BORN AGAIN AGAIN
Categories: Article, Inspirational, Short Story,
I have decided to follow Jesus/3ce
No turning Back/2ce
As the choristers sang, students trooped to the podium. It was the usual annual campus crusade. The 3,500 capacity amphitheatre was filled to overflow. Everywhere was on fire. The guest preacher's sermon like a flaming double-edged sword had pierced through every heart. The believers present were fired up while the unbelievers were driven to the feet of the cross in repentance.
Seated amidst the crowd was Jide with head bowed, contemplating if to move to the podium or not. That would be his fifth time answering altar calls since he first did about a year ago in a similar gathering. When he couldn’t stand the heat, he found his way to the front. On his knees, he sang passionately along with the choristers,
You take the whole world and give me Jesus/3ce
No turning back/2ce
This time around, Jide was giving up all for his Savior.
After service, he made his way to his one-room apartment outside campus, treading as though his soles were made of spring, whistling along with his Bible clutched to his chest like a seal to keep his joy of salvation in.
He had barely gotten home when multimedia came in on his phone from his roommate, Toba.
His phone almost fell off his hand.
“How many times will I tell Toba to desist from doing this? He will get a piece of me this time.”
He was changing into his pyjamas when the door clicked open and his roommate staggered in.
“Toba, I have told you not to send pornogra…,
“Jydo, how you dey?” Toba’s slurred voice broke in, filling the space with the stench of alcohol as he walked over and slammed on his bed, drifting off at once.
Jide decided to wait till the next day to confront him before deleting it.
At about 4 a.m. that Thursday, the alarm on his phone woke him to study as usual. As his hand went for his phone, his mind went to the video. He didn’t know when his thumb pressed on the play button. He had watched such scenes many times in the past, the only difference was the characters. Halfway into it, he broke off, resisting. However, his mind kept going back to it till he watched to the end.
“Ray-Money was trying to send me a video but my phone's memory was full. Rather than delete one of my files, I sent it over to you to free up space, ” explained Toba at dawn.
Raymond a.k.a Ray-money was more a friend to Toba than Jide. The three were in 300Level studying International Relations, he was their department's social director.
Guilt-stricken, Jide's tongue that was once ready to lash out at Toba stuck to the roof of his mouth. Although he deleted the video as soon as Toba transferred it to a laptop, he had ended up watching it repeatedly it ran a free show on his mind.
On-campus that day, he was able to suppress the obscene thought that reared its ugly head in-between lectures. Back home after the day, away from activities, the thought had him again under control. He was the only one to save the two characters engaging in immoral acts on his mind. After entertaining them over and over again, he became a slave to his thoughts. Weak-willed yet lusting for more, he went for his phone and downloaded one for himself. While he satisfied his yearning, he had a sound at the door. Quickly, he switched off the pornographic clips. It turned out it was his next-door neighbour who had come to lend a broom and not Toba. Bolting the door, he went back to it and back to his old habit. As he watched, so he masturbated.
Jide belonged to the evangelism unit of his fellowship on campus. Unit activities and the gathering of brethren had a way of setting him straight. However, during fellowship on Sunday, he couldn’t help imagining himself with a couple of the sisters acting out the scenes he had watched. This often happened whenever he had given room to his flesh. He would get over it with time.
The following weekend, Raymond organized a birthday party for his girlfriend. The venue was walkable from Jide and Toba's apartment. The invitation card sent out had stated Gate fee-free for Eves, and a thousand naira only for Adams. Time, 11 p.m. till daybreak.
Jide couldn’t see himself attending. Besides, the next day was another Sunday, he needed to prepare for fellowship.
“Jydo, Ray-money sent you a VIP ticket, you shouldn't it turn down,” Toba impressed on him.
“Don’t you get it? I’m born again for crying out loud, I shouldn't be found in such gathering.”
“Born again? Does that stop you from socializing? Wake up, man. It’s only a birthday party. Let’s go catch some fun.”
On second thought, Jide reconsidered his stand.
Some fun shouldn’t hurt. I don’t have to participate in the activities. Besides, it’s an overnight party.
They arrived at the venue an hour before the set time.
Juwon hailed as he sighted them, approached hand-in-hand with the celebrant to welcome and show them to a section of the hall reserved for the VIPs.
Stationed by a corner was a DJ scratching one song into another. The sound system was blaring Jide and Toba had to converse at the top of their voices. They had barely settled in their seats when two girls in glittering, skimpy gowns screamed their excitement at seeing Toba. They walked over, hugged and pulled him away. Jide caught a wink sent him by one of the girls. All alone, like a secret agent, he observed his surrounding. Just a handful of guys and girls had shown up. This sat well with him. He seemed to have forgotten it wasn’t an eatery but a party. At about 11 p.m, a swarm of people poured in like bees. He soon had company to his left, right and all around him. The space was suddenly choky he felt like escaping. Service girls moved around with trays bearing filled Styrofoam cups. At a sip from the one placed before him, Jide shrunk back in repulsion. From his past, he knew the taste of that particular liquor, pushed it aside. While others downed their cups and called for a refill, he ordered a soft drink. Jide was the odd one out. He didn’t allow this to intimidate him. After some preliminary activities of introducing the celebrant and cutting the cake, everyone poured onto the dance floor in twos, gyrating to the pulsating rhythm of the song being played.
Jide remained in his seat. He felt totally out of place this time he wanted nothing more than leave. As his eyes roamed about in search of Toba, the white light switched into a pack of multicoloured lights, dimming the space. Jide felt relaxed, sat back in his seat.
Not too long after, the girl who winked at him earlier walked up to him and asked for a dance. This would be forcing Jide out of his comfort zone. In a moment’s pause, he told himself it wouldn’t be gentlemanly to turn down a lady.
By dawn, the crowd had thinned out. He searched around for Toba and found him where he laid drunk and wasted. Arm-in-arm, he practically dragged him all the way back home.
After a nap, by 9, Jide freshened up and headed to the fellowship. It was an awesome time in God’s presence. In the end, Timothy, the Evangelism unit leader gathered members together for their monthly outreach. This time, they decided to reach for souls outside the campus. This unsettled Jide. But as Timothy grouped the unit in twos; a male and a female, Jide was glad he and his partner were assigned to a location far from home. From going house-to-house preaching Jesus, they stopped by at a girls' hostel. The first room they entered had one girl. Jide did the praying and his partner took over from there. While the preaching was on, the girl kept an open stare at Jide.
“Wait a minute,” she interrupted. “Are you not Jydo?”
Jide stood dumbstruck like he was hearing his nickname for the first time.
He couldn’t deny that.
“Wasn't it you I saw at Ray-money's party last night?”
She went on to describe the kind and colour of the clothes he wore there was no mistaking him for anyone else. Worse still, she described how he danced all night glued waist-to-waist to a girl.
“If you’re what people call a Christian, I would rather not be one,” she concluded.
Jide had never been that humiliated in his life. He returned home weeping.
Two Sundays after, Jide attended to a knock at his door and was shocked to see his unit Leader.
“Bro. Jide, why have we not been seeing you at the fellowship?” Timothy asked after he was let in.
“Because I don’t belong there.”
“You needed to see what happened when Sis. Dorcas and I went for the last evangelism. The girl…,”
“Never mind, she told me about it.”
“Then you already know why I am not fit for your gathering. To imagine I was told the Holy Spirit will help me live uprightly. I have responded to altar calls five times, been imparted with the Holy Spirit all of those times, why do I keep returning to my old ways?”
“Bro. Jide, where is your Bible?”
Jide reached for it from the top of the wardrobe where he had left it gathering dust.
“Read aloud 2 Corinthians 5vs17.”
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
“That was you since you first answered to an altar call. Just that then and the subsequent ones, you only took decisive steps in faith but didn’t follow up with decisive actions.”
Jide looked confused.
“The scripture says, ‘Faith without work is dead. It’s not enough to be born again, you need to work out your salvation.”
“Breakaway from companies that easily lures you back to your old ways. ‘if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two and be thrown into hell.”
Timothy paused to let that sink in before he continued.
“Of course you received the Holy Spirit, but you couldn’t keep him in.”
“Because although you gave your life to Jesus, you kept back your old practices. No one puts new wine into old wineskin; otherwise; the wine will burst the skin, and the wine is lost. Hence the emptiness and refilling you have been experiencing.
Touched, Jide broke down in repentance. Timothy prayed with him for his restoration.
The following day, Jide moved his belongings to campus. It was a tough decision considering he shared virtually everything with Toba. But he was bent on giving his salvation whatever it took. Furthermore, he sold his smartphone and bought one that could only make and receive calls.
The words of the girl he met during evangelism kept ringing in his ears.
If you’re what people call a Christian, I would rather not be one.
When he couldn’t get her off his mind, he found his way to her place. He was going to tell her he had repented, not minding more humiliations. To his surprise, she gave him a warm reception and apologized for the way she spoke the other day. The tract they left her ministered to her, making her realize she was no better since they were both at the party. Jide gladly talked about his Savior, Jesus Christ. It felt like he had won a trophy when he invited her to fellowship and she followed him.
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