Sunday, May 30, 2021 1:00 pm
By Chike Hector Alajemba
“If you know you can’t afford to give us this N50,000, please go back to your seat.” The Pastor kept barking. I really wanted to go back to my seat I didn’t know how to turn around and walk the length of the aisle to my seat.
The guy standing next to me, I recognized him, he let out an exasperated sigh and turned. He was going back to his seat. Brave! I muttered, this is what I should do. I counted to 10 and braced up to leave, damning soul penetrating eyes and whatever they thought about me. My eyes caught those of my mum’s as I turned, she beckoned on me to stay put.
It was 2012. I was genuinely broke. I didn’t know where to start from and I didn’t think going to church would change anything either. My Mum was already sick and tired of me. She made me attend that crusade.
The guest pastor came all the way from Port Harcourt. He preached on the secret of becoming rich (receiving). His sermon was so enthralling that I didn’t see the bait. After about three hours of explosive activity on the pulpit he screamed that there are 21 people here and God was about to change their lives.
“If you know you are amongst these 21 people, please run down to the altar, I want to pray for you.”
About 80% of the congregants ran down to the altar.
My mum tapped me ” Chike go out there, what is wrong with you?”
I walked down to the altar and stretched out my palms just like the other members.
” I said 21 people and all of you ran out, please these special 21 people are going to give us N50,000 each. if you know you can’t afford that please go back to your seat as there will be severe consequences, ” the pastor reiterated.
People started going back to their seats in droves. I felt bad. I didn’t know how to turn around as I had always battled stage freight. My Mum beckoning that I should stay put meant she would pay. So I stayed.
Pastor whipped out bottles of Olive oil and prayed extensively for us while emptying the entire contents of a small goya bottle on each person’s head.
We were quickly ushered to the side of the church where our phone numbers were collected. They also reminded us that the money should be in cash. I dropped a wrong number and left.
Pastor then called on people with 20k, and then 10k, 5k, 3k, 2k, 1k, 5H and even 2H. The only difference was the amount of olive oil expended in each case.
I really envied those guys with N200 as they only got a tiny smear of the oil on their foreheads. I was totally drenched in oil it was very discomforting.
Next day I had to remind my mum that I had a bill of N50,000 and the church was already calling. She managed to give me N25,000, telling me to explain to this pastor that I could only afford that much.
I took the money sha. I had bills to settle. I owed a couple of friends 2-2k. I was also craving cow tail pepper soup and a chilled bottle of Dubic beer or two.
Quickly, i left for Nwanyi Ogbaru restaurant. She had about the best cowtail pepper soup in town… Those cold beers won’t drink themselves…”
-Chike Hector Alajemb is a writer and public affairs analyst.