IX.

The sound of music from a church was disturbing the normally quiet neighborhood of Darkuman Estates. It was one of the new Charismatic churches, as they called them. There was a blaring trumpet and the continuous banging of cymbals. Oko Bortei-Doku walked briskly by the roadside where cars, bicycles and lorries sped by but his attention was drawn to the music.

He knew that, that day he had to make a decision. He had been in between opinions enough. It was either she loved him or she didn’t. He sucked in his teeth loudly, openly frustrated.

He was waiting for his brother and he had agreed to meet Tieku at the bus station because it was on the way to the church Tieku attended. Oko had finally agreed to visit the church that night. He was already sure he would not like it. It was the wrong night to be visiting any new church. He was tired from the stress the day had brought him. He had made a fruitless trip to Tema, seeking a teaching position (after graduating with a degree in Chemical Engineering, why was he still looking for gainful employment?) He was also tired from ladies who came into his life to play with his heart. A particular lady at the moment, was doing more than her fair share to cause him what felt like immeasurable pain. He squinted and turned his head toward the already darkened evening sky, as if to look God in the face and demand, is this all I get for how much I have loved you?

Because Oko loved the Lord. He sincerely did, with all his heart. How had he come to love Jesus? He could not explain but he knew his decision to follow the resurrected Son of God was firm. His faith was very much alive. But just a couple of weeks ago, he thought its death to be imminent. He had sat in the pews of the Presbyterian church he attended with his father, listening attentively to the sermon. He was trying his utmost best to be engaged. He could not help however but continuously mop with a handkerchief his very own twenty-four year old face, which was wet with tears.

From the way he saw things, the Presby church had lost its spirit. It was the church of his father, started by his grandfather. As the third generation Presbyterian, he had attended from his youth but the dry sermons, lack of music and absence of members below the age of forty belied any presence of the Holy Spirit in that place.

Tieku and Oko arrived on time for the start of that night’s convention service. Oko found a seat in the middle of the room. It was a black plastic chair, not a pew, like he was used to. Church began. Ah, he thought to himself, the flow in the service is palpable! The music was lively and upbeat. The congregation seemed to follow closely and respond to anyone on the microphone with ahhh’s and eiyy’s. Oko relaxed. This, he didn’t mind too much; this, he could get used to.

A tall light skinned man suddenly took to the podium and stood behind the pulpit. “Let’s invite Brother Oko!” was all he heard next. He thought he would black out and collapse. But he found himself moving to the front of the congregation, picking up a microphone and singing, although he had had no prior notice of this and he was not a singer! This would be the first of several times Oko would minister in such manner but he had no knowledge of that at all at that time and on that day. Without thinking it, his heart had made a decision. In the weeks that followed he forgot about the issue with the lady. He was consumed with excitement about this new church, Lighthouse Chapel– a place where he could serve the Lord. Now his only prayer was that, he could stay.

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