Volume 1, Part 2
Anticipation of seeing a new land with a different people and different culture grew as they boarded the plane. They found themselves seated in a middle row of the giant 747 airplane. This enabled them to talk and ask Charles more questions as they took the long eight hour flight to England where they would switch planes.
"Charles" Juanita began shortly after takeoff "how can you truly love two women at the same time?"
Charles chuckled a bit before beginning his reply. "I love them with the love of the Lord," he explained.
Juanita turned her head toward him with a quizzical look on her face.
Charles continued, "When Americans say they are in love, they mean they have 'fallen . .'" -- he said the word fallen with a hint of negativity in his voice -- "'in love.' You mean by this that you feel, feel, feel" he said the word three times using a different method of emphasis "that you are romantically in love."
He paused again as he looked at Juanita who was seated to his left and George who was seated to her left before turning to look at Aaron who was seated to his right. Thus he gave them all time to let the words he was saying sink in.
"In romantic love" Charles continued "you are continually indoctrinated that it can be only monogamous. If a man loves more than one woman, he is taught that is wrong! You even call it 'cheating.'"
The plane hit some disturbed air causing the plane to rumble a bit in turbulence. After a few seconds the plane settled, and everyone's attention was refocused on Charles.
"I have not fallen in love. I have risen in love," Charles confidently stated.
"I have risen to agape love. This is God's type of love. It is not based on the lust of the flesh or the lust of the eyes or the pride of life, as romantic love often is," Charles explained.
"So," Aaron interrupted, "you're saying that most people begin dating a girl because she's cute or they lust after her body or they know it would give them prestige to be seen with a good looking woman."
There was a pause during which the only sound was that of the hum of the jet engines as each considered the revelation that Aaron had just related.
"Yes!" Charles exclaimed, obviously pleased that Aaron was beginning to see the point that he was attempting to make. "People say" Charles went on,, "I love my house, I love my car, I love my dog, I love my boat, I love my wife. Are they all the same? Don't you love a woman in a different way than you love an inanimate object?" He paused again briefly to let them consider the question (he didn't really expect a response).
"How are we told to love one another in the Bible?" Charles questioned further. "It is with Agape love." He stated flatly. "It is not 'I love you because you are pleasant to my eyes' or 'I love you because I think you will please my lustful desires' or 'I love you because I will get prestige as people know you are related to me.'"
"No!" Charles exclaimed as he went on. "'I love you with God's love because you are a person. God loved you enough to send Jesus to die for you. I love God with all my heart, with all my soul, and with all my mind and with all my strength, therefore I love what God loves.' God loves his people. I love Him, I am continually trying to obey him therefore, I marry whoever he says to marry."
All three of the others were stunned into silence. They of course knew of God's love. They knew they were to obey God; and yet they had never seen or heard of it taken to the point that one would marry, not based on romantic love, but on mere obedience to what God wanted.
"How . . ." Juanita began a question hesitantly, "how do you know you can hear God that clearly?"
"Did not Jesus say" Charles began his answer "My sheep know my voice?"
With that the questions ended for a time as they each settled in to sleep before reaching England. Juanita wondered as she drifted off what Charles' wives would be like. Since he hadn't married for looks, or prestige, maybe they would be grossly ugly, she thought. Her answer was only hours away.
The switch in planes had gone well in England. George had commented to Juanita on Aaron on how efficient the English flight attendants were and their propensity to offer tea rather than coffee. This last leg of the journey into Africa was scheduled to last another seven hours. The seats were tightly crammed together and all the sitting was taking its toll on their backs and bottoms. Still time seemed to pass faster when they talked or slept. So the four talked.
"Charles" Juanita began "I didn't mean to pry but is it true that you were considering marrying that Nigerian girl we heard about?
Charles sighed as he began his answer. "First of all she is no little girl," he explained. "She is thirty five years old. She has a little boy about six who was born out of wedlock, and she is going to school at the University and working and struggling to make ends meet." he paused and bit down on his bottom lip, considering carefully how much he should reveal. "In my culture, there is a tendency to stay within one's own tribe with the nation and it is rare to see someone marry one from another entirely different nation; but God frees us from our own culture and tradition as we go on in Him. I've seen her and talked with her a number of times. I don't know for sure that God would have me marry her. I am still praying and waiting for his command." Charles stopped, considered saying more, and then thought better of it.
"But . . . what about your wives in Kenya?" Juanita questioned unbelievingly. "Wouldn't they be upset to know that you're considering adding yet another wife to your family?"
Charles smiled, and considered how confusing this must be for a person with a Western Society world view. "My wives know" he began shortly "that I am a servant of God and that I submit to Him the same way in which I expect them to submit to me. Completely!"
"Wow! I know that's scriptural," George exclaimed, "but I haven't ever seen any women do it in real practice."
"Well," Charles explained, "I am not saying that my wives are always perfect in obedience, just as I'm sure we men sometimes fall short of perfect obedience; but we should all be striving to be like Christ, who said 'I do all things that please the father.'"
Aaron pulled out his pocket Bible and began flipping through the pages. He finally stopped on a particular page and ran his finger down to the verse he was looking for.
"It says here in Ephesians 5:22-24" he prefaced before reading "'Wives submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church and he is Savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing . . .' we don't really preach this in America." Aaron concluded.
"Why not?" Charles questioned, not that he didn't know the answer, but rather he wanted others to verbalize it.
"I guess if the truth be told" Aaron explained "we're afraid of losing over half the congregation." He had known for a long time the truth of his statement but until now had never had the courage to verbalize it. Now with his wife refusing to come and threatening divorce, he knew he had failed to put sufficient emphasis on verses like this one.
"Yeah" George chimed in, "I think the women like it a lot better when we emphasize verse 21 and 24. Read those, will you Aaron?" he suggested.
"'Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of the Lord.'" Aaron read.
"Women in America emphasize this because women's liberation says they are equal to men and therefore it is a two way street. But that verse is speaking to the brethren in general and not to husbands and wives." Charles explained.
Aaron continued reading verse 25: "'Husbands, love your wives even as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it.'"
"On this passage of Scripture women say it shows that men ought to let women have their way if they love them" George interjected.
"But that is not what it is saying" Charles pointed out. "We need to be tender, loving, caring, providing and protecting, but it doesn't mean that women should rule over us!"
Juanita eased her chair back and sat quietly, she felt -- and was -- out numbered by the men. She wanted to defend her sisters and yet also realized that any attempt to do so would be futile. She would wait to see if all this was just talk or were there women in the world, even in Africa, that would live out what the men were claiming was right.
"We are about to land at a Nairobi International Airport," the voice came out of the speakers in the plane, "Please place your seats in the upright position and stow away your tray tables. And fasten your seat belts. Please remain in your seats with seat belts fastened until the aircraft comes to a complete stop at the terminal and the captain has turned off the seat belt sign."
The standard wording was very familiar to the entire group, all having flown on many occasions before. This however was the first touchdown in Africa for the Americans. After the hustle and bustle to leave the plane, there were immigration lines to go through and then baggage claims and finally customs. Once Charles had cleared the customs and waited on the others in his party, he looked around for his wives.
Two women moved rapidly toward him. One was about 5' 8" tall weighing about 150 lbs. A stout woman yet well proportioned. The other was a diminutive 5'3" approximately 115 lb. lady. They both wore very colorful African dress attire which came down to the ankles. The sandal type shoe had two inch heels and their heads were covered with a beautiful scarf type wrap.
"Welcome home Bwana OKinyi" said the smaller of the two.
"Yes, welcome home Bwana" said the other.
Charles nodded his head to each as they did a type of curtsy bow and then kissed each on both cheeks. He then began making introductions. "This is George and his wife Juanita, and this is Aaron" he began.
"Welcome, brethren" the larger of the two women said.
"Yes, welcome to Africa" said the smaller.
Charles put his arms around the shoulders of the smaller woman first as he introduced her. "This is Rachel my first wife. And this . . ." he continued as he moved to place an arm around the larger woman "is Elizabeth my second wife."
"Hello, glad to meet you" the others in the party responded.
"Bwana, where are the others" Rachel asked as she looked at Charles curiously.
"There were some last minute complications. We'll explain later."
"Elizabeth, would you and Rachel go get the van and bring it up closer so we won't have to carry the bags so far?" Charles asked, although, all present could clearly tell that it was a directive even though placed in the form of a question.
After the African wives began to hustle away, Aaron leaned over towards Charles and asked "What's Bwana mean?"
"It means Lord," came the reply from Charles.
"Lord??" Aaron questioned, being taken aback by the response. Don't you think that's a little blasphemous, letting them call you Lord?"
Charles smiled, "I don't force them. They know it is scriptural and they do it out of respect for me."
"Scriptural?" Aaron mused as he mentally searched the Scripture for a reference. "1Peter 3". George offered. "Sarah called Abraham Lord."
"Right, "Charles said approvingly.
Juanita kept her thoughts to herself. But she was surprised that the women were quite beautiful, not the images that she half way expected.
The van rolled up and they piled as many suit cases as they could get into the back and tied a couple on the roof. The group of six now climbed in the back seat, with the ladies in the back seat, while the men crowded into the front. Charles took the steering wheel and they were off from the airport and through the city of Nairobi.
George and Aaron were amazed that the city was very much like an American city with stores and gas stations and some tall buildings and restaurants and so on. It wasn't at all like the Africa they had pictured from the Tarzan movies.
As Juanita sat in the back with Charles' two wives, she thought of many questions she wanted to ask, but was besieged by questions from them.
"What is America like?" Rachel asked.
"Yes, tell us," Elizabeth added. "Bwana OKinyi has told us some things but tell us from a woman's perspective."
"Well . . ." Juanita coughed as she began "there are many poor people who make less than $20,000 a year."
Rachel and Elizabeth's eyes widened as their mouths dropped open.
Juanita went on. "We are fairly well off since we make several times that but we wouldn't consider ourselves rich."
Rachel could no longer hold her shock and surprise in. She grabbed Juanita's arm to indicate she should say no more until she clarified what she had just said.
"You mean people who make $20,000 are considered poor?" She questioned, not able to believe what she had heard.
"Yes," Juanita answered tentatively, wondering what was so shocking about that.
"Do you know" Elizabeth began "that the average per capita income for a Kenyan is $334?" she asked.
"Well, yes, I can appreciate that $334 a week is not much and believe it or not there are a few people in America that make only that much.
"No!" Rachel exclaimed, uncharacteristically raising her voice a little. "That is $334 a year! Anyone making $334 a week here is a wealthy person.
Now Juanita was shocked. How could people survive on $334 a year? She and George usually spent more than that for dinner at one of their favorite restaurants. This was one shock for Juanita but there were still others to come.
The roads varied from smooth highway driving to rough gravel to places where potholes were so big that to let a tire fall in one would have meant major damage to the vehicle. They had driven for several hours and passed through the village of Nekuru, a place where about several hundred thousand people lived. They now pressed on as the day grew older. Here and there they would stop at a petrol station as gas stations are called in Kenya. At such stops they purchased soda pop or bottled water, mindful that the natural water would likely make the Americans violently ill.
"My wives inform me" Charles announced at one of the stops "that there is a church that is awaiting us in the Awendo district. They wish to greet us on our first day here. This church had expected us at 1:00 p.m. but the roads are worse than expected, and it is already past 1:00 p.m. and there are at least two hours more to drive. There are few petrol stations between here and there. So this may be our last stop until we get there."
"Why don't we just call them and have their greeting wait until tomorrow?" asked Aaron, who felt tired and grubby and was in no mood to meet anyone.
"They have no phone" Charles replied matter of factly.
"Well it's past three. They've probably all gone home by now," George offered.
"Perhaps, but I doubt it," Charles responded. "Kenyan Christians have learned to be very patient."
Juanita realized she was not dressed for church. She had worn jeans and tennis shoes and a T-shirt to travel in. "Give me ten minutes to dig out a dress from the bags and put it on," she begged.
Meanwhile, as they continued on, back in the States a plot was hatching between the remaining wives.
"Hello, Terry" Cheryl almost screamed into the phone. It was almost nine hours earlier in their time zone so Terry was groggy as she answered.
"Hello, uh . . wh . . what time is it . . ." she stammered.
"It's almost six o'clock. I know it's early, but we've got to meet," Cheryl pleaded.
"Oh, OK let's meet at the Coffee shop in one hour" Terry offered.
"I'll be there," Cheryl promised as she hung up the phone.
As they settled in a booth and a waitress brought them both coffee and pastries. Cheryl, whose eyes were swollen and red from crying, began pouring out her heart to her friend Terry.
"It didn't work!" she spat out tearfully. "I told him we weren't going and he said I couldn't control him and he was going anyway. He packed his bags and left. For the past day or so I've been a miserable wreck! O Terry I think I'm losing my marriage and I don't know what to do."
"First, calm down," Terry counseled. "Then let's look at your options," she said as she rolled up her eyes toward the ceiling and then side to side, trying to think of as many as she could. "You can't let this go on," she stated. "You've got to take control."
"How?" Cheryl asked. "He's in Africa! For all I know," Cheryl continued, "he may be picking out some young African Princess to bring back to be my 'co-wife.'" she snarled her nose at the thought as she spat out the words.
"Wait a minute, let me think" Terry commanded as she drew her cup up to her lips and took a long sip of coffee. After a few moments of reflection, she placed her cup on the table and with a gleam in her eyes, she blurted out her answer. "The elders governing board!"
"What?" Cheryl asked, confused.
"We've got to get you to the elders governing board before he gets back," Terry said almost gleefully. "You do what I tell you and we'll have them under complete control. It will be like taking candy from a baby!"
As the van rocked back and forth down the new country road a shell of a church building came into view. There was only one car there and a few children playing outside underneath a nearby tree.
"Well, good," Aaron sighed, "They have long since gone home."
"Let's see." Charles responded knowingly. As they climbed out of the van, an elderly gentleman came out of the unfinished structure to greet them.
"Hello, Brother Charles!" he began. "Are these our American guests?"
"Yes. . . " Charles began. The elderly man interrupted. "I'll let you introduce them to us all. We've been waiting and praying for the past four hours."
The American trio could hardly believe their ears. Waiting and praying in 90 degree weather with no air conditioning was unheard of in the States. As they entered the building they were ushered to seats of prominence in front of the congregation of over 100 people.
"Where are their cars?" Aaron whispered to Charles, who was sitting on his right.
"They don't have cars" Charles whispered back. "Most of them probably walked 5-10 miles to get here" he revealed.
Aaron's mouth went dry. He stared out blankly at the congregation as he considered what he would possibly say to an audience of Christian believers who were obviously his superiors spiritually.
Juanita had quickly slipped into her blue skirted suit at the "petrol station" two hours before. She had thought it would be more than adequate for meeting in the country but she was now embarrassed. The skirt which came down to her knees while standing rose up and exposed her knees and lower thighs while sitting. In America she would have been fine since many women wore skirts of similar length or shorter, but here in Kenya -- near the equator no less -- almost every woman wore a dress that came down to her ankles. By comparison Juanita felt like an exposed harlot and wished the whole day could be over and forgotten.
After two hours of welcomes and songs and introductions, the weary guests were released to continue their journey to Charles Okinyi's compound.
It was dark as the van finally pulled to a stop just outside the gate of the Okinyi compound. A few beeps on the horn brought a twelve year old boy wearing a T-shirt, shorts and sandals to open the gate. As the van pulled in toward the larger house which stood directly facing the gate which was some 100 feet or so beyond it, children of various ages came streaming out from the two houses which stood on either side.
"Welcome home father," they cried out as they beat on the sides of the van as it slowly rolled to a halt. Charles turned from the driver's seat and spoke something to his wives in Luo. The American trio could make out that it was some type of directive, since both Rachel and Elizabeth quickly climbed out of the van and began to speak in Luo. The children then immediately lined up in rows facing each other. The largest stood closest to the front of the van and the smallest on either side was near the front door of the big house.
Rachel and Elizabeth took their places behind each line indicating which were their children by the common father, Charles Okinyi. As Charles passed each child, he or she would bow as they shook the visitors' hands, while crossing the left hand over to the right forearm. Charles later explained that this was a sign of respect.
Charles' larger home faced the east and the rising sun. Rachel's house was then to his right on the south side facing north and Elizabeth's house was on the left, facing Rachel's house to the south. The group moved past the porch and into the medium sized living room. Just beyond that was a dining room. Off to the left was a kitchen area. And alongside the kitchen area were two bedrooms, one slightly larger than the other.
"May I use the restroom?" Juanita asked.
"Surely, Mrs. Brandon," Elizabeth replied. "Just follow me."
"Hey," Juanita objected, "Let's have none of this Mrs. stuff." As she followed Elizabeth out the side door of the kitchen. Although passage through the kitchen was quick she noticed that it seemed quite quaint, even ancient. She'd soon found out how ancient but another shock greeted her first. They marched several yards through a back yard before coming to the outhouse. Juanita stood in shock and amazement for a moment. "An outhouse" she thought. "You mean you don't even have running water and a decent toilet?" she blurted out.
"I . . . I . . . I'm sorry ma'am," Elizabeth began as she tried to hide her shock and embarrassment provoked by her visitor's rudeness. "Perhaps we can find a running water toilet at a petrol station, but the nearest village is two hours away."
"Uh . . no . ." Juanita reluctantly stated as she wrinkled her nose at the stench that greeted her at the wooden door.
As Juanita returned toward the kitchen a few minutes later her suspicions of Charles only having a wood burning stove to cook on were confirmed.
"Are you alright, ma'am?" Rachel asked.
"Yes, I'm fine" Juanita responded as she was escorted back to the living room where Aaron and George were seated.
"May I get you a Fanta to drink?" Rachel asked.
"Fanta? What's a Fanta?" Juanita questioned.
"Sorry, ma'am -- I mean a soda pop."
"Yes, that would be fine. Could you put lots of ice in glass?" Juanita requested.
"Sorry, ma'am," Rachel said sheepishly, "no ice."
Juanita turned to look at Charles (who was seated with the men) with a quizzical look on her face as if to ask without words why there was no ice after such a long hot drive.
"We don't have a refrigerator because we don't have electricity in this part of the country," Charles explained.
Juanita could hardly believe her ears. She had envisioned this great Africa trip which would be a combination of an African Safari and a vacation with a little preaching thrown in, but what she was getting was like a time machine trip back to the eighteenth or early nineteenth century, as they were approaching the twenty first century!
Juanita's eyes began to tear as she uttered a muffled "OK." Rachel and Elizabeth noticed Juanita's discomfort, but neither said anything.
An hour later dinner had been prepared. Rachel escorted Juanita into the kitchen where there was a wash pan with warm water for her to wash her hands. Juanita returned to the living room just in time to see Elizabeth -- who had a towel over her left arm and a small wash basin in her left hand -- pouring hot water out of a kettle held in her right hand onto the hands of each of the men. Once again Juanita was hurt as she experienced another culture shock.
Dinner consisted of chicken, rice, greens, and a special bread that was sort of like a soft taco shell and tea. Juanita sat and ate quietly while the men sat and talked jovially.
"Where are the ladies?" Juanita finally asked, being very curious as to why they hadn't joined them for dinner.
"They're eating in the kitchen," Charles explained.
"Oh! They aren't good enough?" Juanita blew up "to eat with the great lord Okinyi?" she yelled sarcastically as she threw her cloth napkin on the table and ran out of the dining room through the living room and out the front door.
Bam! The screen door slammed behind her as she made her exit. George started to rise to go after her but Charles indicated he shouldn't, while he spoke something in Luo in a voice loud enough for his wives (who were still in the kitchen) to hear him.
Both wives quickly moved through the front door to speak to Juanita. Juanita's outburst only displayed a small amount of the emotion she was feeling. The next one would be far worse.
Meanwhile, back in good ole U.S.A., Terry had hatched her plot and rehearsed it thoroughly with Cheryl. At 9:35 am Cheryl was at Mr. Becker's office. Mr. Becker was part owner of one of the local malls and was considered a very wealthy man by standards in his community. In addition, he served as chairman of Aaron & Cheryl's governing elders board for the church.
His large, spacious office had plush chairs, a huge desk, and a scenic view of the city through large picture windows. Terry had helped Cheryl pick out the exact outfit she was wearing, a beige shirt with a matching beige v-neck sleeveless stretch sweater blouse and a pink sweater that draped over her shoulders, and matching beige three inch heels. Her hair had been freshly washed and styled and she wore just enough makeup to bring out her beauty but not enough to look gaudy, and with just enough perfume to be smelled about three feet away.
She strode into the office cheerily reaching out her hand to warmly shake Mr. Becker's hand. "Good morning, Mr. Becker," she sang out with a pleasant smile on her face. "And how are you today?"
"I'm fine," the portly middle aged businessman responded. "This is a pleasant surprise," he said as he arose from the plush executive chair from behind his desk. "I thought you were supposed to be in Africa this week." he stated with a puzzled look on his face.
"Yes," Cheryl sighed as she sat down in a chair facing the desk. She dropped her head, crossed her legs and folded her arms as she paused and changed to a sullen look of worry and concern. Her knee length skirt rode up slightly to show a peek of thigh covered with the silky smooth nylon stocking that was two shades darker than her own skin tone. Mr. Becker almost involuntarily leaned forward to enjoy the view, just as Terry had planned he would.
Cheryl, who had strategically placed her handbag on the floor near her feet, then bent over to pull out a tissue as her eyes watered. As she did this, the v-neck revealed just the right amount of cleavage for the wealthy, prominent church leader's parousal. Mr. Becker caught himself staring and quickly looked away -- as he asked "Well, what's wrong? What happened?"
"I . . . I . . ." Cheryl stuttered slightly "We . . . are having a problem" she said whispering as she wiped a tear from her eye.
"Who? You and Aaron?" He questioned, not believing this could be true of the pastor and his wife who had always seemed like the perfect couple.
Cheryl stood up abruptly and glided several steps away from the desk. With her back to him, she stood with her heels together. Her skirt was tight enough to show the form of her hips and yet not so tight as to be considered risqué. She had slipped off the pink sweater and placed it on the back of her chair.
Standing perfectly erect he was given a glimpse of her form before she lowered her head and began to sob into the tissue she was holding. Being the conservative old fashioned gentleman that he was, Mr. Becker had stood as she did. His mother had trained him well nearly a half century ago, saying "When a lady is in a room standing, then so are you." A certain rage began to build in him. How dare anyone hurt this vision of loveliness.
"Now, now dear," he said out loud. "Tell me about it."
Cheryl now moved to one of the giant picture windows and as she looked out between sobs she told the story of how Aaron was being influenced by Charles Okinyi, a bigamist. She then paused, turned her head slowly, and then ran to him flinging her arms around his neck and placed her head on his shoulder as she heaved sobs and tears that freely flowed down her face.
Mr. Becker was surprised by the sudden move but patted her on the back reassuringly, secretly enjoying the feel of her breasts against his chest. He caught himself thinking 'what if . . .' as he sniffed the scent of her perfume. Then he quickly rejected the thought.
Although he and his wife had lost all passion years ago, he knew he couldn't afford to divorce her because he'd lose millions, and it would destroy his reputation in the Christian community. His wife who enjoyed spending his money had allowed her sexual duties to deteriorate to a once a week perfunctory ritual. It had become a chore that she obviously wanted to finish and get out of the way as quickly as possible. Mr. Becker had accepted a long time ago that this was his cross to bear and yet had to keep rebuking lustful thoughts about Cheryl.
In his reflection, he hadn't been listening and awakened to hear Cheryl saying "After a divorce what would I do?"
"Uh . . would you like a job working here?" he offered.
"Well, I don't know about that," she replied. "I have been sort of like the unofficial assistant pastor. I help with the women's auxiliary, I've taught the women's Bible class, I think I could preach a pretty good sermon, don't you, Mr. Becker?"
"Uh well, yeah, sure, but what's this Mr. Becker stuff, honey you just call me John."
Well . . John," she said as she pushed away and walked a couple of steps before asking the next question. "I know we set up different elders to speak the four Sundays Aaron and I would be away, but do you think I could give a sort of trial sermon on one of those Sundays?" she cooed. She turned slightly toward him again and as she batted her eyes, she added "Pleeese."
"Well, sure . . . I mean I'll have to check with the board but I don't see why not," he began to respond.
"Oh, thanks Mr. Becker," she said excitedly, flashing him a smile as she moved toward the door. Then she turned just before going out. "Shall I check back in with you on Tuesday about it?" she asked.
"Uh, yes, come back in on Tuesday and we'll talk," he responded even as he thought a phone call would be good enough but he'd much rather see her in person.
"What!" Juanita was startled awake by the sound of a rooster crowing.
"What time is it?" George asked sleepily.
George and Juanita had been given Charles' bedroom to sleep in, while Aaron had slept in the living room on a couch.
"It's six a.m. in the morning," Juanita answered.
"Sounds like I hear someone in the kitchen, maybe your ought to offer to help out," George suggested.
"Help out? Help out?" Juanita repeated herself. "How am I going to help out with no refrigerator, no electric stove, no gas stove and no microwave! How could I possibly help out?" she questioned.
"Well . . uh . . maybe you could gather some sticks or help make a fire" George chuckled.
"Umph" Juanita grunted. "What do you think I am, a girl scout?"
"Well, let's get up, take a shower and . . ." George started before being interrupted.
"Shower, George?" Juanita said mockingly. "What makes you think he's got a shower?
"O, come on" George said as he sat up in bed. "He's got to have a shower."
Throwing on her bath robe and house slippers Juanita went from the bedroom to the kitchen where she saw Elizabeth busily stoking the wood stove with wood. There was an old fashioned metal kettle on one side in which Juanita guessed was water heating up.
"You obviously don't have a shower, do you?" Juanita asked drearily.
"No ma'am" Elizabeth responded "but I can show you how to wash. You put the hot water from the kettle in this big cup and throw it over your back."
"What?!" Juanita reacted. "That's disgusting!"
"Sorry ma'am" Elizabeth said as she cast her eyes down.
"Where's Charles anyway?" Juanita questioned further in an irritated voice.
"Bwana Okinyi is sleeping in with Sistah Rachel this morning at her house." Elizabeth shared matter of factly.
"Doesn't that bother you?" Juanita interrogated with a snarl on her face.
"No, ma'am" came the reply "tonight he will spend with me."
"How can you share a man like that?" Juanita questioned further.
"Better to share a good man like Bwana Okinyi than to have a bad man all to myself." Elizabeth said.
"Seems so . . so . . unclean . . and ungodly if you ask me," Juanita said as she walked toward a window which had no glass pane but only an overhanging door to keep the rain out, and was used only when necessary.
Elizabeth remained silent and continued busying herself with breakfast preparations.
"Excuse me, ma'am" she said presently. "I must get eggs from the hen house. Would you like to come?"
"I might as well," came the response. As they walked through the back yard toward the hen house they passed through chickens in the yard, some of whom plucked at Juanita's bare toes that were exposed by the thong type house slippers.
"Hey! Ouch! -- get away from me!" she cried out.
"Shoo, go away" Elizabeth said as she moved the chickens away. Juanita thought she caught a glimpse of a smirk on this black woman's face. She wondered if Elizabeth was enjoying seeing the misery she was experiencing.
Two hours after breakfast was finished and Elizabeth began to heat more water to wash the dishes, while the American trio wandered around the front yard
of the compound. As Aaron and George stood near the front gate admiring the beauty of the landscape around them, they saw Charles and Rachel walking with their arms around each other's waists coming down the dirt and gravel road. They looked to be the ideal picture of a couple in love.
"Good morning, my friends" Charles called out as he waved.
"Good morning," the pair called back in unison.
As they drew closer, Juanita joined the men and also saw the spectacle of Charles showing affection to his first wife. It came to her that this was the first time she'd ever seen them show that type of open display of caring.
"Come, sistah," Elizabeth called out to Rachel as the pair entered the gate. "Help me catch a chicken so we can cook it for lunch. Would you like to help ma'am, or just watch?" she asked Juanita.
"You're going to kill a chicken?" Juanita cringed. "OOOO I don't know that I care to help OR watch."
Charles flashed his two wives a knowing grin before they hustled off to prepare for lunch.
"Hey guys" Charles said, turning to the men. "Let's jump in the van, drive to the nearest village, and maybe do some preaching."
"Preaching?" Aaron questioned.
"Yeah, street preaching." Charles clarified. "You mean just stand out one the corner and start preaching?" George asked.
"Yeah," Charles said. "This is a missionary journey for you guys, isn't it?"
After lunch Rachel and Elizabeth gave Juanita a tour of their homes. They were small and modest. Each had only two bedrooms and a sitting room. The large bedroom had a regular sized bed where Charles would join this particular wife on her night; and a smaller bedroom that had mattresses on the floor where all the children slept together.
Juanita was already counting the days till she could be back to the normal luxuries of life (of course she counted them as necessities).
"O my" she sighed. "I wish I hadn't come to this back in the woods throwback to pioneer days."
"Is there something we can do to make you more comfortable, ma'am" Rachel offered.
"Would you please stop calling me ma'am?!" Juanita blurted out.
"I wish Charles had told us the truth in the beginning, maybe I wouldn't be in this mess" she said half to herself and half to the wives.
"O Kay, Wah knee dah" Elizabeth strongly, her eyes ablaze.
Juanita looked up shocked to see the woman who acted so demurely and subserviently all of the sudden address her so personally in such an angry way. And the accent took off just enough to make it difficult to know if she was pronouncing it incorrectly on purpose or not.
"That's enough!" Elizabeth continued.
"Sistah, please stop it!" Rachel said to her co-wife.
"No!" Elizabeth continued. "Why should we allow her to come here and insult our husband like that, in our own homes?"
"Sistah, please, she is our guest," Rachel pleaded.
"Yeah!" Elizabeth spat out as she stepped forward toward Juanita with clenched fists. "A guest with no manners, no respect, and no sense of proper decency."
Rachel stepped in front of her sister wife and between the two women. She faced Elizabeth and grabbed her by the upper arms near the shoulders.
"Bwana Okinyi will not be pleased," Rachel reasoned.
"What?! What is this Lord Okinyi stuff anyway," Juanita reacted. "I don't have to take this!"
Rachel turned her head to look at Juanita as she heard that remark, but Juanita continued her own harangue now.
"I don't have to wait around and watch two uneducated country bumpkins dolt over some egocentric bigamist!"
"Uneducated? Uneducated? Why you arrogant American wench! What makes you think we're uneducated? I have a master's degree in agriculture, and Rachel has a doctor's degree in linguistics from the University of Nairobi. She speaks Lua, Swahili, English, French, and German."
Elizabeth now had her feet spread about a shoulder length apart, hands on her hips. She cocked her head slightly to the right before asking "And how many advanced degrees do you have, Wah knee dah?"
Juanita was taken aback. Charles' wives never indicated that they had such a background. She was temporarily stunned into silence, so Elizabeth continued.
"Tell us, dear American lady," her voice now softened but mocking, "why is it that you Americans murder a million and a half unborn babies every year?"
"Why is it that your President allows sodomites into the military?
"And why is it that your American television broadcasts lewd lascivious dancing and pornography for all to see?"
"Why does your film industry promote fornication?"
"And why do your courts promote divorce after divorce?"
"You people do all these things that the Bible calls abominations, and then you have the nerve, the unmitigated gall, to come here and make aspersions at us who are living in a biblically acceptable marriage arrangement?"
"I . . . uh . . . I . . . uh . . ." Juanita stammered.
"Mama, come quickly! Susana has fallen out of the fig tree!" One of the boys yelled as he reached the house breathlessly.
Both women were out of the door in a flash to see what degree of injury had befallen Rachel's daughter.
Fortunately, the child had only gotten the wind knocked out of her and a few scratches. However, the incident served to extricate Juanita from a very awkward situation.
Juanita had been shocked by the wives' dedication to Charles, their respect for him, and numerous other things, and yet this strange and different culture had more shocks to come.
Days had gone by; Tuesday came and Mr. Becker found himself eagerly looking forward to Cheryl's return visit. The time for her 10:30 appointment came and went. Mr. Becker looked nervously at his watch, wondering if he would miss out on seeing his vision of loveliness today.
Finally at 10:45, his secretary announced over the intercom that Mrs. Cooper was there to see him.
"Send her in immediately," he ordered. Cheryl came in almost bouncing and bubbly. She scurried over to Mr. Becker and surprised him with a hug and a kiss on the cheek.
"What's that for?" Mr. Becker asked with a big grin on his face.
"For being a good man and looking out for me," she answered. "Did you talk to the board of elders?"
"Yes . . . we . . . uh . . . they want to hear what Aaron has to say before taking any final action but they did agree to let you have a Sunday with a trial sermon."
"Great!" Cheryl said excitedly as she clapped her hands together like a little girl. Wearing a navy blue skirted suit and a white blouse with black hose and three inch heels, she glided over to the big picture window that looked out. Being on the eighth floor, the office had an overview of much of the city. Mr. Becker, still standing, watched her as she moved and admired her youth, vitality and gracefulness. He didn't know that every move she made and every item she wore down to the sweet scented perfume was planned out ahead of time by Cheryl's friend Terry.
Cheryl stood on her tip toes and turned her head as if to get a view of something just barely out of sight. Terry had known that this would emphasize the curve in her calves and that Mr. Becker would be watching. She dropped a pen from her hand and bent over from the waist to pick it up. She knew full well that a lady should stoop to pick up an item, but Terry had pointed out to her that almost any man enjoyed the view of a woman bending over in high heels more than one stooping.
"You have such a beautiful view from up here!" Cheryl exclaimed.
"If you think that's something you should see it from 10,000 feet," Mr. Becker suggested.
"You mean . ." Cheryl started " . . . from a plane?" she said as she turned around with a smile on her face.
"No, I mean from my plane," Mr. Becker said as he raised his chest a little and sucked in his stomach.
"I have a twin engine Cessna that I fly around in mostly for fun but also for business at times."
"Oh, really? Would you take me for a ride?" she asked in a cooing voice.
"I suppose I could arrange it," he said with a smile and a wink.
" . . . Mrs. Becker wouldn't mind, would she?" Cheryl asked coyly.
"This is business," Mr. Becker said. "This is your first flying lesson, and I am going to charge you. Mrs. Becker never minds me doing business and earning money."
"Oh . . . I see . . ." Cheryl responded disappointedly. "How much will it cost me?"
"One dollar," came the response.
"Only one dollar?" Cheryl said gleefully. "When can we go?"
"Will tomorrow be OK? Or will the next day be better?" he asked.
"Let's go tomorrow afternoon, if it's OK with you," she responded.
"It's set, then. My driver will pick you up at three, and bring you to the airfield," Mr. Becker stated.
Cheryl rushed over and kissed him quickly on the cheek, and gleefully scampered out of the office. Mr. Becker smiled as he enjoyed the lingering aroma of her perfume. He rationalized that he was just helping out a lady in distress. Still, he hoped his wife wouldn't find out.
Time passed and Aaron preached at the church. Although everyone was attentive, he felt as thought he was just repeating sermons that he had preached before but to a people that really didn't need to hear them. The people had more fruit in their lives, they were disciplined and certainly had far greater faith than almost any of his congregation back home.
The day after the big blow up, Elizabeth apologized to Juanita. A few days later they became horseback riding buddies, something Juanita hadn't done since she was a teenager visiting her granddad's farm. Yes, she was adjusting and even learned to make fire in the cast iron cooking stove. Still, it was difficult for her to watch the slaughter of some animal or fowl, only to be eating its flesh a few hours later.
The real test of her Christian love was yet to come.
Pastor Ondiek, who led the church where Charles and his families were members, called George and Juanita aside after an evening service.
"Come, my American Brethren," he began. "Let's go for a walk."
"Sure," George replied as he and Juanita fell into step along with him.
"We have a young lady who has been saving for three years to have enough money to travel to America and study at an American Institution. She is twenty five now but wants to complete her degree there."
"Yes," George nodded as they continued to walk out into a cow pasture.
"We would like you to act as her hosts while she is there." Pastor Ondiek, who was an older man in his sixties, paused and waited for a response.
"George," Juanita spoke up. "I don't know if having a twenty year old woman come and live with us is a good idea."
Before George could reply, the older gentleman moved to Juanita's side and put his arms around her shoulders. "Tell me, my child, why would this be a concern," he said.
"Well frankly, Pastor," Juanita stated "as you know, George has been hanging around Charles Okinyi who has two wives and I don't know if I want my husband to be tempted to do the same thing."
"Oh I see." The Pastor remarked. "We have several men in our congregation who have a plurality of wives. One even has four wives."
As they continued to walk, George decided to stay out of it and just listen. The older man removed his arm from her shoulders as he began to gesture with his hands. "Do you love God with all your heart, daughter?"
"Yes, of course!" Juanita said with a hint of insult in her voice.
"Do you love your neighbor as yourself?" He continued to question.
"Y. . . yes," Juanita said slowly, fearing she might be led into a trap.
"If the sister was cold and needed a coat would you lend her one?"
"Yes, sure" Juanita said sharply. Realizing now where he was headed, she thought she'd eat him to the punch.
"But I don't want to share my husband."
"Why?" the Pastor asked simply.
"Because he's mine. Let her find her own husband.," Juanita retorted.
"We're not saying this young lady would ever become a wife of your husband," he cautioned. "However," he continued, "Are you aware that there are more Christian women than men?"
"Yes, that's probably true," she replied.
"And you know," he went on, "that the Bible says be ye not unequally yoked with unbelievers."
"Well now, would you condemn all those extra single sisters in Christ to never being loved by a man? To never have children, to do without the provision and protection a man can provide?"
Juanita paused. She thought, 'If I say yes I'll seem cold hearted, and if I say no I'll be saying it's OK for George to have another wife.' Finally after a long pause and several steps she said, "I know what the answer should be, but I don't know if I can handle it."
"Good," the Pastor announced. "You are making progress."
"I am?" she queried.
"Yes -- when you admit you are unable to handle something you give God a chance to supply His grace in the situation. Does not the Scripture say, 'My grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.'"
They turned around and started back toward the half finished church building.
As they drew near the Pastor announced, "I'll send her to Okinyi's compound tomorrow so you can meet her."
Cheryl climbed in Terry's vehicle and announced excitedly "I'm going flying!" as she beamed.
"What!?" Terry exclaimed. "What did he say and when are you going?" she asked before continuing. "Just give me a blow by blow description of everything that happened."
Cheryl began her rendition of the morning's events, only to be stopped every few moments with a question from Terry.
"Was he watching when you bent over to pick the pen up? Did you make the drop of the pen look accidental like I said?"
As Terry drove and listened, a sly grin crossed her face. "Am I the master manipulator of men or not?" she asked triumphantly.
"Well" Cheryl began her reply "I guess when it comes to men you do know how to take control."
"He's falling for you," Terry stated confidently.
"Well, wait a minute" Cheryl protested, "I don't want him to fall too far. I only want him to back me and persuade the rest of the board of elders to back me, if Aaron comes back talking crazy. Then if they fire him as pastor, they'll hire me!" she explained.
"I know all that," Terry said. "But if you've got the chance, why not go for the brass ring! Or I should say diamond ring," she corrected herself.
"Now Terry," Cheryl protested again, "before you get those wheels in your head turning, I want to say, I don't want to be the cause of breaking up Mr. Becker's marriage."
"Aw, come on," Terry pleaded. "The old goat probably doesn't get any more than once a month and he might give half his fortune away to have a sweet young thing like you."
"Terry!" Cheryl stated her name firmly, indicating she shouldn't go on. "Oh, alright, but now I almost wish I had played him myself instead of teaching you some of my best tricks."
A long black stretch limousine pulled in to Cheryl's driveway at the appointed time. Before the driver could ring the bell at the front door Cheryl came bouncing out wide eyed, wearing a tight pair of jeans and a similarly fitted sweater and tennis shoes. The driver opened the right rear passenger door for her and she hopped in gleefully.
The last time she'd ridden in a limo was after her wedding some eight years previously. That one was only rented for the day, but this one was completely owned by Mr. Becker himself. As she began to look around the luxurious passenger compartment, she was startled to find she was not alone. "Good morning, Mrs. Cooper" Mr. Becker greeted her.
"Why Mr. Becker," Cheryl started, "when you said you'd send a car, I had no idea that you would be in it."
"Does my presence bother you?" he asked.
"Well no, she cooed "I sometimes like surprises" she said as she tilted her head and looked up from half closed eyes looking as seductive as possible. She couldn't believe herself. She had told Terry she didn't want to destroy the man's marriage and yet here she was playing seductive games.
There was something very appealing about Mr. Becker, although it was difficult to figure out what it was. It couldn't be just that he was very, very rich, she thought. She wasn't that type of woman, was she? While Mr. Becker offered Cheryl a choice of Champagne or Gingerale, neither of them knew that Terry was following and taking pictures every step of the way.
Tabitha, the young lady the old Pastor had recommended as a house guest for George and Juanita, appeared at the front gate of the Okinyi compound promptly at 9:00 am. After the introductions were made they sat in the living room of the big house to get acquainted.
"I would be most appreciative if you would allow me to come to America and live with you in your house while I attend the University there," Tabitha began. "I will cook, and clean, wash clothes, wash dishes and do all the household chores," she continued.
"Whoa! wait a minute." Juanita interrupted her.
"Yes, ma'am," Tabitha responded.
"Stop it, just stop it" Juanita said dramatically. "Don't call me ma'am."
Tabitha rocked back in her seat, eyes wide as if frightened. "Why . . . I am sorry, Mrs. Bowman, I in no way meant to offend you," Tabitha said apologetically.
"Wait, stop," Juanita sighed. "Just hold it! Please don't say anything for a moment."
Tabitha stiffened but remained silent.
"You Africans are always bowing and scraping, treating us Americans like we are kings and queens or something. I know now that it's part of your culture to show respect to men and older women, but by gosh, I'm only two years older than you. Can't you just talk to me like another person?" Juanita stated simply.
"Yes, Mrs. Bowman," Tabitha started again.
"No!" Juanita snapped. "Call me Juanita, please."
"Yes . . . Wah-knee-dah," Tabitha said, sounding it out with the same type of accent that Elizabeth had some days ago.
Juanita looked up and down at Tabitha, a beautiful young lady who was probably about 5'4" tall, which was only an inch shorter than herself, although she weighed maybe five pounds less than her 125 lbs. Tabitha was garbed in a traditional long colorful African dress which came down to her ankles and a complementing head dress that many African women wore.
I've got an idea," Juanita announced. "Let's go horseback riding."
"Pardon me, ma . . . I mean, Wah Knee Dah," Tabitha said, somewhat shocked at the suggestion.
"You're about my size" Juanita went on "I'll get you a pair of jeans and a T-shirt. We'll saddle up a couple of Charles' horses and go for a ride."
"But . . . I . . ." Tabitha stuttered.
"You do know how to ride a horse, don't you?" Juanita asked.
"Sure . . . but . . ." Tabitha said before she was cut off again.
"Look girl. I don't need a slave or a servant at my house, I've got an electric stove, a microwave oven, an automatic dishwasher and half the stuff I cook comes prepared to pop in the oven from the supermarket. But if you want to live with us, I've got to get to know you and be relaxed around you," she announced. "Come on, let me get you something to change into," she directed.
About an hour later they came back riding their horses at a gallop. It appeared to George that they were racing each other. As he stood at the front fence watching them approach and hearing the clip clop of the horses hooves on the gravel and dirt road, he wondered what life would be like with another female in his house.
As the two reached the front gate they pulled back on the reigns and stopped the two horses a few yards past George. Turning the horses around, Juanita waved at George cheerily.
"We had a great talk and a great ride," she stated happily. "Here," she said 99
as she sprang from her saddle and landed with both feet on the ground at the same time. "Why don't you ride with her for an hour or so and talk." She said as she held out the reins of her horse. "I think she'll make a great guest but I know you'll make the final decision."
George was shocked. He couldn't believe his ears. Was this his wife? Was this his beloved Juanita inviting him to go off and be alone with another woman? He hesitantly took the reins, climbed on the horse, and then looked deeply into his wife's eyes as he said, "Thanks, hon, I love you."
With that he kicked the horse with his heels and the two were off.
"Juanita," someone called her name. She turned, surprised to see Rachel behind her smiling.
"Hey, you pronounced my name correctly. I didn't think a Kenyan could do that."
"I've been practicing," Rachel said sheepishly. "Is my white American sister growing?" Rachel asked.
"What do you mean?" Juanita queried with a furrowed brow.
"Are you coming to the point where you can allow your husband to love another woman and not be jealous?" Rachel clarified.
Juanita dropped her jaw and bit her lower lip. She paused for a long while as they walked together toward the front porch. She didn't really think that George would be attracted to a black woman, so it probably wasn't much of a test anyway. But she didn't want to say that to Rachel. Finally she spoke. "Let's just say I'm not ready for graduation in this area yet, but I am trying to make progress."
Juanita may not have thought this was a real test but what she didn't know was that a real test with a white American woman was soon to come. Juanita also didn't understand how much George was growing spiritually. His decisions were being made less and less on what he wanted and more and more on what God wanted. For that reason, there would also be a black woman who could be a real test in Juanita's life.
As time marched on Kyle and Terry took their weeks visit to Hawaii where Terry took plenty of vacation pictures and yet remembered to time their return to be just previous to the African Missionary Trip return. Meanwhile Aaron found his messages to the Africans leaning more and more toward telling them to preserve the good things they had and to avoid the contaminations of the West.
Aaron and George often found themselves reflecting on life together. "You know, Aaron," George began "It's kinda nice to get away from all the hustle and bustle of the city."
"Yes, I know what you mean," Aaron replied. "We have immense wealth compared to most of these people and yet they seem to have an inner peace that is lacking in most Americans."
"Yes," George jumped in. "And their praise and worship is so, so sincere. I mean every member is into worshipping God. It's not like in the States where I think half our church is just listening to Juanita and me sing and play, as if they were enjoying a concert."
There was a moment of silence as they both reflected on what had been said. After a while George spoke again.
"The love" he said. "They have genuine love one for another."
"I know what you mean," Aaron said slowly. "They don't just say I love you. They really, really show it."
"Hey, are you and Juanita going to let Tabitha stay with you guys while she goes to the University?" Aaron asked.
"Yeah, sure." George replied. "With a home as big as we have she could hardly be in the way, and besides she seems somewhat independent so I don't think she'll be much of a burden."
"You don't think Juanita will be jealous of a good looking woman running around the house?" Aaron asked with a wink.
"No, I don't think Tabitha is any threat to her. Besides to marry a Kenyan woman there are all types of dowries, Bride prices and relatives to consider. I don't hear God saying he wants me going through all of that." George answered.
Indirectly Tabitha would indicate a change in their lives in a way that no one suspected.
Juanita had become good friends with Elizabeth and Rachel, by the time they had packed up and were ready to go. Knowing she would miss her new friends she wanted to say something special to each.
"Rachel," she began as they stood outside the airport before going inside, "I've seen more love, graciousness and honor of a husband from you than any wife I've ever met." Her eyes began to tear a little as she went on. "If I ever find myself in your type of situation I pray that I can be half the Christian woman you are."
Then she turned to Elizabeth and beamed a big smile. "You taught me how stuck up and arrogant and presumptuous we Americans can be. For that I will never forget you." she chuckled.
She hugged each of the wives of Charles Okinyi and then quickly grabbed her bags and headed into the airport so they wouldn't see the tears stream down her face. She knew her words had been inadequate. Those two women had taught her more about Christian love than years of attending church. She had learned the right words but they showed it in action.
The flight home was long and boring, cramped and tedious, but the five (Tabitha included) talked in between sleeping. The U.S. trio had learned a great deal.
"Most Christian missionaries from the United States need to forget about going to teach Kenyan Christians; they have a lot to learn from them," Aaron stated.
"You're right about that," George agreed. "Most American Christians are far outranked in love for God and devotion to him as well as caring for one's fellow man."
Then Juanita jumped in. "Another thing I think I've learned as I've reflected on it, is that we in America and the West are so thoroughly indoctrinated in the monogamy only mode that anything else seems weird and crazy. We are brainwashed from childhood by stories like Cinderella and Snow White and later Romeo and Juliet that there is one handsome prince for every beautiful young princess. This myth is furthered by a constant diet of television programs, movies, romance novels, magazines, books, the media and friends, relatives, mom and pop and you name it." She paused a moment to let the others reflect on her words.
"In our culture," she went on, "We almost worship monogamous romance." She turned to look at the others to see if they were still listening.
"So anyone that dares violate the monogamy only standard in considered lower than scum. In a way it's considered worse than rape or murder. And women are so well indoctrinated that if her man considers caring about another woman, she feels hurt and betrayed. Her self esteem is lowered because she feels she was unable keep her man happy with only her. She then gives in to depression. This is followed by anger, even rage. She wants to kill the man, or at least divorce him."
"Doesn't that show," Aaron jumped in, "that the whole 'monogamy only' system is straight out of the pit of hell?" he asked. "A woman would rather divorce, something the Bible speaks against, rather than love enough to share the man, which is something the Bible is very much in favor of."
"Yes," Juanita confirmed. "Well said, you took the words right out of my mouth."
"Well, not everyone is going to want more than one wife," George joined in. "But we must not be so critical of those that do."
"Not critical?" Juanita questioned. "You know, before we came I never would have thought I'd be saying this, but I've never seen a more loving husband and father than Charles, or more respectful and devoted wives than Rachel and Elizabeth, not to mention the degree of discipline and respect the children show to their father.
We should not only be not critical, we need to warmly embrace them with Christian love that they'll rarely find anywhere else!" she concluded.
Tabitha lowered her head and smiled, being pleased that her countrymen had left such a favorable impression.
Charles leaned his chair back and closed his eyes, satisfied that the three had learned what he had hoped they would.
"Cheryl, this is Terry," she said as she spoke into her cell phone as she paced though her home.
"Hi Terry," came the response from the other end of the line. "You guys are back from Hawaii already?" she asked.
"Yeah, it was lovely, I'll have to tell you all about it. When is Aaron coming in?" Terry asked.
"It should be tonight," Cheryl replied. "But you have a copy of the original schedule, don't you?"
"Oh yeah, I had just forgotten." She lied. "You know how to play it when he gets in, don't you?" Terry continued.
"Well," Cheryl began, "I know you think I should give him the cold shoulder, but I do miss him, and I was hoping we could just make up and forget what's happened."
"What!?" Terry almost screamed into the phone. "Girl, he hurt you, he walked out on you and almost as much as said he was considering another wife!"
"Yeah, but . . . maybe . . ." Cheryl began again before being interrupted.
"Yeah, but nothing" Terry said firmly. "If you let him get away with this, he'll always treat you like trash."
"Umm . . I don't know . . ." Cheryl started again before Terry continued.
"You give him the cold shoulder, then hide all the food in the house in the guest room closet. Don't cook him anything. Then tell him if he wants food in the house he'll need to get it himself!"
"Well . . ." Cheryl began again.
"Well nothing!" Terry insisted. "Have I proven that I am the master manipulator of men or not?"
"Uh, yeah . . you've proven that alright" Cheryl agreed.
"Well, do what I say" Terry demanded.
"Okay . . . I'll do it. Good bye" Cheryl responded before hanging up the phone.
"I'm home!" Aaron called out. He'd seen the light on in the upstairs bedroom and he rung the door bell several times, only to have to fumble for keys and let himself in. Tossing his bags in the front door, he called out again. "Honey, I'm home!" Still there was no answer.
He marched up the stairs into the master bedroom. There Cheryl sat wearing a long pink night gown, and stroking her long blondish brown hair with a brush.
"Sweet heart, I am home" he repeated.
"I heard you the first two times" she said dryly.
She never turned but continued to stroke her hair with the brush.
"Are you really going to treat me this way, when we haven't seen each other for a month?" he asked incredulously.
"You . . " she started "You walked out on me!"
"Walked out? Walked out?" he repeated. "It was a ministry trip that had been planned for a long time. You were supposed to be with me!" Aaron said as he began to raise his voice.
Cheryl turned partly around so she could see him out of the corner of her eyes. "I asked you not to leave and you went anyway!" She spat out, and then returned to looking in the mirror and stroking her hair.
Aaron was turning red, he could not believe his wife could have such venom after a whole month. He started to say more and then thought better of it. He turned on his heels, walked out of the room, and went back down the stairs to the kitchen. He'd had a long flight with tiny airplane type meals and he was hungry. Opening the refrigerator, he found it nearly empty except for a half gallon of milk and a few carrots. Proceeding to the food pantry, he found it also empty.
Where is the food? He thought. Then, letting his thought be verbalized, he yelled out "Hey, where's the food?"
There was no answer.
He went to the intercom that connected the kitchen to the bedroom and pushed the button asking again. "Hey, honey, where is all the food?" Still there was not answer. He bounded up the stairs and into their bedroom, where he asked once again.
"Dear, where is all the food?" He said through clenched teeth as he tried to keep his anger under control.
"I suppose the grocery store has plenty," Cheryl replied coolly. She didn't want to lie but according to Terry's plans, she wasn't supposed to tell him the whole truth.
Aaron clenched his fists, took a deep breath, counted to ten in his head, then turned and headed downstairs and to the garage. As he pulled out in his Corvette, Cheryl was on the phone to Terry.
"Terry, he's gone and he's mad. What do I do now?"
"Did he say where he's going?"
"I suppose to Carville Grocery where we always shop" came the reply, "but I think I really upset him and I . . ."
"Cheryl, I can't talk now, I'll call you in a little bit." Click.
Cheryl heard the phone hung up in her ear. She redialed Terry but there was no answer.
Reaching the store just minutes after Aaron, Terry grabbed a cart and put a few things in it to pretend she was shopping. She then went down the end of the rows looking to see which one Aaron was in. Finally she spotted him in the cereal aisle. She thought to herself, I've got to time this so I run into him at the end of the aisle.
Her timing was perfect -- her cart was run into his. As he was about to say excuse me she beat him to the punch.
"Oh excuse me, Oh Aaron!" She said as if in surprise. "You're back" she said cheerily. Aaron was in no mood for socializing but still he didn't want to be totally rude.
"Hi Terry," he said dryly.
"Kyle and I took our trip to Hawaii" she announced as bubbly as she could. "It was so much fun!" she went on. "Here, I have some pictures in my purse . . ." she said as she opened her purse to take them out.
"Excuse me Terry, but I really don't feel like looking at a lot of pictures right now" Aaron began his reply, but before he could finish it appeared that Terry stumbled and dropped the pictures on the floor. As they hit the floor they scattered.
Being the gentleman that he was, Aaron bent down to help gather them. This too had been part of Terry's anticipation and plan. As he began to pick up the pictures, he saw scattered among pictures of Pearl Harbor and grass skirted Hawaiians were pictures of his wife.
"What are these?" he questioned.
There was one of her getting in the limousine. Another of her getting out of the limo with Mr. Becker. Another of Mr. Becker helping her into his personal airplane. And finally one of her kissing Mr. Becker on the cheek while he had his arm around her.
He felt like he'd been hit in the stomach with the fat end of a baseball bat. His head began to swim. He felt nauseous. He grabbed the pictures and looked at Terry with tears in his eyes questioning what had happened in his absence.
"I'm sorry" Terry said, "you weren't supposed to see those." She lied. "Give them back," she pleaded.
"No way!" he said as he stumbled to his feet. And leaving the cart behind, he ran outside to his car and drove madly toward his house.
Flashing lights in his rear view mirror caught Aaron's attention. He pulled over to the curb and got out his licensee and registration.
"Sir," the officer began, "May I see your license and registration."
"Sure, here it is" Aaron mumbled, disturbed more by the interruption in his mad dash home than the possibility of receiving a speeding ticket.
"Oh," the officer said, "It's you -- pastor Cooper."
"Uh . . . Yeah" Aaron responded as he squinted through the flashlight being shown into his eyes.
"Pastor, you were going 50 in a 35 mile per hour zone" the officer announced.
"However, since it's you, I'm just going to give you a verbal warning. But slow it down, okay?"
"Yeah, sure officer . . . and thanks" Aaron said, somewhat relieved that the stop hadn't taken as long as he had expected.
Driving home at a slower pace, he began to think, "How? Why has she done this? Are things so bad between us that she is having an affair?" he picked up his cell phone and dialed.
"Yes, who is it?" came the irritated response.
"It's me, Aaron. Listen, we've got to meet."
"Tonight? It's late and I'm tired."
"Yes, tonight buddy. I've got extreme problems" Aaron pleaded.
"Oh, alright" came George's reply.
"I'll be in front of your house in 5 minutes" Aaron informed him.
Ten minutes later the two friends were driving around as Aaron explained what had happened.
"Let's bring Charles in on this" George suggested.
"Aw, man, I don't know." Aaron hedged. "I don't know that this is his problem, besides I am not too sure I want too many people knowing my wife is cheating on me."
"Aaron, he's got a lot of wisdom and he may have some insight as to how to handle the situation."
After arriving at Charles' apartment and getting him out of bed, the three sat around his table drinking coffee as Aaron tearfully went through the events of the evening. Charles was quiet for a long while, then finally he spoke.
"The spirits of Jezebel and witchcraft are at work" he said confidently.
"What?" Aaron questioned.
"Don't you see," Charles began, "It's Terry that's trying to destroy your marriage? Actually it's the spirits that control her."
"Are you talking demons?" George queried incredulously.
"Yes, unclean spirits" Charles responded. "The spirit of Jezebel that seeks to rule every man and the spirits of rebellion and witchcraft. Terry had the pictures. That means she probably took the pictures. Why did she just accidentally run into you at the store? I'll tell you," Charles continued without waiting for an answer, "it wasn't an accident at all. She wanted you to see those pictures, knowing it would bring an even greater rift between you and Cheryl."
"Wow!" Aaron howled as he leaned back in his chair. "That is diabolical!"
"Well, what are we going to do?" George asked.
"First, we're going to agree together in prayer and bind these devilish spirits and then Aaron is going to go back home and pretend nothing has happened. Terry will likely be waiting to hear about the expected explosion between the two of you. When it doesn't happen, she'll be temporarily thrown off balance.
"We will continue to pray for you and we will continue to speak against the power of the spirits to manipulate the situation."
The men prayed together as Charles had suggested, before Aaron and George headed out the door.
"If anything else comes up" Charles called after Aaron "then give me a call, day or night!"
"Yeah, thanks Charles" Aaron replied gratefully, although he had no idea he'd be making just such a call very soon.
Cheryl was asleep in bed when Aaron returned home. It took every ounce of discipline and self-control he possessed not to wake her immediately and confront her with the evidence of the pictures. Charles had said to wait, and wait he would; but how long was another question.
Although he climbed into bed, sleep escaped him as his mind whirled, imagining all the possibilities of things that might have happened while he was gone. A fitful sleep finally came in the wee hours of the morning.
Ring . . . Ring . . . Ring . . .
The sound of the phone ringing brought Aaron abruptly to a wakened stage. He rolled over and grabbed for the phone on the night stand, at the same time realizing that Cheryl was already up and probably downstairs. He lifted the receiver gently, only to hear Terry on the other end of the line and Cheryl answering. He decided to listen in. Something he'd never have done before, but now was a desperate time.
"What happened last night?" Terry asked excitedly.
"What happened?" Cheryl snarled into the phone. "That's what I want to know. Why didn't you call me back?"
"Uh . . . I was tied up" Terry hedged. "What did Aaron say when he got home?" Terry asked.
"Nothing. I was asleep when he got home and he's still in bed asleep now."
"Oh." Terry said. "I'll call you this afternoon. I've gotta go."
Terry had hung up, leaving Cheryl to wonder what was really going on, but unbeknownst to her, it confirmed Aaron's suspicions that Charles was right. Terry was manipulating things. Still, he thought, that was no explanation for Cheryl to be with Mr. Becker.
Aaron gloomily climbed out of bed, showered, shaved, dressed and went downstairs where he found his wife still dressed in a gown and housecoat, sitting at the kitchen table sipping coffee and staring out the window.
"Good morning" Aaron spoke dryly.
"Morning" Cheryl responded without looking up.
Aaron began to thumb through the mail that had come while he was away and stopped suddenly when he came to an envelope addressed to him from the church.
"What's this?" he asked.
"What's what?" Cheryl responded as she finally looked up.
"Something from the church to me," he said.
Cheryl drew a deep breath before responding. "Why don't you open it and see," she said, not wanting to let on that she knew what it was.
Aaron opened it and read aloud,
"Dear Pastor Cooper,
It has come to our attention that you have certain associations with a person or persons who have beliefs that are contrary to the doctrine of the church, and such could have negative repercussions to our church's reputation and integrity. We the board of elders demand your presence on the first Thursday of this month at 7:00 p.m. in the church conference room. At said time you will be given the opportunity to explain or defend your actions against the allegations that have been made, after which the board will determine the best course of action to insure the future success of the church.
John Becker, Chairman
"What!? I can't believe this!" Aaron yelled. "They're trying to fire me! And Becker even has the nerve to sign his name!"
Cheryl's eyes widened. "What does he mean by that?" She thought.
"What does he know?"
She would soon find out.
Aaron continued ranting. "Becker steals my wife and then works to get me fired too!"
Cheryl now stood up, frightened. She backed away from Aaron, who had fire in his eyes. She'd never seen him this way.
"What . . . do you mean by that?" She mumbled, even though guilt was written all over her face.
"What do I mean?" Aaron snarled as he took slow, small steps toward her. He then reached into his back pocket and pulled out the pictures and flung them at her face!
Cheryl instinctively reacted by raising her hands to cover her face as the pictures fell to the floor. She stooped to pick them up and look at them.
"Where . . . Where . . ." she stuttered "where did you get these?"
"From your good buddy Terry," Aaron spat out as he turned his back on her and moved toward the kitchen window. He stood motionless, staring out the windows as Cheryl began a slow deep moan that began from the pit of her stomach. Tears streamed down her face as the moan turned into a wail and then into uncontrollable sobs.
Aaron ignored her, believing her reaction was only proof of his worst fears. She had been unfaithful.
Tabitha had enrolled in the University and planned to stay on campus until five or so when Juanita was scheduled to pick her up. With the help of several students, she had completed her enrollment and purchased the necessary books by three, so Shawanda Perkins, a grad student in her mid twenties, offered her a ride home.
"Thank you," Tabitha said as she climbed into the blue Toyota.
"Sure, no problem," Shawanda responded, "now what did you say your address is?"
Tabitha looked in her purse and pulled out the slip of paper on which Juanita had carefully written the address, and handed it to Shawanda.
"4702 Parkhill Way. Hey, girl you live in the ritzy neighborhood don't ya."
"Pardon me, ma'am?" Tabitha said.
"Hey girl, don't ma'am me, I'm just a student like you," Shawanda began to respond before she realized that foreigners might not be familiar with some American idioms. "Ritzy" Shawanda explained "implies rich. It came from the Ritz Hotel, where at one time only the very rich could afford to stay."
"Oh," Tabitha said.
"But girl, tell me about Africa, my ancestors' home land" Shawanda went on.
She was a light brown skinned girl with long black hair that came down to the middle of her back. She was well proportioned although not much leaner than Tabitha, who was nearly three to four inches taller.
Aaron had left Cheryl crying in the middle of the kitchen floor, but first he had gathered the pictures from her before he left. He just might need them again, he thought.
After Cheryl composed herself, she got dressed and drove to Terry's house. She rang the bell again and again, and then began beating the door impatiently.
"Okay, okay, I'm coming" came the response from within.
Terry opened the door surprised to see Cheryl standing there with eyes red and swollen from crying.
"How could you?" Cheryl demanded as she pushed her way into the house.
"How could I what?" Terry asked. She backed up, fearful of being struck by the very angry Cheryl.
"You took pictures without my knowing, and then you showed them to Aaron!" she screamed.
"Well, yes, I . . . uh . . . I did take the pictures but they were to be used with Becker, just in case we needed them."
"What?!" Cheryl screamed. "You expected me to be part of some blackmail plot?"
Terry lied: "Well, no . . . uh . . . it was just leverage, in case we needed it."
"I don't believe you" Cheryl growled as she marched toward Terry with clenched fists. Terry looked around for an object to defend herself with, but it was too late. Cheryl grabbed her by her blouse with her left hand and slapped her across the cheek with her right. The blow sent the smaller woman reeling backward to the floor.
"You have purposefully tried to destroy my marriage!" Cheryl screamed. "I don't ever want to see you again! Stay out of our lives! Do you understand?" Cheryl declared as she stood above Terry with her feet spread apart about one shoulder's width and her left hand on her hip as she pointed with her right.
Terry held her cheek and stayed on the floor, afraid that if she got up she'd only be hit again.
Cheryl squinted her eyes about to say more, but thought better of it. Pivoting around, she marched out of the door, slamming it behind her.
As Shawanda drove up to the house she saw the garage door had been left open and there were baseball gloves, a softball and a bat inside.
"Hey, Tab," she said, "you want to play some catch?"
"What's catch?" Tabitha asked.
"You know, throw a softball back and forth." Shawanda explained as she pointed toward the gloves and ball in the garage.
"Let me ask Juanita if it is alright." Tabitha responded cautiously.
As she went through the first door she almost ran into George, who was coming out, having heard someone driving up and not knowing who it was.
"Oh, excuse me," Tabitha said after almost bumping in to him. "May my friend and I play 'catch' with your equipment?" she asked.
"Sure," George smiled. "I don't have anything to do right now, I'll play with you."
Minutes later Shawanda was burning fastballs into George's glove and alternately lobbed the ball to Tabitha, who was new at this strange game.
"You're quite an athlete, Shawanda" George said, offering a compliment to Tabitha's new friend.
"No offense, my man, but that doesn't mean much coming from a white man." Shawanda retorted with a chuckle.
George was shocked by the brazenness of Tabitha's friend while he secretly admired her sleek figure as she leaped high and twisted to catch the ball he had thrown over her head.
"Think you're tough stuff, huh?" George playfully called back.
"Tougher than you!" Shawanda stated confidently as she burned another fast ball into his glove.
"Oh, Yeah" George called out. "I'll beat you in game of 21."
"Put five dollars on it and you've got a bet."
"Whoa, wait a minute, I am Christian and don't gamble. But I'll tell you what, win or lose I'll treat you to a cold Pepsi," George offered.
"Shawanda and walked over to George and shoved her baseball glove in his chest. "Two Pepsi's, she said as she winked at him.
Shawanda and Tabitha followed George through the garage as he replaced the baseball gloves and softball and picked up the basketball. The two then traveled through the house.
Shawanda whistled as she saw the luxurious interior. "Man, you're living large!" she exclaimed.
"If that's a compliment, thanks" George replied.
They went out the back door, and immediately Shawanda pulled the ball from George and leaped high in the air, executing a perfect jump shot that hit nothing but net. George was playing defense against the next shot, but she faked a hook and when he went up into the air she dribbled around his airborne body and made an easy layup.
George was determined to block the next shot. Even though he wasn't the greatest athlete, no girl had ever gotten the best of him. This time Shawanda did a fadeaway shot. George leaped high and tipped the ball and then came tumbling down on top of Shawanda. As they both toppled to the ground Shawanda yelled, "Get off me, you big oaf!"
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry" George said very apologetically.
"That's OK, I'm not made of glass, so I don't break easy. However, that doesn't mean you get to climb on top of me without permission" she said playfully as she lightly punched him in the stomach.
Juanita, having heard voices, stepped out of the house and into the back yard just in time to hear George say "Hold on, I'm a lover not a fighter" as he grabbed her around the shoulders.
Aaron had made the calls and George and Charles were huddled in his office discussing what Aaron's strategy would be at the governing elders' board meeting which was coming up in two days.
"I guess it's a question of do I stand up for the truth and almost certainly get fired or do I try to compromise and maybe keep my job," Aaron stated dryly.
The George spoke up. "Well, I think you should . . ."
Bzzzz . . . bzzz . . . bzzz
The intercom was buzzing and Aaron pushed the button. "What is it?" Aaron answered irritably. "I thought I said I was not to be disturbed!"
"I'm sorry pastor, it's Mrs. Chandler. She says it is very urgent," Mrs. Halstead said.
"Give me a minute," Aaron ordered.
"Yes, sir" came the response.
Aaron looked up pleadingly at George.
"Don't say a word, my friend" George assured him. "I'll take care of it. Whatever it is, I'll take care of it!" he stated firmly. George left the room as Charles and Aaron continued to talk.
"Then there's the problem at home with my wife," Aaron said as he stood up so the other man could not see the tears that welled up in his eyes. "I don't know whether to divorce her, go in for counseling some place or what."
Charles waited a long while before responding. "Jesus said we should even love our enemies. I don't think she is your enemy. Yes, she may be hurt and confused and she may have done something rash and out of line . . ."
Before Charles could finish this statement Aaron turned and exploded.
"Out of line? Out of line? I'd say having sex with another man is more than out of line!" he almost yelled.
"Wait a minute," Charles replied, "you don't know that she had an affair with him. The pictures just showed her getting in a Limo and getting in and out of a plane."
"Well, if that were true why didn't she say it," Aaron asked.
"Who knows, maybe guilt, maybe fear, maybe the realization that her best friend Terry had betrayed her. Who knows! And even if it is the worse," Charles said as he rose from his seat and moved closer to his friend, placing his hands on his shoulders, "can you forgive even that?"
"I don't know," Aaron muttered, "I don't know . . ." he said as he turned his eyes away from Charles and gazed into nothingness.
George and Judy Chandler were seated in the conference room as she began her tearful story.
"I used my last thousand dollars of savings trying to fix the transmission in my car last month, then my employer laid me off, the rent is due and the landlord says he is going to send the eviction process in two weeks if I can't pay up in full," she said between gasps of breath trying to hold back the tears.
George looked at her boys who were now going under, over and around the conference table. He reflected back at the young children of similar ages that he saw in Africa and how in contrast they were so well disciplined.
"No problem," George spoke up after a moment.
"No problem? What do you mean?" Judy Chandler asked.
"There's no problem because you and the kids are coming home to live with me and my wife. I'll speak to the landlord and pay the back due rent. You move in with us at no charge. Stay as long as you like. I'll help you find a job and you can save money until you're ready to step out on your own again."
"But . . . but . . . I couldn't let you do that," she began to protest.
"Don't worry about it. It's my pleasure. It's a done deal," George responded.
"But what about your wife, don't you want to confer with her first?" she asked.
I am the head of my house and what I say goes. Besides I have a very loving and understanding wife," he stated confidently. "Let's pack up and start moving" he suggested.
Privately, George was hoping Juanita wouldn't mind. Judy was very attractive and this would be a real test of her spiritual growth.
Bzzzz . . . bzzz . . .
The intercom went off again.
"What now, Mrs. Halstead?" Aaron answered angrily again.
"Your wife is here, Pastor."
"Send her in."
Charles and Aaron stared at each other in the eyes. Then Charles mouthed the words "I'll see you later."
"Hello, Mrs. Cooper," Charles spoke warmly as he passed her on his way out.
"Hello, Mr. Okinyi." Cheryl said dryly.
Cheryl stood just inside the door of her husband's office. She had used makeup to hide her puffy eyes as best she could. Her hair was freshly washed and draped over her shoulders. She wore a blouse, a skirted beige suit, white hose and matching beige 3 inch heels.
Aaron's back was turned to her as he pretended to gaze out the windows.
"We've got to talk" she began.
"Oh, really!" he said sarcastically. "You mean you aren't flying off with John Becker today?" He regretted saying it as soon as it came out of his mouth. He turned slowly only to see she had dropped her head. A single tear was slowly making its way down her left cheek. He moved over to her, put his arm around her shoulders and said, "Yes, you're right, we have to talk, but not here. Let's go for a drive," he said softly. With that he steered her out of the office.
Once they were in the car and moving, Cheryl began. "I want to tell you everything" she said.
Aaron winced, not sure whether he wanted to know the whole truth or not.
"When you left" she continued, "I was hurt and angry. I thought you might go to Africa and find some princess or have a harem of women . . . or . . . Oh Aaron, there were just so many silly things going through my head . . . and . . ."
Aaron interrupted: "We've been married for how long? And you think I'm just going to drop you and pick up somebody else in thirty days?"
"Well . . ." she tried to explain "Terry said that . ."
"Terry! I figured she had a part in this," Aaron blurted out.
"She planned out everything," Cheryl explained. "What to wear, how to act, everything."
"But why did you go along with it?" Aaron questioned with irritation in his voice and yet pleading to understand.
"Well . . . I don't know . . . well, will Mr. Becker being chairman of the elders governing board . . . I thought if you were leaving me in . . ." she halted and started again, hesitant to say it all.
Aaron interrupted. "Leaving you, how did you come to that . . ."
"Oh Aaron, I am sorry I . . . I just wasn't thinking straight. And those pictures. I never knew Terry had taken them until you showed them to me."
"She's a witch" Aaron spat out. "I think she's demonically possessed."
"Well . . . ah . . . I think you may be right now" Cheryl responded.
"You've got to cut her loose. There's no chance of us making it with her around!" Aaron stated firmly as he turned to look at his wife with a flash of fire in his eyes. They had come to the city part. Aaron parked the car and walked around to the other side to let Cheryl out.
Aaron hung his head and bit his bottom lip as he placed his hands on his hips. "Tell me!" he said. "Did you have sex with Becker?" He forced himself to raise his head slightly to look in her eyes. He had to know the truth, even if it hurt.
"No!" Cheryl almost screamed. "No!" She said again. "He picked me up in his limo and the driver took us to the airfield. He took me for a flying lesson and showed me the city from 10,000 feet. That's all! Truly that is all!"
Aaron breathed a sigh of relief, took her hand in his and began walking through the park on one of the concrete pathways.
After several steps Cheryl asked "What now?"
"I don't know," Aaron answered. "I have to meet with the governing board in two days." He took in a deep breath and blew it out his mouth. "I may lose my job."
They walked silently for a long time and finally returned to his car. "I'll prepare the best I can and see what happens" Aaron said matter of factly. However, Aaron wouldn't be the only one preparing for that meeting.
Aaron arrived five minutes before the start time wearing his best navy blue suit and long sleeve white shirt and silk maroon colored silk tie. He was told to wait outside the conference room until the entire board was seated.
There would be old Mr. Greenwald, a retired pharmacist and Ben Peacock was the owner of a tire dealership. Then there was Mr. Pirtle, a retired school teacher and Mr. Johnson, who had at one time been a minister but found the sale of securities more lucrative. The youngest man on the board was probably a good fifteen years senior to Aaron's thirty years of age.
Once they were all assembled Aaron was invited in. Mr. Becker sat at the head of the table; the other men sat on the sides. Aaron was given the seat at the other end directly opposite Mr. Becker. "The hot seat," Aaron thought.
Mr. Becker began. "Pastor Cooper," he started out very formally. "There have been certain allegations that you have been involved with certain persons who are espousing doctrines that are in opposition to our church tradition. We feel . . ."
He was interrupted by the sound of the door opening. Everyone turned to see who it was. "Uh . . . this is a private meeting" Mr. Becker called out.
"I understand you might be talking about me so I thought I ought to be here" Charles Okinyi responded as he strode confidently into the room with his head held high. His very bearing said that no one was going to be able to remove him and he was staying whether they liked it or not.
"Well . . . uh . . ." Mr. Becker stuttered as he looked at the others on the board questioning with his eyes as if to say 'what do we do?' Finally he said "Well, have a seat over there on the side." He then turned to face Aaron again but was obviously disturbed by Charles' presence.
"As I was saying . . . you seem to be supportive of the concept of polygamy which is very anti-Christian as you well know and . . ."
He was interrupted again by the door opening. "Good morning, gentlemen," George spoke as he entered. "I thought I'd just drop in for moral support of my friend, the pastor."
"This is supposed to be a private meeting" Mr. Becker stated irritably.
"A man doesn't deserve to be alone when he's being railroaded!" George stated emphatically.
Charles, who was now seated in a chair on the side with his legs crossed and his arms folded across his chest, smiled at George's antics.
"Polygamy is not of God!" Mr. Johnson blurted out.
"Oh, really" Aaron countered. "And on what scriptural basis do you make such a statement, seeing as how that most of the Patriarchs in the Bible were men who had more than one wife. Let's see -- there was Abraham, Israel, Moses, Gideon, and David to name a few of many."
"Well that's all Old Testament stuff," Mr. Johnson argued. "God winked at a time when men didn't know any better."
"Really!" Aaron responded, feeling a boldness come over him. "God could say He was against idolatry, murder, theft and covetousness but he was afraid to say don't have more than one wife? I've never known God to be afraid to say anything He wanted to!" Aaron finished confidently.
"Wait a minute." Mr. Pirtle jumped in. "Adam had only one wife, Eve. If God had intended man to have more than one He'd have made more than one."
Aaron smiled slightly before answering. He was using the same old tired, weak argument that he himself had made a couple of months ago. Charles sat quietly with a twinkle in his eyes as he watched his protege handle the arguments one after another. The board members were becoming more and more irritated, as none of them could find an argument to defend their 'monogamy only' position that Aaron couldn't counter.
Mr. Johnson sat quietly and thumbed through his Bible, in as much as he was the only one other than Aaron who had thought to bring one. Finally, he spoke up. "Tell me Pastor Cooper, does the Bible say that we are to be a kingdom of priests?"
"The priests were only to have one wife" Mr. Johnson stated. "So God is effectively ruling out a plural number of wives for New Testament believers."
Aaron was stunned. He'd never heard this argument before. He didn't think the reasoning could be right but he had no answer. He turned to look at George, whose facial expression and the hunch of his shoulders told him, he didn't know either.
Finally, Charles spoke up. "You must be referring to Leviticus 21. But it doesn't say the priest can marry only one wife. It says he must marry a virgin. It is not a restriction on how many he can marry, but a restriction on the type of woman he can marry, inasmuch as the high priest is a shadow and a figure of Jesus Christ." He paused a moment to let it sink in.
Then Charles went on "Is our priesthood after the Levitical order, sir?" he asked and waited for an answer.
"Well . . . uh . . . uh . . ." Mr. Johnson stuttered, obviously not quite knowing what to say.
"No!" Charles answered his own question as he stood up and walked over beside Aaron. "We have priesthood that is after the Melchizedek order, and if you remember the Melchizedek order is above the Levitical order. Melchizedek was a king and a priest. Most of the kings mentioned in the Bible had a plurality of wives.
"Jesus is our King and High Priest, right?" He continued without waiting for an answer. ". . . He depicts himself as the bridegroom marrying five wise virgins in Matthew 25. True, it is a parable speaking of union with the true church but he would never have used such an example if having a plurality of wives was wrong!"
The room was silent. Charles walked back over to his seat and sat down again. Finally Mr. Becker spoke. "I don't care how you silver tongued young punks twist the Bible, I don't think it's right and it makes us look like a bunch of Mormon fundamentalists weirdoes. It will destroy the church's reputation, I tell you!"
"What?" George stood to his feet. "You mean you don't care about truth, you only care about what people will think?" He questioned incredulously.
"You, mister!" Mr. Becker said as he turned red in the face and stood up. "You be careful! You've got three women living with you now and have been seen playing around with a fourth."
"What?" Aaron responded almost involuntarily as he looked toward his friend. Although he knew about Tabitha, George hadn't told him about how he had handled the Judy Chandler situation and George had never thought to say anything about Shawanda. She was just a friend of Tabitha.
"What? How? How did you come up with this?" George questioned.
"I have my sources!" Mr. Becker warned as he shook his finger at George.
Most of the men on the board had shocked looks on their faces as it seemed that Mr. Becker had delivered the knockout punch.
Aaron decided not to wait any longer. He delivered a punch of his own. "Mr. Becker!" he called out. "Is the real reason you're interested in getting me fired, because you want to date my wife!"
Mr. Becker rocked back on his heels, shocked at the accusations; but Aaron pulled the pictures from his jacket pocket and flung them on the table for all to see. There were gasps from everyone as they looked at the pictures and then at Mr. Becker and back at Aaron.
"Don't worry!" Aaron said as he stood up. "I'm resigning! I'll give my final sermon on Sunday and have my office cleared out in a week!" With that he pivoted, moved around his chair and marched out the door, followed by Charles. George hastily grabbed the pictures off the conference table and rushed out to join his friends.
"You be careful, or I'll sue you for liable!" Mr. Becker yelled after them.
Later, Aaron and Cheryl were seated together in their double wide love seat in front of the fire in the fireplace in the living room.
"What are we going to do now" Cheryl asked as she nestled her head between his head and shoulder.
"I'm not sure," came the response.
"Dear," she said, "I still wish you hadn't gotten involved in this whole polygamy thing."
"Babe" he responded "the Bible says, 'if you continue in my word, ye shall know the truth and the truth will make you free.' I wish you had come to Kenya and met Charles' wives and seen how well they get along. Sure, there are marriages with several wives that have problems, just as there are monogamous marriages that have problems. I just wish you could have seen that it can work."
After a moment of silence Cheryl asked "Does that mean you want to be involved in it?"
"No," Aaron replied, "Not necessarily. But it does mean I can't condemn those that do. The Bible says 'to whom much is given, much is required.' Said another way, it means that the more we have, the more we are required to live out."
First created on 3 October 2001
Updated on 21 June 2016
Copyright ©2000 Andy Nonymousman
Reproduced by permission and with thanks by HEM, 2001
Endorsement of this book by HEM does not necesserily mean
endorsement of the author's other publications or views.