Stories

Jagged Edges

January 14, 2024

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I learned quite early in life not to sit in judgment of others and the choices they were forced to make as a result of the issues life throws at them

I especially do not appreciate it when people sit in glass houses while throwing stones

I was involved in a case once

It involved a Pastor who found himself facing a panel based on petitions written against him by a female member of the church

The petition was written to the national headquarters of the ministry I was working with then and it was from there that a National Church Growth officer was sent to our province to constitute a panel and preside over the case in order to resolve it

I didn’t know the National church Growth officer very well but I knew the Pastors who were chosen to be on the constituted panel

Truth be told, if they have any form of good conscience; the pastors ought to have declined the role or recuse themselves from the case

The petitioner had accused this pastor of sleeping with her, impregnating her and forcing her to abort the pregnancy while she was working as the administrator of the church (The church was a zonal parish)

I was aware of certain truths about the jury

I knew one was sleeping with one of the ushers in his local parish

The lady told me herself because he brought her to the provincial headquarters’ administrative office to come and understudy the chief administrator so that he could make her the zonal administrator and a national staff of the ministry

The lady was In our mid-day fellowship one day and I was the one who took the exhortation that day from the ministry’s devotional and the topic was “Holding Fast”

The admonition was awesome, I say this because it led this lady to me a few minutes after the charge

She came to tell me everything and had videos and other shreds of evidences on her phone

The other senior pastor on the call was a zonal pastor, a bit of a mystery to me because they just posted him to our office less than a month before the panel began to sit

(It would later be discovered that he also had impregnated a lady and forced her to abort the baby) three months after the panel’s sitting was concluded, he was sacked immediately and thrown out of the ministry when this was discovered

He was not even given the benefit of a panel hearing or any form of hearing

Back to my story…

The panel sat on a Tuesday for the first time

The lady came and spoke very zealously while the accused sat there quietly and unperturbed

You either concluded that he was guilty and didn’t care what the outcome would be or that he was innocent and had incontrovertible proof of this

I had overseen many disciplinary committees and panels as an administrator before then and I could often tell if the accused was innocent or guilty by their demeanour when their accuser was in the dock

This pastor gave off an air of “I am here but I am not here”

It was either he had accepted his fate or he just felt we were there to waste his time

When his accuser was done and he was asked to speak he said, “Linda (calling the name of his accuser) as I begin to speak, know that I don’t hate you in any way

I am speaking because I have to and I will try as much as possible to prove this accusation is false without embarrassing you

Wow!

He then said, “Linda, were you raped when you were 15 years old in Kaduna by a Pastor who happened to be your family friend?”

The lady nodded before one of the pastors present shouted that the question was irrelevant

This man ignored the rude interruption and said, “When you accused this man of raping you, were you believed?”

The lady said, “No!”

He continued, “Since that time how many pastors have you accused of raping you?”

The lady paused…

The man said, “Just give me a figure, 10, 15, 20?”

The lady said, “14..”

“Did any of them rape you or even touch you?” He queried further

The lady said No

In how many denominations have you accused pastors of doing this to you?

The lady said 6

“How did I know all this?” asked the man

The lady said, “Because I told you sir”

The he said m, “Why did you tell me these intimate things, Linda?”

She answered, “Because we were close and I thought you were my friend but you turned out to be a snake and a liar”

The man: How?

The lady: You made me fall in love with you and then you told me you were already engaged to another woman abroad, you abused my trust and you ought to be punished for it

You cannot go about doing that and not be ready to face the consequences

“Linda, did I rape you?” The man asked

The lady paused and said, “Yes. You raped me emotionally and psychologically”

The man: Linda, Did I impregnate you?

The lady: You did, I was hopeful. You made me believe there was a future for us. I was expectant of being courted and getting married to you only for you to tell me all we had was friendship and nothing more

The man: Linda, did I ask you to have an abortion in any way?

The lady: I know what you are doing, you are twisting everything and making me look as if I am a mad woman, I am not mad I am emotionally intelligent, I didn’t have a physical abortion but I had emotional abortion for you

You are a wicked and heartless man

You didn’t treat me with love in any way and I loved you with all my heart

The man: I hope the panel can see that I have done nothing that I was accused of by this lady

I was in my office one day when she came to see me after the Wednesday bible study

She told me of a burden she had borne for over 20 years and how the church didn’t believe her when she was raped

She also told me she had hated pastors since then and serially accused as many as she could of the same crime over and over again in a bid to see if she would be believed

I saw the symptoms of mental and emotional distress and immediately offered her support and kindness especially as regarding her rent and employment

I never met her one on one ever again, not even when she began to peddle stories in the church which some people encouraged her to escalate to the headquarters in order to embarrass me

I have done nothing wrong nor deserving of punishment and I believe Sister Linda needs help and should be advised to get help, thank you

Wow!

By this time Sister Linda was in tears and the pastors in the panel were dumbfounded

They didn’t see that end from the beginning, and neither did I

It turned out that the accused man was the only innocent one in the meeting and the ones who were supposed to judge him were actually guilty of the very offense he was accused of

This taught me a great lesson about judging others

I hope you learnt something too

-GSW-

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