III. First Flight

“And when ye see the south wind blow, ye say, There will be heat; and it cometh to pass.” Luke 12:55

The South Wind. 08-02-2012 3:20am. Bridgeport, CT.

“It doesn’t have to end here.” Tey heard the soft voice distinctly and sighed as he leaned back on the headboard of his bed. He was wistfully closing his iPad when he heard that voice and he couldn’t dispute it. His time of fellowship with God did not necessarily have to stop just because he was up and leaving his house. If he had God on his mind as he walked, and as he journeyed, he could keep communing. He could pray silently and worship from his heart (with his words) and just as God followed the children of Israel through a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, God’s presence would never leave him. That particular morning, he had been doing a simple search on his Olive Tree Bible app. He woke up with Matthew 5 ringing in his mind, particularly “they that hunger and thirst after righteousness shall be filled.” Now he was searching for the word “filled” to understand better how and with what one could be filled with. The word “filled” appeared a total of one hundred fifty seven times in the entire bible. From the Old Testament to the New, it appeared in various contexts. Tey was quickly noticing that if “filled” was used so many times it was because God was not a half-hearted creature like human beings, He did things in completion and what He started, He would definitely finish. He was a generous God and when He gave, He gave more than one could carry.

Like the five thousand that Jesus fed with seven loaves of bread, like the boats that Peter was fishing in and the believers on the day of Pentecost, Tey wanted to be filled to an overflow. This journey of his would require that. It would be walking through a door of no return, but he was excited to be stepping through it anyway. He was about to be running late so he quickly threw the last of what he needed in a Ralph Lauren leather bag he had never used- his phone, wallet, a new book he wanted to read by Smith Wigglesworth, some chewing gum, his iPad, chargers and Bose headphones. He was all packed up and just waiting for his cab. Locking the front door of his apartment behind him and dragging his three suitcases with much difficulty, he walked towards the elevator. The hallway was empty and extremely quiet so his footsteps faintly echoed. It was still dawn, and not yet morning. It was when he stepped outside that he realized how dark it still was. “Haven’t been up this early in God knows how long,” he muttered to himself. At least it wasn’t cold, he thought to himself. Squinting in the darkness, he searched for the sight of a white cab in the car park he was now standing in. In the row of cars across from him, an elderly young man jumped out of a white Toyota Camry 2010 model with flashing backlights and walked towards him. Tey scrunched up the sleeves of his plaid shirt and said “Thank you, sir.” The cab driver took the heavier of the two bags and hurriedly began packing them into his trunk. Tey took one final look at Fleetwood Heights, his apartment complex for the past two years. This was goodbye. He sat in the white cab and they sped off in direction of Bradley International Airport. His flight would take him south to Detroit and then to Amsterdam in the Netherlands and finally to Accra, Ghana.

There Will Be Heat. 08-03-2012 2:43pm. Accra, Ghana.

Lantey Randolph wiped his brow furiously and laughed out loud. “What is this heat?” He had just stepped out of a Boeing 767 and was making his way towards Customs and Baggage claims. The Kotoka International Airport was not even half as complicated as the airports he knew in the States. It was smaller than even the airports in the tiny state of Connecticut where he had lived, he had forgotten airports could be this small since he had been away for so long in the Western world.

There were three signs in Customs and Border Protection Services, one that said “Ghanaian Nationals”, the other for “ECOWAS nationals” and the last was for all other nationals. Tey headed toward the one for Ghanaians and brought out his passport to show to an official. “Are you coming home?” The official grunted when he saw that Tey was a dual citizen.

Tey smiled at him and said, “Yes. For good.” He had won a smile from the old official. The man was clearly happy at Tey’s decision to return home permanently. He reached out his hand from the space beneath the glass between the two of them. Tey shook it firmly while taking back his passport.

“Well done son. Welcome back home.”

“Thank you sir.” It was too early to be receiving accolades. He had done nothing by choosing to return except answered a strong call he felt. All the same, he knew the man meant well. He had called him “son” reminding him that he was back in Ghana where everyone was family in a way. Tey smiled to himself and began walking away. The bounce in his step told it all, he was glad to be back. The whole thing really felt too good to be true- he had left the States for good! He was home! It seemed something like a dream. He reached out his phone and turned it off airplane mode. He needed to reach whoever was picking him up from the airport. In this case, his mother. But it seemed she had already reached him. The moment he stepped into the arrival lounge, he heard his name being shouted.

“Nii Lantey!!” Okay so clearly his mother had beaten him to it and she was in here somewhere. The next thing he saw was a hand waving him over and a tall, stout woman with a beautiful face barely showing her fifty-six years of age. He had spotted her from within the crowd simply because his mum was over six feet. Tey had inherited his height and stature from her. He rushed over to her, pushing a cart in front of him and was immediately smothered into a warm hug.

“Atooo! Nii Lantey!” She released him, peered at his face in awe and hugged him again. She turned to face him, beaming and repeating his name endearingly.

“Mummy,” Tey was already blushing at being treated like a ten year old again but it had been three years since he had seen the old woman. They walked together towards the parking lot and begin to converse- how was his flight? how was everybody he left behind? how happy she was he was here! and so on. Tey was tired and in need of a good rest. He simply nodded as much he could and did his best to show interest but the moment they reached their home in West Legon, Accra. He fell on his bed like a defeated boxer, knocked out.

****

The first love church was booming with activity. There had been two dances and three songs by the Stars. The atmosphere was lively and the happiness level, the screams and shouts in the room seemed to increase with each performance given. Tey had never seen anything like it. It was mid-afternoon and the room was stiflingly hot but no one seemed to notice that but himself. He had dressed in a short sleeve taupe-colored shirt and khaki shorts to maximize the air circulating around and minimize the heat radiating onto his body. His efforts were in vain. From his yellow plastic seat in the hall, he could see the stage but not too clearly unless he sat up very upright.

The Stars announced their final song for the service. They were awarded with a huge round of applause and screams and shouts. Tey shook his head in jest. He was seated amidst a sea of unfamiliar faces but he felt at home. The young people who attended the First Love Church on the University of Ghana campus were not mere-church goers. They loved being there and they took every opportunity to express it. The musicians were pretty enthusiastic too from what Tey noticed. Sporting two keyboardists, one drummer, a bass guitarist, a trumpet player and a saxophonist, they were not half-bad, in Tey’s words. They played some jazzy tunes from the 80s which they had reworded to evangelistic Christian lyrics. It was impressive to say the least. He had heard many of these songs growing up and could even remember the words to them but as the Stars melodiously sang, “Jesus really needs to know! How deep is your love!” to the congregation of close to eight hundred students, all thoughts of the past vanished and his attention was drawn to Jesus. See Tey knew that Jesus was not just the reason for the season called Christmas but He was the beginning and the end, the Alpha and Omega, the reason for everything going on in that hall as well as all the changes taking place in his life. Before he could introspect further, Bishop D walked onto stage.

Resounding applause shook the room as the entire congregation rose to their feet. The presiding bishop took his microphone, and looking down declared, “Let us pray.” The room went silent. “Father, we thank you for this great blessing. Let Your presence be with us in Jesus name we pray. Amen.” The church said amen and sat down to receive the sermon.

“Today I’ll be sharing on being spiritual and I’ll be teaching a series for the upcoming weeks, called The Spiritual Man.”

It Cometh To Pass! 08-03-2012 5:20pm. Accra, Ghana.

“All elders have a brief meeting. All church workers have a group meeting immediately after the service. The Stars will meet outside on the porch, I believe and all dancing stars must assemble back in this hall after all meetings have taken place.” A brother called Nathaniel was giving the announcements at the end of three hour long First Love church service. “Now let’s share the grace.”

The chorus rang across the hall, “Now may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, the communion, fellowship, the contribution and the participation of the Holy Spirit, be with us now and forever more. Amen.” Tey chuckled to himself as he remembered the first time he attended Lighthouse Chapel. It was in Korle-Gonno, the southern part of Accra which he was not so unfamiliar with but still uncomfortable in. The grace had felt too long to him and he felt it was unnecessary and overly complicated. He was not sure how he felt about the church and the service he had attended in general. But before he could walk himself out of the building quietly perhaps never to return, he bumped into a lady pastor. She introduced herself as LP Anita and offered to take him home. He was speechless to say the least especially since he had only just realized he had given the last few coins he had brought to church, away as his offering. He had no money to get home and here was someone offering to drive him home, a complete stranger! He accepted the offer and unknowingly to him, accepted the spirit of the church in his heart from that day on.

Seven years later, Tey was now a permanent faithful member of the church and ready to advance in ministry as soon as he was given the go ahead. That day, he was seeking a way to meet the Bishop. The service was dismissed and the congregation was dispersing but not to go to their respective homes. They were quickly regrouping themselves into various meetings with a manner of organization that resembled army officials. Tey found himself walking in the direction of the elders’ meeting. He found the room and introduced himself to Emmanuel and Jacob. He knew them as elders of First Love church from his Facebook, but he was finally meeting them in person. The moment he took a seat by the door however, Bishop D walked in.

“Hello,” the Bishop noticed him as soon as he entered and smiled directly at him. “Do I know you?”

“No Bishop. I’m Lantey Randolph, I arrived in Ghana two days ago from the US.” Lantey offered as an introduction, standing up. “And I’m here to work for God.” He added the last bit tentatively and somewhat sheepishly and then he braved up to look Bishop squarely in the face. It took a bit of courage to do this for some reason. Bishop stood just two inches taller than Tey so it wasn’t a matter of David trembling as he faced a Goliath. Tey felt electrified the moment the man of God walked in. Bishop was a man Tey reverenced from his heart because he knew there was so much supernatural accompaniment with his presence. That day the Bishop was dressed in a bright red t-shirt with the inscription, “First Love Church”. His hair was all black but in the front there was a tip dyed bright orange. Tey grinned fully when he noticed this. Bishop D was known for his refusal to behave in a manner he termed as “dignified” or “mature”. He was undignified for the Lord and filled with a youthful zest that belied his years. He had named the university campus church which he pastored, “The First Love Church” as a recognition of his need (and their need) to return to the first love one had for God when one was young. Even though he was the overseer of a thousand churches, Bishop D did not see it to be less than his position to pastor a church, much more the church of mere university students. For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet he was among them as one who served.

“Wow.” He prolonged this word and the room went silent so everyone was paying attention. Eyes  began to take notice of this stranger in their midst who claimed to be from the United States. Bishop had a way of talking as though he were joking or pretending but his intention was far from either.  “You wanna work for the Lord?”

‘All day long!” A first love elder sang in response from behind the Bishop. The meeting room was now full with about twenty-five elders all in colored t-shirts.

Bishop D had a serious look on his face, but his tone sounded almost as though he were mocking Tey. He walked to the front of the room and addressed the group. “Where is Kamara?” He was referring to the chief elder. Kamara walked in the meeting room promptly as though she had been summoned by Bishop’s question. “Kamara, we’re sending out missionaries today, are we not? Do you have the list? Is it working?” Bishop D had a habit of asking several questions at once. His expectations for subordinates were high and the elders knew that they constantly needed a hard-working and diligent attitude in order to survive working for him in the ministry.

“Yes Bishop, I have the list here-” Kamara started towards him to the front of the room.

“Add this young man’s name to it. I feel that he is called to work for God. You said what is your name again Mr. Man?”

Tey rose to his feet and replied loudly with a confidence he usually did not have, “Bishop I’m Nii Lantey Randolph.”

“Who was your branch pastor?” Bishop asked.

“My pastor was Reverend Bannerman from Connecticut.” Tey replied. Tey’s accent was not American but one could tell that he was a foreigner in the midst of the Ghanaians from how he spoke.

“Okay I’m sending you to Asamankese, to start a new branch. Do you know there?”

“No Bishop.” Tey smiled. Excitement and warmth bubbled up inside of him.

“Okay great. See Kamara after the meeting and stay behind to talk to LP Shelly. There will be a meeting for all missionaries at the Qodesh on Saturday- ” Bishop D kept talking and expanding on activities and plans in the coming week. Tey was only half-listening now. God had opened a door for him! He was in the minstry! He had an assignment! His dream had come to pass. He looked down so no one could see the crazy grin on his dark face. When he looked up again, he heard a flutter of wings and his eyes were opened to see young swans swimming around the Bishop’s head. The anointed man of God was sending him forth to fulfill his ministry. He would go and have hands laid on him. He too, although he was a nobody, the son of Terry Randolph, a petroleum engineer would become a priest. An anointed priest!

 

Read on! Here’s Chapter IV.

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