“You may go in now,” the lanky secretary signaled to Agnes and her friend, Beatrice. They both walked into the office and Beatrice closed the door behind them.
Pastor Japheth stood up immediately to shake hands with them and offered them seats. Beatrice made the introductions as she was more familiar with him and then nudged Agnes to go ahead and tell him why she was here.
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In halting pidgin and patched English, Agnes explained to the pastor that her two children had always been at the bottom of their classes and how this had been something of constant worry and shame to her despite the many beatings she dealt them and hiring a private lesson teacher.
Pastor Japheth listened attentively at the end of which he cleared his throat.
“Mehdemme,” he began, “you are comes to deh right place. You see, dia is nothing impossicant ferr my gahd to do. He is deh wan deht create deh ehfun and deh hat, he is deh wan deht kpahted deh Red Sea, he is deh wan deht feeding five tohsond peoples on deh Wideness . . .”
He suddenly broke into a string of strange almost nonsensical words at the end in which his whole body convulsed. After he had calmed down, he let out a long sigh while nodding his head.
“Press gahd, mehdemme, press gahd, you half come to deh right chech. Now, how old does you says yah chudrens is?”
Agnes stammered before replying. She’d been momentarily distracted by the pastor’s well-starched suit, the three gold rings bejeweling his fingers, the curls in his hair made possible by a sporting-wave gel and the fluency of the grammar he spoke which were too big for the ears of an illiterate person like her.
All of a sudden, Agnes felt unworthy to be in the presence of such a learned fellow as Pastor Japheth. Her terrible pidgin was no match for his American speak. Why, she wanted to retrieve all the words she had earlier spoken and swallow them back!
“Press gahd!” Pastor Japheth said when she answered.
“Hallelu-yah!” the women replied waving their hands in the air.
“Mehdemme Ackness, as I says ahlia before, dia is nothing too impossicant ferr gahd to do bat is dia anything too hard ferr you to do yourselves?”
Agnes looked from the Pastor’s face to her friend’s face, not understanding.
Pastor Japheth smiled knowingly, a little embarrassed. “You are not seems to getting my point, mehdemme. What you half to do is to provokes deh fafor of gahd ukpon yah life by gifing a prophet offering.”
An elbow from Beatrice sent Agnes rummaging through her bag for her purse from which she pulled out a brown envelope and handed it to the pastor who collected it, smiling widely with both lips and eyes.
“My gahd will fafor you because you half honour him. I am gives you a bottle of holy warrer and communion so that you can giving yah chudrens when you reaches home. You will surely comes back and shares yah testimony!”
“Amen!” the women chorused.
“Now, gets on yah knee and let me prays the fafor of gahd ukpon yah life now . . . To be continued!