(Continued from Madam Cavorta III)
Peter wakes up early on Sunday morning. He spends an hour making an emotional prayer of thanksgiving to God. The last two days have been difficult. He had been in this house praying and wondering what he was going to do next. It was obvious that he would have to leave this town. But where would he go? Janet and the Bishop made him a national spectacle, so wherever he went he would be recognized as the “fraudulent pastor.”
But now Madam Cavorta is handing him a lifeline, and Peter believes she has been sent by God himself. Peter had always wanted to be a pastor, and it has always been very clear in his mind that he wanted to preside over a rural, blue-collar congregation. He has always felt strongly that he was called to work with the poorer, less educated members of the society. That is precisely the kind of crowd that frequents Cavorta Bar and Restaurant. They are mechanics, boda boda riders, peasant farmers, small time businessmen and subordinate staff in the institutions around the town.
When he came to this town, those are the kind of people he wanted to minister to; they are the people he reached out to in his forays at Cavorta. But with time, the church he founded was hijacked by the white collar people, thanks in part to the efforts of his wife. Peter doesn’t have a problem with the educated and the elite. He just feels that his calling is not to them but to the less educated and the less wealthy.
The reason he became a pastor at CJLI Ministries, which is an urban, white collar church, is because it was the one opportunity he had at becoming a pastor. The church had asked members who wished to be pastoral interns to make applications, and Peter quickly did so. He felt that he had a lot to learn, and serving under Bishop Keanga would give him the exposure he needed for his future ministry work. Being a pastor at the CJLI Ministries therefore felt like a step in the right direction even though he knew he would not stay there forever.
The church had promised to sponsor the successful interns through Bible School, and Peter felt that even if he would ultimately end up in a rural congregation, theological training would help him reach out to his congregation better. One of the main reasons why Peter has always wanted to preside over a rural congregation is because he feels that many rural pastors misinform their congregations either with malicious intent, or out ignorance. And since many poor people in rural areas have limited education, they follow their lost pastors blindly. Peter has always wanted to change that.
Peter was brought up in a small Pentecostal church in Kitui. It was a fire and brimstone kind of church, and looking back, he is baffled at the things his pastor used to tell them, and which he and the others believed. Pastor Mutua, the pastor of the church his parents still attend, no doubt preaches the same things to his congregation to date, and Peter knows that they still believe him. But Pastor Mutua was not after malicious gain. He was not out to selfishly twist scripture to enrich himself. To the contrary, he genuinely believed what he preached.
But the pastor is also a man of limited education, and what he preaches is what he was taught by other men of God before him. Pastor Mutua didn’t question what he was taught because someone doesn’t question the Anointed of God; and on the same vein he doesn’t expect anyone to question him. But as a teenager, Peter started questioning the teachings of his church. No one was willing to address his concerns though: not his parents, not his peers and definitely not Pastor Mutua. In fact, the pastor warned him that he was perilously close to being blasphemous. But the more Peter read the scripture, and the more he did his own research on the internet, the more he became convinced that he was not the one who was being blasphemous; it was Pastor Mutua who was mistaken, and his congregation was too illiterate to realize it. That is where Peter’s obsession with low education, low income congregations began.
But when he was given permission to open a rural branch of CJLI Ministries, Peter knew that he did not want to go back to his village in Kitui because he did not want a direct confrontation with the now elderly Pastor Mutua.
When Peter got the internship at CJLI Ministries, he deferred his studies at NIBS to focus on his pastoral duties. He did not inform his parents. Peter is an honest man, but he knew that if he told his parents that he had abandoned his studies to become an intern in church, they would not understand.
His parents are poor people who struggled to put food on the table, and paying school fees for him at NIBS was a huge sacrifice. That is why he opted to stay silent for one year. During that year, he opened a bank account and saved the school fees money that they sent. He had just completed second year, so he had only one more year to go. His plan was that if his internship was not successful, he would go back to NIBS and complete his diploma.
But he succeeded. As a pastoral intern, Peter was put in charge of the teens church. He excelled in that role, and at the end of the internship period he was promoted to be a youth pastor. The church sponsored him to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in theology at St. Paul’s University. It is only after he enrolled at St. Paul’s University that he told his parents that he was no longer at NIBS. He returned the fee money that they had given him for the third year, a gesture that they really appreciated. When he graduated from St. Paul’s, he was officially ordained as a pastor in the CJLI Ministry, and he kept his position in the youth church. By the time he left the Mother Assembly, he was earning over two hundred thousand shillings a month. But he left all that for an uncertain future in Tharaka Nithi County because he believed in his calling.
That calling was nearly derailed in the last three days by Janet and Bishop Keanga. But God has reaffirmed that that calling came from Him, and he has used the unlikeliest of vessels to make that affirmation: Madam Cavorta, the so called ‘sinner-in-chief’.
Peter dresses in jeans, a T-shirt and a pair of sneakers. The tradition at CJLI Ministries dictated that a pastor should be in a suit every time he appeared on the pulpit. But Peter is no longer bound by the rules and traditions of CJLI. Today he is going to speak to a congregation of blue collar workers as one of them. He prepares tea and takes it with a loaf of bread.
Nothing much has changed in the house since the departure of Janet, because they had been living separate lives anyway. The only significant difference is that the tension that had been hanging low and heavy in the house is now gone. After breakfast he drives to Cavorta and the transformation is astounding. The place has been scrubbed clean, and plastic chairs have been arranged in neat rows. There is a makeshift pulpit in place, and the public address system is being set up by a couple of young men. Four girls are surrounding a young man at the piano, practicing.
Mercy is all over the place, directing things. When she spots Peter, she walks over to him, greets him and takes him to his new office. It is a small room, but like the main hall, it has been scrubbed clean. It has two windows, so there is plenty of natural light flowing in. Mercy has placed an old desk and chair in there.
“Welcome to your office, Pastor. You stay here and prepare your sermon or pray or do whatever it is that pastors do before the service. I told everyone that the service is beginning at ten.”
The service is vibrant, and Peter is drawn from his office by praise and worship. When he walks down to the hall, he finds that it is full to the brim. Mercy’s girls are doing an excellent job leading worship and everyone is singing ecstatically. Peter enters the hall from a side door and is immediately captured by the festive mood of praise. Mercy leads him to a seat at the front, and then she retreats to the back. The hall is full, and Peter cannot resist the urge to turn back and look at the congregation. Some of the people singing and dancing in that hall have never been to church. Others were the young people he evangelized to and who formed the core of his youth group at CJLI Ministries Chogoria Assembly. But all the older members of his former church have stayed away.
Everyone is soaked in praise when a police van stops at the club, and a contingent of armed anti-riot police officers step out. They walk towards the hall and stop just inside. Their leader walks to the pulpit and grabs the microphone from the praise and worship leader.
“This is an illegal assembly. All of you should pack up and leave. You have two minutes to get out of here.”
The policeman is booed loudly, and no one moves an inch.
“Who is your leader?”
“I am,” Peter says calmly. “And I do know that we have a right to assemble and worship so this is not in any way an illegal gathering.”
“Do you have a police permit?”
“Since when did we need police permission to meet and worship?”
“Stop harassing us officer. We are minding our own business and not bothering anyone,” Mercy says as she moves from the back to the front.
“You will have to come with us to the station. Both of you,” the officer says, and orders his men to arrest Peter and Mercy. “And this meeting is over.”
Seeing their leaders being arrested sparks more boos and heckles, but none of the congregants moves from his or her position. The jeers, boos and heckles irritate the police officers who for some reason throw tear gas canisters at the congregation. That sparks off a pandemonium inside the hall, and that causes the trigger-happy cops to raise their guns and open fire.
(This is the last free sub-chapter of the story. To find out what became of Peter and Madam Cavorta, please follow the instructions below to grab your copy of the novella for only Kshs. 100)
Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/photos/woman-silhouette-sunset-beach-sea-570883/
To purchase any of the books in our e-bookstore (including the latest one, Madam Cavorta, you can follow either one of two main ways:
- MPESA Automated Digital Payment Method. Log in to the bookstore- register if you are new-(https://www.maroncha.com/book-store ). Select the book. Add to cart, check out then pay by inserting your number on the space provided then clicking ‘confirm’. You will be able to download instantly from the bookstore. A copy will also be automatically sent to your email.
- Pay Via Till Number. Log in to the bookstore- register if you are new-(https://www.maroncha.com/book-store ). Select the book. Add to cart, check out then pay via the Buy Goods Till Number provided. Once you get the message from MPESA, insert the MPESA code on the space provided then click ‘Validate Code’. You will be able to download instantly from the bookstore. A copy will also be automatically sent to your email.
If you are completely unable to use the above two methods, you can still purchase your copy manually. The only disadvantage of this method is that you will have to wait for a few hours before you get your copy. But eventually it will come.
- Pay Kshs. 100 to Buy Goods Till Number 297264 and send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org (or DM Sanctuary Side on Facebook) stating your MPESA name. Use the name of the book as the subject of your email. If you send a DM to Sanctuary Side on Facebook, kindly also include your email address. I will send your copy once I verify your payment.
- Pay Kshs. 100 to Buy Goods Till Number 297264 and send an SMS/WhatsApp message to 0105571156 stating your MPESA name and the name of the book you wish to purchase. I will send your copy once I verify your payment.
Remember you can always DM Sanctuary Side on Facebook, email me at email@example.com or send a WhatsApp message to 0105571156 if you have a query or feedback.
The next story begins on Tuesday. See you all then.