Tuesday, September 29, 2009

OMODO: Is he a Christian?

By Walter Trobisch

On one of my trips I worshiped in African church where nobody knew
me. After the service I talked to 2 boys who had also attended. “How
many sisters do you have?” I asked the first one.
“Are they all from the same stomach?”
“Yes, my dad is a Christian.”
“How about you?” I asked the other boy. He hesitated. In his mind he
was adding up. I knew immediately that He was coming from a polygamous
home. “We are nine” he finally said.
“Is your dad a Christian?”
“No, he is a polygamist” (Mindset….truth or perception?)
“Yes, my brothers and sister too.” He added proudly (Notice something
about this question there is something amiss….
“And their mothers?”
“All 3 of them are but only the 1st wife takes Holy Communion “
“Take me to your father” I said.

The boy led me to a compound with many individual houses …it breathed
an atmosphere of cleanliness, order and wealth. Each wife had her own
kitchen. The father, a middle aged good looking man, tall, fat and
impressive, welcomed me without any embarrassment and with apparent
joy. His name Omodo was well educated, wide awake and intelligent,
with a sharp wit and a rare sense of humour. From the onset he made no
apologies of being a polygamist, he was proud of it.

“Welcome to the hut of a poor sinner.” He said
“It looks like a rich sinner I retorted.
“The saints rarely come to this place.” He said, “They don’t want to
be contaminated with sin.”
“But they are not afraid to receive your wives and kids, I just met
them in church.”
“I know I give everyone a coin for the collection plate. I guess I
finance half the church’s budget. They are glad to take my money but
they don’t want me.” He said.

I sat thoughtfully in silence and after a while he continued. “I feel
sorry for the pastor, by refusing to accept all the polygamous men in
town as church members, he has made his flock poor. They shall always
be dependent on subsidies from America. He has created a church of
women whom he has told that Polygamy is wrong.

“Wasn’t your first wife heartbroken when you took a second wife?”
Omodo looked at me almost with pity….” It was her happiest day.” He
said finally.
“Tell me how it happened.”
“Well one day after she had come home from the garden and had to fetch
firewood and water, she was preparing the evening meal, while I sat in
front of the house and watched her. Suddenly she turned to me and
mocked me. She called me, ‘poor man’, because I only had one wife. She
pointed to our neighbor’s wife who could care for her children while
the other wife prepared food.”

“Poor man”, Omodo repeated, “I can take much but not that. I had to
admit that she was right. She needed help. She had already picked out
a 2nd wife for me and they got along fine.”

I glanced around the compound and I saw a beautiful young woman of
about 19 or 20 come out of one of the huts.
“ It was a sacrifice for me,” Omodo commented. Her father demanded a
very high bride price.”
“Do you mean that the wife who caused to become a polygamist is the
only one of your family who receives Holy Communion?”
“Yes. She told the pastor how hard it is for her to share her love for
me with another woman. According to the church, my wives are
considered sinless since each of them has only one husband. I the
father,, am the only sinner in our family. Since the Lords supper is
not given to sinners, I’m excluded from it, do you understand that?”

I was entirely confused.
“And you see,” Omodo continued, “They are all praying for me….that I
might be saved from sin…but they don’t agree which sin I must be saved
“What do you mean?” I asked confused again.
“Well the pastor prays that I may not continue to commit the sin of
polygamy. My wives pray that I may not commit the sin of divorce. I
wonder whose prayers are heard first.”

“So your wives are afraid of you becoming a Christian?”
“They are afraid of me becoming a church member…let’s put it that
way…For me there is a difference. They can only have intimate
relations with me as long as I do not belong to the church. The
moments I join the church, their relations with me would become
“Would you like to become a church member?” I posed to him.
“Don’t lead me into temptation, How can I become a church member if it
means to disobey Christ? Christ forbade divorce, but not polygamy. The
church forbids polygamy but demands divorce. How can I become a church
member if I want to be a Christian? For there is only one way, to
become a Christian without the church.

(Follow Christ minus…)

“Have you ever talked to your pastor about that?”
“He does not dare talk to me because he knows as well as I do that
some of his elders have a 2nd wife secretly, call it a mistress. The
only difference between them and me is that I am honest and they are
“Did a missionary ever talk to you?”
“yes once. I told him that with the high divorce rate in Europe, they
only have a successive form of polygamy while we have simultaneous
polygamy. That did it . he never came back.”

I was speechless. Then I asked him, “But tell me why did you take on a
3rd wife?”
“I did not take her. I inherited from my late brother, including her
children. Actually my older brother would have been next in line. But
He is an elder in the church and he is not allowed to sin by giving
security to a widow.”

I Looked in his eyes and asked him, “ Do you want to become a Christian?”
“I am a Christian! I’m born again!” Omodo said without smiling.

As I walked away from that compound I thought about the verse…”You
blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel” Matthew 23:23-24

• In your opinion is Omodo a Christian?

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