David pulled away and reached for his handkerchief. He wiped the tears from Nike’s face before dabbing at his own face.
‘David, I’m so sorry.’ Nike sniffed, blinking lashes to stop more tears from rolling down her cheeks.
‘Come.’ David stood up and helped his wife to her feet. Bare feet, they walked together to the raised podium where a wooden altar stood.
‘Thank you Lord because it is You who have called us here and you will complete all that you have started through us..’ David started, his face turned upward.
‘This land is ours Lord.’ Nike joined in. ‘ Your word says, Ask of me and I shall give you the heathen for thine inheritance.’
David began to pace the podium. ‘ Every place that the sole of our feet shall tread, it shall be ours for an inheritance. We believe your word, oh Lord.’ He moved to the end of the altar. ‘Lord we need wisdom. Grant this to us Father.’
Nike was on her knees, ‘ Lord, your word says if any lack wisdom, they should seek in faith and you will give unto them liberally.’
‘In Christ is all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. We receive this in Jesus name.’
The couple switched to praying in tongues and by this time Nike was stretched out on the floor. She didn’t care that the floor was not cemented and her beautiful gown would get dusty. God was setting her heart on fire for him and she could feel heat coursing through her body.
Fear not, I am with you. I will help you. I will hold you with my right hand of righteousness.
Nike stopped praying when she heard those words jumped out of her spirit. A quiet calm settled over her heart. She could hear her husband praying in the Spirit but she also heard other voices. Curious, she raised her head and saw two women on their knees praying. She shifted her gaze to the other end of the church and there saw two men groaning in prayers.
Excited, she stood up and rushed to where her husband had his forehead pressed against the wall. She tapped him.
“We have company.’ she couldn’t keep the excitement away from her voice. He opened his eyes and when he saw the others praying, he covered his mouth with his hands. He grinned.
It was the best church service Nike had experienced since she got to Ipetumodu. As they sat on the mat, she could feel God’s presence so strongly. Midway into the service, Doctor Afolabi came in but she left while Nike was leading the closing prayers.
‘We are here for you. We will stand together in prayers until righteousness is upheld in this place.’ One of the women said as they walked out of the children church.
Nike couldn’t place her face. She knew the other woman as Sis Tolani, a lecturer at the University of Ife and her husband, the Principal of the girls college in Ipetumodu.
‘I don’t even know your name. Do you attend our church?’ Nike asked.
The woman smiled. ‘Call me Bose. I was a deacon at Christ Redemption Church. My husband and I have been praying for a place to grow spiritually. I believe God led us here. This may sound funny but my husband saw this meeting, the one we had this morning in a revelation last night. He said, he didn’t quite recognize the faces of the other couple sitting on the mat but he saw you and your husband. It was when he shared that with me that I remembered how for weeks you have been impressed in my heart.’
Nike exhaled and said nothing. They were approaching the burnt church when Tolani stopped and stared long at it. she moved around and shook her head.
She turned to Nike. ‘ This is serious. What could have caused this? I didn’t know this happened because Segun and I have been away at a conference. We only got into town yesterday evening. When we arrived at the church this morning and saw the ruins, we rushed to your house. We knocked but got no response. We were on our way back home when my husband insisted we return to the church. It was your prayers that drew us to the children’s church. ‘
They were outside now and from a distance Nike could hear the men’s voices. They were laughing and chatting with her husband. The surprised expression on the faces of the passersby, some of whom were members made Nike smile.
‘Jide is so happy.’ Bose pointed at her husband. The women giggled and went across the road to join their husbands.
‘I think twenty chairs will be enough for a start. I’ll get them before the next service.’ Jide announced.
‘I’ll also find out how much it will take to repair the part of the children church that collapsed.’ Segun added
Bose turned to the Pastor. ‘Can we continue with the study of Colossians that we started today?’
David nodded. ‘By God’s grace.’
Tolani wraped her hand around her husband’s waist. ‘I hope there will be Bible study this Wednesday.’
‘I’m looking forward to Wednesday.’ The men shook hands. Nike hugged the women. Women who would become strong pillars for the growth of their ministerial work.
Days ran very quickly into weeks and weeks into months. Some of the members had returned but a large number still attended Christ Redemption Church (CRC) . Pastor Joshua had moved over to CRC and had been ordained a bishop even though the General Overseer still carried the title, ‘Pastor”
Bose and Tolani visited thrice every week. They met at Nike’s place for a prayer vigil every Thursday. On Saturday mornings, by 6:30, they took a prayer walk round the village. Saturday evenings, the threesome went round for evangelism and soon the church began to grow numerically.
One Sunday morning, the service had barely begun when a set of young people filed into the church. About twenty of them. Nike gasped. All the seats were occupied and half of the church members had to stand up for the visitors.
For more than two weeks, no new visitors had shown up and so it was a big surprise to the church. At the end of the service, they introduced themselves as youth corps members. Some had come from Moro and Ife and that surprised Nike
‘How did you get to know about our church?” David had asked.
‘Clara.’ was the response they got.
When Nike turned to Clara, all she got was a wink.
Clara was serving at the General Hospital in Ipetumodu. Two weeks after arriving at her place of primary assignment, she attended the bible study. At the end of the service, she approached the Pastor.
“Thank you so much for the word today. It was exactly what I needed.’ Thereafter, she had become an active member of the church.
The corps members never missed the bible studies. One of them had walked up to her some months later and said, ‘Every time I come here, I am dazed with a fresh revelation of Jesus.’
Nike became very busy. She ordered two sewing machines from Lagos and organized a weekly training session at a make shift spot in front of the Pastor’s Lodge. She taught them to make pastries using coal pot and home-made drinks they could sell and make money from.
More women began to turn up for the training. They were divided into sections. Some learnt to make bags, others were taught how to package plantain chips, many of the young girls who had finished secondary school opted for fashion designing and soon they began to make clothes for themselves.
For the first time, Nike was grateful she had learnt those skills after the death of her father. Not that she had a choice. The money she made from sales of pastries and fashion designing jobs had paved for the completion of her law degree. Now, seeing the smiles on the faces of the women brought so much joy.
There were lots of beautiful reports from some of the women who had found spots to display their wares in many tertiary institutions. Women who had been living from hand to mouth could now assist their husbands to put meals on the table.
Nike almost cried when Bose closed down her store to work with her full time. She became the chief admin officer of the vocation center and helped organized classes for some of the women.
Once in a week Nike travelled to Ife to help Eunice work on some cases relating to domestic abuses and spoke at different women empowerment meetings.
At the first exhibition of the Vocation Centre, Nike was stunned when the Commissioner for Women affairs showed up with some other dignitaries. The place was crowded with people.
How did so much people know that something was going on there? Where did they all come from?
She expressed her concern to her friends the evening after the exhibition.
Tolani laughed. “Have you not heard of something called social media?’
Nike frowned. “You mean like facebook?”
“Yes. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.”
“How does that relate to what I just asked.”
Bose laughed. “You should open an account on facebook.”
“I have an account. It’s been a while I went there.”
“What of Instagram?”
“You guys have not answered my question. What has that got to do with the crowd that showed up today.”
Bose held her phone to her face. “Take a look.”
Nike grabbed the phone and scrolled down the twitter page. A trend had been created with hastags bearing her name and the ipetumodu exhibition. She kept seeing #Nike Fapounda and #trainawomanexhibition.
“I don’t understand. Why is my name everywhere.’
Bose took the phone from Nike’s hand and replaced it with hers. “Twitter can be complex sometimes. Here is my Facebook wall. Clara tagged me to some of the exhibition post.”
What caught her attention was the picture she had taken with Clara after service one Sunday. She remembered that some days before that service, Clara had come had to her house in tears. Her fiancé of three years had called off the wedding preparations and was already engaged to another lady. Nike had helped her heal. They had become very close after that day.
Why was this picture on facebook? She saw a lengthy article attached to the picture and just as she settled to read it, her eyes caught 2k likes and over 200 comments.
She read the beautifully woven words and clicked on Clara’s profile. Her eyes widened at the whooping number of Clara’s followers.
She scrolled down and her heart jumped in excitement at the support raised for the exhibition. There were tags from other corps members and as she kept scrolling down, a broad grin settled on her lips
Tolani opened her Instagram app and showed Nike more pictures. She saw pictures of the training sessions and videos of interviews from some of the women who kept thanking the Pastor’s wife for the training. She was stunned beyond words.
“Is this Clara’s page too?”
Tolani shook her head. “Eunice’s younger sister. She is friends with Clara tho.”
Nike looked closely at the pictures. ‘Eunice younger sister? Deborah?’
‘ Yes. She was at the exhibition today. ‘
Nike looked closely at the pictures again. ‘These are pictures of the exhibition that took place today. How come it’s already here.’
Bose laughed. ‘Nike, see how you are acting like you were born in the sixties.’
Nike chuckled. ‘Seriously, I need to grow up.’
Nike’s phone rang. The two women stood up and said they were leaving. Nike escorted them out as she answered the call.
‘Mary, I’ve been trying to reach you. I came to your house but your husband said you were not in. How are you?’
“Your exhibition was really great. i’m so proud of you.” Mary said, a little above a whisper.
“Were you there?” Nike hugged her friends at the door and return to the house.
“Yes. But I couldn’t stay for long. I’m so sorry we left the church. I didn’t have the intention of leaving. It was my husband.”
“I heard he has been made a bishop.”
Mary hissed. “I wished I didn’t marry the wrong man. Nike, I married a devil.”
“Do you want us to talk?”
“Nike, just be praying for me.”
“Mary, please come to my house, let’s talk please. Your life is very important. See, I know a lady at ile-Ife who can help you get away from that man.”
“No matter where I go, he will find me. He is already driving me crazy. Nike please take care of my children just in case anything happens. Get them away from the hands of that man.”
“I’m coming to take you away tomorrow.”
“Please don’t come. I have seen him kill men right from our bedroom without a gun. He works for the devil Nike. Your husband gave him a tough time while we were still in the church. He loves control but your husband never gave him that. Be careful Nike. He is coming after your family. He has spiritual powers.”
The line disconnected. Nike entered the room playing over what Mary had said. Her husband was sleeping and she almost woke him up but thought against it. She returned to the living room and began to pray for Mary. By the time she was done praying, she decided to prepare her sermon notes for the upcoming women convention.
Lord, please reveal to me what you want me to say to these women.
The book of Ruth immediately came to her mind. She went quickly to the page and began to read.
“In the name of Jesus!” a voice came from the room. . Nike jumped to her feet and tore into the room. Her husband was turning on the bed.
‘In the name of Jesus!’ he repeated, his eyes still closed. Nike tapped him hard.
‘Honey, wake up.’ she tapped him again. he opened his eyes and sat up. He looked around the room before his eyes rested on his wife and only then did he heave a sigh of relief.
“Thank you Jesus.” David stared blankly at his wife,
“Sweetheart, what happened?”
“Pastor Joshua. He attacked me.’
Be careful Nike, he is coming after your family. He has spiritual powers.
Nike’s heart raced. She sat on the bed. “What happened?”
“He came with a cutlass. A very hot one. I don’t know how to describe it. it was red. hot.. He stood in front of me.’ David paused, trying to steady his breath. “He said he had never worked for a Pastor he couldn’t control and since I have refused to return to Lagos, he would end my ministry here.’
Nike placed her hand on her chest. ‘I knew there was something about that man.’
‘Nike, I saw the cutlass descending upon my head.’
Nike stared at her husband, mouth agape.
‘I held it. I don’t now where I got the strength to drag it out of his hand. He laughed and brought out a very sharp knife. He said some words I couldn’t understand and ran to one end of the field. He threw the knife at me. It was coming straight at me.’
‘Jesus!’ Nike shouted.
‘I caught it and threw it back. It landed right in front of him. He was mad with rage. I pleaded with him to stop and allow Jesus into his heart. I spoke to him about God’s love and mercy. He didn’t listen. He brought out something else. I don’t know what it is. As it came right at me, I shouted, ‘In the name of Jesus’. It turned back with so much speed and landed on his chest. He fell. From a distance, I heard the loud cry of a woman. Sweetheart, let’s pray. I’ve never experienced something like this.”
Nike mouth was dry. She held hands with her husband but all she could say was, ‘Jesus’. Suddenly, she had a deep urge to see Mary.
In the morning, after preparing breakfast, she called her friends and the three headed for Mary’s house. On their way, they saw a poster in front of Christ Redemption Church.
Free jollof rice and malt on Sunday evening. Come one, come all.
‘Nike, see free food. Are you sure we will not come here for dinner on Sunday?’
Nike smiled. Bose giggled.
‘That reminds me, I heard Iya Abeke fell from the bed last night. Her right side has been paralysed. ‘
Nike stopped and faced Tolani. ‘This happened last night?’ She had not told them yet of the attack her husband had. She intended doing so when they returned from Mary’s place.
Bose nodded. ‘From what I heard, they met her on the floor.’
In front of Mary’s house, a large crowd of people gathered. They increased their pace. Immediately Nike was sighted from afar, some of the women ran to meet her.
‘We were just about to send some people to call you.Thank God you are here o.’
“Iyawo Pastor ti de o. She has come’ Heads shot from different corners and some clapped in excitement. A woman ran out of Mary’s house with a broken nose. She quickly locked the door as some women led her to a bench and began to clean her up.
A loud roar came from inside the house. Nike shivered. Tolani locked her hands with Nike’s and began to pray in tongues.
This is the Pastor’s job not mine. Should I wait till my husband gets here? Nike sighed.
“The Lord is with us. let’s go help that woman.” Tolani whispered.
Nike unlocked the door and stepped into Mary’s living room followed by her two friends.
Episode 10 comes next.