The Predator-By Edward Maroncha

It is Sunday, and Pascal has just concluded his sermon. He is now getting to the main event, the altar call. This is the session that draws the crowds to his church. It is the session that has made him a respected man of God. People walk for kilometers just to come and get their healing here. People throw their earthly possessions at him just so they can get a miracle.

But Pascal is nervous today. The energy in his church has been dropping in the last few months. His staged miracles have not been having the desired effect. It is as though his paid actors are losing their creativity. Pascal is afraid that he could lose his congregation, which is the source of his butter and bread. The reason he is anxious today, though, is because on Wednesday he engaged a lady called Rachel to get him people to dramatize miracles, and he is not sure whether she will deliver. She has already given him the script but will it work? Only time will tell. But Pascal knows that if it doesn’t work, it will be an official sign that his ministry is in trouble.

“Brethren, I want to pray for someone here. You are here, and you are having a skin disease. Your flesh is practically rotting away while you are still alive. If you are that person, and you are seated here today, the Spirit is telling me that your day of healing has come.”

The congregation issues a thunderous “Amen!”

“If that person is you please come forward,” Pascal says.

A lady who is covered from head to toe with lessos comes forward slowly.

“What is your name, my sister?”

“My name is Angeline Kathambi.”

“Where do you come from?”

“I come from Mitunguu.”

“What are you doing in Ishiara?”

“I came because my brother, who works here, told me that there is a man of God who can heal me of this terrible sickness.”

“I don’t heal my sister, it is God who heals. But I am humbled that He uses me as His vessel. So how long have you had this disease?”

“For three years now. I have gone to every hospital but doctors have told me that there is nothing they can do. I just have to wait for my body to decompose till I die.”

“That will not happen my sister because the Lord is healing you today.”

The congregation gives a thunderous applause.  But that dies instantly when Pascal uncovers the woman’s head and face. Her face is covered with ugly wounds that appear to be bleeding. There is a collective gasp in the church, and some women start crying softly.

“Are these things all over your body?”

“Yes, Pastor,” she replies and displays her legs and hands which have the same large and ugly blotches. She covers them again but leaves her face uncovered.

“You know my sister, Jesus said that it is your faith that makes you well. It is not the pastor’s faith but your faith. Do you believe that you can get better today?”

“Yes, Pastor. I do not doubt in my heart that you are sent of God.”

“Give me a basin with water, a face towel, gloves, and anointing oil,” he tells the ushers.

The items are brought. He removes his coat and his wife Salome dutifully takes it.  An usher gives him surgical gloves that he puts on. The water is placed at the pulpit, and he pours olive oil in there. He also pours olive oil on the face towel and makes a dramatic prayer punctuated by tongues. When he finishes, he asks the lady to bend over the water. He gently starts washing her face while praying in tongues. Fleshy solids, blood, and what appears to be pus start falling into the water and on the lessos.

After a few minutes, he asks her to stand. Surprisingly, her face is clear. The congregation cheers loudly. He asks his wife to take her to the office and find her something clean to wear.

“Does our God keep promises?” he asks the congregation.

“Yes, He does!” the congregation roars.

“I want you to stand on your feet and start saying something to the Lord. And if you are unwell, or if you have a prayer request, something that you are trusting God to do today, I want you to come to the front.”

Everyone rises and starts praying. Many throng to the pulpit until there is no space on which to stand. Minutes later, a lady in a pretty, sleeveless yellow dress is brought to the church by the pastor’s wife. It takes a minute for the congregants to recognize her as the lady with the rotting flesh. She is light-skinned, and the skin on her face, arms, and legs is flawless. Suddenly a huge applause goes up from the congregation, even before the lady is allowed to give her testimony. Then Pascal starts praying in tongues, and his congregation follows his lead.

While things are working out today for Pastor Pascal, on Wednesday he was almost sinking into depression. He had just led the midweek service, and the congregation had not responded the way he had expected it to. Pascal sat at his office that evening and stared at the walls. He knew that his altar-calls needed a rejuvenation but he had no idea how to do it. Fewer and fewer people were responding to his altar calls, and he knew that that was not good for business.


Pascal Aaron Mwikamba is the Senior Pastor of Divine Fire International Ministries. He started this church fifteen years ago in a small mabati shack with five members, three of whom were his wife, his sister, and his sister-in-law. The other two were members of his father-in-law’s church, which he had been attending earlier. The five had agreed to join him at a new church that his father-in-law had ‘planted’ for him.

Pascal is 39, and although he has little formal education, he has done well for himself. His church has a membership of two thousand five hundred congregants, who meet every Sunday to hear him preach and watch him perform miracles. Midweek services are attended by fewer people, but that is expected, and it happens in all churches. In fact, his midweek services are attended by more people than many churches have as their entire congregations. On average, he gets about seven hundred worshippers on Wednesday evenings, and four hundred over lunch hours.

The church itself is a magnificent stone edifice that was designed by one of Pascal’s congregants, who is an architect. The architect supervised the construction and led the team of construction professionals who put it up, including the civil and structural engineers, the electrical engineer, the quantity surveyor, the interior designer, and their assistants. These are the same people who built his home.

The architect did not charge a dime for his services. He told Pascal that he was working for the Lord, and therefore would not dare charge anything. But the other professionals, including the lawyers, had to be paid, and materials had to be bought. But that was not a problem, because another church member, an accountant called Doreen Ngina, put together a fundraising committee that managed to raise the necessary funds for the construction of both the church and the pastor’s house. Earlier, Pascal had managed to raise enough money from the congregants to buy the piece of land on which the church stands, but he registered it under his name. The land on which his home stands was donated to him by a congregant.

When his church outgrew the mabati shack, Pascal leased the piece of land from one of the local farmers and erected a tent, and that is where his congregants fellowshipped for over five years. He paid monthly rent to the farmer for those five years, before he bought the land.

From the rented mabati shack that he started with, Pascal has done well for himself. He now has a magnificent church that comes with a beautiful office, with his own secretary and a staff team of fifteen, including five pastors.  He lives with his wife and six children in a beautiful five-bedroom house. All the children are in top schools. He drives a Lexus, while his wife Salome drives Mazda CX5. By all indications, the man of God is doing well. But he always feels as though poverty is lurking in the shadows, waiting to pounce on him and return him to the depths of despair where he came from.


Pascal was born into a poor family in Kathageri, Embu County. His father was a carpenter, and a very good one if you took his skillset into account. But Daudi’s career was derailed by alcohol. Whenever he was sober, Daudi would do a very good job at whatever he was called upon to do, be it building wooden houses, roofing stone houses, building chicken coops, and so forth. He would have been the most sought-after carpenter had he been reliable. But thanks to alcohol, Daudi was anything but reliable. Whenever he got some little money, Daudi would run off to the bar and drink himself silly and would return to work three or four days later. Because of this, many people avoided giving him work.

Pascal’s mother, Asunta, sold fruits at Kathageri market. She did her best to support her family, but with seven children to feed, it was an overwhelming burden to her. She made sure there was always food on the table, but that left nothing for school or clothes or anything else. Besides, Daudi would sometimes take her money by force and go drinking.

Pascal dropped out of school in class six. By then, he was smoking tobacco rolled in newspapers, having been introduced to the vice by his older brothers when he was in class two. Weeks after dropping out of school, he was introduced to locally brewed alcohol, and it was also around that time that he got introduced to sex. His first lover was the forty-five-year-old woman who operated the illegal beer den where he, his father, and his brothers drank. He was thirteen years old.

His brothers organized his circumcision shortly thereafter so that he could be regarded as a ‘man’ in the traditional way. Just like his brothers, he became a tout and earned a living by helping to fill matatus at Kathageri market and sometimes at Runyenjes and Chuka towns. By all indications, Pascal and his brothers were following in the footsteps of their father. They were probably worse.

But Pascal’s life changed one afternoon when he ventured into an open-air crusade led by a charismatic preacher in Chuka town. Pascal watched the drama of the pastor’s altar call and realized that the man was a con. Unlike his father and brothers, Pascal is intellectually gifted and he has very sharp perceptions. As he watched women falling and rolling on the ground while the pastor shouted at the ‘demons’ in them, Pascal sensed that the man was an actor and that the whole show was staged.

But rather than dismiss it like his friends did, Pascal sensed that it would be his ticket out of poverty if he played his cards right. By the time the pastor and his team set up the stage for their crusade the following afternoon, Pascal had a plan. He stayed away from the matatu stage the whole day; or rather, he stayed out of sight. As the singing was going on, Pascal was listening from a nearby bar, where he was nursing a drink. He drank just enough to reek of alcohol, but not enough to get drunk. For his plan to work, he knew he needed some control over his actions and thought processes.

When the Pastor started preaching, Pascal gave him ten minutes before he staggered in while shouting and screaming that he wanted to give his life to Christ. That stopped the preaching, as he knew it would. He had studied the preacher and understood what made him tick. Interrupting the sermon was deliberate. He knew that if he waited for the altar call, he would not get attention, as he would be crowded out by other sinners. So faking drunkardness and storming in while the sermon was going on was the perfect way to get the pastor’s attention.

It worked.

The pastor seized the opportunity to dramatically lead him to Christ. Pascal sobbed loudly from the podium. Men and women danced and praised after he hiccupped his way into a confession prayer. He was then led away by a team of ushers, as the preacher began the main altar call, his sermon having been abandoned. Pascal begged the ushers not to abandon him, as Satan would lead him back to the ways of sin. He begged them to take him away with them.

To his surprise, they agreed. This had been the weakest part of his plan.

Arrangements were made and they took Pascal with them to Embu that night. The Pastor, it turned out, was from Embu. Pascal was housed in a storage room at the church, and the following day he met the pastor in his office. He gave the pastor a woeful story about being abandoned as a baby and how he and his siblings grew up in the streets. He begged the pastor to give him work to enable him to turn his life around.

Reverend Elijah, as the pastor was called, stared at him for a couple of minutes, before speaking. And when he finally did, it was music in Pascal’s ears. The pastor gave the job of the church caretaker. His job would be to clean the hallways, dust the seats, and take care of the flowerbeds. This job had been done by volunteers before. For his efforts, he would earn fifteen thousand shillings. The Pastor promised to ask a plumber to convert one of the storage rooms at the back of the church into a bedsitter by fixing a toilet, bathroom, and kitchen sink, which would be connected to the main plumbing system of the church. The only condition was that he would have to remain in the faith, and would have to be an active member of the church. If he fell off the faith, he would lose all the benefits. Pascal agreed to everything and profusely thanked the pastor.

Pascal is a good actor, perhaps even a better actor than his mentor, Reverend Elijah. In the weeks that followed, he threw himself at church work. He did his duties diligently, but he also became an active church member. He joined the youth fellowship and became a very active member. He also joined the intercessory team and the praise and worship team. Pascal is musically gifted, and it didn’t take long for him to become a worship leader. By the end of the year, he could play the piano and the bass guitar. He also took adult literacy lessons and learned how to read and write. Soon enough he could speak polished English.

By the third year, Reverend Elijah had promoted Pascal to be a youth pastor. His salary was a hundred thousand shillings, and he finally moved out of the church compound. He rented his own space and, within a year, married Reverend Elijah’s eldest daughter Sharon. Pascal’s influence at the church continued to grow year after year until Reverend Elijah started getting insecure. He was aging and seemed to be losing his touch. But Pascal was becoming a force.

To tame his son-in-law, Reverend Elijah ‘planted’ a church for him in Ishiara market. Elijah was convinced that the boy would be humbled. Pascal left the main church in Embu town and went to Ishiara with his wife Sharon and Sharon’s younger sister Edith. Pascal’s sister Ruth had gotten married in Ishiara and was running a vegetable business there. She readily joined the new church. A praise and worship member from the main church called Salome followed Pascal, together with one of the elders called Lawrence. Lawrence, a businessman in Embu town, was a widowed businessman and was sent by Reverend Elijah to ‘keep an eye on the boy’.  The church started in a rented mabati shack in Ishiara market.

Reverend Elijah thought he was taming his son-in-law, but to Pascal, this was an opportunity for him to use all the tricks he had learned under his father-in-law, and to apply new ones. Pascal turned out to be a better con artist than his father-in-law, and within a year, the church had grown from five members to six hundred. Pascal leased a piece of land and set up a tent. Two years later, he bought the piece of land. The construction began later.

As his church grew, so did his wealth. Pascal has mastered an interesting mix of prosperity gospel and fire-and-brimstone messages. He has amassed a loyal group of followers who swear by his name. This has helped, because over the years, he has been rocked by controversy, but because of the devoutness of his followers, it has only grown his influence rather than destroying him.

The greatest scandal that Pascal weathered had to do with his wife. Sharon discovered that her husband was sleeping with both her sister Edith and Salome, the praise and worship leader who had followed them from Embu. She wreaked havoc and tried to kick him out of the church, which she claimed was her father’s. But she underestimated Pascal’s craftiness.

Pascal accused Sharon, her sister Edith, and the elder from Embu, Lawrence, of being used by Reverend Elijah to try and destroy his ministry. Pascal knew that the congregants in Ishiara had little emotional connection to Reverend Elijah. The Man of God that they knew and trusted was him. Pascal claimed that Sharon and Edith were both sleeping with Lawrence, but he had been warned not to say anything about it because their father would take away the church from him. This story is what gained traction, and the congregation became very hostile to the three, and they left town and returned to Embu in shame. Pascal severed ties with his father-in-law after that incident and changed the name of the church to Divine Fire International Ministries.

Sharon left behind her three children. Edith gave birth to Pascal’s child months later, but Pascal never acknowledged the child as his. It didn’t matter because Edith moved in with Lawrence and he took responsibility for the pregnancy. Pascal had been right without knowing it; Edith had been sleeping with both him and Lawrence.

Pascal married Salome in a colorful wedding after divorcing Sharon. Nobody batted an eyelid, and the congregation remained intact. It helped that Salome was and still is more popular in the church than Sharon ever was. She took up Sharon’s children as her own and gave birth to three more.


The reason Pascal is so afraid of poverty is partly because of his father-in-law. As the years went by, Reverend Elijah’s popularity and influence waned, and his income dwindled. Struggling to maintain the lifestyle and image of a high-profile man of God, the pastor got into debt, and this was the beginning of his downfall. Banks auctioned his church and his home and he now lives in a rented house in Dallas, Embu. His church is a small rented hall in Embu town that struggles to get three hundred worshippers on a good Sunday.

This is the fate Pascal has been trying very hard to avoid. He knows that his church ministry is built on quicksand. All the miracles that he performs, and which have earned him fame, are all staged. If his congregants ever discovered that, then he would be lost. Pascal is not a saint. He is not even a Christian.  He sleeps around, drinks alcohol from the comfort of his house, and does almost every other thing he tells his congregants not to do.

But he knows that all that wouldn’t matter to his congregants, even if it came to light, as long as he continues to ‘heal the sick’ and ‘perform’ other miracles. The miracles, not his behavior, are the real signs that he is a man sent by God, and as long he is performing them, he is good. But that is the reason he is so sensitive to the drop in energy levels of his church. On Wednesday only three people responded to his altar call, in addition to his two paid actors.


When that girl Rachel appeared in his office on Wednesday, it was getting late, but Pascal was not in a hurry to go home.  One of the good things he discovered about marrying Salome is that she is not as dramatic or as controlling as Sharon was. As long as she keeps her social status, she doesn’t care who he sleeps with or what time he gets home. All Salome cares about is her title as the Pastor’s wife, which includes living in their mansion in Ishiara, having fine clothing, her children attending the best school in the area [with the older ones in prestigious boarding schools], shopping in high-end shops in Nairobi, driving a good car and having regular holidays out of the country. In short, as long as there is money to spend, Salome doesn’t bother her husband. Pascal doesn’t complain either. She doesn’t fulfill him in bed, but that is probably because he has many other women on the side who are more experienced in the ways of the world than she is. Some are commercial sex workers who are skilled in their craft. But Salome is beautiful, and this makes their photos awesome, and this in turn adds to his prestige.

Salome was once a genuine believer, but ever since he seduced her into sleeping with him while he was still married to Sharon, her innocence was lost. Now she knows that he is a fake pastor and that his miracles are staged, but she plays along because she wants to maintain her lifestyle. In fact, she helps him whenever she can.

On Wednesday Rachel found Pascal wondering which woman he would visit for sex before going home. His options that evening were limited to Anita, a socialite who is a regular in his church and who claims to be a model, and Chantelle, a married woman whose husband works at the Kenyan Embassy in Addis Ababa. Either of the two women would help him ease the pressure by giving him solid action in bed. That is what he needed. The two women know how to stimulate his body when he is drained, as he was. But Chantelle was a better option because she would not be whining about needing money the whole time, as Pascal knew Anita would do.  That girl Anita is an expensive vice that he has. But Chantelle is a legitimate businesswoman, and she also has her husband’s money to spend, and they only hook up to fulfill the desires of their flesh and enjoy each other’s company. Chantelle’s children are all grown up and work in Nairobi.

Pascal was just about to call her when the door to his office opened and a girl entered. Pascal was surprised, but not in an unpleasant way.  The girl seemed to be in her early twenties. She was beautiful, and Pascal was immediately drawn to her by her perfume. She was dressed in a tiny miniskirt that displayed acres of her thighs and a low-cut top that exposed almost the entire of her cleavage. It was cold, but she didn’t seem to feel it.

It was getting dark, and Pascal knew that the people who had attended the midweek church service had hurried home.  He and the girl were all alone, save for the guards at the gate.

“Hello Pastor,” she said with a sweet smile. Pascal drew the curtain behind him, making the room dark before he hit the light switch.

“Hello my daughter,” he replied in a fatherly tone. He already knew that he wanted to sleep with her, but he knew from experience that making her feel at ease would be the quickest way to achieve that goal. “What can I do for you”

“I think the question is what I can do for you.”

Pascal was surprised. He doesn’t get many visitors who talk like that. He wondered whether she was offering her body to him. He does get that a lot, but never in the office. Women, young and old, married and unmarried, often send him private messages offering to sleep with him. If that is what that girl was doing, then she would be the first to do it in person and in the office. That thought intrigued him.

“So what can you do for me?”

“I am a member of this church, but I have noticed today that the people you have been using for your staged miracles are no longer effective. The clowns you had today couldn’t even excite the crowd. There has been a remarkable difference in the energy levels of the church.”

That statement hit Pascal like a thunderbolt.

“I don’t…”

“Relax, Pastor. My name is Rachel, and I am not here to condemn you. I am here to help you. At a fee, of course.”

“And supposing you are right, how would you help me?”

“I am a student at the University of Embu. Students are always hungry but most are very creative. I can always bring you a new artist every Sunday to excite the congregation and raise your profile as a miracle worker once more. The students fake shocking illnesses, you heal them dramatically and you pay them a small fee and they go away. I will be getting a consultation fee for that service. Maybe you can even hire me as your assistant. With a regular salary, I can do that and more.”

“Where more means…”

“For one hundred thousand shillings a month, I can bring you one student every Sunday and one every Wednesday to get healed. I can also run your social media pages and ensure you are getting publicity online. Your team will be taking photos and videos, and I will be using them to make you popular online.”

Pascal, unable to hide his physical desire anymore, rose and walked around the desk to her. He stroked her hair gently.

“What if I want more than that?”

The girl stood and cupped her hands around his face.

 “Add fifty thousand. For one hundred and fifty thousand shillings a month, I will do everything I have said and my body will be yours whenever you want it.”

“What if I want it now?”

“Send me twenty thousand shillings and you can have me.”

Pascal tried to kiss her but she slithered away.

“Don’t think you can take advantage of me, Pascal. I am a con, just like you. But I am also trained in karate so don’t even imagine you can take me by force.”

“I am sorry. I wouldn’t even want to do that. I just got carried away.”

He took out his phone, asked for her MPESA number, and transferred the money to her from his account. When she got the confirmation message, she drew him close to her and kissed him on the lips. She bit his ear playfully and whispered, “Let’s go to a hotel and I will blow you away.”


Pascal did not go home on Wednesday night. He spent the night at a hotel in Embu town with Rachel. Twenty thousand shillings has to be the highest amount of money he has paid for sex, but he did not regret it. In fact, he feared that he would get a stroke. Or a heart attack. On Thursday morning, they went to a lawyer in Embu town and Rachel walked away with a contract that me her Divine Fire’s official social media manager with a gross salary of one hundred and fifty thousand shillings.


Today Rachel is seated in the front row of the church, next to Pascal’s wife Salome. She is now a senior church staff member and even has a staff badge that entitles her to a front-row seat with the pastors and their spouses. Her eyes are closed tightly, and her hands are lifted to the skies as she prays. Pascal realizes that she is as good a con as he is. Perhaps better. Anyone seeing her now would not believe that she is anything but a born-again lady who has devoted her life to Christ. Pascal wonders whether marrying her would help propel his ministry to the next level. But that would mean finding a way of getting rid of Salome.

Rachel is dressed in a trouser suit and heels and looks like a pious lawyer. He can’t wait for the evening to come so that he can take her to that hotel again. He intends to spend the night with her today. Tomorrow, being a Monday is his day off so he can enjoy a lazy morning with her after a busy night. She has delivered as she promised, and the enthusiasm in his church has peaked again. Pascal plans to send her some bonus money to her tomorrow. Especially if she delights him in bed again tonight as she did the last time out.

Distracted, Pascal stops speaking in tongues. Rachel opens her eyes slowly and looks at him. He smiles at her but she does not smile back. Instead, she mouths the word “focus”. He gets it immediately and realizes she is right. He should not allow himself to be distracted while on the pulpit, because business comes before pleasure.

He closes his eyes again and starts speaking in tongues, casting out imaginary demons. He is now confident that his church business will boom till he dies, especially with Rachel by his side.


[Next Friday I will tell you why Rachel is not who she seems to be, and why she is out to destroy Pascal in the story ‘The Hunter’. On Saturday I will show you how the drama between Pascal and Rachel unfolds in the novella ‘Hunting the Predator’].


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