By Wana Udobang I can never forget my days as a church prostitute, mind you it wasn’t intentional. We just had a few problems here and there. Like every other Nigerian family desperately seeking and hunting down the good lord to cleanse us of all our gigantous afflictions. Name the church, I had been there. Christ Embassy, Latter rain, Zoe Ministries, Agape worship center, Christ faith tabernacle, Mountain of fire RCCGsssssss and even Synagogue. Of course I had my field day at all night mosquito vigils, deliverance services intercessory prayer meetings and oh less I forget the forever staple fund raising ( toilet fund, chair fund, pulpit fund and even carpet fund). At this point my mother implored her skills as a former parish woman’s society member to head the toilet fund committee into the eventual erection of the major under bridge church toilet. The church was situated in a dilapidated building under Ikeja Busstop Bridge. There were forms for prayer requests and special deliverances. Paper cost money and exorcising special demons also incurs its very unique charges. There was Ogechi who made her hour long confessed after her deliverance session. She claimed that she was a mermaid and had very long hair in the spiritual realm. She said she drank over hundred litters of water a week which was given to her by the queen of the coast and so in the physical realm ( earth slash Lagos slash the face me I face you where she resides), she is somehow incapable of consuming fluid. Then the plot thickens. She had a tee shirt which she wore everyday and for some majestic reason was unable to take it off. Now Ogechi was free from her afflictions and the numerous demons that tortured her family, all for a price of course and some holy pure water. The pastor always dried to spin me around during his sessions just before the end of the Friday vigils service but I became tagged as the stubborn candidate. Apparently I wasn’t opening my heart enough to embrace the temporary psychotic episode that came with the intense wave of the holy spirit’s special anointing. With its anointing came its very absurd physical manifestations. The body usually starts contorting into different positions, just before the part where you start spinning like candy swirls. But most importantly, there is the “cabashing” in tongues which ends with a collapse to the floor. Then they wake up at the end of the vigil sometime around 6am in the morning. My general interpretation was this. It was a chance to do the routine and take a long nap just before the closing prayers. There was the church situated at a dark corner alley way somewhere in the center of Agege. I remember the leader seizing my gold earrings after a prayer session saying the demons had gotten to me through the earrings. He asked with a very stern look on his face “who gave you this earrings”? My mother responded quickly saying it was hers and he had to let it go as he realized demon infested or not, we were going home with our gold trinket. My week was always full; I had immersed myself in all their activities. Monday prayer meeting, Tuesday deliverance service, Wednesday midweek service, Thursday choir practice, Friday night vigil and of course Sunday service. Saturday had something going on but I choose to take a day off. Then there was synagogue. I was staying with my cousins at the time so this really wasn’t out of choice. Back then it was just a tin roof held together by vertical planks. The congregation prayed ferociously and waited as early as eight in the morning till five PM, just to touch the hem of Josh’s robe. (TB Joshua) It was a bit overwhelming and bewildering to watch, but most of all I just couldn’t fathom spending my whole Sunday under a tin roof with people that smelled of different concoctions they drank and rubbed for strange ailments. After a few weeks of attending, I realized that Pastor Josh was their Jesus. He was truly their messiah. They had substituted “Temitope” for Jesus in quite a lot of popular praise songs and they eat special eggs to get pregnant. They took baths in the gritty stream nearby as a certain kind of spiritual cleansing. Unfortunately, even this became a bit too much for me. Sadly, this all led to an amazing collection of angst riddled rock album. I was raised with an atheist as a father and my mother only became catholic because they were the best schools for your children to attend. Without a doubt her sense of faith was a bit warped as well. After a few years of my sojourn into the world of rock lyrics and new age Babel, still uncured of all my very many issues, depression and self loathing to name a few, I decided to delve back into the world that I knew best. Despite the stories of child molestation, sexism, and fanaticism.( reading purple hibiscus didn’t redeem the sect either) rosaries, incense and novella prayers were still my one stop destination. Though I now categorise myself as one of the few finally emancipated from dodgy Pentecostal sects, I still get a bit confused by certain things. I always thought all men were equal in the eyes of the good lord. Why does every page in the daily devotional “Rhapsody Of Realities” has a picture of it resident “jerry curled” pastor, Chris Oyakhilome or his wife Pastor Anita? Why do all his trainees have “jerry curls” too? Why do they call Pastor Adeboye Daddy? Why do most Nigerians practically worship church leaders? Are we building a nation of cloned Zombies? Or are we already operating on a certain alkaline battery shoved into our backside? As my favorite angst riddled lyric says “not all of us are heaven sent, and there was never meant to be only one..hey megalomaniac, you are no Jesus, hey you are no Elvis…..wash your hands of your sins maniac step down. I sure hope the good lord sees all of this.
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