(I first wrote this story in August 2018. I am re-writing it and expanding it into a novella)
Before that day two months ago, it had been ages since Sheila stepped inside a church. She was brought up in the church by strict Pentecostal parents, but once she left their nest and joined the university, she rebelled against their teachings in a quest for her freedom. She went wild, experimenting in alcohol, weed and sex. She did go to the Christian Union services a few times when she was in first year, but she felt judged and stopped going altogether. After that she did not go into a church service of any kind until two months ago.
But over the years, and as she grew older, she sobered up; some would say she matured. She is now a twenty nine year old professional. She has not smoked weed ever since she graduated from campus. Before she rededicated her life to Christ two months ago, she still enjoyed an occasional glass of wine, but the days of drinking herself silly were way behind her. And she had been celibate for three years, not because she had decided to save herself for the wedding night, but because she had decided that she wouldn’t do casual flings or one night stands any more. If she was going to sleep with a man, it would be in the context of a committed relationship. She hadn’t had a steady boyfriend for those three years before she gave her life to Christ.
She didn’t consider herself saved, but she still loved God. If she hadn’t been in church for years, it was because she found most church folk to be hypocritical. She felt that the standards that they set for others were standards they themselves didn’t meet. So she opted to stay indoors on Sundays to either watch movies or read novels.
But on that day two months ago her friend and colleague Stella invited her to the church she attends, called Christ Divine Fire Church in Nairobi. If Sheila found Christians to be pretentious, then Stella was the exception to the general rule. The girl is pleasant and associates freely with everyone at the office, including the characters that most people in the office agree are difficult to associate with.
When she joined the company they both work for four years ago, Sheila found a sister in Stella, and over the years they have become very close friends. Through their friendship, Sheila rediscovered her belief in God, and while she still didn’t think she was saved like her friend, she certainly had been thinking about her faith more and more frequently. She even bought a Bible last year and started reading it almost every night,
And that day she agreed to follow Stella to church.
When the worship began that day, it rekindled Sheila’s childhood memories of church. After introducing himself as Isaac, the worship leader led the congregation through a series of slow songs. His deep voice swept through the large sanctuary as he led worship. His eyes were dripping and his voice quavering as he urged the congregation to worship. He knelt down on the carpeted altar and sobbed uncontrollably.
As the worship session became more and more emotional, Sheila found herself crying. Through tears, she repented her sins. Then, as Isaac guided the congregation through the lyrics of the hymn Burdens are lifted at Calvary, Sheila lifted her moist eyes to the heavens and rededicated her life to Christ.
Stella inducted Sheila into the church’s youth group. Isaac, Sheila learned, was the leader of the group. Christ Divine Church has a very vibrant youth group, partly because the church is fairly large at four thousand members, and partly because of the charismatic charm of Isaac. It didn’t take long for Sheila to develop a crush on the worship/youth leader.
The youth group welcomed Sheila warmly. Led by their charismatic leader, they threw a small party in her honor. Sheila warmed up to them, setting aside her earlier bias against Christians. The few curse words that had been ingrained in her vocabulary disappeared. She was now a daughter of the Lord.
And the Lord rewarded her in many ways, including in her social life. The man who soon started wooing her was none other than her crush, the charming worship and youth leader himself. She told Stella about it and her friend urged her on.
“Every girl in this church wants him. He is handsome, God-fearing and a hardworking young engineer. Plus, he comes from a proper family. His father is Deacon Mutua, the church treasurer while his mother is Sister Peninah, the leader of the ushering department. What else would any girl want?”
“Are you saying you want him too?” Sheila teased.
“If I were single, I probably would. But I am happy with my Solomon,” Stella replied, laughing.
Still, Sheila was hesitant. She had wounds from her past dating experiences; wounds that were still too fresh. She had been used and dumped, even by men who had portrayed themselves as the perfect gentlemen.
“The difference is that these men were not born again, Sheila,” Stella insisted. “Isaac is born again. He cannot mistreat you because he knows the Lord.”
These assurances, coupled with the fact that she was already deeply in love with the Man of God, make her agree to date him. On the day Isaac told the youth members that he and Sheila were dating, the entire youth group erupted into cheers. They blessed the Lord and worshipped, throwing pious Christianese jokes at the latest couple in their midst.
It is six weeks since Sheila agreed to be Isaac’s girlfriend, and these six weeks have been beyond anything she has ever experienced. Isaac calls day and night. They go on dates in restaurants almost every evening and they hold hands in public; they hug and Isaac pecks her cheeks. These are romantic gestures that Sheila would not have associated with a spirit-filled saint, but which she appreciates. Sheila glows. Indeed dating a man of God is an amazing thing. Before she went celibate, most of her exes began demanding sex on the first or second date. She usually gave in on the fourth, and more often than not the relationship would start going downhill after a couple of weeks. But Isaac strictly observes the boundaries they have set for themselves in order to remain sexually pure: their physical interaction doesn’t go beyond, holding hands, hugging and pecking.
So when yesterday he asked her to come for lunch at his house today, she agreed without thinking much about it. He told her that he wants to surprise her with a meal he will prepare himself. The man can even cook! Most of the chauvinists she dated in the past expected her to clean the week-old mess in their sinks, cook, and clean up afterward. But Isaac wants to cook for her!
When Sheila gets to Isaac’s house, she is surprised to find that his house is very neat; she reluctantly admits to herself that this house is probably better arranged than hers. Isaac’s house is a lovely one bedroom apartment that is beautifully furnished. The sofas are matching with the curtains. The dominant colour in the room is grey, although the walls are painted white. Based on past experiences, she has always assumed that all bachelors’ houses are dens of dirt and wild animals. She has been to houses where rats and cockroaches nibbled at her feet while she slept; and those were not mud huts in impoverished villages, but up market apartments of professional men. Perhaps she has been dealing with the wrong type of bachelors.
Isaac welcomes her to his spacious sitting room and serves her fruit juice as he warms the food. She decides to follow him to check out the kitchen. There are no dirty utensils on the sink. But even more amazing is the fact that he has all manner of spices and kitchen appliances. Most bachelors hardly have anything beyond salt, sugar and the most basic utensils. Isaac warms the food as they chat. When the food is ready, they head back to the sitting room. Isaac has a dining table, but he serves food on the coffee table and they eat from the sofas. They sit on different sofas. The food is delicious: the chapatis are fleshy and soft, and the beef stew is heavenly. After the meal, Isaack clears the table and serves yoghurt. He sits beside her, and that is when things start to go south.
Isaac starts groping and kissing Sheila, catching her unprepared. They had agreed that they would abstain until marriage. That had been particularly important to her, because she felt she had given her body to other men too easily, and gotten hurt in the process. She told him that, and he had supported her. Waiting was the Biblical way to do it, he had said.
“Stop it, Isaac…I cannot do it,” she says, trying to break free.
“Why? You are mine.”
“Isaac, we are not yet married. We agreed to wait.”
“Forget what we agreed. I need you now. What difference does it make? You know I am going to marry you.”
“Isaac! Aren’t you…”
Before she can finish her sentence, he grabs her and carries her to his bedroom. He removes his trouser and boxer, lifts her dress forces himself on her after removing her panty. All the while she is trying to fight him off and begging him to stop, but it is all futile. He doesn’t listen to her, and he is too strong for her. When he is done, he starts accusing her of leading him to sin and asks her to leave his house. As she tearfully puts on her panty, she is only too aware of the real and crippling pain between her legs. But beyond the physical pain, there is the emotional pain. Sheila is doubly humiliated. She feels defiled and violated as she leaves Isaac’s house, tears freely flowing down her cheeks. As if that is not enough, the monster wants her to feel guilty about his actions.
To add salt to injury, she could hear him praying in tongues in the bedroom as she left his house.
Image by Kalhh from Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/illustrations/pray-cross-wall-prayer-religion-1359099/
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