Your friend, Blessing, is nowhere to be found.

       She has left Lagos for over a month now. Where she has gone to, no one knows.
Before Blessing disappeared, she was behaving strangely. She used to be a boisterous young woman. She was the first to report to work and the last to go home. She was the office chatterbox, always talking about one thing or another, going on and on about about her church, Saving Grace Incorporated—mostly about her pastor.

      She even got you to attend the church. But two months ago, she began to recoil into herself. She stopped talking about Saving Grace Inc. Whenever Pastor Samuel’s name was mentioned, she would avert her eyes and seem to tremble as if the name conjured evil thoughts.
Pastor Samuel is the talk of the town. Everything about him is news—how he preaches with an iPad coated with gold, how his suits and shoes are worth millions in the shopping malls in London, how his healing powers come from his wife who is as beautiful as mamiwater. The stories are endless—a mixed of gossip and rumor, like milk mixed with hot akamu—stories about how he sleeps with the most beautiful women in the church, both married and single.
To be perfectly honest, who doesn’t want to sleep with God’s anointed, these days? There is talk of his wife knowing about these illicit affairs and doing nothing for fear of losing one of the most beautiful men in Nigeria.

     Some say that even Jesus trembles when Pastor Samuel calls his name in prayers and hastens to the pastor’s requests.
You had warned Blessing about Pastor Samuel’s interest in her. She paid deaf ears to all your advice and accused you of cursing and rumor-mongering with the name of God’s anointed.
But now, your friend is missing and you wonder if it has anything to do with Pastor Samuel. Every night, when you return to the three bedroom flat you share with your mother, you wonder if Pastor Samuel had so fallen in love with Blessing that he organized for her to travel to London, New York, Nairobi or to any other big city where he could always join her in one of his numerous tours so they could continue with their affair—oh, you wonder if they even had an affair. You wonder.

        You stop going to church. Every Sunday, as your mother whistles worship songs and prepares for mass, you cook white rice and prepare ofe akwu with roasted meat. The aroma travels through almost all the doors in your neighborhood. The tasty food shuts your mother’s mouth when she returns from church. She never asks why you’ve stopped attending church.
You are so weak this Sunday. You roll and turn on your big mattress like a wounded elephant. You think about Blessing and what might have happened to her. After sometime you stand and shower, dress rapidly as if a force is propelling you. You put on a fuchsia mini skirt, a white chiffon blouse with a plunging neckline, and finish off with a pair of black pumps.

            The sermon is underway when you arrive at Saving Grace, Inc. Pastor Samuel is dressed in a tailored charcoal suit and sparkling white shirt. The bow tie is a nice touch and gives his look a clean, dapper finish.
Pastor Samuel preaches on generosity and praises members of the church who pay huge sums of money as tithe.

        After service, the same stubborn spirit that brought you to the church takes you to the back of the church where the pastor stands beside his wifes. He chit-chats with devotees and shares hugs and pecks with his favorite congregants. When it is your turn, you approach. His wife eyes you jealously and cautiously. She hovers around her husband as though she were his personal god, guiding and protecting him, especially from the ever ready arms of young girls that yearn for him.
The pastor steps to the side with you and says:
“Young lady, may God be with you. It is a long time. We have not seen you for some time.”  The back of the church is filled with Acacia planted in neat rows. The breeze swells your shirt, and Pastor Samuel’s gaze falls on your light-skinned cleavage.

“You remember me, Pastor?”

“Yes of course. You are Blessing’s friend.”

“Now, pastor. That is why I have come…”

His face narrows, as if he is paying serious attention. It makes him so handsome. So very handsome. All of a sudden, you see what everyone sees in him. You can see that his face is squared. His chin and jaw are well shaved and look so smooth. His hair is shaved low and sparkles in the sunlight. You wonder what hair cream he uses. What product is it? Is it Old Spice?

“Your friend, Blessing, how is she?”

“Pastor, I have not seen Blessing for three months and counting now. She has stopped coming to work. In fact the office has struck out her name from the staff list. Her flat was empty and open when I checked on her. Her relatives seem not to know where she is…”
Your eyes meet. You look away. He is silent and shows a lot of concern. At that instant the doubts you harboured about him vanishes like vapor.

“My dear. It is a pity. This news is a sad one. May God protect us from the hands of the evil ones.”

“Amen, Pastor.”

“I hope Blessing is safe. My God does not sleep. He has a hold on his children. Oh, she was one of 
the most devoted members of Saving Grace.”

You are silent.

“Now, we all have a responsibility to help out. To search for her. To pray to God for her safety.”

“I have been doing so, Pastor.”

“Okay. We have a special prayer session on Wednesday. It holds every Wednesday. Can we meet up 

next Wednesday and pray for her together, joined by the other young people in the church?”
Your head tells you to say yes and you say, “Yes, Pastor.”
He walks back to his wife and resumes talking to other devotees. You walk down to the road to get a taxi. His face has embedded itself on your mind. You can see every bit of his face, the two lines on his forehead that becomes visible only when he is listening. The thick, well-shaped lips—kissable too. His eyes are like those of the dolls you had when you were a kid. You wonder why God spent a lot of time and resources creating just one man with more than what He would have used to make over twenty other men handsome.

            On Wednesday, you go to Saving Grace Incorporated. You sit at the back but he says:

“Sister, ehm, What is your name, sister?”

“Zainab, Pastor.”

“Please come to the front, Zainab. Praise the Lord!”

“Halleluiah!” everyone choruses.

“We are here today as usual to thank and praise God for his deeds and to ask for mercies. We are 

here, brethren, because one of our members, who used to be devoted to this church and to the things of God is missing. Her name is Blessing. Her friend Zainab asks us to pray for her safety!’
The whole church stares at you as you walk briskly to the front pew and sits. You are sure that Pastor Samuel is blessed—with beauty and intelligence. His command of English language is impeccable and his knowledge of the bible, including the holy Quran, thrills you. You wonder if all those stories you hear about him are all rumors. You wonder.
After the service, you stay behind because it is courtesy that you say thank you. After all, he did pray heavily and at length for Blessing, breaking the chains of evil forces that may be holding her somewhere. At the back of the church where his car is packed, he says to you:

“Sister Blessing. Your friend must be proud of you.”

“Thank you, Pastor. I was worried, but now my heart is at peace.”

“Not to worry, Sister. God will make a way. I can give you a ride if you want.” He is opening his car door already.

“I will find my way, Sir.”

“I know you can, young lady. But I will give you a ride. I insist. We are Blessing’s friends. We must talk about her.”

You find yourself in the car. His hand rests on your lap as soon as you settle on the upholstered seat. 
Yes, on the bare skin of your lap. You inhale deeply. You feel a tingle on your womanhood. You 
begin to sweat even though the BMW is heavily air-conditioned. As he eases the car away from the church, he begins to talk about how devoted Blessing was to the church, and you find that you are directing him to your apartment. It is 8pm.”

        When his car stops in front of your apartment, you say; “Thanks a lot, Pastor.”
“Now, no. you must call me Samuel.”
“You are my Pastor, Sir.” You notice that you cannot meet his eyes. You are shy, which is not a good sign.

“I am your friend. Call me pastor when we are in the church. Do you not know that Jesus rebuked his 
followers from calling him Rabi?”

“I know, Pastor.”


“Samuel, Sir.”

“Good. I must come in and see your apartment. And pray for you—”

“My mother, Pastor. She must be at home now.”
You wonder why you told him that, as if both of you were conspiring to do something bad about which you wouldn’t want your mother to know. That night and the days that follow, you think less of your friend, Blessing, and more of Pastor Samuel. You know that he is God’s anointed. You recall stories of the blind that can see because of him. Now you believe all of Blessing’s stories about him. You are pleased.
It is a hot Saturday afternoon. You are resting on your bed, your shirt pulled off, watching channel O.
Your phone rings.

“This is Samuel!”

You recognise his voice. You sit up.

“Good day, Sir.”

“I have been having some dreams about you, Zainab.”

          You are scared now. “Pastor! Is everything okay? Is anything going to happen to me?” You recall Blessing and wonder if she was kidnapped and used for ritual. You wonder if the same people that did so are after your life.

“What can I do, Pastor?”

“We need to see, Sister. God is talking to me. He is asking me to reach out to you.”

“When can we see, Pastor?”  You recall that someone hacked into your bank account using a cash card and withdrew almost all your money. You are afraid that some evil forces might be scheming to ruin you.

“I am at home, Sister. Can you come to my home?”

“I can pastor.”

“I will text you my address. God be with you as you come, Zainab.”


“May the forces of evil never set their eyes on you!”


“You shall be prosperous! You shall be married! You shall bless your mother with children!”

“Amen! Amen! Amen, Pastor!”
You hurriedly get dress but do not apply make-up. It’s the pastor’s house. No need to get dolled up. Or is there?

          His house is a mansion inside a large compound. His wife and children have gone for a vacation. There is a security man at the gate, who doubles as a gardener. He tells you that the cook will come in the evening, but there is food in the kitchen.

“Do you care for food? Drinks?”

“I am fine, thank you, Pastor.”

‘Come to my room.’ You follow him, clutching your bible to your breasts. His room is large, with a king-sized bed, a bedside lamp, and a reading table. There are three sofas opposite the bed. There is a television too. There is a small table covered with a white linen cloth by the side of the room, like an altar. His bibles and prayer books are on top of it. He asks you to kneel and you do.

      He is wearing a robe, tied with a rope. When you kneel, he says:

“Do you understand, Zainab that God works in various ways?”

“Yes, Pastor.” He kneels beside you, and you tremble.

“Have you heard before, of the Priory of Sion?”

“Yes, Sir. I know that they are like a cult, protecting the bloodline of Jesus or something.” You are confued.

“Good. Do you know, Zainab that sometimes while praying, especially in difficult times, you engage 
in other means to get your prayers to God’s ears?”

“I don’t understand, Pastor—”

         He collects your bible and drops it on the altar. He takes your left hand into his and says: “Zainab, you are in trouble. Some forces are against you. You may have been noticing for some time now that you are not progressing as you are supposed to.”
Your mouth hangs open. He must be God’s chosen son, you think. Your heart is beating so fast. Your breasts heave up and down in a steady rhythm as if dancing to a harmonious symphony.

“What must I do, Pastor?” you turn and your eyes meet.

“You have the privilege to call me Samuel. Always call me by name, my dear.”

You are silent.

“You are surrounded by evil forces. The world is full of evil,” he talks with authority. “And we must fight back through a special prayer. During the prayers, the holy milk of God’s chosen son will be poured into you and you will be fortified.” You think he means the grace of God, but his hands begin to fondle your buttocks.

“The Priory of Sion, like some other organizations in Christianity, makes love during special prayers. That way, during climax, when both partners are between earth and heaven, a moment when the brain becomes a tabularasa… It does not think of anything at that split moment… if at that moment you can concentrate and ask God for any favor, it will be granted to you. The gate of heaven will be opened for you.”
The room swirls around. The altar appears in several places before your eyes. Your brain becomes dumb. You had once read about something like that in a book, but you cannot remember now.
“Pastor, it is a sin—”

“Sin is what you define it to be, Zainab. I am your Pastor. It is my duty to do the work that pleases the almighty. I cannot deceive you. Can I?”
You are silent.

“Do you feel a pang when you sleep with your boyfriend?”
That has never occurred to you before, so you say; “No pastor.”

“If it is sinful to make love, then, God would have deprived man of so many blessings each time he did. No one in the world would have been successful. I want to help you, Zainab. I should be the one being sceptical, Zainab. But I am not because what I am about to do, you may not know, most people in the world may not know, but it is not sin. It is a gift from God. Amen!” His hand caresses your buttocks and your neck.

His lips cover yours, and he lowers you to the rug-covered floor. He unties the rope round his robe and you feel his hairy chest on your body. His hand undoes your buttons, and his lips find your nipples. You moan.

“Pastor… Pastor… Oh, Pastor….”
That moment when his holy milk flows into you, you are sure that up there on the ceiling of his room, you saw Blessing’s smiling face. You are sure that something like a load was lifted off your shoulder. 

You are sure.


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