THE WARHEAD Tunji Tunde

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Copyright © 3ple ‘T’, 2009 All rights reserved. No part of this book should be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopy or otherwise, without the prior permission of the author in writing. It, however, may serve for brief quotations engraved in critical articles. First published September, 2009. ISBN: For enquiry/feedback, please call +234-08036214475. You can also reach the author by e-mail babatundetunji@yahoo.com

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It is important to state at this point that the story is a combination of true-life events and inspiration. It is also important to note that the names used do not bear true resemblance to any person alive or dead. The names are used just for the purpose of the story.

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ACKNOWLEDGMENT Book is a baby for many reasons; first, there is a conception of it; at this point, it is fragile and can easily be lost if not taken care of. Next, it faces danger of spontaneous abortion or miscarriage even at the process of writing, this is where the writer abandoned the book either because of lost interest or because of too much challenges he or she could not put up with. That is not all, it can also be stillbirth when not properly developed or born with a lot of poetic and or grammatical deformity; but none of these happened. Therefore, first to the almighty God, the creator of heaven, earth and all that is in it for doing this again. After God, I am indebted to many people whom God used to make this book a reality, first of all the people who took time to read and comment on the book: Rev. Donald Yohanna Arak, Deacon Joseph Ibukunade Ilori, Rev. Jeremiah Eziekiel Pogwan. Bro. Raphael Ohans and Ogorry Comfort Ori. Also the editors: Mrs. Anita Chidiebele Nat-Saliu and Michael Emenyonu Onye. Mr. Nawani Aboki, thank you for laboring days and nights to empower talented and spirited youths. Sir, you are a father to people like me because you played an important role a strategic point our lives. Those that impact positively in the lives of others will forever live in the memory of the heart. Rev. and Mrs. Arak, Dn. and Mrs. Abimiku Dn. and Mrs. Ilori and the entire members of the youth fellowship, drama group, eternal life and Baptist Students Fellowship ZFBC, Lafia. Thank you for the roles you played in my life. My big brother, Femi Babatunde, our daddy lives on in you. You remind me so much of him. Bola, Toyin, Kike, Nike, Shola and Tayo you guys are the bomb. Dear mother, Mrs. Amudat Abiola Aduni Babatunde I thank you for allowing yourself to be the source of blessings for the readers. Blessing Oluyemi you are the vessel through which the readers of the book are being blessed. God will not forget your labour of love for His children. 3ple “T”

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PREFACE Three times I started this book and three times I abandoned it for another thing. The first was actually my first experience in book writing, 1997, when the manuscript got missing at the printers shop. Imagine! However God still have a good alternative course for every error in our journey. The second experience was when the book changed direction to become another one different from my intent of starting it. Now you wonder how. I started with “The Collision of Powers” but the power of God redirected me to “Reflections” a story of my past life compiled into short inspirational articles. People still send me text messages and verbal thank you for allowing God to bless them through the book. The third is much like the second experience, giving birth to “Nigerians; Pan Patriotism” of which Abia State gave an award for the glory of God in my life. Indeed all things work together for good to those who love Him (God). Now there it is in your hands, not as “The Collision of Powers” that continually rang in my ears but as “The Warhead” that God wants it to be. The content has also undergone tremendous moulding from the starting point in 1997. I will not be surprise, it is actually my expectation, that anyone who reads this book will be ministered to by the Holy Spirit. It has started from me. Several times, I nearly gave it all up, because I found it preaching against me again and again. God said forward when the “flesh” in me kept saying no. that is typical of the process of moulding in the hands of the porter (God). You do not have to see the characters as non existing because at many point you will discover they live in you. You may see the embittered Nanzin struggling to keep away from doing good because the world often reciprocate with evil. What about the Ernest who will make up his mind to be upright many times and still find himself completely opposite. You will definitely also realize that Okanlawon is either presently or once lived in you as you bring other people under critical scrutiny. What more, many of us will find that we identify with little Tobi in his confusion about what is right and wrong as we see our elders continually change their habits like the skin colour change in chameleon. I invite you to prayerfully read this book with concentration. It is more than just a story for entertainment.

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Righteous are You, O LORD, when I plead with You; Yet let me talk with You about Your judgments. Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why are those happy who deal so treacherously? You have planted them, yes, they have taken root; they grow, yes, they bear fruit. You are near in their mouth but far from their mind. But You, O LORD, know me; You have seen me, and You have tested my heart toward You. Pull them out like sheep for the slaughter, and prepare them for the day of slaughter. How long will the land mourn, and the herbs of every field wither? The beasts and birds are consumed, for the wickedness of those who dwell there, because they said, "He will not see our final end." "If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with horses? And if in the land of peace, In which you trusted, they wearied you, Then how will you do in the floodplain of the Jordan? For even your brothers, the house of your father, Even they have dealt treacherously with you; yes, they have called a multitude after you. Do not believe them, even though they speak smooth words to you. "I have forsaken my house, I have left my heritage; I have given the dearly beloved of my soul into the hand of her enemies. My heritage is to me like a lion in the forest; It cries out against me; therefore I have hated it. My heritage is to me like a speckled vulture; the vultures all around are against her. Come, assemble all the beasts of the field, bring them to devour! "Many rulers have destroyed my vineyard, they have trodden My portion underfoot; They have made My pleasant portion a desolate wilderness. They have made it desolate; desolate, it mourns to me; the whole land is made desolate, because no one takes it to heart. The plunderers have come on all the desolate heights in the wilderness, for the sword of the LORD shall devour from one end of the land to the other end of the land; no flesh shall have peace. They have sown wheat but reaped thorns; they have put themselves to pain but do not profit. But be ashamed of your harvest Because of the fierce anger of the LORD." Jeremiah12:1-13(NKJV).

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THE BEGINNING

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Okanlawon He straightened himself from the window where he was standing and walked across the room with quick strides and unplugged the radio cable from the extension box connected to the mains. “Arrant Nonsense! I will rather enjoy my sleep than go there to stand like a man on military recruitment exercise.” He checked his watch and looked out again. His son will be on the way home now. He allowed his mind to replay the incidence with his wife a day earlier. His wife, Bunmi, had insisted that their child attend the church’s primary school as she was confident of the care he would be given. “No, Tobi shall go to a public school like all the children in this compound, whatever worst care they may be given. I don’t suppose you see any of them doing badly, do you? ” Bunmi knew her husband too well than to press on, so she agreed. One thing worries me about this woman, the way she ignores me when we disagree on any issue, it hurts me, she makes herself look more mature than I in handling issues, I hate it. If only she will give a little resistance then I shall insist, eventually she should be begging me. No, not Bunmi, she will just throw her nose to the other side and start humming to herself, pretending to have quickly lost interest in the conversation and attending to something else. Olorungbo, I hate it. I will give her a good surprise one day. A slap is what she deserves. For the moment let me concentrate on more important issues. The Reverend had greeted him more cheerfully than the previous times. Had he indeed included his name in the list of new elders to be ordained next month? Yes, he had not missed the firm handshake and statement “The Lord is your strength.” That must be it. He is going to become an elder at last after many years of expectation. He, Okanlawon, will put on his best agbada and stand before the congregation as the programme leader recites his achievements, then people will start to prostrate as they greet him Elder Okanlawon. Nevertheless, this woman, Bunmi, he must be careful or she will truncate this dream for him. As little as an ‘impolite caress’ on her cheek, she would go running to the Reverend that he had given her a dirty slap. In fact she is not his helper at all, she is a burden. He hissed and spat on the ground “Okponu” he muttered. Nanzin There is no need trying to be good because the people you do good to hate you. I have decided and rightfully so, that I will only reciprocate what the world gives me. In that way, you will not be a loser. In my life, I have seen people with bitter heart and hatred as cold as ice. The patient dog, they say, eats the fattest bone. It is a lie, pure lie. Wait and see if it will get any bone at all. The other dogs will finish all the bones available and make some bones out of the foolish patient dog. Patience is not my philosophy as no such thing as love in

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my dictionary. Nobody loves a person except there is something in it for him or her. Need is the reason for love. My Story Don’t be too critical as to judge me for a bad person; many self righteous people will yield to the temptation to quickly judge me before they even read my story. I am not a troublemaker, instead I was very innocent, I would not even hurt a fly. My father was a Pastor. I remember very well how he used to wake us for morning devotion, how we prayed to Jesus for protection, for our daily needs and how we trusted that he always forgives sin when we confess them to him. He taught us the beatitudes – blessed are these and those for they shall so and so. A particular one I remember often is 5“blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.” Please don’t be shocked if I tell you a piece of my mind. Jesus, to me, is fake. He is just a hope in our hearts, a consolation when things don’t go our own way, to keep us optimistic that a supernatural invisible being exists that will avenge wrongs done to us. He can also be used to cajole people to be nice and cooperative when they prove to be difficult. Yes, father taught all who cared to listen that Jesus is merciful and full of love for human beings. Well, in his words, he said, “His banner over us is love.” He so much believed it until he fell sick, he prayed and cried to Jesus but Jesus did not even give a hoot. His fellow Pastors came and prayed with fasting for him but Jesus had forgotten the word “mercy” despite the Pastor’s “claims” for mercy on behalf of my father. He used drug, no way, he claimed divine healing, never! Before the very eyes of all those Pastors, my father grew weak more and more every passing day. You wouldn’t look at my father in that sorry state with his cries in pains, agony and sorrowful songs to Jesus without hating that Jesus, I could not blame him much; I gradually came to think less of him. Was he not himself forsaken on the cross of Calvary? Well, this God you serve knows neither devotion nor any virtues accorded to him, you are worshipping at the wrong altar. That God is dead – the idea of such a supernatural being is a complete fallacy. Needless to say, my father died. I hate to see the expression on the face of his corps, an expression of painful realization of Jesus’ betrayal, of realization that he has taught the wrong thing all his wretched life, a longing to re-live his life again and tell the whole world that God is dead.

The Last Moment;Nanzin’s Father It is not everybody that has the grace of consciousness at the point of death. I count myself highly honoured to be able to review my life just like the apostle Paul and to discern my exit from this world just like Prophet Elijah. I had been sick for over two months, I felt burning sensation deeply in my body, I cried out in pains. Sometimes I prayed and at other times I sang hymns to the Lord. The Lord always comforted me as peace that defy human understanding flooded my heart even with the presence of such terrible pains. It was then I understood the Lord’s response to Paul on his request to take away a thorn in his flesh. I lost my strength, I could no longer do all those things I love to do, no reading of my Bible, no

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playing of the keyboard or drums, no watching of football, what more? No going to church! My only companion was the presence of God – and these pains. Whenever people come to speak with me, I barely hear their voices because of these excruciating pains. They just seemed to be reading a long boring speech. They prayed, sang, spoke in tongues and words of encouragement. God taught me, at those moments, the difference between happiness and joy. While I was unhappy, my heart still rejoiced in the Lord. Indeed joy is deeper than happiness. One thing worried me though. My son, Nanzin, did not visit me regularly and whenever he did, I saw expressions that confused me on his face. Sometimes I thought I could see worry, at other times I thought it should be pity, but yesterday when he came I was almost convinced that it was hatred. He was unusually silent and his stare was long and cold. He did not even pray, as others did. His hands trembled as if he was keeping them to himself with a great effort. What a strong emotion in a child so young. He was barely an adult and he acted as if he was one already, displaying such emotions. I attempted to stretch my hand to hold him, to pull him to my chest as I usually did when he was younger but my strength failed me. I wished I could wipe those tears I thought was flowing from his inner eyes. I could not move even a finger; my voice also, was gone. He looked away into the window, clutching his fingers and tightened his jaw. I thought I heard him mutter something. Has he forgotten all my efforts to discipline him, the teachings, and the beatitudes he happily recited when he was a kid? I would never know. I prayed to the Lord to save his soul because from all indications what I saw is a man so embittered. Suddenly the burden lifted from my heart again; I even thought I saw an angel of God. Wiping tears away from his face. Oh! Nanzin my child how I love you dearly, how I wish I could do anything except displeasing God to make you happy again. Nevertheless, I must leave, the Lord calls me and I must obey. My attention shifted to the church. I began to ask God (as a Pastor) the question again, “Oh sovereign Lord, why did you ever allow me to ordain new elders I would not be able to groom, more so as I was not sure of the person that should take over the church in the present situation with all the spiritual confusions in our contemporary society.” Finally, I submitted to God to have His own church knowing that I am nothing and can do nothing of my own unless he helps me. After all I was just as much a dirty sinner myself before he saved me out of His mercies. Indeed His banner over me is love. Presently, the room started glowing with miniature creatures as small as fireflies. Suddenly I thought I was becoming lighter and I could move very part of my body. I could now hardly differentiate between the boy standing at the window as a real figure as the miniature figures became clearer and I could see structures of a city so bright and distant away up the ceiling. In my vision, the ceiling was no longer there. Involuntarily, I felt myself rising towards that city as I became less and less aware of my surroundings until all I could see was the city. I could not even utter a good bye to my boy, his sisters, and my wife. Oh Nanzin, I love you so much. Ernest

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It appeared behind me suddenly, several feet taller than I. So horrific, it has a physique of a human being, the head of a bull with horns on it, the mane of a lion extended from its head to the shoulders, the eyes are those of a snake and they shine in the moonlight night. The hands were that of human but with claws protruding from its fingers. It stood erect on horse legs. It opened its mouth and I thought I could hear the voices of legion of children, it seemed to say: “Ernest, today I settle the score.” I started running with all my strength, although my legs were moving fast, I was running on the same spot, I looked back and saw it coming closer to me with each giant stride it took. I prayed to die before its hands could rest on me, but death eluded me. As it stretched its hands to grab me, I heard myself trying to scream but no sound came out, I was struggling for sound when suddenly I felt the coldest thing I have ever felt in my life touched my shoulders, at the same time I heard my voice broke the dead silence like the clap of thunder in a completely silent environment: “blood of Jesus” I shouted. A sharp pain tore my left cheek, then I thought I could taste blood in my mouth. I opened my eyes to see several in-mates holding me down on the bare floor. I stopped struggling; I was completely soaked in my sweat. Gently they let go off me. The pain still stung my cheek. I raised my right hand and wiped my mouth. That scoundrel had given me a blow. I swear I could kill him if not for the fact that I was shivering. Yes the dream. It was so real; even now, I can see the exact picture of the monster in my mind. Yes, it was a monster, no other but a monster. Before now, I only heard stories of them. However, I had seen it live in my dream and it was after. He looked around and found the in-mates still looking at him interestingly. Musa was having a mischievous smile on his face. It was he who had dealt me a blow. The only worried expression was that of Jaja. I was suddenly ashamed. Did I shout out what I uttered in the dream? Oh God if I have done that I would look soft in the sight these guys, a real hard boy should not do that, crying to Jesus over a mere dream. Casting his mind back to the dream again, he was grateful to have woken up, if that was the only good thing about the blow he received from Musa, it was worth it than to have the monster lick my face or was it about to tear me apart? I got up without saying a word. I was aware of Jaja’s eye trailing after me begging for an explanation for the embarrassment I had caused him. I went to the iron rods that made up our door, securely locked. It would soon be morning again then we would be pushed out for the daily hard labour. We were nothing but slaves, yes, slaves. Have we not lost our freedom? The only difference is that we aren’t flogged for any reason, that itself is something. We are also allowed some time for recreation on Sundays in order to keep us social. I have spent 23 months in this God forsaken place. Good Lord, I never knew I could survive it. It was just like few weeks ago I stood in front of the judge listening to the verdict. After hearing from both lawyers, the judge had made a rather long speech, most of which I didn’t understand but I do know he said I was truthful with all the facts needed and that because my lawyer had pleaded tempering justice with mercy, I was to serve two years imprisonment only, with hard labour.

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My hope was shattered. I could not stand the stare of Martha, she was full of grief, a look that said “I told you, I warned you several times but you would not listen.” With our wedding only four months away, it was not possible to hold it again. As I was pushed forward into the “Black Maria” I took a last look behind me, she was standing there by the doorway, both hands on her head, weeping with shame. God! I hated myself; I was the cause of the pain she was passing through. How could she face her friends who unlike her are married to either rich politicians or decent civil servants? One has even got married to an academician, a holder of doctorate degree, and there she stood, starring as her husband-to-be, the one she gave her heart to, being dragged to jail, for two years. This is not death but shame, she sobbed and wept silently. If it were death, she could wail loudly but this one was a shame. She was so ashamed that her voice could not be heard. He shook his head to clear his mind to the present, “one more month and I will be out of this place,” he muttered. Musa burst out with laughter. What is he laughing about, fool? Does he know what it means to go to jail just four months to one’s wedding? I wonder if Martha will still be waiting for me. They had not taken me to serve my terms in another town. I had worked on people’s farm, fetched water with truck, helped in packing officer’s load into Lorries when they were leaving on transfer, packed full suck-away and done other menial jobs with prison uniform on me and prison warders watching over us. Sometimes I saw familiar faces looking at me; some even waved at me, while others pretended not to see me for fear of identifying with a prisoner. On one occasion, I saw Martha coming out from the opposite direction when we were doing the suck-away thing. I had to beg the warder pretending to be vomiting. I hid myself behind the vehicle that we were to load the faeces into, she was searching the faces of the prisoners carefully with a hurt face, she even made as if she wanted to stop. My heart beat faster. I was hoping she would not stay a second longer and that the warder would not decide my time was up. Eventually she moved on. Men! That was close! I heaved as I watched her go. She looked more beautiful even though she had lost much weight. Just then the warder called out “Ernest you dey born? Come out oh.” Just cool man. I don’t mind at all, let’s continue the dirty job. Nanzin Barely had we buried my old man when the church elders held a meeting and decided a new Pastor should be brought so that the “work of the Lord” would continue. No sooner had they arranged for the Pastor than they gave us a notice to “temporarily” relocate to our relations pending when they would build a house for us in memory of our late father. We had few things to move because most of the things in the house were purchased by and for the church. We didn’t have to move the chair, the fridge, electronic gadgets and a couple of other things. We were given two weeks to move. The same people that prostrated to my father calling him “Baba Reverend,” grinning at us and rubbing our heads fondly lost no time in ejecting us from the church premises. “Oh! Daddy you have wasted your life, see the same people you would lay down your life for, how they treat your family. It is a shame. I wish you

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were a businessman, then we would know that all the wealth you acquired belonged to us, your children. We would not have to pack out neither would we have to go begging people to borrow us money just to feed. How I hated you Daddy for putting us this way, the little money you acquired, you donated it to the “work of God” in the church, while it was this same “work of God” that drove us out of our home, the same “work of God” starved us almost to point of death. How my younger sister was treated in hospital when she was very ill. It was a kind stranger that came to our rescue. He paid the hospital bills. My sister was diagnosed malnourished, just imagine! Oh Daddy! My Daddy, how I loved you when you were alive. How you would lift me high from the ground and kiss my forehead, how you would put me on the tank of your motorcycle with one hand holding me against your chest while you rode the motor cycle with the other hand. All these you did to assure me that you loved me, but you did not ever think I should have a future, all you cared about was your image “as a man of God,” you selfcenteredly did everything for your “work of God” and refused to plan for the future. For this reason, Daddy, I hate you. Had you not died when you did I would have killed you myself. I hate you so much Daddy, may you not rest in peace wherever you are. If we should come to this world again, I would like to be the one to destroy you for the stupid mentality you housed in your selfish head.

How I Met Yaya- A Seed of Wichcraft Not long after my father’s death, a friend of our family moved into town. Uncle Bako was a photographer from our village. He became a trusted friend of the family; we the children regarded him as a member of the family. He brought his nephew to stay with him in order to assist in the studio and continue his studies in the town. Yaya was his name. Uncle Bako treated him well and made sure he was around to help us whenever we needed it. Yaya was about five years older than I was. He proved to be a responsible person; he was always around to take care of my three younger sisters and me. He would dish out for us food mother prepared before leaving for the market and make sure we didn’t misbehave while mother is away. Yaya used to tell us stories –of animals, people he had met, places he visited and sometimes stories of witches and wizards. I remember his escapades, trying to scare us when we had to be taken home from the photo studio when it was getting dark. We would pass through a bush path that my sisters and I so much dreaded. Yaya knew this and would deliberately increase his footsteps so that we would rush to hold his shirt, screaming as we glanced back over our shoulders. On one of such incidents, he stopped and looked at us intently. Maybe it was the tone of his voice or the stare that made us regarded what he said importantly. Though now an adult, I still believed he told the truth. He told the four of us that night that if ever we come across any witch or wizard in the night, we should cross our middle and index fingers in a particular way he described. This he said would make us

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identify with them and they in turn would not harbour any evil intention against us. The four of us stretched out our fingers to practice our new weapon or so he made it appear to us. It was not long that something spectacular really happened that led to Yaya’s death. Yaya fell seriously ill, his illness defied all medications, several pints of blood were donated to him but surprisingly the blood seemed to drain from his system almost as soon as it gets into the body, it was beyond medical explanation. I went to visit him in the hospital where he was admitted, there was an accident victim not far from Yaya’s bed. Yaya told me that the man’s brain has been extracted out to serve as spiritual meal for witches and wizards. I was eating rice that he could not eat due to loss of appetite. He looked straight into my eyes and asked how it tasted, eating the man’s brain in place of the rice in front of me. God! I felt like vomiting, I had to stop eating the rice despite persuasions from him. He said he was only joking. Yaya’s condition grew so worse that he was taken away from the hospital back home to continue with herbs. It was then that his uncle noticed something unusual. While Yaya was away on admission, his uncle locked the photo studio as he was also away in the hospital to take care of him. The day Uncle Bako opened the shop after about two weeks absence, some people came to collect the pictures they had snapped on those days Uncle Bako did not open shop, hot arguments followed their demand, the people described Yaya as the person who had snapped the photographs and to whom payment was made. Uncle Bako went on to confirm his points that no such transaction occurred but to his surprise he discovered that indeed their payments were registered and the pictures were printed and ready for collection. No mistake was made about the dates; they were days that both of them were away in the hospital. Following advice from one of Uncle Bako’s friend who heard the incidence of the pictures, Yaya was taken to a juju man who forbade them to bring him down from the vehicle that conveyed them to the place. He gave them a bottle of concoction free of payment to bath him with. Back home, although the concoction worked a little, his condition deteriorated after some days. He was then taken half-dead to another native doctor who locked him up in a room for 3 days. On the third day, the juju man told an unbelievable story. He visited Yaya in the mid-night and found him surrounded by many servants and he was seated in the middle. “The big man ordered that I should be slapped three times on the cheek before I could qualify to speak with him.” The juju man said. This done, he opened his mouth and told the juju man the shocking story: “As you can see, I am the leader here, all these junior ones have donated their loved ones, it came to my turn, I was sick in attempt to oppress my uncle financially before donating him, but unfortunately for me, my uncle donated blood to me, his blood mixed with mine so I could not donate him again. If I do, I am as good as dead despite it. However, for two of us to die, I have decided to give up myself, more so that my uncle has been good to me and I could not repay him in any way save for this exemption I am making for him, although it was not much of my choice anyway. Tell him not to bother himself concerning me because I must leave this world, after all why should he care much, I am not that useful to him or anybody for that matter.” Few days after the incidence, Yaya quietly drew the curtains at the early hours of the day.

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Okanlawon This woman, Olorungbo, I will deal with her. She is trying my patience. What does she think she is? I don’t give a damn if she was the sister to the late Reverend after all he is no more alive and she can’t run to him for help as she would have done at other times. He in turn would sit me down and quote scriptural verses upon verses until I felt guilty though I was not. The way she behave nowadays one will think I am the one that killed her elder brother or took decision to eject his family from the mission house. It was a majority vote and my opinion didn’t count where majority had taken a stand. I only made them realize some facts before they took their stand. The truth must be spoken at all times even if one will be killed, I, Elder Okanlawon, will not be afraid to tell the truth at all times. Jesus himself was crucified not because He was a Jew, no, his fellow Jew outcaste him. They did not kill him for the miracles he performed; they attributed it to the help of Beelzebub. Neither was he killed because he said he was a king, the people killed him because he spoke the truth and the people hated to hear the truth. He said he is the son of God and from all indications, he indeed is, so they tried hard to cover all the proofs even in his death and resurrection. Therefore, I, Okanlawon, will speak the truth at all times. The church cannot remain without a Pastor and when the Pastor comes, why should we rent house for him when the church has a house for the purpose, what spiritual role is his family performing at present? Should we be emotional and sentimental in handling church affairs at the detriment of spiritual objectiveness? If we should build a house for the Late Reverend, should it not be much later after the church renovation project and establishment of a branch of the church is completed? This is an organization and we can’t afford to be sentimental. The reverend himself while he was alive, he loved God’s work to continue at the expense of his own convenience. If the dead can voice their desires, we all know what he will prefer to go for. That was all I said and the board of elders thought it wise to take the decision they took. Tell me, how I have erred. I don’t even know who told her all those things I said. The next day she came saying all nonsense that I betrayed my brother in-law. I am leading the elders astray this and that. Is it now a crime to be sincere? When I took the oath of office for this eldership, I signed to stand for the truth at all times, I will help the family of the late Reverend on my own rather than encourage the elders to arrest the development of the church because of the late Reverend. He that is dead is dead so why the fuss? Jesus said weep not for me but for yourselves because he has taken his own exit out of this evil world, my wife too, chose to keep weeping for her deceased brother. They have frustrated my good intentions. I cannot even go to visit the deceased family again. The last time I went there, the cold reception I got, oh, how I hate the way they regarded me with contempt, especially that Nanzin. I am sure given a knife, he would not only stab me but also cut me into the tiniest pieces over the duration it will take for his anger to subside. I could not give them the cash I brought for them for fear of embarrassment. Well, I am regarded as a traitor. That is it. Jesus, himself, was persecuted while he was on earth. This is persecution, yes, no more than a persecution. I have taken a stand with Jesus 1 “that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings,

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being made conformable unto his death.” I will rather be “bad in a good way” as it seem now than be “good in a bad way” I am bad to them now but mine is in a good way. He heaved at this conclusion. Okanlawon may not be too educated but when he speaks in public the air of intellectual that surrounds a highly learned person cannot be mistaken. He picks his words slowly as if he meditates on them before deciding to use them, he pauses intermittently, studying his audience reaction before proceeding. When asked a question or when an observation is made, it is typical of him to analyze such a question or observation as if demanding for affirmation from the speaker (which natural they freely give) before he reacts to it. Such attitude seems to have great impact on his audience, because after that, other people hardly speak since he appears to have superior understanding of the subject matter. He crossed his legs and looked thoughtfully at the little boy playing “Come here Tobi” The boy stood up slowly then ran gleefully to his father’s bosom. “Do you want me to buy a cell phone for you?” The boy’s face lit-up “Yes Daddy, I want cell phone like Juliana’s own, her mother bought it last week.” “What type is it?” “It is a Nokiya kamela phone” His father was quiet for sometime then spoke again. “I will buy the one without camera” The boy stampeded grudgingly, making a face as if to cry. “You like music, you will listen to ‘yahoo eh, eh’ won’t you?” 1616 He stopped, looked at his father for a while before replying. “Yes Daddy.” “You have to choose between a camera phone and the one with mp3 player, you know mp3? It plays music.” He hesitated; looked at the ceiling then at his father. “I want m3p player.” “You want mp3 my boy, but you must first let me have that toy gun so that I can buy mp3 phone for you.” “But why Daddy, I can have the two, can’t I?” “No, no and no. I am afraid you can’t. You have to make your choice, the toy gun that cannot even shoot birds anyway or a real phone that plays music.” “But why Daddy, why?” he made a face again.’ “Oh, Tobi we will sell the toy gun so that we can complete the money for the mp3 phone.” “Is that true Daddy?” “Of course you don’t suppose Daddy is lying to you?” The boy surrendered the toy gun still looking into his father’s eyes “Today?” “Next week.” “No today Daddy, I want it today.” “Today is Saturday the bank closes at 12 noon it is 4pm now.” Tobi gave him the toy gun and ran to His mother.

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“Mummy! Daddy is going to buy a em-3 phone.” She half lifted her face from the meat she was cutting into pieces “Really? You are a lucky chap. Now run along to Mama Juliana and collect a packet of maggi for me. Tell her I am coming along with the money later. Okanlawon was soon lost in thought again. He turned the toy gun over and over as if looking for a label on it. This is not good for this boy, what was I thinking when I bought this toy gun for him. It was one of those weak times I allowed that woman to dominate me. The boy was childishly crying for the toy gun as he saw it displayed at the supermarket when I thought it might be romantic to follow my wife to the market, it might even make her heart soften towards me just like the days of our courtship. She had asked me to buy it for him since it will not cost me much. To impress her and to prove that I care for her opinion I had dipped my hand in the pocket, counted out my hard-earned money and wasted it on the toy. Wasted two hundred Naira on a useless toy gun that reminded me of nothing but Ernest. Yes Ernest. The useless boy was released from prison. How I wish he were locked up for the rest of his useless life. I can’t stand the thought of him being released not to even say attending the same church. Ernest is a useless, selfish and ungrateful human being. After the favour I did for him to be employed by the school all he could pay me was to drag my precious and highly respected name in the mud. I, Elder Okanlawon, brought that God forsaken, greedy, son of a wretched cargo to come and embezzle the school money! Is it a crime that he was trusted just because I introduced him to them? They are all the same, this poor people, so battered and tattered that all their ragged and jagged lives they have never seen as much as a thousand naira! Imagine, what will that son of a bitch do with eight hundred thousand naira? Eight hundred thousand Naira! He even had the heart to kneel before shedding crocodile tears that he wanted it for his wedding, that he meant to take it quietly and return it without anybody noticing and that it was frustration, devil’s work, ignorance bla, bla, bla. Stories! Pure stories! Now Tobi playing with a toy gun, as if that is not enough I saw him shaking Ernest the other day. I must keep my child away from that thief. I hear it is in the blood. It does not leave a lineage. It passes through the genetic tree of the family. I guess it is also transmissible and I don’t want Tobi to be infected. I will dispose anything that represent Ernest image in his life. Ernest If ever Stella forgives me, I will never be so foolish as to do what I did again. She warned me, God knows she warned me. She told me that I didn’t have to go extra mile to throw a big celebration just to enhance my ego, that she is okay with having me, she told me that I didn’t need to do anything to make myself her hero, that I was already her hero. She said I didn’t have to win her heart again, for I had already won it once and for all times. She suggested that we should be wedded on a normal Sunday worship and have a moderate reception which she was sure her parents would assist with the finances, but I would not listen to her, Emma threw in a spectacular wedding so did Dauda and James. They were all my bosom friends, we grew up together and progressed our schooling simultaneously, why should I be the least among them? To do such a thing would forever make my wedding a bad history among successes. No, it would be humiliation. More so this lady, though she pledged her love to me,

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I thought she was just desperate to wed being that she was the only one remaining in her group. How inconsiderate I was. Stella, I am so sorry, so sorry. I have wasted two years in jail. By now, we should be carrying our first child and who knows maybe situation would have changed for the better by now. So many applications I have made. I can’t even apply to work with the government again being that I have earned myself the title “ex-convict”. After I was freed from prison, I went to see Elder Okanlawon in his shop where he sells building materials to tell him I was out of jail and have learnt my lessons, how sorry I was to have let him down. I also wanted to let him know I had made up my mind to completely surrender my life to Christ. He merely grunted in response to my greetings. I went down on both knees not minding the two apprentices in the shop, I started my confessions, so heartedly I narrated what I went through in the confines of the prison, how God had remoulded my life. As I narrated passionately, the tears flowed freely from my eyes. To my surprise, he was unmoved. If he heard what I was saying at all, he pretended he did not hear a single thing. He instead stood up to attend to the two customers who walked into his shop. He could send his apprentice to attend to them; it was a deliberate shove off. I remained on my knees. The next I heard was the instruction he gave to the female apprentice and he was off to God knows where. I was so ashamed, I felt sorry for going to announce my new beginning to him. See what I got in return. The sales girl understood my embarrassment. She slipped a paper into my breast pocket as I made to get up from my kneeling position. As I walked away from the shop, I turned my head and saw the other male apprentice looking at me with curiosity. I remembered the paper the female one slipped into my pocket. I dipped my hand into the pocket and brought the paper out. On it was written these words: “Go on with God to greatness in this might, the Lord God wants to use you as a warhead in His hands”. War? A head? Is there any war to be fought? Me, a warhead, why me? This must be one of these over zealous Christians I suppose. As over zealous as her boss and as wrongly principled probably. Nevertheless, I returned the paper to its new shelter. “Ernest I told you not to worry again, she will definitely show up. She was here yesterday. In fact, she was the one worrying about how quickly you will adjust. Just relax.” Ernest smiled back at Tani. “See I am not only anxious to see Martha, I am also concerned about Elder Okanlawo.” “What about him”. Tani asked, surprised that Ernest should be worried about anybody other than Martha. “Well, I was in his shop yesterday, he gave me a cold shoulder”. “And what took you to his shop, don’t tell me you want to build a house now?” “House Ke? I went there for restitution.” “I suppose your restitution should go to the school.” “I have done that too. I wanted Elder Okanlawaon to know that I am a changed man” “Is it the cold shoulder that bothers you? Look, I should be more concerned if a little child insults me than I should be if Okanwalwon does the same. Who doesn’t know him as a proud, arrogant, snobbish, critical and extreme fanatic? You sit here wasting your precious time on a very unimportant issue. You should put on a good mood; Martha should not meet you sulking like a hopeless wreck.”

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“My dear friend, if I were you, I should not use abusive words on an elder, more so a spiritual leader, God has placed him over us and we must respect him because he represent God’ s leadership”. “What is elderly about Okanlawon? What is spiritual? What is godly about him anyway? Please let’s talk about something better”. This is another challenge Ernest must face, he will not let bad company corrupt the good manners he is already inculcating. Yet he must apply wisdom so that his friend will not become an enemy instead of a transformed friend because of little issues like this. He also owes Tani a lot. Was it not him that kept Martha focused while he was serving his teams? He stood by her as his friend without taking advantage of the situation, as most friends would have done. He learnt how he had encouraged her and fought naughty people away from harassing her sexually. He is sure he owes him a lot.

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THE ERRORS

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Okanlawon The Reverend stood up and walked to the Podium. There was applause from the congregation. “Although I don’t have anything against this very young man of God,” Okanlawon thought starring at the Reverend. “But he must be warned that he should be careful with the church elders otherwise they will lead him astray just as they did to the former. They come with smiles and prostrations but behind the individual, they crucify. Were they not the same people who go round discussing all the things we discuss in the elders’ meeting? How other people would have known I made suggestion for objectiveness that they call betrayal, they spread it instead of the gospel. None of them has attempted to evangelize to anybody for decades now; all they could do is gossip and gossip. He twisted his nose. “Hypocrites!” He cursed under his breath. The person seated next to him leaned forward. “Did you say anything Sir?” “Oh no, forget it, I was only meditating.” “I see, Sorry to disturb you sir”. “Okanlawon grinned and nodded his head. The Reverend cleared his throat, and then adjusted the mouthpiece attached to his breast pocket. “Dear brothers and sisters in the Lord, I bring you greetings from my family. They will join us this week by God’s grace.” He flipped through his Bible quickly. “I will be speaking very briefly this morning from the book of Joshua chapter three, verse number four. “Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure. Do not come near it that you may know the way by which you must go, for you have not passed this way before.” KJV. “There must be a gap, that is, a space between you and it. There must be a gap between the priest bearing the ark of covenant and the people. The people must respect this gap for the direction of God in their lives. God himself constitutes the leadership of the church. The Pastor and the elders are the bearer of the Ark of the Covenant. They are to go ahead of the people to show the light for others to follow, and you must give them the gap of respect, for they are the bearer of the ark of covenant amongst you. “From another point of view, a believer is the bearer of the ark of covenant amongst unbelievers and must set the space between him and the unbeliever. The unbeliever has never gone the way you are going before, therefore you set a pace of spiritual virtue “In electronics, the idea opens up a complete analogy to the concept of ‘the gap.’ All materials are believed to have three unique bands: valence band, forbidden band (forbidden gap) and the ground state. For any material to conduct electric current, it must possess some electrons in its valence

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band, these electrons serve as conveyors of current, a peculiar phenomenon indeed. The amount of electrons present in the valence band will tell if the material becomes a good conductor, semiconductor or an insulator (bad or non-conductor). Ability to conduct increases with the number of electrons present in the valence band. “Brethren, let’s save ourselves from these scientific jargons. Let’s see how the story fits into our topic. God instructed Joshua to set some people aside to occupy the ‘valence band’ followed by a forbidden gap, next came the ground state people who must follow the people in the valence band for direction. “There must be a gap between a spiritual leader and the congregation, in the same manner there must be a gap between the believer and the unbeliever. The spiritual leader is a valence person, you as a Christian you are also a valence person to the unbeliever”. “Next comes the gap- a gap of spiritual virtues; a gap of love, peace, self control, wisdom, knowledge, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, discernment, gentleness, longsuffering and so on. There must be a gap. “Brethren, each person should be a valence person; either in the midst of unbelievers or in the church, but before you become a valence person, you must dwell in the valence band. You need energy to enter the valence band. This time around, it is not a physical energy but a spiritual one, given by the Holy Spirit. With sufficient energy, a material known to be a non-conductor will actually conduct because some of its electrons from the ground state will acquire sufficient energy to jump over the forbidden gap into the valence band. Every person in the ground state can get excited and jump into the valence band. “You must note also that for any material to continue conducting, its electrons must remain in the valence band. There must be a constant supply of sufficient energy supplied to the material. You must stay connected to the Holy Spirit. “Are you a valence person? Matthew 5:16 says ‘let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your father in heaven’. Are you a light? Are you letting your light shine for people to see? Are you edifying the church as a pillar or do you pull down the pillar? Do you prefer to be a caterpillar? “Can you bow down your head and begin to talk to the Lord?” How happy I am that the new Reverend spoke blankly to them, I had met him a day earlier and advised him how he should handle this church to succeed, I am happy he listened. People came out to give their lives to Christ. Those old cargoes that have dedicated their lives since the era of David Livingstone also came out to re-dedicate their lives. Even Nanzin came out. Nanzin of all people came out to give his life to Christ. What life is he giving to Christ? Is Christ a beggar that he doesn’t even have choice of who he will use for propagating the good news? If after all his father was, he could not give his life to Christ then, how can such a little message as this convince him to change his life so easily. I am beginning to sense fowl play in this thing. Oh, wait o, supposing the

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church want of pull a trick on this young and dynamic reverend. Possible? Is anything impossible under the sun? Did people not do it to Jesus? The wanted to make him King, but just after the triumphant entry came the cruxification. I must investigate these people, nothing evil must happen to the new Reverend, most especially now that they see I am in good terms with him. Brood of vipers! Okanlawon twisted his nose. “Hypocrites, I hate hypocrisy, Olorungbo”. He muttered Are they not the same people lurking around the trees in the night? In pairs you will see them, male and female almost as nude as they came out of their mother’s womb doing the devils job. These are the people who get pregnant and either disappear for about a year, the next time you see them, the baby must have been born, they will come back wearing tight jeans and miniskirts ready for another cycle of sexual pervasion, another pregnancy or abortion, infant sale or dumping. Their men will go to the Chemist under the guise of buying drugs or treating an illness but in reality, they signal to the dispenser who already knows what he or she is expected to include in their package, billing everything together. The not so confident or poor ones will steal the sample of condom off the counter while the dispenser goes to bring what they request for from the shelves. The most spiritual of them in the church preaches what they don’t do. They will tell you Jesus say forgive seventy times seven while a single offense committed against them will serve as a reference until Jesus comes back to this world. There are many other issues they pay lips service just to keep the image of a spiritual leader. What about the church secretary who is quick to point out how bad other people’s children are while his own son in Junior Secondary School II was caught in school the other day writing a love letter to a Rebecca, I believe not the biblical Rebecca. The secretary tried to conceal the whole issue to prevent the church form hearing it.

Ernest What else do I want? This Martha, she is a helper, she is all I ever desired in a woman. I had thought it would be terrible to be under her accusing eyes, I was actually tensed up when she finally appeared. I never thought I would be. I was engrossed with humiliation I received form Elder Okanlawon until I heard her voice behind the door, asking if someone was in. My heart skipped and I melted into self-condemnation and shame. However, Martha did not do such thing; she said I had received all the scolding. I needed in prison. She told me that if we don’t let our past be past, we will pass away with it. What a rare virtue in a woman. Martha is not only virtuous but beautiful also. It is not common to see beauty and virtue combined in a woman. It is either a girl is virtuous but unattractive or very attractive but without a single virtue. That morning she was looking exceptionally beautiful, she had taken her time to put her long silky hair into a shining and beautiful shape. Her youthful body radiated fresh ambience of feminism. When she hugged me, I almost could not feel the support of my usually strong legs, I swayed forward as if magnetized into her world. God! I could dissolve into her succulent body. The light perfume she wore gave the aroma of something special not of this planet. Yes, I think it is more divine than human. God, is this what I have been forced away from? All of a sudden, I felt I

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had been heavily punished. It was beyond the hard labour and the limited movement. It was the separation from this lady. How I hate those warders now, I hate the judge that sentenced me, I hate Okanlawon who could not help me though he was in position to do so. More than all that, I hated myself for doing what I did. The only thing I bless myself for is finding Martha. “Hmm-hmm, happily ever after”. Tani broke in, “I guess I have to go and find my own good thing so that I can obtain favour in the sight of the Lord.” “Tani, you bi bad boy, Allah kwa.” “Oh Tani, don’t be annoyed, how is your day? For a moment I lost my manners.” “Hey girl I am not accusing you, who will not throw manners into the dust bin in this kind of situation. As for my day, it was as dry as firewood and right now I intend to go wet it by catching some fun”. He slipped out of the room before Martha could think of what to say. “I could not wait to see you come back”. She said. “I am sorry for all I put you through, how I wish I knew better. Martha my love, you are the most beautiful lady I have ever seen, the heart being housed in your beautiful body is no contrast to the physical evidence. What a love that grows and grows, not one that comes and goes. She opened her mouth to talk again but Ernest placed a finger over it and drew her close to him in embrace.
2

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us…” Another voice spoke within him: “There is no crime in body contact, don’t we have body contact when we queue in school? When we sit side by side in the church we also have body contact, it occurs every now and then in our daily life”.
3

“If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Said the first voice.

“Yes it is true the building is in trouble, but if the righteous is wise enough he will re-build his foundation, though it will cost him just little more like sincere confession and asking for forgiveness. You can afford that because of Martha can’t you? Remember, King David with Uriah’s wife, he remained a man after God’s own heart. A sincere confession is what God wants. Apply wisdom man of God” This time the voice was firm as it asked.
4

“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?”

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“Of course God forbid”. Answered the second voice. Is it not the Lord who works in you both to will and do his will? We are nothing but pencil in the hand of the creator. What will be. God knows our weaknesses, he knows where we shall be victorious and where we shall fall, that is why he died for us – yes, for sinners he died, not for the righteous”. Just then, Martha broke away. “I have to go Ernest, a friend will be waiting for Me.” Ernest heaved in relief or is it disappointment? That was close. After the pretty lady left he punched the wall several times and spoke silently “God, that was close; that was really close. God, help my life.” Nanzin It was an extraordinary experience. It was a feeling I have never experienced before. The moment I set eyes on the man, something dropped from my heart. I am sure it is not physical, afterwards I felt lighter. Something about the man of God, I can’t explain it. That his face looks somewhat inviting, although he is not familiar, I felt drawn to him, almost like a relation. The emotion was so strong. I felt as if I should run and embrace him and weep to feel better, as if he should put his hand on my shoulder to wash me from this feeling, to lift me from my seat and tell me he understand how I feel and tell me some intimate things that I love to hear and some things I need to know. I could not listen much to what he was saying but when I heard “A gap of spiritual virtuesLove, Joy, Peace, Faithfulness- a gap of character_____” Each of the virtues he called brought a fresh condemnation to my heart, it was as if every word of virtue he called weighed a thousand tones in my heart, my heart was so heavy. I hid my head as I bowed on the bench “no –no-no” I muttered, I would hear no more, I want to run away, run away from my shame and guilt, from this man who looks so perfect, so pure, almost like an angel, he appeared not to be human, he represents all those things I am not. “Are you a valence person?” He continued “No, no, no oh God. No, no, no.” I muttered, tears freely flowed from my eyes. “Let your light so shine before men---” “No, no, no, oh God. No, no, no” I am a light. Oh no, oh –oh, No, no, no.”I cried silently. “---or do you prefer to be a caterpillar?” “Ah!” I exclaimed. The man sitting by my side put his finger on his lips “Shh, don’t be so loud, you will create a scene”. “Can you bow down your head and begin to talk to the Lord---.” “Oh yes, oh yes, Lord, forgive me, forgive me, oh forgive.” That was all I kept saying. Fresh tears were rolling down my cheeks “Oh Lord forgive me. I am a sinner”.

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“Are you ready to give your life to Christ? Why not raise your hand wherever you are- yes, God bless you, yes, that brother there God bless you, God bless you sister- yes, just take a step of faith as you move forward. ” I sprang to my feet, hurriedly move to the altar and knelt down. I cried. My heart was heavy, the burden I thought was not there before was now so heavy in my heart, and it weighed me down. I felt lighter after the Reverend finished praying for me. “Go and sin no more”. Was what he said. The tears started rushing down again, this time it was the tears of joy. I could not restrain myself; I threw my hands round the Reverend and wept. He did not push me away; he instead tapped me on the back. “Welcome to the flock”. He said. Ernest He lay quietly on his bed. The vision of Martha flooded his mind; he saw her long black hair glistering under the reflection of the light, her long silk gown so delicately smoothing her skin. How does the cloth feel robbing her smooth skin? When he hugged her, the softness of her body sent some unusual sensation running through his spine; he felt some warm moist under his armpit. The very organ he thought was non functional since, like his mind, it should be dead to sin, surprisingly bulged and threatened to defy his effort to suppress it to its normal position. He tossed around on his bed. The bed sheet was cold, he wore only knickers, he felt the bed sheet must have been mocking his thought because every shift he made, the sheet seemed to caress his body. His skin was extra sensitive to the bed sheet material tonight. He unconsciously squeezed the pillow tightly to his knickers again. He moved even faster as he felt his body becoming hyperactive. This is strange. He started reciting the verse he learnt that morning. Psalm 119:11 “ Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee”. He recited it over and over till he lost count, he felt heavy at present. It was not Martha, she came in and sat down by his side, she looked intently into his eyes, he felt uneasy. The lady was something different from the ladies he had come across she was defiantly beautiful, yet so bold. He felt smaller in her presence. A little, lower than a man. She caressed his face then smiled at him. He blushed foolishly. She dipped her hands into his shirt from the opening between the second and third button of his shirt. He shivered as her bare hand met his chest. He lost control. All the time he was vaguely aware of his actions. “…that I might not sin against you”. Somebody uttered the words from afar. He could not stop, no, even if he attempted, the lady was so aggressive now as she gyrated her body against his and tumbled all about in a confused acrobat along with him.

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He woke up suddenly, gasping. That was so real he thought he should be guilty of his act in the dream. Well, there is nothing much to worry about since it is a mere dream. He briefly prayed that he should not fall into such state of lust. He sat up on the bed. “Damn!” He exclaimed, his knickers was wet, did the dream not appear real? Well, this is it, he has wet his knickers. It is not urine; of course, he knows it is the sticky, gummy, starchy, messy reproductive fluid. Well he wouldn’t worry much. He had been prepared for this, it is wet dream. He stood up looked down at his knickers and walked with opened legs to the bathroom. “God I feel so messy”. He said to himself. Nanzin God have mercy on me, I am a wretched sinner that needs your power. I want to walk with you and be blameless. He took the bible by his side and opened to the book of Matthew 5:7, he read it slowly, ruminating on the words. After meditating for some minutes, he closed his eyes to pray. The picture he saw at the back of his mind was that of accusation again, he saw himself as the hater of his late father. How he had wished he could kill his father with his bare hands. “Lord, I forgive, I forgive him, I confess you are a loving and merciful God, I am made in your image, I am also capable of loving my haters and be merciful on those who wronged me, whether conceived or in actual, I forgive them right now in the name of Jesus”. He opened his eyes and stared blankly at the wall in front of him. Something started mentioning names of people that wronged him. Efe, she bought some broilers from him and kept postponing the date of payment until he lost patience, he confronted her one day and she flared up calling him a good for nothing over his own money. If not for situation, Efe, of all people, to look him in the face and tell him he is a good for nothing. What about Tiamiyu, he worked in his printing shop amidst sweat and hunger for three months, just for him to slash his money into half; he had told him blank that he had not worked for more than the amount he had given him. He, Nanzin, was so angry that he cursed him. It was wickedness; he knew how he had sacrificed his meals at break times and how on some Sundays he went to work in the shop just to meet up some job dead line. Now he told him he had not worked for that amount when it came to him parting with his money to pay me. May God curse the work of his hand may he never break even not to talk of earning profit. Yes, he shall lose a thousand and hundred fold the amount he owed him. His family shall not know peace; sickness will gulp down his wealth. What about Jacob, he borrowed money from him, that God forsaken “brother’ who claimed righteous when in actual fact, he is the worst of all ‘419s’. He had disturbed him to an extent that he dragged him to the police station, eventually he paid most of the money in bits, he had left the remaining with Jacob till date, it was a bad debt. He remembered Okanlawon, that God forsaken son of a he-goat that calls himself an elder, he had sent them off the Pastorium before they could even get another place to settle down. He started breathing faster as all those scenes from the past crossed his mind.

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He clenched his fist and grinded his teeth. At this point, he heard a small voice said to him: “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy” His muscle relaxed slowly, he became broken again as he struggled to shake off the thought from his mind. “Father, I am capable of loving, I am capable of showing mercy, I am made in your image. Therefore, I can do it. I forgive Efe, in the name of Jesus, I forgive Tiamiyu, Okanlawon and those who wronged me from the depth of my heart in the name of Jesus. I renounce every curse I have uttered against them with the blood of Jesus. May prosperity be their portion in place of curse, may they partake in your mercies and favour in their lives in Jesus name. Amen. He sat quietly as he reflected on his past- the strive, hatred, deaths of relations and friend, betrayals, rejections and mockery. What a life. He remembered the film he watched some time before his conversion. It makes sense to him now, he tried to recollect the song, he remembered or so he thought. He sang it slow and meaningfully: “I will serve thee Because I love thee You have given life to me I was nothing, Before you found me, You have given life to me, Heartbreaks, broken people, ruined lives Are why you died on Calvary Your touch was what I longed for You have given life to me.” He sang it repeatedly, yawning every now and then till he slept off. He dreamt. He saw himself tied to a tree, the tree was full of fruits of all kinds, although it is a single tree, the fruits are assorted and all the fruits were ripe, they look palatable, Nanzin was hungry but he could not reach out to pluck any fruit. The fruits were so low that some could almost touch his head, he tried to jump up for his mouth to reach the nearest to him but he was firmly tied to the tree. As he sat there with empty stomach and a great appetite, a young man walked up to the tree, another man dressed in immaculate white followed behind. The man in white spoke gently to the young man. “Do not hesitate to cut down the tree and return”. Just then, a weird man appeared beside him and told him how foolish he would be to embark on such work without eating. He needed energy to work and should consider the fruits wasted if he did not take some. “Cut down the tree, do not delay” said the man in white. The Youngman hesitated, lifted up the axe in his hand as if to strike the tree, just then the weird man spoke again.

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“How people perish for 6lack of knowledge, can’t you apply your common sense? What does the scripture say about planning? If you want to go out to face an army, will you not first estimate your strength with reference to who you want to face lest you are defeated?”
7

“Do not be deceived by empty philosophies after the traditions of men. You are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses.” Continued the man in white “The crowd of witnesses would have done exactly what you are about to do, eat the fruit first, then work later, 8who will embark on a project without first sitting down to count the cost lest he will not be able to finish the project and people mock him”
9

“Resist the devil and he will flee away from you.” The man in white concluded.

“Who is the devil, not he that dress like an angel of light? A known devil is better than an unknown angel. If the devil will bring you down, he uses the nicest person next to you.” The Young man hesitated again, well there is no crime if I look at the fruits, I will not succumb to the weird man nor to the man in white. The more he looked, the more he saw the different colours of the fruit from a perfect blend on the tree. He looked at the weird man, he in turn made a thumb up sign at him. Though he could hear the voice of the man in white from afar, “Let him that think he stand take heed lest he fall” he refused to look in his direction for fear of being stopped again. “Let me quickly eat the fruit, and then I will proceed with the work.” He thought He reached out, grabbed the nearest fruit, and sunk his teeth into it. How delicious it tasted in his mouth. He raised his hand but felt the emptiness, he took his eyes away from the fruit for a moment to look at the axe. To his shock, the axe was not there again. Who must have taken the axe away from his hand without his knowledge? He looked back at the fruit and saw that it has changed from the beautiful fruit he was holding to a rotten one with worms wriggling in and out of it, he dropped it in horror and started vomiting. In fear he looked back to where the man in white was standing, he was gone. He was not even aware that he has stopped talking to him. He shouted in fear. The weird man was also gone. At that moment, I felt the chains that tied me slacken; it has been severed in many places. I stood up, surprisingly I felt something heavy on my right hand, I looked and saw the same axe that was in the young man’s hand now in my own right hand. My hunger increased, and then I heard the voice of the man in white. “Do not hesitate, cut down the tree and return.” I lifted my two hands clamped round the axe, just then I heard the weird man’s voice shouting: “No! Stop, wait!” I did not give a hoot, a sound escaped my mouth “hmmph” as the axe landed at the foot of the tree. There were heart-curding shrieks from the tree and I thought I also saw blood gushing down from the tree

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I turned and saw the man in white beckoning at me to come; he beamed joyfully as he said: “Well done faithful servant.” I woke up and sat up on the mat that I lay on, I could still remember all that happened in the dream. I started praying again. This was my second day of fasting. I was praying to God to help me not to grief the Holy Spirit. I knew not how to pray. I merely opened my heart intentions to God and concluded the way Jesus did “Nevertheless, let your will be done” Okanlawon I said it but the new Pastor would not listen. How hypocritical people are! We are living in a perverted world. The Reverend whom I thought would bring changes to the church has taken rank amongst them. I have learnt by experience never to trust these good for nothing people that call themselves men of God. An individual after graduating and going through the futility searching for job will out of frustration turn to the church in order to make their life significant, you will hear them say “ I have wrestled with God so much, God continued to point me to the ministry by locking other ways just as he did to Jonah.” Rubbish! Frustrated people. The very first message the Pastor preached was a camouflage to give us an impression of sanctification and spiritual upliftment. The only people I respect are men of God who have proved themselves in the labour market by climbing so high then suddenly resign due to a genuine call of God. The Reverend pretends to be a saint whereas I know he is not. I saw how he was eyeing sister Patience as she walked out of his office, he was not aware that I was watching him, his eyes bulged as he watched her well figured body gyrating as she walked. Fornication live! Abomination in the house of God. Jesus said he who looks at a woman lustfully has committed fornication already. The Reverend has committed fornication live! How is he different from those rascals that address themselves as brothers in the Lord? I was reliably informed that Ernest took Martha to his house and they were behind closed doors for up to two hours. Even a toddler should know what that means, with the way Martha even behaves nowadays, that should be a confirmation that she has tasted what only the married should taste. She is so arrogant to her elders, coupled with the fact that she is no longer the shy girl she used to be, in fact she is the direct opposite –shameless. What else do you want to see before you know she has tasted the forbidden fruit? Even her breasts that once stood agile are now sagged. Nanzin, the bulldog now carries Bible all around, born again he calls himself. My foot! I have seen many of their type, he just wants to be placed in a leadership position in the church to exploit under the guise of a spiritual leader according to the pervasion of his heart. When will you oh God! Met judgment on these people; evil and perverted in all their ways. Surely, there will be gnashing of teeth on that day. It is no wonder that the Bible says, “narrow is the way that leads to life but wide is the way to destruction.”

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I am deeply involved in this struggle, I will not rest until God is enthroned in this church, I will point out every bad thing I see in this church knowing that God will not be happy if I know the truth and conceal it; to me it will be sin. To him that knows what is right and refuses to do it is a sin. The unfortunate thing is the secretary of the church who I thought will help me in this fight. I intend to turn his foolish critical attitude to a beneficial one, even a rewardable one, but he chose to be the fool he is, always kicking against what he knows and what he does not know especially when it comes from me. Whoever enslaved him with the mindset that one can only be significant by arguing and opposing others? Illiterate wretch! We shall see their end, the hypocrites who call themselves born again, the unreasonable critics and him that is completely immersed in fornication. Wicked generation, I wonder why God should be relaxed about immediate repercussion when evil things are committed as in the days of Ananias and Saphira and the days of Uriah who wanted to help the ark of covenant. As for me oh Lord, I will serve you faithfully all the days of my life and so will I teach my entire household including my wife that is proving stubborn by allowing Satan to tempt her as Eve was tempted. God help me I will wait upon you, so I shall not be tired.

Tobi I don’t want to be a woman. When I grow up I will be a soldier, I will be very strong and I will wear uniform. When Daddy want to beat me I will look at him, and my eyes will be fearful and it will be red and my hands will be big and I will just catch his hand with one hand, I will carry him with the other hand from his trouser and he will shout and shout and he will beg me and he will say “I will not want to slap you again”. Then I will say: “swear” and he will say: “I swear” and he will lick his finger and point to the air and I will say: “Call me, oga” and he will cry and say “Oga” then I will put him down and say: “tell mummy sorry, I will not beat you again” and he will be very afraid and he will kneel down and tell mummy sorry, I will not beat you again.” I will not allow anybody to touch Ashezi, I will come to school with uniform and driver will open door, then I will tell mummy to call me if Daddy want to beat her and I will give her a big telephone and she will wave me bye, bye and the driver will drive away with the car shouting “wee-o, w-e-e-e-e-n, w-e-e-e-n, w-e-e-e-n-w-e-e-e-o. All my teachers will be afraid and I will not kneel down when I am late, Ashezi will be happy, and I will be happy too. I don’t want to be a woman, mummy always cook and cook and she will sweat and sweat and Daddy will shout and say “foolish, bring water” “you are stupid and fat too”. Sometimes mummy will keep quite and sometime she will shout too and Daddy will push her and carry his car keys and leave the house and mummy will cry and cry and I will say: “sorry mummy don’t cry again, should I teach you a song? Our aunty say she cannot cry because big people don’t cry, will you be like my aunty?” Sometimes as I sing, I will sleep and find myself in the bed in the morning and Daddy will be in the parlour either singing if he is

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happy or shouting at mummy again if he is not. I don’t want to be a woman. I will be a soldier, a Governor, or a President when I grow up. Ernest I tried, but often failed, and I have come to a realization that I cannot make it. I will not be deceiving myself again by struggling. We all have weakness and I realize this is my own weakness. If I am perfect, then God’s grace is not relevant, but we all know it is. The farthest I attempted was three months. Just when I thought I am overcoming it, it comes back again. I would have loved to marry her right away, but the type of society we are living stands strongly against the idea. The Bible also supports I marry rather than be consumed with lust, but nobody would want to consider that. I must get a good job, not just a job and I must have at least not less than a hundred thousand naira in my account for the least expensive marriage. How many years will I spend in saving that amount when I am already in my mid-thirties and the fact that my meager income from this teaching work I am doing is not enough to meet my needs. I am even lucky to have somebody to take me after the money scandal. Ten thousand Naira in which to pay my light bill, my transport, I have to feed myself, then I must save a little amount monthly for the house, if at all I must not make calls during the month, how much will then remain to save up for marriage? Yet body no be wood, every night I burn up with youthful libido. My only relief is to masturbate if I must keep my image of a righteous and committed brother. Martha is another thing, she is irresistible, a common brush of her cloth against me and the whole of my sexual desires would be sparked off. Although I have tried so much to keep away from her, I must masturbate to come down after she must have left and sometimes when it gets so uncontrollable I must go to the bathroom and answer the call otherwise I may commit the act. I prefer to keep it this way than to drag her into sin also. Let me be alone than lead another person astray, it is better that a millstone be tied to my neck and thrown into the ocean than to involve her and lead her astray. Why then should I continue to pray for forgiveness when I know the very next moment she comes I will still do it. There is no point; I will only be deceiving myself. It is better I am cold than be lukewarm, God himself prefers that than one being a hypocrite. My prayer to you oh God is that you help me in finding a lasting solution to it. For now, I don’t know what the solution should be other than to continue in this way. I am a failure in this sanctification thing. Lord this is my weakness. For now, I choose not to struggle with the fact that I have sexual desires and I must fulfill it, but please Lord, don’t give me to my vile affections. I hide it not. Sincerely, I am one dirty sinner though I prefer people should not be aware of it. I know I will definitely report to you the day I die, but please dear Lord, may I be upright at the point of my death. Paul did not die in the days of his rebellion, such a privilege I pray you should grant to me the same grace, oh God.

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The Reverend That is something bad about conflict. Two persons, each portraying the image of a saint yet they generate a great conflict as a couple. When you listen to one party you will think this must be the guy on the right part, you may even be tempted to have a second thought about the other guy, is he such a shallow person in contrast to the virtues he portray? Why should he be so mean, why is he so inconsiderate and why is he bent on being difficult after all he knows about peace taught by Jesus Christ in the Scriptures. He needs a good tongue-lashing one may conclude. Meet the other party and you get another shock, he tells you what he said actually happened, you may insist you heard a different thing but he on the other hand will ask you if the other person tells you that so and so transpired. If you say no, that will be his or her own confirmation that the opponent is concealing the truth and how bad that is, and how he is surprised as you are, that such a person that presents himself as a saint may actually turn out to be the opposite. The wisest peacemaker should know that in conflict resolution it takes two to reconcile their difference(s), therefore he will eventually bring the warring parties together under that canopy. Sometimes this may quietly be resolved when common goal or unity is valued above differences, but at other times, pride or selfishness and sometimes both may be valued above unity and goal, then the whole process become jeopardized. It makes it more difficult when the bone of contention has a religious marrow of principles or belief(s). In this case, you will witness some of the most excellent debates concerning the issue on ground with different scriptural references from the same Bible seemingly proving the different opinions each one holds concerning the issue. At best, the warring parties may decide to go separate ways, this is painful to the peace maker, at other times, one or both parties may accuse the peacemaker of taking sides, this is even a bigger pain to the peacemaker. One wonders then, what is the cause of the conflict in the first place. Why must the two parties decide to stick to their differences? Above all, how can such adamant people be brought together. For one, I know prayers must be involved, bearing in mind that most times differences in value system is the origin of conflicts. Finally, whatever the reason for an unresolved conflict, pride or difference in conviction is also an inherent cause of an unresolved conflict. Tobi My Daddy was inside the house and Baba Moomi said: “Is your father in”? I said “yes” and he said “call him” and I went inside and I said “Daddy Baba Moomi said I should call you and my Daddy said I should tell Baba Moomi he is sleeping and I went outside and said “My Daddy said I should tell you that he is sleeping” and Baba Moomi smiled and patted my head telling me I am a good boy and I was happy. I ran inside after he left to tell my Daddy that Baba Moomi said I am a good boy but my Daddy asked what I told Baba Moomi and I said I told him “you said I should say that you are sleeping”. My Daddy became very angry and said I am a stupid boy and that I am a good for nothing, but Baba Moomi said I am a good boy. I was very sad because Baba Moomi has lied to me that I am a good boy and my Daddy told me that I am a bad boy not a good boy.

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Yesterday, I was confused and asked my Daddy if he is a liar and my Daddy knocked my head and said it is my mother that is a liar. I asked my mummy if it is true that she is a liar, she asked me who told me and I said Daddy, then she said it is my Daddy that is a liar. I wonder if our Pastor is a liar too. I was inside the car after Daddy finished fighting with mummy at home and he was still hissing and angry. We went to church and left mummy at home because Daddy refused to wait for her because they fought and he pushed me into the car when I said we should wait for mummy. When we reached the church he met the Pastor by the gate going out and the Pastor said “Good morning Elder” and my Daddy said “Good morning Reverend” and Pastor asked “How is your family this morning” and my Daddy said “they are wonderful, the Lord has been very good to us,” that is why I asked if he is a liar because it was not wonderful at home, mummy was crying and the Lord was not good to us this morning, he did not stop Daddy and Mummy from fighting. Daddy promised me that the day I ask him that type of question again he would beat me mercilessly. I wonder if the Pastor has fought his wife too this morning and that the Lord, will he be happy because it is wonderful? My uncle in Sunday school said fighting is not good, that God will punish any person that fights and that any person that fights is the child of the devil. Maybe my Uncle is a liar because my Daddy is not the child of the devil. I will ask Uncle Sam if he is a liar for telling us that any person that fights is the child of the devil. Daddy said he will buy m3p phone for me and I told Juliana and she said it is a lie that she must see it first and Daddy did not buy it again and I am not happy and Juliana said I am a liar, that she will tell Uncle Sam that I am the child of the devil. Nanzin I had a deep conviction that I should stop fasting on the third day, not because Jesus rose up from the dead on the third day. I had intended to continue for ten days. As I sang songs of worship unto the Lord in the morning, I suddenly got excited, I felt as if I had finally gotten something precious I had been searching for. It was like discovering a tremendous treasure in a small piece of land that was good for nothing. It was like a scientist who had suddenly unraveled a mystery he has been working on for years. I felt like a soldier who had discovered his enemy’s weak point and is ready to tell everything to his captain breathlessly. I was overjoyed for no obvious reason. This frightened me; I thought I might be tempted to do something foolish if I am not careful, I decided to remain indoor. I tried to sleep but could not, I went into the kitchen and prepared my favourite meal; pap and noodles but I did not feel like taking the meal. Nevertheless, I forced myself to take a little out of it. I settled down on the rug to read the Bible. I decided to resume my singing instead, quietly at first. In another ten minutes, I was already shouting and dancing as I sang. I began to sense that I was not alone in the room, I thought I was hallucinating. All of a sudden, I started speaking in a strange tongue. Not only was I speaking in a dialect I had not learnt, I was also proclaiming the attributes of God in that tongue. If I wanted to say ‘praise God’ in the language, I knew exactly what words to utter. This is strange. I remembered the day of Pentecost. This was exactly what happened only that there was no tongue of fire in this case. At that instant, it became clear to me why the apostles were encouraged, I was filled with courage. I wanted to tell the whole world what Christ has

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done for me. I was no longer ashamed to be heard praying, I shouted at the top of my voice. It was a sweet experience, I did not want to recover from this experience. Twice I heard my neigbour, Innocent, call my name. He bang my door to keep my voice low because I was interfering with the music he was listening to. Before it was his music that interfered with my prayers but that day it was my prayers interfering with his music. It was the sweetest communion I had ever experienced. I felt more than an ordinary human. I felt more valuable than ordinary life. I came to discover a part of me I have never known, all because of the presence of the Holy Spirit. I have been baptized with the Holy Spirit without anyone laying hands on me. Shekinah Glory! Ernest To hell with sanctification, it is not all things that are good for everybody. I don’t want to be play acting my life. God knows the real state of my heart. I don’t want to continue deceiving myself. I may cover my heart from other people certainly not from God. I am enslaved to people by this hypocritical life not to God, God already knows. I will not continue to be a slave of secret desires I am burning with, let them say whatever they want to say, after all everybody has his or her own hidden sin, it may not necessarily be a hidden sin. Everybody has a stain of “but” on their gown of righteousness if they even have one at all. If she comes today, I will do it. How am I better than those who do it with all pleasure, savouring every moment of it without reservation or pretense. I will try to forget everything I am afraid of and do it like a man. God is not a stranger to my urge, he created the urge in me and I will not continue to deny that I am burning up with this urge. Medically speaking, we have different levels of sexual activity. It is a hormonal thing. I think God has blessed me with a generous secretion of this testosterone. There is no spirituality that can deny that fact. Come what may, when the hormone is at work, brother, that organ must wake up even if you pray and fast not for it to embarrass you. I release myself from this bondage today; I will enjoy what I have been missing for a long time. He changed his clothes to knickers and a singlet, sprayed some perfume on his armpits. He sat down on the bed, picked up his phone and dialed. “Hello, Martha, are you still coming? Okay, please hurry because I will like go out later. Thank you. I love you too” No sooner had he positioned himself in the most erotic position he could think of than he heard a knock at his door. “Is it the person I think it should be?” “Your guess is a good one” Came the response. “Come in baby girl and don’t keep me waiting please” Martha went in and hooked the door behind her. A usual hog is a way of welcoming between them. Today however, it was more than a welcome, they would not let go. Slowly Ernest’s hand started moving round her body. She responded. They were soon on the bed rolling over each other and making some noise that could hardly be differentiated from that of a beast on heat. The demon of sexual pervasion had taken over. There is no stopping now. It all happened within minutes. Both of them laid breathing heavily after the whole thing, each one facing the opposite direction absorbed in their thought, wondering if it had really

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happened or just an imagination. She shamefully picked up her clothes one by one from the floor, dressing up with great effort to hide her nudity from the full glare of her bedmate. Having finished, she picked up her purse and left unceremoniously. Shortly after she left, Ernest fell into a deep sleep I can bet my life on it this time, it is not an ordinary dream. Moreover, what happened later when I got up was a confirmation. I will not waste time praying over it because God will not listen to me. I caused the whole damn thing. She entered my room gallantly with the same mischievous smile she wore like the first time. Yes, the face- the face, it was the same lady that came on the day I had a wet dream. All of a sudden, the room transformed into a prison yard. I looked at my body, I was wearing prison uniform, the same uniform I wore in the two years I spent in prison. Other prisoners were walking up and down, some warders were also present with their clubs in their hands. Everyone appeared to be busy not minding the presence of others. Suddenly the same lady with the mischievous smile appeared in the middle of the prison compound. She was seductively dressed. She was beckoning on me, there was a flow of something like force from the finger she was using to beckon me. I felt it draw me involuntarily, first my trunk surged forward like a cork caught in a ripple on the surface of water. Then my legs responded. I started moving towards her more like a zombie than a human. As I reached her, she parted her lips, involuntarily my mouth covered hers and we started the same sexual acrobats as that of the last dream, the same movement, same tactics, same timing. After we both exploded, I heaved, taking my eyes off her and at the same time trying to get up. To my amazement, I saw the whole in-mates and warders too surrounding us and watching. I had forgotten where I was before the incident. As I looked around in embarrassment, I saw four hefty men in army uniform step forward and grab me. It was as if I were a mere chicken in their hands as they lifted me up while another put chains round my legs then hands and finally connected the chains of the hand and legs before winding it round my neck so that I was almost motionless save for slight movements of my legs, hands and head could make. My audience was filled with excitement, they started clapping as a heavy metal hook came down from the sky, hooked the chains that connected my hands and legs. As it lifted me off the ground, I looked at my audience. Standing where I was lying down was the lady with the mischievous smile. Her smile had broken into a laugh, she started laughing hysterically. All of a sudden, the machine stopped the upward movement, spun round then started lowering me, I struggled to look down, below me was a very big abyss so wide as if it used to be a lake. Presently it had no water in it. The inside was dark, there was no way I could see the bottom, but the heart curding shrieks that emanated from within sent a cold shiver down my spine. I started struggling vigorously again. I was going lower and lower into the abyss, the laughter of my audience started fading. Then it appeared to be coming from afar. With one final glimpse at the lady with the mischievous smile, I saw that she had transformed into the monster I dreamt about in the prison. The same monster that said: “Ernest, today I settle the score.” From within the pit, I heard the same voice again, I

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thought I could see a very huge monster, that same monster coming into sight, it was as huge as a tree by my calculation since I could only see its towering image but not the bottom of the abyss. Wait o, no-no, oh-no it wasn’t alone, 3, 4, 6 -no, no, no-o-o-o-o-o! I started struggling again, it was multitude of them. From the abyss came a very high and scotching temperature, my skin began to scald. As I fainted, with my last glimpse I saw that all the hands of the monsters were spread upward, clamoring to grab me. It was at this point I woke up, covered with sweat. I heard the same voices again even though I was awake; “Ernest, today I settle the score,” it said. I jumped backward shivering. At the same instant I heard a knock on my door, I was so relieved “Come in” I said with trembling voice. The door was opened and Martha walked in with a smile on her face, her countenance dropped as she saw me looking pale “Ernest, what is it, you look as if you have seen a ghost” “I saw not just a ghost but monsters.” I replied. “Monsters? How comes? In your dream, I suppose. You know something about nightmares___” she started to say. “This is not an ordinary nightmare, Martha” “I am sorry, by the way I thought it is good I check you. It is not like you not to bother seeing me for two days” Ernest lifted his eyes sharply and looked straight into her eyes.” “What do you mean two days, when it was barely an hour ago we… I thought you forgot something and you come back to pick it.” “Me? The last time we saw was in the park. What is happening to you Ernest, please tell me quickly, you are joking, aren’t you?” Ernest was already looking around stupefied. “No, it was you Martha, by God, it was you. You came in, we hugged, we-we-.” he stopped talking. His eyes grew wide. Something he saw on Martha when they fornicated, the same necklace the lady with the mischievous smile was wearing on her neck. The kissing, the same sexual acrobatics, the same tactics, the same timing of events. “Oh God! Oh my God! He Muttered. “What is it, Ernest, please talk to me. You are scaring me” Martha was at the point of tears, she was probably confused as Ernest. She fanned her palms in fear, Ernest himself was not a better sight, he looked pale. Suddenly he started losing his balance, he slumped forward and collapsed on the floor.

Okanlawon The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Any person who does not fear the Lord cannot be wise. Common sense is merely common as the name implies. It can never

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serve in an uncommon situation. Even in the common situations, there is tendency that one may be misled when operating with common sense. The scripture has made it clear, “there is a way that may seem right to a man but the end of it is destruction.” Common sense makes you to take decision that is common to people, what any reasonable person would have done. The “reasonable” person still operates with his reason. This reason makes his decision after a “reasonable” analysis to seem right in his own sight. Now the Bible makes us to understand that this right in his own sight can actually lead him to destruction. Before one can say, “Apply wisdom,” one must know the definition of wisdom. People just use the statement anyhow. Even when they see somebody that is psychologically sick, they still tell him or her to apply wisdom. Arrant nonsense. It is not everybody the statement should be used for. How can one apply the fear of God when one does not even know the God? That was what I was trying to make this adamant church secretary realize but he is too daft to reason with me. The way he even carries his shoulder high, one will think he is more than an ordinary church secretary. Maybe he is so myopic that he cannot clearly distinguish church worker and political position. Hopeless he-goat. He was speaking to the youths at the workshop they invited us to participate. He told the youths to apply wisdom in everything they do but he never told them what wisdom itself is. He was even daft enough to defend himself that the fear of the Lord is only the beginning of wisdom not the wisdom itself. If he may foolishly reason, as he is doing, then he would not know that the fear of the Lord is not only the beginning but also the end of wisdom. Remove the fear of the Lord in anything you want to do and see if you will remain wise. He may as well say the devil is wise since he started with the fear of the Lord, in fact he still fears God, only that he does not apply the fear of God in his activities, in other words he is not obedient to God. If God should command Satan, he must obey, but what does he do to the children of God? He craftily pulls them down from serving God, the same God he fears. See? My Bible tells me that it is cunningness and craftiness not wisdom. The secretary has nothing to offer to the church. The youths just called him to speak to let him know that he is not completely useless even as a figure head, a wall paper. Several of the youths could be seen giggling or trying to suppress laugher as he stammered and fumbled for words with excess gestures. The Reverend himself is not left out in this sort of misuse of words. The Bible indeed is loaded with meaning when it says 11“For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.” He constantly addresses the church members as believers. I told him twice but he would not correct himself. Maybe he has a shallow brain, I would not blame him much for that, especially when one has to bear the concerns of all the church members. Who is a believer? A believer is a person who believes in a God or religious faith, it is also a person who believes strongly that something is good, important or valuable. Is it not too broad a term to use on your own congregation? An idol worshipper is a believer, he believes in his idols and what they can do for him. A Muslim is a believer. He believes that there is no god except Allah and Prophet Mohammed (Sallalahu Alaihim Wasalam) is his messenger, the Christian is also a believer because he believes that the sin of the world is taken away through a person, the man Jesus Christ. Well, the unbeliever is also a believer, hard as it may be to

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believe. An unbeliever not only believes in not believing anything spiritual, he also believes in the reality of his own existence. Now tell me who is a believer in the church? Judge for yourself if the Reverend is right. Well aside all those minors. My concern now is the attitude of the church to these hypocrites that call themselves children of God. Should the church fold her hands and keep tolerating them? They will get up from just fornicating (probably with Bible on one hand while doing it) and head straight to the pulpit, speaking in strange tongues, igniting strange fire on the altar. The other day I talked about Ernest, people said I was too critical. Ernest who happens to be a thief, an ex-convict and a fornicator to be leading the congregation from behind the altar? Now see where it has ended. He collapsed right on top of Martha. He is now critically ill in the hospital and from all indications, it is the deadly disease AIDS. For Ernest, a young man, to collapse on a woman, you should imagine the extent he did it that he got so exhausted and collapsed. Should we now call that a mistake? That Nanzin of a boy is another issue, he may pretend to be holier than even the Messiah, he cannot deceive me. Let him deceive the insensitive church and the Reverend not me Elder Okanlawon. Just wait and see. We shall see where all these theatre performances will end just like that of Ernest. Just then the Reverend rounded up the cooperate prayers he was leading. “Brothers and sisters, we have emphasized so much on love in action. I expect all of us to incorporate this virtue into our lives. Love is the medicine in which the world can be cured of all evils. Before I go to my seat. I will like to share with you a story I was told by a friend. Although I do not know the originator of the story but it has remained indelible in my heart. “There was a farm house that comprised a cock, a Pig, a bull and a little rat living in a hole in the farm house. The farmer just got married and had brought his wife to the farmhouse to live with him. One day she noticed the little rat and complained to her husband to do something about it. After little thought, the farmer went out and came back in the evening with a package. Out of curiosity, the little rat hid behind a wall to watch what the farmer would bring out from the pack. As the farmer unfolded the pack, the rat caught sight of the trap wrapped in the pack, it ran as fast as its four little legs could carry it to the cock, breathlessly it shouted to the cock. “There is a trap in the house, there is a trap in the house” The cock tilted its head to one side and blew out. “Well, well Mr. Rat, I see you got a little funeral not far from now. Do me a favour will you? Make the use of your remaining moments. Adieu jolly good friend” The rat in its disappointment remembered the pig and so it ran again to the Pig. “There is a trap in the house, there is a trap in the house” “Traps they say are meant for illegitimate livestock, once in a while one need to face the reality of one’s identity. Welcome to reality” Said the cock

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“Now this is a big problem for a little rat” It thought. Well as a last effort, it ran to the bull. “There is a trap in the house, there is a trap in the house” “Ah, now this is a big problem” The bull said in between is regurgitation. “I really love to help you, believe me, the farmer may see it as a betrayal. I will drop a word for you in my prayers whenever I remember” As the rat turned to leave, the bull called it back “Hey Ratty, do me a favour will you , when you meet God tell him I don’t like it here, He should find a better farm for me haa haa haa!” The bull mocked. The rat went back to its hole sorrowfully. The farmer and his wife were watching television in the night when the light went out, so the wife stood up to go and light the bush lantern. As she walked into the kitchen, she accidentally slipped and fell backward, hitting her head on the bare floor. She fainted and was rushed to the hospital. After the treatment, she came back home but with a fever and nervous imbalance. The husband had to slaughter the cock to make pepper soup for her to boost her appetite. As for the neighbours, they trooped in to show their care for the farmer’s family. To show his appreciation, the farmer slaughtered the Pig to entertain them with pork. Unfortunately, after some days, the farmer’s wife died, amidst mourning, the farmer still decided to give the deceased a befitting burial ceremony, so he killed the bull to entertain the mourners with beef. All these the rat watched sorrowfully from its hole. Brethren, a problem solved with love for your neighbour is a better and fulfilled life for you. Do not hesitate today. Put your love into action, you are the one to change the world, you are the one this generation have been waiting for. Indeed your love shown today will heal the world of her evils. As you do that, God will abundantly bless you in Jesus name. Amen. He picked his Bible and took his place between the church secretary and Elder Okanlawon. The church secretary stood up to make an announcement. “After the evening worship today we shall be visiting Bro. Ernest in the hospital where he is on admission. Thank you and God bless you.” Nanzin Two nights ago I thought I had overcome a big challenge, now Sister Comfort came here to announce to me that she sensed that what I did was wrong. What did I really do? First, I had a dream similar to the one with the fruits on a tree. This time it was a single type of fruit on the tree. I did not see the other man who disobeyed the man in white nor did I see the weird looking man. It was only the man dressed in white I saw. He wasted no time in telling me to cut down the tree. I was a bit confused this time around. This is not the same tree I saw, as I hesitated, trying to comprehend it, I woke up. This must be a revelation to me to choose my friends wisely I thought. I was to visit Efe that day, I just wanted proving to her that I bore no grudge against her. I also intended praying for her to be healed from the malaria she

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was having. I will not go extra mile since I had been warned in the dream to be careful with the friends I hang out with. As I finished dressing, ready to leave the house, I noticed that the sandals I left outside my door have been torn into shreds by my neighbour’s dog. I was very angry because this is not the first time the stupid dog had done this and the owner usually said nothing about his dog’s behaviour the whole incidences. I hissed, took back the sandals into the house and brought out a pair of shoes to wear. After thoroughly cleaning the shoe, I slipped my legs into them and started off. I was barely seven yards away when the sole of the left shoe came off. At this point I was really fed up. What a rough day it was becoming for me. I managed to reach the nearest shoemaker along the way. It was so embarrassing for me, and all because I wanted to prove to Efe I had forgiven her. Well the kingdom of God is such experience on earth. This is a deliberate attempt by the kingdom of darkness to stop the good thing I wanted to do, I thought. I will never give up. Oh, I forgot to say my prayers before leaving the house, no wonder I am facing attacks. There and then I prayed and rejected every evil force militating against this visitation I was embarking on. The shoe was mended; I paid the bill and completed my journey. I arrived at Efe’s place just to hear an irritating statement of how I missed her by fractions of seconds. She had gone to take her last injection from a nurse not living far from the house. I chose not to be bothered. I will wait for her to come back. During the wait, I was having a struggle whether to go back, since she was obviously better, another thought or to wait since I was already in her place. Well, it makes sense to wait doesn’t it? So I waited. When Efe finally came back, she was so happy to see me, telling me how sorry she was for what had transpired between us, that she knows better than to do such now. Without losing focus, I prayed for her, stayed to chart for a little while, and then announced my departure. She brought out a wrapped paper from the drawer beside the bed, opened it and counted out the thirty thousand Naira in it and stretched it towards me. “This is the money, I have counted it out and kept it safely waiting for this moment to make restitution. Please do find a place in your heart to forgive me” I hesitated. I had forgiven her quite all right, so was I supposed to accept this money she was offering? On a second thought since it was a restitution, am I supposed to reject it? To reject it may mean rejecting her. Sensing my dilemma, Efe said the money is not to persuade me to forgive her. She knew I had done that already. It was a restitution, to make her conscience clear, to start on a clean slate with me. She had been doing that lately to everyone she had problem(s) with and she will be glad if I assist her to clear her conscience. Well was it not my money? The money belonged to me. So why should I feel guilty over it. I took the money. It is common sense to do that. Now sister Comfort came all the way from her house to tell me to return the money it was not meant for me. I had already started spending the money; settled some debts and bought some things I needed around the house. I could make do with borrowing some money to return to Efe, but sister Comfort said it must be the very currency notes I was given, not the numerical equivalent. Now that is impossible, the whole idea is not comprehensible to me. Not numerical equivalent but the exact currency

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notes. Well, I don’t need to bother myself about that anyway, whatever way that is not possible.

Okanlawon There is nothing new under the sun, so the saying goes. Whatever happens to a person must have happened before, it is certainly not the first time. This may be true, but whether it is the first time or the one millionth time, there is certainly something that must be seen for the first time in one’s life. It is also possible that the outstanding nature of that occurrence can forever remain in the memory of one’s mind. I was reluctant to go for the visitation to the hospital, not knowing I was about to witness something bizarre that would change the course of my life. That fateful day, the reverend was having a ministration in a youth conference organized by the scripture union, so he could not go with us. The secretary of the church was asked to lead the visitation. As usual, I was not pleased because I thought I was superior to the secretary. How glad I am now that I was not in charge of the visitation. We met Ernest on his sick bed. He was a complete shadow of himself, so emaciated. His file had been transferred to different doctors to help in the diagnosis. None of them had come out with a reasonable conclusion. The symptoms were confusing and changing. He did not respond to any of the drugs administered into the drip for him. I could not bring myself to look at him for long, I shuddered at the thought that death is an inevitable result of this circumstance for Ernest. I remembered the day he was on his knees in my shop, begging me to forgive him, that he had turned a new leaf. In a flash I saw him again at the back of my mind as he was dragged away from the court to serve his term in prison. The memories of how he was pleading that he took the money to sponsor his marriage with the intention of returning it also crossed my mind. What is the fate of that dream now? I was so humbled with what I saw. It was when the secretary cleared his throat that I knew I wasn’t listening to the attendant’s explanation of his condition any longer. The attendant is a church member, she had been the one taking care of him. Martha was said to have travelled out of town the very next day after the incidence. He had regained consciousness once but only for some hours. Then he slipped into unconsciousness again. This is not AIDS, No. “Brother Nanzin, can you lead us in prayers as you commit Bro. Ernest into the hands of the Lord as we trust him completely for our brother’s healing”. If I was the one leading, I would have prayed rather than assign another person. Thank God I wasn’t the one leading. Nanzin himself was lost in thought from the way he jerked back to reality when his name was mentioned. I was very thankful to God also for my wife’s absence. She had to take care of Tobi who was having a little fever. She would have broken-down, her heart cannot stand such sight even for an enemy. By the time Nanzin finished, it was obvious that something was not right about him. Nanzin had started the prayers with force as usual, giving thanks to God and all that, by the time he rebuked the source of the sickness, it was as if

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something dropped out of him. He finished the prayer as if subdued. It was unlike Nanzin, he was sweating lightly even though the weather was cold. “Are you okay Bro. Nanzin? “The church secretary asked.” “It is well” came the reply. He even tried to smile. We all departed that day with heavy moods, so heavy one could feel it physical on his weight as we dragged ourselves into the church bus quietly. Even sister Comfort did not lead choruses as she used to. She seemed to be lost in thought.

Nanzin Everybody was shocked when we got into the sideward that Ernest was admitted into, we knew he would not look well but we were not warned that he was unconscious and had been so for some time. The charting stopped instantly as we stepped into the room one by one. Even Elder Okanlawon that was known for his humour was completely silent. A look at his face will reveal to one that he was thoroughly shocked. I was shocked myself. The picture I saw was that of the corpse of Ernest not him on a sick bed. The attendant had explained how he regained consciousness and was hallucinating, his temperature went so high then he slipped back into unconsciousness and he had been like that since then. She also explained that all the drips that were administered to him was as if it were not into his system, it had all gone, for as soon as it entered his system, it was as if it was drained out through another outlet. Immediately she said that I remembered Yaya. There is something similar with the scenario and that of Yaya. I was still wondering when the voice of the church secretary interrupted my thought. He asked me to pray for the sick man. As I was praying, I felt something grip my heart, I could feel it as if it was a hand physically squeezing my heart. I struggled not to allow a painful sound escape my mouth. Then I heard the same voice of the man dress in white say: “The tree has not been cut down”. I was totally confused at this point. I rounded up my prayers with a great effort. All of a sudden I was physically tired. Something flashed through my mind –the money.

Okanlawon I reached home around 7:00pm, I tried to shake off the picture of Ernest but I could not. I avoided talking much, not even an accusation or insult came out of my mouth that night. I had only asked how Tobi was feeling “Still bad I fear” was my wife’s response. She was surprise, this was unlike her husband. I could see it in her eyes from the brief glance I stole to see her face, she was sure something was wrong in her husband. “Please take a shower, it will refresh you honey.” Imagine she even called me ‘honey.’ Last time I heard her say so was over a year. I did not utter a single word in reply I was afraid I would betray some emotions. I had a feeling it was the tone of my voice she wanted to listen

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to in order to confirm her suspicion. It was the next day she got to know when I received another shock. Too much to keep to myself “Again?” I shouted. My wife dropped the stew spoon she was holding in the kitchen and ran out to join us in the parlour. “What is it, eh? Baba Tobi what is it? Please answer me” she looked from me to sister Comfort. It was sister Comfort that spoke finally, not me. “We were on visitation to the hospital yesterday to pray for Ernest as announced in the morning worship. Well, it was Nanzin that said the prayers. On reaching home he started hearing strange voices in his head, then he began to see things, shouting and kicking. His temperature went so high and he collapsed. But just before he collapsed those who witnessed the incidence all agreed that they heard him say “The Reverend, go for him the tree-the treecut it down”.

My wife broke down shouting and throwing her wrapper and head tie around. I tried to stop her but could not. One could easily understand, she was a blood relative to Nanzin, her brother’s son, more so that his mother and sister had moved to the village. “The Reverend has sent me to call your husband. You must hold yourself ma”. Observed sister Comfort. The Reverend I was on my way to a friend’s house, I had not seen him for a very long time now. I was driving when I thought I heard a voice say “The tree must be cut down” I tuned down my radio to be sure I heard a voice. The voice came again. I halted the car by the sidewalk, pulled out my Bible, and started praying. A passage came to my mind, I opened it and read:

‘And the servant cried out, ‘master, what shall I do, for it was a borrowed axe’” Just then a call came through, I picked my phone, it was Sister Comfort. In clear terms she told me that Nanzin had been attacked after the prayer he made for Ernest. Immediately I understood the meaning of the meaning of the voice. My church is under attack. I contacted two elders, elder Okanlawon’s number was not available so I called Sister Comfort to get to his house and inform him since they were neigbours. Within little time we were on the way to the hospital, the same hospital that Ernest was taken to. We headed to the emergency where he was being attended to. We met him unconscious. I begged for permission to pray for the young man since the doctor had finished attending to him. As we prayed for Nanzin, began to sense that our prayers had been answered. I rounded up the prayers. We all opened our eyes to see Nanzin sweating. At first he showed no other sign, then fingers started twittering. He opened his eyes. We all praised the Lord. It was

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marvelous. We decided to go and see Ernest while we allowed Nanzin to rest. We spent some time praying for Ernest before I had peace in my mind that the prayers had been answered. We then decided to see Nanzin once more before we take our leave. Surprisingly he was able to speak to us. I never knew that would be the last communication I would ever have with him. He told us he was under attack. Well it was no longer news to us. We knew that already. The news, however, was that he could not cut down the tree given to him to cut. He had collected money he was instructed not to collect. The thirty thousand naira he collected was a fruit of the tree he was instructed to cut. He told me a monitoring spirit was assigned to bring him down, having failed many times, starting from the days he encountered Yaya, he was finally defeated at the last minute. Although he was unconscious, the Lord had let him know that he was wounded on the battleground but his place is secure in heaven. I was glad to hear that, to that I shouted “halleluyah” followed by responses of “amen” from the elders. The Lord had healed two of our members, the battle is also over for now. It was around 4:30 am that I received a text message that I should hurry to the hospital, Nanzin has died. He died peacefully in his sleep, no struggle whatsoever. That same day Ernest was discharged from the hospital. In fact he attended Nanzin’s funeral service and testified about Ernest in his word he said: “Although he was a warhead are for the Lord, he was wounded much as I was. The battle was won but the victory was lost. Nanzin had lost his life in the process. I know better now. I am happy for one thing though, my friend has found a place to rest in the bosom of the Lord. As for us alive, the battle line has been drawn once again”

Nanzin There are some things we cannot fully comprehend with our ordinary human reasoning. God who is the author of life and the entire creation has been and will always be. He knows the flow of occurrences in an individual’s life. When we pass through something, we don’t see their significance. We wonder if it is necessary at all, but God knows what role such occurrence will play both at present and the future, he blends our past, present and future together to give us an expected end, according to His plan for our lives. The expected end that God has for an individual is not dependent on our past or present, all it is dependent upon is our yielding, that is, yielding to His will over our lives. Only then will he be enthroned in our lives and make our living a worthy one. When purpose is not known, abuse is inevitable. We must seek to understand the purpose of God for our lives as individual, so that our lives will be meaningful. Anything outside living in the purpose of God gives nothing but unfulfillment, regrets, depression and a sense of loss. All sources of significance will not stand the test of fulfillment while death is but a step away from us, all what will occupy the mind is the hereafter, only then can one be truly happy or truly sad depending on the extent of one’s preparation to meet the deed that he or she has done. When one comes to a realization that his or her purpose of existence as set by God is different from what he or she is striving for at present, he or she can quickly retrace his or her steps, otherwise the individual can still be used by God but as a vessel without honour. It is like a vegetable farmer who planted pumpkins, supplied them with manures, removed weeds that would have chocked them, supplied water, set up stakes for the twine to

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climb. Every day he tends his pumpkin, winding it up the stake as they grow, just to discover one evening that a shoot had broken. It is painful to the farmer that the shoot should break at that stage, he knows that another one would make it, but that one should have stayed too for a collective canopy of pumpkin with other shoots. He detaches the broken shoot, not to destroy, it but to give it to chickens. If it is nutritious to humans why not chickens too. It will contribute to their weight to bring in more profit for their sale. The pumpkin was supposed to serve humans, but it has ended up serving chickens. We are like that pumpkin. It is always painful to us when we discover that it was not in God’s original plan for us. As for me, my life had been a brief one. It is as if it were yesterday I was born. As I exited this world, it dawned on me that this once I have come, I can never come again. I would not say I feel exactly as Paul felt when he approached his death. I was sad that I have been used in a lesser capacity than God had intended for me. I had been wounded but I was thankful for an opportunity to make my way right. I was working with a wrong purpose, I was saved before it became late, now on the right track, I was still wounded. I thank God for His mercy that my place is secured in heaven. The Lord had revealed to me that my existence itself had been a battle, a battle in which I was a prisoner, it took the interceding of the father I once hated and the Lord out of His mercies that saved me. He did not save me to be idle but to enlist in his army and fight. I was still undergoing the empowering process when I launched out full gear. Right from the days of Yaya, I had been earmarked. The devil could not afford to gamble my life to his detriment yet I gambled my own life away, unserious about living for God and hiding under His protection. I would have succeeded had I paid more attention to the Holy Spirit. My mission has been terminated but the Lord has offered me rest. If only I could re-live my life, then I would live it with better understanding of what my existence is all about. The tree I could not cut down has been cut down. The battle is won but I have lost the glory. Ernest I was as good as dead. What kept me alive is God’s mercy. I had it coming only that I was not much careful, I should have known better than fold my hands and watch when the dream started in the prison. I could not have meddle with the woman with the mischievous smile and go free if not for God’s intervention. Who would have thought Martha who he had considered to be a pretty and “decent” girl could ever hurt a fly talk more of master minding the occult manipulations. If I had not seen the replay of my life while I was under the of lust of money backed up by the greed within me. It degenerated to lies, imprisonment, sexual impurity. I was qualified to go to hell even without judgment had I died in that state. Nanzin who was even stronger than me could not stand it. A believer’s work is like a building erected by a builder. If at any point the builder makes a mistake, not only will his work be halted, but also the one he has laboured to raise, irrespective of the time taken to reach that stage, irrespective of the resources put into it, the labour and of course sacrifices and deprivations will all be a waste. The building must be pulled down, not only to the point of the mistake but to the foundation. He must start building

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again. All these must be done with respect to the time allotted to that individual to spend on earth. Some people will build and pull down their works several times until their time is up, some may build so high, just when their time is about being completed, the whole structure will then be pulled down. The most pathetic is when the individual does not live to amend his or her ways, that is when the individual labours so much on earth and also miss heaven. It is preferable, though, for the work to be pulled down and the individual saved. At least the person will enter into eternal rest without the rewards for work well done. Nanzin has completed his mission, saved without works, saved through fire with all his works burnt off in the process of test. To me, however, it is a new beginning. I now know better than to play away the grace of God in my life. Okanlawon It is one thing to know the scriptures, it is another to allow the Holy Spirit to interpret the scripture, it is still another to listen to God speak to us concerning our circumstances and apply it in our lives. I was thinking I knew it all until the mysteries in the lives of Ernest and in the death of Nanzin. I was just as a sandpaper that polishes other people at my own expense. As I criticized them, I wear out little by little. God was moulding them for His service yet I held on to a title of godliness without knowing the role I am supposed to play for myself, my family and the church. Right after Ernest was prayed for, my son Tobi and I went to the Reverend’s office. When I walked into the office, Ernest was there. With a smile, Ernest slightly touched Tobi on the shoulder. “Yes, Elder, I hope it is well with you”. Said the Reverend. I explained that Tobi had been ill for some days now. Meanwhile, Tobi started shaking and pulling my hand to get my attention. “Daddy I am okay. I am okay now! Let’s go home. I am well now”. “Let Reverend pray for you. Are you sure you don’t feel feverish again?” I asked. “No, Daddy. When Uncle touched me I started feeling hot on the shoulder he touched, then climbed up to my head and my chest, then my legs and the fever stopped. I am not feeling it again.” This cannot be true, I thought. This is the very person that collapsed on a woman, a man that if not for God’s grace should have been dead by now. A man that was so much possessed that Nanzin was knocked off just for praying for him. “That is a confirmation you needed to know that you are God’s warhead Ernest”. The Reverend said. I could enter the ground, heal the sick? Something I cannot do as an elder in the church. I need to understand something here. I think I have been holding unto the title all these while, now I need to know something else. As I left the Reverend’s office humbled, the words he spoke to Ernest re-echoed in my ears: “That is the confirmation you needed to know that you are God’s warhead Ernest”. What about me? Who am I? God, I need to understand you all over again.

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The Reverend Now I understand why God wanted me in this church. My assignment, I guess, is completed, God can take me away from here any time from now. I have studied the entire church, particularly the men: Ernest, Nanzin, Okanlawon and the church secretary. From these lives, I learnt four important things I need to know. These are

 The supremacy of God.
 Self realization  Purpose of Existence; and  Relationship with other people. To know God is different from knowing that God exists somewhere. We all know God is a superior being, the creator of heaven and earth and all that is in it; but only few of us really know that this God reigns in the affairs of men, and because we are spiritually insensitive, we do not fear Him. This shows in our behaviour. Some proclaim to be godly but are not. An individual will say this or that is what I believe. What he says on closer look may be different from what he believes. His actions indicate what he believes. Better put, “as a man thinks in his heart, so he is”. For an individual to fit well into God’s purpose for his life, he must through his struggles and failures come to discover himself and the place of God in his life. Selfdiscovery is the realization of one’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and treats (SWOT), from the spiritual perspective. After knowing these, invite God into all aspects. Our general purpose of existence is to please God by glorifying him with our lives. We are living sanctuaries to worship Him. Because He is spirit, we must worship him in spirit and in truth. No eye-service. We should not be masters of our lives. When we know these we begin to be cured of seeking the world only. That is when we become conscious of the evils we unleash to our society. Only then we will know that we owe God a duty to do everything in His fear and for the glory of His Holy name. In politics, in school, in our NYSC years , to our family members, friends and neighbours those of same tribe others of different tribes, state, Nationality or race, even enemies (real or imagined). That is the only time the veil of greed, hatred, covetousness, truce breaking, corruption, immorality, robbery, bribery, stealing and all other forms of evil will be lifted from our eyes and we begin to put ourselves in the position of our fellow men. If any person, can live with his who comes from a different background with mentality of love and peace as instructed by God. That individual is half way through righteousness. Follow peace with all men. Regard yourself not better than your neighbour but on same scale of equality in the eyes of God and in the pursuit of personal interest. This is sure a big lesson. Conclusion The lives of these four men revolved around these aforementioned points. Ernest ended up realizing he is a warhead for God. At first he dangled between total conversion and seeking of immediate earthly pleasures. As a result, he had to start the race

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repeatedly. The first time it was greed for money. Haven learnt his lesson, Ernest could still not stop himself from falling into sexual immorality, a spiritually immune deficiency virus which ate away his entire defense against sexual pervasion until it grew into a mighty inferno of strange fire that culminated in a sexual intercourse with a demon that had been monitoring his life. It started with a careless observation of the beauty of a woman; I like to refer to her as satanic diplomat that had neither past records nor other relevant information to her credit. She appeared at a strategic point of Ernest life and disappeared without a trace soon after Ernest doom became fool prove. Apparently, no one knew her background or where she went to afterwards. Once down, it was a killing move for the demons, a victory over this potential warhead that was yet to discover himself. Nothing stood between him and death, save for the timely intervention of God out of His infinite mercies; bringing to mind God’s popular declaration: “I will have mercy on who I will have mercy.” Under similar circumstances, many potential warheads have wasted away. Nanzin realized he was a warhead, but he became a victim of dampened spiritual consciousness. What he did not realize or probably realized but not taken seriously was that demons do not completely give up trying to destroy an individual. Every new day requires a new anointing, new grace, new strength, new understanding of God’s leading through the Holy Spirit. One day at a time with God, victory of yesterday ends yesterday. We walk with God today, yet tomorrow is not identical with today. That is why a particular strategy employed by God in a specific circumstance is not once and for all time formular. That money collected by Nanzin was already fortified with satanic dart. Evil does not come to a targeted individual with the appearance of what it stands for, rather it comes in the most harmless form, in a way that it justify its harmlessness. It was too trivial for him to inquire from God whether to visit Efe or not, in fact he even saw the hitch he experienced while going to visit Efe as a demonic ploy to stop him. That was why Nanzin also saw it as too fanatic not to take the money that should be his own. The moment he regarded as “nothing serious,” unknown to him was the most crucial moment of the spiritual battle in his life. It was like the point of “I will arise as of other times…” in the life of Samson not knowing that he had underrated his enemy at the most deadly point. It also brought to mind the story of the war against Ai by the children of Israel who did not bother to inquire before God before matching out full force because they thought Ai is too small to come under serious preparation for war, in fact they even cut down their army to reserve for deadlier times. The consequence was more than what Nanzin bargained for. It was not retribution due to his past life, no. It was a “hole of negligence” in the hedge of his defense. Okanlawon criticized all the way, but he recovered himself at the end. We still have people like Okanlawon in the church today; they think they are the only ones that know it all. Nobody can be right order than them and anybody who holds a contrary opinion to theirs’ is considered an enemy. They judge where call upon to encourage; and where others are seeing hope, they see nothing but hopelessness. Such people do not see the beauties of God in the lives of other people, they are often critical about everything. As for the secretary, he just sat on the fence. Sitting down on the wall is not enough to be successful in the Christian race. It is like a soldier who stands defenseless between two warring armies shooting from both sides. The soldier’s death is sure. You cannot be passive in

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this war. You must belong either to one side or the other; otherwise you will be a victim of both sides. Victim of satanic attacks and victim of God’s anger in judgment. It is like the humpty dumpty we learnt in our nursery rhyme who sat on the wall and eventually broke his neck. For the Christian community, the battle is still on. The community is defeated because we ourselves are defeated. The day we discover our strength is the day the Christian community recovers her strength. We, the individual Christians make up the Christian community. Repentance of the Christian community is because of the repentance of individual Christians. Victory of Christians as individuals is the victory of the Christian community. Every failure of the fight against societal evils is a manifestation of spiritual defeat. 12For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. The church must face the fact that leaning more and more on intellect and physical weapon is because of losing more and more of the spiritual battle. We are the warheads, we are the weapons. Arise and fight today to win the battle, in our society: bribery, corruption, rape, stealing, ritual killings, assassinations, kidnapping and all manifestation of occult manipulations must crumble. You are the warhead the Lord has been sharpening. ARISE AND FIGHT!

END

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Prologue TOBI An innocent child who have absolute faith in his father. He believed everything his father told him despite the fact that his father is a critic. His father’s way of life have a negative effect on Tobi’s psychological, sociological, mental, moral and spiritual development. He does not want to be a woman because he used to watch how his father maltreat and insult his mother in his presence, to the extent that she cries. No matter how aggrieved we are as “parents,” we must avoid beating or insulting our spouse in the presence of our children. This makes them lose focus. He didn’t know whether his Sunday school uncle is right or wrong who teaches them that fighting is bad. As young as he is, he has started nursing in his heart how he will deal with his father when he becomes an army officer. He will make him apologize and promise never to beat his mother again. Toys generally are very good but it depends on the kind that will develop the child’s psychomotor domain; like building block and alphabetical toys. Toy guns and other injurious kind of toys can give the child a wrong ideology. Tobi, whose father promised to buy him a mp3 phone after seizing the toy gun from him, never fulfilled his promise to his son. This is bad. Parents belittle themselves when they promise their children and never live up to it. Avoid empty promises. Tobi became confused when he told Baba Moomi the truth and was commended as a good boy whereas after narrating the story to his father, he was called a bad child. An environment filled with love is a compulsory ingredient that will aid a child’s development. In a situation where parents lied or need them to lie in the presence of their children just to cover up for them, this can make them lose confidence in their parents which is disastrous because, they will be forced to confide in their peers who in turn will lead them astray. Children, generally learn more from their parents’ action than words. So, parents should be extremely careful when they do things; the manner they talk, behave or approach issues in the presence of their children. They should live their lives in such a way that they children will emulate their exemplary lives. Besides, they should be careful of what they say in order not to destroy their hard labour. Also, they should invest greatly in Educating their children. This is because it is the only inheritance that you can give to your children that nobody can take away. “Knowledge is power.” Ogorry Comfort Ori Headmistress Zion Baptist Nursery & Primary School Lafia, Nasarawa State.

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Okanlawon Okanlawon, a “know-all man”, depicts a typical orthodox or “churchy” fellow who despite in-depth understanding of Christendom sometimes relapse to attitudes that baffles the observers. Familiarity with the church is not necessarily spirituality. Such kind of people does not base their reaction on what God says about situations instead they base their judgment on personal experience and situation. People like Okanlawon possess certain pride that seek to be honoured and recognized but will shy away from the fact that that is what they are. Okanlawon is close to the pastor and sees himself as the best to be heard, he checkmate the pastor with caution based on the aforementioned attitude of experience, such advise is consequential if it is rejected, for he will turn around and condemn the individual by himself. He is also careless with words that do not portray godliness. Example the repeated use of “Nonsense” gives him the self-righteous image. Circumstantial change of Okanlawon came to him with a pinch of salt, it was a bitter realization of shame and embarrassment. When we remain where we are, we can never go with God. We must leave where we are- our emotions, thoughts and positions to allow God to take us to where He wants. It is then we will see people the way God sees them. Take decisions according to God’s guidance and our lives will bring glory to God. Rev. Jeremiah Eziekiel Pogwan Executive Secretary United Baptist Conference

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ERNEST A humble, zealous and easygoing young man who was so concerned about spirituality got himself messed up and ensnared in the things of the world. He caused pains to people especially Martha and felt sorry for his own life. Many times when committed people fall into sin, the struggle to come back and be fully accepted is ongoing and may never be totally realized. Ernest having come to term with reality made up his mind to be accepted. Unfortunately, for him he went to a wrong person, Okanlawon. Despite the fact that the only Martha he disappointed came back to be his encourager, he ended up allowing the desires of the flesh take over. Whenever we give room to the flesh, the devil will capitalize on it to bring to us conflicting passages to further confuse us to have his way. Ernest allowed his sexual desire to control him by constantly thinking and practicalising the act alone and the monster took the advantage and attacked. The central message is to resist the enemy in all facets and he will flee (James 4:7). NANZIN Blaming, complaining and cursing ones father is in itself a curse. Nanzin in the beginning was materialistic and since his father was not able to accumulate those things he wanted, he was mad to the point of speaking badly against the dead, which is a taboo to the African mind. The joy about him is that he came to a point in life that he repented. He struggled to forgive which is normal, for Paul says “For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do….” However, we must keep on the fight against the evil that is after us. It is also importantly that our changed life must be attested to by the people around us, as did Nanzin’s neighbor. Although Nanzin could not cut the “tree” as instructed- he lost the glory. We must obey God to the letter. Rev. Donal Yohanna Arak Lafia Local Government CAN Chairman Nasarawa State.

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The book when viewed from all angles can simply be seen as a lesson for all ages, most importantly the present Christianity where insincerity tends to dominate from pulpit to the pew, the elders, youths and even children not an exemption. The book can even go for a stage play in our churches and other non-Christian communities. Deacon Joseph Ibukunade Ilori State Coordinator Federal Ministry of Commerce and Industry Benue state

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Scriptural Quotations (All references are taken from King James Version)
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Php 3:10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; Heb 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Ps 11:3 If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do? Ro 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? Mt 5:7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Ho 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children. Col 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. Lu 14:28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Jas 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 1Co 10:12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. Jas 3:2 For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. Eph 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

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Non English words used in the book. Word Meaning -By God (to swear) -A big attire normally worn by males to ceremonies - Foolish -Swear by Allah (God)

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.

Olorungbo(Yoruba) Agbada(Yoruba) Okponu(Yoruba) Allah kwa(Hausa)

Maggi - An ingredient used as seasoning in food especially soup Oga(pidgin English) -Boss or superior Sallalahu Alaihim Wasalam(Arabic)- Peace Be unto Him (PBH) Adieu( French) Ke - Exclamation -Good bye

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR Babatunde Olatunji graduated from University of Ilorin where he studied Agriculture. He is presently a staff of Baptist High School, Lafia, Nasarawa State. He is also the author of the books “Reflections” and “Nigerians; Pan Patriotism.”

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