She searched her head for a suitable outfit. Then she remembered a cord lace she had sewn for her colleague’s wedding some months before. She brought it out and spread it on the bed. It was a baby pink peplum blouse with a long flowing eight-piece skirt. She brought out her dark purple head tie, silver shoes, purse and matching jewelries. Nothing was going to stop her from looking good.
She went to her children’s rooms and told them to prepare for church because their father had given the go-ahead.
Mrs Cole prepared breakfast for her husband and served it in a warmer on the dining table. She also served small portions for the children so no one would disturb her with tales of hunger pangs during or after service. By 7:15am, everyone was set and they left for church.
Bayo sat in front, while Seyi and Bimbo sat at the back.
Some minutes into the trip, Seyi spoke up, ‘mummy, Sope’s dad’s driver will be coming to pick me in the afternoon. He’ll take me to Sope’s house and bring me back in the evening’ she lied, she had already crammed her lines and delivered them effortlessly.
‘What are you going to do in her house again? Aren’t you going to see her in church?’ Mrs Cole asked.
Seyi definitely didn’t see that coming. ‘I’m just going to say, “hi”,’ she lied again; this time around, hoping her mum would not suspect foul play.
Bimbo whispered to Seyi, ‘I will tell mummy, you want to go and see your boyfriend.’
‘Better shut up your mouth,’ Seyi replied in a whisper and threatened to beat her if she said anything.
Mrs Cole didn’t seem comfortable with the whole idea of Seyi going to visit her friend ‘why are you always the one going to visit; has she ever come to visit you in your house?’ That was the question typically asked by Nigerian parents.
‘Mummy, it’s because of daddy. I don’t want Sope to know what goes on in our house. She has offered to come many times but I always had to find an excuse for her. That was the first thing Seyi had said that was true. In her defense, her house was in no way conducive to host any guest and they all knew it.
‘Okay, but you shouldn’t be going out, you know your thighs are just healing. Ideally, you should stay home to rest,’ Mrs Cole told her as she drove into the church compound.
‘Mummy pleeaasseeee,’ she elongated her plea and hoped it would somehow convince her mum, ‘I promise not to be late’
‘We are already at church; we’ll talk about this on our way home’ Mrs Cole told her as she parked the car.
‘Do you all have offerings?’ she asked them
‘No,’ they all echoed.
‘Bayo, pass me my purse,’ she pointed to the silver purse she placed at the foot of the front passenger’s seat. She always kept her bag under the car seat; Lagos was notorious for theft.
Bayo brought it out and gave her. She brought out three one hundred naira notes and handed one each to the three of them. ‘Oya (quickly) come down and go to your different Sunday school classes. We’ll meet after church. Enjoy service.’ She told them as they alighted from the car.
She was the last to get down. She adjusted her head tie and with the rearview mirror, gave her make up a touch-up. She got down from the car, locked it and walked towards the building hoping Pastor George was around. She entered the building and observed the arrangement. The chairs were arranged in circles, there were about seven groups including that for the children and another for teenagers. She spotted the Sunday school group which she usually attended and walked towards it. As she approached the group, from the corner of her eyes, she saw Pastor George anchoring another group.
She could feel her heart race as she felt his gaze on her.
She continued walking to her group and resisted the temptation to join his group. She sat down on one of the empty seats and was handed over a Sunday school outline by the group leader.
‘You are welcome Mrs Cole. We are looking at, “A believer’s Reaction to Temptation”, with Joseph and David as our examples from the Bible’ Mrs Dedeke, the Sunday school leader for her group explained to her. She always did that for anyone that joined in order to help the person catch up with the lessons.
Mrs Cole nodded and smiled. ‘Thank you,’ she mouthed as she looked at the outline in her hand.
‘Alright, so as we were saying, what should a believer do when faced with temptation?’ Mrs Dedeke asked.
The man sitting to Mrs Cole’s right raised his hand.
‘Yes please, sir,’ Mrs Dedeke pointed at him.
‘We are in the 21st century, we can’t compare how things are now to how they were in David or Joseph’s time. Even God, Himself, understands that “body no be wood”. Once a person gets saved, all his sins that is; past, present and future sins are forgiven so if something happens and the believer falls, all he needs to do is get up and keep going. After all, the Bible itself says “though the righteous fall seven times, he rises again” So let’s not be hard on ourselves.’ He contributed.
‘Well, no one is talking about being hard on anyone,’ Mrs Dedeke responded. ‘It appears there are a few wrong notions that need to be corrected. First, the Bible in the book of Roman chapter 6 verse 15 says, “what then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? God forbid”, there is no excuse for sin. The fact that we are in a sinful era only means grace abounds much more to say no and to shine as the light in this dark age according to Romans 5 verse 20 and Isiah 60 verses 1 and 2. If Joseph was able to put his feet down and say ‘no’ to sin because he feared God, God expects no less from us.’ She paused to make sure the young man was following her.
She continued, ‘I keep hearing people say “God understands”, He may be a very understanding God but He is also a righteous and holy God. His standards are unbending. He says let every one that names the name of the Lord to depart from iniquity 2 Timothy 2 verse 19. Also, don’t forget that the temptation that we are referring to here is not just sexual sin but it cuts across every area of our lives. Remember, Jesus too was tempted yet without sin. Do you understand?’ She asked him.
‘I hope we are all following?’ She asked as she looked at the remaining eight people in the group.
They all nodded.
‘Now on the issue of our past, present and future sins being forgiven. It is true that God died for us and has cleansed us of all unrighteousness but it is not a license to sin. And when we fall, the Bible says God is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness when we confess our sins 1 John 1verse 9. Let’s not omit the ‘confession of sin’ part. You just don’t sin and ‘move on’; there must first be godly sorrow which will then lead to repentance’ she explained.
The young man wrote down some of the things she said in his notebook.
‘Does anyone have any objection or contribution on the issue being discussed?’ Mrs Dedeke paused to make sure they were all on the same page.
They shook their heads.
She continued teaching for another 20 minutes and allowed people ask questions.
Mrs Cole really enjoyed the class, but still found herself turning towards Pastor George’s group. ‘What am I doing?’ She asked herself. ‘I’m a married woman,’ she reminded herself. ‘This is obviously a temptation right from the pit of hell,’ she thought. She remembered what was being taught and made up her mind not to allow herself fall. She didn’t realize she needed a stronger force that just mere self-determination; she needed the help only God could offer a man to enable him to stand in the face of temptation. She needed grace.
Towards the end of the Sunday school, Pastor George mounted the pulpit which was beautifully decorated with red flowers flowing out of two lovely hand-crafted vases positioned at both ends of the pulpit. The lectern was made of glass and beside it was a 24” flat screen TV from which the pastor or anyone who stood behind the lectern read scriptures and had access to what was projected on the other two televisions facing the congregation. He announced that the teachers should begin to wrap up their classes. He then asked a person from each group to share what they had learnt. When it was the turn of Mrs Cole’s group, she saw him look at her. Just as she was about praying that he won’t call her, the young man who sat beside her who had earlier made a contribution signaled that he had something to say.
‘Alright, bro Tope,’ Pastor George pointed at him. He was so good with names. That was one of the things that thrilled Mrs Cole about him. He knew the names of almost everyone in the church; she was sure he even knew the names of the cleaners.
Bro Tope shared with the church some of the issues Mrs Dedeke had addressed.
Pastor George ended the Sunday school session with a short prayer. Afterward, the chairs were rearranged and everyone took their seats, ready to begin with the worship service.
After church was ended, Bayo went to his mum to get the car keys. His friend, Segun was with him.
‘Come, I will show you. The game is in the car,’ Bayo told Segun as he collected the key and they left.
Seyi was with Sope. ‘I’m going to see Goke this afternoon,’ she informed her.
‘And your mum will allow you?’ Sope asked surprised.
‘Of course not but don’t worry, my mum is not even an issue, trust me. You know I have my ways’ Seyi smiled as they walked towards Sope’s mum’s car.
‘I trust you, is it not the Seyi I know,’ Sope responded and gave her a ‘hi-five’. ‘Anyway..sha give me the gist of the outing and greet the fine boy for me..o’.
As they approached the car, Seyi greeted Sope’s mum who was also just approaching the car.
‘How are you, Seyi?’ She responded warmly. ‘What of your mum?’ She asked.
‘She is fine, she should still be inside the church auditorium,’ Seyi told her.
‘Oh really? I didn’t see her. My regards to her,’ she said as she entered the car.
‘Alright ma, I’ll convey your greetings.’ Seyi then turned to Sope, ‘I’ll call you to give you the gist,’ she hugged her and waved at her as she entered the car.
As Seyi watched Sope’s mum drive off, she suddenly remembered she had a baby sister she was meant to watch over. She quickly went to the children’s church to get Bimbo and afterward they went to the car to wait for their mum.
Mrs Cole walked towards the exit of the auditorium and as she was about to push the door opened, she heard someone calling her name from behind. She turned and saw Pastor George approaching.
To be continued. Read Part 7 Now Here
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