Several weeks went by. The Etims settled back to normalcy – car in and out of Chinedu’s, a couple of trips into interior villages for evangelism, school runs, and meeting sundry needs of a hungry congregation.
On national television, during the ten o’clock evening news Kent religiously listened to, one day, an item caught his attention. The Revive the World headquarters was in the news. Everyone had gone to sleep as usual, and he sat forward, listening in disbelief to a gory tale of, as the reporter put it, “battle for the throne.”
Archbishop Nelson apparently did not leave a tidy house behind. His wife, Bishop Jumi Nelson wanted the younger son in Lagos to take over the affairs of the church, while Pastor Adeola Nelson Jnr believed he was the rightful heir.
“It is assumed the first son of Archbishop Nelson was sent off to England to head the churches in Europe so he would not be in a position to take over after his father.” The reporter faced her camera with a clear view of the 200,000-seater magnificent church auditorium behind her. “I spoke to an usher who is close to the family, and he states categorically that the Archbishop did indeed name a successor, but the family has succeeded in getting rid of the humble man of God. How, he refused to say, and pleaded anonymity.”
Kent breathed. “Brother Julius?”
“No one in the offices of the Archbishop or the church agreed to grant an interview, or speak to me. But this story is developing. From the world headquarters of Revive the World Ministries, I am…”
Kent slumped back. His heart thudded. To be sincere, he had not had any peace about this matter. One question remained – why was he named as the successor? Unlike him, he had not discussed anything with any of his friends in ministry. He felt ashamed somewhat. He was an “old school” preacher. Many of the strategies of the ministry these days confused him. As a missionary, the souls in the villages were the only ones he knew about. Women in trousers continued to complicate his philosophy though his children told him all the time he was no longer relevant if he continued to think that way.
So why would God choose him, an educated illiterate, laid back to say the least? What lesson was God trying to teach him. He recalled the story in Acts about Peter being asked to eat unclean animals in a trance. Was God trying to break his rigid philosophies? He went to bed with a heavy heart, and after several minutes of praying, slept. It seemed the right thing not to tell Annie about the news item.
The following day, he came home from the church office to find Annie with a visitor, the wife of a pastor-friend. Mrs. Okere talked with a high-strung voice laced with anxiety. Kent ignored the women after exchanging pleasantries. But shortly afterward, Annie joined him in their bedroom.
It wasn’t in his habit to ask what Annie discussed with her visitors, but this seemed a bit weird. Mrs. Okere hardly ever visited.
“What was she so excited about?”
“They saw us on the news.” Annie sighed. “And then she accused me I didn’t tell her what was going on. Then she asked why we haven’t gone to take up the position.”
Annie clasped her hands over her heart. “My fear is that our names were mentioned. The usher who took us to the airport granted an interview to one private investigator. It is all over the news. I’m surprised no one called you.”
Kent couldn’t confess he saw a similar story on the news. “Some people called me.” He looked at his wife. “I told them we were praying about it, God forgive me.”
“Heh! What is this?” She stamped her feet. “Do you know the brothers have threatened to kill each other? The mother wants the younger one. What kind of mother?”
“We cannot judge her, Anietie!”
“Hmm.” She scratched her head. “The church will scatter if we don’t go. Soon too.”
Kent gasped. “Go back?”
“Or what can we do? Will we leave them to kill each other and the church of God to scatter?”
“The news is all over.”
“Those reporters will soon find us. That is what Mrs. Okere said. She is so sure.”
Kent sat down. “We have to go back then. This is not the publicity I want in my life, but it seems this matter will just not go away quietly.”
“Do you have enough money for flight?”
The widening of his eyes shut her up.