He wasn’t always a pastor. At least, when we met eight years ago and fell in love with each other, there was no indication that he was going to become a pastor. His dream was to become a lawyer. He loved to talk to people and loved to argue his case firmly. I didn’t doubt his capability to turn out a lawyer because he was cut for it. The day he proposed to me, the only word I could think about was a yes. I said yes and till date, it remains one of the happiest days of my life.
We dated for about four years until we both agreed to get married. I introduced him to my parents and siblings and he also did same. I remember that afternoon when he came over to see my parent, the only question my dad asked him was; “what do you do for a living.” At that time, he was the administrator for one of the private hospitals in Accra where he had worked for some months prior. But he told my dad; “I’m a lawyer in the making but at this very moment I’m working as an administrator for a hospital.” My dad smiled knowing I was in a safe pair of hands. We planned to get married the next year and started earnest preparation towards that.
Six months before we got married, something happened that changed us forever. I’d gone to visit his home and had slept over. That dawn he looked restless as if something was bordering him. I asked several times but he kept telling me everything was alright. At dawn, just about 17 past 1am, he woke me up from my sleep. I remember the time very clearly because I looked at the wall clock, wondering what it was that he couldn’t wait until morning to tell me. Then he broke the news to me…
“Dear, for about some months now I’ve been receiving messages from God through my dreams. He’s calling me to be his shepherd. I’ve ignored the message for so long but the dream keeps coming. I think it’s about time I heeded the voice of God.” “So are you going to become a pastor instead of the law you’ve always dreamt of becoming?” I asked. He looked at me and said, “It’s not my call anymore, it’s the Lord’s.” I remember how I couldn’t sleep again that night after listening to him. All my life I’ve never thought of marrying a pastor. I know my way of life and it doesn’t suit the ways pastors’ wives are required to live their lives. Not as if I’m the worst sinner. I just don’t like the conformity associated with becoming a pastor’s wife.
The next morning I told him what I’ve thought about all night. I sat in the corner of the bed while he sat at the edge of the bed on the other side and listened to what I had to say. I told him; “You’ve been the love of my life and all this while I thought we had everything figured out until last dawn. You claimed God has called you. I won’t oppose your acceptance of his call but hear me out. If you had to become a pastor, know that I’m also free to become whoever I want to become. I would be under no obligation to act in any manner that’s against my free will. I won’t serve any position in the church and I won’t be under any obligation to act as the mother of the church as it’s expected of pastors’ wives. I want to also live my life—a life free from strings attached to your becoming a pastor. If we can’t agree to this, then it’s better we both go our separate ways.”
Something on his face gave the expression of a shocked man. He didn’t expect to hear what I said but I needed to make things clear from the onset. I needed assurance for my life too. He stood up from the bed, took some few steps towards the washroom, looked back and told me; “You will be fine. You are a good woman and I trust you wouldn’t do anything to hurt my position as a pastor when the time comes.”
That was the last time we had a conversation about that. Life was normal and the relationship grew stronger amid his incessant absence because of the pastoral school he had to attend. Two years into our marriage, he was ordained a pastor in the same church that we had our wedding. Then the storm of our marriage began.
I got pregnant for him when he was in the pastoral school. He convinced me to abort it since he was in school and he’s not expected to make a lady he’s not married to pregnant. According to him, he might be sacked from the school and be stripped of the opportunity to become a pastor if the school get a hint of it. No amount of pleading would make him understand me. We argued it from both biblical and logical point of view but this man wasn’t ready to let me have it. On the day I had to go to the hospital to abort the child, he took me there and waited till the doctors finished and brought me home. He wanted to be sure I did the abortion.
It became very difficult for me to get pregnant after marriage. At some point, I blamed it on the abortion I did and became very scared that I wasn’t going to conceive again. After visiting a lot of hospitals and being placed on different medications, I got pregnant, again. I wanted to be sure so I didn’t tell him but he saw signs of the pregnancy and asked. I told him the truth. That day….hmmm. It’s difficult writing about it even now. I wish nothing could make me remember the way he beat me that day. I’ve never been beaten all my life like how this man beat me. He hit me with all manna of things. His target was always on my stomach. He succeeded in hitting me in the stomach with belt hook until I started bleeding. The pain was too much so I passed out. I woke up in a hospital with some drip on me. That was when the nurse told me what had happened to me; I’d lost the pregnancy through miscarriage.
When I was discharged, I went to my parent and reported the whole incident to them. My dad was livid and even made the attempt to get him arrested. My mom calmed him down. They invited my husband over and had a discussion on the whole incident. He denied beating me. He denied the first abortion and he denied the miscarriage saying I tripped during a scuffle and I lost it. I was so furious words couldn’t come out of my mouth. I decided not to live with him again. I wanted a divorce there and then. My mom insisted it was too early to decide on divorce and dad supported her. I stayed with my parent for about one month. All the while, he kept coming to my parent asking them to allow me to go back home with him. He came with other pastors of the church and female elders to plead on his behalf. I went back to live with him.
It was peaceful for only a week. He would wake me up at dawn to pray with him. When I tell him I’m not in the mood to pray, he would stop praying and start beating me. I could sleep with a nice face and wake up with a broken face and bloodshot eyes. when I don’t go to church, he would return from church and beat me. The church was fasting and I decided to exempt myself. He locked me up in a room for two days, maltreated me and called me all sorts of names. He would enter the locked room and tore my dress to shreds and forcefully penetrate me from behind. He didn’t care about the fact that I was bleeding. He didn’t hear my anguish cry. All he wanted was to have $3x and satisfy his ego. I was a broken woman. That day, all I wanted was to die. I thought of committing suicide. Maybe use what was left of my cloth to hang myself but I had no strength left to even stand on my feet.
Again, I woke up one morning in a hospital bed. He wasn’t there but I saw one of the church women beside my bed. Immediately I opened my eyes, I heard her whisper “Thank you, Almighty God.” I immediately knew where I was—the same hospital I was brought to when I had the miscarriage. I asked the lady to help me call my mom or my dad. She said she was under instruction to ensure I spoke to no one. “Do these people really know God or they are just monsters parading as God’s people?” I spoke loudly in my head. That wouldn’t make any difference.
I was in the hospital for about one week and nobody from my family knew my where about. One morning, it was a Sunday. I called one of the nurses and asked her to help me. She was a young nurse. It was the first time I was seeing her around. I asked her to help me get to church since I was yearning to hear the voice of God. She got a taxi for me. I used her phone to call my parent to meet me at my husband’s church. I told the taxi driver to drove me to the church premises. I couldn’t walk without help. The pain in my abdomen was too severe it restricted my movement but I was determined.
When I got to the church premises, I prayed for strength to carry my mission through. I asked the taxi driver to walk me to the pulpit. All the while, I was looking around if I could see my parent. I didn’t see any of them. The taxi driver held me by the side as I coiled my right hand around his neck. Walking wasn’t easy but I was determined to walk to the pulpit, get the microphone and tell the whole congregation the kind of monster my husband was. I remember getting close to the pulpit. I can recall the shock on my husbands face when he saw me. “I screamed with the last energy within me, “Give me the microphone!” I remember my husband rushing to my side. I saw some of the elders getting up to meet me half way. The last thing I remember I heard was my husband saying to the people “Pay no attention to her. She’s not well in the head.” I passed out.
I opened my eyes the next day in a hospital. This one was different from where I was before I went to the church. I saw my dad and mum sitting on my bed and weeping. I was frail. They thought I was going to die. Against all odds, I pulled through and was discharged from the hospital. My dad asked that we made the issue a police case. But I knew what I wanted. Getting him arrested would delay the process of what I wanted. All I wanted was a divorce. The only thing on my mind was to be far away from him.
It’s been nine months since this incidence. I’m divorced now and I’m healing. Anytime I get the opportunity to tell my story, the hurting gets less painful and I get to feel this warmth release I haven’t felt before. Everyone who hears my story gets angry about the fact that I didn’t press charges against him. My peace and my healing are more important to me than hurting him back. I forgave him and wish him well every day.
Kira Ofori (VIA SILENTBEADS) lives in Accra, Ghana and works with one of the advertising agencies in the country.