog tired and sleepy, in the bus I was wondering how I was going to last fifteen minutes in the place without dozing off. But still I went, primarily because I’d see her. For the past few days I had not been able to get her out of my mind. I called her every time and she returned my calls too.
Immediately I came into the building I saw her sweeping the floors, she looked up at me and smiled her signature smile. My heart melted at the sight of her, she looked like a child who had been presented with a gift at Christmas, she was enchanting.
I moved closer to her and she held my hand.
“So glad you made it” she said hugging me. “The vigil starts in an hour, just sit down here” she pointed to a chair “I’ll be with you shortly”
I sat down where she pointed and almost immediately I thought to myself again how I was going to survive the night without dozing off. Then I heard her scream and rush to hug someone. I looked up to see her hugging another friend she had invited, a girl from our class when we were still at school.
The girl sat beside me waiting for her to finish sweeping and then we used that time to catch up on old times.
She asked me how I was and what I was doing and I told her. We must have really talked for a while because I didn’t realize when I told her about the problems I was having domestically and all, all I realized was that she started talking to me and really got me motivated. She preached to me from the bible and also used real life events to gear me up. She really touched me because I saw the sincerity in her eyes and her voice.
I loved the fact that she really cared for me and I wondered why for we weren’t exactly friends at school. We must have talked for quite a while for she looked at me and told me she was done.
I thanked her profusely and told her that I’d really adhere to her advice. I sincerely thought to myself that my journey was not wasted and at least I had gained something from my over night deprivation.
She left me and the main reason I had come sat down beside me. She had the brownest of eyes and the darkest of skins, but she also had the most beautiful of smiles.
“Hey” she said with her eyes dancing.
“Hey” I replied, trying so hard to keep my emotions in check.
“We are about to start” she said. I nodded, suddenly wishing for my warm bed that was a hundred miles away now.
The service started with singing and dancing. People were really dancing and shouting but at the back of my mind I just wondered what the fuss was about.
She was at the pulpit leading the prayer worship. I kept stealing glances at her but she was so engrossed in what she was doing that she didn’t even notice me looking at her.
I watched her dancing and singing and I marveled at the way at which she moved and sang. She seemed lost in herself and I wondered the kind of joy she was experiencing. I watched her laughing and dancing and I wished I could have the kind of joy she found in her heart at these times. The relaxation and assurance she possessed at these places.
I wondered what made her tick, what made her so sure that He was going to help her out of any situation no matter how terrible.
I shifted my gaze to the other people that were in the small church with me and I noticed they were all dancing and shouting too.
I thought to myself “what is wrong with these people? Why are they so caught up in this? What exactly are they feeling?”
There was this dude beside me that was really dancing and moving with incredible strength, all of a sudden he started speaking in tongs.
This was an aspect of Christianity that really baffled me. I watched him speak in a language even him could not interpret and I secretly laughed at him for his deceit and folly.
I just watched all of them in the place like I was watching a movie. It was so hilarious to me that some people could still believe in all these crap. I thought to myself that the major reason people hung on to religion so much was because of the poverty in the land. People needed to believe in something and religion proved to be the only outlet for them to escape their realities.
The dude beside me was so carried away by his dancing that he started bumping into me often. At first I waved it away, but when he did it like five more times I gave him a scowl that must have said a thousand words for he maintained his distance.
Then the pastor took over the pulpit and started praying. He was starring at me funny and I asked myself if he could read what was going on in my mind.
He talked about faith and unbelief, about hope and salvation about truth and deception. Though his words were sweet to hear I still was secretly looking at the time, cursing myself for my folly of coming to a vigil straight from work. I was struggling to stifle a yawn when he said.
“There is someone here who doesn’t believe the awesome power of God and he is going to very soon, for the lord has told me that he is going to make a believer out of this unbeliever”
I smiled inwardly and thought to myself “yeah right, some guy who has been prepped up will now jump out of the congregation and scream that he has received the salvation. That is so classic church”.
But I noticed that he kept glancing my way and looking at me strange. It got to a time I became so uncomfortable with his stares that I kept looking down when he looked at me.
The he pointed at me and said.
“This brother needs answers to his questions”
In my mind I was like,
“Yeah right, who doesn’t have questions?”
But he kept on talking.
“He came here without a shred of belief and he will leave here with more than belief, he will leave here with salvation”
At these words I perked up a bit. “Was my resentment that visible? How did he know what was running through my mind? Did she notice too?”
At this thought I caught her eye, but she wasn’t looking at me with anger, rather she had this smile in her eyes like those were the words she had been waiting for all day.
He then asked me to stand up and come forward. Inwardly I was seething.
“What the heck does he think he is doing? Did he mistake me for another person?”
But I got up slowly and walked towards him with feeble steps. I am a shy person so I felt so embarrassed when everyone turned to look at me as I walked to the front.
She was starring at me, hope and expectation etched in her face. I got to the front without mishap and twice the amount of time it should have taken. He looked at me for a full minute not saying anything. Each second that dragged increased my discomfort but I maintained my ground.
“If he thinks I will just drop to the ground like they all do, then he is in for a shocker” I thought to myself.
he asked me my name and I told him, he then asked me if I believed in miracles. That question took me by surprise and I didn’t know what to say, so I didn’t say anything. He looked at me deeply again for a while and said
“It doesn’t matter if you do or not, you are going to experience one tonight”
At this everyone in the church started whooping and shouting
“Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah”
I looked at them, the melee they were creating and I felt for them for they were all about to be disappointed.
He asked me to close my eyes and raise my hands. That seemed harmless enough so I did. Then he began singing hymns and praying. I had been like that for a full minute before I felt the blood rushing through my body.
It must be my hands that are outstretched I thought, so I lowered them a bit. Instantly it stopped and I relaxed a bit. But he was still singing and dancing and I opened one eye after about another minute. The whole church was praying with their hands stretched towards me. They were praying with so much reverence that I felt for them.
They were people that needed a miracle, even if it wasn’t for them. They needed to know that miracles did exist to justify their addiction. These were hurt people who needed to be healed, they needed answers to their questions and they wanted to believe that someone who could answer it was out there. These were the thoughts that plagued my mind as I watched them all with one eye open. Suddenly the singing stopped and he began praying for me.
The feeling returned gradually, the feeling of blood rushing through my body, must be the fact that I was standing in the same spot for too long, so I started shifting my feet from side to side.
I felt relieved again, and then he told me to open my eyes and when I did. He asked me to pray for belief and faith.
One thing about me, praying makes me feel tired, so I never could pray for long. But I was in front of all these people and she was looking at me and I didn’t want to disappoint her so I did the unthinkable, I prayed.
I guess I must have prayed for a minute before the feeling came back, this time much stronger and a voice in my head told me to believe. But I shook it off and this time I actually put my hands down and started moving from side to side.
I guess I must have stopped praying too for I realized that my throat was tight and heat was rushing through my body. I felt spasms rush through me and at that point I became actually scared.
“Was I coming down with an illness? And if no, what the hell was happening to me?”
I tried holding myself from shaking but my whole body was on fire and it felt like I wanted to leap out of my body and take flight. I couldn’t stand on my feet without support and I had to hold a chair to keep my self from taking a tumble. Two people ran beside me to steady me. They both held me on each side but even they had a torrid time of keeping me on my feet as I swayed from side to side with tremendous strength.
I looked up at her and I saw her face, she was looking at me with so much concern, it caused worry lines on her pretty face. The whole crowd were shouting and praying screaming “hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah”
I felt like begging him to stop, but at the same time I really and totally enjoyed the feeling that coursed through me at this time.
It was liberating and antiseptic. It felt like I was being cleansed of something and being filled up with something better, something cleaner and more permanent. I was groaning and moaning, the feeling was like the and maybe I was with something sweeter than a woman, maybe I was having intercourse with something so clean, my dirt shamed me. Something so holy, my defiled state cursed me, something so unique and transparent my secrets screamed out at me. Maybe I was having intercourse with God.
He then looked into my eyes and asked me if I believed, his eyes were the deepest shade of brown I had ever seen. I hadn’t noticed that before, I hadn’t noticed the way the room smelled before, the way the colours on the walls drew a beautiful picture, the way I had lived my life with so much doubt and scorn.
But a voice in my head still told me not to give in to this madness, to flee from this insane place where I was being tortured with righteousness, to disregard the feeling that coursed through me.
I looked around and there she was again, with her eyes closed and her hands clasped in front of her face and deep in prayer. I noticed her devotion, her total and reckless abandon in faith. I looked around me at the others and I saw it in their faces too, a lack of doubt, a lack of fear, a shred of hope. At that point I knew I believed. I could never comfortably go back to who I was 10 minutes ago. That person was one who never realized this feeling of liberation, who never experienced this sense of freedom.
The feeling coursing through me was intense and almost sexual. It was a little tingle of inner strength that tore through my torso spasmodically. It was a smell that filled my lungs with sweetness and fulfillment. It was a contentment that filled my belly with soul food. It was an answer that quieted all my questions at once. It was hope, it was deliverance, it was salvation.
I looked him in the eye and said
“Yes………… yes, I believe”
And the whole church went up in a whooping sense of jubilation. I had come here just because of her and nothing more but I had gotten something more filling and satisfying to the body and soul. I had gotten Him too.
As I was being led to my seat, I thought to myself why He had taken it upon Himself to glorify Himself through me. I didn’t deserve it neither had I earned it, but it felt so beautiful that I couldn’t have asked for a better ending to my day. As I sat down in my seat with my head in my hands and a feeling of gratitude pouring out of me there was this young man right beside me with a sneer on his face and a feeling of contempt in his heart. He thought to himself.
“Idiots, who do they think they are fooling? A prepped up show for sure”.
And with that he got up and left the building with disbelief and anger in his heart.