Sunday finally came.
It had been a week of cleaning up and repainting the church.
Jon’s escape from death had drawn more people to the church, and when Sunday finally rolled in, he was surprised to see that the attendance was more than half the capacity of the auditorium.
These were people who were starved for the word of God, people who lived in hardship and were ready for a message of hope and peace. Pastor Bonifius Kwabla Atoklu had bought a black suit and white shirt from a local store. Actually, he had ordered it from the shop owner who had gone to the city to purchase it for him, the price borne by Jon Fii.
He looked resplendent as he sat on the raised platform at the head of the congregation. He had tears in his eyes as he watched the young, handsome, pastor preaching.
Jon’s voice was gentle and beautiful, his words conversational as he moved amongst the people, speaking directly to others whilst addressing them all. His message, titled Back To Our Lord, was so touching and power-filled that Kwabla saw many of the people weeping silently as they faced the consequences of their past sinful lives.
And none wept more profoundly than Bobo the Killer, who was in the front row and followed Jon’s preaching closely.
And then Jon Fii handed the microphone to Kwabla to preach on Being Born again. Afterwards, he led the prayers, and when he made an altar call almost all the people rushed forward, including Bobo and a young woman whose face, arms and visible parts of her legs were covered with scars.
She followed the service with total passion, and Jon noticed that she shed genuine tears from a troubled spirit, and Jon kept looking at her. And when the altar call was made for new converts to give their lives to Christ and get converted, Jon watched the woman coming towards the altar with the crowd, and then she stopped suddenly and spoke to Bobo.
Bobo consulted his wristwatch and then spoke to the woman.
Obviously, she had asked for the time.
And when Bobo told her the time, a look of sheer dismay crossed her scarred face. Jon scowled deeply. He had never seen such a look of fear, terror, dismay, hopelessness, and sheer helplessness rolled into one.
The woman instantly turned around and ran from the church as if the devil was after her. Jon was stunned! That woman had just missed a call to salvation! What if she fell down dead the moment she left the church? She would have died in her transgressions!
What had made her so terrified that she forgot everything, and forsake salvation for?
Jon bid his time.
After the altar call, they took the new converts through the programme, and told them they would be baptized on Friday, a day most of them would not go to the farm or lake to fish because it was a day of the gods, instituted by Sophia.
Jon had made food available for the church members.
He had contracted some two restaurants to provide jollof rice and plain rice with beef sauce for the people, so after church they all retired to the canopies erected in the courtyard to have lunch.
They were such a happy, bustling, singing, and laughing bunch that people that were passing by looked at them with wonder. Jon and Kwabla invited the passers-by, and many of them joined in the feast, and promised to be in church.
Jon eventually made his way to Bobo’s side.
The giant’s face was animated with happiness as he looked at Jon. He was eating jollof with his huge hand, and had stuffed his mouth with food.
“Shish pushininny ish shrilly guushh!” he said with a broad smile.
“I can’t understand you,” he said. “Swallow the food in your mouth first.”
Bobo nodded, swallowed slowly, and then drank water.
“I was saying this Christianity is really good,” he said with a smile. “I’m so excited. I can’t wait to get baptized!”
“Yeah, it is great to be in the Lord as a new convent,” he said kindly. “Especially for someone as crazy as you.”
“Ohhhhhhh!” Bobo said with an embarrassed smile. “I’m sorry, Pastor. Please don’t remind me of that thing again! Are you not the one who just said when we believe and become Christians, God forgives and forgets all our sins?”
“Yes, I said that,” Jon said calmly.
“Ah, then why do you still want to remind me of the sinful things I did in the church, pastor?”
“Do I look like God to you?” Jon asked.
Bobo chuckled, choked, and took a sip of water.
“You’re not God, no,” he said levelly. “But you’re God’s servant, no?”
“Yeah, I am.”
“So, if the master Himself has forgotten, why does the servant keep on and on about me shafting… about what I did in the church, huh? Are you more than the master, pastor?”
Jon chuckled suddenly and nodded.
“Bobo, I like your faith,” he said gently. “After your baptism, you’ll become the first officer I appoint. You’ll be a deacon!”
“Swine!” Bobo cried excitedly; his whole face very happy. “Abodam! Yes, yes, yes!”
“And I think he’s going to make a fine officer,” Pastor Atoklu said as he joined them. “Kakalika!”
As Bobo laughed and continued eating, Jon broached the subject that had been disturbing him for a long time now.
“Bobo, there was this woman in the church today. She had scars on her face and parts of the body. During the altar call, she asked you for the time, and when you told her, she fled from the church. What’s her story?”
The happiness disappeared from the giant’s face immediately, and he carefully put his plate down on the bench he was sitting on.
“Ahhh, pastor, hmmm,” he said in a heavy voice. “She’s Aba Dade. She used to be beautiful, very beautiful. But, she agreed to be Kwame Essuman’s girlfriend. He’s the son of the Nifahene, a sub chief of Obosomfie! And he’s been beating her badly, pastor! She had to be home at a specific time, but she delayed in the church, you see. That was why she had to ran home, but I’m sure he’s going to beat her mercilessly! Most of the time, she ends up in the hospital.”
Jon looked at Bobo with horror.
“A man that beats his wife so badly?”
“Wife?” Bobo said and shook his head. “She’s just his girlfriend! He has not performed any marriage rites. He says she’s his property and so he would not marry her. His father is the Nifahene, like I said, and so Aba’s parents cannot force him to pay the bride price.”
“Goodness me!” Jon whispered with horror.
He listened to Pastor Atoklu and Bobo telling him more stomach-churning atrocities that Kwame Essuman had put Aba through, and he decided to find a way to end it.
He did not have to wait for a long time, as it turned out.
Jon was with Pastor Atoklu inside the office writing their first report on their first Sunday, when there was a commotion outside, and suddenly a breathless, gasping, and sweating Bobo rushed in.
Jon got to his feet immediately with concern.
“Bobo, what’s wrong?” he asked.
The huge man had to take several gulps of air before he could speak.
“Aba Dade!” Bobo gasped at last. “Rushed to the clinic! Kwame Essuman beat her so badly!”
Pastor Atoklu saw the cold look that entered Jon Fii’s eyes as he wordlessly picked up his coat and put it on.
“Take me to the clinic, Bobo,” he said simply.
The three of them went to the clinic.
Jon could barely look at the poor woman!
The man had really messed her up! Her face was swollen, one of her eyes so puffed up that the eye appeared to be bulging out. Her jaw was almost broken. One of her arms was broken, and she had a horrible sprain in her hip.
Crying beside her hospital bed were her parents, who informed them that Kwame beat up Aba mercilessly because she had not come home on time to sit beside him as he ate, and he had had to get up to fetch his own water when food choked him.
“The girl that prepared the food, and laid the table for him before coming to church, was not there to fetch water for him to drink, and so he beat her this severely?” Jon asked softly.
Maame Atonsu, Aba’s mother, nodded profusely.
Jon was breathing hard when he headed for the door.
“Jon!” Kwabla cried in alarm as he chased after the furious pastor. “Jon! Don’t do any of your machine gun things, my brother! That boy is the Nifahene’s son! The church is situated on Nifahene’s area of jurisdiction! Stop, Jon, please!”
Jon barely heard him. He spoke to Bobo.
“Do you know where I can find Kwame Essuman?” he asked tightly. “Do you know his house?”
“Erm, yes, but he would not be home at this time,” Bobo said quickly. “He’ll be at the palm wine bar drinking and playing draughts.”
“Take me there, please.”
“Yes, pastor,” Bobo said excitedly and led the way.
“Jon!” Kwabla cried as he tried to hold the young man’s arm. “A pastor does not give reign to his anger, my son! You’re supposed to be different, to use love and compassion! What are you going to do now?”
“My dear Pastor Kwabla,” Jon said calmly. “I’m not giving vent to my anger, no, far from that. I’m just going to have a word with Kwame Essuman, that’s all.”
The bar was packed with a lot of screaming, shouting men and women who were drinking palm wine and akpeteshie with fried, pepper-laced pork chips.
Many were also playing draughts.
Bobo pointed to a tall, muscular, bearded man sitting on a bench with a calabash of palm wine in his hand. The man was insulting one of the men seated across from him, and the man was silent.
“That’s Kwame Essuman,” Bobo said, his voice worried. “Be careful what you say to him, pastor. He’s a very strong and very violent man!”
The bar was hushed up as Jon Fii strode towards the tall, muscular man. They all looked at the new pastor as he walked across the floor of the bar. Kwame Essuman watched him coming, and there was a contemptuous look on his face as he suddenly put his calabash down and stood up belligerently.
He was a head taller than Jon, and looked really mean and fierce.
Jon stopped within touching distance.
“Are you Kwame Essuman?” he asked gently.
“Yes,” the man said wrathfully. “And if you want to know if I beat up Aba and landed her in clinic, yes, I did it. She’s a fucking slut! That bitch went to whore in your church, pastor, and left me to eat alone and fetch my own water. So, you better turn around and walk out of this bar before I pull out your intestines through your anus!”
There was a great roar of laughter from the crowd, and a lot of hooting.
Jon smiled and beckoned with his hand.
“Please, can I ask you something?” he asked with humility. “I don’t want anybody to hear.”
“Sure, pastor,” Kwame said belligerently. “But it better be good, you pussy, otherwise I’ll rip out your penis and feed it to you!”
He bent low, and Jon put his lips to the big man’s ear.
“You’re not a man,” he whispered into Kwame’s ear. “You’re a woman, and you don’t have a penis! You have a big, fat, wet, vagina!”
Kwame gasped and straightened, and his eyes were incensed with fury as he drew back his right hand and slapped Jon heavily across the face!
Jon reeled back under the influence of the blow and sat down heavily on the floor with his ears ringing! The people in the bar screamed with delight to see the pastor floored so heavily!
Bobo rushed forward to help Jon Fii to his feet.
Jon turned and headed to the door where Pastor Kwabla was waiting, quivering with fear. The people, seeing Jon leaving, laughed with glee and some even spat at him, calling him a bloody coward!
When Jon reached Pastor Kwabla, however, he did not walk out.
He removed his coat and handed it to the startled pastor.
“Jon!” Pastor Kwabla said with fear. “What are you doing? What did you whisper to him?”
“I asked him if he wanted to go to heaven, and he hit me,” Jon said with a wicked smile on his face as he removed his clerical. “Everybody saw him hitting me first. That’s what I wanted.”
Next, he removed his cuff links and gave them to Bobo, and then he opened the top buttons of his shirt.
Then, Pastor Jon Fii began to roll up the sleeves of his shirt.
There was dead silence in the bar now.
He rolled his sleeves all the way to his elbows, and then he turned and fixed Kwame Essuman with fierce eyes, and began to walk towards him.
A pin dropping would have sounded like bomb in that absolute silence in the bar! Kwame Essuman was staring at the pastor with fury as he accepted the challenge and walked towards Jon.
“I’m going to break you like Jesus was crucified, pastor!” he screamed and rushed towards Jon.
He swung a horrible right haymaker, but he did so in ignorance, quite unaware that the pastor he was facing had received intensive training in martial arts and in military training when his father was alive.
Jon slipped effortlessly under the blow and delivered a terrible criss-crossing combination into the left and right side of Kwame’s ribcage! The bully grunted with agony and took a quick step back.
Deliberately, Jon stepped forward and swung a straight right blow into the bully’s right eye, the same eye that he had smashed Aba in!
Kwame screeched and tottered backwards as he grabbed his eye.
Jon’s kick smashed into the helpless man’s balls!
The crowd groaned as Kwame grabbed his balls and looked at Jon Fii with mounting horror!
Suddenly, he reached into his boot and pulled out a knife even as his balls flamed up with agony. He thought the sight of the knife would make the pastor flee, but Jon simply nodded and waited for the agony to leave Kwame Essuman for a moment.
When his balls stopped paining a bit, Kwame screamed and rushed at Jon with the knife slashing towards his throat. Jon Fii side-stepped the thrust, grabbed Kwame’s hand, and then flipped him forward and backward in a savage move, stepping viciously into the side of Kwame’s right knee and breaking the joint.
As Kwame’s horrified scream filled the air, Jon bent the hapless man’s arm behind him and pushed up, dislocating the shoulder savagely, and then he swing Kwame in a reverse twist against the thrust of his hand, and broke his arm exactly where he had broken Aba’s arm!
The nasty sound of breaking bone made the people groan with horror.
Jon was not done, though. He lifted the bully up and slammed him down on the floor!
Kwame Essuman was weeping now as agony flared through his body! He looked up at the pastor and quivered with terror! Jon dropped to one knee, clamped a hand on the bully’s neck, and began to squeeze the air out of his lungs.
Kwame Essuman thrashed weakly under this strangulation. His tongue popped out, and his face began to swell.
Pastor Kwabla rushed forward with fear and grabbed Jon’s arm.
“Kakalika!” he screamed. “Jon, you’re killing the man! You’re killing him!”
Jon Fii released the choke hold.
Kwame Essuman wept bitterly and coughed through his agony.
“You’re killing meeeee!” he wept. “Pastor, you’re killing meeeee!”
“Listen, you dog!” Jon hissed furiously down at the bully. “You come near Aba again, I will kill you! You so much as touch a single strand of hair on her head, and I will kill you. Do you fucking understand?”
“You’re killing meeeee!” Kwame wept.
Jon slapped him heavily across the face.
“Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!” Kwame cried. “I understand! I understand, pastor, please, please, please, please!”
“Abowa!” Jon Fii whispered and then got to his feet.
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He glared around at the hushed people in the bar, and then he took money from his pocket, counted out some fifty-cedi notes, and handed them to a man nearby. “Send this fool to the clinic.”
“Yes, yes, pastor,” the man said as he trembled with fear.
And when Jon Fii turned to walk out of the bar, many of the patrons quickly moved out of his way, causing Bobo to laugh uproariously.
When they came out of the bar, Pastor Atoklu faced Jon with a dismayed look.
“Jon, kakalika, what’s the matter with you?” he asked in an exasperated voice. “You told me you were going to speak to him!”
Jon Fii took a deep breath and nodded.
“I spoke to him in a language that he understood, sir.”
“Oh, cut out the nonsense!” the senior pastor screamed. “Ah, are you a pastor, or a Kung Fu blowman? You took off your coat, rolled your shirt, and fought in a drinking bar! What sort of a pastor does that, Jon? You were just like a thug in there, no different than the fool!”
“He got the message, sir,” Jon Fii said quietly. “He’ll not touch Aba again!”
“What about the church?” Pastor Atoklu exploded. “The church should be your prime aim, your main concern! They just saw a pastor fighting, kakalika! A pastor throwing blows and fatally wounding another human being! How would they understand when you speak to them about love and forgiveness, about turning the other cheek? You’ve just dealt the image of the church a big blow.”
“No, sir,” Jon said softly. “The congregation now knows that their pastor has their interests at heart, that the church will take care of business, sir. These people are a violent people! They believe in wickedness, and in the evil heart of man! This is the only language they understand, sir!”
“No, Jon, no!” Kwabla shouted. “Ahhh! Kakalika! How can a pastor take off his coat and throw blows? What sort of pastor are you?”
Jon looked at his senior with very cold eyes.
“Do you believe that I am a man who was ordained by God?” he asked softly.
“Look, Jon, I am…”
“Do you believe God ordained me?” Jon shouted into his face.
“And do you believe that my actions are accountable to the God I serve?”
“Yes, Jon, God will hold you responsible for your works under his name.”
“And you believe that the wages of sin is death, and that if I use the name of God in iniquity, God will deal with me, and bring me into judgement?”
Pastor Kwabla nodded.
“So, what’s your problem now?” Jon Fii asked. “Are you now God to judge me?”
And then he turned and walked away from the senior man of God.
“Pastor Apokla, I’m not happy with you,” Bobo said as he looked at Kwabla.
“Atoklu, my name is Atoklu, not Apokla!” Kwabla said with indignation.
“Sorry, pastor,” Bobo said with a scowl. “But I’m not happy with you. Today, when you were preaching, didn’t you tell us about the pastor in the Bible called Sha or something, who called bears to chew some children that laughed at him?”
“He was a prophet, my friend, not a pastor. Prophet Elisha. Yes, and so what?”
“Aha!” Bobo said. “And you said even God got angry and rained water that killed everybody on earth, even pregnant women, and little babies. And later, God rained sheer fire on the people of Modum and Rarara!”
“Kakalika!” Kwabla shouted. “Sodom and Gomorrah!”
“Whatever, whatever!” Bobo said with disgust. “And now this wicked Essuman beat poor Aba, hurt her badly, and Pastor Jon beat him back. That is sweet! We’re all happy! The people in the bar will even come to church! He did not burn him with fire, or drown him in water, or call bears to eat him. He just gave him blows! So, why are you angry?”
“What you’re saying happened in the Old Testament, my friend,” Pastor Kwabla said. “This is the era under the grace of our Lord! Such things do not happen! He’s a pastor, and his dialogue should be love and compassion, not blows!”
“We don’t need love and compassion here, Pastor Koklu!” Bobo said indignantly. “Obosomfie needs blows! This is old tessment or whatever for Pastor Jon Fii, so leave him alone, you old sakora man!”
And then Pastor Kwabla simply laughed.