20 FREELY 2 – ARRIVAL

Mr. Obi followed Pastor Kentoroabasi Etim back to Lagos, and so did I. It had been a month since the bombshell. My dad meant what he said when he asked if Mum would like to live in Uyo. We could start a church and make it the headquarters, and in Pastor Annie’s words, leave the resort to the wolves.

The month at Uyo was judiciously spent. Oh, when the Bible says, “Money is a defence,” it couldn’t be righter! I remember days when we would struggle to pay church rent, but now we buy a building and within one month, tear it down and begin to rebuild. All Kent’s trusted men who had wept when he left the region, rallied round.

It reminded me of Nehemiah and his strong men, who worked for no pay. An architect, a builder, and artisans Kent had impacted and raised. Many lived in Uyo, and Aba and surrounding towns. Revive the World Uyo Christian Centre would be inaugurated in another three months but in the meantime, Dad also bought a nice but simple four-bedroom bungalow for the church, where we would live. It wasn’t the mansion we left in the Rev the World resort, nor was it the ramshackle we lived in Aba. Dad was making a strong statement about knowing to “abase and abound.”

To tell the truth, even I thought it was obscene to stash money in protected and confidential accounts while the mission fields suffered. Not if my father had anything to do with it. He signed out cheques till his fingers became cold and stiff. All his former missionaries got support. One would think Dad was on a roll to pull down the ministry he just took over.

Many calls came through. Some who seemed to think they had a level of influence with Kent spoke softly, and convincingly.

“Stop this,” they said. “Do you think this is what archbishop wants? When he was alive, he could have done this but he didn’t.”

Others like Favour threatened.

“We knew all this was a bad idea. Leadership should not have gone to search for you.”

They bullied, and some called him names, precisely the two sons of the late archbishop. Their churches had been handed over to their assistants, which meant they had to either sit in the congregation, or submit to serve the new church under their former junior pastors, or return to the resort and demand “something be done.”

And the silence of one woman was weightier than the voices of all who spoke combined. Nothing came from the quarters of Mama Jumi Nelson. For all we knew, she might have left the country and abandoned the resort for us. Her sons and others, including Favour, made it clear they spoke for themselves and not for her.

Some shouted, “Wait till Mama comes back.”

No such luck.

My father had no intention of ruffling any feathers. He had fifty churches in eight countries left, and decided to lead these by himself, since their pastors had lost their positions.  I didn’t want to return to the resort either, although I was as curious as a wool-luring kitten. I wanted to know what happened for myself. Would there be a confrontation?

Edidiong followed to help Dad with packing and moving. We were on our way out, school was resuming in a week, and we had to get back to enrol on time since we were all new to the school. It was a nice one though.

When Kent entered his office on the fateful Thursday afternoon we arrived back at the resort, there was a pile of petitions. He picked one, read it, laughed, and dropped it back.

“Obi, you have to reply all these. Take them with you when we go back to Uyo.”

Mr. Obi nodded.

Like the proverbial tortoise, all eyes were on Obi now. He had been Dad’s good friend, and an occasional attendant in our services. His law practise had not done too well, though he was a brilliant lawyer. Who else would Dad have called in the heat of the moment when his eyes opened to what he had to do with the massive lump dumped on his laps by his late father.

Dad waved at the pile. “I am not spending more than three days here. I am ready to work day and night, if anything needs my direct attention.”

Kent had not known how long he would stay and had not told me, or any of us who travelled with him.

Three days was so short. I had to get in touch with Juwon before we returned. Our secret love affair was about to be terminated, and I wanted us both to witness it.

 

The End.

 

Watch out for FREELY 3! Yes, it gets hotter in the life and ministry of Pastor Kent. What he thought he’d left behind has grown wings and followed him.

 

Photo credit: https://pixabay.com/en/ready-vicar-church-religion-faith-1153149/