Patti is a busy Senior Probation Officer working in Camden London with a teenager off to university, Charmaine is a stressed out mum of twins and Rose is the Pastor’s wife with five daughters. Life gets complicated when they meet and marry three brothers, Manley, Marcus and Junior Morgan who are from a close-knit Jamaican family. All are hoping for “Divine Intervention” as they plot to leave their abusive relationships on the same day. . . .
Enjoy an extract from chapter 3 – Rose
3 ~ ROSE
Amen and Amen” the congregation declare in unison. I open my eyes to scan the church that is holding its 52nd annual convention in Battersea. Everybody is gathered from Pentecostal churches all over England and Wales. The older church sisters are dressed in their finery with matching shoes, bags and elaborate hats, looking lovely. The menfolk are wearing two or three piece suits and looking mighty fine. I love convention, it’s an opportunity to see old friends and make new ones. I love the singing of the mass choirs, the fire and brimstone preaching, culminating in a tearful baptism at the end of the week. I really hope many souls are transformed this weekend as a result. I became a born-again Christian in 1984 at the tender age of 16, therefore, my walk with the Lord has stemmed over 25 years. In the beginning, my parents were not very supportive of my conversion; we grew up as staunch Catholics. Nevertheless, I led by example and they too converted and became part of the early Pentecostal movement in London in the late 1980s. I stayed at Hackney Pentecostal Church until I got married to Manley, joining him at the Congregation of the Humble Heart Fellowship in Battersea. Manley and I had a brief courtship; perhaps with hindsight, it was too brief, and very heavily supervised by chaperones. He was the golden boy of his family and everybody was praying that he would follow in his father’s footsteps and become a preacher. He was already being groomed as the next motivational preacher in the Pentecostal church and as such, he needed to find a wife. He had to speak to his pastor about courting me and then pastor spoke to my Dad to ask for his approval!
I was so flattered that a man of his stature in the church would even be interested in me. He was so handsome yet so serious, but when he smiled… Lord have his mercy; he lit up the room. We were married six months later and nine months after that I gave birth to our first child, our beautiful daughter Mary, then another girl Martha; two years later. I then had Ruth, Rebecca and Esther. That’s right, I have five beautiful daughters. Esther is only six weeks old. I had to have an emergency C-section due to having high blood pressure, a common but serious condition known as pre-eclampsia. At the final stage of the delivery, I thought that we were both going to die. But thank God for Jesus, because after having the procedure and a blood transfusion I made a full recovery and so did my daughter. I am here at my first church service since giving birth, to give God all the honour and praise for preserving my life and the life of my little bundle of joy.
I am sitting at the front of the church in the first row with my girls. I am dressed in a pale pink linen dress with matching coat, white heels and white hat. My outfit ties in with the pink shirt I chose for Manley to wear. As he takes to the pulpit to deliver this Sunday’s service, some sisters in the church need reminding that he’s a married man and more importantly, that he is married to me. The Lord has taken us through too much for some woman to get in between us now. His recent exposure on the church circuit as a newly ordained minister has clearly had a profound effect on improving his confidence. He’s walking taller that’s for sure. I see it and other women see it too. I sit rocking a sleepy baby Esther in my arms, looking proud as punch over at my girls who look like angels dressed in white summer dresses. Manley proudly introduces Esther to the congregation and cheekily tells them that he’s not stopping until he gets a boy. The congregation applaud and I blush holding my head down as I am expected to. My reasons are twofold; firstly, we have not discussed having another child anytime soon. I want to return to my studies at some point to complete my teaching qualifications, with the arrival of Esther; my plans are now on hold, again until she starts school. Secondly, I have not even thought about having sexual relations with my husband again and I definitely am not planning to until way after I have seen the doctor for my six-week health check, which is booked at the surgery for first thing tomorrow morning, actually. I really hope Dr Oko is going to mention family planning and contraception.
I already know Manley’s opinion on the matter, which is, “It’s all in Jehovah’s hands.”
But having gone through five pregnancies, I am not that sure I want any more children. In fact, I know I don’t want any more children. This has to be a joint decision, but we don’t agree. Manley recites from the Bible that a woman should obey her husband but after the close call last time, I fear having another child will kill me and I want to be around for the children I already have! I silently pray wishing that something would happen so Manley is unable to come to the surgery with me tomorrow so that I can talk to my doctor in private about the best contraception for a woman in my situation.
Manley has just read from the book of St John Chapter 1 verse 6, “There was a man sent from God whose name was John.”
I straightaway notice the sounds effects in the background. The organist is piping in after every couple of words Manley says; the women are shouting ‘Hallelujahs’ and ‘Amens’ to fill the gaps. I wouldn’t mind but he hasn’t really started preaching yet! When did we become so Americanised? Why are people jumping from their pews? Where’s the decorum?
In short, Manley is preaching about austerity measures and families going through hard times, “But we are to remain calm and faithful because God has already got a plan and has sent a man to rescue his people from the plans of the enemy. God has already sent a woman…etc. etc.”
I know this because Manley has rehearsed his sermon with me at every opportunity over the last couple of weeks. There is more noise and confusion at the back of the church. “Why oh why is this woman running up and down the aisles?” I think to myself. I feel like saying, “If God has sent you a man, he will find you, Sister Carol, no amount of hollering or speaking in tongues is going to speed that up!” Some of these women in the church are so transparent. I get it, they are lonely and they want to be married.
As one woman in tears told me during a counselling session, “Sister Rose I have so much love to give!”
To which I replied, “…But man’s timing and God’s timing are not the same!”
Experience tells me when things are not happening quickly enough for us we force God’s hands and when things go wrong, we expect him to deliver us from the very thing we were begging him for in the first place. Sometimes I wish I was still single, footloose and fancy-free, instead of being totally dependent on Manley. Over the years, I have morphed into someone else, a lesser version of myself, a title. I am now Manley’s wife, Pastor’s wife, Mother Morgan, Sister Rose, Choir Mistress, Prayer Warrior, Chief Cook and Bottle Washer. Someone’s sick? I am always the one to visit church members in the hospital. No food to eat? My pots are always blazing like a soup kitchen. But who do I call when I need help, advice and support?
I opened up to my Mother once when Manley and I were struggling financially with debts and I was admonished for disrespecting Pastor in that way. Since then I have kept things to myself. Like the allowance Manley gives me every two weeks and the receipts I have to produce when I purchase clothes for me and the children. The only money that I have access to is the child benefit money, I try to put that away into the girl’s bank accounts as a nest egg for their university fees. Sometimes I don’t even have money to buy a newspaper or put in the offering plate. I felt pressured by Manley and my home Pastor, during our marriage guidance course to leave teaching college to support Manley’s ministry and then I fell pregnant on our wedding night. People wrongly assume that if you’re married to a minister in a church, which tithes, you’re set up financially and you’re looked after by the church. In reality, we rely on the generosity of a few good people and from occasional love offerings. There are no fancy cars outside our humble home in Battersea, South London. We only got the deposit for our home when my Uncle Samuel in Jamaica gave us a large amount of money as a wedding present. Little does Manley know, I asked Uncle Samuel to help us out, as I did not want to start married life living with Manley’s parents in Hackney. Manley is so proud; he would be angry with me if he ever found out.
I had better not mention the other pots of money my parents have given me throughout our marriage to pay off debts.
I wonder what Elder Jones just whispered in Manley’s ear, as he looks very, very shocked? Manley hands the microphone to Elder Jones and then comes the announcement…
Elder Jones advises the congregation that Manley’s father Overseer Carlos Morgan has suddenly passed away in Long Bay, Westmoreland, Jamaica following a short illness. I hear a woman screaming loudly at the top of her voice and a heartbeat later, I realise that the woman is me.
We knew Overseer Morgan was gravely ill, in fact, Manley and I had an argument about it a few weeks after Esther was born. I told him to travel to Jamaica to visit his father and he point-blank refused; citing that he could not afford to go. I knew in my spirit that it would be Manley’s last opportunity to see his father alive. But he would not budge. I was clear from the beginning that I could manage on my own with the children and I could arrange for my Mother to assist me with the baby.
I was not expecting what came out of Manley’s mouth, “Why do you care? He’s not your Dad!”
I just bit my tongue, kept my own counsel and went upstairs to pray. The truth of the matter was that his comment really hurt me. Manley’s parents were good Christian people, hardworking and honest. They fully embraced me into their family and when they mentioned they were retiring from the ministry and returning home to Jamaica, I cried like they were my own parents. When Manley lacked direction or was discouraged by church politics, it was his parents who offered him guidance. Now Overseer Morgan also known as Pops Morgan had been called home.
It’s a terrible feeling, having to walk on eggshells in your own home, but that I did. At home, I quickly change out of my church clothes and begin warming up the food I had made earlier. We normally ate together at the table on Sundays but given the bad news, I decide to feed the girls at the dining room table and fix Manley a tray. Manley is still in his suit sitting in his small study under the stairs; his head in his hands crying, silently. A wave of compassion comes over me, as I place the tray on the desk and drop to my knees to comfort him. Instinctively he rests his head on my shoulder and sobs his heart out.
I realise in this moment that I have to be the strong one and get him through this. God help me.
Loving the Brothers
By Pamela R Haynes © All Rights Reserved 2017
Edited by Dawn Spence-Lewis & Marcia M. Spence
Published by Marcia M Spence on behalf of Pamela R Haynes
Cover Design: Kevin Williams
Marcia M Publishing House ~ West Bromwich UK B71
All rights reserved 2017
This book is sold subject to the conditions it is not, by way of trade or otherwise, lent, hired out or otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise) without prior written permission from the Author and Publisher.