THE DEVIL ON THE ALTAR 19
Written by: Grace Olayemi
“If you can’t marry a lady without a womb, then don’t do it. I have a womb and we are engaged. You want a break from this relationship because of that flimsy excuse. You are not making any sense at all. Are you sure you are ok?” Patricia asked, totally confused about what Paul was talking about.
Paul gave Patricia the greatest shock of her life when he told her that the doctor removed her womb as a result of complications from the abortion to save her life. She felt her feet going numb and her eyes becoming dim before totally blacking out.
Patricia recovered from the shock after many hours. Paul had told Cordelia to leave because she needed help and he had gone away with her while he left Patricia alone in the room to mourn the eventual destruction of her life. She wished she could turn back the hand of the clock and she wouldn’t have even attempted university education. She was fine and vibrant for the Lord when she was seeking admission and would have met a nice young man who would have loved her and married her without destroying her life.
“After losing my womb to him, he wants to leave me for someone else. I’m such a fool.” Patricia thought to herself and continued to wail nonstop.
She took her bag and walked out of Paul’s room without waiting for him to return or locking the door. A lot of thoughts kept coming through her mind and the prevailing one was for her to confess and receive pardon from God and move on with her life but another thought wanted her to pay Paul back in his own coin by blackmailing him and destroying him along with herself. She thought of her parents and what would become of them when they learnt that she had no womb. She wished she had kept the pregnancy, at least they would have a grandchild.
Patricia got to the hostel in her tattered state and continued her wailing, making Celestina paranoid and anxious. Celestina tried to calm her down and get her to speak but she was not bulging. She cried until there was no tear to shed again and then she began to sigh. She felt there was nothing to hide from her friend again and then she opened up.
“Jesus! What! When! How! Oh my God!”
Those were the expressions popping out of Celestina’s mouth as she listened to Patricia’s story. Prior to that, she was more than certain that something was wrong with Patricia and she had tried to get her to speak but Patricia was stubborn.
“You went through all these and could not even say anything to me. Who am I to you, Pat? I thought you were my friend. Friends help each other, they trust each other and confide in each other,” Celestina said as she could not just help but be disappointed by Patricia’s secrecy. She wished she had let her in on what was happening long before then and maybe things wouldn’t have turned out that way.
“I’m so sorry. He asked me not to tell anyone and I trusted him.”
“You have learnt your lessons the hard way. The first red flag in any relationship is when he tells you to keep it a secret from others and the second is when he starts demanding for s£xual intimacy. And you know all this,” Celestina said and burst into tears. “Jesus, please have mercy,” she said amidst tears.
“I wouldn’t advise you to go and beg Paul to take you back because he is an excuse for a fiancé. I would advise you to go back to God in penitence and repentance because you have sinned against him. Pray for forgiveness, forgive Paul and move on with your life while serving God and hoping that he would change your story. I know God can do it!” Celestina said in a rush and went mute.
“It’s not that easy. I have been praying but I don’t feel better.”
“That’s because you have not completed your repentance. You need to confess to your pastor all you have done and have him pray for you to have complete restoration.”
“The same way you faced the doctor when you went for the abortion. Pat, this is a matter of your soul that shouldn’t be taken with levity. You need to do all that is necessary to get back on track with God, which is the most important thing.”
“But I would have to inform Paul before going to the pastor.”
“You don’t have to do that. Unless you want to have an excuse for not doing it. Paul would discourage you for sure and you don’t need that now.”
“Ok, I’ll do that. Thanks,” Patricia said and sighed.
“Let us pray.” Celestina led her into a passionate consecratory prayer to God and she felt her heart ripping out at Calvary. She prayed for mercy for her past sins and wisdom to do all she needed to do and for grace to bear the inevitable shame that would come from her confession. She felt better than she had felt in a long time after the prayer and was grateful to Celestina for being a God-sent to her. She wished she had spoken to her before then and knew she wouldn’t have been where she was.
THE DEVIL ON THE ALTAR 20
Written by: Grace Olayemi
Patricia left for the pastor’s house the next morning in compliance with Celestina’s advice. Celestina suggested she went with her but Patricia felt it was best for her to go alone. She was determined to do whatever it would take for her to have her peace and joy in the Holy Ghost back. She gave her life a cursory thought as she journeyed to her destination and once again she regretted many things.
“Good morning,” Pastor Raphael replied while carefully studying Patricia’s face to remember her name. He was the senior pastor in charge of the student’s fellowship and didn’t spend much time with the students to know all their names. He only went there to supervise things and put things in order when the need arose while the student pastor was given the absolute autonomy to oversee the affairs of the church while reporting to him.
He had had no need to visit the fellowship since Paul took over the mantle of leadership of the fellowship. Paul had proven to be reliable, dependable and capable of running the church. He was surprised to have Patricia in his house and that early made him convinced that it must be a serious issue.
“I’m so sorry to badge in on you unannounced this early. It’s just that I have something important to discuss with you, sir,” Patricia said cautiously as if she could read the question on his mind.
“Ok, have your seat and go on.”
“Thank you sir!”
Patricia narrated everything from the time Paul paid her mother’s surgery bill to the latest development and the pastor was just looking at her as though he was watching a Chinese movie without a subtitle. She finished everything she had to say and he continued to look at her like he wanted to see through her to ascertain the authenticity of what she was saying. He would have panicked or gotten upset if she mentioned someone else’s name aside from Paul, his most trusted student pastor. He had worked with many other student pastors and none of them had proven to be hundred percent trustworthy like Paul had.
“Who did you inform when all this was happening?” He asked, throwing Patricia off guard. She had expected a different reaction from him but she was somewhat disappointed with the disbelief that was evident on his face and laden in his voice.
“No one sir. He asked me to keep our relationship as a secret,” Patricia said before she remembered something. “Except…” she was saying but Pastor Raphael cut her short
“Except who? You said no one!”
“I would call Paul to confirm this that you just told me but if I may ask, why come to me now after you lost your womb and he said he is no longer interested in the relationship? If he wanted to continue the relationship, would you be here today? Are you a worker in the fellowship?”
Patricia was dumbfounded by his questions and hot tears started leaving her eyes again. She was the fool after all and needed to be treated like one. She had hoped the pastor would help her back on her feet, pray for her, counsel her with practical steps to come out of depression and self-pity that was threatening to take over her but he was busy defending the integrity of Paul. What would she possibly gain by blackmailing Paul or lying against him? She had lost her womb and the only thing Paul would lose was his position which he would soon hand over to someone else in a few months’ time. Tears continued to flow freely from Patricia’s eyes as she watched Pastor Raphael put a call through to Paul asking him to report to his house immediately.
The look on Paul’s face when he entered the house and saw Patricia was priceless. She looked at the pastor to ascertain if he caught the shocked expression on Paul’s face but the pastor was too busy with something else to notice such insignificant thing.
“Come in and have your sit,” he said to Paul who curtsied in greetings to him while ignoring Patricia.
“This sister here said some funny things about you a while ago and I called you here so she could repeat herself and you then confirm to us whether all she said was true or not,” Pastor Raphael said to Paul and then turned to Patricia, “can you please repeat all you told me?”
Patricia managed to speak between the tears from her eyes and saliva gathering in her mouth from excessive tears. She tried her best to explain what she had earlier said but that time, it was more painful and the hurt from the incidences came to her afresh and she looked at Pastor Raphael intermittently to see if he believed her one bit but all she saw was sheer disbelief.
“How did Paul manage to deceive this anointed man of God to trust him this much?” She thought to herself.
“What do you have to say?” Pastor Raphael asked Paul shortly after Patricia stopped talking. Paul was caught unawares when he saw Patricia at Pastor Raphael’s and he had guessed she had spilled the beans. He tried to compose himself through her narration process while thinking of the best way to counter her and since he had Pastor Raphael’s trust that wouldn’t be hard for him to do.
“Most of the things she just said are all lies,” Paul said to burst Patricia’s bubbles. She hadn’t expected him to lie or feign ignorance. She thought they would both seek forgiveness in penitence and receive a fatherly counsel and prayer from Pastor Raphael but Paul was far from sorry for anything.
“Sometimes back, I helped her family to pay a huge sum of money for her mother’s surgery and hospital expenses and since then she has been making advances at me. At first, I thought she was just grateful for what I did and that was all but the day she came to my hostel with other sisters like she said and then she left and came back that she forgot her key, it was that day she made her intentions known and I, as a wise leader rebuked her and counseled her not to allow lust in her heart as a child of God. I thought she had changed since she stopped trying to get my attention like she was doing previously. I’m rather shocked to hear all these lies she had schemed against me, sir.”
“Jesus!” Was the only thing that Patricia could say before she decided to stop crying as it was of no use and though the hurt of the betrayal was excruciating she stopped crying and maintained a straight face.
The pastor believed Paul and without vetting the authenticity of his claims he rebuked Patricia for seeking to destroy Paul’s ministry and admonished her to go and seek the face of God in prayer because she has an antiChrist spirit. She left the pastor’s house in total confusion as to what a negligent shepherd Pastor Raphael was.
“For crying out loud, we are both sheep of his pasture and he was more concerned about one than the other. He didn’t even try to confirm if Paul was lying or not. I was the liar. He even…”
“That’s ok, Pat. You have done your own part and I can assure you that heaven is rejoicing over you now because your sins are forgiven. Don’t allow the actions of any man turn you away from God,” Celestina said to encourage Patricia after she returned from their pastor’s place and narrated to her all that happened. She was also disappointed and sad that their supposed shepherd didn’t care for one of his sheep. She felt it was because Paul was the president and had earned his trust before he was handed that position. But, notwithstanding he should have tried to investigate or better still pray about it and also pray for Patricia. She looked over at Pat and saw the hurt still on her face and wished it wouldn’t hinder her healing process.
To be continued…