They met again at the church.
But before then, Martha had struggled with lots of conflicting emotions, coupled with her inability to erase the memory of the little time they shared when they first met.
The Pastor’s eyes kept surfacing at all waking and sleeping moments. The depth, the wisdom, the fire in them. They looked familiar, like eyes, she had seen before.
Not mincing words, he stated his mission.
“I first caught a glimpse of you the day I was inducted as an associate Pastor in the church,” he said. “I don’t know what drew my attention to you, as I stood to receive the hand of fellowship from the Pastors and elders. I saw a young, beautiful lady, holding a child. There was an aura around you, that I couldn’t explain. Your thoughts kept re-occuring after the service. I started praying because, it seemed God was telling me something.”
Martha kept her face straight as the Pastor spoke. She was already preparing a polite rebuff in her mind.
“ I have been praying since then. I was indoor last Saturday,’ he continued, when I had a push to go out, and I obeyed. If you noticed, my hair wasn’t combed, I was even in bathroom slippers. When I saw you, I was convinced that you are the one that God has prepared as my wife. I got talking with the Senior Pastor, and he said I should meet you, after praying with me. And here I am, to ask you to pray and think about being my wife.”
Martha took her time in answering.
Fidgeting with a button on her hand bag, she asked, ““Why will God want you, his minister, to marry me?”
“Who are you” Pastor Kayode asked, focusing on her face.
“Hmmmp,” Martha breathed deeply. “I’m my simple self. Washed and cleansed by the blood. But I have an ugly past. Although I had waded through waters and fires, to ensure my past doesn’t interfere with my future, but there’s no how a scar can ever be like a normal flesh.”
“You are speaking in parables Martha,” the Pastor said.
“Pastor, my Bible tells me in the book of Leviticus 21:7, that a priest should not marry a harlot; or a woman who has been defiled; neither shall they marry a woman divorced from her husband; for the priest is holy unto him God. You see! I will be doing you a disservice by even promising to pray about the proposal, because I won’t.”
“Why?’ the Pastor asked.
” Let’s face reality. I would be a clog in the wheel of your progress as a minister, if you marry me. Other ministers would look down on you, for marrying someone who already had a child. If you remain in this church, you might even be denied the right to become a senior Pastor at the due time. I have a child, a child that the father wouldn’t acknowledge. I beg you to let …”
“Martha,” Pastor Kayode called quietly.
“You need an untouched woman” she continued. “Someone that has never been with a man.”
“Martha! look at me,” Pastor Kayode said. “My ministerial progression is in the hands of God. He called me, and knows where he will lead me. Nothing can ever stand in my way if I remain in his will.”
“And for you having a past.
“ Everyone has a past, either good or bad. Our victory lies in the ability not to allow our past, to mar the future. When we dwell too much on the past, it becomes a barrier to God operating in our lives. For you in particular, God wants to use the mess of your past, to give a great message to the world. I just hope you will allow him.”
“But what of my child?” Kike asked.
“God knew you have a child, when he made me realize you are my missing rib. I would gladly accept her as mine, if we become one.”
“I don’t know what to do,” Martha lamented. ” Will it be right to accept your proposal. Am I worthy to be a Pastor’s wife? After all that has happened. I have always seen Pastor’s wives, as honourable women. I was made to know, that I wouldn’t be worthy for a single man, because of my child. I was equally advised to focus on marrying a widower or a divorcee. I made a resolution to remain single for life, and rather train my daughter alone. But here you are, asking me to be your wife. I haven’t even graduated from the University. I see eligible single and ready ladies in the Church, vibrant sisters, but God directed you to me, a mother of a child that the Father won’t acknowledge.”
“Martha will you just pray about it? Pastor Kayode pleaded.
“I will” she answered, with a drop of tears.
“I know God will guide you. And even if you don’t accept my proposal, I respect you a lot, and you will always occupy a special place in my heart. Cheer up! He said,” touching her lightly on the cheek. “You are a strong woman.”
After that, they walked side by side to the gate.
Suddenly, Martha remembered something, and stopped.
Facing the Pastor, she said, “Your surname sounds familiar.”
“It is a common name.”
“But, there’s something about the…I think I remember now. There was a revivalist that came here years ago. That must be the name.”
“You mean a vibrant, fiery old man with grey hairs at the temple, and a dark birth mark on the nose.”
“Wait Pastor do you know him?” Martha asked.
“What do you think?” Pastor Kayode teased her.
“ Wait… your face, don’t tell me.”
“He happens to be my father.”
“Oh my God!” Martha screamed, then covered her mouth as the scream had attracted women who were cleaning the church compound, with Mrs. Johnson and Mrs. Williams seated, and directing them.
They looked curiously at the two.
“I gave my life to Christ under his ministration,” Martha said.
“You don’t mean it.”
“ I wish to meet him again,” Martha said excitedly.
“You will, as his daughter-in-law,” Pastor Kayode responded, smiling.
“ Why are you so sure of this?”
“Because God has said it, and I believe it. I can also see it in your eyes, that your answer will be a yes.”
Mrs. Johnson glided to the Pastor’s office. Knocking vigorously, she entered and dumped herself into a chair.
Revd. Bamiro looked at her curiously, waiting for a word from her.
“I saw something disturbing outside, ” she finally found her voice.
“This is not the first time I’m seeing them together.”
“Who?” The Pastor asked.
“Pastor Kayode should put himself in a state of honour, and stop sending wrong signals to the youths.”
“How? What did he do?”
“This is the second time I’m see him having deep conversations with that girl,” Mrs Johnson said, tightening her mouth.
” That one that gave birth to the child, without a father.”
“You mean Martha?”
“That is her name.”
Revd Bamiro turned his chair round, and brought his face at par with Mrs. Johnson’s saying, “Pastor Kayode is an adult, and knows what is good for him. Have a nice day Madam. Eku imura iyawo.”