Celebrating East African Writing!
Pastor Charles Nyanya was known for his trade mark sermons. He never spared any opportunity he had to rebuke evil. Never did he in his tenure as the Pastor of the church on the tenth avenue tolerate anyone who went against the teachings of the holly book. He was a man respected by all.
Pastor Nyanya’s biggest headache was the location of his church. The tenth avenue was the physical address of both Pastor Nyanya’s church and the Mosque that stood directly opposite. One block away from the mosque is the Lavenders’ bar, a very noisy entertainment spot and just outside the bar, a group of men stay out all night selling and chewing khat. This was the cause of Pastor Nyanya’s annoyance.
And the neighborhood was very noisy. Every top of the hour, their was the loud voice of a faithful making his prayers from the loud speaker that was strategically placed on the roof of the mosque so that the sound goes as far as possible, every minute every hour every day, their was their was loud music and screams of noisy drunk revelers from the bar, every time there was loud hooting by public service vehicles seeking the attention of commuters and the many hawkers shouting on top of their voices trying to market their merchandise not to mention the nuisance caused by the prostitutes who filled almost every space on the street as soon as darkness fell.
Yet Pastor Nyanya did not give up. To him, winners never quit. After all, God has a purpose for everything and it was not in vain that He had decided to place this church at the tenth avenue. It was therefore in every one of his intentions to stay put and fight hard to redeem the lost sheep. It was with this spirit that he came to the church one morning.
This particular day, his congregation had surged a bit and he was happy. It was very encouraging and motivating. As usual, in his characteristic style, he wasted no time. He opened the holly book and read out several lines and went ahead to explain them to his flock.
‘. . .in fact, ladies and gentlemen, good people of the lord, this world needs to be urgently saved from destruction by the devil who has come in the form of alcohol, cigarettes, hard drugs and what a view.’’ he said. If it was within my powers, I would take all the alcohol and pour it into a deep river so as to save mankind.’
‘Amen’ the congregation replied.
‘All the cigarettes into a deep river.’
‘Hard drugs would not be spared. Heroin, mandrax cocaine, name them all, into the deep river’
‘Khat chewers would be redeemed because all the khat would be in the deep river.’
Then the Pastor took a short break and asked for a song. The lead singer rose took her position on the altar and said;
‘Brethren, good people of the lord, let us sing song number thirty two from the hymn book. It says we shall drink from the river.’
‘Ooh hallelujah!’ The congregation responded and they sang from the top of their voices. The Pastor quickly rose from his seat to clarify to the audience that the river they were singing loudly about was not the same river in his sermon. And he took the opportunity to caution them against playing around with the Word. This he did in his usual stern style. Everybody was quite. It was as though they were already regretting their choice of a song. The Pastor went on.
. . .today, I call upon anyone who has a problem with the way they have led their lives and wish to seek a new beginning with the lord to come forward and we shall pray together with them. The doors to the lord’s palace are always open to anyone who wants to walk in. it is never too late. For all belong to he who created and all should come back. Please come forward, anyone?
There was silence. At first it looked like nobody was ready for a new beginning. The Pastor was almost moving to the next item on the programme list when a lady seated by the door rose up and proceeded to walk to the front. The way Pastor Nyanya looked at her spoke volumes. It was as if even the Pastor did not expect her to rise up. All eyes were on her as she walked between the rows to the altar.
‘Good people of the Lord, I am sorry.’ She said. ‘All who know me understand that I have not lived my life any good.’
There was confusion in the church. Many did not understand what the woman was talking about. To who and what was she sorry for? But the lady was not deterred. She went on.
‘Today, I am here to let out what even those who know best are yet to know. And I know it will hurt because it hurts me already. Good people of the lord, I have very few days to live because of this disease that I got during my ten years as a commercial sex worker. I sure have infected many. Some are already dead others are lucky to live some more. Even . . .’ she paused when she realized that almost every man in the congregation was walking out.
‘Am sorry, All I want is forgiveness and to die in . . .’
She paused again when she heard the sound of a body falling hard on the floor behind her. Pastor Nyanya had collapsed and fell unconscious. She turned, looked at him and said
‘I am sorry Pastor Nyanya.’ Then she walked out of the church.
A few days later, Pastor Nyanya checked into the government hospital and was put under the care of anti retroviral drugs. He no longer preaches at the church. And he is no longer Pastor Nyanya. Just Mr. Charles Nyanya.
© Wanda Livingstone Ngata 2009
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