********************** Don’t go ahead to read this part if you haven’t read Gbemi (Part 1), Gbemi (Part 2), Gbemi (Part 3), Gbemi (Part 4), Gbemi (Part 5), Gbemi (Part 6) Gbemi (Part 6), Gbemi (Part 7), Gbemi (Part 8) *************************
John smiled, ‘I have my ways’, he continued walking leaving Gbemi astonished.
‘No o, I’m not going anywhere until you tell me’, she said as she tried to meet up with his pace.
‘Ok I will tell you but first, have you thought about what we discussed yesterday?’
‘We discussed many things yesterday na’, she pretended she didn’t know what he was talking about.
‘Ehn like the gizdodo you are meant to make for me shey?’, he said sarcastically.
‘Me I don’t know what you are talking about o’, she smiled. She was getting close to John quite alright but cooking for him was a whole different level entirely. ’Alright, alright, we both know you are referring to the seminar coming up.’
‘Yeah?’, John listened attentively as he stood beside Gbemi’s car.
She went on to tell him how on two occasions, Esther’s story was what God used to convince her.
‘So, is that a yes?’, he was so excited.
‘I believe it is’, she smiled.
‘Thank you so much Gbemi, thank you.’
‘Ok, so we have a deal. How did you know about my sister’s visit?’
John began to scratch his neatly trimmed and sharpened hair.
‘Better talk o, Mr Stalker’, she was determined to get to the root of it.
‘Promise me you won’t be mad’, he pleaded with his hands clasped together.
‘Hmmmm this is getting serious. Okay I promi’, she intentionally didn’t complete the word.
‘Say it very well jo, Gbemi.’
‘I promise o, oya I’ve said it.’
‘I went to visit your dad in the hospital today. He had been on my mind for a while now and I thought I could just pay him a visit. I know I should have told you before going. I’m sorry.’
Gbemi didn’t know how to react. She had mixed feelings about what he did; she felt if at all he wanted to visit him, he shouldn’t have gone behind her back but on a second thought, his motive was what mattered most.
‘Gbemi, are you mad at me?’
‘After you made me promise’, a little smile broke out on her face. But you should have told me, you know?’
‘I know, it won’t happen again. I promi’, he copied her.
‘Mi i gbo (I didn’t hear)’, she held one ear.
‘I promise’, he smiled.
‘How is he?’
‘He is good, he asked of you’, he told her.
‘I’ll find time to go and greet him’, she opened the door to her car. ‘I better get going, I shouldn’t keep Bola waiting.
‘Yeah true. Alright then. Bye.’ He stepped back and allowed Gbemi enter the car and watched her reverse. He waved to her as she drove off.
On her way home, she called her sister to find out where she was and to tell her she was on her way home.
‘Kola will bring me shortly’, Bola explained.
‘Alright dear, see you soon’, Gbemi ended the call and began to crack her brain about what her sister will eat. She secretly prayed that she would have eaten already.
Bola arrived some twenty minutes after Gbemi. Gbemi was happy to see her.
‘How are you?’, she gave her a warm hug right at the door.
Kola was behind her carrying two bags. ‘Good evening Gbemi’, he dropped the bag in his right hand and extended it for a hand shake.
Gbemi ignored the hand and gave him a hug, ‘how are you? Good to see you again.’ The first and only time they had met was during Bola and Kola’s introduction some months back. She was happy to see her soon-to-be brother-in-law.
‘You are welcome’, she ushered them in. ‘What can I offer you guys?’
They came in, ‘We just ate’, Bola said.
‘We are fine, thank you’, Kola agreed as he dropped the bags and sat done. ‘You have a lovely place’, he said as he admired the neatly arranged sitting room.
‘Thank you’, Gbemi said as she sat down on a single couch which was opposite the three-seater the couple sat on.
Her sitting room had a cream and brown theme. The chairs were brown and suede, there was a furry center carpet which was brown and cream and she also had these lovely long curtains which were cream and brown. This was a total contrast with her bedroom which was pink-floral themed.
Gbemi engaged Kola as they spoke about his short term and long term plans. She was impressed with his level of maturity both generally and especially spiritually.
‘That’s great, I’m really impressed’, she smiled and then looked at Bola and said ‘better grab and hold him tight. He is a good man.’ Gbemi wasn’t convinced just because of his carriage, composure, career plans and so on, she had a witness in her spirit that Kola was right for her sister.
‘Kola before your head starts to swell, I hope you know what a gem you’ve got?’, she asked.
‘Yes I do’, he held her hand.
After some more minutes of conversing, Kola left and told Bola he’ll come to pick her early the next morning.
Gbemi waited for him to leave before asking about their dad. ‘How did it go?’, she asked hoping it went well.
‘I couldn’t believe it. As I saw him, my heart was drawn towards him. All the hatred I had for him flew out the window. I even started feeling sorry for him. Bro Femi too was strong. We were there for a while and afterward prayed together before we left’. Bola narrated. She went on ‘that reminds me, a guy came to visit him too, he said he’s your friend. I’ve forgotten his name.’ Bola was bad with names. ‘Average height, fair complexion.’
‘Yes that’s his name.’
‘He later told me’
‘Ok. Bro Femi dropped me off at Kola’s place and returned to work. I was able to do some shopping for the wedding and since I was coming here, I decided to bring the aso ebi myself instead of sending it through his driver as earlier planned.’
‘I’m glad you had a fruitful trip.’
‘Yes o I did. She pulled the large Ghana-must-go bag towards herself and opened it ‘These are the aso ebis, there are two types. The cord lace is 15k while the Ankara is 5k. Most of my friends are in Lagos, so it will be easier reaching you. I’ll take some for those in Ibadan.’
‘Alright, no problem.’ Gbemi prayed for grace to do it. The sight of the clothes alone made her weak but she was determined to help out as much as she could.
They gisted a little bit more and both retired for the night.
The next morning, as early as 6am, Bola was set and Kola came to pick her up as they had agreed.
‘I’m going to miss you’, Gbemi said as she hugged her sister beside Kola’s car.
Kola came down to help Bola carry her bag. ‘Thank you so much’, he said to Gbemi.
‘Thank me ke? I’ve been taking care of this girl since she was in the womb’, she joked.
They all laughed.
‘Make sure you always keep in touch’, she told Bola.
They entered the car. She waved at them as they drove off.
She returned to her flat to prepare for the day, she didn’t want to be late. As she climbed the stairs, she met Gbenga. He was holding the hand of a cute little boy who must have been about three years old. The boy, whom she perceived was his son, was dressed in his school uniform, carried a little bag pack on his back and on the other hand, had a small basket containing his food flask.
As she ascended the steps, she realized how liberated she was from the hurt Gbenga once caused her.
‘Good morning Gbenga’, she greeted him.
She could still see his surprise. He most likely didn’t expect her to greet him. As they approached her, she paused and greeted the little boy ‘what’s your name big boy?’
‘Edward’, he said with a cute smile.
‘That’s good. Be a good boy at school okay?’
‘You have a lovely son’, she spoke as if nothing had ever happened between them. ‘Have a beautiful day’, she said as she continued up the steps. She was totally delivered and she knew it. Keeping malice with Gbenga for what he did was so beneath her instead, she remembered the scripture that says “Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing, thou shall heap coals of fire on him.” Rom 12:20.
She hurriedly prepared for work. She had a bad habit of skipping breakfast in order not to be late to work. Her mother had told her times without number how she needed to plan her morning well so she could have time to eat breakfast before the start of the day’s activity.
‘Gbemi, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. If you are not fasting, you shouldn’t miss it’, her mum always told her every time she called to check on her or when she came visiting.
The next day being Thursday, Gbemi made up her mind that she was going to pay her father a visit after work. She couldn’t go the previous day because she had to be at church and she didn’t want to be late so she told herself she’d see him the next day.
She bought some things for him and also paid some money for his bills which she knew increased every day he slept on that hospital bed.
‘Daddy, how are you?’, she asked as she held his hand.
‘Grateful for every day I am privileged to see, my dear.’
Gbemi smiled, she knew exactly what that statement meant.
‘It is well with you daddy. I brought these for you’, she lifted the bag which contained provisions. She didn’t tell him about the bill, it was her way of not allowing her left hand know what her right hand was doing.
‘What did I do to have such beautiful children?’, tears gathered in his eyes.
‘It’s the doing of God, daddy’, she smiled.
‘Femi and Bola came visiting on Tuesday’, he informed her.
‘Yes daddy, I’m aware’, she said still holding his hand.
‘And your friend, John.’
‘Yeah, he told me.’
‘So, have you given him a reply?’
‘Yes daddy, I was convinced that was what God wants for me’, she said; then paused, ‘wait, you guys discussed that much?’, she was surprised.
‘Congratulations dear, I’m really happy for you.’
‘Thank you’, she said a bit confused as to why he congratulated her. It was a huge responsibility coming her way and all he could say was ‘Congratulations.’ ‘This man is growing old way faster than we thought’’, she said to herself.
After spending awhile with him, she decided to leave. Her father was sleeping so she tiptoed away without allowing him to wake up.
As she drove home, she remembered John had told her the day before that the seminar was in two weeks. She knew she needed to start preparing.
She spent most of the next two weeks praying and seeking the face of the Lord concerning the program. She didn’t want to just speak from experience and so she constantly prayed for utterance.
The D-day finally came and as she stepped into the hall, she was amazed by what she saw. There must have been about two hundred young ladies in that hall. The most she had thought to meet was perhaps fifty.
She sat at the back and observed all that went on. She saw John at the other end of the hall, giving instructions to people ensuring everything went well. He looked good in his black suit. She saw him check his watch and bring out his phone from his pocket. Gbemi felt her phone vibrate, she opened her bag to pick it and saw it was John calling her.
‘This guy hasn’t seen me’, she said as she went out through the back door of the hall to receive his call. Normally, she’d have probably ended the call and sent a message informing him that she was around but somehow she decided to hear what he had to say.
‘Hi Gbemi, how are you?’, she could tell he was a bit apprehensive that she had not yet come.
‘I’m fine, thank you’, she replied. ‘Has the program started?’ she acted as if she wasn’t there.
‘It’s about to, hope you are almost here.’
‘I’m so sorry John, I won’t be able to make it anymore. Something came up’, she pulled the exact same stunt he pulled on her some weeks back.
‘Ha Gbemi what happened? What came up?’, she knew that news disoriented him.
She burst into laughter, ‘So you know the feeling now’, she entered the hall and walked towards him then ended the call.
‘I’ve been around for about 15minutes. I was sitting there’, she pointed at her seat. ‘I saw you were busy so I didn’t want to disturb.
‘Gbemi, you scared the living day out of me. Who would have thought you’d get back at me the way you just did?’, he smiled. ‘It’s really good to see you’, he told her.
‘Thank you’, Gbemi felt happy to be there. ‘This is a large gathering, I must confess.’
‘Yeah it is, we are still expecting more though’, he said.
‘Is our guest speaker developing cold feet?’, he teased.
‘No jo, I’m fine.’
‘Definitely, for it is God that works in you both to do and will of his good pleasure’, he encouraged her.
‘Thank you’, she felt better.
‘Feel free to sit wherever you want. Just know that we’ll soon call you to the front.’ He told her.
‘I’ll be fine’, she said not sure if she was telling him or trying to encourage herself.
Just as he said, in another thirty minutes, he mounted the stage and welcomed everyone. Before we go on, we’ll like to give honor to whom honor is due, please jam those hands as we welcome our guest speaker for today, the person of Miss Oluwagbemisola Grace Johnson.’
Everyone applauded loudly.
Gbemi had not heard anyone call her full name like that. Coming from John’s mouth, she could bet there was something special about the way he said it. She stood up and picked her bag to go to the front. An usher approached and collected her bag, guiding her as she went.
‘You are welcome ma’, she curtsied as she pointed her seat to her and dropped her bag on a glass stool beside it. There was also a bottle of water and a glass cup on the stool.
‘Thank you very much’, she said to the usher. She didn’t in her wildest dream expect to receive such a warm and elaborate welcome. She sat down.
‘Also we have in our midst, Mrs Adeleke, the wife of the founder of Ray of Hope Foundation. Put your hands together as she comes up to give the welcome address’, John said.
Gbemi figured he must be the moderator for the program. She stood up to clap for the woman. An usher brought the woman’s bag and placed it on the stool adjacent to the seat on her left. The seat to her right too was empty.
John handed the microphone over to Mrs Adeleke and came down from the stage. Gbemi watched as he approached. ‘What is he coming to tell me again?’ , she asked herself.
He dropped his book and face towel on the glass stool to her right and stood in front of the empty chair to her right. It was then she figured, he wasn’t coming to tell her anything but he was going to his own seat.
‘You look amazing’, he mouthed to her as they kept clapping for the middle aged woman on stage.
‘Thank you’, she always liked that about him; the fact that he always complimented her appearance. Who won’t like that? ‘You look good too’, she smiled.
‘I get that a lot’, he joked.
‘Go and sit down’, she gently brushed her elbow against his.
‘Thank you, you may be seated’, Mrs Adeleke said into the mic. She went on to give the welcome address.
Like every moderator, John kept looking at his watch, to ensure she didn’t over shoot her time.
‘I must not see you checking time for me when I get up there’, Gbemi jokingly told John.
‘Gbemi, it’s like you don’t know how I’ve been longing to hear you speak. If I hear say I check time for you.’
Gbemi smiled and prayed in her heart, ‘Father glorify Yourself’, she knew by her strength, she could not do anything.
After about an hour into the program, it was time for Gbemi to speak. John went up to introduce her.
‘I’ve known this young lady for a while now but just got the opportunity to know her closely a few weeks back. She is beautiful in and out. Her life has really blessed and challenged me and I’m certain what God will say through her will bless you. Please welcome with me our guest speaker for today, Miss Johnson.’
Everyone put their hands together for her.
As Gbemi ascended the stage and saw the hundreds of ladies gathered in that hall, her heart was moved with compassion, she was grateful she didn’t turn the offer. She thanked the organizers of the program for the opportunity to share her experience and she thanked God for being with her through thick and thin.
‘Let us pray’, she led them to pray and afterward, started speaking. She told them her whole story of how her father molested her and beat up her mother. She explained the gravity of the consequence on herself as an individual and also her relationship with people, especially men. ‘I hated myself for a very long time, I felt useless and I saw myself as trash. I blamed myself for what happened to me. I bottled it up and told no one. I also hated men with a passion; I never gave them a chance. I completely locked them out. I lived like this for many years until Jesus came to my rescue.’ The keyboardist played softly in the background. ‘I don’t know what can be harder than letting go of the pain of the past and forgiving those that hurt you. That was what I had to do. And it was at that point, I got total deliverance.’ There was stack silence in the hall. ‘See my dear sisters, we may not be responsible for what happened to us in the past but we definitely have power over our past. You can either chose to let it keep you imprisoned or you can break through that gate and be free. The secret is Jesus. It was by His help I could face my father and it was by His help I could release him from my heart.’
Gbemi could see a few ladies, wipe tears off their eyes. She went on, ‘Was it easy? No, it wasn’t. Were there still moments I felt the pain? Well occasionally but even at those moments, I’d run back to God and He’ll give me His peace and joy in exchange for the pain.’ She went on encouraging them for another 15 mins.
Let me conclude with this scripture which I have found so true, ‘Jesus says to you who labour and are heavy laden; “come unto me and I will give you rest”, Matt 11: 28. His rest is all round and eternal, there is no condition attached, just come as you are.’
Gbemi felt led to make an altar call, she didn’t plan to do so before, but there was a stirring in her spirit. ‘He is still calling out to you today. If you know that you need this rest, why don’t you take that step of faith, stand up and come and meet with Jesus?’
She removed the mic from her mouth and began to pray in the spirit. There was no response from the crowd. She continued praying then a lady stood up, and then another one and another one. They started coming out one after the other until the front part became full and they had to move chairs backward. More than half of the ladies came forward. Some went on their knees crying hard, others stood and just prayed within their heart.
John together with some officials went forward to where the ladies were and started praying for them one after the other. Some ladies fell under the anointing. It was powerful. Gbemi could not believe her eyes. She was amazed at what glorious things can happen when we choose to obey and submit to God. She prayed for them and asked them to repeat after her, ‘Dear Lord, I surrender all at your feet, my hurts, my pains and my past. I take upon me your burden and choose to share your yoke. Be my Saviour and Lord and give me all round rest in Jesus name I pray’, they repeated after her and all chorused ‘Amen’.
John went up, took the mic from her and announced, ‘everyone who prayed that prayer should follow the gentleman in the black suit, he’ll collect your details so we can also contact you and pray for you. As soon as you are done with that we’ll go briefly into question and answer session, Miss Johnson is still very much around to answer your questions.’
The ladies followed the man while a few remained on their knees for a while longer, crying and praying.
Gbemi didn’t know what to do. It was her first time.
John whispered to her to take her seat that he’ll call her up soon. ‘Don’t worry about the ladies still crying, the ushers will attend to them’, he told her.
Gbemi went to her seat and fell on her knees. She was in awe of what God had just done. ‘Father, I thank you for using a nobody like me to do wonders. Lord I surrender to You, please continue to use me Lord. May my story always bless lives in Jesus name I pray. Amen.’ She got up from her knees, sat down and had a sip of water.
After some minutes, she was called up for the question and answer session. The ladies were allowed to write down their questions and send it forward. This they did and she kept answering them. She didn’t know where the answers were coming from but she knew that every time she picked a question and read it aloud, the answer flowed. After that, she called out her phone number and told them to be free to call her if they needed to talk about anything.
By 3:00pm, the program ended. She bowed her head to pray and immediately she finished, she turned and saw a few ladies hovering around her.
‘Ma, please can we see you?’, they asked.
‘Together or individually?’, she asked.
‘One by one ma’, they mumbled.
‘Interesting….ok, but we’ll have to make it brief.’
‘Thank you ma’, they chorused.
John, who sat to her right stood up to give the girls privacy and a space to sit. Please try to be brief he told them’, as he stepped aside.
Gbemi counseled them and prayed with them one after the other.
After she had met with the last person, John returned.
‘Gbemi, God is awesome. I have never in my life or in the history of Ray of Hope Foundation witnessed what happened today. God is certainly taking you places.’
‘I’m still in awe myself. In my wildest dream, I could never imagine anything this great. Thanks for encouraging me.’
‘Trust me, it’s been God all the way. I hope you are not too tired though’, he knew it had been a long and exhausting day. ‘You definitely need to rest.’
‘Yeah, I certainly do. Thanks once again. I better get going. We’ll see tomorrow shey?’, she asked.
‘About that’, he paused. ‘Can we hang out after Church tomorrow?’
‘Ummmm, let me see, don’t you have your meetings after church?’, she didn’t want to be left alone like Alice in wonderland while he attends those his long meetings.
‘Nope, no meeting tomorrow’, he assured her.
‘Why? How come?’, that was going to be the first time.
‘Gbemi, shey you will sha answer my own question first’, he was getting tensed up. She could tell.
‘Alright, no problem then. Don’t keep me waiting o’, she pulled her ear, ‘I will not hear story tomorrow.’
‘Yes ma’, he smiled.
They both left and agreed to meet the next day.
Gbemi wasn’t as overtly excited to be at church as she was the very first time she realized John ‘existed’. She was cool, calm and collected. She looked good as usual, nothing loud or extravagant. She had a lovely time in church and after church waited in her seat for John to come.
‘If this guy doesn’t come to meet me, he should not think I’ll go and greet him’, she wasn’t in the mood to queue with the other church members to talk to John. She had a feeling that she was not on their level. ‘Where is this feeling coming from?’, she asked herself.
John managed to escape seeing people after church. He went straight to meet Gbemi where she was seated. He sat beside her brought out his phone and pretending to be on the phone said, ‘I hear you have an outing with one fine dude this afternoon, is that why you look so beautiful today?’
Gbemi couldn’t help but laugh. She brought out her phone too, placed it in her ear and replied ‘first of all, who says he’s a fine dude? And secondly, duh I always look beautiful.’
‘What?’, John put his phone down and faced her ‘everyone knows I’m fine. Why are you just proud?’, he smiled.
‘We both know who I took after.’
They both laughed.
‘So are you set?’, John asked.
‘Cool, so we’ll go in my car, then I’ll bring you back to church and from there you’ll go home. How about that?’
‘Sounds like a plan. But like joke like joke, you don’t have any meeting’, she was still surprised.
‘A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do.’
John drove them to a nice restaurant not too far from the church, he placed the order but didn’t want Gbemi to know what he whispered to the waitress. ‘Add that one too’, he said as they finalized their secret plan.
‘It’s only God that knows what you are planning.’
‘Nothing you don’t like, trust me.’
‘Ok o, if you say so. You are lucky I’m not choosy when it comes to food’, she smiled.
The waitress brought their drinks and shortly after brought two plates of rice then a bowl which was covered.
‘What’s inside the bowl?’ Gbemi asked.
‘Open it and find out for yourself.’
Gbemi opened it and found out it was her special dish, gizdodo. Her face lit up, ‘Awwww you remembered how much I like it. I never knew they make it.’
‘Then how come it’s here?’ she said a bit confused.
‘I made it and had an agreement that they’ll heat it up for me and serve it alongside their own dish cos I know how much you really like it’, he explained.
‘Wow John, you are just amazing, so full of surprises’, she was impressed.
She was however in for the greatest of surprises.
‘Gbemi’, his voice became a bit shaky.
‘Yeah’ she said without looking up, she was engrossed in the meal, she didn’t notice John had stopped eating.
‘Umm I’ll go straight to the point’, he said looking straight at her.
Gbemi immediately looked up and realized something was going on. She listened with rapt attention, her cutlery still in her hands.
‘Oluwagbemisola Grace Johnson, will you do me the honour of being my wife?’ he asked without missing words.
The cutlery fell from her hand; a wave of heat went through her body. Did she just hear him well? For a moment, everything around her froze.
He continued, ‘I love you so dearly and I’m so grateful you walked into my life. I want to spend the rest of my life loving you if you’d give me the chance’. That was it. He dropped the bomb.
Gbemi was speechless ‘I don’t know what to say. I didn’t see this coming, at least not any more’ Then It occurred to her, ‘this must have been what dad was referring to when he asked what response I gave John and he congratulated me?’
‘Wait o, what exactly did you and daddy talk about when you went to visit him?’, Gbemi had just put the pieces of the puzzle together.
John smiled but did not reply.
‘Oh goodness, how come I didn’t figure it out? You guys did 419 for me’ she joked.
‘But it was for a good course na’, he smiled. ‘So what say ye?’ John had not gotten a reply to his proposal.
‘Well, I’II need to visit the headquarters and thrash things out. Please give me sometime’, Gbemi knew that she couldn’t make such a crucial decision in haste and she definitely needed God’s approval. Right now, when her emotions were all over the place wasn’t the best time to give an answer.
John understood, ‘no problem, please take your time. Sha don’t keep a brother waiting forever’, he smiled.
‘Ehen so you can brother zone yourself now abi?’
They both laughed and continued eating. He dropped her at church as they agreed and they parted ways.
Exactly a week later, after church, Gbemi walked up to John and told him she wanted to see him.
He immediately left what he was doing and told the people waiting to see him that he had to attend to something important.
They went outside.
‘So I have a message from the headquarters’, she started ‘but first, I want you to repeat what you said’, she said naughtily.
John giggled, ‘Is it the ‘Oluwagbemisola Grace Johnson, will you do me the honor of being my wife?’, part or the ‘I love you so dearly and I’m so grateful you walked into my life’ part that you want me to repeat?’, he asked smiling.
Gbemi couldn’t help but smile, it still felt like a dream. God gave her a man who loves and adores her despite her past. ‘I’d be honored to be your wife, Mr John Magbagbeola, to be the mother of your children, your support, and encourager.’
‘Oh Lord’, he covered his mouth with his hand. He was speechless, ‘You are heaven sent. Thank you, thank you so much’, he hugged her not minding who was passing. It was high time those single sisters who were on his matter stepped back.
‘Come’, he held her hand and took her towards his car, opened the door and they both sat down. He held her hands, ‘we are building this relationship on Jesus and His Word so I thought it will be great if we say a word of prayer.’
Gbemi couldn’t agree more.
They prayed; thanking God for what He had started and committing their future in His hand.
It’s been an amazing journey on the Gbemi series, and I truly hope you have been blessed. If you made it this far then you are awesome. I would appreciate if you could please comment on the key lessons you learnt over the past few weeks on this series.
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