The silent Preacher by Samson M. Mlambo

Pastor Moloi was an honourable man within his community. He was a man adored by youth, cherished by women and respected by men ambivalently. Everyone within the community of Matlhareng knew that on Sundays, they should leave behind their chores and head straight to his church. His services were unutterably moving. When Pastor Moloi preached, everything turned upside down within the church. His words were full of passion, sincerity and were very powerful. His face would sweat while his deep strong raspy voice would vibrate more than the church ceiling. Men and women would fall down on their knees and confess their sins. Boys’ and girls’ eyes would turn red, flooding with tears; hands raised high, hearts surrendering their faith to God, and “Hallelujah- Amen” chants were shouted in worship to God. Heaven would open its doors when Pastor Moloi preached. Everyone would submit to God during his services.

Everyone.

The only thing left was for earth to tear half apart and for the sun to lose its tensely burning fire with heavy clouds gathering together for the whole world to be in darkness; just like during the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Every time when he concluded his services, he would leave his congregation with the same quote: “Cling unto Job’s hand until your time to go home arrives. Never let go of that hand. Never.” At first members of his congregation didn’t understand what he meant. One day, he preached about Job’s faith to God, it was then when people began to relate with his favourite quote.

He had one loyal friend, baba Muthwa, who had stuttering speech. Baba Muthwa was a man who feared God. He had submitted to God wholeheartedly and he had abundant respect for Pastor Moloi. What he loved the most about Pastor Moloi was that he was always humble and reserved. Everyone was fond of baba Muthwa because he was full of jests. He loved the Lord’s Prayer more than any other prayer in the Bible, “This is the prayer that expresses the mercy of God towards our humanness. It is the prayer that encourages you and me to respect each other, to humble ourselves, to love and forgive, to be thankful, to praise God and to accept life as it reveals itself to us.” He would mutter, stutteringly. However, what was contradicting about his love for the Lord’s Prayer was that, he didn’t know it completely. During the praying session, he will recite the first few lines and then he will murmur the rest with hope that someone rescue’s him. Pastor Moloi always came to his rescue by picking up where he left and completed the entire prayer. When they conclude the prayer towards “Amen”, you would hear baba Muthwa’s voice louder than everybody’s within the church, for that will be another part of the prayer he knows very well.

After every service, both adults and the youth, would come to Pastor Moloi’s office to seek advice or request blessings. He would be patient with everyone and would listen attentively to all of them, and then he would offer his advice. He had revived lots of dying family relationships, encouraged lots of young men and women who lacked confidence, advised lots of scholars about their career choices, behaviour and other challenges they might be facing within their lives. Through it all, Pastor Moloi never asked for a cent from anyone he helped. To him, it was his duty to serve his God and the community. “I am not doing this for the materialistic wealth of this world. As long as you give your heart and soul to the Lord almighty, that will be all for me.” He would say. “Your hearts and souls are more important than anything in this world.” Although at times, many would offer him something in appreciation. Even if it was not his intension to receive gifts or money, he would accept to avoid disappointment. He was regarded as a man of the people for the people.

Although Pastor Moloi managed to help many of his community members, he had his own troubles at his home. His wife, Maureen, was not happy with Pastor Moloi’s errands and services to the community. Her insensate doubts were turning her into a jealous, greedy and poisonous woman. For instance, when Pastor Moloi had afternoon meetings with other Presbyterian members, she would assume he had an affair with one of the congregation women. Her insecurities were growing vividly and were affecting their children. They had two children, a boy and a girl. The boy’s name was Tiisetso meaning the solidifier. Their youngest child, a daughter, was named Lesedi, meaning the light. However, Lesedi was not affected much by her mother’s poisonous insecurities towards her father. She was very close and affectionate to her father more than her brother was. “I wish you were a boy. I wanted you to expand the Moloi’s legacy.” Her father would say to her, playfully. “But father, I will expand the Moloi family someday. I will give you lots and lots of grandchildren.” Lesedi would say affectionately. “That is great my lovely daughter. However you have to get married first; and that means you cannot carry through the Moloi surname, can you?” Her father would say light heartedly. They usually spent three to four hours together without anyone’s interruption. “There is Tiisetso to carry through the surname”. Lesedi assured her father. His heart would turn sour every time his son’s name was mentioned. It’s not that he disliked him, but it’s because what his wife had turned him into. Maureen’s insecurities would drive her to cry devilishly to their son about her husband’s whereabouts in order to find sympathy from him. She knew that her son would confront his father and at times, their argument would get out of hand to such an extent their son threatened to kill his father.

The family was not always so. It was a peaceful, loveable and respected family. Everyone within the community of Matlhareng wished to live like the Moloi family. They were a very happy family. Pastor Moloi was working for a big company and was receiving a good salary. Although at that time, his congregation was not large like it is today, he still devoted his time in preaching; that’s if, they did not force him to report at work that Sunday. One day he decided to retire from work and focus more of his attention to the church. His heart was longing to serve God full time. After receiving his retirement funds, Pastor Moloi took some of his money and built a huge church for the community. He saw it appropriate for them to have a bigger building where they can worship God whenever they want. Everyone within the community was excited of course, but not his wife. To his wife, it appeared like he was showing off to the community. She felt like he was buying respect from everyone and might leave her and the children starving. To her, it was a selfish act. Once the church was officially opened and Pastor Moloi began the preaching, members of the congregation found the value of life and the path that connects them with God within his words. Each and every Sunday, the number of the congregation increased, and his services were on the lips of everyone….mostly young girls and women during their gossip gatherings. It is then, when Maureen’s heart began to feel jealous. Her insecurities grew exasperatedly…more especially when she overhears young beautiful women praise her husband’s services.

Pastor Moloi never shared his family problems with anyone. Everyone seemed to be loading off their problems and secrets to his shoulders, but he had nowhere to load off his own. Occasionally he would murmur an outline, generally to his friend, baba Muthwa, but he never goes into details about it. That was happening when his wife and son had really hurt his feelings. Sometime he does it, unconsciously to his daughter during their casual talk. Lesedi understood since she witnessed how her father was treated at their home. She would at times, offer her father some comfort, even though her father would act tough and insisted that he was alright.

The other day, Pastor Moloi had to go for a week long church conference. He went with baba Muthwa and other Presbyterian members. They were going to meet other church leaders outside town. Maureen could not have it. She was furious. She completely lost herself. She was blaming the church for everything. According to her, it was the church that brought the women whom she suspected to be sleeping with her husband. It was the church that took her husband’s retirement funds. It was again the church that kept her husband away from her. “God knows, perhaps he is enjoying a honeymoon with one of his mistresses out there.” Maureen thought, bitterly. “This church brought a lot of trouble within my life and my family. It took all of my happiness and certainly, it took everything away from me. This church must burn.” Maureen concluded her thoughts.

It was Thursday early morning when Pastor Moloi received news about his burning church. He was forced to cancel the remaining days of the conference to attend the matter. By the time he arrived at the church, the building was dilapidated. His heart was torn apart. The pain paralysed him. His mind ran wild with confusion. “Who can do such an evil act?! This is just the house of God for heaven’s sake!” He shouted, anguished. The investigators confirmed that someone did start the fire. There were no any faulty wires, whatsoever. “Perhaps it was just an act of God. He was testing your faith just like he did with Job. Baba Muthwa said. “Remember to cling unto Job’s hand until your time arrives. Don’t let go Pastor Moloi. Keep that faith. Don’t let go of that hand.” Baba Muthwa assured him, stutteringly. Pastor Moloi pulled himself together. “Thank you my friend for reminding me how merciful the God we pray can be”. He said to Baba Muthwa, patting his shoulder.

The following Sunday Pastor Moloi was stronger than before. His voice was bolder. His services would leave the devil shivering. “Whoever burned the house of the Lord is forgiven!” He preached. “For our God’s mercy is beyond the sky! His love is burning more than the sun! His forgiveness is deeper than the ocean!” He felt closer to God than before. The number of his congregation continued to increase. They were now holding their services outside on the church yard. They had tried the tents but his congregation was pouring out of hand. Pastor Moloi took the remaining of his money and began the foundation of the new church building. His congregation didn’t want to be left out. They’ve gathered together and helped him to build a bigger church than the previous one. “This is not my church.” Pastor Moloi would say. “This is your church. Everyone is welcome to enter it.” The “Amen” chants would follow, sounding stronger than before. Everyone felt at home when they were in that church. Pastor Moloi’s preaching would confirm your worthiness as a being. Even those who would come as visitors would end up staying and never looked back. There was oneness in Pastor Moloi’s church. There was equal love. There was God.

It was few months later when Pastor Jones learned that his wife conspired in the burning of his church. He was very disappointed. He never said anything to anyone. His daughter, Lesedi, was shocked when she learned that her father knew all along. “So father, what are you going to do?” Lesedi asked. Pastor Moloi took a moment and studied her troubled face before giving out his answer. “I left everything in God’s hands”. He replied with a smile on his face. “This is not my battle, my lovely daughter. Let God…” That was not the answer Lesedi expected. She was hoping to hear something different. She hoped to hear: I am going to get her arrested or something… “Revenge is never a solution. It only brings war. And the God I pray doesn’t like war. He loves peace.” Pastor Moloi cleared out her doubts.

It was another day when Maureen’s insecurities blinded her son to confront his father about the infidelity suspicions. It was after Pastor Moloi had a long meeting with his Presbyterian members about the expansion of the church. They were planning to open another branch in one of the designated areas. Unfortunately they missed the track of time when Pastor Moloi arrived home almost midnight. The argument between Pastor Moloi and both Tiisetso and Maureen was so dramatic where the neighbours overheard them. During the argument, Tiisetso took a knife and attempted to stab his father, but missed him twice. It was then when Pastor Moloi decided to separate with his wife. He couldn’t take it anymore. He didn’t feel safe in his own house and around his family anymore. He informed everyone that by the end of the week, he will be moving out of his house. He decided to look for a new home. Lesedi understood, but was sad to see the relationship of her family, which was once adored by the community, falling apart. There was no any other option. “I will move in with you father.” Lesedi said, giving him a tight hug. On the other hand, Maureen was struggling to digest the idea that her husband is moving out of their house. She was very obsessed with her husband’s weeklong conference meetings. To imagine that he won’t be staying in the same house with her anymore was an excruciating torture. She couldn’t bear the gossips of the people of Matlhareng and the humiliation of the congregation’s eyes. “What will they say about me? How will they treat me?” Her obsessed imagination rumbled with these questions all week long. The idea that hit her hard was that, her husband will have a freedom of changing his mistresses as he pleases. She couldn’t let that happen. For her, it was all or nothing.

It was the morning of Saturday which was the day Pastor Moloi had selected to move out of his house with. Lesedi was ready packed to start afresh with her father in the new house they found outside Matlhareng community. She was shocked that the time her father suggested to meet up with her had already past and he was still asleep. “Oh the old man works extremely hard every day. He must have been tired and overslept.” She made an excuse for him. She then decided to go and wake him up. She found her mother kneeling next to his bed with tears on her eyes. “Your father couldn’t wake up with us this morning. He left us.” She said, with tears streaming down her chicks. “Are you saying my father is no more?” Lesedi wanted confirmation. She couldn’t believe that her father is gone. Few minutes later, they were joined by Tiisetso, who was crying at the top of his lungs, as if he didn’t want to stab him with a knife few days ago. Lesedi took a closer look at her father’s body. He was sleeping peaceful. “Go well father. Go home. Now you have rested peacefully.” She said, as she gave him one last kiss on his forehead. When Lesedi questioned the course of her father’s death, she was shocked to hear the results. According to her mother, it was a heart attack. According to the doctors’ results, he was poisoned. It didn’t take Lesedi a minute to figure out who poisoned her father. She remembered her father’s words; “Revenge is never a solution. It only brings war. And the God I pray doesn’t like war. He loves peace. This is not my battle. I will let God…” She uttered the words out loud unaware that her mother was staring at her with shock. Maureen recalled the words spoken by her late husband; more especially when he was hurt. Very hurt.

Everyone within the community of Matlhareng was affected by the sudden death of Pastor Moloi. They all gathered at the ceremony to pay their last respects. Men, women, boys and girls from around and far, including pastors from other churches were there. Among them were the dignitaries such as the vice President of the country, the provincial ministers and chancellors, including the chief of the community of Matlhareng. His coffin was on stage in front of the congregation. Lesedi stood behind the podium saying goodbyes to her father: “Here’s a man who saved many of us from the troublesome of this world. He guided a lot of us to have brighter futures. He united brothers with their sisters, husbands with their wives and those who were enemies to be friends again. He strengthened families that were at the brink of destroying each other. How many of us are still standing together because of him? How many of us became doctors because of him? How many of us stayed away from drugs because of him? Yet, he never once said I helped built all of you. He never once asked payment for his services”. Lesedi paused, as she wiped off tears from her eyes, pulled herself together and continued. “My father understood that all that, was not his work. It was God working through him.” The crowd cheered with “Amen” chants. Lesedi continued: “He was a man who was determined to serve God through his people.” The “Amen” chants continued. They were louder than the noise of soccer supporters at the stadium. Lesedi paused again, took a moment of silence as she looked around before continuing. All eyes were fixed on her. Ears were listening attentively. “Some people didn’t like what my father did for this community”. She continued. Her voice had passion and sincerity like her father’s. “They insulted him. He remained silent. They burned his church and he remained silent. And some of the church members shared their deepest dark secretes with him, yet he remained silent. He never shared those heavy loads with anyone. He trusted God. You see, my father was a silent preacher.” Everyone clapped hands as they shouted “Amen”. She continued: “The youth adored him for it. Women trusted him for it and men respected him for it. We shall continue to honour him for it.” Lesedi concluded her speech. The crowd stood on their feet, clapping hands, cheering, celebrating her father’s legacy. Pastor Moloi was buried in a dignified manner. Lesedi took over her father’s position. She was under constant advice of baba Muthwa. Her mother, Maureen, committed suicide after learning that the church was assigned under the community. She had no share, whatsoever. Tiisetso was arrested after dealing with drugs. Pastor Moloi rests in peace. After all, he was a man of the people, for the people.

 

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One thought on “The silent Preacher by Samson M. Mlambo

  1. It is inspiring, touching, and educating. A very rich way to play with words.
    Looking forward to read more of your short-stories.
    #saluteeeeeeeee

    Like

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