Church Crawler: The ‘oversabi singer’, cliché uniforms and the Hymn of Holiness at Emmanuel Baptist Church

Remember the “Pentedox” experience at Bethel Baptist church a few weeks ago? Church Crawler experienced a similar scenario last Sunday at Emmanuel Baptist Church, Sabo Oke, Ilorin, Kwara State – The biggest Baptist Church arm in Kwara State, it is as orthodox as orthodox goes but with a mix of some Pentecostal acts (Chill, you’ll understand in a bit). Having about six or seven buildings in the large compound with sounds from every direction, I was unsure where to go. Asking one fine girl in a weird combination of clothes for where to go, I was delighted they have an English Chapel. The first shock of the day “fell on me” when I got to the door of their English Chapel. The doors were locked! Looking around, I noticed about twelve other people were outside with me. Later, I found out the doors were locked because they were praying inside. Wawuu! Ilorin sun did not help matters, determined to punish late comers as we stood there for close to ten minutes before a minister’s voice came from inside, “You can now open the gates”. It was almost spiritual, crossing from under the sun, hot as hell, into heaven, with Air Conditioners working to ensure comfort. No ease for the latecomers though. I was directed to an area without A.C. by one bald usher smiling at everyone in a conspiratorial manner.

Fast forward to the service proper, I had been given the weekly pamphlet and a glance through it had revealed we would sing three different hymns. No problem. The real wahala came when one of the groups to minister, the adult choir, sang hymns again as their presentation. It was dull, one mic was particularly too loud so the alto singer sounded like she was leading the whole choir. I had to make a mental note not to criticise their cliché uniform colours, white shirt on black trousers/skirts, after all, they’re the “adult” choir nah. They were forgiven totally when the Chapel Choir came on. Mehn! It was lit. They sang Travis Greene’s “Made a Way” perfectly till towards the end when one ‘oversabi’ brother set a key too high for him to maintain. A lady to my far left sang along with them in a loud voice, distorting it totally by singing it in an opera-like manner. Her falsetto was horrible. People kept looking her way but she didn’t stop, rather increasing her pitch and standing sef. Later, I heard the lady on my immediate left say, “Maybe she dey find husband”. ROTFL!

As the minister took over from the choir, the atmosphere already charged, he kept singing the same song and talking in between. Then he started praying in tongues, calling all who need healing to come forward. You know our people na, the whole church almost gathered at the altar, the minister laying hands on them one at a time. Then he prayed for an elderly man using crutches. Eyes were closed, mine open so wide if demons truly entered people with eyes open, legions upon legions would visit me. I was eager to see everything play out until the man was suddenly walking without help! Then another round of worship to thank God for the miracle. Time was almost eleven o’clock at this point, no sermon yet. As the pastor stopped the worship and I heaved a sigh of relief, one woman started “manifesting”. So for the next thirty minutes, we were hearing a message from God from her. At times it looked like she was done, then she’d scream “Open to the book of Psalms” again. We read the same chapter thrice. O boy, thank God it wasn’t Psalms 119 we read. Thankfully, the English Chapel pastor, Rev’d Taiye Adeola, saw no need for another sermon. Hallelujah!

When they called for first timers, I was the first to stand. Stay for close to four hours and leave without refreshments? No way! The choir in their nice “Baptist” robe dazzled again with the welcome song, clapping and grooving all the way. Finally, we sang a “hymn of holiness” and ended the service. I didn’t wait for the speech after. It was past one already and I was weak all over.

Till I attend that church and church crawler crawls into our church, better be prepared, “for the hour cometh…”

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