It took Kola three weeks to track down the church address. He couldn’t believe what was going on. He sat impatiently through the service and then waited in line to see the pastor.
“Mr. Eiba, good afternoon.” Pastor Matthias greeted jovially. “Please, have a seat.”
“Thank you.” Kola sat. “I came to look for Ronke,” he said.
“Ronke? She—I thought you moved her to another apartment pending your wedding!”
“I thought I did.”
Pastor straightened. “She hasn’t been in church recently.”
Kola rubbed the back of his neck. “When was the last time you saw her?”
“Over a month ago. She asked me to give her a reference letter so she could attend and be a worker in a friend’s church close to her new house…” Pastor Matthias frowned. “Are you saying you’ve not seen her?”
Kola clenched his jaw. “Did you advise her against marrying me?”
“I only told her what the Bible says. It was up to her to take a…”
Kola banged the pastor’s table. “You told her not to marry an unbeliever!” He stood, and pointed at the man of God. “If I don’t find that girl, I’m coming back for you.” He pushed his seat back with such force, it tumbled.
Kola couldn’t believe Ronke would disappear. She had left everything and simply walked away a few days after she accepted his proposal. In his eagerness, he had moved her into a fully-furnished vacant apartment in his staff quarters the following day. Ronke only slept in the house for two days before she went missing. She hadn’t even taken Modele along.
He had been to her parents’ but they had not seen her. At first, Kola panicked she might have been kidnapped. He hired the best private investigators in town, placed “missing person” adverts, and got police on the highest ranks involved. The conclusion was that Ronke had decided to walk away.
Several of her friends and colleagues had seen her after her public disappearance. She stayed with Ibitam for a few days, and then left a note she wanted time off. Teachers in her school also confirmed she dropped a resignation letter about a week after she was declared missing.
Ronke had simply walked out on everyone! He deduced she lied about marriage to him, thinking she would get Modele back, and soon realized he would not release her daughter to her. He asked himself several times why she would do what she did. Had he pressurized her so much she would rather leave everything she ever had, including her child, rather than live with him? Or she simply hated him so much, she couldn’t bear to stay. The answer eluded him.
Pastor Matthias raised his voice. “If she comes here, I’ll hold her down for you.”
Kola stopped short. “Will you? Do I have your word on that?”
Pastor sighed. “You have my word,” he said.
Kola sank to his knees and covered his face. “How could she? Why would she leave me like this?”
Pastor pulled him to his feet. “I never imagined she would do this. We will find her in Jesus’ name,” he said softly.
Kola dragged in a deep breath. “I’ll check back next week. Let’s see what happens.” He cleared his throat.
“You do love her, don’t you?”
“I do.” He sat. “Sorry about that. It’s the result of weeks of sleepless nights. I have to find her.”
Pastor returned to his seat. “You should take time out and give yourself a break.”
“Not when Ronke is still at large. Do you know if Ibitam is aware of anything more?”
“Ibitam did not even tell me Ronke was missing. I was out of town briefly but then, she could have informed my wife. We know nothing of this. Maybe Ronke just panicked and ran.”
Kola groaned. “To where? By God, how can she endanger her life so much? No one seems to know where she is.”
“This is also spiritual. The devil may be playing pranks, trying to destroy her.”
Kola closed his eyes briefly. “You have to pray, Pastor.” He heaved. “You have to pray.”
“We have to pray. You must also be involved and that’s why I have wanted to talk to you about the salvation of your soul.”
Kola hissed. “Ronke has salvation of soul and what has it gotten her into?”
“Ronke has reasons for her actions and when someone has suffered much, they tend to do things they only can understand.” Pastor leaned forward. “I’m curious about something, though. Did you really want to be born again?”
“For Ronke’s sake, yes.”
“Have you changed your mind?”
“I want what she wants. I’ve spent all my life serving women who mean nothing. I am more willing now to serve a woman who is full of sacrifice and love.”
“It is important to give your life to Christ, for yourself and the gratitude you have to God. For your own soul.”
“I appreciate action more than words. Ronke has proven to me by her actions what all other women I’ve had close contact with have not proven. You must understand Pastor, that all my life, I’ve been surrounded and gotten accustomed to women, who cheat, prostitute, and manipulate. Ronke is a breath of fresh air.”
“Ronke would be very glad if you give your life to Christ.”
Kola covered his head with both hands. “I would appreciate if she will just tell me herself.”
“You don’t want to surprise her by taking the decision before she shows up?”
“She should show up!”