Scene 1: Gas Station
It all began on a wet chilly Wednesday morning few days ago, as I walk briskly along, (bet you, to nowhere in particular) of course, but very mindful of the dirt littering the roads, the splash of stained water made by rushing automobiles and the rowdy crowd of buyers and sellers who had converged by the side-walks of the popular Ile-Epo market, Alimosho, Lagos.
As it’d happened, I fortuitously ran into a beloved paternal niece of mine, and it was indeed a sweet re-union for both of us after more than three years of communicating over the phone.
While I was been literally mobbed by this crowd of one before me, I still managed to ask curiously:
What are you doing here? Because as at the last time I checked, she was living with her family at Ijanikin, another suburb of the expansive city of Lagos.
And she couldn’t have come all the way from there for anything in this market; after all Ijanikin and its environs has an abundance of markets to choose from.
“It’s a long story, Broda mi.”! She responded with her typically disarming smile and mannerism, while practically dragging me along.
She, however, revealed that she was on a mission to make some purchases for her new baking business and I joyfully accompanied her to the section of the market where the purchases were to be made in no time
On our way there and back, we had many confabulations which cantered on people we both had not seen in a long time and what we both had been up to.
It was then I learnt she now lives close by at Alagbado.
Let me not bore you with details of what actually brought that about, but the substantive fact is she had moved on with her family to a new location.
You know how it is when the storm rages sometimes in our lives.
It triggers drastic changes far beyond our control. The same has been the case here.
And when it’s about the time we're parting, then she interjected enthusiastically:
"Tomorrow is our wonders' night, and I'm using this opportunity to invite you to a night of miraculous encounter with the God of Mount Israel."
"Promise me you'd come", Broda mi, she humbly requested of me.
And I gave her my words that I'd be there come what may.
To the excited invitee, I remember saying confidently, now don't tell me anything about the church or its location; you know I can't miss my way ever even in the dark night.
And she laughed as we round off our discussion which had lasted for over two hours.
As we parted ways eventually, I kept saying to myself that I know the street, and the building like the palms of my arms…
And I returned home.
Scene 2: Mount Israel
Indeed, I did locate the place with relative ease; but instead of the accustomed old structure, I saw standing in the dark night a cathedral of many impressive columns staring down on me.
Though from it looks it’s still in the works.
Awe struck and to be sure I wasn't in the wrong location, I hurriedly put a call through to my invitee for confirmation.
"Hello, I'm now at Orobiyi", I happily announced.
But I'm not sure now if I'm at the right place because I'm seeing a huge structure unlike what used to be here many years back.
And she laughed feeling justified saying: "but I told you earlier you would've a tough time recognizing the place."
How I presently suffered the terrible fate of those who wait till they die to believe heaven and hell are real.
Then I walked in through the gate and through the side-walk paved with interlocked stones between the church and a row of small rooms apparently meant for new and old members up to the intersection between the church and the main residential quarters.
Not so far ahead, I could see on the phone a figure I strongly suspected to be the presiding pastor of the church.
He was a young man who literally grew up in my arms.
We met at the narrow intersection and I presently suffered decision paralysis of not knowing whether to call him just by his first name or with its titular addition.
But before I could decide, he walked closer and lifted his phone's flashlight to my face because it was dark and they have yet to turn on the gen.
Pleasantly surprised at what he was seeing, he literally raised the roof calling out my name.
And he immediately welcomed me into their modest home.
In the background, a big Alsatian dog howls yap yap yap repeatedly from his cage threatening a futile attack.
He courteously ushered me into the living room.
It was a fairly large place and decently fitted with one pairs each of three, two and a single sitter leather chairs, a dining set of glass table and lightweight iron chairs.
A multicoloured circular rug occupies the centre of the floor; and a beautiful centre table sits pretty on top.
Just by the dining set, a portable white freezer hums away. And a black flat screen Samsung TV hang from the wall overlooking the living room.
We sat facing one another; and began to chat rubbing pictures of minds for it’s close to thirteen years on; and how things have dramatically changed for him.
When done, he offered me a loaf of bread, butter and a big glass of chilled sky juice while profusely apologizing that he was entertaining me with breakfast food at supper time.
It, however, makes no difference to me because my food needs has been met.
I was seriously famished and care little what kind of food I'm being served with.
And as the clock strikes the hour, I find my way into the church auditorium where a handful of worshipers are already gathered in anticipation of the program commencement.
There were rows and rows of white plastic chairs on the three step floor of the church and I took a position in the front row close to the choir's stand.
You know what, I love music, I must confess; as such that’s not a difficult decision to put in proper context.
Before long, the auditorium had become a beehive of activities as the program gets underway.
Through the south entrance, faithful both young and old, men and women, in snow white frock trickled-in barefooted in their numbers.
And they offered prayers and supplications and exaltation standing and waving their hands in the air.
Expectedly, the church exploded with music like a mighty poem chanted accompanied by instruments of different kinds.
But the Gangan drum which is the most popular of Yoruba impressive array of drums was the showpiece here for its unrivalled capacity to produce danceable sound and to perfectly mimic the human voice.
Sooner, the exultant worshipers were now rocking deliriously to succession of soul lifting worship and praise songs ably supplied by a combination of guest artistes and the church's standing choristers.
And truly there was fullness of joy before the altar of the most high God.
I immediately sensed I made the right decision by coming. For it’s almost like ages since I last worship all night at any church.
One this night, I prayed so much casting and binding and calling down God’s blessing on my life that my legs strained and my voice became cracked.
Finally, as he made his appearance on the pulpit dressed in close-fitting white frock with a flowing cape to complete there was a surge of renew interest from the congregation.
The atmosphere became doubly revival charged, and the manners in which the congregation warm up to him was so profound in every way.
The musical talent which I’d known with him was more than fruitful on the night.
Above all, he ministered with revelational authority and power that only God can give.
Cutting him repeated side looks as he ministered with divinely inspiring combination of songs, bible passages and prophetic declarations I can see he has climbed ahead of his peers on spiritual matters.
And definitely it was for grace just like he had explained while we were together in-doors.
His work done by next morning, I left feeling extremely happy with what God has made of his life and exceedingly impressed by his commitment level as a vessel of almighty God.
And believe me, I feel very fortunate and blessed for coming to the program. I left the Mount feeling spiritually reinvigorated and rearmed. Selah.