It was last Sunday, thanksgiving service. Every body was dressed in their best. Men in their ‘agbadas’ and ‘resource controls’ while the women were competing on who’s wrapper had more stones,who’s gele was bigger and who’s jewelry was more expensive. And he walked in, wearing a tattered anakara jumper. His singlet had gone from white to a shade of brown, his beard looked so unkempt. He was ushered to sit at the back and not up front . We thought he was just one of those people who walked into a church when they had run out of money, after the service he’ll request to see the pastor then a story would emerge ,he’ll be given some money and never be heard of again.
He looked so out of place, so scary. His every move was been watched closely: when he stood up during worship, praise, offering, even thanksgiving. Or when he adjusted himself in his seat. He was calm through out the sermon. Then it was time for testimony. He beckoned on the usher close to where he was sitted and she looked like she was about to die. Instead a much older male usher went to him, and he said he wanted to go up front, to the altar. As he was escort, we wondered what he was going there to do, then he stood in line and waited for his turn. What was he going to say? How he was going through a difficult time and God directed his steps to this church? His turn came and he introduced himself then started with a song
‘ I have a friend and he will never abandon me, his name is J E S U S’
Then he started to give his testimony ” I was working in a factory as a factory worker in 2007. I did not find anybody trouble. Then one day, two of the workers I work with, they start to fight. As me and some people try to separate them, one carry bottle shuk the other person. As he shuk the person, everybody run. Only me and some people. I did not run because I know I did not do any tin. So police come, they carry us. E become case, they say they go carry us go court as witness.They take us to Kirikiri.The lawyer dey talk , we go court. The matter long, even the people we wey work for abandon it. So finally on Friday they freed us on suspected murder charge. Praise God”
Everyone stood and started to clap. Those who could speak in tongues were speaking in tongues while clapping. Others like me, we were clapping while saying ‘Thank you Jesus’. As he walked back to his seat, people were saying ‘Congratulations my brother’ ‘Thank God’. 7 years in prison, for trying to be a peacemaker and a law abiding citizen. He had gone from prisoner to ‘brother’. I tried imaging what seeing the sun from the outside and not prison walls would feel like for him. What of his family that had learnt to live without him around. How did he keep faith alive during those 7 years? I didn’t see him this Sunday, doubt I’ll see him anytime soon. But he made me grateful for the little things at that moment, things like seeing the sun without been caged. So I’m thankful and I hope he’s happy were ever he is.