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SOUL REAPERS

The Sickle Is Unleashed!

Mopelola Adeniyi

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Copyright © 2017. All Rights Reserved All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other non-commercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to the publisher, addressed “Attention: Permissions Coordinator,” at the address below. Author‟s email addresses: adeniyi.mopelola@yahoo.co.uk ISBN : 9781521472132

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Legal Disclaimer: The characters and events depicted in this story are fictitious. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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ABOUT THE BOOK Dan and Jeremiah are the leaders of the two churches marked for destruction by the dark kingdom. The unseen powers use sophisticated spiritual weapons and devices to monitor, ensnare, weaken, and turn key members and leaders of these churches away from the faith. The enemyâ€&#x;s most deadly weapon is the saintâ€&#x;s ignorance of the battle going on around them. Many become captives by the voice of the enemy through the weapons of thought suggestions and mind control, while others fell through the caprices of their unbridled desires, wants and secret passions. In the middle of these intense battles is an ally who responds to the faintest stir of faith and cry for help. Spiritually gripping, Soul Reapers is a supernatural apocalypse story that remains with you. Watch out for those thoughts, they might not be yours!

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CHAPTER ONE Amy caught her breath, panted; weary from running from her assailants as she crouched beneath the fallen tree limb. Her heart beats wildly against her chest, eyes darted frightfully about the dark swamp as she hoped and prayed that the hideous looking creatures will not trail her scent to this mucky hidden corner. Mosquitoes sang into her ears as they feasted on her body which had become completely immersed into the muddy waters; but she appeared not to notice, as any level of degradation and discomfort is preferable to being trapped between the fangs of the hideous pursuers. Being an avid reader of the bible, she knew who the swarming hordes of evil creatures were, their mission and origin. They were the locusts which came out of the bottomless pit at the sound of the sixth trumpet to blacken the earth in their vast numbers. They were sent to torment man for a period of five months. She remembered how it had all started. A bright sunny day had suddenly become darkened with smoke like a great furnace, and out of the smoke came the locusts. They appeared like fierce looking horses, ready for battle. On their heads were crowns made with gold, their faces human like; adorned with long flowing hair and hideous looking fawns. The sounds of their wings were like that of many chariots, their thorn like tails has the power to sting and torment their victims. A voice had shouted loud and clear, after which the locusts charged out of the smoke. "Fear and the pit and the snare are upon you, O inhabitants of the earth. And it shall be that he who flees from the noise of the fear shall fall into the pit, and he who comes up from the midst of the pit shall be caught in the snare; for the windows from on high are open, and the foundations of the earth are shaken." They have been on the earth for just a month and many had tried to end their miserable existence of horror and dread. If only death was accessible. Man tried many various ways to commit suicide, but death fled from the desperate creatures on earth. There were reports coming from all over the world on the news channels that millions who tried to drown themselves were rejected by the sea. Men and women ran into the hills, caves, and the mountains, desperately searching for a hiding place where they can rest for moments before the pursuing hordes catch up with them. After much running and hiding, they usually do, as death toll increased daily in millions all over the face of the earth. Ever since the church was raptured from the earth about three months ago, it has been different tales of woes. Amy sighed, as fresh tears coursed down her face. She would never get over the anguish of that great irreparable loss. You warned me, you did warn me through your word and personal visions and dreams. But I was carried away by the challenges of making a living, struggling to pay bills, to belong, to survive that I missed my groom, Jesus. Pain, fatal than the fang of a venomous snake stung her in the heart, as she thought about how her three kids suddenly disappeared forever right before her. It was a beautiful Sunday service. She remembered how the congregation had screamed in frenzy as the Pastor prayed down showers of blessings. She had sighed, hoped this would 6


bring a change into their finances. They have been experiencing leanness in their finances ever since her husband, Jude lost his job two years ago during the banking recession. She had already picked the kids from the Sunday school class after the church service, before the pickup rush. Having properly strapped the kids in the back seat, she waited for Jude to kick start the vehicle. "Today's service was glorious. Didn't you feel the anointing?" Jude exclaimed, his eyes sparkled with hope that things were about to take a positive turn. He mopped sweat off his face; the afternoon heat had become intense and scorching, but not enough to douse his excitement. "Hmm. It was," Amy managed a reply, her attention on the gate warder who has been at this post for the past four years since they joined the church. What amazed Amy is his never changing courteousness, humility and the bright smile that never seemed to leave his face. Suddenly, as if she was watching a movie, the warder disappeared from her sight. She blinked, but he was no longer there. Shocked, she rubbed her eyes off some imaginary speck, but he was no longer there. This must be a dream. Perplexed, she turned to look at Jude who was also in a state of shock. Then the screams began. Instinctively, she turned, paused as a strange fear gripped her. No! No! No! Lord, No. It cannot be. Abruptly, she turned to look at the back seat. Transfixed, her lips slightly parted in shock, she stared at the empty seat. A familiar phrase appeared on the screen of her mind. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. "Oh! …the…the …ra…rapture!" Suddenly dizzy, her breath coming out in gasps, for a moment, she thought she had had a heart attack. She could hear gasps and screams from others as they were faced with the same shock dilemma of their children and wards' disappearance. She reached towards the back seat to pick her two year old daughter's water bottle, her pink dress on the seat alongside with the boys' clothing. Jummy, her little girl was drinking from the bottle when she disappeared. It must have dropped as she went up with the Lord. A gut wrenching pain began to stir from within her heart, which slowly engulfed her entire being. It seemed like every nerve and organ in her body suddenly developed mouths, desperate to scream out her pain. Screams, shouts erupted from the children's church as parents rushed out, crying for their children and wards who had disappeared in droves. Disoriented, shattered, some ran to the nearby police station, apparently to make complaint about the disappearances. She could hear screeching car tyres as drivers disappeared from behind the wheels. In moments, the roads had become a complete mayhem of vehicles and horrified humans. By the wayside, an elderly man in a black cassock continually hits his head on the steering wheel; bitter tears ran down his withered skin. His wife was taken while he was left behind. Words of old crept into her mind. But of that day and hour, no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but my father only. Then two men will be in the field, one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding in the mill, one will be taken and the other left. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. 7


A bitter smile crept to Amy's lips as her eyes became filled with tears. She felt relieved that the children are safe and will not be present to see the evil that will be unleashed on earth in the next few weeks and months. Then she remembered Jude ,who has become a statue beside her. "Rap…rap…ture?" The lone word managed to slip from his mouth in apparent struggle and denial. There seemed to be a war going on in him about the reality of the present. He turned and locked his horror filled eyes with hers. "…the ..the…chil…dren?" Amy held back a heart wrenching cry, reached forward and forced him to look at the back seat. "They have left with the groom," she said, surprised at the calmness of her voice. He gasped; tears ran down his face as he struggled to come to terms with reality. Then he stopped, grasped her by the shoulders. "We….we……….," knowing what he couldn't bring himself to say, she completed the sentence for him. "Yes, we were left behind." He starred blindly into her eyes, transfixed, and then snapped his eyes shut, as hot tears forced their way out of his eyes. Someone banged on the door. Amy turned her grief stricken face to see a gorgeously attired lady in the traditional Iro and buba with matching accessories. She is a sight to behold as her head gear is nowhere to be found, her exquisite lace fabric torn into shreds with her own hands, her multi - colored decorated eyes, red rimmed in anguish. "Please, where are my children? One..mo…moment they were right behind me and the next they are gone…what…what……," she seemed not to understand what had taken place. Ignorant church goers, ever hearing the word which never seemed to take root in their lives. "The rapture has taken place; Jesus has come to take his bride with him to heaven," Amy said, her voice brittle. The woman stared at her for a moment, then something snapped in her mind as she began to laugh hysterically. "Jesus, bride to heaven, rapture, children gone," she laughed, incoherent, obviously out of her mind. Amy could only spare the unfortunate soul a moment's glance, other pressing matters on her mind. Then a thought occurred to her. She needed to find out something. She stepped out of the vehicle and passed by the grief stricken. People ran to and fro, crying and screaming. No one is spared as families of the earth mourn their loss of being left behind by the groom, while many others wept for their beloved who suddenly disappeared right before their sight. Everywhere she turned is a story of woe, regret, mourning and grief as she continued her walk into the church premises. "Don‟t tell me the rapture everyone has been talking about for ages has finally happened?" but…but..I…I ..thought the story was a fable which had passed through generations in other to keep people to fear the Lord." Amy stopped to look at the face of the one who spoke the most fool hardy statement of all ages. I missed the rapture because I was not prepared when the groom came, so did you and everyone else; but for someone to say that the rapture is all a fable, a story fabricated to keep people in the fear of God? She gasped as she locked gaze with one of the ushers. As she walked by, beloved and dedicated brethren who have served the lord for years lay sprawled in the church, weeping bitterly at the great loss. Some sat, dazed while others wailed loudly as their voices could allow. She entered into main entrance that lead to the Pastor's 8


office, walked through the exquisitely tiled corridor and stood by the door. She needed to find out. As her hands rested on the door knob, cries of anguish entered into her ears. She pushed the door open and entered into the reception. The place was almost deserted, free from the usual human traffic that thronged the office of the man of God for counseling, excerpt for the secretary and a few other leaders who lay sprawled on the floor, bawling like agitated infants in a nursery. She reached further into the room for the Pastor's door. The bodyguards who usually surround the man of God were nowhere to be found, and the secretary who would have questioned her mission to the sacred office had weightier matters to attend to; so she was able to gain entrance without any resistance. A faint sigh of shock escaped from her lips as she saw the Pastor on his high powered chair, his countenance pitiable a he clutched his head in anguish. In his low state, he looked like every normal man, stripped off his confidence and superfluity. She looked about the office for his wife, Pastor Jaiye. "She made it to heaven," he said amidst tears. Her eyes locked with his stricken ones. "I am sorry," Amy replied, not knowing what else to say to this man who has been a spiritual leader to her in the past years. "I am sorrier," he said as the tears flowed. He knocked his fists on the table, as a heart wrenching cry gutted out of his mouth. "Lord, No! I am not supposed to be down here while the church gone. What am I supposed to tell your people? What reason do I give for being left behind?" He crumbled on the exquisite tiled floor and wailed. "No, no Lord, not after serving you for more than half of my lifetime." Fresh tears coursed down her face at his outburst. Embarrassed to see this great man weepy and so broken, she turned and ran out into the street. Across the opposite side of the road, a weeping crowd had gathered in a nearby church as they lay crushed on the altar. She found herself walking into sanctuary. "Pastor, why didn't you tell us about this? Why didn't you prepare us?" They cried against the Pastor who is also left behind. "You didn't want to hear the truth. And weren't you supposed to read your bible and know what the scriptures said? Must you be spoon-fed by your pastors? While you blame me for not preaching the truth, some of our members have gone on to be with the Lord. Deacon Edward is gone, brother Dehinde and his entire family made it and a few others. Were we not in the same church, listening to the same message? They made it because they were doing something all of us here were not doing. Be sincere to yourselves on the role you played in being left behind and hold no one responsible for your woe." The pastor's voice rang out from behind the pulpit where he laid fallen. She got back into the main street, her heart panting as tears strewn down her face. The once serene road has become chaotic, vehicles whose owners have disappeared crash head on with passengers and corpses lie scattered on the earth like debris washed across the sea shore. A radio broadcast from somewhere around filtered into Amyâ€&#x;s ears. "Reports are coming in that millions have disappeared over the face of the earth early this afternoon. All babies and 9


little children are missing, not less than fifty planes have crashed after the pilots disappeared, hospital patients disappeared right before their care givers and the most startling of all these is the report that a corpse disappeared as it was being prepared for burial, and many corpses in the morgue and mortuaries have also disappeared. Many are attributing this to a phenomenon the Christians refer to as the rapture of the church where the saints who are ready are caught up in the air to meet with Jesus." A scripture lighted upon her mind. The dead in Christ will rise first and those of us who are alive will be caught up in the heaven. So the rapture has indeed taken place. In the twinkling of an eye, the age long prophecy which many have become familiar with and come to despise and take for granted has finally taken place. Her body began to quake as her emotions spilled over. Amy shuddered as she hurried down the road. A woman came crying to her. "What has happened to my baby? Please do you know who stole my baby? She was strapped to my back and suddenly disappeared; please tell me what has happened?" Amy ignored the woman as she continued down the road, but the woman kept at her heels, crying for her baby. Unable to bear the noise, frustrated, she barked at the woman. "Why do you harass me as if I stole your baby?" The woman fell on her knees, crying profusely. "Please help me find my daughter." Amy sighed as compassion welled up inside her. "Look, you can't find your daughter on this earth any longer. Don't despair because she is safe and happy. Babies all over the world have been taken up to the heavens so they will not see the coming corruption that will shake the world." The woman looked confused. "Can you take me to where she is?" "Are you a Christian?" Amy looked more closely at the woman. "Yes, I go to church and all that stuff." "That's not what I mean. Have you at one time in your life given your life to Christ?" "I don't understand what you mean?" "Then you will not know what the rapture means either. Have you heard about the second coming of our Lord Jesus?" "I think so, but isnâ€&#x;t that a myth or story cooked up by religious fanatics to make people come to church?" "Well, that myth became reality this morning when all those whose names were found in the lamb's book of life and children all over the world were caught up to meet the Lord in the heavens." "So I will never see her again?" Her eyes glistened with tears. Amy sighed, thinking of what to say. "There is only a window of opportunity opened for those of us who missed the first train to be with the Lord." "Oh! I have another chance to go to heaven and see my child again?" "You may see her again, but it is not that‌.." "Yes, let's go, I am ready," her voice brightened at the prospect of seeing her baby again. " Wait! Listen ! But it will be difficult, hard and involve shedding of blood." The woman frowned, confused. 10


"What I mean is that those who left with the Lord went on the train of the blood of Jesus. They were saved based on the price he paid through the shedding of his blood. Now that opportunity is gone, anyone who wants to be with the Lord will do so now by the shedding of his own blood." "If you knew so much about heaven and how to get there, then why were you left behind?" The strangerâ€&#x;s question turned to an arrow which struck Amy in the heart. She laid her left hand on her chest, as her heart began to throb with pain. "Please, I have to go." "Wait! Wait! The voice of the strange woman followed after her as she walked away. Then the leaves rustled, bringing her back to matters on hand. She sensed rather than heard a movement and knew instantly that she was no longer alone. How can I ever think I could hide from these beings? "Oh no! Please God, No!" A scream escaped from her mouth as she looked into black piercing eyes of a hideous face. The creature sensed her fear, an eerie smile on its face as it moved towards her with its fangs open. Her heart in her mouth, she opened her mouth to scream. "Mummy!" Amy leapt out of bed, her heart panting in horror. She opened her eyes to see Joshua, her eight year old son who stood before her. "Jummy has hurt herself." Oh Lord. It is a dream, only a dream. Just a dream, But it was so real, so real. Her heart still panting from the experience. Then she felt Joshua's hands on her shoulder. "Mummy, Jummy has injured herself." She stared at her son, saw his lips moving, but could not decipher his words. Then a loud scream brought her up on her feet as she raced out of the room to the direction of the noise. Sprawled on the floor is Jummy, her two year old daughter, her front tooth bleeding from an injury. "What happened to you? I guess you were playing rough with the boys and got yourself injured," she lifted up the little girl and carried her into the room. "Joshua! Bring out the first aid box." As she tended Jummy's wound in silence, she shuddered as the vision came back to haunt her. She remembered the gory details of it all, her heart beating once again as it was in the dream. Hours later, the kids engrossed in watching a cartoon program, with torrent of tears, she lifted her voice to the ancient of days and pleaded for restoration. "Lord, why would I serve you all these years only to miss your coming and have to go through the great tribulation? Search me out Oh Lord; cleanse me from secret sins that would disqualify me from coming into your kingdom. "By your mercy, help me to continually set my heart on heaven and not of this world. Don't let me be a cast away; count me worthy to be a vessel unto honor in your kingdom. Let me not be found wanting on the day of resurrection, let my name never be wiped from the book of life and if it is no longer there, rewrite it by your mercy. Help me to always check myself daily whether I am still in the faith and let my end be glorious."

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As Amy prepared the kids for nightcap, her eyes flicked to the wall clock. She wondered why Jude had not arrived home. He had called a few hours earlier, promised to be home before 8:30pm. "Mum, will you read the story of King David for us?" Joseph, her second son of five years old asked as he stretched the children's bible towards her. "Alright," she began to read. Ten minutes later, they were all fast asleep. She had always wondered what it is about reading the bible that makes people fall asleep. She once advised a friend who had complained of insomnia to try reading the bible and see if her sickness will not be cured. To everyoneâ€&#x;s amazement, her insomnia disappeared instantly, a condition which had defiled drugs and medical consultations for years. She whispered a prayer and quietly slipped out of the childrenâ€&#x;s room. Pacing the expanse of the living room, and ruminating over the events of the past two days, as she waited for Jude. After she awoke from that vision, she could not shake off this restlessness that seemed to pervade her being. "Lord what is this about? Is there any other sin I need to confess and bring to light? What is it you are trying to tell me?" Then the shrill sound of the doorbell broke into her thoughts. A weary looking Jude entered as she opened the door. She looked at his countenance, hoped, to hear some good news this time. His expressionless face told her nothing as she flashed him a bright welcoming smile. "Sweetheart! How was your journey? I missed you." Jude stared at his wife of ten years. He had not heard that sweet quality tone in her voice for a while now. He wondered what she had up her sleeve. "Great, thanks. And the kids?" "They are in bed." An awkward silence pervaded the air as they stared at each other. His heart knotted in pain as his eyes fell on her worn out nightwear. Ever since he lost his joba, getting another had been almost impossible. Guilt ate at him at his failure to provide the good life for his wife and kids. They get by averagely well, scrapping from here and there, but it could be better. I tried, Lord, I tried to give them the best as you give me the grace, but it has not been easy. "Would you take your dinner now?" Amy smiled, breaking into his thoughts, her face aglow. He gawked, remembered the heated argument they had about unpaid bills before he travelled. He wondered what could have brought this glow to her face. "Jude?" "I need to shower, will be with you shortly." Amy heard the water running as she sets his meal. Oh Lord, let him receive what I am about to share with him. Then the adjourning door opened. She flashed him a smile as he joined her at the dining table. Their first few years of marriage had been heaven on earth, for he was the perfect husband, a provider, her lover and friend. She felt a pang of guilt for not being supportive enough and blaming him for their plight in the past two years. She raised her head and met his eyes on her. "Jude." "Amy." They chorused at the same time, shared a smile. That felt good. The first smile they had exchanged in weeks. 12


"How was the interview?" She asked as they locked gaze. He tensed. Then, she reached out towards him, laid her hand on his. "It is alright. Tell me whatever it is. The Lord will not leave or forsake us no matter what happens." He relaxed, shut his eyes. "The usual story. They will get back to me." She smiled, stood up and walked over to him. "This too shall come to pass. I am certain that the Lord will work something out for us soon." He stared into her eyes. She seemed confident about something, like she knew something I don't. I will wait to hear what she has up on her sleeve. Much later, as they lay on their sides of the bed, he waited. He could sense that there was something on her mind. "Jude." He tensed. "I need to tell you someth‌.." "Yes, go ahead," he cuts in. "I had a strange vision this morning. It was so real that after ‌.." "I hope it is about the new job we are waiting for?" "No." A tense silence ensued in the darkness of the room. "Then, what is it about?" She could hear the impatience in his voice and for a moment, wanted to keep the words back. Then a strange force took gripped her mouth, gave her a sudden boldness to speak. "It is about the rapture." For a moment, he said nothing. All she could hear was the sound of his breathing. "The rapture?" Then he bursts out laughing. "And what's so funny about the rapture?" "Do you know how long Christians have been waiting for the rapture? I once heard a story of how some ignorant fools sold all they had to wait for the rapture. Before Jesus ascended into the heavens, he said that the generation of then will not see death till his sayings come to pass," he rose to switch on the bedside lamp. "Do you know how many generations had come and died since Jesus spoke those words? My dear, do not deceive yourself. I am quite aware of our present financial worries, but that shouldn't make you despair so much as to begin to see strange unrealistic visions." "This vision is not unrealistic, neither was it a figment of my imagination. If only you will listen and hear me out." "Sweetheart, I thought you had something more important to say. I am tired and need to sleep. You can tell me all about your dream adventures some other time," he switched off the lamp, turned on his side, putting the room into pitch darkness. Alone with her thoughts, she turned to the wall.

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CHAPTER TWO Pastor Jeremiah has been the senior pastor of Living Spring Church of God for the past thirty years, fondly called Daddy by the congregation. He had watched in horror as the church disintegrated from its former lofty place to what it is today. He watched as the altar of God has become desecrated with lust, as the church is turned into a gambling institution of money peddlers. He had made up his mind that he would preach the unadulterated word until he takes his last breath. On this particular Sunday, as he stood on the pulpit, his eyes roamed with blazing fire around the congregation. He cleared his throat and began the sermon. "Many Christians today are suffering of spiritual kwashiorkor. While the natural man lives by food, the spiritual man lives by the word. He is sustained and kept by faith which comes by hearing and hearing the word of God. The problem today is that many Christians have been so socialized on the doctrines of men, that they can only receive the word of God with great difficulty. The bible says train a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it. But when a new believer is breast fed on wrong doctrines, it becomes more difficult for him to receive the truth later on." "Wrong doctrines actually serve to immunize us against the truth, ensuring that when and if the truth is finally revealed to us, we would reject it. That is how we get the anomaly that it is easier to preach the gospel to an unbeliever than to a Christian. Many Christians have developed immunities to the word of God by the very act of church attendance." "Without realizing it, the messages we have been listening to vaccinate us against the sincere milk of the word. Once we are grounded on falsehood, the truth of God becomes offensive to us. When we hear the word, it provokes and makes us uncomfortable. We become selective about what we believe in the bible. If the scripture is about blessings, we cram, recite and claim it. If it is about righteousness, we overlook or ignore it. When it is convenient, we stand on the word and when it is inconvenient, we reject it." He coughed. His wife of thirty - five years, Hannah flicked a glance at him. She beckoned to the personal assistant who passed a glass of water to the fiery preacher. "We say to ourselves, "This scripture cannot apply to me. After all, God knows that it is not possible for a man to clear his goods at the ports without paying bribes. God knows that if I don't get pregnant, my fiancĂŠ might not know I am fertile and therefore might not marry me. God knows it is not possible to succeed in business without engaging in shady deals." "And so it goes on and on. Ever so gradually, we convince ourselves that God will understand and condone our sins. After all nobody is perfect. Without realizing it, many of us have become sons of disobedience who have qualified for the wrath of God." A hushed silence fell on the congregation as Pastor Jeremiah bare his mind to everyone within his earshot. "Because we reject the word, we do not grow, we do not bear fruit. We may be Christians for as long as thirty - eight years, but we are not healed of sin. We remain mired in ungodliness. We go to church, but are absent in the spirit." "We don't allow the word to get into our hearts and after a while, our conscience in certain areas becomes seared against the pricks of the word. We quote the scriptures but fail to abide 14


by its precepts. We come regularly to church, but are no longer believers. Therefore, the bible reveals that the blindest people are Christians." "We preach about one thing and do the opposite. We talk love but act hate. We preach to others but fail to preach to ourselves. We are not doers of the word. We deceive ourselves by thinking that we are on the way to heaven." He paused for a moment, cleared his throat, his eyes on the congregation as they listened with rapt attention. Certain that his words were sinking home, he continued. "One of the major tragedies of the contemporary church is that most Christians are living a lie. Most Christians are hypocrites. A hypocrite is a play- actor, a pretender and a deceiver. He is outwardly religious. But inwardly insincere and unrighteous. Hypocrisy is harmful because it speaks of a terrible heart condition. The bible says that we can change our life by changing our heart. The hypocrite says, on the contrary, that we can change our life by changing our appearance." "The hypocrite is only concerned about men, he does not reckon with God. As long as he fools men, he is content. Peter calls hypocrites wells without water. Jude calls them trees without fruit, twice dead." "God knows how many times we have heard that fornicators and adulterers will not enter the kingdom of God. Nevertheless, we continue to sleep with our unmarried partners. Our hearts are so hardened that it no longer pricks our conscience. We still tell lies, steal, abuse, hate, gossip. Can someone with a loud voice please read to us the book of 1Corinthians 6:9?" A loud voice from the back seat reads, "Don't you know that those who do such things have no share in the kingdom of God? Don't fool yourselves." "Listen to this, by the preaching of the word, more people are sent to hell. Jesus told his disciples that if anyone rejects their words, they should not be bothered, but should simply shake off the dust from their feet and leave. Then he said, "Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more terrible for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the Day of Judgment than for that city. This explains why God instructed Isaiah to go and preach the gospel that men may be destroyed." "Isaiah 6:9 - 10 says that "Go and tell this people - keep hearing, but do not understand; keep seeing, but do not perceive. Make the heart of this people dull, and their heart heavy, shut their eyes, lest they see and hear and understand with their heart and return healed. On the last day, we shall be judged by the truths we reject." "Those same words will come back to interrogate us. The truth will ask, "Did I not tell you this on such and such date? We reject the truth because we are not of the truth and for that reason, we will not be able to spend eternity with the truth. When we reject the truth, we have chosen to spend eternity with the lie." "I close this sermon with the test in John 12: 47- 48."If anyone hears my word and does not believe. I do not judge him; for I did not come to the world to judge but to save the world. He who rejects me and does not receive my words has which judge him - the words that I have spoken will judge him on the last day."

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Dan is the General Overseer of the Trinity Bible Church where Amy and Jude worships. After years of toil, standing on the word even when all seemed fruitless, and relentless teaching and prayers; the ministry has begun to thrive and bear fruits. Church attendance has tripled with a weekly new member attendance of above hundred souls. The church has just completed their multi-million naira 50,000 seater headquarters complex and holds three services on Sunday mornings. The ministry is rated as one of the fastest growing in Africa, enjoying local and international recognition. He smiled, as his eyes went over the exquisite furnishings, the wall paintings gathered over years of travelling and buying of expensive interior pieces. His eyes fell on the sealed envelope on the table. Stamped on it is the phrase PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL. A smile played at the corner of his lips as he read through the parcel. An invitation from the executive Governor of the state, for his birthday celebration. Susan, the twenty-five year old church secretary entered, dropped some letters on his table and stepped out. Pastor Jaiye, his wife had resisted having the girl as his secretary, but he prevailed on the excuse that she was the best candidate for the job. When the matter began to generate discord in their once blissful home, his wife had submitted to his will for the peace. His eyes followed her as she walked elegantly out of his office. He sighed; shut his eyes at the image that appeared on his mind. It has become an intense struggle to get the image of his beautiful secretary out of his mind. Whenever he and Jaiye come together, he would envision her in his wife's place. He had tried to fight it, to stop it, but knew in the recess of his mind that he enjoyed the lustful imaginations. Initially, it had started as an innocent appreciation of her skill and efficiency in official administration, but as they made daily contacts, he began to notice other feminine details. His heart panged in guilt, knowing that he is committing a sin by his thoughts. He that lusted after a woman has already committed a sin in his heart. He shuddered as the word whispered in his heart. He had considered sacking her, but his flesh, the old man within, wanted her to remain. He had to admit to himself that he found pleasure in thinking about his attractive young secretary. "Oh Lord! Please help me to overcome these ungodly thoughts that have flooded my mind. Create in me a clean heart O Lord and renew a right spirit within me. Wash my mind with your blood and cleanse me from my righteousness," he cried. The door opened as Pastor Jaiye entered. She is a beautiful comely woman who had stood by him during the years when it didn't look as if he would not amount to anything, the mother of their two children and has been a solid companion in his personal life and ministry. But, in the past few years, age has started to tell on her. Her once luxurious kohl black hair is almost completely grey, her chin droopy and skin saggy. He had suggested that she see a cosmetologist, who would prescribe cosmetics to slow down or postpone the ageing process. But she had dismissed his suggestion, with a wave of her hand. I love my wife, but can't help thinking about other women. Help me Lord. "How is the preparation for the international women's conference?" He asked as she sat on the long sofa. "In full swing. The letters have been sent to all the speakers and invited guests." "What is the theme of this year's conference?" 16


"The Power of his Resurrection." "Great." She suddenly sprang to her feet and picked up her bag. "I need to be on my way. Came by to give Susan letters to post," she walked a few steps to the door, stopped midway and turned to face him. "What will you have for dinner?" "I trust you to decide." Her eyes lingered on him, then she began to walk back towards him. "Are you alright?" He locked gaze with her, then unable to hold her penetrating stare which seemed to see into his soul, he turned away. "Why do you ask?" "We have been together on this journey for more than thirty years, how will I not notice if there is something amiss?" "Well, your senses are wrong this time dear wife. I have never felt better in my life." She drew closer and planted a kiss on his lips. "Alright then, see you later in the day." He watched, dejected as she walked out of the office. He gripped his head in both hands, knowing that if he doesn't stop the flow of lustful thoughts that have infiltrated his mind, then the beginning of his end has come. Watch and pray that you do not fall into temptation. The phrase kept pumping up in his mind, knowing that the Holy Spirit is prompting him to make amendment lest he falls beyond redemption.

Amy listened as Pastor Jeremiah's voice resonates from the screen across the room. She shuddered at his closing message. "If anyone hears my word and does not believe. I do not judge him; for I did not come to the world to judge but to save the world. He who rejects me and does not receive my words has which judge him - the words that I have spoken will judge him on the last day." She had hoped that Jude would join her to listen to the Telecast. Just then, he entered, humming under his breath. "You just missed Pastor Jeremiah's message. It was enriching." "If it is that pastor who has nothing to say but preach frightful messages and prophesy doom, then I am not interested in listening to him." "I don't see anything wrong with his manner of preaching. And every pastor cannot be a prosperity preacher. I think we have heard enough of that in this decade." "I don't think we have heard enough because we have only a few rich in the church. When I become wealthy, then maybe I will begin to listen to such messages of rapture." She stared hard at him, shocked at his words. "What has come over you Jude? You used to be so devoted to the things of God. But now………" "Joblessness, poverty and lack changed me," he cuts in. "Look, I faithfully paid my tithes, served God to the best of my ability, attended services regularly, but what has all that fervency done for me? I ended up jobless. Where was God when I was sacked? Where has he been for the past two years since I have been hunting for a job? Didn't we fast and pray? Don't we have enough faith?" She stared as his face suddenly become ashen. "No Jude…………………….." 17


"Let me finish," he cuts in harshly. "Sometimes, I feel we are just wasting time and deceiving ourselves attending Church. Look! People who had never entered into the four walls of a church are prospering. Look at our neighbors…………….." "What are you trying to say Jude?" "What I am trying to say is that it is either God has forgotten about us or he has travelled on a long journey. Two years sweetheart! Two good years of joblessness in spite of my impressive qualifications, skills and experience. The bible says that it is easier for a cow to pass through a needle's eyes than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. I think reverse is the case. It is more difficult for a poor fellow to enter heaven considering the compromises he has to make in other to make ends meet. In fact, I am convinced that poverty is a first class ticket to hell." "I understand what you mean darling, but the Lord has not forgotten us. Yes, we don't enjoy the former luxury we were accustomed to, but neither are we destitute. I am surprised that you are allowing this temporary situation cause you to doubt God's faithfulness. What about the times he has been good to us?" He picked his phone and made for the door. "Look, I don't have the time for arguments, if you want to listen to messages of doom, the Armageddon and so on, please do but don‟t drag me along with you." "You have allowed the cares of the world choke the word of God in your life. You need to be patient with God and yourself, only then will you be able to enter into God's best for your life." "I will see you later in the day," he said and walked towards the exit door. "Where are you off to again? Didn't you come in just moments ago?" He slammed the door angrily and stepped out, the force of which shook the entire building. Amy stared at the closed door, saddened by Jude's new attitude towards the things of God. At first, when he lost his job, they were able to live on the savings he had, but as time went on, having exhausted his savings, he became bitter, critical and irritated. She had watched how her once loving husband gradually turned into a stranger and much worse, how he has turned his back against God. What do I do Lord? I can't continue to watch him degenerate like this. Please help me, help us. She cried within, as the memory of the dream she had weeks ago flashed through her mind. Not knowing what else to do, she went down on her knees and began to cry unto God on the issues of their lives.

18


Pastor Jeremiah stared thoughtfully at the two men the church is about to send to plant a new branch of the ministry, pastors Andrew and his assistant, Yemi, who both had been under his tutelage for the past ten years. He wondered if he made the right decision to send them on this important mission and entrust so much into their hands. Lord, please keep these ones standing, don't let them fall and become carried away by lust of the flesh, pride of life and the deceitfulness of riches. "Sir, Engineer Bada has carried out the costing required for the land and building project of the new sanctuary," Andrew passed the costing analysis to the senior pastor who skimmed through the document. "$60,000 for the entire project? Don't you think we should get a second opinion from another engineer? Preferably one who is not a church member, so we can have a basis for comparison?" Jeremiah asked, threw the documents on the table. "I am of the same opinion sir," Yemi, the assistant pastor added, avoided meeting Andrew's face. "Are you in any way doubting Engineer Bada's integrity?" Asked Andrew. "Nothing of that sort, but I think it is wise to weigh and compare multiple costing analysis. Afterwards that is what is how things are done in the secular world. That way, we can award the project to be best company at a reasonable cost to the ministry." Andrew flicked a cold look at the junior minister, managed a smile as he felt the elder's eyes on him. "Get a second opinion from another engineer, so we can have a basis for comparison," Pastor Jeremiah put the cost document into his drawer and faced the two young ministers. "I am sending you two and a few others to build the church in Benin. I need you to remember all you have been taught over the years, give attention to prayers, bible study and teaching of the word. And remember that a day will come when you will give account to the Lord of your doings. Also, you have to know about the nature of the ruling spirit where you are sent to and be prepared to contend with it in battle, only then will the ears of the people be opened to hear the message of redemption." He brought out a bottle of anointing oil, rose up and poured the content on their heads. "Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning and be like men who wait for their master when he will return, that when he comes, you may open the door to him immediately. Blessed are those servants whom the Master would find watching when he comes. We are in the last hour of the church history; we are the generation that will witness the second coming of our Lord. Watch and pray that you do not fall out of grace." The meeting ended and the ministers stepped out of the office. Pastor Jeremiah stared after the closed door. He has not been able to shake off an odd feeling which had settled on his heart for a while now. What is it Lord? What are you trying to tell me? Weren't you the one who told me to build a church for the glory of your name in Benin City? Why this check in my spirit? Is the timing not right? Are the workers I am sending inappropriate for the job? But they are the only ones who appeared ready for the job. Speak to me Lord. Tell me that which is on your mind.

19


"Abraham persuaded himself that God who promised to give him a son will do as he has said. The bible says that and I quote, "being not weak in faith, he considered not the deadness of Sarah's womb nor the fact that his body is as good as dead. He did not waiver at the promise of God through unbelief, but kept giving glory to God, being fully persuaded that he was able to perform what he promised." Sandra listened with rapt attention as Deacon Dave, one of the pastors of Trinity Bible Church taught on the principles of faith. She is the church choir leader, filled with the spirit and tongue talking. The anointing of the Holy Spirit has never ceased to fall whenever she mounted the pulpit to handle worship sessions. She stared at the firebrand minister, wondered who he is at home behind all that façade of holiness. Wondered if he is a wife beater, adulterous, or a pen robber. Suddenly, she realized that her mind was no longer in the service and didn't hear a word he said. "When David and his men returned from a battle, he met the camp deserted as certain warring tribes had come to kidnap their wives and children. Initially, they succumbed to weeping. Discovering that weeping could not solve the problem, the bible says that "he encouraged himself in the Lord. The woman with the issue of blood persuaded herself that she will be healed if only she could touch his garment. She did and virtue went out of Jesus into her body." "Sweetheart, can we be on the way home? The kids are already in the vehicle." Sandra almost threw up at the sound of Patrick, her husbandâ€&#x;s voice. She recoiled as he wrapped his hand around her waist line. Resisting the urge to kick his hands off her took all her strong will as she felt envious eyes of church members on them. She could read the message in their eyes. What a perfect couple. If only they can have a glimpse of the hell their once peaceful home has become. She remembered how they had cursed and shouted at each other throughout the night. He has always been a perfect actor, skilled in presenting a false front of a perfect marriage. She kept wondering about what had started this wedge that seems to be getting wider between them. They had met during the national youth service corps, fell in love and got married. The first two years was blissful, but as the years went by; they began to grow apart. She couldnâ€&#x;t even remember the last time they engaged in the conjugal act. It seemed like she is living with a vicious stranger, a different man from the young man she had married ten years ago. The only thing they do together is attend church regularly because of their ministerial duties and are sometimes expected to function as a couple. As soon as they leave the church premises, they revert back to hostility to each other. On a number of occasions, she had tried to have a talk with him on the state of their marriage, but he always brush her off in the most offhand manner. "The executives of the choir have a meeting with Pastor Jaiye about the forthcoming women conference," she replied, unwilling to go home with him. "How long will the meeting take?" "I have no idea. But we should be through in an hour." "Alright, we will wait up for you." 20


"Ouch!" She screamed out as a searing pain shot through her lower when she tried to rise up. "Are you alright?" He asked. They held each otherâ€&#x;s gaze, each knowing the genesis of her back pain. She had turned to get out of the room as an argument about their sonâ€&#x;s choice of college suddenly turned into another battle of words. "Come back here, donâ€&#x;t you dare walk out on me, " he had shouted. "I will not remain here and allow you turn this simple discussion into another boxing match," she had retorted back. "So you are calling me a tout?" He reached out, grabbed her neck and hit her all over. It has become the usual for him to vent his anger and frustration on her whenever the whim catches him.

Kunle laid on the bed weeping profusely. He just fell into the sin again after vowing that he would never do it again. He would repent, fall into immorality again until the whole issue has become a vicious circle of repentance and falling. Lord, I am sick, I have a beautiful and desirable wife, yet I found more pleasure playing with myself than enjoying conjugal bliss with my wife. How can I, the leader of the prayer warring unit be caught in this kind of secret sin? I have prayed, fasted and done all required spiritual exercises, but it only takes the devil a little while before he brings me down again. He that covers his sin shall not prosper, but he that confesses and forsakes it shall obtain mercy. He shivered as the Holy Spirit whispered into his ears. Lord, how can I tell anyone that I am deeply immersed in the sin of masturbation, which has become a stronghold in my life? I can't even bring myself to confide in my wife. He began this habit as a teenager when he was a boarder in the boys' college. He kept falling and repenting over and over again in the past twenty years. He had thought that marriage would cure this spiritual disease that has enslaved his soul and body, but to his dismay, it made no difference whatsoever. Don't fool yourself. Those who live immoral lives, idol worshippers, adulterers and homosexuals will have no share in his Kingdom. He shuddered at the words, covered his ears in an attempt to shut them out. I need help. But who do I confide in and will not condemn me; the leader of the prayer band, sunk in the mire of immorality. Is it not preferable to expose yourself that thou might be restored into righteousness, than to be cast into the lake of fire? He froze at the suggestion. Then the tears started again. I tried Lord, fought this with every fiber of my being, but somehow still find myself going back to eat my vomit. I keep crucifying you on the cross over and over again whenever I fall into this sin. Will I ever be healed from sin? I can feel Satan laughing at and mocking me. Deliver me Lord from myself, deliver me from the yoke of sin that has tied me down and refused to let me go. How can I lose my salvation just for a fleeting moment of pleasure? You shall call his name Jesus for he will save his people from their sins. Hope lighted in his heart as the word is illuminated on his spirit. Yes Lord, save me from my sin sickness. I don't 21


want to repent in hell, destroy this cancer of sin from my life. As he mourned over his sin, the door opened. He tried to wipe the tears, but not until Yeni, his wife had seen it. She rushed to him on the bed, concern all over her face. "Kunle, are you alright?" He nodded. Quiet. "Please talk to me." Knowing that she will not allow the matter to rest until he reassures her, he flicked her a weak smile. "I am alright, just having a talk with God about certain issues in my life. I became emotional while at it." "May I know the kind of issues you are discussing with God that should made you so unhappy?" A frown creased her forehead into fine lines. Kunle began to squirm on the bed. He rose to his feet. "I am sorry Yeni, but I cannot share this with you because it is between myself and the Lord." "But, I am your wife. Are we supposed to hide things from each other?" "Everyone has sensitive issues of their lives which they are not obliged to disclose to anyone." "But couples should hide nothing from each other." He moved closer to her, fell on one knee and drew her chin up to level with his face. "Can you honestly tell me if you have told me about every detail of your life?" Silence ensued as they lock gazed with each other. "In time, I will tell you about it," he dropped her chin, planted a kiss on her lips and made for the bathroom. Yeni stayed back in the room, listened to the running waters as he showered. She wondered what he was hiding from her. Her heart lurched in fear as a thought occurred to her. She hoped he has not come down with one of the chronic diseases which are attaching themselves to everyone and escalating at an alarming rate. She walked towards the bathroom door, hoped to prod the information out of him. Her hand raised to open the door, then on second thought decided against it. I will wait for him to tell me about it. He has been a great husband since we got married; I have not found any fault whatsoever on him, so I trust that he knows what he is doing. With that in mind, she left the room.

Amy knew instantly that something was different the moment Jude arrived. He lifted her off the ground and whirled around the room. "Put me down, put me down, please." "You won't believe what happened today," he said, placing her firmly on the ground. "I can believe anything because I have been expecting good news for so long," her face lit up in excitement. He brought out a folded letter from his suitcase and handed it over to her. She cautiously opened the letter, and skimmed through. "Oh my God! she exclaimed, threw her hands around his neck. "At last, the Lord did it. He did it. Thank you Lord. I know you will show up sooner or later if we faint not. Thank you." 22


"Thank you darling for supporting me all this while and forgive me for being like a bear with a sore head." "Never mind. That's in the past now," she smiled, read through the letter once more. "This calls for a celebration. Give me a moment to serve us drinks," she sauntered into the kitchen. Alone in the living room, his smile faded, replaced with a scowl. If only Amy knew how this job came to be, she would not be all that excited as she is now. But, what am I expected to do after waiting for more than two years? The bills mount up daily, staring at me in the face, taunting me like I am less of a man. He remembered how it all started. He was in one of the dark moods he usually falls into, frustrated at his never ending situation. He drove over to see his old friends at the club. At his sight, they gave shouts of surprise and pleasure. "What brings you here old boy? Ever since you married your christian woman, you forgot all about us. I guess she is not aware of this trip?" Jide, his old college friend asked, as he blew smoke into the air. Jude coughed, uncomfortable "No she is not." "You? Coughing ?" he laughed. "I can't believe this. I knew you as a chain smoker back then." "I became a Christian, I met the Savior and he took the desire for smoking from me." An uncomfortable silence ensued. "So what brings you here? How are you?" "I need a job Jide, I need a job desperately or I might just go crazy." "What happened to your job at the bank?" "I lost it two years ago during the recession and haven't been able to get another." "Jobs are difficult to come by these days. But why didn't your church help out?" "The church is not an employment agency," Jude retorted. Jide's bursts out laughing, oblivious to heads that turned in his direction. "I forgot you have this incredible sense of humor," he slapped Jude on the shoulder. "Great to see you again old chap." For the first time since Jude arrived in the club, he smiled and relaxed further into the sofa. "Are you asking for help or you are here to drown your sorrows with wine?" He offered Jude a glass of wine. "Yes I need a job. I don't understand why I never thought about coming to see you all the while." "You came because you finally ran out of your holy options." "I guess you are right. Can you help a stranded fellow?" "I will think of something. Give me a week to speak to a few people who are in a position to help." Then he passed an exquisite feminine card to Jude. "Do you remember Doris Harcourt back in college?" "The daughter of the former Minister of Information?" "Yes. You got it. She is an executive director at Nigerian Natural Gas Company. Call her up for an appointment." Matt frowned as he remembered how they had parted almost seventeen years ago. 23


"Is it wise for me to see her considering what happened between us in college?" "Did something happen between you two in college?" "I thought you knew." "So what happened?" "We were in a relationship that didn't work out." "That is in the past. Go see her and give me a feedback." He went to see her and two weeks later, he landed a job in the finance and account department of the Gas Company. He remembered how uneasy he had felt in her presence. She had this look on her face that he couldn't put a name to. Somehow, he could sense that getting this job might not be free as he thought. There may be strings attached to it. As he took a deep breath, Amy walked in carrying a tray filled with glass cups and drinks. Smiling, he reached out to help her with the tray. No matter what tomorrow holds, today is alright for now.

24


CHAPTER THREE Dan laid sprawled on the luxurious leather sofa in the living room of his palatial home. An irritable scowl appeared on his face as he listened to his senior contemporary in ministry, the much respected Jeremiah of the Living Spring Church shouts into the screen. I am not against preaching about the second coming of Jesus, but must this man be so threatening about it? He doesn't support the way the ageing pastor is going about this end of the world message. Afterwards we are called into different ministries with varying unique gifts. Why must he make it sound like he is the only one preparing his congregation for heaven? Dan is aware that the public perceived his ministry as the prosperity mongers, and neither does he owe anybody explanation as to what he feeds his congregation with. For a pastor to come up and begin to breathe down fire, hailstone and brimstone on his personal home theater. No, I am not going to have any of that. But not until after some of the preacher's words struck at his heart. "Lot preached the gospel in Sodom and Gomorrah but nobody believed him because they were more interested about how to prosper in Sodom. Their only problem in Sodom was how to pay their bills. They wanted to hear the good news about how to pay school fees in the University of Sodom. They wanted to know how to get a job in the Central Bank of Gomorrah. They were not interested in a salvation that prescribed running to the hills. Isa 30: 9-10 says "This is a rebellious lying children, who will not listen to the law of the Lord. Who says to the seers, "Do not see and to the prophets, "Do not prophesy to us right things; speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits." In vehemence, he changed the station into a Christian music channel, his heart panting in anger. "Why did you change the channel? I was listening to Pastor Jeremiah's message," Jaiye walked in through a connecting door, a frown on her face. "Don't tell me you listen to such overrated messages about the Armageddon and stuffs?" "And what is wrong with preaching about the second coming of our Lord Jesus? Don't tell me you are not looking forward to his return?" "Of course I am, but should he make it so frightful? Should people be coerced into accepting Christ through fear?" "Well, I can't remember the last time you preached about the second coming of the Lord, maybe years ago, in the days of little beginnings. I feel the people need to be reminded that in all their seeking, there is a hell to shun and a heaven to gain. That is the balanced gospel message. So what happens if we gain all the fame and riches of the world and lose our souls?" They locked eyes, neither refusing to bend to the other. "Well, maybe you should begin weekly teachings about the second coming of the Lord." He replied. She gasped, her eyes lit up in excitement. "Why not give me a slot for the Sunday service. Few people attend the weekly meetings, and I want the whole congregation to have the opportunity to receive this message." He sighed, fixed his anxious gaze on her. "Won't we scare the people away? 25


She gawked, shocked at his question. "What are you saying? Are we supposed to preach what the people want to hear? Are we supposed to keep deceiving them, praying down blessings when they are sunk in the miry clay of sin? If that is what this is all about, then we have become lying prophets. And you know what?" She brought her face close to his, their noses almost touching. "Then we will have our portion in the lake of fire. If that is what this ministry is all about, then I will have no part in deceit. We are servants of God and our sole responsibility is not only to care for the sheep but to prepare them for heaven, to tell them the truth about the afterlife." "I am just wonderin………." "Don't wonder," she cuts in. "Any member who wants to leave the church because the truth is being preached is welcomed to go. Then, his blood will be on his head and not ours. But I assure you that no one would leave." She stared intently into his anxious face. "The people are hungry for the truth. Do you know that a few of our members have left for Living Spring, Pastor Jeremiah's Church? Why do you think they left? Because your messages have become stale. There is no life in them. The people are dying of spiritual malnourishment right in the house of their father. Please, let us make amends before it is too late." Without waiting for his response, she rose to leave, remembered something, stopped and turned back to face him. "I had a revelation this morning about you and we need to pray seriously against it." Knowing that she is gifted in the area of revelations, he looked up at her intently. "I saw that you gave up the ghost suddenly without any prior sickness. Then after much intercession, you came back to life. "Myself? Die suddenly?" He guffawed. "I have never felt so healthy and fit as I do now, so that is not likely to happen." "Don't take this lightly sweetheart, death does not have to be at the instance of sickness. Haven't you heard of people who died suddenly despite their good physical condition?" Assyria shall fall by a sword not of man. And a sword not of mankind shall devour him. Don't be stiff-necked, listen to the counsel of your wife. He trembled at the familiar voice that whispered into his heart. "Are you alright?" "Yes, yes, yes. We must make time to fast and pray about that revelation you had," he reached out to caress her beautiful ageing face. "Thanks for always being there for me, reminding me of the truth and guiding me out of the way of destruction." "That is what I am called to do as your wife. I only pray that you listen and take heed." She stared long after the closed door, her heart tightening and contracting in trepidation. Please Lord, forgive his mistakes. I don't want to be left alone to carry on this work. I need him by my side. He has changed so much from the man he used to be ever since the ministry began to blossom and expand. She had warned him several times on noticing he has stopped feeding on the word and spending time in the presence of God fellowshipping. All he seems to have time for now is reading secular books, connecting with his ever increasing online congregation on Facebook as he called it, attending to meetings and public functions. Her heart broke that Dan has 26


abandoned his first love. His messages have become mere impressive motivational speeches which the ignorant church multitudes get frenzied and excited about. Lord, make him take heed before it is too late.

Sandra Peters quietly crept into the bed beside Patrick who was already asleep. She had deliberately stayed up late so that by the time she gets to bed, he would be fast asleep. She slipped pieces of wool in to her ears in other to shut out his loud croaky snore which left her awake most nights; having fought tooth and nail to move into another room, but he would not have it. She has always had a struggle with walking in the fruits of the spirit where Patrick is concerned. Usually, she is regarded by all as even tempered, a spirit filled model Christian, someone to seek sound counsel from. Ever ready to give out counsel to the discouraged and weary soul, always know what to say. There have been instances of turnarounds in the life of a few members after listening to her counsel, and even, the pastorate has been considering making her one of counselors, based on recommendations and glowing reports about her spiritual maturity and efficacy of timely counsels. Her neck has fully recovered from the wounds he inflicted a few weeks ago. She wondered how long she would endure being beaten black and blue by her husband. No one knew that the much admired and respected assistant to pastor Dan physically assaults his wife as she wiped off all the marks of beating. Sandra will forever question God why she ended up with a man like Patrick. Everything was perfect until two years ago when his business began to fail. He would come home angry, depressed and frustrated, yelled at everyone who came across his path. As time went on, he began to go into fits of rage and would to throw objects against the wall. Her mother had advised her to walk away and save her life. But life is not as simple as that. She had considered the possibility of separation or a divorce, but shrank from the implications on her church image and the children. What will the church say? Would they still behold me as a woman of God as they do now? And on what grounds would she explain why the marriage fell apart? Irreconcilable differences? Violence? She had also considered the children, Johnson and Ella, who are thirteen and ten years old respectively. Will I marry again or remain single? What if I marry again and end up in a worse predicament? At the same time, she doesnâ€&#x;t want to lose the glory of being held in high regard as a virtuous woman. So she remained stuck with Patrick. To her dismay and horror, she had secretly wished he would drop dead one day, making her a widow and enabling to do be free again. She remembered when her sister in law called about a year ago, weeping on the phone that Patrick was involved in an accident and was terribly injured. Her heart had leapt in anticipation that the end had come for him. She had wondered what kind a woman would wish her own husband dead. She had wept in remorse that she is in no way different from a cold blooded murderer in spite of her piousness and religiosity. On the surface, they look happy and perfectly in union, regarded as the model couple. They had won the best couple award during the last coupleâ€&#x;s 27


retreat. She shuddered with remorse, marveled at the ability to deceive everyone through their pretense and play acting. Many times she would look at the other smiling couples and wonder if their home is also thickened with friction and criticism, if behind the faรงade of smiles, there is a tug of war going on. She had tried to accept her situation and come to terms with being Mrs. Sandra Patrick, afterwards, they have birthed two kids together. She has stored up scriptures in her heart on love, long- suffering and patience, but it will only take a while before she slipped and gave in to her dark emotions and the flesh. She prayed fervently for his business to revive again, hoped that if it does, he would stop this violence and return to his old self. But it seemed that the more she prayed, the more the fortunes of his business nosedived. She once heard that fiery Pastor, Elder Jeremiah talked about how the wrong marriage can lead one into hell fire. How right he is. If Christ should appear at a time when they quarrel, then none of them will go anywhere near heaven. Oh God, please deliver me from the pit of emotional battles. Have an encounter with Patrick that will make him to turn back from the direction he is treading. And help me to relate with him with your agape love. Flood my heart with love for him, so I can overlook his inadequacies and imperfections. Then he turned towards her in the darkness. She held her breadth, hoped he is still asleep, tensed as she felt his hand on her shoulder, then groaned in protest, her body clamping up and unwilling to succumb to his physical ministrations. In silence, she allowed him have his conjugal right, her mind far away. Moments later, when he was done, he turned to the opposite side of the bed and slept off again, resumed the irritating, loud croaky snore once more. A tear slipped down her face at the thought of going through this for the rest of her life. Stuck in a loveless marriage with a man she has come to detest. Love covereth a multitude of wrongs and it is also the fulfillment of the law. Knowing that the Holy Spirit has given her an antidote for her situation and not willing to accept it, she shut her mind against the voice as her body shook violently and the pillow soaked with bitter tears.

Amy pushed the shopping cart out of the mall, heavily loaded with bags of groceries, provision and other household and personal items. As she proceeded towards the vehicle, her heart leapt in joy at the sudden change in the fortunes of her family. Ever since Jude landed this job with the Oil and Gas Company, life has taken on a new turn and she kept whispering thanks to the father every now and then. She reached the vehicle and offloaded the items into the boot. It is great to be free from carrying heavy financial burdens, wondering how the children's school fees, house rent, car service and other utilities will be paid. Now I can put my mind to more effective use than worrying about unpaid bills. She drove the vehicle out of the mall grounds, her face lightened with a glowing smile, reflecting the good life. 28


Suddenly, the smile faded as a thought occurred to her. There is a subtle change in Jude which started ever since he resumed the miracle job. If it had not been for her intuitive nature, the change might have passed unnoticed by even the most careful person. He comes home at odd hours of the night which is not bad in itself, but he seemed not to be himself. Many times she found him lost in thoughts as his eyes stared out blindly like he is in some kind of a vision. His face quickly dissolves into smiles whenever he sees her, but sometimes, he is so lost in thought that he doesn't seem to notice her presence. She had tried to shake it off and ignore the warning signs in the light of their good fortune. Her overactive mind must be at work again, she thought. But she could no longer ignore the nudging on her mind. There is a way that seemeth right to a man but the end is destruction. She shuddered at the voice that echoed in her heart. Lord, what is the problem? Is Jude hiding something from me? But he wouldn't. Why this check in my spirit? Earlier in the morning, she had placed his breakfast on the dining table and left to prepare the children for their bath. About twenty minutes later, she had walked into the dining room to find him staring, stony - faced at the blank wall, his meal untouched. She stood, stared at him, perplexed. She could see from where she was that the food had turned cold, the cutlery still in position as she left them. "Jude! Jude! She shouted. He shuddered, as she broke into his thoughts. He gasped at the untouched food, then reluctantly raised his eyes to hold her shocked expression. "Don't you like the food? Are you alright?" She threw a barrage of questions she walked closer to him. "I am alright sweetheart; just have a lot on my mind." "What you had on your mind must be so important as to leave your meal untouched for twenty minutes." "Nothing serious, just work stress. It will pass. One of those things," he patted her arm and began to eat the food. She took a deep breath, stared at him, unconvinced. I hope you are right Jude. She drove to a halt as the traffic light in her direction turned red. She watched as vehicles at the opposite lane began to move across the intersection, the traffic warden watched with keen eyes for any offender. As she waited along with other drivers, her analytical mind was quick to see the similarity between life situations and the traffic light. At various junctions, you will be required to wait for certain things while others are moving on. Drivers who are impatient and think they can beat the traffic light when it turns red usually fall into the eager hands of the warders, who give them the ticket for traffic offense. She could see at the corner of her eyes a traffic offender pleading for mercy as one of the warders entered into his vehicle and ordered him to drive to their office. Not long afterwards, she accelerated forward as the traffic light turned green, the other vehicles at her heels. Bad waiters usually jump ahead of time and cause more complications for themselves, making their life journeys longer, and waste resources in correcting their mistakes. If only the offender had waited for the right time, if only he wasn't in so much hurry to arrive at his destination. Those who obeyed and stopped when the traffic light turned red are on the way to their destinations, without any additional cost and they would ultimately 29


arrive at their destination faster than the impatient, the bad waiters who usually get arrested for breaking traffic rules. She wondered why her mind took time to analyze the traffic light analogy. Well, thanks for the lecture Lord. A smile crept to her lips as she avoided colliding with an impatient driver who did not look properly before turning around a bend under the overhead bridge. Whosoever believeth will not make haste. She trembled at the voice. Lord, is that admonition meant for me? Are you indirectly telling me something? There is a way that seemeth right to a man but the end is destruction. Not again Lord, you said that a while ago while I was in the mall. Jude! Her mind seemed to vibrate at the thought of her husband. I feel the Lord is warning me about something he is up to. I will have to find out.

Yemi had taken time to prepare this anointed message. He had prayed and hoped that the senior pastor would give him an opportunity to preach. God finally answered his prayers when Andrew called upon him to prepare the Sunday message. As he stood on the pulpit, his eyes rested on the growing congregation of about one hundred and fifty people. Today's message is going to be different from the bread and butter one they hear every day, he thought. "There was a certain rich man which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously everyday. And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores." This man was very rich, always well dressed and well fed. There was another man called Lazarus who was a beggar with sores and was always at the rich man‟s gate. Verse 22: says „‟and it came to pass that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham‟s bosom: the rich man also died and was buried.‟‟ We were not told who carried the rich man to where he went, certainly not the angels of God. Whenever a righteous man is about to die, the angels of God will gather because the bible says „‟ precious is the death of the saint in his sight (psalm 116:15) But when a child of the devil is about to die, demonic spirits will come to harvest him. I pray that the enemy will not harvest you in Jesus „name. Verse 23-24 "And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for i am tormented in this flame." Normally when rich men come to meetings, they don‟t raise their voice or cry out in prayer, some do not even pray. But this man arrived at a place where he had to raise his voice. It means when people die and go to hell fire they will still be able to remember what happened in their lifetime. Those in hell are saying "Let somebody tell my people to stop their way of life so they won‟t end up in hell. Verses 28-31 says "For I have five brethren that he may testify onto them lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him. They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them. But he said. Nay father, but if one went from the dead, they will repent. And 30


he said unto him, if they hear not Moses and the prophets; neither will they be persuaded, though one comes from the dead." Yemi did not have to turn towards the senior pastor to feel the darts of hatred being shot at him. He intends to make use of this opportunity even if this is the only chance he will get to have to speak to the congregation. "What are the lessons we learnt from these scripture passages? Death is a sure appointment for all. Jesus made Lazarus to resurrect from the dead, but he still died. Death has no respect for anyone, no matter how big you are, even if you are anointed. Elisha had a double portion of anointing, but he still died although his bones rose up the dead, he still died. So death is a sure appointment. There is no escape; it is an inevitable part of life "Physical death does not end everything. When somebody dies physically, he is still going to resume to another world. Therefore, one would be very foolish not to prepare for the next world because the maximum you can spend on earth may be 120 years during which you will probably be useless to yourself and a burden to others. "Mercy is not available in hell fire. The most important thing is not to go there because once you get there; the door of mercy will be completely closed. The biggest fools are those who do not prepare for eternity .We can see two kinds of deaths in the passage. The death of the rich man was celebrated with a big funeral; they probably served a seven- course meal and all kinds of delicacies. The poor man probably died in the city dustbin but angels came for him while demons came for the rich man. The question is, which angels are going to come for you at death? "The Bible is sufficient evidence against anyone who refuses to follow God. The rich man said "let me go and talk to my brothers and father Abraham said " no, they have the bible, let them read it." So riches will not deliver from death, it will only secure a big funeral. Whatever your condition is, this story tells us that we are moving towards another world and death cannot be bribed. Death will not wait for preparation. "The people in hell are pleading for your salvation. They are praying that those on earth should become more serious with God. All the information you need in order to be saved is already in the word of God. There is a terrible danger in procrastination and postponing the day of your salvation. It is dangerous to postpone the day you stop sinning. After death there is no second chance; it is on the earth that eternity is decided." There is going to be a serious prayer meeting in hell. The prayer warriors in all churches will be a joke compared to those who will be praying in hell fire. Those who refuse to pray now will pray there, but then it will be too late. That is why we must pray now. There is a prayer meeting going on in hell now. Prayers are useless in the grave. Some will pray for a drop of water, some will pray for witness to their families still on the earth, but it will be too late by then. It is too late for the five foolish virgins who began to pray after the door has been closed. Ecclesiastes 9:10 "whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave". "Today is the day of salvation and repentance, tomorrow may be too late. This message may technically be the last warning the Holy Ghost is giving to you. Donâ€&#x;t be like the foolish rich man who did not prepare for his death. The rich man prayed in the wrong place. The bible 31


says, in hell, he lifted up his eyes. He did not go to hell because he was rich; he went to hell because he placed himself ahead of God. When you look at your material possessions and harden your heart against God, you store up for yourself treasures of torment." "The amount of water the rich man was asking for could not really help him. The pain and torment of hell cannot be alleviated by a drop of water. You must settle the issue of eternity now while you are still alive before it is too late. Once you die, it becomes late. No one knows how long or short his or her life is. You are only sure of today and tomorrow may be eternally too late. This has to do with preparation which is very important. I am not talking about the ability to compose sermons, speak in tongues or prophesy. There are plenty of prodigal children in the house of God. They commit sin today and repent tomorrow and heaven is wondering if this is the kind of people who want to go with the rapture. They do not realize that the vulture of judgement is just hanging around to descend upon the carcass of the evil civilization. "There is so much spiritual brain washing going on, sin is made to appear less evil until there is a problem. There are Christians who watch pornography on their television. Their TV has been converted to Sodom and Gomorrah in their living rooms. So many Christians are like Lot and have built their tent in Sodom and Gomorrah so there is little difference between them and people of the world in conversation and conduct." "There will be no comfort of home, no music, no song, no friends to visit you, no love, no peace, no loving smile, no mercy, no pardon or grace. No water, a very terrible place. The question is, are you on your way there? Jesus said narrow is the way that leads to life and few there be that find it, but wide is the way that leads to destruction and there are many travelling on it." "One of the greatest tragedies that a preacher faces is that many people who listened to him would go to hell. All the things making you say no to holiness, are ropes pulling you to hell. At the end of the world, there is going to be a harvest of souls. Jesus will harvest his own people and the devil will do likewise. As you listen to this message, many people have already landed in hell and before tomorrow, many more will land there. The question is, where are you going? On the last day, we shall be judged by the truths we reject." "I close this sermon with the test in the book of John 12: 47- 48."If anyone hears my word and does not believe. I do not judge him; for I did not come to the world to judge but to save the world. He who rejects me and does not receive my words has which judge him - the words that I have spoken will judge him on the last day." May we be able to stand before him on that day without shame in the name of Jesus. "If you are here and want to give your life to Christ or rededicate your life to the saviour so that you will not end up in the lake of fire after this life, then please come forward. The Lord is waiting to welcome you back into his loving arms." At the altar call, almost the entire congregation rose to their feet, contrite and cut to heart at the uncommon message. They began to come from all corners, hands raised upwards in surrender, tears streaming down their faces as they crumble to their feet on the altar. On one hand, the choir is singing the lyrics to "Just as I am without one plea, but thou blood was shed for me, and thou bidst me come to thee, Oh Lamb of God, I come." The repenting souls raise their voices to the God if their salvation in heartfelt surrender and worship, 32


On the pastoral corner, Andrew fumed, in obvious anguish and agitation. The familiar beads of sweat have appeared on his forehead once again in spite of the breezy atmosphere. He gawked, shocked as Roselyn; his wife rose to her feet and almost ran to the altar. In her anguish and brokenness of spirit, she seemed to have forgotten her husbandâ€&#x;s formidable and disapproving glance as she hurried to the altar.

33


CHAPTER FOUR

Kunle walked with trepidation towards the General overseer, Pastor Jeremiah's office. He stopped at the entrance to mop sweat off his face, his heart panting like he just completed a relay race. He felt a sudden urge to flee, but stood nevertheless. I have come this far and will not turn back. He that covers his sins shall not prosper, but he that confesses and forsakes them shall find mercy. Yes, Lord. I am here in obedience to your counsel. He had not had a moment peace in the last one month as the consistency and urgency which the Lord has been urging him on to resolve the sin issue which had left him very anxious. It seemed like the world is about to come to an end. Suddenly, the door opened and standing before him is the fiery preacher himself. "Goodday Sir." "Peace be unto you my son. How have you and your wife been? "We are doing great sir." An awkward silence ensued between them. "Do you by any chance want to see me?" "Yes, …yes sir, I…I…actually came over to.. to.. see you," he stuttered. "Are you all right son?" "I believe I will be after I have unburdened my mind to you." "I was on my way home for lunch, but that will have to wait in the light of this. Please come in." He reached out for his phone. "Hello, I want to let you know that I won't be home as early as I intended, but should be back in the next one hour or thereabout." A moment of silence ensued after Kunle narrated his struggle with masturbation. "Kunle, I need you to listen intently to what I have to say as therein lay your deliverance. As a member of the prayer band and an avid student of the bible, you are knowledgeable of the word of God, so I don't have to begin to explain to you what the bible says about what. The reason why you are still having struggles with sin is because you have not declared war against Satan, the flesh and your mind, the ground where all life battles are fought." "The kingdom of God suffereth violence and the violent takes it by force. Jesus already delivered you from the shackles of sin, but you are responsible for your flesh and determine what you choose to do with it. Masturbation and other sexual sins emanates from the heart, so your first point of action is to guide your heart. What do you think about? Do you allow your mind to stray unchecked to immoral thoughts and imaginations? And when it does stray, do you allow it to wander too far away into lust or you call it back immediately? Do you run from all appearances of evil or you wait until it overtakes you? It is not a sin if immoral thoughts settle on your mind, it only becomes a sin if you do nothing about it until it festers and takes total control of your faculties." "Don't you ever think men of God, even the most pious are susceptible to such atrocities. The only difference is that some of them they are able to nip it in the mud as soon as Satan whispers it into their minds" Kunle gasped, surprised. 34


"You are surprised? Yes my son and that is the honest truth. The Lord has given us the power to choose between good or evil. Satan imposes his will upon us, but the Lord gives us the freedom of choice. So the onus now falls on us to keep our flesh in subjection to our spirit. The only challenge you appear to have is consistency in standing strong. But, we are in a lifelong battle against the flesh which is not interested in going to heaven. Until the return of our Lord or when we leave this world, we will continually be in a battle against the flesh. The bible asks if you have resisted sin until bloodshed." "Anytime, you feel such intense pressure to fall into sin, change position, don't remain on that spot. Don't be alone in the room, burst out into tongues and do not stop until the urge disappears. You must continually and daily watch what you allow in your heart. Set a guard on your heart and continually take captive every contrary thought to the obedience of Christ. The most effective antidote against sin suggestions is to read at least ten chapters of the bible daily and spend time speaking in tongues." The Elder's phone beeps. "Hello? I will be home in the next thirty minutes, I am rounding up already. Thank you." He faced Kunle once more. "My son, no one is exempted from this struggle against the flesh, not even the Apostles. Paul said, "The good things I want to do, I don't do, but I find myself doing the very bad things I don't want to do. Who will deliver me from this body of death? The struggle against the flesh continues until we shed our earthly body through death or we are raptured out of this world. Until then, we must make up our minds to win this battle against Satan and the flesh as only then we will be worthy to be counted as overcomers. The book of revelation gave many instances of rewards to him that overcomes. The question now is, overcome what? Overcomes sin, Satan and the flesh. But we are assured that "whosoever is born of God has overcome the world and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith." Kunle went down on his knees with contrition at the words coming out of the Elder like fiery swords of fire. He knew instantly that the yoke of masturbation has been destroyed as he could feel a thunderous lightning rock his body violently. "Let us pray. Father in the name of Jesus, you sent your word and it heals us from all our destructions. I ask by the reason of your word that every yoke of sin in this life be destroyed in the name of Jesus. Henceforth, let not sin have dominion over him as he has passed from death to life. Grant him the power and the grace to be able to say no to every form of unrighteousness and at the end, let his name be written in the book of life. Don't let him be a cast away in your kingdom. Help us to end this journey of life well. In Jesus' precious name we pray." By the time the elder finished praying, Kunle was already sprawled on the floor, unconscious, slain in the spirit. Elder Jeremiah's eyes opened to see as a sword of fire cuts through a black band on Kunle's heart and a dark bat like creature fell from his loins which became instantly cremated. The elder raised his hands above his head in praise at the deliverance wrought in the life of the young man. Kunle opened his eyes, and tried to stand on his feet. He could feel a sense of freedom and immense joy. He felt brand new. "Thanks for your time sir." 35


"A word of warning my son, because of the on-going conflict between the sinful nature and the spirit of God within us, a believer is in effect, a walking civil war. As often as ungodly thoughts and desires come up, you must learn to cast down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ." "I understand sir." "You must be aware that this evil nature still continually seeks to surface in believers and until we go to Christ or until he returns to the earth, we need to be on guard against the sinful nature as it seeks to gratify its evil desires. So, spiritual battle is needed to win each conflict with the sinful nature. Kunle left the Elder's office, transformed, light headed, he felt like walking in the air at the immense joy that filled his heart. "Thank you Jesus." His heart sang as he made his way home. When thou art being converted, strengthen thy brethren. Those who are broken become masters at mending others. He stopped as the voice spoke into his heart. Yes Lord, I surrender myself to anyway you want to use me to help others overcome this battle against the flesh. The word and deliverance encounter with the man of God marked the beginning of a life of total dedication and walk with the Jehovah, the invisible almighty God.

Jude rose from the bed and began to button up his shirt. Doris laid sprawl on the bed, still in the throes of the consensual act they just had. She turned her sharp eyes at him as he puts on his clothing. "Must you leave so soon?" "You sometimes forget that I am a married man." She flicked him a coy look. "So what? Are you the first man to have an affair outside your marriage?" He tensed, his jaw sets in a firm line. "I am tired of being alone long after you leave. Stay with me tonight, please," she rose to her feet and jumped on his neck, pleading and putting light kisses on his face. "No! He firmly put her away from him. "I have to go home to sleep. Staying the night with you is not a part of the deal." "You make it sound so cold and business like, as if you do not find pleasure in this." He held her gaze. It is at the tip of his tongue to tell her that he feels nothing, that he is as cold as the ice itself; but only making the motions and giving her the pleasure she desperately craves for. But he kept silent, knowing that blurting out such truths will mark the beginning of his end in the Gas Company. At that horrible thought, he relaxed and caressed her face. "I am sorry Doris. I cannot stay out as my wife will begin to suspect me." "Can't you tell her something? Tell her you are travelling for a business trip or something like that." She raised her beautiful pleading eyes to him. "I am sorry, but I can't do that." At the sudden change in her demeanour, he acceded to her request. "Alright, I will think about it. Let's make it sometimes in the future." He relaxed as a huge smile enveloped her face. 36


"Thanks darling. It so lonely for me in this huge house. Sometimes, I feel like going crazy at the still quietness of the house." "Why don't you get married? You are a beautiful, smart and intelligent woman who any man would be lucky to have." Fully dressed now, he picked up his phone and made for the door. "That is the problem. I am unlucky in love, so many broken relationships," she flicked accusing eyes at him. "Even you left me." For a moment, Jude felt sorry for her as she slumped on the bed, dejected and so alone. But he immediately stopped the travel of his thoughts as he didn't want to be entangled into her web of problems. As he reached the door, his phone beeped. Knowing who the caller is, he allowed the phone ring without answering as he stepped out of the room. The usually crowded road is deserted as he drove his newly acquired vehicle through the Lekki, Victoria Island expressway. Breaking all traffic rules, he sped across the almost empty road to the mainland where he resides. The clock in the vehicle dashboard read 11.45. His heart began to pant as the vehicle sped above 120km on the third mainland bridge. Suddenly, his heart constricted in fear at the sight of a lone figure on one side of the bridge. He tried not to look at the person as the vehicle sped by. He imagined that the apparatus on the road would suddenly appear on the passenger seat next to him. Blood of Jesus! His mind screamed, his face darted about in fear. Hypocrite! Adulterer! A voice shouted back at him. I guess I deserved that. Father, please try to understand why I am doing this. I am just trying to be a good father, a husband and a provider for my family. Didn't you describe a man who cannot provide for his own as an infidel? I waited for two years for you to come forth for me, but you didn't. Everyone kept encouraging with words that didn't heal the wound in my heart. The trial of faith is for my good, I should endure in suffering. The irony of it all is that no one ever asked how we were coping, if we have paid school fees, if we were behind in the payment of our rent or if we had any food at home. It is all well as long as you can summon your face to smile. It is well with you, they kept saying, yet no dime in my pocket. Smiling, yet my heart is breaking into a million pieces. What was I supposed to do when this offer came? Throw it away? He had consulted Jide, and asked for his counsel about what to do. "Accepting Doris's offer is against your belief system, but you don't have an alternative solution at the moment." He had stared long and hard at his old friend, knowing that he is about to dig his own grave and turn his back to the way of truth. Knowing that he had chosen to crucify the Son of God all over again by choosing the way of the world. He had wept bitterly as he called Doris and agreed to be her secret lover as a trade-off for one of the most highly paid jobs in the world. A job to die for, like his friends had called it. Words he heard somewhere echoed on his mind. "The signs of the end are evident in our midst. The love of many will wax cold; saints of God will rather sow to the flesh than the spirit. They will compromise to retain worldly positions, they would compromise to get jobs, they will never consider suffering for the sake of the gospel. The word of God says that we will enter heaven amidst trials and tribulations, but what do we have these days? People of God are choosing to enjoy the pleasures the world has to offer than suffer for the sake of the gospel, in other words; they have shunned heaven, preferring rather to belong to the world." 37


He couldn't remember exactly who preached the message, but he trembled with fear that the Holy Spirit had to bring it up to his consciousness. He felt like hiding from the word that has exposed his sin sickness and depravity. Can anyone hide himself in secret places, so I shall not see him? Do I not fill the heavens and the earth? He shook his head sideways hoping to shut out the persistent small voice. I know that this job is fraught with so much deceit and sin, but I couldn't bear to see my family suffer any longer. Please father, just give me a little while to save some money, after which I will resign and stop this adulterous relationship. I don't find pleasure in this, but I can't help the situation. Please forgive me. I just want to my family to live a decent life. His phone beeped, breaking into his thoughts. Knowing how distraught Amy will be at the time of the night, he decided to answer the call. "Hello Sweetheart, I am already close to the estate. I will be home in about ten minutes." He cuts the line before she could respond and began to mentally preparing himself for her accusing eyes, the silent questions and barrage of sermons. When he entered into the estate, the time was already 12:45. He horned, waking the security men from their slumber. It has become a ritual for Mr Jude to come in late for the past three months. They slid open the gate without questions. "Welcome sir. You late today o. Madam will be worried," Sesan said, grinned at Jude. "Man must work abi una?" Jude shouted back at them, threw wads of naira notes at the men as he drove by, his heart heavy at the thought of facing his wife. They watched as the vehicle entered the second turning and disappeared from their sight. "He no good the way Mr Jude dey come late nowadays o, country bad. See all the news we dey hear about people disappearing, ritual killin no make am fear?" Adamu said as he shut the gate with heavy padlocks. "Nobody fit satisfy man sha. When Mr Jude lost his job and waka jobless for more than two years, everybody dey abuse am. Now, he don get job which he dey use take care of in family, man still dey complain. Wetin self?" Sesan hissed, leered at his companion. "Which kind job he dey do which dey make am waka at this time of the night? All these rich people sef, a no trust them one bit. Na only God know the source of their income." "Tell am your mind when you see am again," Sesan retorted as he returned to the makeshift bed and resumed his sleep. Adamu stared at the full moon. He shivered in fear hoping that does not indicate that the prophecy is about happen. The pastor of his church had told them that when they see the full moon, the rapture is very likely to be at the corner. Immediately, he began to confess his sins and wrongs. But of that day and hour, no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but my father only. Then two men will be in the field, one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding in the mill, one will be taken and the other left. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. He trembled at the word. It had seemed so audible. He turned to look out his companion, who was already fast asleep, his loud croaky snore breaking the still silence of the night.

38


Long after Jude had left, Doris stared starry eyed at the ceiling as sleep seemed to elude her. Her mind is actively at work, scheming on how to take Jude away from his wife and make him hers. But there is a big obstacle! Jude loves his wife. She knows that he detests himself for the affair she had forced him into. When he came looking for job, she had told him the condition for which he would get the dreamed job in the Oil and Gas industry, an offer anyone would die for. She still wants him after all these years since they left college. Initially, he had bluntly refused her offer and walked out of her office. But she had smiled, knowing that he would come back sooner or later. He would be back when he can no longer endure the harsh stripes of poverty. She is the one pulling the strings and there is nothing he can do about it. She had jibed at him cruelly and mocked the beliefs of his faith. "Look at what you have turned into. Don't tell me that you have turned into a bigoted religious fanatic who would throw away a favor offered to him." He had winced at her words. She had felt sorry for being so cruel, but she was on a mission to win him over, no matter what and how long it takes, no matter what method she had to use. He had returned, pleaded to be allowed to go through the official interview process, confident that he would scale through on the strength of his skills, qualifications and experience. She had laughed at his naivety. "Who told you that everyone in this organization got engaged on the basis of their qualifications and skills?" She didn't have to wait for too long, as he was back a month later; his tail hanging between his legs in embarrassment. She thought that he had acceded to her request, but he was still hoping she would change her mind and let him be. "If you still choose to keep acting like a prude and refuse my offer, please get out of my office and never return," she had blurted out in disgust, eyes blazing in anger. In retrospect, she laughed at the look in his eyes. "Look at what you have become, an old ghost of yourself, you can't even afford decent clothing," her eyes had swept over him distastefully, "What have you gained from your stubbornness and so called piousness?" She had jibed at him. A thought suddenly jumped into her mind making her face dissolve into a smile of victory as she contemplated the idea of taking him over completely. The post of the Executive Director, Accounts will be vacant in the next six months as the person currently holding the job will soon resign on account of ill health. The news was given to her by the man himself in confidence and trust. So, the onus falls on her to hire another or look within for a replacement. I can offer Jude the job on the condition that he divorces his wife and be with me. She wondered if tempting him with this rare opportunity will be the sledge hammer that would to break his marriage bond, knowing how hungry he is for achievement. Who can resist such a rare once in a life time opportunity? It would have taken him an additional ten years of work experience, part of which should be in an Oil and Gas Industry, professional and academic certifications and at least two recommendations from the Managing Directors of reputable Companies quoted on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. She knows that recommending him for the position would raise questions and objections from others who feel they are next in line, but she is ready to flex her muscles and fight for the realization of her dreams. 39


But, all that is hinged on Jude agreeing to end his marriage and be with me. Of course, the family will be well taken care off. His wife can even be compensated for giving him up. All I want is Jude and nothing is going to stop me from having him all to myself. She smiled, stretched out her limbs in a catlike purr on the wide expanse of the bed as she perfected her plans. Not long, very soon, Jude will be mine forever.

"Why should you be upset because Pastor Yemi's message cuts me to the heart and I decided to run to the altar to amend my ways?" Roselyn glared at her husband of more than fifteen years. She is the only one capable of handling and putting him in check. "Believe me, not even Elder Jeremiah's messages had such effect on me," she moved closer to him, "I was surprised to see you immune to that anointed message your assistant preached two Sundays ago, I guess that indicated the arid state of your heart." She noticed the muscles on his face strained in anger as she commended the young minister, knowing how much he hated to hear his assistant being praised for anything. He picked his jacket and headed out of the room. "Where are you off to?" "I rather be out than being with a contemptuous wife." Roselyn laughed. "Anyone who doesn't know you, but hear you quoting scriptures would think you are the conventional righteous man of God. You preach the word of God, but refused to preach to yourself. Many hear your articulate words and get saved, but the same words that save others are dead to you." He took long strides to the door, apparently to flee from her presence. "I will not stand here and listen to the words of a mentally deranged woman." She ran towards him, almost injuring herself; stood before him and backed the door. "You have to listen to me Pastor. The time has come for you to repent of the lies, hypocrisy and deception. I am sick and tired of living lies. You and I know that you use your call as a pastor to amass ill-gotten wealth. I think it is time to come clean with God and the General Overseer and start afresh." He gawked. "Woman, do you know what you are talking about? That I should go and confess to the General overseer?" "Exactly darling, that is exactly what I am talking about," she said, holding his gaze. "You must be out of your senses. Please, get out of my way," he lurched against her, his mouth curled up in rage. She remained on her feet, immovable, her heavily built body a defense against his threat. Seeing her unmoved by his fearful display, he stopped, took a deep breath and shut his eyes, frustrated. For the first time since their marriage, he regretted marrying a woman who had such imposing physical stature, who would not tremble at his displeasure, who would look at him with disdain as she is doing at the moment. "Allow me go; I have an important meeting to attend to." Calmed, his voice had an underlying pleading tone which is not lost on her. "Not until you listen to what I am about to tell you." 40


He leaned against the wall, mentally shutting her out, but Roselyn is not a woman anyone can ignore on a whim. "The bible says that who knows if the husband would save the wife and if the wife would save the husband, but I have discovered that If I don't stop all these, you are going to drag me to hell fire with you," her voice broke, "When I met you, I thought I was marrying a man who loves God, a man who desires to make heaven, a man who keeps the word close to his heart. It didn't take me long to discover that you are a wolf in a sheep's clothing who has nothing to do with going to heaven. Just to keep the status quo, I tagged along with you in hypocrisy and lies for the past fifteen years. But that has come to an end now," she sobbed. He flicked a quick glance at her distraught face. "I don't care any longer about keeping the status quo, even if the world has to know about the deception of our lives. All I care about now is going back to my first love, keeping his word and preparing myself for his kingdom." The couple held gaze, their hearts beating like storm tossed seas. With a cry, she fell unto her knees, encircled his mid region with her arms as tears cuss down her face. "Please darling, let us make it right before it is too late. Don't be disqualified at the end after you have preached to others and helped them gain access into the Kingdom of God. Let us go to the General Overseer and confess our wrongs. I am sure he will not judge us harshly, he would forgive us." Pastor Andrew gently disentangled himself from his wife, mumbling words of comfort. "You are right, darling, we will see the general overseer and open up our can of worms. Just give me a little time to get prepare myself for this." Hope flared in her eyes at his words. "Oh! You mean that? Thank you, thank you, thank you for listening to me," she rose to her feet and wrapped her arms around his neck. "Can I be on my way now?" "Yes, yes, sure you can." She moved out of the way, watched him with missed feelings as he stepped out of the room. As he drove the high powered machine, he felt a corresponding surge of strength and pride at his newest acquisition. Roselyn must be out of her senses to think I will give up this luxury because of her sense of guilt. Every other pastor in town drives modern expensive automobiles, why should I be the exception because the General overseer choses to places me on a meager salary? I have served the old general for years, endured his idiosyncrasies and harsh discipline in the name of holiness and now, my time has finally come to enjoy the fruits of my labor and no one, not even my newly repented wife would stop me. Pastor Yemi must never be allowed to mount the pulpit to preach those kinds of hell and brimstone messages again. I will have him transferred to build a rural church in another community within the state; he will have more than enough willing hearers for his kind of messages. I hope that Roselyn will soon get over this holiness bug that seemed to have bitten her under Yemi's ministration. With Yemi out of the way, I can't have my own wife breathing down fire and brimstone on my neck. I will take her on a shopping trip to Paris and hopefully, by the time we return, she will be back to her senses. 41


Yemi waited as the middle aged auditor; a man in his early fifties brought a folder from the file cabinet. "You just told me that a draft of N15million was issued from the head office in the land Vendor's name." The auditor nodded, handed over a photocopy of the draft to him. Yemi accepted the piece of paper and looked through. "But, the vendor said he was paid N10 million for the land, so what happened to the balance of N5 million?" "I know where you are going my dear young man and neither am I surprised. If the General Overseer gets wind of this, neither would he be surprised. You see, we are all aware of Pastor Andrew's recent extravagant lifestyle; so I made my findings about the Land deal transactions months ago." Taken aback, Yemi stared at him, stupefied. "Are you telling me that you are already aware of this?" "Yes, including Pastor Jeremiah," he replied, a dry smile on his lips. The auditor took back the draft copy and returned it into a file holder. "I need to give you word of advice, my young friend." Yemi looked up at the note of caution in the auditor's voice. "We are in the days when the so called Christians are wolves in sheep clothing, where the shepherds have become the ravenous beasts that prey on the sheep which they are supposed to nurture. Pastors hire assassins to kill each other because of the mammon of this world. As the Auditor General of this great ministry, I see a lot of frauds committed by pastors at the regional and state levels, but I have kept sealed lips because I am not ready to be murdered for saying the truth." Yemi gawked at the elderly man in wonder. What is the man talking about? How can he see wrongs being perpetuated in the church of God and not expose the culprits? "Jesus said he sent us as sheep amongst wolves, we are therefore admonished to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. He said that brother will deliver up brother to death. I have received warning threats from so called anointed, trusted and respected men of God who vowed to end my life if I try to expose their nefarious activities." "Incredible! Yemi mouthed, his lips slightly parted in shock. "I am surprised that the General overseer is aware of these and doing nothing about it." "But what would he do? He is not called to chase after fraudulent pastors; he chooses to focus his energy on fulfilling the mandate of bringing many to salvation through the knowledge of Christ while the unfaithful are also fulfilling their calling as sent by their master," he began to return straying documents into their files. "He also receives death threats from faceless people, knowing that the threats are from some of the pastors who have fed fat under this ministry and have become uncontrollable. Have you forgotten how he narrowly escaped being killed about two years ago?" Yemi nodded, his eyes bulging in horror. "So we do nothing about it?" The elderly looked thoughtfully at the young Pastor before him. There is no doubt of his sincerity and burning passion for the gospel and exposing the unfruitful works of darkness. But, he is obviously not aware that he is a sheep in the midst of wolves who are ready to tear him into irreparable pieces if their sense of security is threatened. 42


He took a deep breathe, wiped his face. "Haven't you read in the bible where Jesus gave a parable about the good seeds and tares growing together in the field, until the end of age when the reapers will gather the tares into a burning furnace?" He faced Yemi with a strong intensity. "Dear Pastor, there is nothing anyone can do at the moment. The good seed and the thorns will grow together until the end. But, the Lord who is rich in mercy can cause a few to repent before the judgment day." He gently patted Yemi on the shoulder as he rose to his feet. "Focus on the work the Lord has put into your hands, the owner of the field knows how to handle his unfaithful workers." He stepped out, left Yemi in the Church office alone with his thoughts.

43


CHAPTER FIVE Sandra gawked at the eloquence of her husband, Patrick as he took the heads of department through the training manual. Her eyes followed his every move and gesticulations peculiar to his person. She stared almost in admiration at his ability to act and pretend like he is the perfect minister of God. If only the people can see through this deception. "The children of the world are wiser than the children of the kingdom………" Her ears picked snippets of words from his message, completely lost in her own thoughts, as she shot at him darts of hatred and anger. Her back still throbs from the impact of the deadly stroke he gave her early in the morning. Ever since she was made partner in the legal firm where she works with, physical and verbal attacks from him have increased. She never told him about the promotion because of the jealous streak in him. A colleague had seen him and congratulation him on his wife‟s good fortunes. "What do you make of that Sister Sandra?" Suddenly, she felt a still silence around her. Coming around to the reality of her surroundings, she met her husband‟s questioning gaze. Confused, she looked around to find all other eyes on her. It seemed they are waiting for her to say something. "I beg your pardon? Could you repeat what you just said?" His penetrating eyes held hers for a moment and she could see the hatred lurking in them. She blinked her lashes and looked away. "Are you alright? You don't seem to be here with us." "I am sorry, I have a slight headache," she lied. Immediately, his eyes softened in empathy towards her. "Oh, I am sorry to hear that. Maybe you should go home and take care of yourself." "No, that's alright. I will try to stay until the meeting ends." Moments after the training, she walked through the corridor, moved past all the chatter and conversation around her. "Lord, what do I do about the mental torture which my marriage has become? Patrick and I can‟t stand each other any longer. He hates the mere sight of me, proved by his continual battery of my body. I can no longer endure his violence and assault towards me. It either I have him locked up or I get separated from him." Tears stung her eyes as the turmoil increased within her. "Lord I hate him. I am sorry, but I can‟t help but hate him. He has become so horrible, uncontrollable and ……..," She sensed that the Holy Spirit had been grieved because she longer felt the usual guilt pangs that used to accompany such thoughts. My heart has become stony, hardened and impenetrable. But you are not lost daughter, you are just a repentance away from restoration. Come back to me, don't allow Satan sift you like wheat. I will heal all your wounds; I will restore you back to righteousness, only turn back from the way of destruction. Hating someone is akin to murder. Don’t let the enemy make you a murderer. " Her heart began to melt as the Holy Spirit whispered into her heart, tried to bring her into repentance. Trying to avoid prying eyes and questions and shaken by the contrition that 44


suddenly overwhelmed her, she hurried to her vehicle. Help me get through this Lord. Show me your way out of the mess of my marriage.

Jaiye knelt leisurely on the floor, her upper body astride the bed as she studied her bible. The door opened as Dan walked in, changed into his pyjamas and strode into the bathroom for a shower. A phone beeped nearby. "Hello." "Yes this is Pastor Dan's residence, but he is busy at the moment. Can I help and who am I speaking to?" "Deacon Charles?" Her voice broke in a gasp. "What happened to him? Alright, we will be there shortly." Shaken, she dropped the phone, her heart panted in fear. Oh Lord, what is happening to Deacon Charles? He recently had a kidney transplant. She wiggled her hands in agitation, paced about the room. The bathroom door opened as Dan entered clothed in a rich velvety blue bath robe. He tensed as he took in Jaiye's state. "Are you alright?" "Deacon Charles's daughter called just now. She said that he is saying obscene words and screaming like a maniac, she thinks something very strange is happening to him, " she flicked her anxious eyes on the clock, then back on his face, "she wants us to come over right away." "At past midnight? Can't we go in the morning?" His eyes rested on the wall clock. "I know it is late, but she sounded distraught and frightened. We can't turn our back on our own people in their time of trouble." "Alright, we will be on the way." He reached out for a change of clothing, Jaiye following after him. Moments after, they were on the deserted highway, to the Deacon's house which is on the opposite end of the city. He drove in silence, at a high speed, a few cars sped by, every driver on the deserted road driven by the need to arrive at their destination on time. "I thought Charles was getting better," he broke the tense silence. Jaiye took a deep breath . "Ever since his wifeâ€&#x;s death, he has not been himself." "What do you mean not being himself?" "His daughter had complained to me a few times of his weird behavior; how he keeps the wrong crowd, drinks and even mock the reality of the gospel." Pastor Dan gasped. "How come I never knew about this?" "You were too busy Dan. You were always attending one public function or the other; you never wanted to be bothered with such matters. I once raised the issue with you, but you brushed it off, that Deacon Charles is matured enough to take care of himself," she accused. At her words, guilt and contrition cuts into his heart. He remembered vividly the scene she just referred to. He has been busy preparing for the dedication of the school and hospital the ministry had just built. The press and government dignitaries were expected for the ceremony which would attract the attention of the state. Emotional and spiritual wellbeing of the flock was not the top priority on his mind at that time. He bit his lips in regret, cut to his heart for neglecting the very people he was raised to care for. "The Deacon never forgave God for his wife's death; felt she would not have died if the Lord had intervened." 45


"But I see him in Church going about his duties diligently." "He comes a few times to do the motions and fulfill all righteousness, but he had since slide in to a backslidden state." They arrived at the Deacon Charles' residence, a crowd of concerned neighbors had gathered in the living room. As they walked into the Deacon's room, relief settled on everyone in the expectation that Charles would calm down now. Jaiye gasped at the sight of Deacon Charles, his eyes darted about in obvious torment and paranoia like a demented soul. He was held down by his teenage son and a man who appears to be his younger brother. "What‌what happened to him?" Pastor Dan asked, the words almost choking in his mouth. "He relapsed a few days ago, and has been behaving strange ever since," his grief stricken daughter said, as she cradled his bald head on her lap. "Last night I believed I was in hell, and felt the horrors and torment of the dammed; but God has brought me back again, and given me a little longer respite. The gloom of guilty terror does not sit so heavy upon me then as it did now, and I have something like a faint hope that, after all I have done, God may yet save me," Charles said, as his eyes held Pastor Dan's in hope. "No matter what you have done, have you ever known anything of the mercy and love of God?" "Oh, yes,'' he replied; "many years ago I truly repented and sought the Lord, found peace and happiness, but I slid back into iniquity after Agnes's death. The devil deceived me to doubt the faithfulness of God. I was angry that the Lord took her away from me so soon." "But you shared a revelation with me last year that your wife is with the Lord in glory. Then why should you be angry with God that she went home to be with him?" Jaiye asked. "I am lost and damned forever," he wailed, trying to pull his arms from the firm grip of his family. "No you are not, for Christ can save the chief of sinners," Dan replied, drew closer to him. "I have denied Him, I have denied Him; therefore he has cast me off forever! I know the day of grace is past, gone, gone, never more to return!" "Don't be too hasty to condemn yourself. Let us pray, the gate of mercy is still opened, please take it." "I cannot pray; my heart is quite hardened," he cried out, "Oh, the torment, the fire that I feel within," he screamed in torment, groaning under the weight of Godâ€&#x;s displeasure. His eyes rolled to and fro; then he lifted up his hands, and with vehemence cried out, 'Oh, the burning flame, the hell, and the pain I feel! I have done, done the deed, the horrible, damnable deed!' Unable to bear his anguish and horror, Dan began to pray, more to calm his own tattered nerves than ministering to the demented soul before him. "Father, we present your son unto you and ask for mercy in this hour of need. We know that you are a merciful God, for you said in your word that you will not cast out anyone that comes to you. We plead the blood of your son Jesus Christ to‌.." "I will not have salvation at the hand of God! No, no! I will not ask it of him." Charles blurted out in an inexpressible rage, cutting short the Pastor's prayers. 46


Jaiye and her husband exchanged looks, their hearts pant in fright. In all their years of ministry, they have never witnessed a scene such as this. The reality of hell settled on everyone in the room as they listened and watched in horror the passing of a backslidden infidel. After a short pause, he cried out, "I have crucified the Son of God afresh, and counted the blood of the covenant an unholy thing! Oh, that wicked and horrible deed of blaspheming against the Holy Ghost which I have committed." "There were some who came at the eleventh hour," Jaiye said quietly under her breath, "and Jesus never rejected them, his mercies are everlasting." "My eleventh hour," he rejoined, "was when I had that call of the Spirit to repent of my ways, but I rejected it. I am given over to be lost. Oh! I have missed it! I have sold my soul for nothing, a feather, a straw undone forever!" He said with such indescribable despondency. Lying still and quiet for a few moments, he raised his head, and looking all around the room as if for some desired object, he struggled out of his brotherâ€&#x;s restraining hand, and again exclaimed in agony and horror, "get me some water to quench this fire that is burning me to death." Then he tore at his head and rent his chest. And then again he cried, "O Pastor, save me, the devils have come after me, take me in your arms, donâ€&#x;t let them have me." As Pastor Dan drew near to him, he buried his face in the arms of which had nourished him with the word but could not now protect or shield him from the storm of the Almighty's wrath. With an unearthly voice he shrieked, "Pastor! Save me; they have come to drag my soul to hell." And with his eyes starting from their sockets, he gripped his neck as if an unseen hand was forcing him to strangulate himself. "Remove the hands from his neck before he breaks a bone," Dan and his brother tried to force Charles's hands from his neck, but they couldn't lift the steel like hands from the neck. They watched helplessly, in horror as he strangulates himself, his eyes bulging out of their socket. Then it was all over as he fell back upon his bed, a corpse. The spirit had fled, not like that of Lazarus, borne on the wings of a convoy of angels, but dragged by fiends to meet a fearful doom. Amy watched as Jude flung his shirt on the bed. He looked worn out, dejected and overwhelmed. He just returned from an executive business trip with the stakeholders in the Oil and Gas Industry. She wondered if this job is really adding to or taking away from them. Ever since he resumed the job, he is rarely ever at home. She could feel the widening gulf between them, but at a loss on what to do. Having been jobless for more than two years, won't I be perceived to be out of my senses if I begin to complain about my husband's prolonged absence from home? But we have to talk. Something is seriously wrong which I can't put my hands to. I felt more at peace during the times when we had to trust God for our daily provisions, than now, in our overwhelming abundance. "Jude, we need to talk," she blurts out, her hot gaze on him. "Now?" He narrowed his eyes, avoided her eyes. "Yes," she held onto his gaze. 47


"I am sorry, but it can't be now. Can't you see how tired I am?" His voice was strained and on edge. But Amy has been pushed long enough and this time around; she is determined to have her say. "We both know that if we don't have this talk now, it will never hold as you have become a stranger in your own house." He shivered in guilt at her accusation, "I insist we talk the matter of our lives over now." Unable to run from her accusing tone and eyes, he sat by the edge of the bed, far away from her, his stiffened back towards her. Broken by the obvious gulf that has risen like a solid wall between them, Amy drew closer to him, her hand on his back. "Darling," he stiffened at her touch, shook her hand off his back. Hurt by his rejection, she swallowed back tears that were rising. "Is there something you want to tell me?" She asked. He tried to avoid her gaze which appeared to see into the very blackness of his soul, but she would not let him. "Look into my eyes and tell me what has happened to us? You and I know that we are breaking apart; I can feel it and so can you, but I don't understand why. Isn't our joy supposed to be full now that you have a job? Then why are we going apart? We can afford almost anything money can buy, but have lost our joy, bond and peace. What is going on Jude? Talk to me, pleaseeeee!" She screamed, threw a fist on his chest. Jude said nothing as she rents her anger and felt her featherlike punches on his chest. How can I tell her that I have sold my body into adultery and fornication in exchange for a job to die for? For a share of the wealth of this world? For a taste of the pleasure of riches and power? I am sorry Amy, but I am no longer the man you married. I loved the Lord, but he was taking time to come to our rescue, I couldn't wait any longer and had to settle for an alternative solution even at a heavy price. I guess I am no different from the Israelites who turned to manmade gods and denied their deliverer, the holy one of Israel when Moses took time in returning from the mountain. "I felt more at peace when we were living on a lean budget and would gladly throw away all these for the joy, love and bond we had back then." He felt a pang on his heart as he looked at her tear ridden face, and cursed himself for bringing this anguish upon her. She had always being the stronger one who could hold out waiting for the fulfillment of God's word. She has the very faith of Abraham. A bitter smile crossed his face as he wondered what her sin was for marrying a weakling like himself. She deserved someone better than me, someone holy and righteous like herself and not a cold hearted adulterer like me. "I don't know what you are saying. I have explained to you countless times that I hold a sensitive position at work and I am required to be present at every meeting the Company holds. Should I resign and sit at home with you? Would you be happy if I do that?" He blurted out, feigned anger. Amy wiped her tears, looked up at him. "I didn't tell you to resign, neither am I complaining about the time you spend at work. You were hardly home when you worked at the bank, but we were close then, our bond was intact, we were a family. But this time, I feel that I am 48


losing you. My dreams are filled with nightmares of you disappearing, being enveloped in darkness and becoming a pillar of salt." He gasped at her words as sudden fear gripped him. Feeling her frightened eyes on him, he smiled and drew her into his arms. "You should not allow yourself be troubled about me so much. My colleagues are grumbling about the position I occupy, so I have to put in extra hours and prove to all that I am more than able to handle the challenges of that position," he planted a kiss on her lips, wiped away her tears. "I promise to make it your while, please give me a little time and I will be yours all over again." "You have never stopped being mine, we belong to each other forever and nothing and no one can come between us." "Yes darling, no one and nothing can come between us," he smiled as he drew her into his arms, her head buried on his broad chest. As he rocked her tenderly, his eyes hardened, thought how close she was to the truth. I hope you are right sweetheart, I really hope that your faith is strong enough to save us from whatever is looming over us. He drew her closer still, reveling in her warmth; maybe there is hope after all. Maybe she would save me from the dark abyss which I have dug with my own hands and about to plunge myself in.

Perfectly beautiful in form and build, regal in bearing, Lucifer sat, majestic in his glory. He is the King of the power of the air, the accuser of the brethren, also known as the beast of the bottomless pit. Ever since he was cast out of heaven when he masterminded a rebellion against the ancient of days, he has been scheming to retaliate against the Almighty by turning his own very creation against him. Over the ages, he and the other fallen angels have become adept at ruining the plans and purposes of God in the lives of his people, turning man against his maker and finally causing eternal separation between the creator and his creation. They are skilled in crafting wiles, lies, schemes and devices against the apple of Godâ€&#x;s eyes, man. His eyes scan the gathering to see if all the princes of the power of the air were present for the meeting held in a secluded part of the second heavens. This particular meeting is special because it is solely for the high officials of the dark region. Powers, principalities, rulers of the darkness of the world sit according to their ranking, countries and regions under their control. They are beings of utmost intelligence and ability, capable of hatred and wickedness in its purest form. He reached for a huge file placed on the bronze table beside him, his eyes going to and fro from one end to another. "During our last meeting, tasks were assigned to Cannibus and Gaius to target and bring down the saints in high authority in two certain churches, can I have a feedback?" His eyes fell on Cannibus, who shivered in apprehension under the master's scrutiny. "You were assigned to work on the leadership of the Trinity Church, give a report." Lucifer barked, the lesser ranking demons quaked at the masters' voice. 49


Cannibus is the principality assigned to the Trinity Bible Church, shepherded by Pastors Dan and Jaiye. He is about eight feet tall, rugged and handsomely constructed, bronze colored and somewhat like a giant athlete. He looked towards Djmou, another demon who worked together with him on the Trinity Bible Church task. With absolute respect and reverence, the demon handed a file to him. "Report!" Lucifer screamed, annoyed at being kept waiting. "We were assigned to bring down the Peters of the Trinity Bible Church because of their immense influence on other members. The Peters are an easy prey because of the friction slowly building between them. Patrick cannot manage the loss in his business fortunes which makes him lash at his wife in frustration. Sandra is getting tired of bearing up with his violence, and a deep hatred is slowly building up in her heart against him. All we did was to reinforce a little demon of anger that has already taken residence in Patrick and he completely goes berserk with rage at every opportunity." Lucifer nods, listening. "Then what? To what end?" "We were able to push her to a point of deep hatred and un - forgiveness for her husband. She doesn‟t even know it yet, but she hates him with a perfect hatred. Over time, we will fan that hatred into a murderous rage that will lead to murder. She is so depressed that she rejected the help of the Holy Spirit and that singular act has placed her into the abyss of darkness." "What of Patrick, her husband? What script is he expected to conform to?" "Patrick is an easier prey. He thinks he is still in the way of heaven because he preaches nice sermons, but he is already a willing slave. Either way, one of them will end up killing the other and that automatically ends their Christian testimony." "Great work," Lucifer commended, his horrid laughter eerie and loud, filling the expanse of the dark region. "What about the pastor in charge, Dan?" "As you well know that Pastor Dan is struggling with lust in his heart, the beautiful secretary in his office is an unconscious ally in helping fan his lust into a fiery inferno. We don't want to be too strong on him as he might sense our activities and begin to put himself on guard and burst out in tongues. We don't want that as the last time he did that, two of my emissaries were cremated instantly. He is slowly slipping into lust and worldliness without his awareness as he spends much of his time attending to his fleshy whims. The only problem we have is his wife who keeps praying and counseling him." "How will you handle that obstacle?" "We will plant a wedge between them; push him to hurt her enough to create bitterness in her heart. Once that is achieved, interceding on his behalf will become a struggle and in a matter of weeks, we will get him." "Good strategy. I understand that Charles is already with us, in one of the chambers in hell." "Yes your highness. We escorted him from the earth a few days ago," Cannibus replied. "Ahhhh…..ahhhh ahhhhhh……. Aahhhh……hhhhaaaa……aahhh," Lucifer's eerie and evil laughter rocked the entire region as the little gathering became enveloped by smoke. The lower ranked demons scurry about in fear as they appear not able to differentiate between their master's laughter and wrath. 50


"Perfect. Perfect. We must bring as many people as possible down here with us. The most high created hell and damnation for us, but we are going to populate every nook and corner of this place with his very creation, man. Feed their desires, give them all they lust after, wealth, comfort, lofty high positions, anything, and everything their souls crave for, but take their souls, make sure they end up in hell." Another round of eerie laughter echoed through the dark region as every rank of demon personalities stood in and reverence before the master. Suddenly Lucifer stopped laughing and asked, "What about Jude?" "Jude's impatience and greed for earthly possessions and glory is his undoing. In a short time, we will have him where we want him. We will use his desires to trap him into his end. Doris, the priestess of the Sisters of Light is a great ally in bringing that to pass." Cannibus reported. "Great work Cannibus. Who next to report?" Gaius, another prince rose, his appearance, harmless and ordinary looking. He is the principality attending to the affairs of Living Spring Church headed by the enigmatic Pastor Jeremiah. "Decimating the Living Spring Church has been very difficult because of the activities of the prayer warriors. They pray non-stop, causing a great havoc to my army, many of whom has been cremated by the fire they called up. I escaped by a hair's breadth during the last attack against the church leadership." Lucifer fumed, his breath oozing out smoke. "I was not aware that the Holy Spirit had exposed our plans and strategies to Jeremiah, and by the time we arrived to fire our arrows, we met angel Michael and other warfare heavenly hosts. The arrows we fired began to pursue us. I lost a lot of my army to the carnage." A moment silence ensued, all the host of darkness seated at the gathering, quaked in fear at the eruption expected from the master. It came slower than they expected, as the firmament trembled at the intensity of his outburst, the gathering swallowed up in thick smoke and putrid smell. "Not all is lost as we got Pastor Andrew who fell from the arrows of pride and greed we fired at him." "What about his wife? How did she decamp from our kingdom?" Lucifer asked. "The assistant to Pastor Andrew, Pastor Yemi is a formidable force in Living Spring Church. As he preached the infamous message, warning people against hell, the heavens opened and everywhere was filled with warring angels who began to cremate my army. By the time the service was over, many of our prisoners were set free and transported into the kingdom of God. Roselyn was among the escaped captives. I am still nursing wounds from the unfortunate operation," he bowed his head in defeat, awaiting his punishment for a failed task. "What about Kunle, the head of the prayer warrior?" "He escaped. The Holy Spirit kept telling him to confess and be restored. He listened and obeyed. He confessed his secret sin to the elder Jeremiah who stood in the gap for him, breaking the yoke of sin," Gaius remained on the floor, his head still bowed in defeat. Lucifer flicked a glance at Gaius who had led many successful operations against the church and the saints. This is one of the few defeats he had experienced. 51


"Arise! His crisp voice stung like a thorny whip, "Your task has only just begun on the Living Spring Church. Assign more demons to Kunle, he may be delivered at the moment, but we can still attack him with images that has been stored up in the recess of his mind. Keep attacking his mind with lewd images that would weaken his resolve until he falls again," he held Gaius's gaze. "I will give you another chance to penetrate into the Living Spring Church, send reinforcements to watch them day and night for a loophole," his eyes took on an animalistic grin, "a loophole is all I need, just a tiny little hole. This can take a decade to achieve, but I can wait for a lifetime for one saint to fall and end up in hell." Then, he rose, followed by others who rose to their feet, erect, an army ready to receive its marching orders to lurch against the enemy. "The earth has entered into the final age of the church that will usher in the second coming of the Son of God. No one knows the day or hour that would take place, but this calls for strategized plans for the greatest soul harvest of all times. I have noticed increased activities in the heavens as more end time prophets, and soldiers are being recruited to deliver the lost from our kingdom. I see increased angelic activities as they go to and from the throne of God to the earth, raising more armies, strengthening the saints and answering prayers." "Our goal is to bring more people down here for hell is enlarging itself everyday to accommodate more souls. Cause mass deaths through air crashes, wars, pestilence, and terrorism, outbreak of infectious diseases, earthquakes and unrests." His eyes rest briefly on a lone demon principality sitting by his right, whose countenance is foreboding, moody and dangerously quiet. "I commend Zetta for his work on raising and fuelling the terrorist groups among the nations of the world. Innumerable souls totaling millions have taken their abode in the kingdom of the damned through his intelligently executed schemes and strategies. Time is no longer on our side as the entire universe is poised for the greatest happening in the history of the world." He scanned the gathering of attentive demon generals, certain that his message has reached its mark. "We will meet again; I can sense a gathering together of the Sons of God. I need to find out what it is all about." And with that, he disappeared like a puff of smoke in to the air.

52


CHAPTER SIX "See! This vision is the spiritual representation of the church and the ongoing battle between the horde of darkness and the saints. Listen, see and tell my people that they should watch and pray lest the enemy catch them unaware." Jeremiah opened his eyes as he heard the Lord spoke. Then, a large television screen suddenly appeared as he saw bright and colorful images, like the motion picture. A demonic army appeared, so large that it stretched as far as he could see. It was separated into divisions, with each carrying a different banner. The foremost and most powerful divisions were Pride, Self-righteousness, Respectability, Selfish Ambition, and Unrighteous Judgment, but the largest of all was Jealousy. The leader of this vast army was the Accuser of the Brethren himself. There were many more evil divisions beyond his scope of vision, but these were the vanguard of this terrible horde from hell that was now being released against the church. The weapons carried by this horde had names on them: the swords were named Intimidation; the spears were named Treachery; and their arrows were named Accusations, Gossip, Slander and Faultfinding. Scouts and smaller companies of demons with such names as Rejection, Bitterness, Impatience, un - forgiveness and Lust were sent in advance of this army to prepare for the main attack. He knew in his heart that the church had never faced anything like this before. The main assignment of this army was to cause division. It was sent to attack every level of relationship, churches with each other, and congregations with their pastors, husbands and wives, children and parents, and even children with each other. The scouts were sent to locate the openings in churches, families or individuals that rejection, bitterness, lust, anger could exploit and make a larger breech for the divisions that were coming. The most shocking part of this vision was that this horde was not riding on horses, but on Christians! Most of them were well-dressed, respectable, and had the appearance of being refined and educated. These were Christians who had opened themselves to the powers of darkness to such a degree that the enemy could use them and they would think that they were being used by God. The Accuser knows that a house divided cannot stand, and this army represented his ultimate attempt to bring such complete division to the church until they completely fall from grace. Trailing behind these first divisions was a vast multitude of other Christians who were prisoners of this army. They were all wounded, and guarded by little demons of Fear. There seemed to be more prisoners than there were demons in the army. Surprisingly, these prisoners still had their swords and shields, but they did not use them. It was shocking to see that so many could be kept captive by so few of these little demons of Fear. These could have easily been destroyed or driven off if the prisoners had just used their weapons. Above the prisoners, the sky was black with vultures named Depression. These would land on the shoulders of a prisoner and vomit on him. The vomit was Condemnation. When the vomit hits a prisoner, he would stand up and march a little straighter for a while, and then slump over, even weaker than before. Again, he wondered why the prisoners did not simply kill 53


these vultures with their swords, which they could have easily done. Occasionally a weak prisoner would stumble and fall. As soon as he or she hit the ground, the other prisoners would begin stabbing them with their swords, scorning them as they did so. They would then call for the vultures to begin devouring the fallen one even before they were dead. As he watched, he realized that these prisoners thought that the vomit of condemnation was truth from God. Then he began to understand that these prisoners actually thought they were marching in the army of God! This is why they did not kill the little demons of fear, or the vultures-they thought these were messengers from God! The darkness from the cloud of vultures made it so hard for these prisoners to see that they naively accepted everything that happened to them as being from the Lord. The only food provided for these prisoners was the vomit from the vultures. Those who refused to eat it simple weakened until they fell. Those who did eat it were strengthened, but with the strength of the evil one. They would then begin to vomit on the others. When one began to do this a demon that was waiting for a ride would be given this one and he or she would be promoted to the front divisions. Even worse than the vomit from the vultures was a repulsive slime that these demons were urinating and defecating upon the Christians they rode. This slime was the pride, selfish ambition, which was the nature of the division they were a part of. However, this slime made the Christians feel so much better than the condemnation that they easily believed that the demons were messengers of God, and they actually thought this slime was the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Then the voice of the Lord came to him saying, "This is the beginning of the enemy's last day army. This is Satan's ultimate deception, and his ultimate power of destruction is released when he uses Christians to attack other Christians. Throughout the ages he has used this army, but never has he been able to capture so many to be used for his evil purposes. Do not fear. I have an army too. You must now stand and fight, because there is no longer any place to hide from this war. You must fight for My Kingdom, for truth, and for those who have been deceived." Jeremiah had been so repulsed and outraged by the evil army that he had wanted to die rather than live in such a world. However, this word from the Lord was so encouraging that he immediately began yelling to the Christian prisoners that they were being deceived, thinking that they would listen to him. When he did this, it seemed that the whole army turned to look at him, but he kept yelling. He thought that the Christians were going to wake up and realize what was happening to them, but instead many of them started reaching for their arrows to shoot at him. The others just hesitated as if they did not know what to make of him. He knew then that he had done this prematurely, and that it had been a very foolish mistake. Then he turned and saw the army of the Lord standing behind him. There were thousands of soldiers, but still greatly outnumbered. Only a small number were fully dressed in their armor so that most were only partially protected. A large number were already wounded. Most of those who had all of their armor still had very small shields which would not protect them from the onslaught that was coming. The majority of these soldiers were women and children. Behind this army, there was a trailing mob similar to the prisoners who followed the evil army, but very different in nature. These seemed to be very happy people, and were playing games, singing songs, feasting and roaming about from one little camp to the next. 54


He tried to raise his voice above the clamor to warn them that it was not the time for this, that the battle was about to begin, but only as few could even hear his voice. Those who did, gave him the "peace sign" and said they did not believe in war, and that the Lord would not let anything bad happen to them. He tried to explain that the Lord had given them the armor for a reason, but they just retorted that they had come to a place of peace and joy where nothing would happen to them. He began praying earnestly for the Lord to increase the faith (shields) of those with the armor, to help them protect those who were not ready for the battle. A messenger came up and gave him a trumpet, charging him to blow it quickly. As he did, those who had on at least some of their armor immediately responded, snapping to attention. More armors was brought to them, which they put on quickly. He noticed that those who had wounds did not put armor over their wounds, but before he could say anything about this, enemy arrows began raining down on them. Everyone who did not have on all of his or her armor was wounded. Those who had not covered their wounds were struck again in the same place. Those who were hit by arrows of slander immediately began to slander those who were not wounded. Those who were hit with gossip began to gossip, and soon a major division had been created within our camp. Then vultures swooped down to pick up the wounded to deliver them into the camp of prisoners. The wounded still had swords and could have smitten the vultures easily, but they didn't. They were actually carried off willingly because they were so angry at the rest of us. The scene among those in the camp behind our army was even worse. There seemed to be total chaos. Thousands lay on the ground wounded and groaning. Many of those who were not wounded just sat in a stupor of unbelief. The wounded and those who sat in unbelief were being quickly carried away by the vultures. Some were trying to help the wounded, and keep the vultures off of them, but the wounded were so angry they would threaten and drive away those who were trying to help them. Many who were not wounded were simply running as fast as they could from the scene of battle. This first encounter with the enemy was so devastating that he was tempted to join them in their flight. Then, very quickly, some of these began reappearing with full suits of armor on, and large shields. The mirth of the party had changed into an awesome resolve. They began to take the places of those who had fallen, and even began forming new ranks to protect the rear and flanks. These brought great courage, and everyone resolved to stand and fight until death. Immediately three great angels named Faith, Hope, and Love came and stood behind us, and everyone's shield began to grow. They had swords named the Word of God, and arrows named after biblical truths. Then it occurred to them that if these Christians were hit with the truth they would wake up and fight off their oppressors. They fired off a few arrows. Almost all of them hit Christians. However, when the arrow of truth went into them, they did not wake up, or fall down wounded - they became enraged, and the demon riding on them grew much larger. This shocked everyone, and they began to feel that this may be an impossible battle to win, but with Faith, Hope and Love, they were very confident that they could at least hold our own ground. 55


Another angel named Wisdom appeared and directed them to fight from the mountain. On the mountain were ledges at different levels for as high as they could see. At each higher level the ledges became narrower, and harder to stand on. Each level was named after a biblical truth. The lower levels were named after foundational truths such as "Salvation," "Sanctification," "Prayer," "Faith," etc., and the higher levels were named after more advanced biblical truths. The higher they climbed, the larger both their shields and swords grew, and fewer of the enemy arrows could reach that position. Some who had stayed on the lower levels began picking up the enemy arrows and shooting them back. This was a tragic mistake. The demons easily dodged the arrows and let them hit the Christians. When a Christian was hit by one of the arrows of Accusation or Slander, a demon of Bitterness or Rage would fly in and perch on that arrow. He would then begin to urinate and defecate his poison upon that Christian. When a Christian had two or three of these demons added to the Pride or Self-righteousness he already had, he began to change into the contorted image of the demons themselves. They could see this happening from the higher levels, but those on the lower levels who were using the enemy's arrows could not see it. Half of them decided to keep climbing, while the other half descended back to the lower levels to explain to those still on them what was happening. Everyone was then warned to keep climbing and not stop, except for a few who stationed themselves on each level to keep the other soldiers moving higher. When we reached the level called "The Unity of the Brethren," none of the enemy's arrows could reach them again. Many in the camp decided that was as far as they needed to climb. Jeremiah understood this because with each new level, the footing was more precarious. However, he also felt much stronger and more skillful with his weapons the higher he went, so he continued climbing. Soon his skills were good enough to shoot and hit the demons without hitting the Christians. He felt that if he kept going higher he could shoot far enough to hit the leaders of the evil horde who stayed behind their army. He was sorry that so many had stopped on the lower levels, where they were safe but could not hit the enemy. Even so, the strength and character that grew in those who kept climbing made them great champions, each of which he knew would destroy many of the enemy. At each level there were arrows of truth scattered about which he knew were left from those who had fallen from that position. All of the arrows were named after the truth of that level. Some were reluctant to pick up these arrows, but he knew they needed all that they could to destroy the great horde below. He picked one up, shot it, and so easily hit a demon that the others started picking them up and shooting them. They began to decimate several of the enemy divisions. Because of this, the entire evil army focused its attention on them. For a time it seemed the more they achieved the more they were opposed. Though the task seemed endless, it had become exhilarating. Their swords grew as they reached each level. Jeremiah almost left his sword behind because he did not seem to need it at the higher levels. He finally decided that it had been given to him for a purpose, so he had better keep it. He drove it into the ground and tied himself to it while he shot at the enemy. The voice of the Lord then came to him, saying: "You have used the wisdom that will enable you to keep climbing. Many have fallen because they did not use their 56


sword properly to anchor themselves." No one else seemed to hear this voice, but many saw what he had done and did the same thing. He had a sense of knowing that he had already spoken this to him somehow. Then he perceived that his whole life had been training for this hour. He was prepared to the degree that he had listened to the Lord and obeyed Him throughout his life. He also knew that for some reason the wisdom and understanding he now had could not be added to or taken away from while in this battle and became profoundly thankful for every trial he had experienced, and felt sorry for not appreciating them more at the time. Soon they were hitting the demons with almost perfect accuracy. Rage rose from the enemy army like fire and brimstone. He knew that the Christians trapped in that army are now feeling the brunt of that rage. Unable to hit them, they were now shooting at each other. With their arrows now ineffective against the saints, the enemy sent the vultures to attack. Those who had not used their swords as anchors were able to strike down many of the vultures, but they too were being knocked from the ledges where they were standing. Some of these landed on a lower level, but some fell all the way to the bottom and were picked up and carried off by the vultures. The arrows of Truth would rarely penetrate the vultures, but they hurt them enough to drive them back. Every time the vultures were driven back, some of the saints would climb to the next level. When they reached the level called "Galatians Two Twenty," they were above the altitude that the vultures could fly. At this level the sky above almost blinded them with its brightness and beauty. He felt peace like he had never felt before. Previously, much of his fighting spirit had really been motivated out of as much hatred and disgust for the enemy as it had been for the sake of the kingdom, truth, and love for the prisoners. But it was on this level that he caught up to Faith, Hope, and Love, which he had only been following at a distance. On this level he was almost overpowered by their glory. When he caught up to them, they turned to him, and began repairing and shining his armor. Soon it was completely transformed and exuded the glory that was in them. When they touched his sword, great bolts of brilliant lightning began flashing from it. Love then said, "Those who reach this level are entrusted with the powers of the age to come, but I must teach you how to use them." The "Galatians Two Twenty" level was so wide that there was no longer any danger of falling. There were also unlimited arrows with the name Hope written on them. The saints shot some of them down at the vultures, and these arrows killed them easily. About half who had reached this level kept shooting while the others began carrying these arrows down to those still on the lower levels. The vultures kept coming in waves upon the levels below, but with each one there would be fewer than before. From "Galatians Two Twenty" they could hit any enemy in the army except the leaders themselves, who were still out of range. They decided not to use the arrows of Truth until all the vultures had been destroyed, because the cloud of depression they created made the truth less effective. This took a very long time, but they never got tired. Faith, Hope and Love, who had grown like our weapons with each level, were now so large that people far beyond the battle area could see them. Their glory even radiated into the camp of prisoners who were still under a great cloud of vultures. The exhilaration continued to grow 57


all around. He felt that being in this army, in this battle, had to be one of the greatest adventures of all time. After destroying most of the vultures that had been attacking their mountain, the saints began picking off the vultures that had covered the prisoners. As the cloud of darkness began dissipating and the sun started to shine down on them, they began to wake up as if they had been in a deep sleep. They were immediately repulsed by their condition, especially by the vomit that still covered them, and began cleaning themselves up. As they beheld Faith, Hope and Love, they saw the mountain far off and began running towards it. The evil horde rained arrows of Accusation and Slander at them, but they did not stop. By the time they got to the mountain, many had a dozen or more arrows stuck in them, but seemed not to even notice. As soon as they began to scale the mountain their wounds began to heal. With the cloud of depression being dispelled it seemed as if everything was getting much easier. The former prisoners had great joy in their salvation. They seemed so overwhelmed with appreciation for each level as they began to scale the mountain that it gave everyone a greater appreciation for those truths. Soon a fierce resolve to fight the enemy also arose in the former prisoners. They put on the armor provided and begged to be allowed to go back and attack the enemy. The saints thought about it, but I decided everyone should all stay on the mountain to fight. Again the voice of the Lord spoke, "A second time you have chosen wisdom. You cannot win if you try to fight the enemy on his own ground, but must remain on My Holy Mountain." Jeremiah was stunned that he had made another decision of such importance by just thinking about it. He resolved to do his best not to make another decision of any consequence without prayer. Wisdom then stepped up to him quickly, took both of his shoulders firmly and looked intensely in his eyes, saying: "You must do this!" Then, he noticed that, even though he had been on the broad plateau of "Galations Two Twenty", he had drifted to the very edge without even knowing it, and could have easily fallen. He looked again into the eyes of Wisdom, who said with the utmost seriousness, "Take heed when you think you stand, lest you fall. In this life you can fall from any level." They continued killing the vultures and picking off the demons that were riding the Christians and later found that the arrows of different Truths would have more of an impact on different demons. It was going to be a long battle, and they were not taking any more casualties now, having already passed the level of "Patience." Even so, after these Christians had the demons shot off them, few would come to the mountain. Many had taken on the nature of the demons, and continued in their delusion without them. As the darkness of the demons dissipated, we could see the ground moving around the feet of these Christians. Then he saw that their legs were bound by serpents called Shame. They began to shoot arrows of truth at the serpents, which had little effect. Then, they tried the arrows of Hope, but without result. From "Galatians Two Twenty" it was very easy to go higher, so they started up to the higher levels. Then he looked up into the trees to see that it was filled with pure white eagles. They had the most beautiful, penetrating eyes he had ever seen. 58


They were looking at him as if waiting for instructions. One of the angels said, "They will do your bidding. These eagles eat snakes." He said, "Go! Devour the shame that has bound our brothers." As they opened their wings, a great wind came that lifted them into the air. These eagles filled the sky with a blinding glory. Even as high as they were on the mountain, they could hear the sounds of terror from the enemy camp at the sight of these eagles coming toward them. The Lord Jesus Himself then stood in the midst of the saints. He touched each one, saying. "I must now share with you what I shared with your brothers after my ascension-the message of my Kingdom. The enemy's most powerful army has now been put to flight, but not destroyed. Now it is time for us to march forth with the gospel of my kingdom. The eagles have been released and will go with you. We will take arrows from every level, but I am your Sword, and I am your Captain. It is now time for the Sword of the Lord to be unsheathed." Jeremiah turned and saw that the entire army of the Lord was standing in that garden. There were men, women and children from all races and nations, each carrying their banners that moved in the wind with perfect unity. He knew that nothing like this had been seen in the earth before and that the enemy had many more armies, and fortresses throughout the earth, but none could stand before this great army. He said almost under his breath. To leave all of this to go into battle seemed incomprehensible. Before leaving the gates to the Garden he asked Wisdom if he could sit for a while to ponder all that he had just experienced. "Yes, you should do this," he replied, "But I have a better place for you to do it." He followed Wisdom out of the gates and they began to descend down the mountain. To his surprise, the battle was still going on, but not nearly as intensely as it was when they ascended. There were still arrows of accusation and slander flying about on the lower levels, but most of the enemy horde that was left was furiously attacking the great white eagles. The eagles were easily prevailing. They kept descending until they were almost at the bottom. Just above the levels of "Salvation" and "Sanctification" was the level "Thanksgiving and Praise." He remembered this level very well because one of the greatest attacks of the enemy came as he first tried to reach it. Once they arrived there, the rest of the climb was much easier, and if an arrow got through an armor, it healed much faster. As soon as the enemy spotted him on this level (the enemy could not see Wisdom), a shower of arrows began to rain down on him. He easily knocked them down with his shield that the enemy quit shooting as their arrows were now almost gone and they could not afford to waste any more. The soldiers who were still fighting from this level looked at him in astonishment with a deference that made him very uncomfortable. It was then that he first noticed that the glory of the Lord was emanating from his armor and shield. He told them to climb to the top of the mountain without stopping and they, too, would see the Lord. These soldiers were mostly women and children, their armor a complete mess. They were covered in blood, but had not quit. In fact, they were still cheerful and encouraged. He told them that they were deserving of more honor than he was, because they had borne the greatest burden of the battle, and had held their ground. They seemed not to believe him, but appreciated that he said it. However, He really felt that it was true. 59


Every level on the mountain had to be occupied or the vultures that were left would come and foul it with vomit and excrement until it was difficult to stand on. Most of the ledges were occupied by soldiers who he recognized to be from different denominations or movements which emphasized the truth of the level they were defending. He became embarrassed by the attitude he had maintained toward some of these groups, having considered some of them out of touch and backslidden at best, but here they were fighting faithfully against a terrible onslaught of the enemy. Their defense of these positions had probably enabled him to keep climbing as he had. Many are so wounded from the slander and accusations that they would be resistant when someone came down to them from a higher level and encouraged them to climb higher. However, when some began to come down from the top reflecting the glory of the Lord, they listened with great joy, and soon began to climb themselves with courage and resolve. As he beheld all of this, Wisdom did not say much, but he seemed very interested in Jeremiah's reactions. Then he watched as many soldiers who had been to the top began descending to all of the levels to relieve those who had been taking their stand on those truths. As they did, each level began to shine with the glory they carried. Soon the whole mountain was beginning to shine with a glory that was blinding to the vultures and demons that were left. He looked out over the carnage below, and the slowly retreating demonic army, glad that more of the glorious warriors were constantly taking their places on the mountain. He knew there was now enough to attack and destroy what was left of this enemy horde. "Not yet," said Wisdom. "Look over there." He looked in the direction in which he was pointed to, but had to shield his eyes from the glory emanating from his own armor to see anything. Then he caught a glimpse of movement in a valley, but could not make out what he saw, because the glory being emitted from his armor made it difficult to see into the darkness. He asked Wisdom to give him something to cover his armor with so he could see. He gave Jeremiah a very plain mantle to put on. "What is this?" He inquired, a little insulted by its drabness. "Humility," said Wisdom. "You will not be able to see very well without it." Reluctantly he put it on and immediately he saw many things that he could not see before. He looked towards the valley and the movement he had seen. To his astonishment there was an entire division of the enemy horde that was waiting to ambush anyone who ventures from the mountain. "What army it that?" He asked, "and how did they escape the battle intact?" "That is Pride," explained Wisdom. That is the hardest enemy to see after you have been in the glory. Those who refuse to put on this cloak will suffer much at the hands of this most devious enemy." As he looked back at the mountain, he saw many of the glorious warriors crossing the plain to attack the remnants of the enemy horde. None of them were wearing the cloaks of humility and they had not seen the enemy that was ready to attack them from their rear. He started to run out to stop them, but Wisdom restrained him. "You cannot stop this," he said. "Only the soldiers who wear this cloak will recognize your authority." Then, noise from the battlefield drew his attention. By now there were thousands of the mighty warriors who had crossed the plain to attack the remnant of the enemy horde. The enemy was fleeing in all directions, except for the one division, Pride. Completely undetected, 60


it had marched right up to the rear of the advancing warriors, and was about to release a hail of arrows. It was then that he noticed the mighty warriors had not armor on their backsidesthey were totally exposed and vulnerable to what was about to hit them. Wisdom then remarked, "You have taught that there was no armor for the backside, which meant that you were vulnerable if you ran from the enemy. However, you never saw how it made you vulnerable if you advanced in pride." Acknowledging, Jeremiah nodded. It was too late to do anything, and it was unbearable to watch, but Wisdom said that he must. To his amazement, when the arrows of pride struck the warriors they did not even notice. However, the enemy kept shooting. The warriors were bleeding and getting weaker fast but would not acknowledge it. Soon they were too weak to hold up their shields and swords, and cast them down, declaring that they did not need them anymore. Then they started taking off their armor, saying it was not needed anymore either. Then another enemy division appeared and moved up swiftly. It was called Strong Delusion. They released a hail of arrows that all hit their mark. He watched as just a few of the demons of delusion led off this once great army of glorious warriors. They were taken to different prison camps, each named after a different doctrine of demons. Astounded at how this great company of the righteous had been so utterly defeated, and still did not even know what had hit them. "How could those who were so strong, who have been all the way to the top of the mountain, who have seen the Lord as they have, be so vulnerable?" He blurted out. "Pride is the hardest enemy to see, and it always sneaks up behind you," Wisdom lamented. "In some ways, those who have been to the greatest heights are in the greatest danger of falling. You must always remember that in this life you can fall at any time from any level. 'Take heed when you think you stand, lest you fall,' When you think you are the least vulnerable to falling is in fact when you are the most vulnerable. Most men fall right after a great victory." "How can we keep from being attacked like this?" He asked. "Stay close to me, inquire of the Lord before making any major decision, and keep that mantle on, and the enemy will never be able to catch you unawares as he did those." He looked at his mantle. It looked so plain and insignificant. He felt that it made him look more like a homeless person than a warrior. Wisdom responded as if he had been speaking out loud, "The Lord is closer to the homeless than to princes. You only have true strength to the degree that you walk in the grace of God, as he gives his grace to the humble.' No enemy weapon can penetrate this mantle, because nothing can overpower His grace. As long as you wear this mantle you are safe from this kind of attack." Then on the horizon he turned and saw a great white cloud approaching. Joy arose in him just by seeing as it filled the atmosphere with hope just as the sun rising chases away the darkness of night. He carefully and respectfully approached the eagle who had landed near him because his presence was so awesome. As the eagle looked at Jeremiah with his penetrating eyes, he knew that it is impossible to hide anything from the creature. The eagle's eyes were so fierce and resolute that Jeremiah trembled as chills ran through him just looking at it. Before he could even ask any question, the eagle answered. 61


"You want to know who we are. We are the hidden prophets who have been kept for this hour. We are the eyes of those who have been given the divinely powerful weapons. We have been shown all that the Lord is doing, and all that the enemy is planning against you. We have scoured the earth and together we know all that needs to be known for the battle." "Where did you just come from?" Jeremiah asked. "We eat snakes," the eagle replied. "The enemy is bread for us. Our sustenance comes from doing the Father's will, which is to destroy the works of the devil. Every snake that we eat helps to increase our vision. Every stronghold of the enemy that we tear down strengthens us so we can soar higher and stay in the air longer. We have just come from a feast, devouring the serpents of shame who have bound many of your brothers and sisters. They will be here soon. They are coming with the eagles we left behind to help them find the way, and to protect them from the enemy's counterattacks." Jeremiah looked up to see how many warriors were still on the mountain and was shocked to see how few there were. He stopped short as he noticed that they all had on the same mantle on humility. "How did that happen?" I inquired. "When they saw the battle you just witnessed, they all came to me for help and I gave them their mantles," Wisdom replied. "But I thought you were with me that whole time?" "I am with all who go forth to do the will of the Father," Wisdom answered. "You're the Lord!" I cried "Yes," He answered. "I told you that I would never leave you or forsake you. I am with all of my warriors just as I am with you. I will be to you whatever you need to accomplish my will and when you need my wisdom." Then He vanished and immediately Jeremiah opened his eyes as he returned to the ordinary and mundane existence of daily living. "Jeremiah, Jeremiah, open your eyes, it is 8'oclock already." He opened his eyes at the sound of his name; shut them again as the bright intensity of the day light hurt his eyes. "Are you alright?" Weak and unable to respond to his wifeâ€&#x;s questions, he motioned for her to shut the window, his eyes still closed. Anxious, she walked back to him, sat on the bed, felt his pulse and temperature. "Please, talk to me, are you alright?" He opened his eyes, patted her on the hand and smiled as he managed a whisper. "I am alright. Please give me a moment to gather my thought." She smiled, patted his hands affectionately and stepped of out of the room. Jeremiah shuts his eyes, as he recollected the vision the Lord just showed to him about the battle the church is engaged in. Tears began to fall off his eyes like rivers of flowing waters as he contemplates the assignment the Lord has put into his hands. "Lord, will your people accept this? Will they listen to me? Will they believe me? Don't they already see me as the prophet of doom? Help me Lord; make me bold as a lion, make me a fearless messenger of the truth for the latter times."

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CHAPTER SEVEN "Casting down every imagination that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and taking every contrary thought captive to the obedient of Christ." Kunle kept holding up the word of God against the continued onslaught of filthy images and flashbacks trying to invade his mind.The internal battle in the past thirty minutes has been fierce, strong and unyielding. He shook his head violently as another lurid image appeared on his mind, threw it off before it took hold on his mind. "I take that thought captive to the obedient of Christ," he shouted again and again, as he flayed his hands against an unseen enemy. Beads of sweat adorned his face as the internal battle intensified and with sudden fury, he rose to his feet, shut his eyes and shouted. "Jesus, help me! Deliver me from these thoughts and images. I bind every demon on assignment firing arrows of lust against me; sin shall not have dominion over me for I have passed from death to life." This continued for several moments before it finally occurred to him to switch to the language of the spirit. Son, the battle against you is as real as a physical one, for you wrestle not against flesh and blood but against powers and until Christ returns and the enemy is ultimately defeated, spiritual warfare continues. Suddenly, his eyes opened. Sitting on both of his shoulders are two demon spirits. They are frog like creatures, their appearance ugly and slimy. Their mouths were close to each of his ears as they chanted in raucous voices words in an unknown language with machine gun speed. As he quoted scriptures, they would fall off his shoulders, he would get a little relief; then they would climb again and the whole process continued until he became worn out. As he burst out and continued in tongues, suddenly, a consuming fire appeared and cremated the demons into ashes. He sighed; panting from the invisible but real combat that just ended. For the kingdom of God suffers violence and the violent takes it by force. "Thank you Lord. Thank you for the victory." He mouthed praises and fell on his knees, worshipping the most high, his body covered with sweat. He panted like he just completed a four hundred meters relay race, his pulse and heart beating faster all at once. Just then, Annabel entered the room, carrying their one year old son. "Kunle, please could you carry Dayo for a few minutes? I need to……." She stopped short as her eyes beheld him sweating profusely. She could make out the silent humming of the split unit air conditioner. "Kunle. are…are…you alright?" She asked, her face agitated like a storm tossed ship. He waved his right hand reassuringly into the air, shot her a weak smile. "I am good, I had an exercise in the spirit. It is alright now." His smile grew wider, as his eyes brightened with joyous relief that the battle is over for the moment. "Oh! Maybe I should just go with him since…….." "No. It is alright. Let me have him. You go along and finish up with the cooking." "Alright, thanks. I will be with you shortly." She put the toddler into his arms and dashed out of the room. 63


His mind went over the combat that just took place minutes before Annabel entered. It has been like that ever since the deliverance encounter with Pastor Jeremiah. The demons of lust and sexual pervasion would not let go easily as they keep coming back, tormenting him with details of past escapades. Many times he would raise his hands up into the heavens shouting the precious name of Jesus until the desire to sin gives way. It has become a daily warfare, a daily dying to the flesh as he keeps watch on what he reads, watches on television and the internet. And most of all, he keeps a close guard on his heart, checking on his thoughts that it has not strayed to unwholesome issues. The word of God has also been both offensive and defensive weapons against the onslaught of satanic bombardments of evil suggestions. Sometimes, he'd feel all hell has been unleashed against him, but the Holy Spirit, the helper and comforter is always on hand to help and give him the victory. The process of keeping his mind pure has been tasking, but rewarding as the peace of God overwhelms his being. "Lord, how long will I be able to endure this attack on my mind?" He pondered as he lifted Dayo off the edge of the bed. Whosoever is born of God has overcomes the world and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith. The Holy Spirit replied. "Yes Lord, but when will this come to an end? The attacks on your mind would stop when lust and its accompanying spirits no longer has any hold on you. He gasped, removed Dayo's little chubby hand from his mouth. "How would I achieve that Lord? I get scared that I might just fall into my own vomit again?" Walk in the spirit and you will not have to fulfill the lusts of the flesh. "Yes, I know that scripture. But how exactly do I walk in the spirit? Forgive me for asking such a question, in the light of the fact that I am an executive of the prayer band." I am the teacher, assigned to teach you all things. Anyone who lacks wisdom should ask without doubt and he shall receive it. The spiritual walk is daily which includes feeding full on the word of God. Man must not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. Even Jesus was able to overcome the encounter with the devil through the word of God. Guard your mind with the word and you will soon come to discover that the evil suggestions, thoughts and images that come knocking on the door of your mind will not easily gain entrance. The word will act as an effective security officer which will filters every thought before they gain entrance into your mind.

Sandra looked up dreamily into his eyes, her heart panting in wild excitement. He stood tall, imposing, strength emanating from the rippling muscles, his face enclosed in chiseled cuts and ridges, a perfect work of art. Her heart raced in pride and joy at the union with this perfect specimen of manhood. He opened his arms wide and without a thought, she ran into them with a wild abandon. The light switch clicked, lightning up the room. She groaned in protest as this rude interruption brought her out of the dream world into reality and her Romeo disappeared instantly. She glared at her husband in anger and irritation as he paced about the room in search of God knows what. Then, her heart began to ache in despair that it was all a dream. 64


It has been so long since Patrick showed her love or passion. Should I leave him? She wondered. Divorce him? She gasped, wondered where that came from. Turning around, and finding no one, she held her head with both hands, beating at it frantically. But how would the church perceive me if they hear get to know that I divorced my husband? What reason would I give? How would I face those young people who have been under my mentorship and guidance for the past few years? What reason would I give my kids for divorcing their father? How would I face Pastors Dan and Jaiye? Stop! She trembled at the sharp rebuke. You care so much about how others perceive you, do you know what your pastor does in the privacy of his office? Do you know what he is struggling with? What if I tell you that your high and mighty Pastor Dan struggles with lust in his heart? She covered her mouth with both hands, shocked at the absurdity of the thoughts coming up in her mind. Where are all these coming from? Have I become so bad as to imagine such against Pastor Dan? Pacing about the room, she kicked against her head, wanting desperately to shut down the subtle voice which is gradually becoming loud, controlling and persistent. But divorcing Patrick would make me lose my position and respect in the church which I have worked so hard to gain. My identity comes from being a part of the church, losing that is akin to killing a very important aspect of my life. Yes you are right there. We can't have you lose that exalted position. So the plan changes. You will not divorce him as previously suggested; you would kill him before he kills you! No! She screamed, realizing that she is in conversation with a strange voice which cannot be the Holy Spirit. I am no murderer. I am just an unhappy woman who finds herself imprisoned in a loveless marriage with a disillusioned and violent man. Patrick used to be great father and provider. His problem is his inability to live what he teaches and manage his losses. I can't possibly kill him for that." Stop being irrational and melodramatic. You deserve to enjoy marital bliss like everyone else. Don't you think that life has been unfair to you? You kept your body undefiled until marriage and waited until you had to settle for that angry, frustrated and violent husband of yours. He will kill you one of these days if you don’t do something about it. Haven’t you heard reports of husbands killing their wives? No! Stop! Stop! Horrified at the intensity of the voice that has invaded her mind; she beats at her head, inserts the two longest indexed fingers into the holes of her ears. Realizing that she might be under some sort of satanic influence, she began to wield her believer's authority. "I command all you contrary voices to shut up and be silent in Jesus' name." Unfortunately, the command was weak, without the usual force and boldness. You are the one who should shut up Sandra. You gave us access to your mind and now ask us to shut up. She shuddered, kept listening listen to the controlling voice which has now become a stronghold in her mind. Your husband's death automatically turns you into a free woman. Her heart constricts in fear, seemed she is no longer in control of her thoughts, aware that her mind has been taken over by a demon intelligence, the prince of the power of the air. At the name of Jesus we shall cast out devils. Oh! That old familiar gentle voice. 65


But it faded into oblivion as the malevolent voice which she has come to recognize took over again. Aren't you tired of this miserable existence? With Patrick gone, you are on your way to fulfilling that dream in your heart. But‌but killing him is a grievous sin which will take me to the lake of fire. God is full of mercy," the voice continued, “a contrite heart he will not despise. All you need do is to confess your sins, and you are forgiven, as good as new, like the sin was never committed. Have you forgotten that God's forgiveness is total, complete and forever? Haven't you preached about his grace and mercy a countless times? She stared, stony faced at the opposite wall, her eyes glassy and without focus, processing the suggestions over and over again until it sank into her subconscious.

Army opened her eyes into the pitch darkness of the room. She had felt that familiar tap on her shoulder which is a call of the Holy Spirit to prayer. She knows without checking the clock that it is already 12pm. As she attempted to rise, her body groaned in protest, her bones rigid and unresponsive. Help me Lord! She prayed. Suddenly, she felt a surge of strength enter into body and with joy, jumped off the bed. She switched on the bedside lamp and checked on the clock which reads a few minutes after 12 midnight. She went on her knees and began to worship God in the beauty of his holiness. As she continued, an invisible staircase appeared which started from her room and entered into heaven. A piercing light from above penetrated into the darkness of the room, brightening up everywhere and everything. Then, multifunctional angels began to descend down the stairs until the whole room is filled with a host of angelic beings. The praise angels joined Army on her knees as she lifted her voice higher in worship."Halleleyah, holy, holy, are you Lord God Almighty. Worthy is the Lamb (2ce), you are holy, holy, are you Lord Almighty, worthy is the lamb (2ce), Amen. "Father, in the name of Jesus, I take authority over every power of darkness hovering over and controlling my husband. I ask that you deliver him from the control of the evil one in the name of your son, Jesus. I command every unclean spirits to lose their hold on his mind in the name of Jesus. Wherever, he is at the moment, let your presence rest upon him and the hands of your deliverance destroy all contrary works of the enemy in his life." As she prayed, suddenly, chariots of fire charged out of heaven, guided by fierce looking warring angels. They are fierce looking, with jaws of iron and eyes of fire. Their garments are made out of what looks like metal, iron and unidentifiable material. With their huge swords of fire, they put to flight hosts of satanic emissaries and those demons who were not quick enough to escape turn to ashes from a strike of their swords. Army's eyes suddenly opened to see Jude bound around his neck, arms and legs in what appeared like a honeycomb. As she prayed in the language of the spirit, an angel walked down the stair case with a knife of fire in his hands. He walked up to Jude and ripped open the honeycomb, bringing him out of bondage. Then with the knife, he cuts off the band on his neck, legs and arms and led him to safety, away from satanic ambush. The vision vanished. Jumping to her feet, Army shouted out in joy. "Thank you Lord. Thank you 66


for breaking the bonds the wicked put on Jude, thank you for sending your angels to wrought victory on my behalf, thank you for honoring your word in my life and family. Blessed be your holy name." She rose up to sit on the bed, now in conversation with the almighty. "Lord, I need you to provide another job for Jude. I feel this Gas job is a snare of the enemy to drag his soul to the lake of fire. But above all, let your will be done." Her eyes fell on the clock which read 2:30am. She switched off the lamp and slid back into bed, the peace of God all around her as sleep gently claimed her eyes.

Doris stared at Jude as he came out of the bathroom, clad in a blue rich velvety bath robe. The muscles of his upper body rippled as he stretched out his arms for his morning exercise. He has finally succumbed to her whims, desires and caprices; every thought of wife and family forgotten as he basked in the luxury of his environment. They have been at the holiday resort since Friday afternoon. After the closing hours, they had flown on the aircraft used by the Company to convey top officials. She contemplated whether to broach the topic now. "Can you see yourself as the Director of Accounts in the organization?" Doris threw at him, smiled at his expected reaction. He gaped at her. "You will never stop playing jokes with me, will you? I want to step out for a swim, see you later," he said and made for the door. "Wait! She shouted. "What if I am serious? Will you be able to handle the demands of the job?" He turned back, held her gaze, and then sat by the edge of the end. "Even if I work day and night for the next ten years, I would never become the Director of Accounts of this organization." "I understand your rationale which is correct. You don't know me, who I am and what I am capable off," she waved her right hand. "Never mind all that, as from this moment, I want you to begin to see yourself as the Director of Finance in the organization. Shocked, he gawked, then slowly rose to his feet. She seemed to be serious about this. "Doris, are you serious about what you are saying?" He asked, as adrenalin seep into his blood and his heart began to pump wildly with excitement. For a moment, he felt dizzy and had to sit back on the bed as he began to feel dizzy. No it cannot be, she cannot be serious. "Do you say yes?" She held his eyes, hopeful. "You are asking me if I agree to take up a position I never imagined could be mine." "You have not answered my question." He looked at her again to be certain that she was not joking, that this is not a dream or a figment of his active imagination. "I say yes, yes, yes, yes," he shouted and lifted her up into his arms in utmost gratitude. She basked in the warmth of his attention, pleased that she has him where she wanted him. "There is a price for it sweetheart." "I will pay any price for it; I will read for the exams, go on sleepless night for as long as required and do any other necessary things to become eligible." 67


"How naĂŻve you are. It has nothing to do with exams, studying and all other stuff," she laughed, amused at his words. "I believe no price is too high to pay for taking up that lofty position," she said, hopeful that his desire for wealth and position would supersede love, devotion and commitment to his family. "Yes, no price is too high to pay for a great achievement," his voice had become solemn and suspicious. He frowned and began to wonder what price he is required to pay this time in other to have that exalted seat. "Great. Then, you will divorce your wife and become mine." He gasped, face crumbled into protest at the morbid suggestion. "Divorce my wife?" His eyes widened in shock. "That will not be fair on a woman who had stood with me even when the going was rough. It will be wicked to discard her now because the tide has turned in my favor." He rose to his feet, his body rigid in protest. "She will be compensated and well provided for." Turning to face her. "How? What do you mean?" "We will make her a wealthy divorcee who will never be poor again for the rest of her life." "No, you don't know Army. She doesn't care about wealth and position, all she wants is the wellbeing of her family. She will not trade that for anything else." Doris came to stand by his side and began to trace the line of his shoulder. "The decision is not hers to make. Once you agree with me, she will follow suit." She looked into his eyes. She had expected this reaction and protest at the initial suggestion, but she knows him. He is just like her. His greed and desire for wealth will soon get the better of him as he would not be able to resist this one in a lifetime opportunity. "I need some fresh air," he made for the door. "Wait!" She ran after him, caressed his face with all the affection she could muster. "I want you to know that I love you and would fight tooth and nail for what is mine." But I don't belong to you, so you cannot fight for what is not yours. He thought, walked out of the room. Relieved to be out of the room which has suddenly become stuffy, he leaned against the door, panting and crying within. A searing pain tore at his heart, as if many unseen hands are pulling at it. Why can't I just walk away from all these? Am I not biting more than I can chew? Doris keeps asking and demanding for the most precious things of my life, the ones no amount of money can buy. In exchange for what? For lofty positions, for more wealth? What will it profit a man if he should gain the world and lose his soul. What can you give in exchange for your soul? No, not that voice again, he looked around the hotel corridor, straightened up and walked to the escalator which took him down to the ground floor. He strode towards the pool where the sun has begun to set, bringing out a rich blend of blue, gold and brown rays on the waters. Having no desire to swim, he sat by the edge of the pool, his legs immersed in the waters. He watched, absent minded as people of all ages and sizes jumped in and out of the cool water. Doris has gone too far this time, how can she ask me to choose between my family and a job, even though a great one. No, I can't sacrifice my family on the altar of earthly wealth and position. 68


Many have had to sacrifice more in exchange for wealth and power. Some traded with the lives of their kids, others shed the blood of their wives, and some others gave their manhood, while a few are required to stick rigidly to certain unpleasant rituals. Aren't you lucky? All you are required to do is divorce your wife, give your family up which they will be richly rewarded for. Everyone would come out of this transaction richer. You will be a fool to miss this. Doris will throw you out if you say no, you know that already? He stared straight ahead, unseeing at the moving shapes and figures, reached for his dark glasses as rivers of tears budded in his eyes and ran down his face. Won't it be great to forget about everything and go back to Army and the kids? But to what? He shrank at the thought of going back to the life they had lived a year ago. Oh God! What do I do? He clutched at his head in mental anguish; with a sudden crave to tear out his heart. Won't it be nice to end it all and enter in to eternal rest and bliss where I don't have to make any decisions, where I don't have to struggle with temptations, where I don't have to be responsible for anybody and carry about such heavy weight of guilt? He thought as he stared stoned faced ahead of him. Come to me all you that are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke for my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Oh Jesus, have I not gone beyond redemption? Why can't I have the good life along with my family? Why must I give them up in exchange for the good life? Your impatience and greed led you to the devil who is a hard task master. But it is not too late; you can turn your back on everything and start again. Follow me and I will show you the path to life. He stopped midway. But how will I take care of my family? I already made a way out for you, but your impatience made you go to Egypt for help. Come out before it is too late. Your wife is standing in the gap for your soul and I am simply responding to her cry for help. But…but.. what my sins I have committed? I…I…have been living in adultery with Doris for the past one year. She had made me commit a lot atrocities and obscenities which I can even talk about. You know it all, Lord. Even if your sins are as scarlet, they shall be white as snow once you repent, confess and forsake them. He shuddered as he continued the walk around the hotel premises. Tell Army about my escapades with Doris? Lord that is a difficult task to perform. Will she ever forgive me? Would the family ever be the same again? Do you find the devil's task easier to carry? Behold, your wife waits for you at home, rise and return home immediately. I have already opened a door of opportunity for you with which to sustain your family. Go back home and do as she says. Suddenly, he made a roundabout turn and began to walk back to the hotel room where he lodged with Doris. He entered and was surprised, yet relieved to meet her absence. He began to throw his cloths into the overnight bag, as a sudden desire to flee gripped him. Ready, bag in hand, he made for the door. Then, the door opened as Doris entered. They stared at each other for a moment, then she gasped as her eyes fell on his bag. "You are going somewhere without telling me?" He looked away, guilty, words failing him. "Jude?" "I received an emergency call from home. I need to be in Lagos as soon as possible." "What happened?" 69


"My family needs me," he made to pass by her, "I am sorry, but I have to be on my way." Hurt by the coldness emanating from him and the sudden change of attitude, she blocked his path. "What about the discussion we had before you went down to the pool?" For a moment, he looked disconcerted. "Discussion? What about?" She gaped at him, wondering what could have caused this dramatic change. "Never mind, go if you must," upset, she turned her back to him. He walked closer to the door, stopped, and turned to face her. "I‌I‌am sorry Doris." "Meaning what?" She turned to face him, her eyes blood shot in anger. "What are you apologizing for? "For not meeting up to your expectations." And with that, he stepped out of the room. It took every ounce of her energy and will to stop herself from throwing pride to the wings and run after him. Frantic, she paced about the empty room, like the emptiness she feels from the depth of her soul. Come unto me, all ye that labor and heaven laden and I will give you rest. She froze. The same voice which has been calling to her as far back as she could remember. She sat on the bed and pondered. She had always loved the soft quality and gentle persuasion of that voice which had never failed to calm her nerves as it does now. It is noticeably different from that raucous, rough and loud controlling voice of the master she gave her soul to years ago, which she had become a slave to. What next? Will he return back to me? Not one to give up on any matter, she jumped to her feet, planning the next course of action.

Dan has not been able to recover from the horror of Charles's last moment. He just couldn't handle the fact that his once beloved convert, whom he watched grow in the Lord, is forever damned into one of the chambers of hell. He had to assign one of his trusted ministers, Patrick to preach at the deceased's funeral ceremony while he watched the corpse being committed to mother earth. As the sermon went on, his gaze never left the coffin, knowing that what is within the wooden box is an empty shell, as the real person is burning in the fires of hell. Ever since that sorrowful episode, he had begun to pay some attention to Pastor's Jeremiah's messages. Maybe there is some sense in it after all, maybe the man has access to certain revelations that others don't. The reality of seeing someone experience the torment of hell has not only humbled him, but made him reconsider his beliefs and standing with Christ. In all honesty, he used to think hell stories were myths to scare people into fearing God, that misconception changed at Deacon Charles' death bed. He shuddered as he remembered the horror in the dead man's eyes. Even after his passing, his dead eyes stared at unseen horrific images which made a deep impression on him. He must have seen and experienced something terrible, something beyond this world. He admitted to himself that it has been long since he had a conversation with God. All he has been doing are the motions, but in actual reality, he has drifted very far from shore. It has been a while since he sat down and devoted time to the word, but he would rather prefer to 70


go on social visits, travel on empty missionary trips and read books on secular topics, adding knowledge to knowledge. Remembering the vision he had a few days ago, he trembled in fear at the vividness, clarity and message of the revelation. He had died in his sitting room. Jaiye grabbed him and started praying. This happened around 9am. People came and tried to console her but she did not allow them to remove his corpse. They tried to drag her away, but she clung to his corpse until almost midnight when he sneezed and opened his eyes. He remembered the horror that happened after the few hours of death. As his eyes closed, he found a mighty being holding his right hand and another one left as they were dragged him forward. He was happy, thinking that he was being carried to heaven, but he wasn't so sure about that when he began to feel heat on his face. He said to himself that this could not be paradise, turning; he began to tell them to leave him because he was born again, a preacher of the gospel and a child of God. The beings ignored him; their grip was iron like as they pulled and dragged him to the brink of the burning fire. Multitudes around him are poured inside hell like a long lorry pouring sand. The young, students, old men and women of all colour and races were dragged by demons into the burning furnace. "As he was about to be thrown inside the fire, a voice ordered from above, "Release him." And immediately he was released. Then, Satan, the accuser appeared in fury and indignation. "Lord, you cannot take this man to heaven, he is not qualified, he belongs to us. Why do you want to deliver him? Though he is born again and a preacher, he had problems with lust and fornication of the heart and because of that he should be in hell fire with us." "You are right, he is supposed to be in hell, it is true that he is free from all sins but lust and fornication of the heart, but look at the wife (and he saw Jaiye praying fervently on her knees), because of the prayer of this woman, I am going to allow him to go back and amend his ways." He has been afraid to share the revelation with Jaiye because that would mean exposing to her the sins of his heart. The door leading to his office opened as Susan, his secretary, entered with heavy parcels and letters in her hands. She dropped them on his table and turned to leave. "Who sent them?" "Most of the letters are invitations for launching of various…….." "Throw all the launching invitations into the waste bin and never bring them to my attention again." "But sir, they are from the executive….." "It doesn't matter where they are from, even if they are from the President and chief of armed forces of the federal republic of Nigeria, do as I have instructed ," he held her gaze, his fiery eyes burning into hers. "Understood?" And one more thing, I want to be alone for the next few hours and would not be able to entertain visitors. Anyone who needs urgent attention should be directed to Patrick." "Yes….yes sir." She hurriedly packed the letters and turned to leave the office. 71


"Wait! I didn't instruct you to lie to anyone that I am not around because all lying tongues shall have their portion in the lake of fire. Say the truth at all times even if it will kills you. Pastor is in his office, but not disposed to see anyone at the moment. Is that clear enough?" "Yes‌.sir." As the door closed behind her, Dan went down on his feet, hands raised upwards for mercy. "Oh Lord my father, I have strayed from the path of righteousness, I forsook your kingdom and its righteousness, I gave myself over to the god of gold and silver, I lusted after the flesh, the world and every pleasure it had to offer, I have grieved your spirit with my iniquities, I am like a dog that returned to its own vomit. Please forgive me. Your word said, when we confess our sins that you are just to forgive us all our unrighteousness. I ask for your mercy today, and for your grace that is greater than all my sins." He remembered what Jaiye had said of her revelation about his sudden death. He trembled with fear at the confirmation that the Lord intended to bring him into judgement if he doesn't amend his ways. That evil prophesy must not come to pass in my life. He groaned in deep agony as tears run down his face like rivers of flowing waters. As he howled and wept before the Lord, the heavens opened. An angel came down with a sword of fire and stood before the broken saint. He watched him for a while as he travailed in prayer, then all of a sudden; the angel stretched forth his sword towards a black band on Dan's heart and set it on fire Immediately, Dan felt a burning in his chest region which began to spread to the rest of his body as a heavy burden seems to roll off his shoulders. I will give you the heart of flesh in place of the heart of stone. Suddenly feeling light, free and new, he raised up his hands in worship.

"He became poor that you and I can be rich, he took our place in poverty that we might live in plenty. As children of the king, it is our right to have the best that life has to offer, our right to ride the best cars in town, wear the best clothing, eat the best food and have whatever we desire. Christ had already paid the price for anything you and I desire, but our responsibility is to lay hold and possess them by faith." Andrew dipped his hands into his pocket, brought out a kerchief and wiped his face. His eyes fell on Roselyn who had on her faced a scowl. "I expect that someone would ask himself how to lay hold on the blessings that had been paid for. You possess them by having a bull dog faith, unyielding faith in the word of God. You keep confessing it until it becomes a reality in your life. There is a law of spoken word that says what you say is what you get. If it is too heavy for your mouth to say, then you cannot have it." Then he faced the congregation who are already charged with excitement. "Does anyone here need anything from the Lord? Whatever your need is, begin to lay hold and possess it. Hasn't he said in his word that whosever that ask receiveth. Ask that your joy may be full and the name of our Lord will be praised." After the grace was shared, the pastors left their stand and moved into the office. Roselyn tapped impatiently on the sofa, couldn't wait for him to be alone. 72


"I need to talk to you," she said, her voice edgy. He tensed, the muscles of his jaw line rippled. "Can't we have this discussion at home?" "No, it has to be now," she insisted. He remained silent, the only sound in the room, the panting of their agitated breathing. Someone entered, and on cue, their faces automatically dissolved into smiles. "Just a minute pastor, I forgot my bible on the table," said one of the building committee executive members "That's alright, take all your time." Andrew replied graciously. As soon as the intruder left, the couple resumed their heated conversation. "Alright, say what you want. I give you just five minutes as I am having a meeting with the building committee in ten minutes'." "Have you confessed to the General overseer?" "Confessed what?" He glared, feigned ignorance. "Don't play hide and seek game with me please," she warned. "Woman, why do you want to disgrace me? Are you not supposed to be my wife? Do you know what will happen if I confess to the General Overseer?" "I don‟t know, you tell me?" "He would publicly disgrace us during the Pastors' general meeting; he might even sack me and bring Yemi to run this parish. What would I gain by exposing myself to him? Shame, reproach, demotion, and probably imprisonment. So my dear righteous wife, do you still want me to open up to the General Overseer about everything?" She gaped at him, trying to assimilate his barrage of words. The door opened an inch as the secretary of the building committee peeped in. "We are waiting for you sir." "I will be right after you," he replied, his eyes still locked with Roselyn's. "I will see you later," he picked his phone and made for the door. "Yes, I still want you to open up our can of worms to the senior Pastor. I want you to tell him about the fraud that purchased the Toyota SUV; I want you to tell him about the tithes that had ended in your pockets and of course, your sexual escapade with the university students." He stopped midway, time stopped for a moment as he stared at the door. Then, he turned to face her, his lips slightly parted in shock. "How…how did …did you know? I, I mean, about the University girls?" She stared at him coldly and emotionless. "You always assume that you are smarter than everyone else. Today, you know otherwise. The committee members are waiting for you; we will continue this conversation later," she picked her clutch purse and step out of the office, the echo of her heels resonated on the tiled floor behind the closed door.

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CHAPTER EIGHT Doris studied the faces of everyone gathered for the high profile meeting arranged to deliberate on who steps into the giant shoes of the finance director. The post has been vacant now for the past two months since the predecessor resigned on account of ill health. A tremor rocked through her, knowing that she has no list of candidates to present, knowing that she has only one candidate for the post and hoping that her mission to convince the board members into accepting her candidate would be successful. The Group Managing Director looked up from the file placed before him. "Doris, I can't see any names here." She cleared her throat, braced up for the challenge. "No, there are none," she said, held his gaze with all the boldness and confidence she could muster. "Really? I thought we were here to interview the candidates who have been selected for the post." "Yes, but there is only one candidate for the job." All other members of the board stared at her. "But why would you bring us here to interview just one candidate?" Mrs Rhoda Allen asked. She is company secretary, a woman respected and feared for her no-nonsense attitude, who suffers fools gladly. Doris had always had her way with members of the board except for the formidable woman, who seems to have the conception that the Human Resource Director uses her feminine wiles to influence the male members of the board. Maybe she is right, Doris cannot dispute that. But who cares, so long as I am able to have my way. "The one candidate is an in- house staff who has the skill, experience and the character required to handle the demands of the job," she faced her Mrs Allen fearlessly. "Who is this person?" Asked the Director of strategy. "His name is Jude Akpan. He came highly recommended by a professional colleague when he joined us two years ago. "This Jude Akpan, can you tell us more about him?" The Managing Director requested. "He was trained by the reputable firm of Coleman & Johnson chartered accountants, after which he moved to the banking industry where he grew in the rank to head the accounts and finance department. He joined us two years ago and has been delivering impeccable results till this moment. The only snag against him is that he has not spent the required number of years in an oil and gas industry, but I think that can be waived in the light of the plusses in his favour. In addition, the retired finance director personally recommended Jude to me that he believes Mr Akpan is the man for the job." The entire board remained silent as they assimilated Dorisâ€&#x;s argument. If looks could kill, then she would probably be dead judging from the hatred emanating from the legal secretary. "I still don't support that a rookie would take up a position meant for a finance and account veteran," Mrs Rhoda Allen insisted as her eyes move about the gathering for support and solidarity. Doris followed Rhoda Allen's eyes as they solicited for support. She smiled, knowing that none of the other board members would ever go against her wish to support her Mrs Allen, 74


her antagonist even if they think that the legal secretary was right. Whatever power she has on them is that strong. "Where is this Jude Akpan? I want to access and speak with him by myself." The Managing Director demanded. "That can be easily arranged," Doris smiled as her face lit up in gratitude. Old aunty Rhoda would never know what tied the gentlemen of the board to me, and how I am able to have them carry out my whims. "Not today, hopefully in the next few days." He addressed the other members of the board. "It is right that it is the norm of this organization to hire only someone who has worked for at least ten years in the oil and gas sector, but neither should we reject a brilliant candidate simply because he has not acquired the required number of years of experience. Experience is acquired as we work along, so we will not hold that against him or anyone else." "But, that is not………………," Rhoda cuts in, her face sets in a hard line. "Hold it Rhoda, let us give this fellow the benefit of doubt. I want you all to interview him individually and if seventy per cent of us endorse him, then he will be hired on a trial of six months." Doris felt like throwing her arms around, George, the Managing Director. She didn‟t expect the process to be easy, except for that old antagonist. A scowl appeared on her face as she held Mrs Rhoda‟s cold gaze. She smiled at mission accomplished. Now, I will see how Jude will be able to reject this offer. I practically gave him this seat on a platter of gold. What if he rejects the offer? A voice coming from within seem to jibe at her. She trembled in fear at the possibility of his rejection. No, he would not reject this; he would not be so stupid as to throw off this opportunity. Suddenly, dejected like a deflated balloon, she entered into her office and crumbled on the long sofa. Remembering the determination in him to leave to hotel and go home to his family and how she was powerless to stop him, it finally occurred to her that she could lose him. Then he would not eat his cake and have it, I will make sure that he goes back to penury and joblessness I found him in two years ago. Come to me, you who labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. That voice again, the gentle voice which has been drawing her for decades. She rose to her feet, sighed. What will you give to me? You couldn't even help Jude who sees himself as your follower. You couldn't help him secure a good job. If he had been able to secure a job, he wouldn't have been trapped into adultery and fornication with me and neither would I be scheming to win him away from his family. Please go, leave me alone. If anyone hears my word and does not believe. I do not judge him; for I did not come to the world to judge but to save the world. He who rejects me and does not receive my words has which judge him - the words that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. A sudden fear gripped her, as she frantically covered her ears. Her heart began to beat wildly against her chest. What do you want with me? Why this interest in me? Why don't you leave me alone? I want nothing with you, I want to live my life anyhow I desire without apology to anyone. For God so love the world that he gave his only begotten son, whosoever believeth in me will not perish but have everlasting life. As the spirit of the Lord continued to speak to her spirit, 75


she became frantic with indignation and a sudden urge to flee from the presence of this pestering voice gripped her. Where were you when I needed you the most? Where were you when the world rejected and turned me into what I am today? A beautiful empty tomb, admired for its artistic beauty, but of no use to anyone. She picked her bag and fled out of the office, away from the soothing but persistent voice which seemed to make a mockery of the emptiness of her life. She ran, bumped into staff members who passed by the long corridor of the corporate office; oblivious of curious and surprised stares from colleagues who gawked at the woman who had always put herself together, a woman most have envied, feared and admired from a distance. Now, she looked as if all the demons of hell were unleashed against her. On her face is a wild look of fear, a haunted look that left onlookers wondering if she was in her right mind.

Army looked on in excitement and expectation at Jude as he read through the offer letter. The parcel arrived a few days ago, knowing it was an answer from the living God who answers the petitions of his children. The letter is from one of the banks he had had an interview with more than two years ago. She hoped he accepts it and dump the horrible job he presently holds. She stared at him anxiously, wondered if he had the spiritual understanding to discern that the Lord opened this new door, so he can discard that deceptive and ensnarling Gas job. Not that working in an Oil and Gas industry is sinful in itself, but she sensed that the circumstances' surrounding the job was crafted to destroy his soul. Unimpressed, he dropped the letter on the bedside table. "What do you say to this?" She raised her face towards him, anxious. "Well, it came too late. If it had come two years ago, I'd be the happiest man on earth. But now,” he shrugged his shoulders, "I have a better and rewarding job, I don't need this." She gasped, felt like her heart being ripped apart with a knife. "I…I think you should accept this job." He turned to look at her like she has gone off her senses. "Meaning I should leave my present work?" He held her gaze, puzzled. She nodded, nervous. Then he bursts out laughing, laughed until tears filled his eyes. "Army, I sometimes wonder how your brain works. How can you expect me to discard my job in an Oil and Gas company? A job anyone would give up everything in their lives for in other to have in exchange for a bank offer which is no different from slavery and hard labour?" "Anyone would give up everything in their lives for the Oil and Gas job as you have given us up in exchange for the high profile work?" She quietly threw at him, her accusing eyes fixated on his face. "I didn't exactly mean it as it sounded, just trying to explain that it is a rare privilege and opportunity." "Ever since you resumed to this so called impressive job, you forgot that you have a family, we are no longer important in your list of priorities….." "But Army………," he interrupted. 76


"No, let me finish," she cuts in, raised a constraining hand up towards him. "In addition to your consistent absence from home, I have sensed an emotional and physical separation in our relationship. You are no longer the man I knew before the job came. You have become a stranger to me and the kids. A transaction had taken place which has put a wedge between us." Shocked, he stared at her as she accurately discerned the situation surrounding their lives. Suddenly, fear gripped him at the thought that she might be aware of his unfaithfulness to their marriage vows. She moved close, laid her hands in his chest. "Please, I feel very strongly that the peace and unity of our family lies in you resigning from that job and taking this new opening. This is our life line, please take it," she pleaded, her eyes glittering with unshed tears. As he listened to Army, he felt a nudging in his spirit to take heed to her, but the thought of losing the benefits attached to the job was more than what he could bear. He has finally come to terms and accepted his adulterous relationship with Doris, having stopped feeling that old twitch of guilt and remorse. He remembered that Doris had offered to recommend him for the seat of the Finance Director. At that, his heart began to beat faster. I am sorry Army; I cannot accept the bank job which I have always hated. Bank jobs are more like glorified slavery as they take your time, energy, vitality and pay peanuts for wasting the better part of your life. "What do you say Jude?" Army raised anxious gaze at him. Compassion welled up in his heart as he met her gaze. How I wish I can be the kind of man who will be all she wants me to be. I am sorry, but I am not worthy to be your husband. You are too clean, too pious and heavenly for a earth based man like me. "I will think about it," he replied, managed to shoot her a reassuring smile. "Alright sweetheart. The benefits attached to this may not be glamorous like the gas job, but it will keep you safe from destruction which is more important than all the wealth of this world," she caressed his face tenderly. He shuddered at her words. If only she knew how close she is to the truth. "Yes sweetheart," he drew her into his arms for the warmth that he could obtain only from her chaste body.

Jaiye wondered what Dan has up his sleeve. It seemed like he has something on his mind as she had caught him staring into empty space for long periods of time. She couldn't help but notice the change which seemed to have taken over every phase of his life. She noticed that he has started spending more time with the Lord, meditating on the word and praying for longer periods. Exercises he used to find pleasure in during the early days of ministry, but which suddenly disappeared from his daily routine until now. Even, his sermons have gone through the baptism of fire and more life producing than it used to be. Another phenomenal change in Dan worthy of mention is the attention he pays to the messages of Pastor Jeremiah of the Living Spring Church, a man he used to disdain and cast aside as an extremist. He was ministered to by the revelation message his counterpart received 77


from the Lord which was recently published in the Believer's World magazine to encourage the church. She whispered words of praise to the Lord for not ignoring her many nights of tearful groaning and travails for his soul. It is evident that Dan had had an encounter with the Lord which is yielding fruits of repentance into his life. But she couldn't shake out the feeling that something is amiss. She arose from her kneeling position, turned and almost bumped into him as she was about to walk towards the exit door. "Are you alright?" He asked, concerned. "I am alright, thank you," she smiled, noted his unconcealed nervousness. "Dan, you have something on your mind?" He sighed, looked away from her. "Dan?" Jaiye frowned, her heart fluttering in anxiety. "Can we sit down for few moments?" He led her to the twin sofa in the room. Her heart skipped a few times, suddenly afraid of what is coming. "The Lord has been dealing with me for the past weeks about the cold state of my spiritual life. My perception about a whole lot of issues changed the night we witnessed the frightful passing of Deacon Charles. That scene made a huge difference on me and ever since, a burden has been heavy on me to amend my ways and return to the shepherd of my soul." "The word of God says that whosoever covert his sins will not prosper, but who confesses and forsakes them shall find mercy. I have already opened up to the Lord about my sins, mistakes and errors and he has graciously forgiven and shown me mercy, but……." Her heart skipped as her breadth became ragged. He held her gaze, on his face is an internal struggle and remorse. "Maybe you are not ready to do this now." "No Jaiye, I have to do this, even if it kills me. It will mark the beginning of my healing and deliverance." Oh God, what is he about to confess? I hope this confession business will not rock the very foundation of our union. She thought, her heart ricocheting. He went on his knees, his head on her laps. "I….I…have been struggling with lust and fornication of the heart for some time now." She shuts her eyes. "Is that all? She asked. "No," he said, broken as tears of regret washed down his face. "That is not all." She gaped at him as fear gripped her in the heart. "Du….during our missionary trip to Canada about five years ago, I…I…met a woman who came to me for counselling……" No, No, Lord. I don‟t want to hear this. She groaned inwardly, resisted the strong urge to cover her ears. He paused, shivered, suddenly afraid to continue; wished he never started this crusade for the truth in the first place. Rigid like a statue, she rose to her feet, walked a few distance away from him, her eyes as cold as steel. "So what about the woman?" He closed his eyes, head lowered in shame and sorrow. "We…we… had a brief stint which produced a four year old child." She shut her eyes, as the pain of betrayal stung her in the heart like fang of a venomous snake. 78


Hot tears stung her eyes as she crumbled on the dressing table, broken. Dan stood on his feet, full of remorse at the pain he caused this woman who had stood by him through the years, who had remained on her knees praying for the ministry that the Lord put in his hands. "I know that no amount of apology will ever make it right, but please, forgive me for causing you so much grief and pain, forgive me for falling short of your expectations. No one forced or coerced me to make this confession; I did it on my own." He knelt before her pleading for mercy as tears ran down his face.

Lucifer scowled as he listened to Cannibus gave the report of the Trinity Bible Church headed by Pastors Dan and Jaiye. "What is the situation with Sandra, the choir head?" "She is fully in our grasp. The Holy Spirit still makes efforts to help, but she no longer listens to him." "What do you mean that she is fully in your grasp?" "A legion has been able to gain access into her mind." "Who is the ruling demon and supporting spirits in her mind?" "Bitterness is the ruling demon, supported by anger, depression, fear, un -forgiveness, and more recently murder." "Murder?" Lucifer arched his brows. "Yes, I sent the demon of murder into her who is perfecting the process of planting in her mind thoughts of killing her husband whom she already hates." "What is the plan?" "We have sent a strong delusion through false dreams that her husband wants to kill her. That is strengthened by the increase in the rate at which couples and family members kill one other through domestic violence." "But, will she be able to kill the husband?" asked Lucifer. "Everyone is capable of murder when provoked beyond certain limits. She is presently governed by the spirit of fear, anger and deep hatred for her husband, so she will kill him without knowing how it happened. She will not be able to explain how she took a knife and stabbed him to death. The whole act will be hazy and blurred as all she will find is his bloodied corpse on the ground with stab wounds inflicted by her." "Perfect." A malicious grin appeared on Lucifer. "What is the concluding plan that will seal her case?" "After she kills her husband, the ruling spirit of death and hades will end her completely by firing arrows of guilt and suicide into her. We will have her here in a little while." "Well crafted. Make sure you see it to the end. That plot brings the two of them here. I will personally torment her in the special chamber reserved for choir members who think they can outperform my singing prowess. He began his eerie evil laughter that made those present shiver in apprehension. "She will sing until her throat becomes parched with thirst which will never be quenched." 79


Then, he reached for the file on Trinity Bible Church, and read through. "What of Pastor Dan? Has the demon of Lust and fornication succeeded against him?" Cannibus shivered, nervous to give a failed report about Pastor Dan's escape from the snare they had set for him. "Cannibus?" Lucifer raised his questioning eyes and focused on him. "Pastor Dan witnessed one of the deacons in the church who passed away being escorted to the lake of fire, the Holy Spirit also showed him visions warning him of his impending doom if he doesn't change from his ways and make amends. He ran to Calvary and was shown mercy, forgiveness and restoration," he bowed his head in sorrow, "he escaped." A loud, terrible shriek escaped from Lucifer which shook the entire second heavens. All other demons who are not part of the meeting, but going to and from on specific assignments froze on the spot as the master vents his fury and frustration. Scared of being swallowed up by his consuming rage, they scurry into hiding places and waited until he calmed. Cannibus laid on the floor before his master, head bowed in remorse. "It is a great loss indeed when you lose the head of a large church such as the Trinity Bible Church. When he was living in error and preaching dead messages, we were able to reap large number of souls from his congregation, but now that he has escaped from our grasp, those other prisoners will in no time be set free, thereby depopulating our kingdom." "We have not lost all. We still have one last card," Cannibus replied, shivering. "What do you mean?" Irritated, Lucifer glared at him. "After he uncovered his secret sin to Jaiye, his wife, we fired an arrow of bitterness and un forgiveness into her heart. If she is not able to shake off the arrows in the next few days, then we will build a stronghold of depression and darkness in her heart which will be followed by an arrow of insanity and mental sickness. If she dies in that condition, she will definitely end up here." Lucifer sighed, a little pacified. "If I can't get the husband in the meantime, then I will settle for the wife. But send the demons to keep their eyes on him, and give him no breathing space. There must be another opening we can use to gain access into his life again." "Jaiye has been a formidable opponent against our activities through her relentless and focused prayers. In fact, she effortlessly foiled a lot of our plans against the ministry because of her unshakable faith. But, if this wound of betrayal does not heal, her prayer strength will be effectively weakened." "Then make sure the wound in her heart does not heal. Make it fester and enlarged until it consumes her and the entire ministry. Ha‌ha‌..ha,� he rejoiced at the impending fall of the Dan's family and ministry. "Can I have the feedback on Jude?" "Jude's wife, Army almost destroyed our programs when she began to intercede for him in prayers. The angelic hosts came and loosed him from the bonds we tied around him, setting him free." "Don't tell me that he escaped from our grasp?" Lucifer asked, his face sets in an angry scowl. "No, he is not. His wife saw through our plot, that remaining at the Gas Company would cause his ultimate destruction, so she petitioned the heavens for an urgent intervention. An 80


angel was sent to open his file in one of the banks that had previously interviewed him two years ago and brought it to the attention of Managing Director and a few days later, a job offer was sent to him." "Did he accept it?" "If he had accepted the offer, then he would have been on the path of light, but his greed and thirst for the glories of the earth blinded him to the truth, so he would not accept the lifeline offered him. Meanwhile, a bigger position has been prepared for him by Doris, supported by the demons who were present during the board meeting." "What does that imply?" "His acceptance of the post of the Finance Director will set the pace for his evacuation from the earth." "Impressive planning and effective follow up. Great." He picked up the file on the Living Spring Church and leafed through. "Gaius! Report.". Gaius rose up from among the principalities, powers and rulers of darkness seated, waiting to give account of their activities on the activities of the church. "Is the onslaught against Kunleâ€&#x;s mind succeeding?" "Not really," Gaius answered. "What do you mean?" "He has gradually mastered the art of taking our immoral suggestions and lewd images captive to the obedient of Christ." In an instant, all the demons gathered as well as Lucifer fell down on their knees in reluctant worship. Recovering from the fall, he gave Gaius a violent slap in the face which threw him off balance, hanging between the second and third heavens. "Why should a prince of your calibre and status make a slip as to mention that forbidden name in this place?" Flames of fire gushed off his mouth, eyes blazed red hot in rage. "Don't you ever mention that name again anywhere in my presence. Must I be forced to bow to him before the time? He shrieked as he watched others rising to their feet from the slip. By this time, Gaius had recovered from the attack against him, but light smoke oozes from holes on his face made from the impact of the slap. "Continue! Lucifer barked. "Kunle has effectively being throwing off all our darts, arrows and suggestions against his mind. A few of my demon emissaries were cremated when he burst out into tongues during the last attack on his mind. But we will continue bombarding his mind with the lewd images until he gets weary and give up." "What about the Andrews?" "We are working on Pastor Andrew to see his wife as an enemy and a pester. Then we will push him to get rid of her." "I have in your report here that Pastor Andrew shares a bond with his wife, so how do you intend to do that?" "We will push her to threaten to report him to Pastor Jeremiah, the General Overseer, after which we will plant the thought into his mind." "What if he rejects the idea? You must have an alternative plan should the first fail." "It is very unlikely that he reject the idea as a legion already makes its abode within him." 81


Lucifer nodded quietly as he absorbed the information. "What about Pastor Jeremiah? There must be a way to get at him. He is the source of the pain in my heart. I have not recovered from the way he emptied prisons of souls through his access to visions and revelations." "We can't go near him. He is one of the untouchables," Gaius said. "There is no untouchable saint. It is only a matter of time and a slip, then the untouchable becomes destructible. What is the situation with him?" "He is dead. He lives a truly sacrificed life, we can't access him." A thick silence ensued as everyone assimilated the information. "Can't he be evacuated out of the earth? His death would create a vacuum in the church which will be to our advantage." "He is out of our range, we can't access him. The last time we tried to kill him; a white rock appeared and began to speak. None of us could wait as the words turned into arrows which lurched and began to pursue us." Tensed, Lucifer paced about his throne, deep in thought. "Cause a lying rumour to be spread about him that he is diabolical and consults with mediums. Use his closest aids and pastors to spread the lies. We need to get him offended and bitter against his people. We need an opening for an arrow to penetrate. Immediately, the seed of bitterness takes root, his covering will be weakened, and then you shoot an arrow of heart attack against him. We can be lucky to have him here with us on the sin of bitterness." "What if it fails?" Gaius's face trembles with fear. "Then we will try again and again." Gaius nodded, unconvinced that the General would fall into that trap.

Pastor Jeremiah has been on his knees praying for days and nights. He had received phenomena visitations and revelations about the plans of God for the end time church. The Lord had earlier told him to get ready for another outpouring of visions about what he is about to do in the last days. I have nuggets of truths that I want you to share with my bride, the church. Whosoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. Suddenly, the images began to appear on the screen of his eyes like he was watching a motion picture. A small round grey like object similar to the shape of a moon gradually moved within a large circle towards its end. It appeared that the round object has been travelling from the beginning of the large circle more than a million years ago. In this vision, the round object is very close to the end of the circle, with less than half the length of a finger to touch the end of the circle. Then the vision cleared. Three great altars appeared. The first looked like it was made of bronze and gold; the second is smaller, but beautiful and glorious. It looked like it was made out of stone and covered with a glistening material. The third altar was before God himself, huge and high. The first altar read "Sacrifice Altar", the second "Mercy Altar", and the third "the Altar of God". God sat on a throne, but his face was not seen as it was full of light and power. Above the throne, a beautiful white cloud was suspended in the air, surrounded by pleasant fragrances. Approximately six feet from the altars stood Jesus. 82


"Oh, my Lord!" Pastor Jeremiah began to shout in excitement. The angels were all kneeling down at the smaller altar with their heads bowed, holding trays which contained the souls of men who has given their lives as sacrifices. Then, Jesus lifted his left hand and placed it on his stomach and began interceding for the sacrificed lives. He stretched his right hand towards the angels and continued to travail and groan before the father. "Look on." A voice commanded. As he looked on the other side of the three altars, he saw a huge wall with doors made out of solid gold. The doors were small, about two feet by two feet; each had something written on it. Out of the doors came light, power and glory. Then it occurred to him that the doors look familiar. At once, he realised that they resembled compartments in a mausoleum, on which names of the deceased were written. There was lettering on each door, with an attached handle. He stared at the scene in fascination. "Look! Behold what God is going to do." The voice said behind him. He turned back and saw that Jesus had stopped travailing. "Lay the sacrificed lives on the sacrifice altar," the father motioned to an angel. "This is the life of someone who has died to self. The angels have brought it to be laid before the God on the sacrifice altar. If the father receives it, he will have the angels put it in one of those long drawers‌behind the doors." The angel that stood beside him explained. As the angels began to move back, a voice, loud, like the sound of many waters spoke. "I will receive that sacrificed life." At this, the angels shouted and praised the father. Then, a scroll was brought before the Lord, where he wrote down certain things after which it was rolled up. He then heard the word archives. Afterwards, one of the larger angels, standing with a sword, opened up the top drawer. He picked up the tray with the sacrificed life upon it, put it inside the drawer, shut the door and wrote "Received‌Approved‌.Accepted". He also wrote the date, time that the transaction took place, the name of the person whose sacrificed life has been accepted and the nature of the call of God that is on his or her life. When the door was shut, it locked up automatically with a solid gold seal. "Oh Lord, the saints does not really know what it means to have a sacrificed life," Pastor Jeremiah cried out in anguish. "That is why I am sending you with this message." The father replied. He watched this process for a while, however, sometimes, the sacrifice was rejected and the Lord would say, "I do not accept that sacrificed life." If he says this, the angels would weep in anguish and take the tray back to the earth. Then he saw Jesus interceding again for the sins of his bride, the church. Then the vision ended and cleared. Then the voice spoke. "I am raising my end time army whom the enemy had bonded with all manner of entanglements, hindrances and difficult issues, but I will bring them out of their captivity. See!" Then, he began to see images of men and women in a wooded area, standing in dry brown leaves and twigs. They were looking up, but their eyes were closed. They seemed isolated from one another in the wooded area. Some of them were old and others young, of all age 83


groups. In fact, one of the men appeared to be in his eighties. It tore at his soul to see that most of them have struggled for so long and hard and they can't seem to get out of the wooded area. In desperation, he began to intercede for these souls who were in perpetual bondage of the evil one. As he prayed, drops began to fall on them. The drops were blue with white light in them. Several drops would fall on their faces and wash around their eyes. After several moments of washing, their eyes suddenly popped open. Then the twigs, entanglements, thorns and briers that the enemy bonded them with began to fall away, clearing the path for their onward march. They all stood in the shadowed area, still isolated, their right legs raised, ready to march forward out of the darkness into the light. They kept moving forward, not looking to the right or left, but straight ahead. As the vision progressed, he began to see some of these men and women in offices, some on television and many on their knees praying. They are in different aspects of the world carrying out their callings and divine assignments to the world. Some were preachers and others are into different fields, giving money to the kingdom of God to be built, setting others free through the distribution of spiritual knowledge, secrets and information many would not have had access to. After the visions cleared, a loud voice, rich like the sound of many waters spoke out and said, "Tell my beloved that their souls are very important to me. The only way they can be victorious over the wiles, traps and deceptions of the enemy is to be broken and live a sacrificed life. A dead person can no longer be influenced by the trappings of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh and the pride of life. Tell them that I don’t want them to end in hell as many are already there. Hell was made for the devil and his horde and not for man, but he is on the prowl for the souls of men as he doesn't want to go there alone. His plan is to take as many as possible alongside with him. The first vision of the small round object travelling in a larger one is a warning to the church that this is the last hour of the church. My people has been talking about the last days decades ago, many now believe that there is no truth in that, but only fables, but the church has finally arrived at the last hour. I am delaying this event because I want many to come to salvation; I want the backslidden to return to me as it breaks my heart to see millions of souls falling into hell daily. This is a call for many, who think they are standing to check if they are still in the way, a warning bell for the church to wash their filthy robes with the precious blood of my son while there is still time, a call to march out of the deceitfulness of sin, a call to get many ready for the end of age. I will speak to the army of men and they shall come out of their caves, mountains, wilderness and they shall be used to do a work that will shock the world. I will raise them up through their hardships. I have sent my angels to destroy the hindrances that are surrounding them the briars, thorns and dried twigs. Tell my people that no matter how far they have gone from me, no matter what they've done wrong, if they will cry out to me from their hearts, I will hear and forgive. I am not willing that any should perish but for all to repent and be saved� This is message of the last hour to my bride, the church. 84


85


CHAPTER NINE Sandra fumed as her eyes went through the mess Patrick had made of her room. Underwear, clothing, papers and nylons are strewn everywhere in disregard for her feelings. She wondered what he came looking for. Then, her eyes fell on the opened drawer. Oh no! God please no! She hurried towards the dresser, dipped her hand inside the drawer for the parcel of money she had kept there in the morning. Gone! Her body became rigid with rage. No, not this time. He canâ€&#x;t keep treating me like a piece of trash, batter me, and then steal from me. Even if this kills me, he will not get away with it this time." She rushed out of the room in search of him, her heart beating wildly in rage. No, Sandra, don’t do that. Anger rests in the bosom of fools. Do you want to pull down what you have built over the years? Anger is a destroyer. Yes, he behaved badly, but this amounts to nothing when weighed against eternity? Forgive him and let it go. That is what I have been doing all these months, forgiving him and letting him go. But instead of him changing for the better, he has only become worse. He has taken me for granted; sees me as nothing but a helpless female. No, I will let him know that I am from a family of warriors. She walked into the living room and saw him reading the dailies, a glass of wine in his hand as he leisurely sipped. "How dare you?" She lurched against him, her eyes blazing red flames. "What canâ€&#x;t I dare? This is my house, so I can dare anything or anyone." "We will handle the house ownership issue later. Must you disrupt the lives of others because your business failed? Must you disrespect me by flinging my personal items on the floor? Must you disrespect yourself by stealing from a woman whom you batter everyday? In the next twenty-four hours now, you will stand on the pulpit and begin to preach impeccably like the pen of a skilful writer, but what your listeners do not know is that you are a failure. You failed yourself, failed God and the children. Shame on you," she spat on him and turned to go. "Not so fast woman," he gripped her by the shoulder and forcefully turned her round to face him, then slapped her so hard she reeled. Tears strewing down her face, she faced him as a perfect calmness came upon her. "I waited for you to get over the pain of your business failure, I offered to help, but you turned away from me and rejected my help out of your vain pride. Now you vent your frustrations on me for your joblessness and financial failure. I bore all your attacks against me without a word, believed that you will listen to your own messages and turn a new leaf, I pay all the bills in the house without complaining. But instead of appreciating my efforts, out of jealousy you attack me, injure me, molest and steal from me. I have news for you Minister Patrick. I will not take all that from you any longer. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." Cold and fearless, she stepped closer to him, an evil determination on her face as she punched him on the chest. Then she stormed out of the room.

Kunle smiled as the peace of God settled on him. When he received the message that he is to minister during the mid - service on brokenness, fear and condemnation gripped his heart as 86


he prepared to reject the invitation again. No, I can't do this. I am not worthy. Whosoever the son sets free is free indeed. When art thou converted, strengthen thy brethren. Those who are broken become masters at mending other broken vessels. At this admonition from the Holy Spirit, praise engulfed his being as he stood on the pulpit to preach his first message to the church. "This topic sprouted out of the need for power and the fire of God in our lives. John 12:24 says "Verily, verily, I say unto you. Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it bringeth forth much fruit." Psalm 51:17 says that "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." To be broken is the beginning of a personal spiritual revival. What is brokenness? It is to be completely divorced from self. To be emptied of pride, it is allowing the Holy Spirit in every area of your life, it is for the world to lose its hold on your life, it is to be completely yielded to God and finally, it is to be sacrificed at the altar of God." "God only uses broken vessels, as long as self is in control of our lives, we are of no use to him. God is not looking for educated or uneducated people, he wants someone who would say "I make myself available, I submit my certificates, my ambitions and everything I have underneath your feet. That is the kind of person the Lord is looking for." "Lambs and goats are used in the scriptures for contrasting descriptions. The lamb typifies meekness and submissiveness. God gave Jesus, the symbol of the lamb and the Holy Spirit the symbol of the Dove. The Dove could not have rested on Jesus if he was not meek and lowly. Unlike goats, many lambs can be reared by one person, but if they were goats, many hands cannot handle them successfully." "Lambs and sheep are obedient and follow the shepherd without complaints. They are gentle, innocent and do not try to defend themselves if they are cheated. There is no resentment in them and this is why they are peculiarly devoted to sacrifice. Because of its unique character, the lamb is a common victim on the altar. So, the dove can only abide with us when we are willing to become lambs." The dove is a gentleman who wants nothing with the goat. If anything happens, it is the spirit of deception. Unbroken people easily get possessed by evil spirits pretending to be the Holy Spirit." "Many times, it is the goats that go to bible colleges and receive bible college certificates, are called the High Reverend, Prophetess, Sunday school teachers, pastors, Bishops and Apostles." "Pigs are a representative of a debased spiritual condition. Pigs are destructive and always scrapping the ground in search of food. I once saw pigs dug up a corpse and began to feed on it. These creatures eat anything including their waste and young ones. They make a lot of noise with their grunts. They are fierce and easily lose their temper. Perhaps, you are the kind of person who would lose your temper if someone took your seat, then you are a pig." "They also have a strong sexual desire and are always mating. Many times also, it is the dog that cries, Holy Ghost fire fall on me." The sheep only responds to the voice of the shepherd. If there are twenty people in a household, the dog knows the voice of everyone and would even come to a total stranger if he would offer them food. They easily eat their vomit, so it is 87


normal for those who are dogs to go back to what they had formally rejected. Dogs find it difficult to let go things of the world, they backslide easily and keep hearing the voices of their worldly friends calling them to come back. They are also greedy, quarrelsome, selfish and lack sexual inhibitions. "Which are you? A goat, a pig, a dog or a lamb? We have increasing number of ministries in the world today, but most believers are not broken. We desire spiritual power, but are we ready to broken? The Bible says, "as a lamb led to the slaughter and as a sheep before its shearer, he is dumb." A shearer is one who removes wool from the sheep to make clothing. It is wicked and painful to remove wool from a sheep when it is not dead." "Are you willing to give up your life to serve the Lord? When you are accused, was there not anger in you? Have you not tried to justify yourself when you should admit that you were wrong? At this, the dove takes its flight, since you are not willing to be quiet as a lamb. Beloved, when you are broken, Lucifer and his hordes will have nothing on you. The flesh would resist it, but it is profiting. "The bible says that whosoever falls on this stone shall be broken, but on whomever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. If you fall on the stone by yourself, and tell the Lord to break you, he will do so, but should you allow the stone fall on you. It shall be disastrous. What the church of God needs today are not cosmetologists or entertainers, but surgeons because the message of the last days is simple. I close the first part of the series on brokenness with this. "Behold now, the axe is laid at the foot of every tree, and every tree that does not produce good fruits shall be cut down and thrown into fire and they shall be replaced. "May we not be replaced in the name of Jesus." As he came down from the pulpit, his eyes met with Pastor Jeremiah's tearful ones.

Exceeding joy filled Jude's heart as he read through the offer letter for the office of the Finance Director. His eyes rounded into twin globes as he read and reread the words that will forever change his life. Then out of the blue, he fell to his feet and began to worship the Lord. "Thank you Lord for this great door you opened by your mighty hand. This could only be you and no one else, I worship you, I give you praise for you are worthy to be praised." Doris laughed on the inside as she watched Jude make a show of praising God for the unbelievable job. She wondered which God he is actually praising knowing how the job came to be and the conditions attached to it. She waited for him to rise to his feet and recover from his emotional outburst. "I hope you noticed that the letter in your hand is a photocopy, the original signed and sealed copy lies safely in a security box in my office." She smiled as he looked at the letter in his hands and confirming her words, he froze. "What is this?" He drew closer, his arms around her. "What do you think it is?" She uncurled his hands from her body. "I appreciate what you have done for me and will forever be grateful," he said. 88


"You think I would have done this for you if all I wanted is your gratefulness and appreciation?" She laughed, rose to her feet and paced about the bedroom. Then she turned to face him, "Look, I am not a nice person, ordinarily, I don't go out of my way to help anyone unless I have a stake in it." She fixed her hot gaze on him. "What exactly are you talking about?" He shivered in apprehension, knowing that the moment to decide for the most important things in his life has finally arrived. "Don't ask me stupid questions. Why do you pretend you don't know what I am talking about?" She fumed, her eyes fierce and uncompromising. An ensuing silence permeates the room as they stared at each other. "Maybe you should say what you have in mind again," his heart beating wildly beneath his chest, hoped by some miracle that she will suddenly develop a heart attack and die. I want this job and do not want to give up my family for a controlling frick like her. I will play along with her for a while as I have been doing for almost three years, then when I am fully established in the office, I will put her out of the way. His eyes hardened as a plot began to form in his mind. "I want you to divorce your wife and become mine alone," she faced him, arms akimbo. He shuddered with anger as the words swept over him, managed a smile as their gaze held. "This position comes with access to unbelievable financial resources, and other valuable pecks beyond your imagination. In other words, I have made you a multimillionaire more than a hundred times above your current status. So, you can conveniently settle your wife, buy her a house and open a trust fund to cater for your children's education in the best Ivy League schools of your choice abroad." She caressed him, smiled at the look in his eyes. "I have been generous, haven't I? I do this so that your heart will be fully with me, undivided, knowing that your family is safe and in good living conditions." "Yea, you have been generous indeed." Sensing the sarcasm in his comment, the smile disappeared from her face as she cornered him, her hands on her hips, poised for a fight. "Now that I have said what I want from you, what do say to my request?" "I agree, I want what you want. I am with you all the way," he bursts out, eager to get it over with. Confused, she looked at him and tried to read his mind. She didn't expect him to agree to her terms so quickly and without a struggle. Sensing a foul play, she guided the loins of her mind and armed herself against deception. "You agree?" She asked, looking pointedly into his eyes. "Yes. There is a price to pay for every good thing. I am ready to pay it. And it is hardly a high price because my kids and their mother would live the rest of their lives in ease and luxury," a thin smile appear faintly on his lips. "It is a great bargain. The only snag here is my wife," he took a deep breath, mopped his forehead. "Naturally, this would break her heart. But she will have to accept it," he replied, emotionless, his face set into a hard mask. Doris studied him, wondering if to trust him. He sounded convincing enough, but‌‌ "When will you inform your wife about this decision?" 89


Their eyes held for a chilling moment. His Adam apple throbbed as she waited on him. She could feel the tension all around him, and understood fully well that she was asking him to give up so much. But life is not fair. It definitely has not been fair to me. Anything is possible, any position is attainable, any goal is achievable, but they come with price tags which sometimes may be too expensive. That is when the desperation, need and sometimes greed of the seeker comes in to play. As she beheld his face, she hoped that his desperation for wealth and position would override his devotion and commitment to his wife and family. "I need time." The words came out quietly. "Whatever for?" She frowned, her voice impatient and abrasive. "I have to prepare a place for them, and settle their medical and education allowance as you suggested. Much more, I need to prepare my wife emotionally for this. This is not easy for me; it breaks my heart as we talk," his voice broke. She looked away, her heart hard as stone. "Alright then, let me know when all my demands are met, then will I hand over to you the original copy of the appointment letter." For the first since their rendezvous started, he felt a cold hatred begin to rear its head somewhere in his heart. He hands curled and uncurled as a murderous emotion gripped him. For a moment, he forgot about his environment, all he could see were his hands curled around her beautiful long throat as they squeezed life out of her. Then he came back to himself. He was sure he had a vision about someone trying to strangulate Doris. He gasped as he came to the realization that he is the murderer in his short vision. "What reason will you give the board for my delay in accepting the offer?" "That is hardly any concern of yours. Leave that to me, I will handle it as I usually do. More so, there is an acting Finance Director and until you are ready to fill the position, he is doing a great job at it. Be warned that this offer is not forever valid, if you have not made up your mind in the next one month, then it becomes invalid and also consider yourself to be jobless." As he drove home quietly in solemnity, it suddenly occurred to him that he has never hated anyone with such intensity as he hated Doris Harcourt. There is no way he was going to be with a woman he detests with every fibre of his being. Being with a woman like Doris marks the beginning of the end for any unfortunate man caught in her snare.

Jaiye stared behind her husband's back as he prepared for the Sunday service. She had not attended service with him in the past one month since he confessed of his adulterous affair. She couldn't bring herself to pretend that all is well, while burning with anger and bitterness. Of a truth, he had had an encounter with the Holy Spirit which has transformed his life. Her prayers over the years that the Lord should restore him from spiritual death has been answered. But at the expense of her broken heart. She never knew that he had gone that far into sin. Hypocrites! Men who live lives of lies and deceit and present a fake front of righteousness when they had already decamped from the Lord. How possible could we have 90


lived together for all these years and he could be put another woman in the family way and I never knew for five years. She shuddered at the intensity of his deception and unfaithfulness. And here I am, the ever faithful wife, standing by him, praying that he makes it in ministry, praying fervently day and night that he ends his life journey well. The only way he could reward my faithfulness and steadfastness is to cheat, deceive and lie to me. Would you have preferred he perished in his sins? No, Lord, but I feel so bad by his deception. Here I have been all through the years, staying at my post, being faithful, while he sowed his adulterous seeds across the world. You got it all wrong daughter. Dan is not the one to reward you for your faithfulness. I am the one whom you have been faithful to; I am the one who will reward you for all your good works and deeds. You have done well, don't allow bitterness rob you off your inheritance." The wound in my heart is so deep Lord; I can't seem to forgive him. I want to, but I can't. Be careful about offences, I know how deeply hurt you re but you have the grace to overcome this. Pursue peace with all men, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord. Watch, that you don't fall short of my grace. Lest you be defiled by the root of bitterness. I tried to forgive and be at peace with him, but it is so difficult. My heart is ripping apart with pain. She clutched at her chest in anguish, overwhelmed with the urge to reap out her hurting heart. Dan walked in, fully dressed for church. Horrified at her state of despair, he reached forward and held her hands. "Stop! Stop! Why do you injure yourself? Please darling, you frighten me with your weird behaviour, it's been a month since you attended church, people are starting to ask questions and I don't know what else to say," he blurted out. "Tell them whatever you please. Aren't you a skilled professional of lies and deceit?" She threw at him, her reddened eyes spitting fire. He backed down at her retort, expected this reaction but had hoped that she would be getting over it by now. She has been strong for so long, strong for both of them, for the children and the ministry. It broke his heart that his unfaithfulness had wounded her so much. Tears of regret glistened in his eyes as he beheld her unkempt hair, sallow skin, rough and frost bitten finger nails and dark emotionless eyes. If only I could reverse the hand of time, if only I could undo all the wrongs I did. He thought as he knelt by the bed. "Please darling, you have been a good wife and partner to me and a great mother to our kids over the years. Your persistent intercession brought me back from the pathway of death and hell, and now that the truth is out, must you allow the enemy enslave you with bitterness?" He broke down before her, "Please, don't allow my error take you out of the path of life. Choose eternity and forgive your errant and weak husband, not for me, but for yourself. Please darling, do the right thing, donâ€&#x;t let the enemy hold you down with bitterness. You have run the race well until now; don't be a castaway on the account of another man's sin," he pleaded on his knees, his body vibrating with the intensity of his emotions. "Leave me. You dare come here to preach to me. Go. Go away from me. Your very sight nauseates me. Leave me alone!" She shrieked, her face distorted like the mentally deranged, as she lounged at him in hatred, her fingers drawn out to claw at his face. Shocked out of his wits, he fled from her. 91


"Alright sweetheart, I will go now. Hopefully, you will join us during the next service." He tried to smile, but she ignored him, her lips twitching as if smitten with cold, eyes vacant and unfocused as she looked through him. Fear suddenly gripped his heart as he stared at her. Please Lord no, not what I am thinking. Jaiye is a strong, spiritual and intelligent woman. How could I have done this to her? How will I tell the church that my wife has lost her mind because she couldn't accept that her husband, their beloved pastor have been unfaithful to her over the years? "No, the devil cannot have my wife. I sinned and have been duly restored. Satan, I take authority over you, lose your hold on my wife in the name of Jesus, Lose your hold on her mind in the name of Jesus." "Be quiet!" Jaiye rose to her full height, eyes fierce with hatred. "Who gave you authority to deliver me? Who told you that I have been possessed by the devil? You hypocrite!" Shocked, he backed away from her, confused at the look in her eyes. No, this is not the Jaiye I knew. Normal one moment, insanely angry the next. "Alright, I will be on the way to church." Ignoring him like he was not present, she walked to the dressing table and began to smile as if they were on good terms. "Wait for me sweetheart, I am sorry for keeping you waiting, I will be ready in a few minutes," she sat on the stool and began to powder her face and comb through her hair with her hands. "Please, stay at home today and rest. I will send the house keeper to keep you company until I return and you can share the story of how Jesus was born to her. You would do that don't you?" Her face lit up like a child's. "Oh yes, I love to talk about Jesus with whosoever would listen." "Wonderful, I will send her in." Heavy hearted at the realization that Jaiye might have lost her mind, he picked the bible and walked towards the door. Then he paused and turned to look. He stared as she busied herself with her appearance, smiling into the mirror without any care in the world like a child would. She did not notice when he stepped out and the door closed quietly behind him, her mind trapped in a strange world; far away from reality.

Patrick could not forget the solemn coldness in Sandraâ€&#x;s voice and the emotionless look on her face when she uttered those words before she stepped out. Something has changed within her. She is no longer the dutiful and gentle wife I once knew. Remorse ate at him for the role he played at destroying his home. This downward spiral started when his business became bankrupt through a bad business decision. Sandra had warned him about staking his fortunes in the oil business, but he ignored her as he usually does and went ahead with it. The bubble burst six months later when oil prices dipped by above three hundred per cent. He survived the first six months, thought it was all a dream. But a year later, the reality began to set in that he had lost all he worked for all his life. In his pain, he pushed away the closest person to him and vents his frustrations on her. He has become so perverted in his ways that he felt a twinge of pleasure whenever he hurts his wife. 92


Helpless, he watched as he began to slide into the mire of depression, self – hatred and sometimes, hears voices from within, telling him to end it all. What is the use of a man who has lost his financial voice? Sandra does practically everything in the house. She pays the childrenâ€&#x;s school fees, medical bills and all other bills. She even transfers monthly allowance into his account, but that did not in any way pacify his shattered manhood. Many times, she tried to get him going again in other businesses, but something had happened within him than meets the eye. He had simply lost the ability to start afresh as he has become bond by the fear of starting again. He takes his work very serious in the church as a minister, but unfortunately, his messages failed to melt his cold heart. The words coming out of his mouth are life giving spirits converting and healing others, but he refused to surrender his heart for healing. Sandra! How I have hurt that gentle soul. Her recent elevation to partner in her firm opened his eyes to his stagnancy. As he read through the offer letter, hatred stung at his heart for the woman who was once the love of his life. Jealousy ate at him as he watched her career blossom. He began to derive pleasure in hurting her and the battering intensified. Afterwards, alone with his thoughts, he would break into tears, ashamed for beating her up; what he never until recently. "I have news for you Minister Patrick. I will not take all that from you any longer. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." He shuddered as her parting words echoed in his heart. He turned his face to the wall and cried to the Lord. "Deliver me Lord from myself. I am acting out an evil script that is not written by you; I have become a stranger to myself and donâ€&#x;t even understand who or what I am any longer. Let the yoke of Satan be broken over my life by the precious blood of your son Jesus, let every remote control gadget controlling my soul be destroyed in the name of Jesus. Create in me a clean heart and renew a steadfast spirit within mw, restore to me the joy of thy salvation and take not your holy spirit from me." As he prayed and asked for help, an angel arrived and stretched forth his sword towards a dark round object in his heart which melted into flames instantly. He slept off afterwards, and for the first time in months, he was not bisected by raucous voices jibing and mocking him.

As the hired vehicle moved through the darkened bushy path, Andrew hoped he had not missed the road. The turns and twists all seemed similar which made it difficult to locate the path that led to the hideout. Then, he spotted the black tattered clothing tied by the stump of a tree trunk a few feet away. The man had told him that is the landmark to locate the hideout. He had no further trouble driving through trees, branches and leaves that hid the sacred place from the public. Finally, he arrived at the hidden spot, surrounded by thick long walls and a huge imposing black gate. He nodded his approval, thinking how this arrangement suited what he had in mind. The place looked more like an abandoned warehouse. No one would have suspected that it is the habitation of the dead where the blood of countless souls is shed daily. Roseyn,I am sorry for having to come to this, but you have gradually become a pain in the neck. How can I allow you expose me to the General Overseer? I am sorry that it has to end this way. He felt unseen 93


pairs of eyes watching him and for a moment, fear gripped him as a chilly wind brushed his face softly. He horned. He heard a rustle somewhere close by. Then a husky voice spoke out. "Show your identity." Remembering the instruction on how an identity is shown, he raised up his three middle fingers. A few moments after, he heard the huge gate slid open and a hooded giant man beckoned him in. He drove, his heart beating wildly against his chest. This is no place for a normal human being to venture to. But you are not a human being. Are you? You are just like us, evil!, evil!, evil!. He heard the familiar voices he has become accustomed to mock and jeer at him. He wondered if he was really evil. No, I am not. I am just a victim of my circumstances who grew up in poverty and refused to continue in it. His heart panged as the huge gate closed behind him. It actually felt like a death sentence has been passed on him. From the rear mirror, he looked back for a sight of the gateman, but just like everything in this place is eerie and supernatural, he was not surprised to see emptiness in the place where the man should have been in the normal course of events. Either the man is invisible or he is skilful enough to lock up the huge gate and enter back into the gate house in a matter of seconds. He looked around the huge expanse of the land which in his calculation should be up to a hundred acres. He shivered in apprehension, mounted up some courage and drove towards the building standing in the centre of the wilderness. As he drove closer to the thatched building, he saw a number of luxurious cars parked. Noticing some human activities around, he relaxed. Then a man attired in native agbada passed by him. The man exuded confidence, power and something he couldn't put a name to. Evil! He shuddered at the suggestion given by his unseen companion. The stranger gave a slight bow as he passed by. As he walked towards a thatched building, a hooded man accosted him. "Who do you seek? We don't encourage aimless wandering on this ground." "I seek for Shogun." "Is he expecting you?" "Yes." "Walk down the path down there, turn left. You will see an intersection, walk toward the left path, at the end, you will see a blue scarf tied by a door. When you arrive by the door, stand by the door, shout out Shogun and wait for his response." And he was gone as swiftly as he appeared. Going by the direction given, he arrived by the door having a blue scarf tied by it and did as instructed. "Shogun! He shouted, his heart beating wildly in apprehension and foreboding. "Your Name," the voice answered. "An‌.Andrew." "Come in." He gently pushed the thatched door opened and entered into the hut. For the first time, he beheld the man whom he has being referred to as the one who would do a clean job without a trace. Shogun looked innocent and harmless, one who would never hurt a file; tall, slim and educated with a perfect accent. 94


"Tell me about the case." He brought out a picture and handed it over to Shogun. "I want her to disappear fro….from the…the surface of the earth with….without a trace," his voice broke . "What is her daily itinerary like?" Shogun asked. "She doesn't go out excerpt on Wednesdays when she will leave the house at about 5:30pm for the mid - week church service." "We will need your help in this." "How?" "You need to puncture her two back tyres before she takes off. My boys will be on the road that leads to her destination. When the car stops, the boys will offer to help. As they wait for the tyres to be fixed, one of them would blow a substance into her nose which would make her unconscious immediately. Then the rest is up to us." "That easy?" Andrew exclaimed, eager to get it over with and be out of the environment. "Yes. The operation will be over within fifteen minutes or less." "So what happens to her when she arrives here?" "That becomes my business and not yours." Pastor Andrew waits for Shogun to bill him for the service. Shogun said nothing as he filed Roselyn's picture and details in a brown file before placing it in a wooden shelf close by. He looked up to meet Andrew's eyes on him. "What?" "I am expecting you to tell me how much this would cost," Andrew replied. "Nothing." "Nothing? But …why?... I don't understand." "You are bringing a soul to us. We should rather pay you." Their eyes locked. Shogun's expressionless and cold. "No, I rather not be paid, thank you," he rose to his feet. "I should be on my way." "What day does your next service hold?" "Thursday." "The operation will be carried out on Thursday." Pastor Andrew shivered at the coldness and finality in the killer's voice, but there is no going back now. No one puts his hand on the plough and look back. He opened the thatched door and stepped out, his heart pounding so loud, he feared someone else might hear.

Sandra walked towards the front porch of the house, her heels making clicking noises as she reached to open the door. She had decided to come home earlier, hoped to catch Patrick at home and have a talk with him. Being at home, jobless for the past two years is turning him into an emotional wreck and something needs to be done. She hoped he will listen and take heed to her advice. To her amazement, the door opened effortlessly as she took cautious steps in. She tensed, upset to find the main door unlocked. Entering into the living room, her eyes fell on empty 95


bottles of beer and the latest one, a pack of empty cigarettes. She gasped, shocked at the extent of damage to Patrick‟s mind. "Patrick! Patrick! She called out, looked for him everywhere in house. Finally, she saw him fast asleep, sprawled on one of the children‟s bed. "Patrick! Patrick! She shook his body rigorously until he groaned and opened his eyes. "What, who is that, why do you disturb me, woman?" he rubbed his eyes, tried to register on his mind where he is. "Look we need to talk. This situation cannot continue as it is." "What are you talking about?" he rose to his feet and managed to sit on a chair. "You need a job and we have to get you one as soon as possible." "Get me a job?" he laughed, "You finally got tired of paying the bills? I did that for eight years before I lost my business," he met her gaze and held on for a moment. "Well, failing in business is not the end of the world; many people failed and built new ones. I think you have mourned long enough and it is time to rise up and try again." "Leave me alone woman, and if you can no longer pay the bills, admit and get it over it." She shook him rigorously, her eyes brimming with tears. "No darling, it is not about paying bills, it is about restoring your dignity as a man and it only a good day‟s job that can do that." He looked her over and began to laugh hysterically. "If paying the bills is no problem, then I see no problem either. Everything is going perfectly as it should be." Dejected, she rose to her feet and made for the door. Just then, he reached out for the remains of a cigarette and blew into the air. "How do you think Pastor Dan will react to discover that one of his beloved ministers has become an addict smoker. Honestly, I think you need to see him for counselling. I will arrange for you to see him as soon as possible." As she turned to leave, suddenly she felt the cold grip of his hand on her neck. The murderous look in his eyes made her to shiver with fear as she stared helplessly. "If you dare tell anyone in church about me, I promise that that will be the end of you. I will break this little neck of yours and it will be over." She shuddered at the evil in his voice. The voice didn‟t sound like Patrick‟s. It seemed someone else spoke, using his vocal cord. He pushed her violently until she fell against the standing mirror which broke into pieces. He looked at her bloodied body and burst into laughter. "I bet you will be too busy nursing those wounds to worry about me," he said and returned to his drinking, completely oblivious to her pain. She looked at him and realised that the enemy must have taken hold of her husband‟s mind. What with this deep hatred towards me, this crave to harm me and draw blood? The message left her in no doubt of the seriousness of the threat. She rose, dust off the broken pieces of the glass from her body and leapt out of the room, her heart wounded, body broken and face soaked with tears. If you don’t want to end up like one of those helpless corpses, then you need to protect yourself against him. Arm yourself, get a weapon and keep it in your clothing whenever you need to talk to him again, or you might not be so lucky next time. She shuddered at the voice. That voice again. Isn‟t that the script that led to murder cases? 96


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CHAPTER TEN Jude looked away from Amy's probing eyes as they faced each other. After weeks of waiting, planning and rehearsing on how to break the news of his intention breakup with her, he finally mounted up courage to confront her. "What's on your mind sweetheart? You obviously are worked up about something," Amy remarked, her eyes anxiously going over his face. "Yes, you are right." Their eyes locked, the total devotion in her eyes stabbed the very core of his being that he had to look away, his heart broken at the thought of what he is about to say to her. "I am listening, all ears. I hope it is good news." she smiled, not missing the tension that enveloped him. He opened his mouth to talk, but words failed him. Frustrated at his weakness, he walked away from her. How can I tell her that it is over between us? Is the price of this lofty position worth paying for? He felt a touch on his shoulder, turned to face her. "You want to share some good news with me?" "Yes…yes….," he stuttered, his heart beating violently. "You got promoted at work?" She asked, her eyes twinkling. He gasped at her words, shaken. Beholding his reaction, she laughed out loud, wrapped her arms around his neck. "I am right, isn't it?" She held on to his eyes, but something within the depth of them rattled her. Something is not right. She unwrapped her arms from his neck, sat straight. "Jude, what's on your mind?" Seeing the opportunity opened for him to break the dreaded news, he dived into it. "Strangely, you are right about the promotion. I have been promoted to the office of the Finance Director." "Oh! The Finance Director? That's huge." Her eyes bulged out in surprise. "Yes, but there are conditions attached to it." "Conditions? Like what?" He took a deep breath, shut his eyes. "Jude, what conditions?" "We will no longer live together as a family," he replied, looked away from her. "As in you will be transferred to the headquarters in Port Harcourt? That is acceptable as long as you will be home every weekend." He turned away from her. At that, she frowned. "Jude, I am right isn't it?" "No Amy, that's only a part of the story." "Then, tell me the full details of what this is about," she turned him around to face her, the smile on her face gradually faded away. "If I am to take this job, then we wi…..will….no..no… longer be a family, you an..and.. we will have to divorce and go our separate ways." She gasped, stared at him and laughed. "This is one of your jokes isn't it? "No." 98


"You are not taking the offer, are you?" He turned away, the bones of his back rigid in an unbending stance. "You will not take that demonic offer," she repeated. "I am not sure about that, I mean, it is an opportunity of a lifetime. Even if I worked hard for the next twenty years, that would not earn me this kind of job and benefits. "So what did you do for them to consider you for such a lofty position?" He turned white, lips quivered in guilt. "I guess the favour of God I suppose." "You call that demonic offer the favour of God? This proves you do not know the God I serve. The God I know will not offer a man a lofty high position at the cost of giving up his family." "Please Amy, try to reason with me, it is only for a while, enough for me to gather as much as I can. Then we will be together again." She gaped at him, her face ashen, mouth opened wide in shock. "It appears that you had already sold your family for a fantastic job, you are only trying to be civil by breaking the news to me." "Please," he pleaded. "How dare you plead with me to partake of your evil venture? What are you gathering? Who are you gathering it for? Must everything be about money? Have you forgotten that the love of money is the root of all evil? Must life be valued only in terms of monetary benefits and accumulations? What about heaven? Have you considered God? Have you thought about your place of eternal rest? So what if you gain the whole world? Is that the end of the story? What of the afterlife? What of‌‌." "Stop! Stop! Stop!" He screamed, covered his ears with his hands. She tried to touch him, stopped; felt an invisible thick wall around him. "You have allowed greed for worldly possessions cloud your judgement. Can't you see the hand of the devil in this? How can you give us up in exchange for position and power? How can you turn your back on God?" Her voice broke as tears gushed down her face. "It is not like it seemed," he said quietly under his breath. "Think about the children, don't you care about them?" "Their needs will be taken care off. Arrangements are already in place for that." "What do you mean?" She mopped her face, raised her tears rimmed eyes to him. He turned away in guilt, refused to meet her eyes. "You and the kids will never have to lack anything. A house has been bought in your name, an endowment fund has been created for the kids up till their university education, also, an account has been opened in your name which will be funded monthly with ten thousand dollars." She stared at him as the words come out of his mouth. "You had it all planned alongside with whosoever they are, isn't it? She sniffled, blew her nose. "Don't I have a say in this? What if I choose to remain as we are? Must some faceless strangers decide my future and mess up my life for me?" "Darling, please don't fuse. I know that this is a difficult moment, but it is not as bad as it seemed. What of women who lost their husbands suddenly and had to resign to a life of widowhood?" She wiped her face, calmed. "It would have been better if you had died and I became a widow, 99


than being sold in exchange for the gains of a lofty position. I guess a woman is involved isn't it? Because I can't understand why you have to divorce me and turn your back on your family in other to take up this job." His heart raced, hands curled into fists as he trembled. "I am sorry darling." "Don't you ever address me as such any longer," she backed at him. "I can see that you have gone very far into this error, so I will not make any more attempts to persuade you otherwise." "I am sorry dar… Army…..I….I….." Without another glance at him, she walked out of the room with a loud bang that rocked the whole building. After her departure, he crumbled on the floor and wept bitterly; knowing that he has snuffed out the only source of light in his life with his own hands.

Reports from some of the leadership and close aids of the much respected and revered Pastor Jeremiah of the Living Springs Church revealed that the man of God is deep into fetish and diabolical activities. According to them, he has been under some sort of demonic influence lately as he claimed to see trances, visitations and visions from strange sources. His associates believe that the veteran pastor has become paranoia and schizophrenic as a result of his so called involvement in the occult. More shocking revelations about the enigmatic pastor from a prominent pastor of the church exposed the elder's involvement in drug trafficking and illicit association with the opposite sex. Pastor Jeremiah sighed; shut his eyes as he read through the front headlines of the Trumpet newspaper. Other newspapers had also carried similar news about him. He shuddered, wondered who among his close associates are wolves wearing the sheep‟s clothing and have become enemies of the church. Do not be distracted by this scheme of Satan, focus on the work on hand. Hearing the admonition of the Holy Spirit did not lessen the pain of being sold out by members of his own fold. Hannah dropped the newspaper on the table, fumed with anger. "How could they?" She sobbed, mopped back tears. "How could they what?" "How could the people you brought up as your spiritual children, mentored and loved stab you in the back?" "You believe all those lies?" He held her gaze, his face expressionless. "You think they are lies? But there can't be smoke without fire," she wiped the last traces of tears off her face. He considered her statement. "Well, you may be right." "So what are you going to do about it?" "Nothing except show them love as required by the Lord. Remember the scripture warned against allowing any root of bitterness spring up in our heart against one another." "So you forgive them, just like that?" She asked, incredulous. 100


"For my own safety and in obedience to the scriptures, yes, I forgive them. I won't even mention it at the forthcoming ministers' conference. The Lord had warned me not to lose focus as a result of Satan's schemes, so this will pass like it never happened." Jeremiah wonders who the wolves are among this pack as his eyes moved across the gathering of ministers in the conference room. Suddenly, it registered on his mind that Pastor Andrew and his wife are absent in the meeting. "What about the minister in charge of the Rivers' state church, Pastor Andrew?" He asked Pastor Yemi, the assistant to Andrew. "I am sorry, but I have not seen or hear from him for the past one year or thereabout." "You have not heard or seen him for the past one year, isn't that odd? Weren't the two of you sent to man the affairs of the Rivers' church?" "I thought you knew about my transfer?" Yemi asked. "Your transfer? To where? I am not aware of sort." "Pastor Andrew built a little home church in one of the villages in Rivers' state and sent me to pastor it." "He sent you to pastor another church? On whose instruction?" Pastor Jeremiah shut his eyes, rubbed his fingers against his throbbing forehead. The other ministers looked on in silence. Deciding to put that behind him at the moment, he faced the matters on agenda. "In the past weeks and months, the Lord has been visiting and revealing certain information to me which is meant for the edification and preparation of the church for an event which we are all aware of, but which unfortunately, many are not prepared for. All the signs are visible that we are getting to the last hour of the church history, hence, our duty as God's ministers are not only to prepare ourselves for his kingdom, but also help many to ascend with him at his appearance." The door of the conference room opened quietly as Pastor Andrew slipped inside the gathering. Pastor Jeremiah paused, stared at him for a moment and continued with his speech. "I have heard reports about the activities of Pastors and it is disheartening to know that the only difference between professing Christians and unbelievers is that Christians carry bibles on Sunday mornings and enter into a building called church. Note that, the Lord will ask from our hands the blood of every soul lost because we fail to tell the truth or led many astray because most of us are bad examples to our respective folds. Be certain that we will pay more dearly for it. To whom much is given, much will be required." "The Lord has opened my eyes to certain events that are already taking place in the church and about to take place. I am thinking of having a revival, the sole purpose of which is to drag many away from the path of destruction. How I wish you all will understand the value of the great commission delivered into your hands. Satan's goal is to make every Christian church like the Laodicea church as described in Revelation 3: 15 - 16. I know your works and what you are doing; you are neither hot nor cold. Would that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I will spew you out of my mouth. "Churches full of passive people having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof are no threat to Satan. 101


"The incredible number of prayer less and powerless, dead churches in our land today is a testimony to the success of Satan's carefully planned tactics. I pray that every Christian hearing these words will go to the Lord in prayer and seek guidance as to how to guard his/her church against such attacks." "Beloved, the end of age is near and we are part of the laborers who have been prepared for the great harvest of souls. We must not disappoint our father who has assigned this task unto us. As we carry out this assignment, we should however remember to constantly check our own lives so that after leading many into salvation, we will not be cast out of his presence. Let us constantly remind ourselves that whatever we say or do are recorded and stored up in files that will be opened one day." "Join me in praying earnestly for the forthcoming worldwide revival titled The Great Soul Harvest, where there will be a mighty deliverance of souls from the kingdom of darkness. I close this conference with this message. "Behold now, the axe is laid at the foot of every tree, and every tree that does not produce good fruits shall be cut down and thrown into fire and they shall be replaced. May we not be replaced in the name of Jesus." "Amen." An echo of amen came from the assembly of ministers as they listen to the man who has been a father to most of them over the years and groomed a number of them from infancy to spiritual adulthood. Solemnly, they file out of the conference room, on many faces were new resolve of dedication and determination to be counted worthy to stand in the presence of him who had called them.

Kunle suddenly jerked out of sleep, panting like he is running a hundred miles relay race. He had felt a strange feathery touch on his body. Then, as if remote controlled, the lurid imaginations began all over again. It has been months since he had experienced an attack on his mind, which led him to believe that he has finally crossed over the threshold of sin into total freedom. But Satan never gives up on its old prisoners; he may retire for a season, but is ever watchful, seeking for an opportunity, a slip, an opening to take back his old victims into bondage. He never gives up on anyone. If only the saints would have the same dogged determination not to give up on God and his promises of deliverance. If only they will keep standing, unyielding on the word of God until the devil gives up. The old stored up images flashed in the eyes of his mind and he found himself weakening, succumbing to the voice of the flesh, giving in to the sensuous passions of his body. Concurrently, he heard in his spirit Let not sin reign in your body that you should obey it in the lusts thereof, neither yield your body as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin‌for sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under the law, but under grace. "Help me Lord! Help me! Help me! In a snap of a finger, he felt an electric current go through his body and the sensuous desires ended abruptly as they started. Rising to his feet, he checked the clock which read 1:30am in the morning. He looked to see Annabel fast asleep, knowing that the hour has come again for warfare, he quietly left the room. About forty-five minutes into prayers, Kunle's eyes opened and he saw himself standing in the centre of a ring of animals that looked like huge, vicious and hideous looking cats. They were 102


circling around him, sniffling. Suddenly, one of them stopped, sniffled and tried to jump into him. He understood what the vision meant. The unclean spirits were circling around him, trying to find a doorway to get into him. In fury, he called for the consuming fire of God. "Father, let your consuming fire appear and burn to ashes this demonic horde around me," as he spoke, arrows of fire to fall down from heaven which instantly cremated the demons. Moments later, as he laid sprawled, spent and weary on the floor in the living room, words of admonition from Pastor Jeremiah began to echo in his mind. "There is an on-going conflict between the sinful nature and the spirit of God within us, a believer is in effect, a walking civil war. As often as ungodly thoughts and desires come up, you must learn to cast down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. Satan will never give up on you or anyone else, you are the one who will determine within yourself not to be his victim." He remembered how weak he had been when the strange urge came upon him, felt he was no longer in control of himself and how the presence of God filled his body and freed him from the ferocious onslaught on his mind when he cried out for help. The words of the psalmist echoed in his mind as he appreciated how living and true they are. This poor man cried out and the Lord delivered him out of all his troubles. Praise welled up in his heart at the quick intervention. A few minutes of delay and he would have been wallowing in his vomit all over again, rubbishing the victory of the past months and bringing applause of victory in the horde of hell. This particularly humbled him, knowing that the strongest and most intelligent man is no match for the skilful and spiritual intelligence of Satan, and no matter how good man's intentions are, he still susceptible to fall at the slightest temptation. But victory is assured to the one who continually runs to the saviour for help. God is our refuge and strength, a present help in the time of need. Paul's words echoed in his mind. “Thanks be unto God who has given us victory through his son Jesus Christ. He mouthed praises under his breath silently as he laid on the bare floor appreciating another victory which the Lord wrought on his behalf. Moments after the spiritual combat, he slept off. The warfare angels that came at his cry for help are still lingering around, ready to launch another attack against any opposing force. Their faces are fierce and focused, their swords firmly held in place by blood red sashes tied around their waistline.

The air is tensed as Lucifer paced about the gathering of demonic princes. They waited for him to unleash the rage in his heart. He appeared agitated and unnerved about something and finally, he began to speak, smoke emitting from his nose and eyes. "How was the operation against the Pastor Jeremiah? Were you able to ensnarl him by the hook of bitterness from the slanderous gossips?" Gaius, the chief prince in charge of the Living Spring Church rose. "No, we couldn't." "What happened?" Lucifer tensed.

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"He saw through the plot, ignored it and gave sang praises. The demons we sent to fire the arrows of bitterness against him returned wounded. We failed woefully," Gaius replied, terrified of another outburst of rage from his master. "He got through this time, he might not the next. Never give up on a target until the very end. Organize a frame up involving a female. Use his disgruntled associates to carry out this task. Let's see how he gets out of that." At this, an eerie evil laughter erupted from all in the gathering until Lucifer held out his right hand and motioned them to stop. "The coming of the son of God is looming, but the saints who should be watchful are in states of stupor. As I go to and fro the earth, I observed that certain group of saints are gathering and praying for a major depopulation of my kingdom. You all know what happens when they come together in one accord to cry unto their God. We experienced great and devastating loss of souls from my Kingdom when that happens. I want you all to go out there on the earth and cause strife and divisions in homes, offices, groups, churches, and nations of the world. I want the tongues of the people to be confused, that they no longer understand one another. Inspire divorces, divide homes, destroy communication lines between parents and their children after which such children will be recruited as agents to bring about great carnages of souls through the vehicle of religious riots." "Provoke religious riots and influence the rioters into mass killings all over the world. Cause unexplainable aircraft crashes and disappearances, epidemic breakout of infectious diseases, ritual slaughters and all manner of crises such that the world has never seen or heard before." "Every time such carnages are provoked, hell enlarges itself to accommodate the souls that arrive in droves. Send demons to sponsor heretical teachings that would take many saints out of the way, cause distractions that would make the saints less focused on God and heaven, but on the things of the world. Make them cold and unresponsive to spiritual activities that should ignite fire into their lives." "Men love pleasure, ease and worldly glamour, pamper them with all these vanities until they lose track of their destination. Remember that the less the saints have time to pray, the more our activities thrive and succeed, so fill up their moments with programs, fun, pleasure activities, and anything that would take their attention away from prayers." "Corrupt the church leaders with treasures of the world and make money their god. Let their affections be removed from heavenly but on ephemeral things that has no eternal value in the world to come. Now arise!, go!, go!, begin!, there is no time to waste, go with sickles and reap into our kingdom the souls of the lost world and unwatchful saints." As his injunction, the demonic princes arose, the flapping of their wings like the noise of raging fires as they took flight into the air. Like a heavy cloud that is about to pour down its content, they appear as a colony of bats on the surface of the earth. As this demonic horde began to execute their master's instructions, only a handful of saints were allowed to see this phenomenon as many were in various stages of blindness and spiritual stupor, sponsored by demons whose activities are allowed to thrive by a bride not ready for the return of her groom.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR Mopelola grew up in Lagos, Nigeria. An avid reader and a deep thinker who has the gift to see gold in the most terrible of life experiences and turn it into a message. She writes about real life experiences and from inspirations as they come. She was trained and had practiced as a stockbroker/Investment adviser for a number of years before venturing into full time writing which she believed she was called to do. Her stories are inspired from her environment, life experiences of others, inspirations, scenes from the past and personal experiences. She writes to inspire healing, hope, restoration and deliverance in the lives of her numerous readers. She reads books on Christian fiction, health and diet, motivation, mystery suspense, historical fiction, self-help and other genres that catch her fancy; but nothing profane. Her writing experience span over 6years. A contributing writer for Solid Digest, a weekly bulletin published in Nigeria, the editor of „The ScribesBulletinâ€&#x;, an online Christian bulletin on Facebook.

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SOUL REAPERS  

Dan and Jeremiah are the leaders of the two churches marked for destruction by the dark kingdom. The unseen powers use sophisticated spiritu...

SOUL REAPERS  

Dan and Jeremiah are the leaders of the two churches marked for destruction by the dark kingdom. The unseen powers use sophisticated spiritu...

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