Pastor Abban nodded surreptitiously in approval as his maid brought in glasses of water for his guests. She used to be fond of serving up some of his choicest and most expensive drinks to all visitors until he’d severely cautioned her that the drinks were for very important people and water was good enough for ordinary parishioners. The message seemed to have been well understood since there were none more ordinary than the couple sat across from him in his lavishly furnished living room.
Mr and Mrs Obeng were dedicated members of Pastor Abban’s parish. They attended all the services, paid their tithes regularly and participated in any other church-related activities that came up. That was until three months ago when Mr Obeng’s mother had contracted a serious illness and the Obengs had spent almost all their savings in paying her hospital bills. That had not been enough, however, as she finally succumbed to what turned out to be a cancerous tumour. Mr Obeng’s carpentry job had stalled almost simultaneously; most of the wood he bought mysteriously ended up warped or missing, leaving him unable to work. He had started to borrow to enable him to take care of his family while hoping his rotten set of circumstances would change, but they had gotten worse. Mrs Obeng’s petty trading had suffered as a result and it was all she could do to keep her family fed.
Pastor Abban knew all of this but he listened anyway as the Obengs recounted all of their misfortunes. He also listened patiently as they finally stated the reason for their visit: they needed a loan. Pastor Abban knew that was the reason they came and he was prepared with an answer.
He was a poor man he started, living only by the Grace of God and the church. Tithes and any other funds the church generated went to the maintenance of the church and funding its activities. He barely got by and frequently had recourse to begging from his equally poor siblings and family members. He wished he could help and if he were a rich man, he would have, but wasn’t he just a poor servant of God, much like Paul in the Bible?
He concluded with a short sermon, prayed fervently on their behalf against all machinations of the devil and any enemies of progress, promised to continue interceding for them in his prayers, prescribed a week-long fasting and prayer session as the surest possible remedy for their current predicament, before sending them on their way.
He had barely sat back down after seeing them off when he received a bank alert on his phone. His latest investment venture was reaping good rewards and the alerts were becoming more frequent. He muttered an unconscious “Thank God”, put on his air condition system, grabbed the remote to his satellite television and shouted at his maid to serve him a bottle of wine.