Episode 1 : Bank Alert
As the wind whooshed through the convention ground, a strange chill enveloped all of us while we prayed in boisterous unison. Pastor said it was the “wave of the Holy Ghost”. Then he started speaking in unknown tongues as the choir hymned something spiritual; people started falling. I could literally feel the tremor as over a thousand people hit the ground, the ushers ran to help them to safety, but Pastor yelled, “leave them, don’t stop the expression of the spirit!”. I had to leave my seat, the three-thousand-capacity hall suddenly became too small. Barely an hour ago I walked into the grounds that had a mighty billboard at the gate inscribed with the words “Jesus My Dangote”. Christians and people from all works of life had come to get their share of the heavenly bounty. “God is set to open every financial door at this meeting”, the very words of Pastor Winnerman Onourah, the General Overseer of Financial Revelation Ministries (FRM). Hundreds are welcomed into FRM on a weekly basis, the recession had spiked their membership remarkably and Pastor Winnerman A.K.A The Money Oracle was the happier. His motto was: To make money you have to spend money. Sounded rational to me.
My name is Asari, I am a budding Christian, waiting to see the advantage of my faith, waiting to see things turn around for me, waiting to “arise and shine” — the very words of Sister Boma — the woman who preached Jesus to me. Seeing that I was in my deepest financial dip, I obliged Yuwa, my office mate and a member of FRM and followed him to the church’s financial conference.
The meeting is in full swing as people from every corner of the mammoth crowd get instantaneous bank alerts. “Money is in the air”, Pastor laughs out as he tells members to raise their phones in the air to get the miracle, resembling a scene from Now You See Me, a magic flick. I wait for my phone to beep but the devil is probably blocking my network. My frustration at this point is gainsaid by cheers from the multitude as more alerts drop in. I look towards Yuwa to see if there’s a glimpse of hope but nothing. Perhaps, the devil is playing a trick on him too. Or MMM was somewhere lurking in the crowd. Who knows?
Pastor Winnerman, a man in his late thirties looks more like a pimp than a pastor, in his two-piece Italian suit and phony accent. The saying, “all that glitters ain’t gold” didn’t apply to him as he shone in his gold jewelry. After minutes of hearing what sounded like a manifesto, I decide to find my way out of the crowd. Walking out to the back of the church, I notice the different castes and the unvarying facial expressions of these people. The mirthless look of desperation showed indeed that they needed some sort of mojo. Something was amiss. But what was it?
Still exasperated, I stand at the back of the church, biting my lips. This affords me time to spy on some church staff. They all seemed to be very elated, greeting everyone with a “God bless you”. Male ushers reminded me of Terry Crews. And the female staff were just lush. There had to be financial overflow to look this way. If so, obviously it was more than my meagre salary. Puzzled, the thought boggled my already exhausted mind.
“Hello Asari!” Someone called from behind. I turned aside to see one of the these beauties, Usher Sandra, smiling at me. I know I’m handsome, light-skinned, over 6ft et al but I nearly melted into a puddle. I met her through Yuwa just at the beginning of the service. Lost in my own world, I didn’t notice the service had come to an end. I greet her warmly and as I proceed to leave, draw a sniff of her Christian Dior Cologne. Divine!!! Then it hit me, I’m broke and Yuwa is my ride home. How can I find Yuwa in the midst of this crowd? My Tecno F7, the only valuable I can boast of was devoid of power. Still wondering what to do, I boldly walk up to Sandra and ask, “hello again! I don’t know if by any chance you’ve seen Yuwa.” She smiled as was the custom here and pointed to an office by the pulpit.
Yuwa had been my immediate boss and friend for years now and he’s always been there for me; seemed like he never ran out of cash and that is an underlying reason why I followed him here. But I’m disappointed and weary as I didn’t get that expected alert. I know Yuwa had connects but didn’t know what he was doing in that office. I knock on the freshly polished door and enter, more like storm in. I see Yuwa in high spirits sipping from a glass of champagne and opposite him, Pastor Winnerman doing same. My eyes widen as I mouthed some words but nothing audible came out.
“Hey man” Yuwa started, “thought you left already. Meet my pastor and friend, Pastor Winnerman Onourah. My personal MMM as I fondly call him. “I’ve known this dude for years now and he never mentioned he was close to the pastor. Matter-of-fact, he barely even mentioned him. “Pastor, this is the man I’ve been telling you about.” He continued, “Stop staring like that Asari. Take a seat. Pastor and I were just talking about you.” I’ve never been in such an office in my life. Everything here looked foreign and antique but super expensive. I believe just one portrait here was enough to buy my condominium in Surulere and my cubicle at work. I was literally in paradise. Pastor Winnerman shook my hand warmly and as I looked upon him, I saw that boyish swagger and those alluring innocent eyes. A god in the flesh. I like him immediately. “Asari, it’s so nice to finally meet you. A friend of Yuwa is my friend. So feel free.” he said. Exposing my whitish dentition in a smile, I decide to go straight to the point. “Sir, it’s indeed my pleasure. Honestly, you’re not what I expected. I don’t want to be too forward but can I get a job here?” He giggled like an excited teen, winked at Yuwa and replied, “Oh Asari, you’re practically family. We can work something out.” My head swelled in anticipation as I was offered a glass of champagne. Little did I know I just became the Devil’s advocate.
Young, obviously talented. LOL! A depot of weird ideas… Honestly, sometimes, I scare myself. Unstoppable and Indefatigable. My hunger for God, INSATIABLE!!!