“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).
“Did you hear what happened to Uncle Bill?” Kemi asked, as she worked on my hair, adding pins to keep the style in place.
I looked at her through the mirror in my bedroom. I’ve never been keen on gossip, but since he’s family…and we have history, I was certainly curious. “No, I didn’t. What happened?”
“He’s in jail! Apparently it was his father-in-law who got him arrested!”
“He was caught on camera molesting his six year old daughter! Aunty Folake was suspecting him, and thought he was even having an affair with their nanny! She installed nanny cam all over their house, and that is how she caught him! How horrible is that?”
“Oh wow! The poor girl. Does anyone know how long this has been going on? What about his other children?” I asked, shocked but yet relieved that he had been found out and was going to pay for his crimes.
“He has three boys. It seems it all started recently with his daughter, when she turned six a few months ago. The boys said he had never molested them.”
“How do you know all this?”
“Mama called them oh… After you told her what happened to you. That’s how Aunty Folake told her everything. He is awaiting trial. I’m even surprised that her father didn’t kill him when he found out. You know he always thought his daughter was too good for uncle. But she loved him, and she was pregnant, so they agreed to the marriage.”
“Thank God he was caught! Just imagine… His own daughter! God help us…” I said, as a tear escaped my eye. I suddenly thought of the many other children he would have been abusing all these years, because I said nothing. I needed to meet that child. She would need a mentor.
“Don’t ruin your make up oh… I can’t do it again!” Kemi said, light-heartedly.
I smiled at her through the mirror. We were preparing for my big day! Ope and I were renewing our vows by having a proper white wedding, which we hadn’t done before. Two years ago, we had simply gone to the Court to be married legally. This time, we had all our friends and family in attendance, and I was going to walk down an aisle, in our garden, where the ceremony and reception would be held.
“There! You look perfect!” She beamed at me through the mirror. And I had to agree, I had never seen myself look so good. Ope would swoon when he sees me, I thought. He had stayed at a hotel last night, in keeping with tradition, so that the first time I would see him today, would be when I walk down the aisle in my lace white gown and veil. His Pastor had agreed to do the ministration at our home.
“Thank you, sweetie!” I said, standing up to see myself in the mirror in full view. This was going to be a perfect day. The sun stood glorious, and there was not a cloud in the sky.
“Oh, don’t you just look darling!!!” Mama said, as she entered the room. She came in for a brief side hug. “Here, I got you something.” She handed me a small white box.
I opened it to find a small white, red-letter Bible. My first personal Bible. I beamed at her. “Thanks, Mama. I will read it everyday.”
“Hey, you guys… Come and see,” Kemi called us, and turned up the volume on the TV. “They are saying something about one Tony guy. Is this the Tony you told us about?”
I turned my attention to the TV. Surely, I beheld his familiar face. All I could do was nod. The caption read “14 Girls rescued from a Child Trafficking van at Seme Border“.
“Last night, a van carrying 14 young girls was intercepted by the Nigerian Police, while trying to cross the border into Cotonou. The van, which had been reported stolen some days earlier, came under suspicion when the driver tried to bribe a custom official. Three men were arrested. Ige Alade, Chika Ndubisi and Anthony Taofeek (aka Sweet Tooth Tony). Tony, who is known for his ‘sweet tooth’ towards the ladies, is apparently the ring leader of the child trafficking ring. He was recently fired from his employment at an undisclosed Gym in Lekki, after accusations of sexual assault were made against him by two young girls and a pregnant mother. The case never went to court. The abducted girls are currently being held at NAPTIP head quarters for psychoanalysis, before they will be reconciled with their families,” the Reporter read.
“Jesus!” Mama said dramatically. “Thank God oh. So there are still God-fearing custom officials in Nigeria today?”
I sat down again, and took it all in. Wow, Tony must have been desperate, thinking he could take his small business international… Or was he already involved in such before he decided to convert me to his slave. I had been so deceived… Thank God I escaped, and thank God for that honest official, who saved those girls!
Someone knocked on the door, and then popped their head in. “It’s time. Are you ready?”
“Give us five minutes,” Kemi said. She came to me. “Are you okay? You ready?”
The emotions suddenly hit me… Everything I had been though…they were in my past now. I would no longer be haunted nor defined by what had happened to me. I had finally chosen LIFE. God had made me new, and given me beauty for my ashes. I was overwhelmed again thinking of His amazing grace and unfathomable love.
“Hey, don’t cry…” Kemi got some tissues to dab my eyes. “I spent hours on your make-up. Come on, Ope is waiting.”
I smiled at the irony. He had been waiting a long time already. He deserved me at my best. “Let’s pray, first.”
The three of us came together and held hands, and Mama led the prayers. At last, I was ready to face my destiny.
I walked down the aisle, a trail littered with pink rose petals, to the tune of “Every Time I Close My Eyes” by Babyface and Kenny G, being played on the saxophone by the Church Band. We both love the sax, and the song has so much meaning for us.
I remember nights, when our love was young, that we would just chat or hang out with Kenny G’s sax playing in the background. This song was our favourite. Then, Ope was in awe of my love for him, and now, I was the one in awe and thanking God for him.
Ope looked dashingly handsome in his white suit and pink shirt. Our eyes met along the way, and I felt a rush of emotion overwhelm me. How did I get to be so lucky in love? If I had known to ask God for a man to love, I would have asked Him for Ope. Thank You, Lord! For everything!
I made it to Ope’s side before the song was over, and he took my hand in his. The rest of our life together was about to begin. All the pain, all the hurt, all the feelings of unworthiness were gone. The renewal of our vows signified our acceptance of each other, our dedication to our holy bond and our promise to treat each other as cherished above all others.
This time, with Jesus in my heart and God’s Holy Spirit as my Helper, I knew I could and would keep my promise.
“And this is how God showed His love to us; While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8)
Many people miss the message of Christ, the message of the Cross. They miss how undeserving they are of God’s love and mercy. And they miss His call to walk in this grace, to walk in this love, to walk in this power.
Christian marriages are falling apart. Marriages between two people who profess to love God, and who once professed to love each other. When one falters, they feel justified to withdraw their love, rather than move with the heart of God to reconcile. They are not long suffering, they are not kind. They keep record of wrongs and seek their own.
We are called to a higher love. A love that hopes all things, believes all things and endures all things (1 Corinthians 13). A love that covers a multitude of sins, and restores the fallen, by bestowing on them the grace God has benevolently bestowed on us.
What God did for Promise, He has done for every single one of you. While you were yet in your sins, while you hated Him, while you were so unworthy – He loved you and gave Himself for you! He did not give you what you deserved, He gave you what He is – LOVE. And He calls you to do the same.
“A new commandment I give to you; As I have loved you, love one another.” (John 13:34)
Read all episodes HERE.