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THE CHRONICLES OF PHILLIP JOE PART 4
By Damilola Akintobi
Philip stared at his broken door for a minute, then he shifted his gaze to the uninvited visitor. The skin on his face was near red with anger as the veins stood on his forehead as though they were on a holy jihad. “You good for nothing hell-bound miscreant, what do you think you can pick up here boy?” He screamed making no attempt to hide his fury.
“Err, I…” Reuben started to explain but he stopped short as Philip continued to rain curses on him closing the gap between them with each curse.
“Fool, thief, criminal, sinner, sinner…” but it was his turn to get interrupted.
“Please, do not call me a thief, I haven’t stolen anything.” Reuben sputtered with tears welling in his eyes.
His outburst caught the older man aback. “I… Only… Actually, I… Please forgive me. I will never come here again. But I am no thief and I don’t like being referred to as one”; he spoke quietly and turned to leave.
“Ha ha ha” Philip cackled. “Stop right where you are!” His tone was like Michael’s when a spanking was in order, only it sounded more menacing.
Reuben froze petrified at the turn of events. ‘Maybe this man really is evil and the neighbours were right to stay away from him’ he thought as his mind recounted contents of the strange books he saw earlier. Phillip’s long gaze made him feel like a lab rat under scrutiny. He watched Philip retreat to settle on the couch still taking him in from head to toe. Reuben kept sweating profusely regretting his misadventure more and more with every passing moment.
Whatever ordeal he had to face here had to be over quickly, if anyone at home woke up before he returned, he would be in serious trouble. Phillip asked him rather dryly. “Young man, tell me your mission.”
Reuben creased his brow in an attempt to process what Phillip had just said. “My mission? I don’t have any mission. I was only thinking if we could be friends….. I mean just friends but I guess I didn’t go about it right… I am so sorry. I’ll just leave now…” he pleaded as he tried to leave yet again.
Phillip yelled at him to stop and another croaky imitation of laughter escaped him. He sneered at the boy. “What sort of friendship? Friendship with a little thief? I am not bound for hell, so, I can’t be a friend to you because all sinners like you my little boy are hell-bound”.
“Hmm… Sir, that’s not right. I am not hell-bound just because I came into your house to see if we could be friends. But even if I were to be hell-bound, if Jesus Christ was not a friend to sinners, sinners would not repent of their sins and turn to him. And it is written in the Bible that God does not want the death of a sinner but to have a repentant heart” quoted Reuben. He didn’t know whether it was the mild anger resulting from his assailant’s self-righteousness that gave him confidence or the fact that the man was seeming to warm up to him.
Phillip laughed sarcastically. “Who has been feeding you such rubbish?”
He asked shaking his head in pity. “What do you know about Jesus Christ? And how do you know that Jesus was a friend to sinners?”
Reuben replied. “In the Bible sir”, he thought about the books on Philip’s table and decided to rephrase his statement. “In the Bible we use in my church, the stories say Jesus was a friend to sinners”.
Rays of sunlight filtered into the room from the window on the east side of the living room illuminating Philip’s shrouded face. He looked less threatening on the couch, perhaps he was not at all evil, Reuben thought he was just a lonely man who had been grossly misunderstood by society.
“Church? What church? Sinners’ church? Oh, what kind of church could be telling false stories? Tell me about your Bible and this… ‘church’ of yours” Phillip prodded faking genuine interest.
“Hmm… I attend a Pentecostal Church and we use King James version of the Bible. There are various versions but all point to the same thing…”
“Oh, okay. So King James is a Bible, there’s a Bible that’s a King now?” Philip interrupted Reuben’s excited evangelism campaign.
“No…!” The teenager quickly responded. “King James is a man who wrote a bible. King James Version is a type of the Bible written in another tone but by interpretation, it’s the same with the rest of it”
Phillip was almost laughing.
“Same thing?” He asked.
“Yes, Jesus Christ coming to die for our sins,” replied Reuben.
Phillip chipped in. “Well, my Spirit Book does not say that. It talks about how God sent his prophet, Jesus Christ to come for the Saints alone and we are the saints; ‘The Holiest of Souls Spiritual Church.’ We’ve been existing long before Jesus Christ was born, and he came to be our leader. He was born amongst us and grew in our midst. He ate what we ate and drank what we drank. When the enemies took him away from us, we followed him. We were all locked up in a cell and killed along with Jesus Christ except for a man who Jesus asked to stay behind so that the gospel would not die. When Jesus was killed-along with the rest of the Holiest of souls-they all went to heaven. This was over 2000 years ago and Jesus gave the key to hell to Lucifer to bring every other person who is not part of the church to hell. If you had a Spirit Book, you’ll know the truth; Book of Hell, Chapter 1:6-66.”
“Sir! You have been misled a lot!” Reuben was afraid for him. “Jesus Christ came of the Virgin Mary and he was crucified for our sins. Anyone that accepts him as his Lord and savior is saved from hell and that is if the person flees from sins. It is sure that the person will get to the kingdom after death. Jesus Christ is God’s only son. According to John 3:16, it says, ‘for God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him will not perish but have everlasting life’ and John 3:3 says, ‘verily verily I say unto you, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God’.
Phillip feigned bewilderment. “Who is John and why did he say so much in this your Bible.”
“John was one of the apostles Of Jesus Christ.” Reuben answered confidently. “I want to ask, have you been born again?”
“You are sick. How can you be born again after you are born to the world already?” Phillip asked.
“It’s not physical birth but spiritual birth. You will have to confess him with your mouth as the Lord and personal saviour. That’s all to make a born again” replied a perplexed Reuben. It was his first time of encountering an adult with such ineptitude in Christian matters.
“Is that all you need to enter the kingdom of God?” Philip laughed so hard he almost fell from his chair. “Your heaven must be different from mine. How could you believe such a stupid thing?” He patted Reuben who had now come to sit by him on the couch. “Even you my little man, you can’t seriously believe heaven will come so cheap, youth is no excuse for folly. In my church, nobody needs to confess anything with the mouth. Once you drink the spirit water, and you do the hard part-which is zealously separating yourself from sinners-heaven is sure for you.”
“That’s not all sir” continued Reuben in response to Philip’s original question. “You will have to run away from sin and preach the gospel.” Reuben was more confident now than before.
“You are right with that one” Philip smiled. “I know I have been running away from sin. Even I am so Holy. But we don’t preach the gospel around because the gospel is meant for the Pulpit man and ours is to follow whatever he says,” added Phillip.
Reuben was puzzled with the man’s ideology. “You don’t look up to older people in all cases before you live your life. Live your life according to the Bible. And there’s no man that doesn’t sin; you sin. Segregation from the so called ‘sinners’ in itself is a sin because it means you are being judgmental and it is written that “you shall not judge so that you shall not be judged.” Part of what we live for is to share the gospel so that our crown will be as radiant as ever in heaven” he explained gently.
Phillip had heard people say things like this before, but none said it with as much confidence and excitement as the little boy before him. He was somewhat confused because there was truly so much he didn’t understand about some of the things the pulpit man said. But Reuben seemed so sure, ‘maybe their pulpit man communicates better than ours’ he thought. His eyes on the table as if trying to find some explanation there, he rested his hands on his chin with his elbows on his knees.
“Can I ask you a question?” Reuben’s words jerked him out of his reverie.
“How did you come about your faith? I am sorry to pry but I want to know.”
Phillip looked away. His gaze shifted from the table to the pile of old paper in the corner and finally rested on the television. He looked at Reuben who had shown courage and concern all the time they’d been discussing.
“My faith? Far back in High school days, to be precise, the year I gained admission to the University. I was never an outspoken person, in fact, I barely spoke to anyone. I hated people around me because of their immorality and that’s why I decided to be on my own. I hated my brothers and sisters because their love for money was beyond human imagination. My father was my best friend and at times we shared the same ideologies. Apart from God, he was another person I loved but he has been long dead.” He shrugged as if to say it was not important but Reuben could sense he missed his father.
“I wanted a religion where your sins will be counted against you and you will suffer for it without mercy. Some said Christianity is good but I hated it because lots of Christians are out there doing all sorts of evil things, committing atrocities and their God just sits there watching? I don’t think that’s right. One day, I went on the internet to search for available religious sects and their doctrines. Then, I saw Jehovah’s Slaves and I opened the page. Each word was written in red color and block fonts which I later got to know depicts fire. Then, I read this :
Jehovah’s Slave is a religion for seekers of the truth. It’s not Christianity or other religions, it is a religion of light where no darkness is tolerated. A slave of Jehovah is separated from the filth of the world, his sole purpose is to do his master’s bidding. This often times means dissociating from sinful mortals who have no understanding of the things to come. No sin is greater than the other and once you commit one, you are doomed eternally. We uphold morality and condemn immorality to the pit of hell. Come and worship with us at ‘The Holiest of Souls Spiritual Church’, we are content to be slaves now; it is but a small price to pay for a place in heaven.
There were other things they wrote about but these were the ones I was interested in, I read over and over until I knew all by heart. I scrolled down to look for the address and immediately set out to locate it in Only town. In order to start avoiding sinners as soon as possible, I got a map which I used as a search-guide. Then, I joined the church the next Sunday. When I got there, I initially thought the church was empty because I did not hear any sound or noise. But given what I’d found out from my research, I wasn’t really expecting a rowdy atmosphere.
I entered the church quietly and no one seemed to noticed my presence; I don’t like attention so I felt comfortable. The Pulpit man stopped the sermon and signalled me to come over. I walked to the Pulpit and he asked me what my mission was. I told him how I came about the church and he informed me that I would have to take their spirit water. Once you have come with a clean heart, the spirit water never hurt anyone. I took the spirit water and that was how the journey began” narrated Phillip.
Reuben reacted. “Hmm… Such a long story, but it’s not too late to get out of that bondage.”
“Bondage? Bondage? How is it bondage?” Phillip snapped. How could this kid abuse Jehovah’s way out of the rot in this manner, and what was wrong with him allowing the kid to speak ill of his religion?
“It’s bondage because you don’t have a life of your own. Seeing everyone as sinners is not a guarantee that you will get to heaven. Free yourself, get married, have children and walk in accordance with God. Then, you will find peace. Look, Mr Phillip, Christianity is very simple. It’s just the way you view it” replied Reuben.
Philip felt safe with the little boy. He wanted to be angry, but he couldn’t. He forgot all about the broken door, and The Man in the Pulpit, and the Spirit Book, he forgot about being holy for a split moment and spoke quietly.
“Peace; I want peace. I have been craving for peace all these years because deep within me, I am troubled. But you, you don’t have my problem. You have peace, can you help me find peace too?” asked Phillip.
“You are sure?” Phillip asked again with uncertainty in his eyes.
“First thing to do is that you have to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and savior. Believe that God sent his son Jesus to die for our sins. I will get you a Bible we Christians read and you will find peace.”
Across the road, Michael wiped the sleep from his eyes and made his way to the living room; it was 3’o clock. He tuned in to kiddies TV and expected Reuben to run out of his room and settle dutifully at his feet to enjoy his favorite show. After 10 minutes of expecting, he decided to check Reuben’s room and was surprised to find that he was not there. “Where’s your brother?” He asked arousing Tasha from her sleep. “He’s not in his room and he’s not here. Where is he?”.
Natasha was not at all happy to have her sleep interrupted. “I don’t know where he has gone to dad, I’ve been sleeping since lunch” she answered without leaving her sleeping position.
“Anne!” Michael hardly ever yelled, everyone knew it meant trouble when he did. His robust wife huddled out of their room quickly and reported that she’d awakened previously and noticed Reuben’s absence but she did not think it was a cause for alarm.
“Perhaps he’s gone out to know the area more” she answered casually.
Michael was angered the more by her care-free response. “With all that you’ve heard about our ‘neighbour’, you don’t think it odd that Reuben would be out long enough to miss his favourite show?” Michael asked visibly irritated.
“Err… Dad.” Natasha called as she sat up in her bed. “Now that you mention it, I think he might have actually gone to the neighbour’s”.
“What?” Both parents screamed at their daughter.
“Well, Philip has been somewhat fascinated with that man for reasons I don’t understand. He was going there the other day before the bangs got us both distracted. I’m not sure, but I think we could check there first before searching any …”
Michael didn’t wait for her to finish. In a flash, he was out and on his way to Philip’s.
The Chronicles of Phillip Joe continues