The idea of God to me has always been a supreme being who should be known & communed with individually, by every individual. I’ve never really been at home with the idea of putting all my spiritual hopes in a man, such as a pastor, not even a prophet.
Also, the idea of going to church every Sunday in my nicest frocks, looking all prim and proper while obeying every order from the pastor as is usual here in Africa has never been attractive to me. We tend to do convenient things for God and even sometimes oppress our brethren who are poorer than us. While people put up with these calm appearances, a whole lot of politics, schematics and logistics go on behind the scenes of the altar. This also doesn’t appeal to me.
I happened to have attended while growing up, one of these traditional christian churches where the rigid ideals are upheld. So there was this ‘prim gentleman’ in our church back then called Mr Dimeji (surname intentionally withheld to avoid easy identification) who was the youth leader. He would stand on the front porch of the church and call out emphatically (deliberately so the church elders would notice), names of all the youths trying to avoid youth meetings.
My brother and I, immediately after service would have entered the car and be waiting for mum to finish at her own women leaders’ meetings. There were some other youths like us who would be hiding in their parents’ cars after the normal church service. Some would dash home immediately after service.
Now, it wasn’t that we were as stubborn or always uncooperative but these youth meetings were most times too boring and unnecessarily long. To have a long meeting of 1 or 2 hours after a usually long Sunday service is always like eternity to anybody, especially youths. It was torture. Most importantly, some of us had advanced several degrees more academically, morally and even spiritually than this youth leader called Mr Dimeji. Deep down, we were not engaged. He became our head without an election. He was just there naturally, probably because he was among the few oldest bachelors.
This youth leader called Mr Dimeji would most readily run after those youths who were rushing home after service. He didn’t do it in a dignified way. Rather, he would scream their names in front of the whole church, making the parents know their children were avoiding commitments. Sometimes he would spread his assault towards those of us in the cars, even coming to preach to us why we should come to youth meetings. Another bad idea about these meetings was that they were held every week for no tangible reason.
Actually, I attended some of the youth meetings after being talked into it by my mum (who I always respected), but I was soon discouraged as we were not actively engaged. The meetings would drag on for an hour or more and Mr Dimeji would be the only one talking, new sermons that meant nothing to our personal lives. We didn’t need any such schooling. The young man didn’t even have the exposure of most of us present there.
The high point was when we discovered soon enough that this Mr Dimeji impregnated a lady he was yet to marry. The craziest thing was that the lady was alleged to not even be of christian faith. The lady was said to be a muslim. Mr Dimeji stopped attending the church after that saga. Probably, he was too ashamed or he didn’t want to face the people. I noticed everyone had a question or two they wanted to clarify from the horse’s mouth. Everyone was dazed. Oh, what a cracker!
This was a gentleman who taught in the bible school, gave the church sermons on special Sundays, even at the annual youth anniversaries. This was a youth leader who the whole church (the elders I mean, not majority of youths) looked up to. This was the young man who represented the youth movement, even those of us who didn’t fancy the meetings.
After he stopped attending church, I never met or saw him, for several years to come. Till late last year (Dec. 4th, 2015) at my mum’s burial when someone tapped my back. I looked back and it turned out to be Mr Dimeji. Oh, what a cracker again! How he heard about my mum’s incidence, I don’t know for sure. Haven’t seen him again ever since to clarify the question(s).
Many people are like Mr Dimeji. They hide under the cloak of religion albeit, filled with iniquity deep down. The worst part is the amount of people they drag down with themselves. The number of those who wrongly hold them as role models. The innocent ones who sheepishly follow these dirty lots. One or two incidents of youths impregnating each other quickly followed that Mr Dimeji incidence. It was the prototype of a bad example.
What’s worst, people like Mr Dimeji are experts at making better folks feel inferior to them. They talk about hell as if it was made & designed for the listeners/congregation. They make you miserable, make you think you’re so bad, even dangerous to yourself. They’re always quick to remind you of your inadequacies. Watch out for people like Mr Dimeji, they’re everywhere. With their self-righteous mentality, they can drive you to an edge, the edge of extinction, never to be heard or seen again.