A Friend In Need …..Episode 2 (By John Ogunjimi)
Tayo’s father knew me well. I frequented his house as his son’s best friend and, good enough, he approved of my friendship with his son. He once told me of how he had taken time to pray with Tayo about God choosing a friend for him. He was afraid that an ungodly influence could derail his beloved son and waste all the spiritual investments in him. My father was his assistant and he too was pleased with my friendship with Tayo.
Pastor Adekunle, Tayo’s father, treats me like a son—his son. On days when my parents travelled out of town on missionary assignment, I simply packed my things and went over to my friend’s house and could be there for as long as I wanted. So, by all means, I knew I could discuss with him as a father.
Without hesitation, I placed a call to him, which he answered almost immediately, “Hello, my son.”
“Sir, goo… good afternoon sir.” I stammered a reply. I realized I probably didn’t think it through before making the call.
“How are you? I’ve had it in mind to call you.” Call me? I wondered. Why would he want to call me? Does he know about Tayo’s recent change in behaviour? Has someone told him already? Is he angry that I didn’t tell him earlier?
“Really, sir?” I asked, leading him on.
“Yes. I noticed that you were not around during the last semester break. Is everything alright?”
“Yes sir,” I replied, feeling relieved. “I was busy with some pastoral work in the campus fellowship. I needed to wait behind with some other fellowship executives to seek God’s face in prayers and plan for the new session.”
“I see,” came his most common response. “Tayo told me of your involvement in the Lord’s work over there. I pray God will continue to strengthen you in Jesus’ name.”
“Amen. Thank you sir.”
“It’s good to hear from you.”
“Same here sir. Extend my greetings to the rest of the family sir,” I said curtly. I didn’t want the conversation to prolong anymore. Obviously, he didn’t know, and I wasn’t ready to be the one to bell the cat at the moment. Tayo deserved a fair hearing after all, and although I’d tried giving him that, I was going to try again.
“Alright, my son. Bye.”
Heaving a big sigh of relief, I wasn’t sure what to do next. After racking my brain for minutes, I resolved that I needed to approach the matter radically. Next thing I did was to take .a stool and a copy of Robert Liardon’s ‘God’s Generals’, and go straight to Tayo’s room.
The music was playing as usual, but I tried getting his attention all the same. At first, I called his phone which he didn’t answer. Of course, I knew he wouldn’t answer no matter how many times I called, so I started calling his name, then proceeded to knocking. After knocking for minutes without any response, I said to myself, ‘Well, today is the day! It is either he comes out to see me, or he stays in that room for the rest of the day.’ It was a Saturday morning and I had a few hours to spare, so I took my sit in front of his door—reading.
Tayo must have felt that I would leave soon that was not the first time. He even increased the volume of the music from his room, yet I was still determined to wait. Something was not right and I was about to find out. I busied myself with the book in my hand silently praying that someday I would be one of God’s generals too. It was hard to concentrate but, at least, it kept me busy.
After about two and half hours, I heard Tayo turn down the music and unbolt the door from within. Then, he turned the lock and opened the door gently as if he was hiding from being caught. After peeping outside to ascertain that I was alone, he beckoned to me to come inside.
The first thought that came to my mind was, ‘So he knew I was sitting here all this time and yet he left me here?’ Just then, another thought flew in almost immediately, ‘I knew I would win eventually. He couldn’t hide forever.’ That thought brought a smug smile to my face but I quickly cautioned myself, ‘This is not the time for gloating!’ Without saying a word, I picked my stool and stepped into his room.
Everything looked the same in there. His Bible was open on his reading table as it had always been most of the time. His journal was beside the Bible, a pen sticking out from the middle thereof. Surely, he must have been writing in it.
As I entered, Tayo shut the door behind us firmly. I stared at him for seconds and what I could read written all over his face was worry, depression and fear. ‘This is going to be a long day,’ I thought within myself as I sat on the carpet in one corner of his room. Just then, I noticed his eyeballs were red. Confusion gripped me. Was he sleeping before I came? Has he been sick? Or, God forbid, has he been smoking something? Was he high?
For a minute or two, none of us said a word. Tayo stood beside his reading table, backing me as he drew the curtain and opened the windows. The ray of sunshine that flooded the room seemed to ease the tension. He stood there a little longer as he gazed into the distance and taking deep breaths of the fresh air that came in.
“I haven’t opened this window in many weeks,” he said, still looking outside the window. Breaking the silence was helpful, but I was convinced there were more pressing things to discuss than the window. He didn’t seem to expect a reply from me, and even if he did, I wasn’t not sure of what my response should be, so I simply kept quiet.
I sat there with mixed feelings of pity and fear. On one side, I felt he was in danger and needed help; on the other hand, his red eyeballs and that fact that he bolted the door after I entered made him look scary. I had never seen Tayo get angry and that made me believe that there were some things he would never do. But at that moment, I felt like I didn’t know him anymore. Something about him was different and unexplainable.
“Wale, I need help. Can you pray for me?” Tayo had never asked for my help; be it financial, academic or spiritual. He had everything he needed. In fact, I looked up to him in many areas, especially in spiritual things. No! Not that he was my leader; we were more like colleagues, but I know he had a winsome spiritual life.
I was his leader in the campus fellowship, not because I was more anointed than him but by divine providence. My predecessor had told me something important after the handing over service one Sunday. He told me of how the leadership of the fellowship was to be committed to Tayo, but he had humbly declined.
Tayo had explained to him that he had more passion for the outside ministry of evangelizing the unreached rather than settle for a maintenance ministry in the church. He also mentioned how Tayo promised that he would readily support anyone who occupied the position of leadership which he did quite well before travelling for his internship.
I respected him as an elder in the fellowship. On few occasions, he had been helpful in advising me on handling some tough situations I found myself. Also, every prayer session we had together had left me more refreshed than before.
By now, you understand my confusion when he was asking me to pray for him. I couldn’t settle my mind to even guess what on God’s earth he could need my prayer for.
“How do you mean, Tayo? Help in what way? What is going on?” I was too anxious to know that I bombarded him with all those questions at the same time.
Before he could utter another word, he broke into tears.
To Be Continued….