(Continued from Brutus I)
One of Julius’ secret desires was that one of his children would replace him at the helm of the church when his time to hang the boots came. But this is a desire he has never shared with anyone, because he is a fair man, and he wants the best candidate to take the job. So far, the best candidate appears to be Brutus.
Julius has six children, five with his late wife Ruth and one with Marie. Marie’s son, Levi, is still a baby at only two years old. Ruth’s children are all grown up, and they all have children older than Levi. Julius and Ruth brought them up in the ways of the Lord, and none of them has disappointed.
The first born, Sarah, is a lawyer. She is 48 years old, and is a partner in one of the large law firms in the country. She also sits on the boards of several private and public companies. She is married to a doctor called Anthony and they have three children all of whom are adults. Sarah and her family are active members of the headquarters church. Her husband is the current chairperson of the King’s Union at the headquarters church. Kings’ Union is what the church calls its association of men. Sarah is an active member of the Queens’ Fellowship, which is the association of women, and is the unofficial and volunteer legal advisor to the church. Sarah and Anthony’s last born, 18-year-old Malachi, is the current leader of the young adults’ ministry. The boy is showing a lot of promise as far as Christian service is concerned, and is likely to follow his grandfather’s path into church ministry. Their other two sons, Julius and Gad, are also steadfast Christians. Julius is named after his grandfather, the Bishop.
Sarah has always been very close to her father. She is actually the one Julius thought would take the mantle from him, because she always followed him everywhere. Whenever she was not in school, she was always assisting him in his church duties. In High School she was the Christian Union leader. Julius was therefore very surprised, and secretly disappointed, when she told him that she wanted to study law. But he supported her dream. He realized later that all along she had not really been interested in his work, she had just been looking for a way to be around him.
The one and only time Sarah and her father had a major disagreement was when Julius announced his engagement to Marie to his children. Of all her siblings, Sarah is the most outspoken. She immediately told her father, right in front of her siblings and Marie, that it was a bad idea.
“Why?” Julius asked. “Don’t I have a right to be happy with the woman I love? Your mother is dead, and she is not coming back. You all have spouses and families of your own. What is wrong with me getting married again. It is not a sin.”
“I agree with you dad,” Sarah replied gently. “It is not a sin and you do deserve to be happy. But I don’t this marriage will make you happy. Can we discuss this without Marie being in the room?”
“No. If you have anything against her. Just say it in her presence.”
“Okay. I don’t think Marie is the right woman for you dad…”
“And who do you think you are to decide for your father who the right woman is?” Marie shot back.
“Shut up. I am not talking to you,” Sarah snapped, narrowing her eyes in a glare that is said to even intimidate some judges and magistrates. Sarah is ordinarily a jovial woman, bit she is not a woman you want to cross. The glare sent Marie back into a sulky silence.
“Dad, let’s be honest. First, she is more than half your age. You are sixty-six, she is thirty-one. She is a whooping eleven years younger than I am. She is a whole three years younger than our last born, Simeon. Without considering the fact that she will become our step mother, there will be significant challenges between the two of you brought about by the age difference. Secondly, and this is purely a gut-feeling, I don’t think this woman is who you think she is. I think you should spend more time to know her before you tie the knot.0”
“Marie was right about this, Sarah. I am an adult and I can decide what is right for me. I have made my choice and decided that I want to marry Marie. I am informing you, not asking for your permission. That decision has been made and that conversation is over.”
Sarah, unable to hide her displeasure, stormed out of the house with her husband. Her siblings remained. Sarah has over time mended her relationship with her father, but she has never recognized Marie as her step-mother. She and her father have just found a way to relate without involving Marie. Still, Sarah’s relationship with her father has never been the same again, because Sarah and Marie don’t see eye-to-eye.
Sarah’s siblings initially supported their father’s union to Marie, but over time that has become impossible. Marie behaves like an angel around Julius, but when dealing with his children she is insufferable. Jacob, Simeon, Nathan and Deborah have come to conclude that their oldest sister was right from the beginning. Like her, they have found a way to relate with the old man while sidestepping Marie.
Marie doesn’t like leaving anything to chance. She is aware that once her husband dies, there will be a scramble for the leadership of the church. There might even be a split in the church, or multiple splits. She doesn’t want that. She wants control of the entire mega-church. That is part of the reason why she allied herself with Brutus. She would have wanted to take over as the absolute leader of the church, but she knows that she would face stiff opposition from many quarters. There are many who have never accepted her as the Bishop’s wife, especially those who knew and loved Ruth. Of course, those voices of dissent cannot be raised when the Bishop is alive, but once he dies, there will be an uproar. Some of these voices sit on the board, and many are senior pastors in the tabernacles, so she will be facing some powerful enemies.
Besides, if the Bishop dies suddenly and she proclaims herself the leader of the church, suspicions will arise. The last thing she wants is for anybody to associate her with the death of her husband. She has been careful. The Burundians she is working with don’t even know what they are doing. All except one. And that one is someone she knew from years back, when he was a refugee in Kenya. They share a dark history, and she knows he cannot betray her. She has already his deposit in hard cash, and the balance will be paid after he completes the job. Marie will also ensure that he gets a job in the church that is about to be launched.
Nonetheless, Marie knows that one cannot be too careful, and that is why she decided not to go for the top seat herself. She decided to use Brutus. Brutus is the golden boy of the church. He has grown in the church and is loved and respected across board. Everyone expects him to succeed the Bishop at the helm.
But Marie had always known that Brutus is not the saint that everyone perceives him to be. Marie was a member of the Embu tabernacle, where Brutus was the founding senior pastor, and she knows that he was involved in quite a number of shady deals. For instance, she knew that he had a long-time affair with a woman called Carol, while he was still married to his late wife Josephine. Carol was the wife of a wealthy tycoon in Embu called Ambrose. Months into their affair, Ambrose was killed by thugs in broad daylight. Suspicion was rife that Carol was behind it, but no one could prove it. Carol then sensationally gave her life to Christ and soon became a member of Brutus’ inner circle.
The affair continued until three years ago, when Carol joined politics. She lost, but was nominated into parliament. She started seeing a powerful principal secretary, and Brutus was pushed aside. That is when Marie moved to fill the gap. She knows all this because she has a wide network of informers. One of them, and the most authoritative, was her boyfriend Jim. He was a member of Brutus’ gang, and like any idiot in love, he gave Marie many intimate details of their operations. This includes voice records of Brutus giving them instructions.
What many people don’t know, but what Marie has always known (thanks to Jim), was that the vibrant youth ministry at the Embu Tabernacle, which is the anchor that Brutus used to build the church, was filled with local thugs. True, they freely admitted to a ‘past in crime’ and talked about the redemptive power of Christ. But a good number of them were still committing crimes, only that this time they were doing it at the behest of Brutus and his wealthy, widowed girlfriend. It is this gang that killed the woman’s husband. It is also the same gang that killed Brutus’ wife, after Marie convinced him that their union was more viable. When Brutus was transferred from Embu to the headquarters, he moved with his gang and planted them in the headquarters church.
Jim wanted to marry Marie, and that is why she had him killed just before her engagement to the Bishop was announced. She did not want complications in her life. She led Brutus to believe that he was a traitor, and Brutus reacted by having him killed. That murder is another dossier she has against Brutus. Marie quickly secured another lover in Brutus’ circle of thugs, a man called Dickson. Dickson doesn’t expect marriage but is willing to feed her information about Brutus in exchange for sex and money. If Brutus ever plans anything against it, Dickson will know in advance and tell her.
Brutus doesn’t know about these affairs. He believes he is the only extra-marital lover Marie has. The information that Marie gathers about Brutus is critical. She knows that he is her ticket to power and wealth, but she also knows that she cannot trust him. This information will be her leverage if he ever tries to betray her.
Marie knows that the single most powerful threat to her plans is Sarah. It is an open secret that Sarah prefers to have her sister Deborah take over from their father. Deborah is the only one of Ruth and Julius’s children who has taken the pastoral path. She is the current senior pastor at the Embu Tabernacle, having taken over from Brutus. Before that she had been a youth pastor at the headquarters tabernacle.
Deborah shares many of her father’s attributes. She is a caring woman who truly cares for her congregations, and they love her back. She is also charismatic. She truly believes in her father’s belief that church exists to do charity work. And she doesn’t do under-the-table deals like Brutus. When she took over the church from Brutus, it has a congregation of three thousand. That number dramatically dropped to about two thousand in two months as Brutus’s crooks fled, but then started rising again as authentic members joined. The Embu tabernacle now has a membership of four thousand five hundred.
The fact that Deborah believes in the 70:30 rule, and the fact that she doesn’t do under the table deals are the primary reasons why Marie wouldn’t want her to rise to the helm. In fact, when she (Marie) and Brutus seize control of the church, they intend to remove or frustrate Deborah and all pastors like her.
Deborah herself is not a threat. She might share many of her father’s characteristics, but she lacks one important one that had made the old man remain in control for so many years: a spine. Julius might behave like an affable grandfather most of the time, but he is a formidable opponent. He knows how to outsmart his opponents and to scatter them through clever scheming. Deborah doesn’t have the courage to face off rebellion or confrontation, and she certainly doesn’t know how to scheme, and that is why Brutus eclipsed her years ago. It is through scheming and a willingness to manipulate that Brutus became the obvious successor to the church throne.
But Sarah has spine, and she knows how to scheme. If Deborah is to become the Bishop, it will be through the assistance of her elder sister. Marie cannot allow that to happen, that is why Sarah has to be eliminated. This is Brutus’ job. His men will hit Sarah they way they hit his wife and his ex-girlfriend’s husband in Embu. But Marie wants Sarah to suffer because of the hatred she has for the woman; a gun shot in the head won’t be enough. She has told Brutus to tell his men to kidnap Sarah, torture her, rape her, humiliate her then kill her slowly and in the most painful way.
Brutus is well aware that Sarah is the only one who can stop him from becoming Bishop, so Marie it will be done.
Image by PublicDomainPicures from Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/photos/death-darkness-dark-hood-hooded-164761/
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