(Continued from Madam Cavorta I)
Peter is stunned by the turn of events. He has just lost two things that meant the most to him: his wife and the church he founded. He has no doubt that Janet will divorce him. She has been treating him like trash for a year now, and she has just found the perfect excuse to divorce him. When she left with the Bishop and the elders, she was crying like a freshly bereaved widow. Hugging Mercy cannot be the issue. Peter has hugged other women before, in her presence. Janet herself hugs other men. Even the Bishop himself hugs his female congregants. Hugging the opposite gender is not frowned upon at CJLI Ministries. These are light, non-sexual hugs. It is the same kind of hug that he gave Mercy, and it is not like they were in private. He hugged her in public, with Mercy’s waitresses milling around. As a rule, Peter doesn’t meet women alone in private. He doesn’t flirt, and he avoids any improper contact with women. He has never cheated on his wife, and would never dream of it. Even when she stopped talking to him, he remained faithful because he believes in the vows he made to her. Plus he married her because he genuinely loved her.
But all that doesn’t matter now, because he is sure that a false narrative will be spun to justify the divorce and his removal from office. There is nobody who will defend him. Mercy and her girls can, but Christians in Chogoria view them as prostitutes, so their defense will not do him any good. But how did he get here?
Peter is yet to wrap his head around the collapse of his marriage. They said that one should marry his best friend; and that is exactly what he did. They said he should not be unequally yoked: he married a Christian girl. They said he should pray before asking a girl out, and he fervently prayed about the decision to ask Janet out, even though she was his best friend. He even asked a couple of brothers in church to help him pray. The Christian dating rule book says that one should keep himself sexually pure till marriage: he and Janet abstained from sex until their wedding day. What then could have gone wrong? He has known Janet for over a decade. He first met her when he joined the Mother Assembly of CJLI Ministries. But they did not become friends until they started serving in the youth fellowship together.
Peter joined the CJLI Ministries twelve years ago. At the time, he had just arrived in Nairobi as a student at the Nairobi Institute of Business Studies. A devout Christian, he immediately started looking for a place to fellowship around Thika Road. He tried several churches, but he felt that all of them were too extreme in their doctrine. Finally, he found himself at the CJLI Ministries, and he felt right at home. He liked the doctrine that the church and its Bishop espoused. He felt that the church was sober in its teachings, unlike the other churches that he had tried shortly after he landed in the city.
Peter has been an active church member since childhood. At the CJLI Ministries, he promptly joined the worship team and the youth fellowship. He held various leadership positions in the youth fellowship and within two years, he was nominated to be the youth chairman. In the same nomination exercise, a young medical student called Janet was nominated to be the youth secretary. Janet had grown up in the church, as her parents had been founding members of the church long before she was born. According to what she told Peter, they had been well off when she was a child, but had fallen on hard times when her father was laid off from his civil service job. She told him that it was actually the church that was sponsoring her through medical school, although her family was starting to stand on its feet again. The Bishop had apparently helped Janet’s parents to start a restaurant and it had picked up well.
As Janet and Peter served together in the youth fellowship, their friendship grew. Janet did not seem bothered by the gulf of their academic credentials: she was a first year medical student while he was a first year student pursing a diploma in business management. They became so fond of each other than nobody was surprised when they started dating.
They got married when Janet was still a student. But Peter had already graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Theology, sponsored by the church, and had been ordained as the youth pastor of the Mother Assembly. With Peter drawing a salary of a hundred and fifty thousand a month from the church, the young couple was comfortable. Peter’s salary was increased every year.
Was Janet was furious because Peter had left the well-paying pastoral job in the city to settle in an impoverished village? That would not make sense. Janet had been his best friend long before they started dating, and he had always made it clear to her that he planned to retreat to a village, or at least a rural town and minister there for the rest of his life. Janet has always supported that vision and calling. She even said she would like to work in a rural hospital because she also felt a calling to serve the rural poor.
One day, years after Peter asked Janet to be his girlfriend, they revisited the conversation. Janet told him that sometimes she felt that many “middle-class” churches over time developed an elitist attitude, so that members were expected to lead a particular lifestyle to fit in. In other words, “middle class” churches had become social clubs that poorer members of the society found difficult to worship in. That is exactly what Peter felt, and that conversation is what convinced Peter that Janet was destined to be his wife. He proposed to her three weeks later, and married her seven months after that.
Two years after their wedding, Peter approached the Bishop and told him that God was leading him to establish a rural church. The Bishop asked him whether he had prayed about it and he said he had. The Bishop called Janet and asked her whether she was okay with the decision, and she said that she had the same calling. The Bishop released them in front of the congregation and all the pastors in the Mother Assembly prayed for them.
What then could have gone so wrong?
Bishop Keanga strokes Janet’s naked body gently as he listens to her soft snores. They are in the Bishop’s cottage in Nanyuki. Having made love twice tonight, Janet has finally drifted off asleep, but the Bishop is still too keyed up to sleep. His mind is on the overdrive. Finally, he looks set to legally claim this young woman as his own.
Bishop Keanga did not think that it would be this easy. He has always wanted to have Janet as a wife. He has been sleeping with her since she was twenty one years old, but theirs has been a clandestine affair. He has known her since she was an infant, but the first time he noticed her womanliness was when she came to his office to ask for assistance because she had been admitted to medical school but had no money. She was twenty one, and on the cusp of womanhood. The church usually has a bursary program, and he could have referred her there. But he chose instead to pay for her out of his own pocket.
Their relationship began as an innocent father-daughter relationship. The Bishop would invite her to his house and she would have dinner with his family. Other times they would meet and talk in his office. Then he started taking her out for random dinners. With time, the boundaries became blurred, and one night he kissed her in his car. They made love in the car that night, before he dropped her off at the hostel. They have been lovers since, but they have done an excellent job at covering it up. Being a medical student, Janet knew all about contraceptives, and so has avoided the embarrassment of a pregnancy.
The Bishop has always wished there was a way he could have her publicly by his side; they would make a handsome couple, he thought. The Bishop is 53, but he takes care of himself. He is particular about his diet and he exercises regularly, and the result is that he has a very trim body. He knows that he is good looking, and he dresses well. His late wife Dorothy on the other hand had gained weight over the years, and the clothes and weaves that she wore made her look a very old woman. The Bishop secretly cringed every time he had to take a photo with her.
Bishop Keanga felt that he should have a young wife by his side, and Janet fit the bill perfectly. She is beautiful, intelligent, well dressed and very charming. She would make the perfect First Lady of the CJLI Ministries, and their photos would light up social media.
But Bishop Keanga always knew that it would not be easy to get rid of Dorothy. She had helped him to start the church when they were in their twenties and she was almost as beloved by congregants as he was. Keanga knew that he couldn’t even dare speak ill of her, because she was saintly in the eyes of so many. Knowing that he would never be able to marry Janet, he reluctantly allowed her to get married to that boy Peter, but they continued seeing each other behind their spouses’ backs.
But the Bishop is finally free of his wife.
Dorothy succumbed to breast cancer last year, and Keanga milked as much sympathy from the public as he could. He is going to need that sympathy in order to marry Janet without too much criticism. The good thing is that Peter has made it very easy for him to marry Janet. The youthful pastor has ruffled so many feathers within the Christian establishment in the small town of Chogoria that some pastors are willing to falsely testify that he has been cheating with the chief sinner of the small town. Peter made things easier by hugging that Jezebel. The Bishop has that photo in his phone.
The Bible is clear in Matthew 5:32: But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, brings adultery upon her. And he who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
Keanga knows that that scripture can be manipulated to favor him and Janet. If Peter is accused of sexual immorality and subsequently divorced, he (Keanga) will be free to marry Janet without risking backlash from his followers. So this divorce is going to be loud and messy. They are going to drag Peter through the mud, until everyone is disgusted with him. Keanga already knows the lawyer he wants to handle the divorce: Kiruja is an aggressive man who will use any means available to win, and most importantly thrives on media attention. When dust settles after divorce, Keanga is going to marry Janet in a lavish ceremony.
Right now Keanga and Janet are headed back to the city, but they decided to pass by Nanyuki to fulfil the desires of their flesh. They will leave for the city very early in the morning. Keanga will drop Janet in Murang’a town, and she will stay for a couple of hours in a hotel. Later on she will take a matatu to Thika, and will ask one of the women leaders in their church to pick her there. After dropping her in Murang’a, the Bishop will drive straight to his home in Ruiru, and by 8.30 he will be in his office. Nobody will suspect that they spent the night together.
Janet will meet the lawyer later on tomorrow and together they will announce her divorce. Keanga will also call an emergency session of the Bishopric Council tommorow, and they will rubber stamp his decision to fire Peter, a decision that will be announced to the world via a press conference. Keanga will send the current youth pastor of the Mother Assembly, Harrison Kianki, to take charge of the Chogoria Assembly.
By the time they are done with Peter, he will be wishing he had completed his diploma at NIBS.
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