Asterisked

Idomo surveyed the list of humans he was assigned to destroy with a malevolent gleam in his eyes. It was a long list, six thousand, six hundred and sixty-six beings long. He had all kinds of deliciously wicked things planned for them: accidents, chronic sicknesses, retrenchment, heartbreak, disappointments, and massive crop failures; even a suicide or two. He enjoyed bringing doom on the human race, but nothing gave him as much pleasure as getting a saint to stumble. And no saint on his list had been harder to tackle that the one listed as number seven – Edima Usoro.

He snarled as he asterisked her name and his ugly face turned grotesque.
How he hated that woman. Sometimes the sheer force of his loathing would shrivel his toe-claws and make his insides froth with frustration. It was useless; he could do little to harm her. Her hedge of protection was impenetrable; there were no Bitterness holes or Hatred gutters to climb in through. Her company of angels were vigilant and alert; each morning she galvanized them with her prayers and confessions. He had been monitoring her for nineteen years and so far nothing he tried had worked. He had to discover a way to trip her before the grand assembly at the Bermuda Pyramid on Friday the 13th. If he didn’t, he would be demoted, made a mere messenger demon and sent to the Sahara desert, a homeless placeless nothingness. He cringed at the thought.

“No” he muttered under his breath.

With a sweep of his arm he summoned a translucent screen and typed in her name and number. Instantly, her entire dossier appeared. He lowered himself to sit on one of the giant branches of the Udara tree he was perched on and studied the dossier with a frown.

Edima Usoro was a thirty four year old spinster who taught Literature in Graceland Secondary school, Abak, Akwa Ibom State. She had lost both parents in an auto crash when she was nine and spent most of her teen years in domestic servitude. At fourteen she caught tuberculosis and was scheduled for termination in three days. A travelling evangelist sensed the hit and spent a week prayerfully looking for her. He found her huddled on a mat coughing up globules of blood. He had shared the good news with her and healed her of the disease. Things were never the same after that. He had estimated that she would be excited for a month or two before returning to lap up her vomit as many did. He was wrong. Nineteen years later she was still burning with love for The Maker and his people… Unforgivable.

Like every of these earthen treasure carriers, she had her struggles, weaknesses and mistakes. The problem was she never built a tent there. She was prompt to repent when she did or said anything incriminatory. She bore no grudges and even dared to forgive people in advance. Even when he got those hard to come by permits to throw a rough spot her way it did nothing. She merely prayed more, gave more and sang praises while she was at it.

He HATED this girl!

She made being a demon hard, hapless, harrowing work.

He had to find a way, he needed a break through. Time was running out faster than a flickering candle. He needed to devise a plan that would work. These were the most desperate of times and they called for the most devilish measures. There was just one thing he could think of. The one thing she still felt shame, guilt, confusion and fear about. The thing she had not soaked in prayers or saturated in daily confessions. The thing she scarcely understood, yet garbled with daily: her sexuality.

Technically she was a virgin but he knew she fantasized about sexual pleasure. She wanted a man. Not just any man though, but one that was strong, honest, intelligent, well to do, sexy and fun to be with. A godly man that would slay her dragons, father her children and treat her like a queen. Someone that would change diapers, take her to see the Obudu Cattle Ranch, give her foot rubs when she got home from the market , teach her a few things about love making and romance. She wanted a cultured man from around those parts who knew his way in the world but wasn’t trapped in it. She wanted a lover, brother, father and friend.

Idomo toggled over to her wants and a faint smile lit up his face. There was a chance after all. She wasn’t an angel, she was a woman. She had a crazy wish list but at least she wanted something. All he had to do was fan that desire and provide a suitable object for its expression. Luciferiously, Biology and Physiology were on his side, they had awakened parts of her she hadn’t even known existed. Her nesting instincts, her sexual impulses, and her desire to feel loved…. all of this was creating the perfect environment for his plan. All he had to do was find the man, one that was a good imitation of her outrageously impossible imagined man. He needed a man good enough to arouse her attention, but bad enough to do his bidding. The trouble was, there were few men like that in the entire South-south region. Most of such men were either working themselves to the bone in the major cities like Warri Uyo and Port Harcourt too busy to take up the demands of courtship, or serving un-noticed in some out of the way locations. They were caught up in the daily grind, slaving for the elusive naira, catering for aged parents, loving the wrong women, ending up jaded, bitter, broken….

Luckily, he had not left his fate to demographics. He had expected this sort of challenge with Edima and prepared accordingly. He knew just the man for the job: Marcus Ekanem Ekpe.

Marcus Ekpe was a forty year old Electrical engineer with a 200 mega watt smile and a natural way with words. The third born and only son in a family of five children he knew more about women than many knew about themselves. He worked for Vodacotel an international Telecommunications company with major operations in the Niger Delta as a Site Engineer. He was 5 ft 10 inches, coconut-shell brown, well built, good-looking in an under stated way and great company. He was a ladies’ man, serial monogamist and one time church boy. He loved the thrill of conquering women that played hard to get. He knew the routine and relished it. Marcus was a hunter who loved every part of the chase. His friends called him the Bullet, he scarcely missed his mark. They even liked to joke that an easy girl was like an antelope that willingly collapsed at a hunters feet; probably old and riddled with incurable disease.

Idomo clapped and his work screen vanished. He knew what had to be done. He had to get Marcus sent to set up the new Vodacotel Telecommunications mast at Abak. It had to be at the start of the long holidays around July 27th. Edima had to be in the middle of her cycle when her hormones were most volatile. Marcus had to have enough cash to fund his seductions so his arrears and upfront allowances had to be paid in full by August 1st. Eno his current babe had to be out of sight and out of touch, aha! NYSC posting to Birrin Kebbi would be just the thing.

One thing still bothered him though.

What if The Maker revealed his plans to her beforehand? How in creation was he going to stop that?

*

Republished with permission

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He’s Got You

When the world is falling on your head,

your belly is empty and your account red,

when nothing makes sense,

when friend is foe,
and come means go,

when every hour brings another horror,

when white is right and black is a bullet,

when kids are chained and thieves are free,

when vanity is lauded and truth defrauded
Filth applauded,

When your strength is gone,
your body torn,

your hopes and dreams
in slow burn,

When what you want
doesn’t want you,
and
who you love won’t love you,

when you have no money
and places to go,

When life is all this and more,
Close your eyes,
take a deep breath
and know,

He is with you,

He has gone ahead of you,

He will keep and protect you,

today
tomorrow
and evermore

Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.

Pink Or Blue?

When Oma brushed past him without a word, Joshua knew something was wrong. He wanted to hurry after her and ask her what the matter was but his legs felt stiff, so he went to fridge and poured himself some pineapple juice instead.

Sipping from his glass he tried to imagine what could have upset her. He had given her the month’s upkeep. He had serviced her car. He had kissed her on his way out that morning. He was blameless.

So with that, he rose to find his wife and the reason for her annoyance.

Oma was curled up in bed covered with a duvet. The room was quiet but he could see her shoulders rise and fall and he could hear her sniffle. He rushed to her side.

“Oma, are you alright? What is wrong?”

“Leave me alone. Joshua. Leave me alone!”

“You know I’ll never do that, honey. Tell me. What is wrong?”

“Everything. Josh. Everything is wrong. You told me this baby was going to be a boy didn’t you? You refused to try any family balancing options, laughed at all the Chinese calendars and said you knew. Well, I am just back from the hospital and the radiologist says it is a girl. Well done Mr Seer.”

A pool of ice settled in his belly. It couldn’t be. The baby was a boy. His spirit told him so, God told him so. He could still remember the exact words whispered in his spirit.

“You shall have a son and his name will be Prince. He shall eat the good of the land and he shall be a blessing to his family, his country and his generation.”

Now this?

Oma’s sobs grew louder and more distraught, he gathered her into his arms and wiped away the snot and the tears. “It is okay babe. Don’t cry. A son will come.”

“When? Honey? When? Kayla is 6, Marla is 5. I am turning 35 next month. When will I have time to get pregnant again? And how are we supposed to care for another mouth? We wanted 3 children remember? I am tired honey. I prayed, I believed. Why?”

Joshua had never been a talking man, now words eluded him altogether. He adored his daughters, and even now that they were with his parents for the weekend he felt incomplete. He knew Oma had always wanted sons. And though he didn’t share her obsession, he had prayed and God had promised him his next child would be a boy. But now, he wasn’t so sure.

He wasn’t sure at all.

So instead of answering Oma’s questions, he held her and rocked her in his arms till sleep came.

* * *

The next few months were blur. his job as a company secretary had him traveling around the country. Thankfully he had saved his annual leave for July when the baby was due. Despite his schedule he couldn’t help noticing Oma had changed. She was no longer excited about the baby. She stopped buying baby and pregnancy magazines. She walked off when cute baby boys came on screen.

During their daily devotions her prayers were brief, like she was just ticking a register. He hardly saw her study. Nowadays she spent more time sleeping or fiddling with her phone.

In his times of prayer, he reminded God of the words he heard and listened with his whole being for a response. All he ever heard was, “Peace My Son, Fear Not.”

Once while looking for a nail cutter he stumbled on a half-empty baby bag and a list of baby items beside the dresser. “Honey, what is this why haven’t you bought any baby clothes?” Joshua asked.

“There is no need. The baby ll wear what we have.” Oma replied with a hard edge in her voice.

Ignoring her, he took the list and went to get the items himself.

“Pink or blue?” The sales-girl asked holding up two sleep-suit sets. “Or would you prefer green?”

Joshua thought for a while. Dressing a girl in blue would be so drab and might make the child feel unwanted. Every girl deserved pink. Green was doubt. Unbelief in action.

“I’ll have blue. Three sets.”
***

A week later, Oma’s water broke as she rose from bed. Doctors were on strike so they couldn’t go to the Teaching Hospital where she had registered. A couple of phone calls later they were directed to Shava Specialist Hospital. The lead midwife there spoke to them and told them to hurry, third deliveries were often much faster than previous ones.

As they got closer to the hospital excitement melded with anxiety inside him. This was the first time he was witnessing Oma in labour. Marla was born when he was in Malaysia for a course, Kayla while he was in London for a company meeting. Oma was panting and he had a feeling she felt more pain than she was showing. He found parking space and the orderlies came and took Oma in a wheelchair.

They had discussed it and she had told him she didn’t want him in the room. He was happy to agree. Some of his friends had followed their wives in, the stories weren’t pretty.

So he walked the grounds instead, praying for a safe delivery for Oma and their baby.

The midwife was right, Oma delivered after five hours. Fours hours faster than when she had Marta, six hours faster than when she Kayla.

Joshua held his baby and tears flowed down his face. The baby was so perfect. Pink, healthy, whole, nothing missing. The radiologist was wrong.
He was a boy.

Laughing through his tears, Joshua bowed his head, “Thank you Father. Your Word is final authority. Thank you Lord. In Jesus name.”

“Amen”, Oma intoned as he gathered her into his arms and they held each other, in silent awe of God’s goodness and love.

Dear One

Dear one,
I never planned to be away this long. Given my way I would write for you daily, or even many times a day. But Life happened. And somehow I found  that it was easier to be absent than to give you any less than my best or my attempt at my best.

Sometimes I would think about a post and see the sequence but feel no zeal to put a finger on the keypad. At others I would hear the gremlins whispering, “Who are you kidding? Do you call that writing?” But everyday I wrote for you in my mind. Sometimes I would flip the page of the daily agenda sheet while listening to some circuitous lecture,  and scribble a line like…

” No matter how she craned or cowered, she couldn’t escape the smell of his sweat or the whiff of stale coffee that assaulted her with each breath.”

And sometimes at dinner something silly would happen and I would tell you all about it in my mind. stories about a gentle giant called One-Men, an asp like lady called Vera, James, a rascally vet with a limp and a power-thirsty rogue called John.

But who knows? I found zeal to write this, tonight, maybe more will follow. Maybe I will find words to share with you what are some of the best experiences of my life. And maybe I will find the magic formula for mixing two passions without killing one and dousing the other. For that we must wait and see.

Tonight, I just want you to know that you mean the world to me and I am glad you read my work. I want to thank you for following my blog, for ignoring the cobwebs, for believing against unbelief. I want to thank you for putting me on your list of favourite writers, sending me DMs, mentions, prayers, the police. Thank you.

Here is to hope and friendship.
Here is to you and all the bsreautiful things you wish yourself.
I love you, God bless you.
Yours Always,
Nta

21+ Reasons To Join Your Church Workforce.

I have been meaning to write this for months now. Ever since a blogpost mentioned how someone was advised to attend a church but not to join the church force. Ever since I saw the same sentiment expressed and re-affirmed by members of Naija Twitterverse. Ever since I shook my head, amazed at how easy it was to vilify such a excellent privilege as serving in the church.

So, to give a bit of balance, share my personal testimony and contend for the faith, I present 21+ Reasons To Join Your Church’s Work Force.

1. It is scripture-based.

The bible says “you shall serve the Lord your God” Ex 23:25 and “Obedience is better than sacrifice”. Joining your local church workforce is a guaranteed way to serve God. It is also obedience. And remember, Isaiah 1:30 says ” the willing and obedient will eat the good of the land.”

2. It is your family business.

If you are saved, you are a child of God, a member of God’s household. As a responsible child, your desire should be to see God’s Kingdom flourish. One of the ways to that is give your time and talents by serving in a department of your local church.

3. It pleases God.

God is pleased when we love, share and give. He is delighted when more people get to know and experience His goodness. Your service in the choir, protocol, ushering etc when done cheerfully and whole-heartedly gives God pleasure.

4. It gets the great commission fulfilled.

Jesus asked us to share the gospel of the Kingdom to every living creature. Sharing the gospel takes time, talent, skill, planning and lots of money. Giving your services at your local church facilitates the spread of the gospel.

5. It develops your gifts and talents.

Whitney Houston, Snoop Dogg (Lion?) and Kirk Franklin are just a few well known examples of people whose musical talent was spotted and honed in church.

What ever your gifts are, they could always do with some kaizen. And a church is one of the best places to get a platform to serve and improve.

6. It is a great way to meet people and make friends.

In Eddie Murphy’s Classic Film ‘Coming To America’ the young prince is given some wife spotting advice. ” Look for a good girl in church or a library.”

The advice is still true. Like beckons to like. So if you are wondering where to meet people that can add value to your life, one of your best bets is in church. ( Caveat: Beware of Judas and Jezebel )

7. If you ever need people, you can count on your department.

Emergencies happen. Life happens. Suddenly you need people, maybe for a blood transfusion, or a loan or a party. Don’t try to reap where you didn’t sow. If you were committed in a department, the department ll be committed to you too.

8. If you ever need help, you’ll get it through your department too.

Same as above but includes people to help with cooking, moving, etc

9. It builds your Social Capital.

One of the new twenty first century wealth indicators is Social Capital. Star Power. Follower Count. Platforms. Different names for the same thing. Joining your church workforce boosts your Social Capital. Go figure. 🙂

10. It may be a requirement for certain employment, housing or even wedding procedures.

Some Landlords, Awards, Marriage Committees and Employers have a column for Church Commitment in their Introduction forms. Hmmm.

11. It provides a safe space to grow and learn.

Sometimes our families can be too cuddly and the world can be to harsh. The church offers a safe space for growth, personal development and improvement.

12. Service provides an avenue for you to give back.

Life is a cycle of in and out, giving and receiving, your giving is the prompt for more receiving. Serving in a local church creates and opportunity for your to pass on the things you have learnt and to give back to society.

13. We are better together.

You might have great plans to touch lives or build a hospital but you might be handicapped by finances and lack of expertise. Joining a the workforce allows us to synergise and leverage on the contributions and strengths of your group to do more, be more.

14. It builds Inter-personal skill, communication skills and Personal management skills.

Time, money, equipment and people, four things you’ll need to manage well to excel. Serving in church can give you invaluable hands on experience on how to handle all four.

I have seen people come to our church office clueless but leave after 4-5 years to build successful businesses or take up jobs in multinational companies.

15. You have a portion of the blessing your church receives for the crusades, missions, souls won etc.

16. You have easier access to the Church Leaders in case you need their endorsement.

17. You enjoy extra prayer cover.

18. You have more opportunities to be a blessing.

19. You have more opportunities to receive blessing.

20. You key into the 1 Sam 2:30 Promise: Them that honour me, I will honour.

21. You have a useful bargaining chip.

Like Hezekiah, you can remind God of faithfulness, and like him, you can pray for things to change in your favour.

Time and space constrains me to speak of all the rewards of service. They include

22. Prosperity Job 36:11

23. Good health Ex 23:25

24. Long Life 2Kings 20

25. Honour John12:26

26. Protection Ps 91:14-15

And in the life to come:

27. Crowns and A Throne Rev 3 and 4

28. Glory Mal 3:17-18

29. Immortality 1 Cor 15:52-58

30. A Prepared Inheritance Matt 25:34

31. Shinning as a star forever. Dan 12:3

Note that in experiencing the benefits, rewards and blessings of service, terms and conditions apply.

For the Terms And Conditions of Acceptable Service, keep a date next week.

How has serving in a local assembly been a blessing you? Please share with us! 🙂

Will He Find You At Your Place Of Assignment?

This week the #La130 Family is studying Luke. I have read the book countless times so I wanted to skim and skip; the Teacher prompted me not to, so I decided to read casually, then something hit me.

In Luke 1, we are told of the events that led to the birth of John the Baptist. The fairly well known story of Elizabeth, Zechariah and Angel Gabriel. Everything is just the way I remembered it, but verse 8 and 11 jumped out and hit me. The New Living Translation says and I quote.

“8. One day Zechariah was serving God in the Temple, for his order was on duty that week. ”

“11. Zechariah was in the sanctuary when an angel of the Lord appeared,standing to the right of the incense altar.”

What hit me was this: God met Zechariah at work. Not being a busybody, not sitting at home cursing government, not roaming to and fro looking for handouts. God met him serving, in the place of his calling. In a place far from the public eye and changed his story.

Then the Teacher reminded me that indeed that’s how God has always worked.

He called Moses when he was at work tending his father-in-law’s sheep.

He called Elisha while he was ploughing with his twelve oxen.

He called Gideon while he was threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress.

He called David while he was out working in the field.

He called the disciples while they were fishing, collecting tax, treating patients.

He called Saul when he was busy persecuting Christians.

He knows where you are. He is thinking about you and He cares for you.

The question is: Will he find you there? Serving faithfully? Or will he find you complaining like an unprofitable servant? Selling your birthright for a plate of beans? Filled with envy as Cain was for Abel? Roaming to and fro the whole earth? God forbid.

Today, as you go about your business, remember who you are and whose you are. Remember that God is not limited to save by many or by few, at home or abroad, in the city or in the country. And live like it.

Do your work unto the Lord and not unto man, as men-pleasers. And God from whom promotion comes will lift, increase and promote you, In Jesus Name. Amen.

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Thank you for reading. Please leave a comment.

Also consider. Showing us some love by:

1.following the blog

2. Voting for our story: ‘Dressed Like A Prince’ at http://www.etisalatprize.com/dressed-like-a-prince

3. Liking our ICCOM Entry: A Show Fit For A King here: https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=315611701912106&id=125408444265767&refid=17

Thank you. May God Bless you more and more. 🙂

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About #La130

#La130 is a program by Ike Amadi ( http://www.twitter.com/@ikeamadi) designed to help people read and apply the New Testament. This is achieved by reading two chapters of the Bible everyday. To join #La130 visit http://www.ikeamadi.com or tweet at his Twitter handle saying : I am now a part of the #LaFamily.

Don’t Be Bioduned

These are perilous times. The Twitter toppling story of Ese Walters is a raw reminder. She claims she was manipulated by her then pastor into a torrid affair. In London.

The response to the allegations was torrential. Amidst the ensuing hullabaloo, certain questions arose.

What is a christian girl or guy to do? Should you stay away from church altogether? Should you treat all pastors like conmen? Should you join the Pastor-phobia and pull down men of God?

I think not.

I think Pastors are part of God’s plan for the church.

Here I aim to share steps that have helped me, over the past 22 years in the faith, to have a good witness about pastors. Feel free to share your own tips. 🙂 We learn everyday.

1. Realise that Jesus is your Saviour.

Pastors will come and go but if you have accepted Jesus, He is Forever.
Don’t trade that Lordship for anything.
Compare any pastor to the standard of Jesus. Of course, as humans, we err, but the Pastor should be pressing towards that mark.

Not pulling away from it. And claiming immunity.

The Apostle Paul said : Imitate me as I imitate Christ.

Any Pastor that says he is exempt, is a fraud.

Believe in the Lord, then his prophets.

The Lord first, Author and Finisher.

2. Read your Bible.

Some people feel that the name-all-blame-all style Ese Walter adopted was necessary to ‘ warn other girls’.

I disagree.

The Word of God has been given for–showing us truth,exposing our rebellion,correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way.

If you don’t want to be the next victim of abuse, you have to know what the Bible says.

You have to know that there are people that preach the gospel for their belly.

You have to know that hundreds of years ago, Hophni and Phineas, Eli’ sons, abused their religious office. And slept with a lot of women in the process. Some ‘Pastors’ are wolves dressed like sheep.

You have to realise that there are some that call Him ” Lord, Lord” but have no part in Christ.

And you must not allow any of that to bother you.

Be as wise as serpents but as harmless as doves.

3. Ask God For A Good Pastor.

The surge of fake pastors just tells me there are real ones. And that the real pastors are very special . Have you ever seen a fake N3000 bill? Of course not. There aren’t any, because there aren’t any real N3000 bills.

The fake tell you the real exists.

Ask God to give you a pastor. He promised to give you ‘Pastors from His heart that will lead you into knowledge and truth.’

Believe that and ask for it in faith.

4. Test All Things.

You have seen the man or woman that will teach you and help you grow.

Congratulations.

Now, you have to test the person and only submit if you are sure. Testing and trusting are gradual processes.
You have to give yourself time and only act on what the Word of God shows you.

Don’t rush into personal contact.

Don’t get familiar.

Don’t commit any sin. Remember you are only to obey parents(or any leader) in the Lord. If it is wrong don’t play along.

Watch the way they treat people. Off-pulpit; especially their spouse and children. Watch how they treat people that aren’t very rich and important.

Listen to the promises they make and watch to see if they keep them.

Check if he practices what he preaches

He that is faithful with little will be faithful with much. And vice versa.

Test before you trust.

5. Get Referrals.

Of you are in a strange town and you need a church home, ask. It is better to ask about a pastor/church BEFORE you get hurt.

A good pastor will have a good witness.

Ask on Twitter/Other social media.
Listen. Learn where you are safe and where you might soon be sorry.

6. Love Your Pastor.

Agape love, don’t do unto them as you would want done unto you.

Pray for them. If anything about them bothers you (everyone is growing), pray.

Pray against sexual temptation.

Pray for provision,prosperity and protection.

Don’t tempt your pastor, or let them tempt you.

Don’t wear them out with inconsiderate requests.

Give to your pastor. The Bible says, pay those who teach you the word.

You may not have a private jet, but a N200 and a thank you note go a long way.

I know, because I used to pastor.

But that’s a story for another day.

Shalom.

New Words

Bioduned: Abused/ manipulated by an authority figure under the guise of Religion.

Esewaltered: Exposed for committing adultery abroad.