You could easily sense the presence of some sublime spirit if you were well attuned to the higher consciousness. At rapt attention they were all spellbound as the Reverend Father Murphy called me up and asked me to address the congregation. Before I could even start thinking, my mouth was open and I just found myself speaking with the force of a strange presence in my consciousness:
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies…
Then my own consciousness was pervaded by my voice as the approving look of the man who taught me the Holy Bible, Father David Jarju, showed me that I was perfect course. Brethren, I proceeded:
Ours is a world beset with challenges. The scourge of Ebola has emaciated our continent. Boko Haram is wreaking havoc in the name of The God who has revealed in His Quran that life is sacred and must not be ended without just cause. It is that same Allah who taught in Surah Al A’la that what He revealed in His Quran was also revealed in the sacred scrolls of Abraham and Moses. What kind of world are we living in? As if the macro-scourges of our world are not enough, we rail in pain in our little micro-scourges. Some of you in the congregation here must have come here this morning without breakfast. Some of you are thinking of the problems you have with your bosses at work. Some of you are going through divorce. Some are staying put in marriages where the couple are still in love but the parents-in-law are an obstacle to the peaceful co-existence of what God has commanded to be together.
Brethren, fear not and be not perturbed, be thou calm and present as Jesus said to the perturbed waters “peace be still!” so do I command you to be at peace and to hear me with a calm mind. Yes it is a turbulent world that we live in; the challenges are gargantuan but yet you cannot afford to despair, for the Good Lord Truly doth send His message; the message bellows from the seas of Kartong and Gunjur and echoes in the hills of Fatoto and Koina. Hearken for I shall give you glad tidings. Remember the words of the scripture; take heart and be calm with the psalm:
Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday… There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
I am not Amos, nor am I Hosea but I too do come to you with a message: it shall indeed be well; your problems should not overwhelm you; for if you should give up because of the daily challenges of your lives, then this would be a demonstration of lack of faith in the Greatness, the Omnipotence and the Overpowering Mercy and Generosity of Your Lord the One True God; the Alpha and the Omega! Hearken my Good Friends for if you shall listen to my message with calm humility and open minds your challenges shall be a thing of the past this very day. And let me hear your Amen to that…
Great! Now let us praise the Good Lord with the cadence of the golden voices of Baati Lingerr while I take a sip of holy water: nen len jaybalu cha Yalla…
Praise the Lord; Glory be to God! This is the day that the Lord has made we shall rejoice and be glad in it. Come on congregation, let me hear you repeat that verse; This is the day that the Lord has made we will rejoice and be glad in it! Thank you.
Now I want you to remember that words are the essence of our lives and we must take care of what comes out of our mouths/minds. Is it not the Holy Scripture that teaches us that it is what comes out of a man’s mouth that defileth him? Brethren, let us be careful of the seeds we sow. And by seed I do not mean the physical corn or coos seed alone; for in as much as those physical seeds are important, what is even more crucial is the other varieties of seed, the spiritual seeds that were symbolised by the proverbial mustard seed. We are but the results/the manifestations of our thoughts. Sow a good thought and you shall reap a good life and if you nurture thoughts of evil, your life will be a miserable one indeed.
The tourist arrivals have slowed, the crops didn’t do well. Yet the Lord God is alive as He always will be. We shall all be fine. So let us count our blessings and thank him for His everlasting benevolence. Let us thank God for our lives, for our families; for the air we breathe and the ability for breathing this air should never be taken for granted. Let us thank the Good Lord for the peace and tranquility of this shining gem we call the Smiling Coast. Oh let us praise the Lord for keeping us at peace in a world of great turbulence and chaos. Let us thank God for He is the One who said in the Bible as well as Quran that if we thank Him He will increase His blessings upon us. We have been reminded of the importance of gratitude in all the scriptures. It is written in the books that came before ours and also after ours as exemplified by the 40th verse of Chapter 2 of the Quran where Allah reminds our forebears in the faith: O Children of Israel! Call to mind the (special) favour which I bestowed upon you, and fulfill your covenant with Me as I fulfill My Covenant with you, and fear none but Me.
Let us remain forever grateful for the favours that the Lord continues to pour down on us on daily, nay, hourly; for the expression of genuine gratitude is the best form of prayer. And speaking about prayer; when we pray, we should pray in the language we know best; after all Jesus never spoke English; so we do not have to read some prayer written in the white man’s tongue for our prayers to be accepted. In Manjago, Jola or Mandinka God hears us all. Let us communicate to the Most Gracious with words that we know and feel. If we do and persist with the efforts to live the word, the biblical statement of every man in his vine and under his fig tree shall come to pass and we shall remain forever in bliss. Let us pray with earnestness and hope for God will answer our prayers if we approach Him with sincerity and earnest humility.
This is the crux of my message; but if that is not enough for you and in the spirit of the nurturing of the mustard seed, I will leave you with these seeds from Jeremiah: For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end…
With the satisfactory pride of a Phd student who just successfully defended his thesis I strode across the isles, gallantly walking to extend a hand of appreciation and gratitude to the man who taught me the Bible at Saint Peter’s High School. It was then that I felt a tab on my shoulder. I opened my eyes to see my mother-in-law Philomena Toupan, standing in front of me in my living room in Kerr Sering. It was then that I realized how long a nap I had on the sofa this warm Sunday morning. She spoke with her characteristic courtesy and soothing care: sorry for disturbing your nap; I was coming from Church and thought I should stop by to check on you and Jai.
The Gambia’s Pen
Author, Instant Success: The Ten Commandments of Personal Achievement and The Road to Enduring Riches]]>