BAPTISM OF FIRE

It was almost three a.m and the vigil was getting thicker. The guest prophet, a smallish man on cheap suit had been on for about four hours now. His suit was drenched in sweat capable of quenching a storey building on fire, if squeezed. He had been performing signs and wonders all the while, telling people their problems and which way the heavens wanted them to go about solving them. I have been a spectator for a larger part of the service. It’s not that I was not moved by all he had done. Who wouldn’t be? The man was pulling some pretty stunts out there. Earlier in the service, he had brought out three brothers (the oldest couldn’t be more than eleven years old) and revealed they all were little wizards who tormented the businesses of their parents. Their parents, quite surprisingly, looked on with satisfaction. Maybe they had also suspected their kids of foul play. The boys later confessed and agreed that they were, but not after the prophet made them drink twelve bottles of GOYA olive oil (really? It looked more of groundnut oil from where I sat) each, and threatened he would make them drink much more if they continued denying the ‘truth’. The crowd applauded. Later, the prophet brought out a woman and revealed that the reason she couldn’t conceive in her marriage was because somebody – maybe a woman in her compound, didn’t like her face.
“I know the woman, Prophet,” the woman had eagerly concurred before the prophet could move on to his next words.
“Rejoice, oh daughter of Zion, for Heaven has smiled on you this day,” the delighted prophet said.
He prophesied the Hosts of Heaven would release her womb to her. “But you will have to register your name first on heaven’s roll. I can see on Heaven’s Miracle List a lot of names. Your name is nowhere to be found…”
The woman looked sad.
“But,” the prophet quickly added. “You can provoke heaven to attend to your case by making a sacrifice like never before.”
The woman promised to triple her tithe…
Moving on, the prophet picked out two people from the choir stand – a man, who should be in his mid-thirties and a girl who should be in her mid-twenties. He revealed they were solving ‘bedimathics’…
So, you see, the vigil had been interesting all along. But my mind was set on something far away from where I was. I should be happy, but I wasn’t. My birthday was the next day, and I was expecting a very full house of friends, but I had no money! All my friends knew my birthday and had called me earlier to say they were coming over to ‘share in my joy’ and what was I to do? Tell them to stay clear because I had no money? No way! So I decided to meet Bamiloye, a colleague, to borrow some cash. But by the time I got to Bami’s house, he was already dressed up for this vigil. Before I could make my request, he asked me to join him to the prayer house. And what was I to say again?
“Err…sorry Bee, I can’t come. I just wanted to borrow som-some money from you…”
That wouldn’t sound courteous enough for a person who needed help. I had to thread softly. And that’s what I was still doing. Once the vigil was over, I would make my request.
As I thought of how best to make my request, I heard a loud voice directed at me.
“Oh Son of Zion, come out!” The scrawny index finger of the prophet pointed at me.
Oh noo nooo, this can’t be happening.Daddy Jesus, please not today, I thought.
Before I knew what had hit me, two ushers pulled me out of my seat and took me to the front of the church where the prophet awaited me. The crowd applauded.
“Why do you have a heavy heart my son when you are in your father’s house?” the prophet said, looking at me in the eyes.
I didn’t know if that was rhetorical or if it demanded an answer. I looked on, confused and fidgeting.
“But rejoice, for the host of heaven have located you this day! That which you seek, you shall get it!”
Really? I didn’t know if I should smile, laugh or hug the man of God. Really? God is going to give me money? How? Most importantly, when?
“Today, you shall receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit,” the prophet said.
Wait…Baptism of what?
“Spread out your hands!” he barked.
I reluctantly obeyed.
“Thank you Holy Spirit,” he said and blew some air in my face. “Receive it!”
Gosh! The smell alone could melt mountains. I wiped my face, standing still. The prophet blew another doze of hot air, spittle coming along with it. I still stood fixed to the ground. He did it again and again. Nothing happened.
“Ohhh,” he said to the hearing of the crowd. “This brother is possessed with a familiar spirit.”
Wait, prophet. Me? Possessed with what?
And that was it, I knew I couldn’t take it anymore.
As he blew another doze, I erupted. My hands flew in different directions, my body swaying dangerously.
“Yes, the spirit is moving,” I heard him say.
If only he knew…
I spun and spun and kept on spinning. Nothing could hold me back. I left the stage and spun into the crowd. Everyone stood up from their seats and made way. I deliberately crashed onto the chairs, stood up, held my head like something had got into it, and kept on twisting like a tornado. I jumped, landed on the floor (ouch!) and rolled all over it. I kicked bags, water bottles, jotters and anything that came in my way, including humans. I spotted the prophet with one eye. He looked lost and confused. I continued the ferocious baptism for another fifteen minutes. The ushers couldn’t keep me still, not after I poked one in the eyes. I continued the nuisance for another ten minutes, and then lay still. I spotted the prophet wiping his face which streamed with oceans of sweat.
And that was how the service came to a close. The General Overseer of the church wouldn’t allow for any more miracles. Who knows? The next person may be more vicious – or worse.

*This story has been published in DEGREE360 MAGAZINE and on http://www.naijastories.com (under †ђξ pen-name double-oh-7) by Yours Faithfully.

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