Jonathan gave a smile of satisfaction as he looked into the mirror. The costume was simply wonderful, and it fitted him perfectly. Even after a whole hour of rehearsals, the mask was still as comfortable as ever. The only trouble he had was with the left ear; it was a little longer than the other ear and tended to tilt to one side. After unsuccessfully attempting to adjust it, Jonathan decided to let it be and to take it to Ma Teacher, the local seamstress, later in the day even though that would mean letting her in on their secret.
The others were getting out of their costumes. Somebody said something and they all looked at Jonathan and laughed.
” Mr Devil, are you going home?” Victor, the Youth leader, asked as he delicately pulled off a pair of wings from his back.
” He’s looking for whom to devour,” Inyang said. Jonathan moved threateningly towards her with his arms outstretched and she fled in mock terror. The watching group roared their approval.
Victor rapped his knuckles on a chair in front of him. The laughter died down as everyone turned to face him. He cleared his throat and began to speak.
” We all know that tomorrow is the big day, the day we have all been waiting for and rehearsing for. Tomorrow will mark the tenth anniversary of this Church. All the service arms will be expected to present dramas and songs at the occasion and I want to thank Brother Jonathan for the beautiful drama we shall be presenting.
” Our drama presentation will be the first of it’s kind in this Church. For the first time, we shall have a drama complete with costumes just like the one we saw when he Youths of ‘Jesus Our Lord’ Church invited us to their convention last month. We are bringing the same thing to our village and I want to thank everybody who donated money towards this project.”
He waited for the applause to die down before continuing. ” Don’t forget that we shall be having our final rehearsal by six p.m. And please endeavor to keep our plans secret. I want everything to come as a surprise to everybody.”
Jonathan stayed behind after every other person had left. It was his turn to keep the Youth Sanctuary clean and he wanted to make a thorough job of it. He hung up all the items of clothing that had been discarded by his colleagues, swept the room and dusted and rearranged the scanty furniture until he was satisfied that everything was in order.
It was only then hat he gave attention to his own costume. The outfit had been sewn as a pair of tight- fitting overalls. A small zipper ran from the back of the neck down, ending just where a detachable tail had been attached. As he twisted his hand behind him to pull down the zipper, he lost his balance and fell down.
He lay on the floor for about ten minutes before pulling himself up painfully. Limping to a chair that leaned against a corner of the wall, he lowered himself slowly into it and turned his attention to the zipper once more. To his dismay, he discovered that it was stuck and would not move. He decided to wait for a while to get his strength back before attempting to pull it down.
It was while reclining against the chair that he heard, faintly, voices raised as if in prayers. That told him that it was already eleven o’clock and that the Bible Study class was in progress. He knew that Pastor Pius was the teacher for the day and he decided to listen to that anointed servant of God speak on God’s word. He knew he could not get into the main building because of the costume he still had on. For one, it would draw unnecessary attention to himself and it would also mean letting everyone know about their plans for the anniversary. He would watch and listen from a window right there in the Youth Sanctuary which opened into the main hall and from where he would be able to see the Pastor clearly.
He was feeling quite strong by then but he decided to put off facing the troublesome zipper until the class was over. He took a hasty look at himself in the mirror once more, noting that everything was in place; the protruding ears, the small patch of white hair between the two big horns and the tight- fitting black velvet overall, before hurrying off to take his position at the window.
The session of prayers was just coming to an end. Jonathan stood by the side of the window and inched himself forward until an eye could see into the hall. He watched as Pastor Pius mounted the pulpit and listened, enthralled, as he began to speak.
The topic for discussion that day was “Resisting the Devil and his antics”. ” Brethren,” Pastor Pius’ voice rang out. ” Christ lets us know in John chapter 10 verse 10 that ‘the thief ( that is the devil) comets not but to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.’
” Therefore, all it takes to put the devil under your feet is confidence in Jesus. Listen to what God says: ‘I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the powers of the enemy.’ Satan is right there, under your feet, brethren. Put your faith in the Lord and you will share in David’s claim (Psalm 27 verse 7): When the wicked, even my enemies and my foes, come upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.”
Jonathan was so engrossed in what the Pastor was saying that he had forgotten that he was not supposed to show himself. To see and hear better, he had drawn himself up so that his head and shoulders were now exposed. He was still listening attentively when the Pastor turned suddenly in his direction.
Jonathan quickly ducked out of sight. But Pastor Pius had seen him. He stood there on the pulpit, Bible in hand, staring in disbelief at the open window. Then he took control of himself and continued with the class, though with less confidence, and his eyes kept going back to the window. ” I repeat, the devil is entirely under your control. All you need to do when he rears up his head is to tell him to get lost. It is time for us to know our rights. Let us stop magnifying Satan…”
Jonathan, meanwhile, heard the Pastor’s voice resume talking and assumed that either he had not been seen, or that the Pastor had seen and recognized him. He wanted to be sure, so he raised his head up slowly.
Pastor Pius first saw the pair of horns rising up slowly. Then he saw the tip of the long, pointed ears, then the patch of white hair. He stood as if in a trance and watched as the rest of the face came into view. Then Pastor Pius did precisely what he had been preaching against. He dropped the Bible on the floor and fled.
When he saw the Pastor run out of the hall, Jonathan rose to his feet quickly. He could not understand what was going on and wanted to see what would make the man of God rush out like that. The scene that met his eyes was one of total confusion. The class was made up largely of Elders and Deacons of the Church. They all milled about in confusion. They obviously thought that Pastor Pius had been seized by a fit of insanity. A young man had already been sent to pursue him.
Jonathan still could not understand what was happening. In order to get a better view, he stuck his head out of the window. Immediately, Deacon Silas, another strong man of God, saw him. He froze, and stood still for a few seconds, staring at Jonathan in shock. Then he turned to Deaconess Eucharia and pulled at her arm frantically. She took one look at Jonathan and let out a wild scream.
Heads turned to behold the incredible sight. Somebody shouted “It’s the devil O!” and there was a general stampede for the door. Before Jonathan could say anything, the last person had already rushed out.
So they thought he was Satan himself! Jonathan did not know whether to be amused or angry. But he did not understand why they were so scared of the devil, especially after listening to Pastor Pius’ message. And Pastor Pius himself! Jonathan shook his head wryly and was just about to withdraw back into the Youth Sanctuary when a movement caught his eyes.
It was a woman and she was hiding under the last bench in the hall. Jonathan recognized her immediately. It was Elder Grace, an elderly lady who had taken a liking to him and who was giving him regular Bible lessons. She was very strong in the Lord and he was sure no devil would scare her. She had probably seen the others rushing out and had crawled under the bench because of her arthritis. She would surely know that he was no devil.
He jumped into the hall through the window. Elder Grace had crawled out of her hiding place and was sitting on the floor. At the sound of his feet, she looked up.
The terror in her face startled him. He walked towards her and she cringed at his approach. When he stood in front of her, she shrank back from him. Her lips worked silently, and at last, she spoke, ” My lord Satan, please have mercy on my soul. Eevn though I have been an Elder in this Church for years, I have been secretly worshipping you.”