Tey put one hand down but still continued to sing, “I’ll never know how much it cost.” He lifted his eyes toward the ceiling, “to see my sins upon the Cross.”
He couldn’t cry. For the past few years, no matter how hard he forced himself, he could never get a single tear to drop from his dark African-shaped eyes. After smoothing his hair with his second hand, he dropped it and dug both hands deep into his pockets. He definitely wanted to though.
His purple sweater felt wet, and it clung to his back. Just some minutes ago, he had been breaking out dance moves in front of the congregation, next to the stage, with a bunch of his friends and before he knew it he was breaking out in a sweat. He had walked back to his seat as the last praise session mellowed into a time of singing worship to the Lord. He paid no attention to how much moisture his body seemed to exude however. It was raining from the ceiling, drops of liquid as clear as glass but with an orangeish, brownish taint on them. Oil.
He could not only see it. He felt it. Like tiny bubbles being blown from a bubble-blower, the oil droplets filled the air. They would land in many of the hands lifted up and drip down their arms. It became extremely humid in the meeting room but it did not repulse Tey. He could see a flight of doves circling, they would swerve between the congregation but always never moved too far from Bishop D. He began to pray. How could he remain silent in such an atmosphere? It was simply glorious. Still etched in his memory were the giant white birds he had seen next to Bishop. He prayed louder. Something powerful was going on in this place.
Bishop D was a peculiar vessel whom God was obviously with. It may be not be clear to us till we reach heaven whether his was a vessel of gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay or stubble but clearly there was some honor about it. In fact, there was much honor to his ministry. His was to attract laborers to the fields. His was to fish out men and have them follow him (and ultimately Jesus). His ministry undoubtedly bore close resemblance to that of Christ’s as it was full of medical doctors who had curiously left their professions in pursuit of the kingdom of God just as Luke did and lay men (fishermen and plumbers and the like) who found themselves preaching and winning souls like Peter did. His crusades attracted crowds; Jesus sat in a boat to preach to crowds that gathered on the sand, but Bishop D stood on stage to preach to crowds that numbered as many as grains of sand at times. Out of his vessel flowed greater works, undeniable miracles, healing and the presence of God.
Tey was experiencing a little bit of all right there in the camp meeting. He was being healed from a lack of self-worth and self-confidence that made him feel incapable of even being in ministry. The camp was virtually over but something greater was beginning. Halfway through the camp time, he had made a number of calls.
His lease was coming to an end this month. He called his apartment rental office and confirmed that he would not be renewing it with them. He had called his roommate to inform him that he had made a decision about leaving. His roomie joked about his reasons for leaving a little but Tey wasn’t moved by Charlie’s stinging remarks. They would have a moving sale as soon as he returned to Bridgeport. His assets would undergo full liquidation. He had already prepared a resignation letter for his job. The last calls he made were international. His ticket had been booked for a one-way flight leaving in a week and his destination was Accra, Ghana.
Bishop J came up to share closing remarks and dismiss the camp meeting. Tey stood in place while attendees made beelines for the exits. He felt someone tap his shoulder and turned around. Josephine had her arms wide open, beaming, “Lantey!” she half-said half-cried while he bear-hugged her. Kwame was right next to her. Josie was not screaming because she hadn’t seen him for long. Her mind couldn’t grasp the fact that he would be leaving the country. He let go of her.
“I’ll miss you,” she spoke softly. Lantey laughed and grinned, baring his straight white teeth. Josie looked at him shyly, pulling on her dress.
Kwame spoke up, “We thought we’d all be pastors together here. Guess we were wrong.” He was smiling but it was a sad kind of smile. Kwame was as tall as Lantey, they were both five feet eleven, much taller than Josie, a mere five feet six but clad in her wedges, seeming more like a five-eight. They did not look the least bit alike but they bore resemblance in spirit. Brothers in ministry, Kwame couldn’t believe Tey’s decision but he had done well to say nothing about it. He didn’t want to be an impediment to Tey’s ministry. If God was calling his friend to take up his cross, so be it. Every man had a cross, some made out of wood, some made out of iron and some covered in thorns. Tey was lugging a heavy rugged stake, it was bruising him in the process and that blood that oozed out was staining him and all that cared for him. But their desire was for God’s will to be done, and so they would surrender their friend and hope for the best.
“Lantey?” someone else was calling. Lantey turned to see where the voice came from. It was Nana.
“Hey Nana! What’s good?” Tey was happy to see his buddy. He noticed Nana had also responded to the altar call Bishop D made. “Are you leaving too?”
His question was met with a confused look on Nana Brandful’s face. “Leaving? No I wanna do an extra semester and cover some prereqs, possibly finish up my second major.”
“But you could leave now though! You answered the call, you must respond quickly!” Tey was disappointed to say the least. He was sure Nana should be able to see how urgent the missionary call was.
“Tey, I can’t. God is calling me, I’m sure of that but I can’t do anything immediately about it. In any case, his call is without repentance- ”
Tey cut him mid-sentence, looking at the time on black Calvin Klein watch and edging away from his three friends, “My flight is about to leave. Nana, Josie, Kwame, take care guys! You’ll hear from me. I gotta go! Peace!” He began running out of the room towards the exit of the hotel building, he was quite late for his flight. But what really mattered was that he wasn’t going to be late in answering the call of God on his life.