“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I shall pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.” – Hosea 2:28
The wind blew across the crusty earth, evidence of the perennial drought that had besieged the land, forty-eight months and still counting. The inhabitants of Ile-aye sauntered with their heads bowed while the river moped as its lips ran dry.
A middle-aged man whose white ears cuddled like wet cornflakes approached Ijo Village, trudging on dead logs, dried palm fronds and carcass. He stared awhile at the villagers, particularly those making little ridges for the grasses. Grasses had become vegetable in this hard time; at least they were more resilient. Yet, they were watered once in three days. The man walked towards them nonetheless. He looked plush, and well-fed. He was wearing a spotless white robe and had a smile etched on his face.
The villagers stopped tilling the farm as they gazed at the man. Questions ran through their minds. Who was he? Where was he coming from? How come he had ruddy cheeks and looked well-fed? The children ran towards him. He dipped his hands into his bag and brought out akara snacks for each of them. How did he get that much food for all the children? The villagers looked on with adoration in their eyes. The man walked on still, pressing with each step into the centre of the village, towards the gathering at the centre of the village. There, a man named Oluso-agutan taught the villagers from the Book. The congregation at the village square murmured in low tones; they were bored, but feigned attentiveness. They failed in their attempt to encourage the speaker and attract more villagers to join them. They had lost their fervency and their face dropped, revealing their hunger, boredom and frailty.
As the white-haired man arrived at the village centre, people made way for him – a path leading to the centre of the gathering. He sat down on the stool, and they all sat around him. He turned to Oluso-agutan, and asked, “Do you know Me?”
“No, sir, I don’t know You; can we meet you sir?”
He turned to everyone. The multitude had begun to increase in number because word had gone round the village about the strange man.
“Does anyone know Me?”
There was silence. A few whispers could be heard. Then, a hand shot up. It was a young woman reputed for her eccentricity in the village.
He shook his head in disapproval.
“That’s what you’ve being looking for, but that is not the answer to life’s emptiness.”
She replied, “But they told me once I joined Ijo, I would overcome life’s emptiness. It was that way for a while, until some four years ago.”
“There’s more in the life you are to live in Ijo than just some activities. That’s why the activities drained you of strength, yet you had no source to replenish you.”
Just then, a small boy walked to the centre of the circle. He spoke up as he drew nearer.
“I know you sir, you are Him of whom the prophet spoke of in Joel; you are Him whom the master promised will make our lives and fellowship with Him to peak like the mountain top. You are Emi Mimo”
Emi Mimo smiled, and stood up, saying: “You have all remained this way because you refused to read the testament as you should, and ask of me of whom your master spoke. I was around all along to guide you into all truth, but you failed to see me. I am here because that young boy read his testament and asked for me. That is the reason the rains have refused to pour: because you have left the business of the master undone to minister to your own needs. You have become people chasing after the order of Ile-aye.”
The people all fell to the dusty earth, and began to weep, each asking for forgiveness. They lifted up their voices to the heavens as they confessed their iniquities.
Just then, it began to drizzle. Rain descended in small pellets. Many people stood and ran into the rain in jubilation. After the celebration, they went into the comfort of their huts. As soon as they settled down, the rain stopped. “What happened?” they all asked, as they hurried back to meet Emi Mimo who had been waiting under the juniper tree at the village square.
“Did you wonder why it stopped raining? Firstly, how many of you prepared your soils to receive the rain? Even if it was not prepared, will it not be wise for you to till the earth even in the rain. Must the rainwater go to waste? Never squander the master’s resources. Emi Mimo’s power is meant to bring in harvest; it is not for you to just revel in. Secondly, you all went into your huts; this is what has made my presence tarry this long: because when it poured in time past, every man used it for selfish ends – furthering his own course.”
He continued, “In Ijo, there ought not to be any huts, divisions or denominations. You are one. Thirdly, for how long did you even stay in the rain to get drenched and purged? The moment it came, you started moving. Ought you not to cultivate yourself, just like you cultivate the land? There is dirt: I need to wash off your bodies. But some never stayed in the rain. You press into the depth as you remain in the rain. That is why it is expedient you tarry in the rain. Your master said He needed to leave so that I could come to lead you into a time of truth and power, and ensure that people all over Ile-aye can worship your master from anywhere, even as they remain in the rain.”
The rain began to pour down heavily on every inhabitant of Ile-aye even as he spoke.
“Stay in the rain and learn of me.”
Emi Mimo rose among them. Oluso-aguntan took the Book and began to teach the now increasing church. They held their hoes firmly and put their cutlasses to work even as they remained in the rain.
This piece was originally published in the 2010 Edition of Campus Mirror, an annual magazine of the Lagos Varsity Christian Union, University of Lagos, Nigeria and has been slightly modified. Tola Onayemi studies Law at the University of Lagos.
Keywords: Ile aye: the world; Ijo: the church; Oluso-aguntan: shepherd or pastor; Iyanu: miracle; Emi Mimo: the Holy Spirit.