Integrity Church

By Manuel Ndagije

Personally, I am not a fan of going to church. I have spent almost all my days without stepping through the door of the church because of one particular Sunday when I was 16 years old. On that Sunday, I went to Pentecost Full Gospel church for a morning service. When it was time for offerings, I saw a church elder slapping his own son inside the church because he forgot to bring the offering money. This incident made me realize that the church is full of hypocrisy and violent people.

Only a few months later I went to watch a football match and I encountered a beautiful lady called Celestine. I first noticed her while she was walking down the road near the football grounds. I was sitting under a tree waiting for the players to arrive. I was with a friend of mine and other people who had traveled to the game from different places. There were tall trees that children would climb for a better view of the match. Celestine took my heart at first sight and I felt like taking her under the shadows of those trees so that we could chat. I decided to approach her and I got her number. It was my first time to be moved by a lady just by seeing her.

After two days, I called her. I was surprised that the first question that came out of her mouth was to ask me if I have a church. I was honest and told her that I do not go to any church. Celestine told me that she would be happy to have me as her guest at her church, “Integrity Church ”. When I like someone, I will do everything that they ask me to do. Therefore, I was ready to go to her church not because I wanted to but just to make her happy.

When I reached the church, I was impressed by how it looked. In front, they used chitenge (African clothes) to decorate where the church elders and the pastors sit. There were rose flowers on the windows, which were beautifully made of glass. The walls were painted with cream oil paint. I was received nicely by the usher and they gave me a chair to sit on.

I texted her that I was in the church because I could not see her. I didn’t know that she had arrived late. She sat behind me and when I turned, she looked even more beautiful than she had looked at the football ground. I wished that I could come to the church every Sunday to see her. Her dressing style was unique. She wore a short black skirt and a blue T-shirt with a yellow top. This was so beautiful on her because it matched with her long black shoes. I was distracted by her the whole time and moreover, the pastor who preached that Sunday preached in French, a language that I barely understand. I focused on her the whole time and I believe my neck suffered from looking behind me. I couldn’t wait for the church service to finish but it was taking forever. The pastor preached for one hour and I asked myself “Why is he not finishing so that I can talk to her?” The only thing that I liked were the praise and worship songs that they sang before the pastor started to preach.

Things didn’t go as I expected when the service ended at noon. I refused to go home without telling her how I felt. I escorted her to her place.

Her home is not far from Integrity Church. Perhaps only one kilometer away from her house, I told her that we should stop along the road. I said to her, “I would be happy to go with you to the church as boyfriend and girlfriend and not only as mere friends.” She told me, “I have a boyfriend and I love him so much. I cannot betray him and that’s a promise that I made to him.” The moment she said this, my body developed goosebumps even though it was sunny that day. I wished I met her first before she had a boyfriend. Maybe then I would be her boyfriend in his place. She promised me that we could keep being friends but not more than that.

After all the effort of preparing my favorite dark blue suit that I wear once in a while and going to a place that I had stopped going to, I felt like my time and effort had gotten me nowhere. I regretted that I even went to church. It was like a waste of time. From this incident, I learned that honesty is important. Lying to people so that they can be pleased is not a good thing. It is better to tell them how you feel about them and see whether they will stay or go.

19 October, 2023