By ZENTS KUNLE SOWUNMI
Two days after Tina was buried, Pastor Jackson, popularly called PJ got a call from Andrew Peterson, the retired Mayor for the City of Memphis who was also the Chairman Board of trustee for the Church, he wanted an urgent meeting with him that evening, and PJ was wondering what the Old man wanted, everything seemed to be under control, the Church was growing, all the investments in the Bank and other places were doing just fine, membership was growing and congregates were sending in their tithes regularly and in the next two years, the Pinnacle International Services would hit the 25,000 membership target.
PJ loved the system the Church had with the Bank the Chairman, Andrew Peterson introduced to the Church two years ago, the system made it easier for members to pay their tithes and donations with credit cards, it was a boom to the mission, the revenue went up more than 250 %, the church should be moving to the 100 acres site outside Memphis and members were coming up with different programs to expand the Church and international outreach.
PJ recollected how he grew up in the East side of Brooklyn New York, somewhere on the Fountain Avenue very close to Euclid, it was rough, his family came from a very poor background as immigrants from Dominican Republic , they could only live in the basement of a building his parent rented from a Land lady who migrated from Jamaica in the early sixties, people practically lived on the streets in the East Side of Brooklyn, they smoked freely and talked very loud, with blasting music on both sides of the streets, as a teenager, he would watched the “C” train from the Subway and sometimes he was tempted to run away, he told himself, if he was able to leave Brooklyn New York, he was never going to set his foot on the East Side of the City again.
The High School contained lots of gangs, they all experimented with cracks and marijuana, it was fashionable then, he was glad, his Uncle David from Durham North Carolina came to get him after his High School Diploma which he managed to pass, he was an average student, until he got enrolled in the Community college in Durham, he put all his energies into academics, when he finally decided to be a Pastor as a career, and he knew he was not going to be just ordinary Pastor, he would be known all over the country and he knew one day, he would sit on the Opral Show in Chicago or Larry King on CNN, those were his dreams.
That was fifteen years ago, he had matured in his work, he knew the rope of the business, the politics behind the growth of the Church, and to invest and save for the raining day, his association with politicians had shown him what he could do better than other pastors around, his marriage to Kimberly was doing just fine, it was strictly for business, they did a lot of unspeakable things in the bedroom, the more he tried to please her, the more she wanted, until he realized, she needed more than a partner to keep her sexual needs, one thing and another led to including other unspeakable events in their relationship, whatever she wanted she got it, otherwise she could rock his boat.
Why did the Chairman asked him for a meeting in his house instead of the usual bi-monthly meeting in the Church premises or the Hilton Hotel they both loved? He was worried, his financial books were okay, he thought, he knew, no one including his wife, Kimberly would ever noticed his secret accounts in Cayman Islands, or the secret businesses he had outside the country, his brother Mike, who was never a member of the Church coordinated his sharp practices and he lived outside the country far away from the law, in a country United States of America had no extradition treaty.
“You need to prepare for the raining day” Mike had told him as soon as he was appointed the Pastor for the Pinnacle International Gospel, at the beginning he was naïve, he reported all incomes, and donations, he was too plain until his brother had a meeting with him, he coached him, on the how to be a successful pastor and a businessman, he could remember what Mike said. “ Smile often, dress well, and keep a positive posture, that was all you need to be a good pastor, when you add preaching prosperity to it, thousands of dollars will role in from gullible members, to be a millionaire, you have to do beyond the ordinary, expand your horizon, move beyond the conventions of four P’s of marketing, Price, Promotion, products, placement, add the two unmentioned P’s to it, power and politics, that was how the millions would role in” Mike was right, PJ followed his brothers advise like a student followed all the principles of gravity from his teacher.
Mike was his coach, his mentor and his protector right from their ugly side of Brooklyn New York, he knew people particularly those that could do ugly jobs for him if he had to straighten things out. Out of instinct, before he left to see the Chairman, he placed a call to his brother, who gave him the go ahead.
PJ sat for few minutes in his White colored 450 E Class Mercedes Benz 2009 model, he prayed, he did the sign of cross like the Roman Catholics, it was a habit he picked up in New York, in most cases he had to remind himself he was not a Catholic Priest, who could asked for confession from his Pentecostal members. It was a thirty minutes’ drive from the mission house to the Chairman residence, it was almost a year ago, he visited the House of the Chairman, he noticed the property had been repainted, from cream color to White, the gate had been redecorated, he was thinking of his own mansion in St Lucia, maybe he should change the gate like this one, he thought.
He rang the doorbell, the butler came to usher him in, he was surprised, to see all the seven other members of the Board of trustee in the library room waiting for him, he did not trust the mischievous smiles on their faces when they shook his hand, he smiled back but his was more like grimace with a strained eyes, it was more like a watchful cat ready to run in case of any surprise.
PJ Straightened up his neck tie, he removed his jacket , he picked the seat very close to the door, which gave him advantage on the movement and body languages of all those in the room, he was waiting, for the next move from the Chairman.
What happened next?