“There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it.” Psalm 18:8
Bishop D arrived in the meeting room and the congregation rose to their feet. A din of applause broke through the preceding silence and was sustained till he climbed the stage and took hold of a microphone. “Hello?” he began, checking the sound of his mic. “You’re all welcome to this camp. You may be seated.”
“It’s good to be here in America.” The camp had began. The attendees- members of Lighthouse Chapel USA, were grabbing out pens and tablets to take notes. Bishop D would soon have them diving into a sea of scriptures in a moment.
He cleared his throat and looked up as though to check who was seated at the back of the room. The next words out of his mouth, “Luke 11:6”, were followed by the visual display of the content of the verse on two projector screens which were adjacent to each side of the stage. Less ruffling of pages could be heard this year round; fingers would have flipped through worn, highlighted pages like trains speeding through subway stations, past Jonah, Micah, Obadiah and into the New Testament and then stop in the book of Luke. But the room was more quiet, only heads were bowed as touchscreens were tapped at. Bishop D was dressed in a stripped long sleeve shirt and dark pants; he usually could be expected to be wearing a slight variation of this combination of apparel. The stripes this time were bright yellow and dark blue with a white collar. The last time he had visited, it was dark green and brown stripes. He kept the same black leather shoes on however, for Sunday services, to his evangelistic crusades and so to this camp meeting they had followed him faithfully like a hound after its master. Fortunately for Bishop D, they showed few signs of wear and tear.
“This camp will be about ministry and the work of God,” he went on, speaking matter-of-factly, his voice, carrying traces of a Ghanaian accent and bearing the timbre and tone of one much used for preaching, praying, singing and strongly scolding his sheep and children from time to time. It was a familiar voice for the brethren seated in the gathering, a voice heard in their households and cars, in kitchens and bathrooms, in the morning and evening. So much so that their kids had learned to recognize it too and could point out even at the age of three that the bodiless voice on the iHome belonged to “Bee-shop”. It was a voice full of so much wisdom and counsel that it walled their lives, locked their houses when they slept and weeded out paths of prosperity through their thorny fruitless businesses. It was an anointed voice, the kind which one would play in times of difficulty and distress and after hearing over two hours of it, victory would be imminent. This voice was now charging from a figure standing before them. The first few moments for several folk there were spent in exhilaration and excitement at their reconciliation with the owner of the voice.
A great white bird swooped down and landed adjacent to Bishop D. Broad breasted and over seven feet, this creature towered over Bishop D. Bishop D himself was already quite a powerful-looking figure, his impressive stature was about six feet two and his firm shoulders boasted of strength, belying the fact that he was half a century old. Moreover, his skin, the color of copper, gleamed with health and contrasted attractively with his dark black hair. Yet this bird, from afar, seemed to be even almost perching on his shoulder. It spread out its wings and made a small squawk like a call of some sort. A similar-looking aviary companion immediately appeared on the other side of him. The two stood still and silent while he kept speaking.
Nana Brandful sat in the middle row but close to the back, by a few fellow church members of his and beneath a chandelier that kept casting a glare over his eyes. His contact lens were dry and itchy but he had kept them on for he did not wish to have glasses on; his appearance mattered to him greatly at this conference. This was not his first camp, nor his second nor his third. But he was already feeling how different this one would be for him. Before coming he had spent the week fasting and praying for a revelation of his calling. He deeply felt that God had sent Bishop D at the exact right time since the camp was taking place right before he went back into college for his final semester. He had spent the past year being confused. Confused was an understatement but it would do the reader no good to hear the full details of Nana’s deep depression and internal conflicts. Nana Brandful at age twenty, had landed himself in more trouble than one would normally meet at twice his age. But grace had found him and so here at this camp, he was rising and putting an end to swimming and wallowing where sin abounded. His heart was ready and open but he was tired. His trip from Atlanta was rough and he arrived in Philly after a day’s worth of traveling and little sleep. Thus, though he wished to listen with all his heart, his head would tilt forward, as he nodded off, in and out of sleep during the Bishop D’s preaching.
“Come out to the front here, I have three chairs.” These words broke through Nana’s short reverie and he sat up abruptly. He shook himself, stretched his arm, brushing his neighbor and looked around. As he watched few people trickle to the front of the room to near the stage where Bishop D was standing, he found himself walking there, brushing off his dark grey jeans. He was moving briskly as though time was running out. He got to the front of the seated crowd and stood next to what could have been about twelve others. Suddenly, he was directly facing Bishop D and their eyes met. Bishop’s eyes were full of purpose and intent and a burning desire and for the brief moment of connection, Nana could feel it. It was palpable. He hoped that his eyes burned with the same flames, at least enough to reflect the loud call to ministry he felt on the inside at that instant. God was calling him and he had never been more sure of this.
“What’s your name?” A lady pastor pulled him to the side, tablet in her hand.
He replied with a smooth drawl, “Nana Brandful. That’s B-R-A-N-D-F-U-L.” She typed it out while he turned his attention to Bishop’s next instructions.