Continued from Trapped II
“So why did you decide to become a pastor?” Celestine asks as they ease out of the compound and find their way to Waiyaki Way. “Was it a childhood dream or did you just wake up one day and decide to go to Bible School?”
“I am not even a trained pastor; I have never been to Bible School. I am just called by my father.”
It is Celestine’s turn to laugh.
“That is what you all say. So what did you study in college?”
“Finance. I have a Bachelor’s degree in finance and a Masters in the same field.”
“So you abandoned your career to become a Pastor?”
“Is that a bad thing?” Jesse asks, a coy smile planted on his face.
“Oh no, no,” Celestine says quickly. “I am so sorry. I did not mean it in a negative way.”
“It’s okay Celestine, I haven’t taken offence. And the truth is that I did not abandon my career. I still work full time as a finance guy. My work as a Pastor is part time, and I am a volunteer. I don’t get paid. Finance pays my bills.”
“Oh, I see. How did you get your call to be a Pastor? Was it a dream, a vision or what was it? I have always been curious to know how Pastors get their calling.”
“I don’t know about the others, so I can only speak for myself. He called me to his office and told me that he wanted me to be a pastor. I couldn’t say no and that is how I ended up being a Pastor.”
Jesse smiles as he notices the confusion on Celestine’s eyes. He knows exactly what she is thinking even before she says it.
“I am lost here. Are you saying that God called you to His office? Where is God’s office?”
“You are beginning to wonder what kind of psycho gave you a lift, isn’t?”
“Not yet, but close,” Celestine says, trying to sound assured. But there is an edge in her voice that makes Jesse smile even more broadly. He glances at the back where everything has grown silent. The children have fallen asleep.
“Ryan stayed up late last night,” Celestine says, following his gaze to the backseat. “I was actually surprised that he was up in the morning, ready for church. I had told him that we would be going to church today, and he was excited. He has never been to church, so this was a new experience for him. I guess that since church is over the excitement is gone and fatigue has finally caught up with him.”
“Oh I see. I think Natasha has fallen asleep trying to imitate him.”
“Like she closed her eyes to imitate him and then ended up asleep?”
“Yes. But trust me the moment this car stops she will be wide awake.”
“That is true. It is the same with Ryan. By the way you still haven’t told me how God called you to His office.”
“I don’t remember saying I was called by God. I said I was called by my father.”
“Pastor Arthur, the man who was preaching today, is the Senior Pastor of the church. He is also my father-in-law. He is the one who made me a pastor.”
Celestine laughs lightly.
“You did that deliberately, didn’t you?”
“Did what?” asks Jesse, feigning ignorance.
“Made me believe that you were talking about God. You knew that that is what I would think.”
Jesse grins at her. Celestine is easy to talk about. She reminds him of Matilda.
“Enough about me. You said that Ryan has never been to church. How come? Where do you leave him as you go to church?”
“I haven’t been to church in close to five years.”
“You told me that you are in-between churches, whatever that means.”
“Yeah, I said that. But I don’t think I said for how long I have been that state.”
Jesse laughs as he realizes that she has played him in his own game. He has laughed more with this stranger this afternoon than he has ever laughed with his wife in the four years they have married.
“So why did you stop going to church?”
Celestine gazes out of the window. They are now in Gitaru, cruising towards Kikuyu. Jesse opted to use this route that will take them to Ngong through Karen.
“I was kicked out after I became pregnant.”
They drive in silence for a while. Celestine is still staring out of the window. Jesse decides not to prod further. It is obvious that her experience is still raw in her mind and that she is still hurting.
“I know what I did was wrong,” she says quietly. “But it did not warrant the humiliation I faced. Our pastor called me a prostitute in front of the whole church. He actually dedicated an entire sermon just to humiliate me. He never asked me whether I wanted to repent or not. At some point I just got fed up and walked out of the service. I left him talking.”
Tears are now rolling down her cheeks. Jesse is moved, but he doesn’t know what he can do comfort her. So he focuses his eyes firmly on the road.
“I am so sorry Celestine,” he says softly.
“I shouldn’t have been surprised though. That guy was a crook. I don’t even know why I had remained in that church for so long.”
“Why do you say that?”
Celestine moves her eyes away from the window and looks at him.
“The reason Pastor Richard was so bitter was not because I was a sinner. I mean, pre-marital sex was a sin but my boyfriend and I were engaged to get married. We even had a traditional wedding scheduled. Besides, I was not the first praise and worship girl to get pregnant in that church. But I was the only one who faced humiliation. The reason was because I had been resisting his sexual advances. So when he got a chance to humiliate me, he grabbed it and spewed all the hatred and resentment at me.”
“What about your fiancée?”
“What about him?”
“Didn’t he get the same treatment from the pastor?”
“He was not from our church.”
“Why didn’t you join him in his church?”
She sighs and stares outside the window again.
“That is a long story. I actually moved to his church for a while. I mean, after the wedding I would have joined him anyway. The original plan was that Pastor Richard, my pastor, would officiate the wedding, and then I would move to my fiancée’s church. I just moved the plan forward.
The Sunday after my humiliation I went with him to his church, and I rather liked it. It was a small congregation along Thika Road. We went for the next four Sundays and he even introduced me as his fiancée. My pregnancy wasn’t showing…”
“Wait, if the pregnancy wasn’t showing, how did your former pastor know?”
“I confessed to his wife, who was also a Pastor. She even led me through a prayer of repentance.”
“Did your fiancé tell his pastor about the pregnancy?”
“He always said he would, but he didn’t actually get around to doing it. One day, after three weeks after I moved to his church, I caught him in bed with another woman. I had just decided to pop in into his house and make him dinner as a surprise. But I am the one who ended up surprised. I found him on the couch with another woman, both of them naked and in the heat of the moment.”
“Yeah. I broke up with him on the spot and since that day I have never set foot inside a church.”
“Why is that?”
“My fiancé was a Man of God. Pastor Richard was too. But after what they did to me, my faith was shaken. I wasn’t sure about the Christian faith anymore. I figured that everyone is pretender.”
“Until today. Why did you decide to come today?”
“I was brought up a Christian, and even though I stopped going to church, I never really lost the faith completely. I just didn’t trust churches and their leaders.”
“So why did you come today?”
“I actually would have come last Sunday but I had told my parents that Ryan and I would visit them. I came because of you. You are a pastor and you didn’t try to hit on me that day that we met in Ruiru. I also liked your views on the Christian faith. So I thought that if you are a pastor, then yours must be a sober church. I decided to give it a try.”
“I am flattered, Celestine. How did you like it? Will you come again?”
“I am sorry Jesse but the answer is no. I think I am done with church for good this time.”
“But why? I know we are not perfect but…”
“It is not about you, Jesse. I still think you are a decent man and a genuine man of faith. But my ex is a member of your church, and so is the woman I caught him cheating on me with.”
“Who is he?”
“His name is Douglas.”
“Douglas the architect? I don’t think I know any other Douglas in our church.”
“Yes, that one. The tall, heavily built and bearded guy. He is Ryan’s father. Or rather he is the one who sired my boy. I wouldn’t call him a father because he has never been there for my son. After the pain of betrayal subsided, and just before Ryan was born, I reached out to him and tried to get him involved in his son’s life but he told me that he wasn’t interested. He told me he had moved on and that I should carry my own cross. He even insinuated that he might not be the father, suggesting that I may have had other men on the side. I was crushed and swore that I would never beg him to assist me with anything. I made up my mind to bring up my son alone. He doesn’t even appear on the birth certificate.”
“Irene is the woman you caught him in bed with?”
“Who is Irene?”
“His wife. She is tall, dark…”
“No. The woman he had been cheating on me with is the one who was leading worship today. I think her name was Carol or something like that. I presumed she is his wife because I noticed that they both have wedding rings. I saw Douglas in the Sunday school class, just before you came.”
Jesse turns his head sharply and looks at her. The vehicle nearly veers off the road but he quickly refocuses and straightens it.
“Carol? Are you sure about what you are saying?”
“Are you surprised that your praise and worship leader was having pre-marital sex five years ago? I was also a worship leader, so I cannot judge her. But seeing her and Douglas has re-opened wounds I thought had healed. I am sorry Jesse, but I can’t join your church. And seeing Carol leading worship reminded me of so much betrayal.”
“Carol is married to me, Celestine.”
Celestine’s eyes widen.
“I am sorry, Jesse. I had no idea otherwise I would have kept my mouth shut.”
“No, it is okay Celestine. I am glad you spoke up. It explains a lot of things about my marriage, which is a sham by the way.”
“Wait, if you are married to Carol, it means she is Pastor Arthur’s daughter. You said he is your father-in-law.”
“Yes, she is.”
“So Douglas cheated on me with a Pastor’s kid who also happens to be a worship leader. See what I am talking about? That is why I am so done with church.”
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