THE MACHINE GUN PREACHER
Jon Fii drove almost five hours to the Western Region where he presented his transfer letter to the Circle Head at his Circle Manse.
Prophet John Sencherey, the Circle Head, was sixty-two years old with a lovely wife and three beautiful daughters. He received the young pastor warmly into his home and took him to the living room where his wife, Mrs. Rose Sencherey, joined him to welcome the pastor.
His two elder daughters were married, and in the Manse with them were some of his grandchildren who had come on a visit. His last daughter, Serwaa, was in the house too. She was twenty-two years old, and a dark beauty with the most beautiful pair of eyes Jon had ever seen.
Against Jon Fii’s wishes, the woman invited him to lunch, and he reluctantly joined them at the dining-table for the best banku and okra stew he had tasted in years.
When lunch was almost over, the Circle Head asked Jon to stay the night and continue in the morning.
“Oh, thank you, father, but I really must move on,” Jon said quickly. “I want to get to my destination before nightfall. I learn it is a bit far from here.”
“Oh, Densua is not that far, about a hundred kilometers from here,” the Circle Head said. “So, you’re already home.”
Jon Fii smiled gently.
“I’m afraid I’m not going to Densua, father,” he said gently.
The senior pastor and his wife exchanged looks and then looked at Jon Fii with confusion.
“But I thought you’re a replacement pastor for the Densua minister who was excommunicated for adultery,” the Circle Head softly. “Is that not so?”
Jon Fii shook his head.
“I heard Pastor Ato Sackey is coming from Cape Coast to serve the Densua District,” Jon said and scooped some stew with his last roll of banku. “I’ve been posted to Obosomfie.”
And then Jon Fii laughed softly at the reaction all around him.
“Yehowa!” Serwaa shouted and clamped her hands to her head.
“Eiiiiii!” Mrs. Sencherey said as she dropped a ladle in her hand and it clattered to the floor.
Prophet Sencherey spluttered into the glass of water he was drinking, set it down hard, and started to cough badly.
“No, Pastor Fii, you can’t!” Serwaa said as she shook her head from side to side. “Surely, you must be joking!”
“I don’t joke,” Fii said calmly as he licked his fingers.
Mrs. Sencherey was rubbing her husband’s back, and eventually the elderly pastor stopped coughing and drank some more water.
“What is this?” he asked finally, his eyes red from his exertions. “Is this? I can’t believe this! Serwaa, his letter is on the table. Please, bring it and my reading glasses!”
As the beautiful girl left the table, Mrs. Sencherey sat down with a stunned expression on her face and looked at the handsome young pastor.
“What did you do?” she asked numbly.
“He kicked a girl’s vagina, yes, I remember now,” the Circle Head said when his daughter brought the sealed letter and his glasses.
“Oh, my dear, stop that!” Mrs. Sencherey said, almost annoyed.
“It’s true, Mama,” Serwaa said with a giggle. “Oh, I remember now, yes. You looked very familiar and I was trying to recollect where I saw your face, Pastor Fii. Now I remember! You’ve been all over the news! There was a court case three days ago, Mama, and Pastor Fii was accused of kicking an elder’s daughter in her… privates!”
“Ahhhh!” the elderly woman said. “Why did you do such a thing! A pastor?”
“Apparently, she was trying to seduce him, Mama,” Serwaa said with twinkling eyes when she noticed how embarrassed Jon Fii suddenly looked. “And he kicked her engine.”
“Oh, no!” the elderly woman said. “A pastor shouldn’t do that!”
“I had no other option, ma’am,” Jon Fii said with an embarrassed smile.
“Is that why you don’t want to stay?” Serwaa asked mischievously. “Lest you kick my engine too?”
“Leave the young man alone, Serwaa!” Prophet Sencherey barked, and the women laughed as Jon chuckled shyly.
The Circle Head was still reading the transfer letter, and he suddenly screamed and put it down with horror all over his face.
“My goodness! He’s really going to Obosomfie District! Awurade Nyankopon! No, please, that cannot happen! What is this? During the Council Meeting there was a vote, and it was backed by prophecy, to cut Obosomfie from the list of districts! It would be implemented at the end of the year, and it was agreed no pastor would be posted there! Why now? They don’t even have a District Manse, my young friend! Please, let me call the Chairman!”
Jon Fii shook his head sadly.
“Thank you, father, but calling the Chairman wouldn’t be necessary.”
“And why not?” the kind elderly man exploded. “So, because you kicked a girl that was trying to soil your honour, they have to stoop this low? What at all is happening to our church? What kind of leader do we have? Both the Chairman and General Secretary had sons who graduated from Bible school, so why were they not sent to Obosomfie?”
“It is okay, father, please don’t worry yourself,” Jon Fii said calmly.
“Oh, shut up over there, young man!” the prophet shouted. “Why shouldn’t I be worried, huh? You could be the son I never had, and if I would not let my son go to that awful place, why should I send somebody’s son? This can’t happen! Let me call the Chairman.”
“It’s okay, really, sir,” Jon said sharply.
“And why not, huh, why not?” the prophet asked bitterly. “This transfer is not good. It is bad, and must be reversed!”
“Sir, the Chairman didn’t send me to Obosomfie,” Jon Fii said calmly. “God did.”
“Oh, stop that nonsense!” the man of God said furiously. “You don’t know what you’re saying! That’s the same thing all those past pastors said, thinking they had some divine protection from the horrible dark powers at Obosomfie! Over the past twenty years, no pastor sent to that District had left there in peace! Two pastors died there! Four pastors’ wives died there! Three pastors have gone mad. Twelve children, my brother, twelve pastors’ children have died there!”
“I know,” Jon said with a smile. “I’m not going the same way.”
“You don’t know anything!” the aged man said explosively. “You’re not married, and you don’t have children, meaning the attack would be on you, young man! The pastors that went there have psychological problems! Some are now shameless drunks! No, my young friend, I can’t sit back and let you go to Obosomfie!”
“I’m okay, sir,” Jon Fii said quietly. “Believe me, nothing bad is going to happen to me.”
“You will die if you go there, young man!” the Circle Head said as he washed his hands, dried them, and stood up angrily. “I’m going to call the Chairman. I’ll be in my study for a while, so wait for me.”
“Yes, sir,” Fii said in a resigned voice and washed his hand.
He picked up his bowls.
“And what do you think you’re doing?” Serwaa asked as she gaped at him.
“Helping to clear the table,” Fii said.
“No, pastor, no!” Mrs. Sencherey cried with horror. “You’re not supposed to do that! You’re a visitor here, for starters, and you’re an ordained pastor too.”
“Even Jesus washed feet,” Jon said with a chuckle and carried the bowls out of the dining-room to the kitchen. Serwaa laughed softly and looked at her mother, who was still staring after the young, handsome man with horror.
“That’s a man you should marry!” Mrs. Sencherey whispered fiercely. “Not that party-party rapper fool!”
Serwaa chuckled and rolled her eyes.
And then, it was as if they had known each other for a long time as Jon helped Serwaa to wash the used bowls, dried and stacked them neatly on the rack.
When they got back to the living room, Mrs. Sencherey said she was going to find out what was keeping her husband, and Jon Fii took the opportunity to go the front door.
“Where are you going to?” Serwaa cried with sudden concern and rushed past him to flatten herself against the door, blocking the handle.
“Ah, Maame Serwaa,” Jon said softly. “Don’t do that. I have to report to my station.”
“No, please,” she said, alarmed. “Daddy is trying to get you out of it, please. At least, wait for him to complete what he’s started.”
“No,” Jon said, shaking his head. “God wants me there for a reason.”
“Oh, you’re so stubborn, Jon Fii!” she cried anxiously. “You’ll go mad, or you’ll die! Or become a drunk, or even suffer from that horrible pompo-kontua!”
Jon Fii burst out laughing at that, and it transformed his already cute face into something absolutely breathtaking.
“What on earth is that?” he asked at last.
Maame Serwaa smiled shyly.
“A sort of evil boil that attacks the crown of the head, and never heals until it kills the victim,” she said softly. “One of the pastors who died had pompo-kontua, and the doctors couldn’t do anything about it! Oh, please, I beg of you, at least stay the night and let’s see what my father could pull off.”
“Unfortunately, they’re adamant on sending him to Obosomfie,” Prophet Sencherey said behind Jon, and he turned to see the man and his wife coming towards him. “My son, I’ve been in this ministry for thirty-five years! I was born into this church, and I have more experience. When I began, I was young and impetuous like you, filled with the love of the Lord and divine fire!”
He put a hand on Jon Fii’s shoulder.
“Those men up there must have their heads examined!” he said hotly. “Look, I did a little searching on you and found out your parents died in an unfortunate car accident. Very sorry about that, my son.”
“Oh, that’s horrible!” Mrs. Sencherey said. “Very sorry, Pastor Fii.”
“It’s okay,” Jon said, and then smiled when Serwaa took his hand and rubbed it warmly.
“Sorry, Pastor,” she said.
“I also learned that you inherited quite a substantial amount of money from your parents, and as an only child, that makes you a wealthy young man,” the prophet continued. “Furthermore, you have a degree from a good university in administration.”
“That is correct, sir,” Jon said.
“Then, young man, just tender in your resignation!” the elderly man said. “If they want to punish you with this rather mad transfer, just resign, invest some of your money, marry a good woman, and serve your Lord in peace!”
Jon Fii smiled and put an arm around the man’s shoulder suddenly.
“When I meet men like you, it makes me glad that our dear church still have good men,” Jon said proudly. “Indeed, what you’re saying did occur to me, but I had three dreams in a row, in one night, all centered on Obosomfie, and I knew God was sending me there long before they even gave me the transfer letter!”
“You’ll die!” the prophet cried in anguish.
“Or go mad!” Mrs. Sencherey interjected.
“Or get pompo-kontua,” Serwaa said. “Or, worse, kote wui, impotence!”
“Oh, Serwaa, you fool!” her father cried and tried to hit her, but she laughed and dodged her blow.
“I’m very grateful for your concerns,” Jon Fii said sadly. “Indeed, sir, you and your wife remind me so much of my own parents. But, the Lord has sent me, and I must heed the voice of He who calls us, and keeps us. I only ask for your help in prayer, in supplications and in mercies for me as I begin this journey.”
Tears came to Mrs. Sencherey’s eyes as she hugged the young man.
“You’ll always have a mother in me, and from now on I’ll call you Jon, my son.”
“Thank you, mother,” Jon said.
“But that does not make you my brother!” Serwaa said with a scowl. “I won’t tempt you to kick my engine, but I hope to get to know more of you.”
They laughed, but the old prophet did not laugh. He looked at Jon gravely.
“You’re still going,” he said.
“Still going, father.”
“Alright, come to the study, my son,” Prophet Sencherey said. “Let me pray for you.”
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