Vera Anyim and the shenanigans of some men of God


By David-Chyddy Eleke

The issue which trended today about the graduation of Ms Vera Anyim from a law programme with National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) on Saturday, and her testimony to that effect at Dunamis Gospel Centre on Sunday reminded me of a certain experience I once had.

I have always had the belief that some men of God now try to assume godship, instead of accepting that they are servants of the MAIN God.

In November 2010, I attended an evening mass in a Catholic Church in Awka. I was then an ardent Catholic. Prior to that time, I had held leadership positions in CYON and CPM (Catholic Prayer Ministry, the Elele people) both in Ogoja and Aba. The priest was preaching about what constituted sins, and he stated that if you had a baby without being wedded in church, the blessings of God will never be with the child.

I looked around to know if he was speaking to Block Rosary children, but there were adults amongst us. I looked again and concluded that his target were the Legion of Mary girls who were in their legion in the mass, and I believed it was a subtle way to make them keep their chastity.

I had already swallowed that, but the priest kept on hammering on the same point, and it got me infuriated. Then I raised my hand very high, to ask him a question.

My infuriation was nothing else order than the fact that I needed clarification. My father and mother were never wedded in church. They had eight children. Though my parents are late, but all my siblings are still alive and doing well. My curiosity was that maybe I was not doing well (I should have been a Dangote by then) because my parents didn’t we’d in church.

Besides, my wife had just delivered my first son that same November. I had my traditional marriage in January 2010, and took home my wife, as I was sure I wasn’t owing my in-laws, and before long she took in and in November she gave me a bouncing baby boy (Ikenna). And this man is telling me that because I didn’t we’d in church, that the blessings of God will not be with my son Ikenna? I insisted on getting clarification.

When I raised my hand in the congregation, the priest ignored me and continued with his sermon. A woman who was sitting beside me frowned at me. She said in Igbo: “Oga, why are you raising your hand when Reverend Father is still delivering sermon?” I ignored her and continued to raise my hand. The priest also ignored me and continued to preach.

Seeing that I was not ready to give up, the woman sitting beside me quietly shifted very far away from me on the vacant seat. She must have thought in her mind that: “If I continue to sit close, this foolish man may transmit his foolishness to me.”

Eventually, after his preachings, the priest called me up. He was a young priest, and I didn’t think he was even older than me, but he had prepared to intimidate me.

“Hei! You, stand up. You have been raising your hand, what do you want to say? Stand up and say that thing that is making you to disrupt the sermon since.”

I stood up. I confess that as I stood, I was tensed. I must have felt the same way Vera felt while standing at the pulpit at Dunamis yesterday. During my younger days, there were things I usually did to shore up my confidence. I either chewed gum (and I chewed lots of it), or I pocketed my hands as a show of confidence. But standing there, I neither had gum in my mouth, nor was I permitted to pocket my hands. So, I held my both hands together behind me as a show of humility (you know how Peter Obi used to hold his hands when speaking? Na like that).

Then I started speaking to the priest. But the priest was out to humiliate me, so as I waited a little to gain some confidence, he was hollering at me, rushing me to speak. I knew if I rushed, I would make mistakes, so I stood calmly and ignored him, looking very indifferent. Then I said to him, Father, if you stop intimidating me, I will speak. He further rushed me to speak, then I started, in measured tone: “Father, I think everything you said is okay ooo, but that part where you said the blessings of God will not follow a child if their parents did not wed in church, I do not think you were right, and you need to look at it again.”

The priest was infuriated. He began the preaching afresh, and this time I was the topic of the preaching. He told everyone that some people just attend mass so that they will find what to criticize. He kept on and on and on.

As he was still at it, I jejelly grabbed my Bible and made for the door. Then he changed the preaching. “You see them? They will ask you question, and while you are still answering their questions they are already leaving. Tomorrow, they will go and say what father did not say.” I didn’t pay him any heed, I simply left.

I’m still thinking how Ms Vera coped, sitting throughout the service yesterday, after she had been thoroughly chastised and called a fake.

In my case, I couldn’t sit and wait for the end of mass. I simply left. This is why I think that some men of God have made God of themselves, instead of agreeing that they are servants of the Living God.

Note: I later had my wedding in 2011, not because I feared that God’s blessings will not follow my children, but because I felt compelled to do so (it’s a story for another day).

My parents who passed on never had any wedding, and all my brothers and sisters are doing well in various professions.

By Ifeizu Joe

Ifeizu is a seasoned journalist and Managing Editor of TheRazor. He has wide knowledge of Anambra State and has reported the state objectively for over a decade.

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