LifeStyle of Friday, 8 January 2021
“Come to Jesus and your life would never be the same,” the pastor screamed, inviting those who wanted to meet Jesus to come in front of the pulpit. James, my boyfriend held my hand and moved forward with me. We had dated for three years and on the verge of getting married. James had adored that man of God from a distance. He watched his preachings on TV and wanted to even attend his church. The only stumbling block was the fact that we didn’t have a branch of his church in the town we lived in.
One evening, James called me on phone with excitement in his voice, “Guess what I just saw on TV…the original godfather himself is coming to town. I can’t wait to meet him. Get ready, we’ll be going together.” So that evening we went for the crusade and when he called out for souls, we walked towards him. He put his oily hands on me and prayed. He moved to James, poured the oil on him, and prayed. James fell down. He started screaming. He started moving around like he’s had a fit attack. I stood there watching and praying that things would be ok in the end. The pastor prayed, threw the oil on him until calm was restored. He picked him up from the ground and said, “Gentleman, what runs after you can run no more. You’re liberated and from now onwards, your life would never be the same, but you have to follow God first.”
After the service, James went to meet the man of God for counseling and he came back a different person. “Your life would never be the same” hadn’t been more meaningful until that day. When we got home, he told me, “The man of God wants me to follow him. He wants me to start a church here and be the head of the church here.” I asked him, “And you accepted to do it?” He screamed excitedly, “Why not? This is an opportunity of a lifetime.”
A trained accountant became a pastor and he started moving around, gathering “lost souls” for Christ. Every Sunday dawn, he would travel to Kumasi and worship with the main church. He called it pastoral training. Some times I went with him and other times, I simply couldn’t keep up. I loved him when he was an accountant and I loved him still when he started having pastoral ambitions. Along the line, he started spelling out some rules for the relationship; “No more sex until we marry. Every Saturday, we’ll fast and pray. You’ll bring your friends to church. Whoever refuses can’t be your friend. You’ll bring your family too. Whoever refuses can’t be a family.”
“James, are you alright? All my friends already have their churches. My family are staunch Catholics and you know. I don’t have a problem following you but not my friends. Not my family.”
He repeated, “If they are truly your friends, they’ll seek the face of the Lord with you. If they’re truly your family, they’ll love to build the church of God with you. You’ll have to bring them.”
Soon he resigned from work to pursue the gospel fully. I protested but he didn’t mind me. He cited Peter and he cited John and how they left everything they were doing to follow Christ. He resigned from work when he had only one church member and that was me. We started the church in a classroom, just me and him. He would preach and I would listen. I’ll pay collection, pay tithe. Do Kofi and Ama. He’ll end it with an appeal for funds. I was the only me, paying for all that. I understood him. He didn’t have a job and has to eat. I started giving him money even when he hasn’t asked for it.
Our marriage plan was relegated. Anytime I brought it up, he’ll say something like, “God told me to wait for his appointed time. So wait with me.” When my family didn’t attend his church after visiting them himself to invite them, he started calling them names. “Your mom is spiritually possessed. That’s why she can’t go on well in life.” Your dad should have been a wealthy man with so many properties in his hands but I see the devil taking everything away from him. He has to come for deliverance.” He said all he could but my family stayed unconcerned.
He turned to my friends. They all ignored him so he started driving them away from me. He didn’t allow me to attend the wedding of Maa Efia. When Adoley gave birth, he said the baby was a spiritual baby and God wouldn’t be pleased if I go there. When he was with me, he’ll take my phone, go through all the messages, and started asking questions; “Why was this guy sending you too many laughing emojis? I suspect the two of you.” Why is this one sending you hearts? He’d been sent by the devil.” On one occasion, after he had left, I went through my phone and he had deleted all the contacts and messages from my phone. I was so angry I went straight to his house; “James, how could you do that? You’ve deleted professional contacts and leads I’ve been following up on. How do I get them back?”
He said calmly, “The Lord will provide the necessary ones. I had to delete them so you can have a new beginning.”
I screamed at him, “James there’s something wrong with your head. Ever since you started this church that’s going nowhere, you’ve changed drastically. Talking like someone who sleeps and wakes up with Jesus. Are you getting crazy?” Out of nowhere, he threw his hand and it landed on my left eye. He screamed, “You devil, get away from me.” With a swollen face and bloodshot eyes, I left his house and vowed never to return to him again. “It’s over James. That’s all I can take.”
The next day he came over to beg me. His knees on the ground, asking for forgiveness and pleading with me not to leave him. “I didn’t mean to slap you. It was not you the moment you started talking to me like that. You were possessed by the devil and I needed to slap it away from you.” For close to five minutes I was silent. In my silence, I said, “This is not James and I don’t think when that pastor said our lives wouldn’t be the same this is what he meant. What happened to my sweet James? That guy who once worshipped the grounds I walked. What happened to him?”
I said no to him but three days later, I crawled back into his arms telling him; “I won’t allow the devil to separate us. We are worth more than this.” That day, he poured oil on me and prayed in several tongues. He said, “We are liberated. Don’t give the devil a chance.”
I stuck around him for a long time that I started talking like him. I believed in his pastoral dreams and was ready to work with him. He abused me. I forgave him. At some point, I thought I was the problem. I had given the devil the chance to use me to destroy James. I fasted often. I prayed often. I pulled away from friends and had very little interaction with my family. He became all I had. When he realized he owned me completely, he started treating me like a doormat. He spent my money. He was keeping my ATM card. He said it was a direction from God. God will give me more money if he was in charge of my bank account. At some point, I had to beg him to give me some of my own money.
We had been building a church for close to two years and all we had were six members. New members came in and went without coming back. I started feeling depressed and lonely. I was working but had no money to show for it. The awakening came one dawn.
I was asleep when I heard my phone calling. I couldn’t wake up early enough to pick it. When I finally grabbed my phone, I saw eighteen missed calls. All from James. “Is anything wrong with this guy?” Before I could bring myself to call back, I heard a knock on my door. The voice was James. I opened the door and he rushed in. “Where is the guy you’re sleeping with? Where is he?” He screamed. I was confused. He kept looking everywhere in the room for that mysterious guy. I asked, “James, are you alright?” Slap, bam!
“Where’s the guy? Where is he hiding? I didn’t say a word. He spoke calmly, “God is not a liar. He revealed to me that you’re sleeping with another man. I started calling your number and you didn’t pick. You know what you were doing. Where’s the man. Where is he hiding?” I uttered no word. He pushed me to the bed, opened my legs, and started looking for signs of sex. I was like a lamb. He screamed, “Shame on you. You’ve shaved. Such a whore, going around sleeping with people just because I said no more sex until marriage.”
Again, I uttered no word. He sat in the chair staring hard and deep at me. I stared back. I asked him, “Can I sleep now?” He asked again, “Where’s the man? Who is he?” I asked him again, “Can I sleep now?” He was calm. Remorseful. Like he always does after doing something stupid. He started apologizing. “Maybe I didn’t interpret the revelation from God the right way. I’m sorry if I hurt you.” I fell onto the bed, pulled cloth on me, and started weeping until the morning came. He was still sitting in the chair, sleeping.
I went to work and he went home. At work, I sent him a message and told him it was over. “This is the last time you’re going to hear from me. If you try anything stupid, I’ll get you arrested.” That day, I didn’t go back home. I knew he’ll be sitting there waiting for me. The next day, I rushed home, picked what I could, and went to live with my parents. I put my phone off. A week later, I was sitting with my dad when we saw him coming. My dad screamed at him, “If you dare get closer to where I am, I will murder you and I mean it.” He stood there apologizing to me. He knelt down, asking for forgiveness. I went inside and came no more.
We reported the case at DOVVSU. He was called to sign a bond. A bond not to get closer to me no matter what. And since that day, I’ve never heard or seen him again. It’s hard to understand why people you love can treat you with all the malice in this world. It’s hard. Why and how he became that way after meeting the man of God, I can’t simply understand but it’s all good.