Celebrating East African Writing!

The pastor and the Devil’s Potion by Paul Kariuki

Pastor Hosea had a knack of repeating himself hoarsely during his lengthy sermons,not to bore the congregation,but to make sure he was heard coherently and the point driven home.


He loved quoting his namesake from the old Testament,his particular verse being ‘My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…’ And it was his punch to admonish the wayward youth among his flock with.To Pastor Hosea,the youth were always in a hurry as though pursued by legions of demons from hell in their quest to commit iniquity.


He had been a pastor for ten long years,during which no blemish to his name had surfaced.He contented himself as a true christian who would not compromise his stand even in face of intense persecution,the unwavering kind,but that was to be seen.


But Pastor  Hosea hated to see sinners perish,he lived with them,ministered to them,yet they were reluctant to open their hearts and make decisions of their lives. Oft times, by the graveside, ministering to a funeral service, he would be heard wailing”…when the little thing that we commit leads us to commit even a bigger thing than before,  that is sin magnified, and when sin is magnified, it leads to spiritual as well to physical death, for sin tends to poison the soul,and a poisoned soul is impervious to the word of God, nothing good dwells there,and when death comes,can such a soul be saved? Do you know what your destiny tomorrow will be?


But he knew he wasn’t doing enough. The devil had an uncanny way of getting any converts back to their old ways. It was alarming to see the dwindling flock of his congregation. If confining the word within the four walls was what was giving the devil a field day over the lost souls, Pastor Hosea took the console in taking the word where sinners were, at least to beat the devil in his own game.


Armed with a voluminous Bible, Pastor Hosea was this evening heading to Mambo Yote Bar that was a stone throw from his church, and that on Sundays witnessed more patrons than his church saw in congregation numbers.


The place reeked with stale beer smell, unwashed bodies odour and thick tobacco smoke swirled and hugged the ceilings. A revolting feeling overcome pastor Hosea, but he recovered too quickly. He surveyed the drunks perched on high stools, sprawled against walls, snoring on tables, and mumbled for spiritual guidance.


“Hey Pastor,” a drunk’s voice assailed him. “Has a revolution taken place in heaven and your place there nullified? Is that why you have come here to take console in the bottle?”


A babel of laughter and words filled the barroom.


But he was here with a mission. His master ate with sinners and mingled with the outcasts;and these were lost souls that needed the Master more than the bottle. He edged forward.


“Oh pastor,” another drunk said.”You’ve woke from realization of your fallible teachings and that hell is a myth to instill mortal fear in living beings?”


Yet another, “Is the church offertory not that good and you have come to beg for alms here?”


“Somebody give the man of cloth a seat!” a drunk said staggering back. A seat was found him and the pastor sank down gratefully.


“What will you’ve Pastor?” the mellow voice made pastor Hosea to whirl his head.It was the barmaid’s.She was more a lump of human flesh than a human being.


“Bring him a soda,” a drunk said gesturing with his fingers and winking an eye to the barmaid, that conveyed a message, which was,”and spike it.”


“Yes, a soda,”the pastor said.


A little of a soft drink is not harmful,he told himself as he sipped.


He was on his third glass when he started to see visions.The drunk nearest to him seemed to be issuing smoke through his nostrils. Another seemed to have an elongated nose like a pelican’s beak.


“I tell you brathas and sishta,” he slurred in his speech. “I have never seen bums sprouting tufts of hair like of that maid’s,” he pointed to the bat attendant. “Yes those ostrich eggs.When she moves and they swing and sway,what would you say God’s creation is?”


“Marvelous!”one yelled,which he said as in “marvel us!”


“Very gorgeous!”another said.


“With blondes and broads,I’d say perfect!” observed another with half closed eye lids.


But the pastor was going on”…so God told this man to marry a harlot.He had a similar name to mine.This prophet married and beget children from her. When we in larger society condemns them as daughters of iniquity,do we miss something?”


“The warmth of their bosoms!” interjected another, as his head nodded to his chest.


All agreed with him.


The Pastor took the last sip of soda.He didn’t care to look at the bottom of glass and wonder since when soft drinks leaves white dregs at the bottom.”Gin and tonic please,” he told the barmaid,and seeing curious faces of the drunks, he said, “When this good apostle wrote to Timothy telling him to use a little brandy for his stomach’s sake,he was under inspiration. Nothing untoward to it. But when we let a little of what we pertake lead us to pertake even bigger measure, then we becomes poisoned by even equal big measures and it becomes an enslaving habit hard to give up.”


He took a mouthful of the drink.


The tonic was doing wonders. He found himself as though floating on air. Before long he was embracing the barmaid,tickling her and dancing wobbly with her to the clamour of the drunkards clappings. One after the other, his clothes came off the body till he stood only with the undergarments on, then a hand led him to an adjoining room.


Suddenly, the world spinned in a vortex. Bolts of lightning shot,thunder cracked,stars whirled and whipped past his eyes, unending darkness preceded him, his head heavy, eyes groggy and body limp.Then in the stillness of a second,he heard a small voice,”You chose to be crucified with Christ,but you are yoked with sinners and is become one of them.” He collapsed in the softness of a mattress.


When he was sober, he reflected on what had transpired. He had taken the gospel to the drunkards only to end up being one!  A little sip of soda had led to the sip of a strong drink which had led to…he even had carnal knowledge with the barmaid!


He was fond of saying,’too much of a thing is poison but too little of it is’. Well,he had found out what too little of a thing can turn out to be, as he stumbled home at the dead of the night, having lost his clothes and the Book of Hope.


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