The Machine Gun Preacher…
THE MACHINE GUN PREACHER
Sophia was horrified!
This was not how she had envisaged it, no, not in the least!
She had put fear in the people of the palace, telling them that the presence of this man in the town, especially after putting his hand on Kwame Essuman, a royal, symbolized evil and there would be more hardships in Obosomfie if the man was not driven out of the town!
In the end, as always, they had trembled with terror and summoned the man, fuelled by the wrath of the Nifahene.
It should have ended in the pastor being dragged out of the palace and bundled off to the lakeside and banished from Obosomfie forever!
That was exactly how it had supposed to play out!
Not like this!
She watched, mesmerized, as they all got up to welcome this son of Obosomfie, this boy whose mother could have been the Queenmother if she had wanted to, this boy who could have been made a king if he had been available!
They stood up from their seats – the elders, kingmakers, wisemen, sub chiefs – and they welcomed this royal son who had come back as a man of the Word.
And Sophia saw the happiness on the Queenmother’s face as she wept and sang the ancient songs! The king stood up and approached the new pastor with a broad smile on his face, his arms outstretched to embrace Jon Fii.
“Stop it, Nana!” Sophia screamed in a strident voice as she took a step to the edge of the platform.
Her voice lashed through the gathering, freezing everybody out so that the excited babble of voices died down. The king turned slowly with dismay on his face and looked at Sophia, whose face was filled with wrath.
“Bosombaa of Obosomfie,” the King said in an unsteady voice. “What is this? This is the return of our own son, a prince from the House of Bosomfi, a royal house where our kings and queens are chosen, my own sister’s son! Surely, this is the time to welcome him back home!”
“No!” Sophia screeched in a furious voice. “That man is cursed by the gods, by the great spirits that keep Obosomfie! He is the main cause of the rains being delayed this season too! He must be cast out! If he remains, the rains would not come!”
“But he’s a son of Bosomfie!” the queen cried in a passion-filled voice. “He could have been king of this land! Why should the gods abandon one of their own, their own son?”
“Because the path he treads is not the path of the spirits of Obosomfie!” Sophia hissed as she floated off the platform, causing the people to gasp with fear.
She did not come down on the ground when she stepped off the platform, but she was suspended in the air, walking effortlessly in space to come face-to-face with Jon Fii before settling slowly down on the ground beside him.
“This man has never been to Obosomfie, because his heart is evil, and his parents – including his mother – considered him too pure to be tainted by the sins of the land! So, he’s nothing but an interfering stranger! We know that for several years there have not been rain, and the lake has dried of fish! Hunger has threatened this land for many years! The gods want to show mercy to Obosomfie this season, and will surely bring the rains and the fishes and the food if only we will obey them! Keeping this man here is a disobedience! If the rains don’t come down this year, real starvation, diseases, and deaths will occur in alarming numbers! Drive this man out!”
And as the fear began to increase, and it was evident that the terror of the people was coming back to assail them, Jon Fii began to laugh softly and with real mirth as he looked into the passionate face of the fetish priestess.
“Wow, you never give up, do you?” he asked softly. “You tried to let a panther chew me up, you tried to stab me to death, you even buried me alive… and here I am! Hasn’t it occurred to you yet that your gods are powerless against the God I serve?”
There was a gasp of terror from the people of the palace, and the queen put her trembling hand across Jon Fii’s mouth.
“Yaw Bosomfi, I beg of you, do not blaspheme!” she cried with horror. “Oh, woe, woe, woe! Now you need to make a sacrifice to the gods for this sacrilege!”
“I will not sacrifice to the gods!” Jon said, and his eyes fixed squarely on Sophia’s haughty face. “For years, you abandoned the Lord, and chose to serve gods! Are you experiencing hunger and droughts? Why should you expect the heavens to open and shower rains on this sinful land? The rains have stopped and there’s hunger here because of the useless gods you worship! Because of the satanism and the occultic tendencies you practice here in this town!”
He saw the people moaning with great horror and clamping their hands to their ears, and then making low, mourning sounds as they dropped to their knees and made weird gestures.
“Stop it, Yaw Bosomfi!” the king screamed. “You’re bringing more curses on this land! Maybe, we should really drive you out of here for your doctrine of the foolish white people! We’ve always worshipped our gods, and they’ve protected us from generations! Don’t come here with your foreign and evil religion, with your blaspheming, and cause hunger, deaths, and diseases!”
“You’ll continue to have deaths, hunger, diseases, and shortage of rains if you continue to worship these gods, and continue to keep this idol in the palace. If you burn this idol, and turn back to God, who owns the skies and the rains, His blessings would come back down on this land!” Jon cried and pointed to the hideous idol in the middle of the palace, his face filled with fury.
The people screamed, and now all of them fell down flat on the floor!
Even the Queenmother fell down on the floor, and they began to moan and pull their ears, begging for forgiveness from the gods and begging to be pardoned, and that they were no part of the sinful man!
“Now, you have done it!” Sophia hissed furiously, and suddenly her hair stood up straight on top of her head again, and Jon noticed that her eyes had become entirely white with no irises and pupils – just absolute whites!
Her fingers were crooked like talons, and her lips opened in a vicious snarl.
“Now, you’ve insulted the gods beyond measure, and you’re going to burn where you stand, you are an abomination of the land! You’re going to burn to death!”
She levitated into the air again and began to move backward as she pointed both her hands at Jon Fii.
“Don’t do it,” Jon said softly as he shook his head at her. “Whatever you’re doing, Sophia, don’t do it. What lives inside me is too strong for whatever powers you have, and frankly, I’ve had enough of you. Do not dare raise your hand against an anointed servant of the Lord!”
“Burn!” Sophia screeched with unbridled hatred. “Burn, burn, burn!”
A thick wall of fire suddenly blazed up around Jon Fii.
It surrounded him completely in a perfect circle, but it was about three feet away from him, and it began to close in fast on him.
Jon calmly dropped to his knees, bowed his head, and held up his palms, and then he began to pray softly.
Suddenly, in a fiery whoosh, the circular fire blasted off Jon Fii as if a massive hand had thrown it, and it suddenly fell on the idol in the middle of the palace… and began to burn it mightily.
Sophia crashed to the floor!
The people in the palace who had been lying on the floor slowly began to sit up as the strange fire consumed the idol!
There was no sound!
They stared with bulging eyes!
And then, suddenly, Sophia began to scream!
She was being drawn relentlessly towards the fire!
She tried desperately to prevent herself from being drawn into the inferno, but there was nothing to hold on to, and she moved relentlessly towards the giant ball of flaming fire!
And then she turned frantic eyes towards Jon Fii, and he saw the confusion and terror in the depths of her eyes. Her face was no longer fierce and evil. It was the frantic, terrified face of a beautiful twenty-year-old woman who was being drawn to death, and did not understand why.
This woman had been possessed and used for evil!
She had been responsible for the destruction of many people on this land, used to hold the people in bondage, and used to pillage the land. Now, in the face of a mightier power, she had failed, and the gods she served had now abandoned her!
She was being drawn into the fire to burn by the fury of the evil entities she served, entities that would no doubt claim somebody else to do their biding when this vessel had been disposed off.
And as Jon looked into her frantic eyes, and saw her terror, he was moved to compassion and, still on his knees, he reached out suddenly and grabbed one of her flailing hands. He held on tightly, but the evil force drawing her forward pulled mightily at him now, and began to drag both of them towards the fire!
Jon shut his eyes again, and offered his prayer calmly.
“Father, my Lord Jesus, please forgive her, for she knows not what she was doing,” Jon prayed softly. “She is a lost sheep, and You are the Great Shepherd. Save her, my Lord, through your unending mercies, and grant her a chance at salvation! In the name of my Lord Jesus Christ I have prayed… amen.”
He opened his eyes.
Her eyes met his, and he noticed that her feet were almost in the fire, but the force pulling them had stopped, and Jon slowly pulled her towards him.
He got to his feet and pulled her up.
Her lips were quivering as she stared into his face with confusion and yes, a bit of fear. Jon turned and looked at the king and queen who were still sitting on the floor with dazed horror on their faces as they looked at the idol which was now a hulk of coal.
“The rains are a creation of the Lord!” Jon shouted. “The fishes are His creation! You were seeking for salvation from the wrong places, from the wrong entities! Why seek for favour from the sick, when the divine owner is still a living God? Do you doubt the power of the Lord? His anger is against you, for turning to idols and principalities! How many years have you been without rains? You, Nana, you’re the king of this land, aren’t you?”
The king, still sitting on the floor, nodded numbly as he stared at Jon Fii with incomprehension and a little fear.
“And you all are the leaders of this land!” Jon shouted, turning slowly to look at the stunned faces of the people around him. “You have tried many idols, many spirits, many destructive ways, and still this land is barren! Well, why don’t you try something else? Are you willing to end the hardship on your people? Then, by jove, you need to seek the face of the Lord! Right now, right here, get on your damn knees and beg for mercy, apologize for your transgressions, and pray to the Divine Maker of the universe! Get down on your knees, goddamn it! Now, all of you! Get down on your knees!”
They looked at each other with dazed eyes.
“Listen, you people,” Jon said desperately. “God’s anger is not against me! I can pray for you if I want, but as long as you, the leaders, remain unrepentant and gaze on the Lord with disdain, His mercies are not going to come down on this land! It must come from you! Your contrite heart and fervent prayers must reach up to the Lord! So, stop your fucking bullshit and get to your fucking knees and pray ferverntly!”
His voice was a whiplash, authoritative and filled with disgust.
And then the queen slowly moved to her knees, and she reached out and tugged the king’s cloth. Almost in a daze, the king also knelt.
Slowly, slowly, the great men and women of the palace of Obosomfie got on their knees, raised their hands in supplication, and began to pray.
Jon Fii took a deep sigh and slowly fell to his knees, closed his eyes, and began to pray.
Only Sophia, confused and suddenly vulnerable, remained on her feet.
She had never been allowed near this religion. She had hated it to her very soul, and hated these silly men of the Word. All her life she had hounded them, disgraced them, killed some, killed their families, made some mad!
They had been like putty in her hands, always filled with fear and lust, incapable of thought in her presence! She had had nothing but disgust for them.
Until this young version had arrived, and he was filled with something she had never seen before, resisting her in ways she had never been resisted before!
And this day, this evening, he had saved her from a horrible death!
As she looked down at his bent head, she felt a conflicting set of emotions! She wanted to kill him, and yet a part of her wanted to kneel with him, and look into his eyes again, and see that expression he had looked at her with.
All these years she had been in turmoil, troubled at how the lives of the people became oppressing and difficult each year. She had begged those entities she worshipped to bring down the rains, but it had never happened, never!
But now, she heard the rolling thunders, and she gasped, and looked into the sky!
Sophia’s mouth opened with great wonder when she saw the dark, ominous clouds that had gathered in the air!
She barely heard the frantic sounds of the prayers around her as she gazed up at his wonder!
Outside the palace, Bobo looked into the sky and his huge face split into a grin.
“Yei!” he screamed shrilly. “Yei! Is that the beginning of rains? Yei! Yei! It is the pastor! I swear this is the pastor!”
And before Kwabla could stop him, Bobo turned and pushed the startled warriors out of the entrance to the palace and rushed through the doorway! With a cry of fear Kwabla raced after him.
“Bobo, Bobo, they’ll kill you!” he screamed frantically. “Come back, come back!”
And suddenly, they burst into the courtyard of the palace, and both of them came to stunned stops at the sight that met their eyes!
All the people were on their knees on the floor!
All of them, except the witch!
“Kakalika!” Pastor Bonifius Kwabla Atoklu whispered with shock.
“Kakalika you will say, koshiaa!” Bobo screamed with a broad smile of wonder on his face. “You were insulting Pastor Fii, huh, huh? You see? Now you see? He’s more than the Esha and Ejah and Jerrymi you mentioned, huh, huh? Abooowa!”
And, excited and totally uncontrollable, Bobo the Killer, a giant who had previously been a hardened criminal, raced to the middle of the courtyard, knelt beside Jon Fii, and pushed the man’s head hard.
Jon opened one eye and turned to look at Bobo.
“Herh, pastor, you’re bozin rough!” he said with a loud giggle. “Shit, you’re more bozin than Sinsin!”
Jon Fii giggled in spite of himself.
“Bobo, damn it, I’m in the middle of serious prayers here,” he said. “You mean Samson.”
“Oh, comot!” Bobo said with a great giggle. “Samisins, Sinsin, all is Sinsin. Herh, pastor, you’re bozin! I check you!”
“Stop the crap, Bobo, you’re distracting me,” Jon said with an elated smile. “Pray with me, my brother. For the prayers of the righteous availeth much.”
“What are we praying for?” Bobo asked excitedly. “Let me pray too.”
“For forgiveness, and for rains,” Jon whispered.
“Kai, pastor, you must not do that!” Bobo said.
“Do what?” Jon asked, confused.
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