“A Pastor Made Me Lose Faith in God and Religion” – Real Life Yarns
In this episode of Real Life Yarns, a 26-year-old young man shares his deeply emotional experience of how a pastor shattered his faith in God and religion by not only rendering their family bankrupt but also causing the demise of his sister.
Here’s his story, as narrated to this author:
Just like most Nigerian families, I grew up in a very religious home. We attended church regularly, prayed together every morning and night, and had frequent fasting and prayer exercises. It was an important part of our lives because it provided us with a sense of purpose and direction. Not until I became a teenager and began to recognise that my parents worshipped pastors more than they did God. Our lives took an unexpected turn when a new pastor arrived at our church. Initially, his sermons captivated our congregation, and his eloquence in delivering them was admirable. But as months went by, we noticed that he began to wield his influence over the congregation in ways that were unsettling. He encouraged us to make large financial contributions to the church, claiming it was God’s will. Many in the congregation, including my father, trusted him completely and followed his directives blindly.
Although this bothered me a lot, seeing my father divert all our family funds to the pastor to the extent of buying him a car, it was nothing compared to what came next. As leeches usually behaved, the pastor noticed that my father was very benevolent and latched himself so strongly to him. When my sister, Ojone, got engaged, the pastor insisted he counselled her one-on-one in his office. Initially, she was against it, but at this point, my father kept raising hell at home until she gave in. One evening, Ojone returned from the counselling session fuming. When my father asked what the problem was, she started screaming that our pastor tried to force himself on her to explain male and female relationships. Immediately my father rebuked her, warning her not to lie against an anointed man of God, just because she didn’t want his counselling. Ojone left the house angry that evening. She slept out for a couple of days and returned home after.
Eventually, she had her wedding at the church, and that was when the pastor also latched himself onto her family affairs. Three months after Ojone’s wedding, her husband started hitting her. It was so bad that she had to be hospitalised sometimes, and her face stitched up. During this period, my father couldn’t even act to protect his daughter. He was hanging on to the words of the pastor concerning the issue, and the pastor kept advising Ojone, using the Bible verse that projected women’s submission to their husbands, to endure the situation. According to my father, the pastor said that young men were like that sometimes. The pastor even added that he was like that in the early years of his marriage.
I couldn’t believe it. I had just turned 21 and, as an adult, tried to step into my sister’s aid, but my father never let me. At one point, he even took away Ojone’s phone so I couldn’t reach her. After things seemed to have subsided and I had exhausted all my fights with him, he returned her phone and let me see her. When I saw her, she had emaciated from the Ojone I used to know. Immediately I entered her house, she started begging me frantically to save her. She told me that she confided in our mother that she wanted to separate from her husband for a while, as his situation had gotten worse. But our mother betrayed her by snitching to our father who, in turn, told his pastor. The pastor said that Ojone wasn’t herself, and that an evil spirit was manipulating her to destroy her marriage. He asked that my father bring Ojone for a month of deliverance, and that was when I couldn’t reach her. When I tried to find out what happened within that month, Ojone started shivering hysterically and shaking her head.
I kept wondering what could have been so grave that she couldn’t even talk about. I was mad at everyone; my father, my mother, and the “damn” pastor. I couldn’t believe that a father could subject his daughter to unspeakable cruelty, just to please his pastor. I advised Ojone to just lay low and endure for a moment, while I made plans to take her out of her husband’s house. While we were talking, her husband arrived. He took a look at her and made only one remark, “Oh, you finally decided to come back.” Then he matched off. When I stood up to level up to him, Ojone held me back. That was when she dropped the bombshell. It was still the same pastor who told my father that Samson, my sister’s hubby, was the husband God chose for Ojone. I was literally dumbfounded! Why would she even agree?
I rushed home with anger that day and had a very big fight with my parents that ended up making me leave the house. The next morning, Ojone called to tell me that her husband had apologised to her and that they had reconciled. My answer was, “Hmm… That’s why they said we should not be putting mouths in married people’s talk.” Then I asked her if she was sure she wanted to be with him. She answered in the affirmative. We later talked about other things and laughed. She seemed like herself again, and I was really happy. Six months passed without any incident, but I noticed that Ojone had also become a faithful disciple of my father’s pastor. Ojone didn’t like the pastor one bit, so it made me concerned, but she told me not to worry.
One fateful day, I received a frantic call from Ojone screaming that her husband had started again and that he wanted to kill her and she had made up her mind to leave for good this time. Her crying got me alarmed and I started asking her where she was so I could come meet her. But she told me not to worry, that she was going to meet the pastor. I started screaming at her not to because at this point, I was sensing something diabolical about the man, but she told me not to worry and hung up. I kept calling her over and over again. When I arrived at her house, neither she nor Samson was there. Then I decided to call my mother. My father picked up and told me that Ojone was with him and the pastor, and that they would handle it. That was the last time I heard from my sister. My father turned off his phone, so I rushed to the church. They weren’t there. I was exhausted and decided to go back home. I was so worried and kept pacing as if I knew that something was terribly wrong.
Three hours later, my parents returned. My mother was looking dishevelled, with traces of heavy tears on her face. When I saw them, my heart dropped. At the same time, my father dropped into a chair and told me that my sister was dead. Ojone? How? What happened? I had a lot of questions, but no one was giving me answers. The next thing he said was that the police had arrested the pastor. I didn’t understand what was going on and was terribly confused. I was still in this state, when my mother started rolling on the floor, screaming that the pastor had taken away her only daughter. From confusion, my expression changed to disgust. I started screaming at them that I wanted to see my sister. My father just sat there crying silently.
I didn’t see Ojone until three days later when my parents decided to give her a private burial. She had a lot of cuts and bruises, showing that she went through a lot in her final moments. My heart was so broken that I passed out. When I came to, I told my parents that I never wanted to see them or live with them anymore. I had already started working then, so I rented a self-contained apartment and moved in. They didn’t even beg me because they knew that their crimes were beyond unforgivable. That particular experience has traumatised me all my life to the point that I vowed never to enter into a church or associate myself with overly religious people anymore. The experience taught me that faith can be a delicate and complex thing that someone can use to enslave another. I’m too broken to even serve God again because I still can’t understand why he watched a supposed servant of his kill an innocent 24-year-old. I still don’t know how exactly my sister died. I would have loved to know to get some closure. But my parents, who were there, have sworn an oath of silence, so I’ve decided to leave it to God to do justice one day because he owes her that.
Rosemary Kasiobi Nwadike
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