With Ishola’s death, came our travails as well. We were getting into trouble with Baba Ajala.
He had alleged that some members of his church were no longer regular in services, but had rather opted for the discipleship classes.
He had rambled on to say some of those that attended the discipleship class, were becoming too critical and judgmental, losing respect for elders. Some of these would allegedly ask such questions in Sunday school, as to make the teacher lose balance, and look like a fool altogether.
According to him, several fathers had protested bitterly, that the youths who come to our place would no longer run errands to buy their parents Palm wine or gin.
Baba felt we had overstayed our welcome. We were no longer permitted to use the church premises for the discipleship class.
And we had to relocate to the house of a non-indigene, an Egbira man.
Church members were severely warned against coming to our place. Youths were beaten black and blue by their parents. Some wives were getting thrashed too.
The stubborn ones were embarrassed in church, right from the pulpit.
We lost most of our members, including the queen, Olori. Such was the influence Baba wielded. That ensured only few natives were coming. The majority were the non-native minority. The attendance dropped drastically. Things got pretty bad.
The last straw that broke the camel’s back, was when I had mediated in a scandal that involved Aremo– the heir apparent to the throne. He was betrothed to Abidemi, who was pregnant with his child at the time, their formal marriage rites were close by.
Abidemi was allegedly caught pants down with another man. So went Amoke’s story -her supposed bosom friend, who had ‘caught’ them both and raised the alarm.
The Prince’s relationship with Bidemi thus hit the rocks. Abidemi was a regular member of the discipleship class. I could vouch for her. She had substantial spiritual understanding.
Abidemi explained her side of the story to me. I believed her, and decided to mediate.
Several weeks on, the mediation process wasn’t yielding any significant fruits. The prince was hell-bent on the few occasions he gave me audience. He claimed he wasn’t even sure the baby in Abidemi’s womb was his.
He would later get engaged to Amoke. I was greatly displeased with the development.
It had been 8 years already we started the discipleship program.
It was the onset of the heavy rains towards the end of the year. On one of those weekends I came over to the village to do my usual evangelism work, I had invited Amoke over to our place. We had been able to put up a small structure on the half plot of land we purchased just at the village center. There was a small room adjoining the main hall that served as my office.
Abidemi had just put to bed, but the controversy wasn’t settled still. The Prince refusing to even see his baby boy, despite everyone acknowledging the striking resemblance.
I confronted Amoke with what I perceived to be the truth as regards her role in the whole issue. She had denied flatly initially. I insisted, presenting tenable proofs. Then she got all worked up and extremely uneasy. I didn’t bulge.
She started acting funny. She left her seat to mine attempting to get at me. I was mad realizing where this was leading to. I grabbed her, bundling her out of my office at once.
Then she suddenly screamed, and ripped her own blouse, spilling out her naked bosom. She held on tightly to a bewildered me, and wouldn’t stop screaming.
She would later allege to alarmed passersby, swearing loudly that I had attempted to rape her!
The matter got to the Baale. It was a grave accusation. Attempted rape on the Prince’s fiancée? I was tried, but the case was inconclusive pending further investigations. The damage was done already. My character had been assassinated in cold blood.
The weeks that followed were the most agonizing of my life. It looked to be the final burial rites of my life and ministry. My antagonists, led by Baba Ajala had mouth to talk, taking advantage of the scandal to attack my person. They labelled me a hypocrite, hiding behind the ‘Pastor’ title to wreak havoc. And sure, they gained massive followership.
We had sustained a stable attendance before then, though very much less than what we had started with.
But with the scandal, people stopped coming to discipleship class altogether. Few still believed in me though, some like Abidemi. But they still had to stay away till the coast was clear. I couldn’t blame them.
Those days were tormenting, the days of waiting in vain for people to turn up to no avail. The discipleship class in such days would eventually turn a family affair. My wife and the kids as the congregants. And then we would return home. The couple that started with us had since left for foreign missions.
I was distraught and despaired. My wife stood by me, and ever encouraged me. We prayed together and waited patiently.
I still went to the village on some weekends, this time always with my wife. I had learnt my lesson the hard way. But all was still in futility.
The hostility against me was palpable in the air. People rarely gave me audience to even engage them in a simple conversation. Some households I visited even turned me away. They weren’t interested in whatever I had to say or preach. After all, I was a ‘hypocrite’. A suspected rapist.
It was a few days already to the end of December. The matter had not been revisited ever since my first trial. And things had just remained static.
I was toying with the thought of closing up already. We had just finished another discipleship class of no one turning up, save two urchins, who apparently only come to play.
We were making towards our car already, home-bound, when a messenger from the palace ran up to me, just as we were about getting into the car. My attention was needed urgently at the palace.
We had zoomed to the palace, and met a mammoth crowd of villagers already gathered in the open space. Seated was the Baale, his council of chiefs, Olori, the prince, Baba Ajala, Abidemi.
And there she was- Amoke, seated on the ground dishevelled and unkempt. She was wailing, and rolling in the dust.
She had confessed.
No one knows what came over her till date.
She admitted she had set Abidemi up to win the Prince’s heart. Then prepared a love potion for the prince, and charmed him to her. She had also set me up to get me totally out of the way, as I was blurring her prospects.
Everyone was aghast. I spotted Abidemi, teary, with her baby strapped to her back. I was fighting tears myself.
The Baale apologized to me on behalf of the entire village, urging us to keep up ‘the good work’.
Baba Ajala interceded for himself and his team of persecutors and rumor mongers. And he declared me, right before the entire village, a true man of God worth emulating and following.
Abidemi was reunited to a prostrating Aremo.
I hugged my wife tightly. Sweet woman, awesome God.
The following week. We were at our station as usual, not knowing what to expect. We almost ran back at the sight.
There stood several dozens of villagers already waiting outside for the class to begin. Present were the many who had scorned me, and closed their doors against me. I saw there those that had been gone for over 6 years prior.
I was overwhelmed.
I taught tearfully that day. I couldn’t hold myself.
I wept for the many labours of the years yonder.
And in the weeks that followed, the whole village poured in….