Faith

The Apostle I-By Edward Maroncha

Carol sits and watches as the man preaches. He is good-looking, that she has to give him. He is relatively tall, but she doesn’t think he has touched six feet. Perhaps 5’9 or 5’8. His complexion is not exactly black, but a dark shade of chocolate. He is not “cute” as some men are, even though he is very well groomed. His hair is cropped short; his suits are fitting and look expensive; he has a moustache and a goatee that are very well tended to. His lips look soft and juicy, and in Carol’s opinion, definitely very kissable. He has lovely eyes that are accentuated by the gold-rimmed spectacles. Still, he has a solid facial bone and muscle structure that makes him good-looking in a masculine way, rather than “cute” in a feminine way.

“Can I get an amen?” he asks in a deep voice. He has a charming smile that is very captivating. It is not hard to see why women fall for him. Carol estimates that the man must be in his late fifties now, but he still has a youthful spring in his step. He has sprinkles of grey in his hair and beard, but he otherwise still looks very youthful.

Apostle Dwayne is a charismatic preacher, but he is neither a fire-and-brimstone preacher, nor is he a prosperity preacher. Rather, he is in what is increasingly being labelled as a “market-place evangelist”. He is in fact the one who has over the years popularizing the term, ever since he started what he calls “market-place evangelism” over twenty years ago. Simply put, his ministry targets middle-class professionals and teaches them how to be “effective in their careers while using God as the center-piece”. He insists that hard work, knowledge accumulation and virtues such as honesty and integrity are essential ingredients to success in addition to the grace of God. That is what sets him apart from the traditional prosperity preachers. Today, for instance, his sermon is titled “Stewardship-the Pauline perspective.” He is teaching his congregation how they can be stewards in their professional capacities, using the Biblical Apostle Paul as an example.

To many people, Apostle Dwayne is a sober preacher. He is definitely not a radical. His church, Market Place Evangelicals Ministries has close to five thousand members in six campuses around Nairobi and Kiambu Counties. This particular church where Carol is seated, which is in Thika, is the largest of the six with about two thousand five hundred members. It is also the oldest; this is where the Apostle began his ministry with a mabati structure some three decades ago. There is a campus in Westlands, one in Kahawa West, one in Kikuyu, one in Umoja and one in Kiambu Town. The Apostle is the Founder, Presiding Bishop and General Overseer of the ministry, but while all those titles appear on his business cards and letterheads, he prefers to be addressed as the Apostle.

The Apostle is now a very wealthy man, and he doesn’t hide that fact. He often says that when God blesses you, you don’t have to hide those blessings. People should know what God has done in your life so that they can see His glory and praise Him. That is his mantra.

Everyone assumes that the Apostle’s wealth has been accumulated from tithes and offerings given over the course of his thirty years in ministry. But Carol knows it is not, and that is why she resents him so much. She has made it her personal mission to bring him down.

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When Carol first encountered the Apostle, she was in class seven. Her father had just died in a road accident, throwing the family into grief. But they were not poor. Their mother was a middle-level civil servant, but their father was a wealthy businessman. He left behind a rich portfolio of investments. There were rental properties, a dairy farm, a thriving hardware business and a seventeen-acre farm where they used to grow cabbages, onions and carrots for sale. The place they called home was a six-bedroom mansion sitting on two and a half acres of land in Kenol, Murang’a County.

Their father had always involved their mother in the family enterprises, so she would have been able to continue with the businesses unhindered. But she somehow got mixed up with Apostle Dwayne and his church, and he convinced her that he could help her run the businesses. The pastor became a frequent visitor in their home, and as Carol soon discovered, he and her mother were lovers.

That is the first reason she resented him.

Carol had adored her father, and although she understood that he was now dead and would never come back, she resented the fact that her mother had replaced him so soon after his death, and that resentment was projected on the Apostle. But Carol also resented the Apostle because she was old enough to know that he was a married pastor and that what he was doing with her mother was sin.

But the main reason why she hates him so much, and after so many years, is because within two years of starting an affair with her mother, the Apostle swindled (Carol’s) mother and took over all the wealth her father had left behind.  He somehow convinced her to transfer the pieces of land to his name, and he became the owner of the farms and the rental houses. She also transferred the hardware business to him. The pastor even got her to transfer their family home to his name.

When the Apostle met Carol’s mother, he was a struggling preacher. But by the time he was done with her, he was a wealthy man, thanks to the wealth Carol’s father had toiled to build. When Carol’s mother realized that she had been duped, and that the pastor was no longer romantically interested in her, she sank inti depression. It became worse when she realized that the Apostle had bypassed her and was marrying a young lass from his church, after kicking out his first wife. The tipping point came when the Apostle and his new wife came to evict them from their home.

Carol’s mother tried to fight back, but it was too late. Carol believes that the Apostle bribed all the officials where her mother sought help. They were eventually evicted, and Carol’s mother committed suicide. That left Carol and her two brothers as destitute orphans.

The day her mother was buried was the day Carol swore to herself that she would bring the Apostle down and get back what rightfully belongs to her and her brothers. She has kept this anger and desire for revenge alive over the years, and now she is ready to take action. Joining this church is the first step. She knows that the Apostle has a weakness for women because she has done her research. That weakness is what she will exploit to get her revenge.

                                                                                *

Apostle Dwayne beams as he makes a family joke at the expense of his wife, who laughs heartily. Reverend Cecilia is a beautiful woman. She is light-skinned, curvy with a perfect set of very white teeth. Her eyes are always dancing mischievously in their socket, making her pleasant to be with. She is always ready with a smile.

Rev. Cecilia is in her early forties and is over fifteen years younger than her husband. But they still make a handsome couple, because although the Apostle is inching towards sixty, he still has a youthful look about him.

Cecilia is the Apostle’s second wife. He married her after the money started rolling in, abandoning the wife of his youth, Margaret. That is not entirely accurate, because he is not the one who abandoned Margaret. She is the one who left him after she discovered that he was having an affair with a wealthy widow.

Margaret was a true believer in the Christian faith. She was proud of her husband when he told her that he wanted to abandon teaching to become a full -pastor. She supported him in those early days after her established the church. Money was tight, and they survived on her salary.

But their relationship broke down when Dwayne got involved with a wealthy widow called Rachael.

                                                                             *

Rachael’s husband had recently died in a road accident, and although Rachael did not consciously realize it, she was looking for comfort. She met Dwayne met at a banking hall in Thika on a Monday morning. Dwayne was there to inquire on what was needed to open a bank account for his new church. She was there to follow up on money that was in a joint account she held with her recently deceased husband.

Dwayne was in his early thirties at the time, a broke young pastor who had nothing to his name but ambition and a supportive wife. Rachael was in her mid-forties, a wealthy widow who had everything, including a gaping hole in her heart that the death of her husband’s death had created. Rachael was desperate to fill that hole.

As they waited on the line, they got talking. It took Dwayne just a few minutes to realized that she was sad and lonely and that she needed someone to listen to and comfort her. He made all the appropriate comments to gain her confidence, but he mostly listened. He was served by the bank first, and he decided to wait for her. She suggested that they go out for coffee and finish their conversation. She told him that she was a civil servant, but that she had taken leave from work after the demise of her husband and had not yet returned.

They spent the whole day together. Coffee turned to lunch and almost turned to dinner, but Dwayne remembered he had a wife. He and Rachael exchanged contacts though, and they started talking frequently. Within a month, they were lovers. Dwayne did not hide the fact that he was married, but he told Rachael that he felt trapped in his marriage. He told her that he had been box into marrying Margaret by both sets of parents, cheered on by their local pastor. He told her that he and Margaret had grown up as neighbors, and that is why everyone felt they were a perfect match. But he had come to discover they were not. He told her that she, Rachael, was the woman he felt an authentic connection with, which he believed was from God himself.

Of course, none of that was true.

It took a year and a half before Margaret discovered that Dwayne was cheating on her with Rachael. To avoid suspicion, Rachael had decided not to join Dwayne’s church until he divorced Rachael as he had promised. Margaret was tipped by a colleague, who had seen Dwayne and Rachael leaving a hotel room in Machakos. According to lady, Dwayne had his hand around Rachael’s waist. Margaret’s colleague had managed to snap a photo with her phone. It was not a very clear photo, but Dwayne was clearly identifiable. Margaret had previously heard rumors that there was widow her husband visited frequently in Kenol, and that the woman was not a member of the church, but she refused to believe unsubstantiated gossip. She believed in her husband, and when he came home late and told her he had been in church praying, she would believe him.

Until she saw the photo.

When Margaret confronted him, he did not deny it. By that time, he had almost completed his theft of Rachael’s property, and pride had begun to set in. He had decided that he had made a mistake marrying Margaret. In his view, she was not good-looking, was too fat and did not fit in the image he had for his family photos. Forty-four-year-old Rachael was even more good-looking than Margaret was. But Dwayne knew he would not marry Rachael because she was too old and encumbered with children. He was just using her to get rich, and then he would dump her and marry a nineteen-year-old girl he had started an affair with. Her name was Cecilia.

It is because of Cecilia that he wanted to get rid of Margaret. When he was confronted, he admitted that he was seeing Rachael and told Margaret that she would have to live with it, because “he was a man and a man has needs”. Even the Father of Faith, he pointed out, had sexual relations with his house help Hagar. And the Man after God’s own heart, David, had multiple wives.

Margaret was a proud woman She did not take it lying down. She kicked him out of the staff house they were living in and told him that she did not need him. She would bring up her children on her own. That is precisely how Dwayne had wanted it. A clean slate to start afresh with Cecilia.

Twenty-five years later, things have gone according to his plan. He and Cecilia are incredibly rich and their partnership is blossoming. Theirs is a complicated relationship. Dwayne knows that Cecilia has an affair with her driver, but he cannot complain because he also has an eye for women, especially young and pretty college girls and older and wealthier women. He needs the first for sexual gratification, and the second for the money he swindles from them.

Cecilia knows this, because she is the one who fixes his mess. She is the one who organizes abortions when the younger girls get pregnant and once in a while, she makes the older women disappear if they become problematic. Cecilia knows that her husband’s sexual charm is the source of their wealth, and she does her part by protecting him from harm.

To the outside world, Cecilia is a sweet and loving pastor’s wife. But to the women who try to cross her husband, she is a ruthless psycho.

She is going to be the greatest opponent that Rachael’s daughter, Carol, will face in her quest to bring the Apostle down.

(Continued Here.)

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 –Edward.

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