It was after six in the evening. Hank was relaxing on the beach enjoying the cool sea breeze and the sunshine. He wondered if he would hear from Ede. He hadn’t been able to stop thinking about her since they met on Friday. As he walked past the store, he noticed her standing behind the counter and that was why he popped in. And, besides, the stuff they were selling looked good.
She looked like she had been daydreaming or something and wasn’t even aware that he was even there until he cleared his throat. He could see that she was startled and embarrassed. She looked to be in her early twenties and was very striking. He was immediately attracted to her although he was more than twice her age.
After he left the store, he had stuck around, waiting until it closed and she left. When he saw her walking towards him, he was thankful and seized the opportunity to talk to her–to get to know her better. At first, she had been a little reserved but she soon warmed up and they got to talking about her. Then, the topic shifted to religion, specifically the day of worship. He was happy to give her a ride home so that they could continue their conversation. After a while she seemed a bit overwhelmed by what he was telling her and he backed off.
When they were outside of her grandmother’s place, he knew that he had to see her again. So, he asked her to go to Ouidah with him tomorrow and he could see the uncertainty on her face. Not wanting to pressure her, he encouraged her to think about it and to let him know. He hoped that she would accept his invitation. All weekend, he had been waiting for her call but hadn’t heard from her as yet. He would understand if she didn’t want to go although he would be very disappointed.
Last night he had called his mother and told her about Ede. “Mother, guess what?”
“What, Hank? You sound very upbeat.”
“I am because I met the girl of my dreams.”
There was a brief silence. “Really? How do you know she’s the one?”
“I felt it when I saw her.”
“What about Ashley?”
“Mother, I was never romantically interested in Ashley.”
“What a shame. She’s such a lovely woman and she would make an ideal pastor’s wife.”
“Yes, she’s lovely and yes, she would make an ideal pastor’s wife but my feelings for her are purely platonic.”
There was a sigh. “Tell me about this girl of your dreams.”
He told her.
“Oh, Hank, you’ve only spoken to her once.”
“Yes, but I plan to see more of her.”
“Don’t rush into anything.”
“Don’t worry, Mother. I won’t rush into anything.”
They talked for a while longer and then, he ended the call. He had something to eat and then went for a walk on the beach. As he walked along the water’s edge, he thought about Ede and what she was doing. He was looking forward to seeing her again and having more discussions.
The ringing of his cell phone interrupted his thoughts and he answered it. “Hello?”
“Hello, Pastor Hank.”
“Hello, Ede. It’s good to hear from you.”
“I-I called to say that I will go to Ouidah with you.”
His face broke into a big smile. “That’s great. Would you like me to pick you up at your grandmother’s house or would you prefer to meet somewhere?”
“My grandmother’s house is fine.”
“All right. I’ll pick you up at ten.”
“Are you all right? I’m asking because the last time we spoke you seemed a bit overwhelmed.”
“I’m all right now. It was a lot of information to digest.”
“We don’t have to talk about religion if you don’t want to.”
“No, I don’t mind having religious discussions.”
“Tell you what, if there’s a particular topic you would like to discuss or you have any questions about what I believe, let me know and we’ll talk about it.”
“Okay. I have a question but if you’re busy, I can ask it tomorrow.”
“I’m not busy. Do you know where I am right now?”
“At the church?”
“No. I’m on the beach enjoying the sand, sea and sunshine. Right now, I have a lot of time on my hands. What’s your question?”
“In Exodus, it says that ‘You must not make for yourselves any idols. Don’t make something that looks like anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the water below the land’. Does this mean that we shouldn’t have religious illustrations, photographs or art depicting biblical people and events?”
“No. In verse 5, God explains what He means. He doesn’t want us to worship or serve any idol. He is the true God and worship belongs to Him and Him alone. It is the veneration or worship of images or graven forms which is considered sin. God Himself instructed that two angels carved in gold be on the lid of the lid of the Ark of the Covenant. We read in the first book of Kings that all of the walls around the Temple were carved with pictures of creatures with wings, palm trees and flowers. And in the courtyard there were cast bronze oxen. He instructed Moses to fashion a bronze serpent in the wilderness so that when anyone who was bitten looked at it, he lived. The problem was when that same serpent later became an object of worship and ha to be destroyed. So, a carved form isn’t sin in itself but only when it becomes an object of adoration.”
“What about statues of Mary and the saints?”
“As long as you don’t bow down and worship them, they’re not considered sinful.”
“A friend of mine wondered the same thing and when she asked the priest, he told her that when a Catholic bows to a statue, he or she is expressing friendship and respect with the person the image is depicting, not worshiping it as one might bow toward the Blessed Sacrament.”
“The Bible doesn’t see bowing to a statue as expressions of friendship and respect but as a form of idolatry.”
“But what about Mary? She’s the mother of God.”
“In the Bible she is never referred to as the mother of God but as the mother of Jesus even though, Jesus is God, the Son.”
“What about the Blessed Sacrament? It’s the Body and Blood of Christ.”
“When Jesus spoke of the bread being His body and the wine being His blood, He was speaking figuratively. The bread and wine don’t become His actual body and blood. I know a lot of Catholics based their beliefs in transubstantiation on what Jesus said in John 6:53.
“Yes. He said that whoever eats His flesh and drinks His blood has eternal life.”
“He also said that it is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that He spoke to them are spirit, and they are life. So, basically, Jesus is saying that His teaching is not literal but a spiritual. It’s like when He told Nicodemus that he had to be born again and he took Him literally. He didn’t mean that Nicodemus who was an old man had to enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born. Jesus wasn’t talking about physical birth but spiritual birth. He made that clear when He said, ‘That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. To be born again means to be born of the Spirit. Eating Jesus flesh and drinking His blood would be cannibalism.”
“I guess it’s like when He said that He was the door of the sheep.”
“Exactly! He was saying that He was the only way by which we, the sheep can be saved. We can only enter into eternal life through Him. There’s no other way through which we can receive salvation. There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. There’s only one way to salvation and Jesus Christ is that way, that door.”
“Thank you for explaining it so clearly, Pastor Hank.”
They spoke for a while longer and then, bade each other goodnight. Ede looked at the clock on the wall. It was eight-thirty. She and Pastor Hank had spoken for two hours.
“Who were you talking to for so long?” her grandmother asked when she took her a cup of tea.
“It was Pastor Hank.”
“The new pastor from the Harvest Seventh-day Adventist Church?”
“It seems like you and he had a lot to talk about.”
“Yes, he was explaining things from the Bible to me.”
“I’ve heard a lot of good things about him. I’d like to meet him.”
“You can meet him when he picks me up tomorrow. He invited me to go to Ouidah.”
“He invited you to go to Ouidah?”
“Is anyone else going?”
“I don’t think so.”
“If you’d rather that I didn’t go, I’ll call and–“
“No, don’t do that. He’s a pastor. I’m sure you can trust him. Besides, you will be out in public. Make sure you go to Ouidah and come straight back afterwards. Just be sensible until you get to know him better.”
Mrs. Amadou didn’t answer but she smiled before she took another sip of her tea.