With black suede shoes on, walking into Church gave him a sense of importance, his feet were surer, his shoulders higher, and so was everyone’s around him. Walking in, you could sense an aura of worth, palpable on the faces of everyone in Church. Perhaps, this was what the bible meant by heaven on earth, that in His house, His kingdom, was joy untold. It seemed that as he walked in he stepped into a new identity, he became someone else. He wasn’t amazed at the opulence around him, he felt like one of them – a car owner, a house in Maitama, a bank account with a lot of zeros, an estate owner, an apartment in Lekki, government contracts in the bag, checks irredeemable over the counter, a testimony for every service. He looked beside him, the man standing there, who earlier had just stepped out of a 2014 Prado SUV, had an iphone 5s, the same Damijo had in his left hand. Subtly it crept in and solidified, that I-don’t-feel out-of-place feeling. He belonged; this was the house of God.
‘I see millionaires right now’ the visiting preacher declared
Damijo raised his hands to receive the blessing, and with his eyes partially open, he saw that it was he and three-quarters of the whole congregation. Yes, he was not alone, not out-of-place. For a second he wondered if they were all going to be millionaires, but that was none of his business, he shut his eyes and shouted amen. Prayer after prayer his amen thundered, sometimes those little seconds of wondering interjected his amen, and interjection after interjection he reprimanded himself, and released his faith, till he wasn’t sure of which amen went for which prophecy or prayer. But with each amen he felt an assurance, a calm that all will be well, a reassurance that there was a God who saw his heart, heard his prayers and was ready to bless him.
And just as he opened his eyes, the preacher said ‘I normally don’t do this, but I feel God leading me to call out people to give to this church. And don’t see this as an obligation, but out of your free will. I feel God wants to give his people an opportunity to sow a seed.’
Damijo searched through the pockets of his pencil-trousers, ready to give something, he was sure he had a thousand to spare. This was his house, his father’s house, he was not out-of-place, he was giving to his father. He found the one thousand naira note, and took it out of his pocket. He could feel the weight of the note on his hand.
‘Now I want two lines, a line for 50 dollars, and another for 10,000 naira’ the preacher continued.
People poured out, and as the amount increased like an auction, more lines were created and more people came out, until the amount stopped at 600 dollars and 150,000 naira. Still waiting, Damijo was sure God would speak to the preacher that there were others with lesser amounts to give.
Then she paused and said ‘I feel God telling me that there are more people who want to give…’ Damijo tightened his grip on the note, like a man holding on to a sense of entitlement. But when he heard ‘…600 dollars and above’, his grip morphed into a man holding on to nothing he was sure of.
But still he waited, looking at his suede shoes, with the one thousand naira note in his hands, saying amen to the prayers for those who gave, unaware that the man beside him had stepped out also. The note felt lighter in his hand, and his amen was drawn-out like the response of a pupil unsure of the answer to a question.
Damijo walked out of the Church feeling light-headed, like he had suddenly dropped from the sky. It was a kind of light-headedness, of being unsure of how exactly he should feel. He hailed a green cab ‘Bwari’. The cab stopped and he peered into it ‘You get one thousand naira change?’ ‘Yes’ the driver said. He got in, cleaned the dust off his shoes and the cab took off.