Friday, 23 August 2013

NEWS: The Whole Truth And Nothing But… My Affair With Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo of COZA Abuja – by Ese Walter

This article contains stories that most 'church people'
don't want to address. So, if you are one of those
living in denial and covering up crap going on in the
church, this is where you should stop reading.
Thanks for stopping by.
Now, for the rest of us, please sit down and
switch on your open mind. I want to talk about
something I have kept bottled up inside for
longer than necessary. I have also decided to
use real names, as my defense for any
accusation of slander is justification. I tell the
truth, the whole truth and nothing but. However,
feel free to throw your doubt around but know
that I am past the shaming game (where victims
of abuse are shot down by blame) I am no
longer a victim but a survivor who is sharing her
experience to help others caught in same web of
abuse, guilt and shame. We only get to live once
right? So here, it goes…
I recently came to know this event too was
abuse (recently here means about 6 months
ago). It has literally been eating me up having to
drive by another billboard advertising preachers,
or hearing his name, or even trying to ask about
the validity of the entire salvation story and
whether or not there is a God that truly watches
over his people. That being said, I'm just going
to say it as it is. This is a recap of my affair with
Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo of COZA (Common
Wealth Of Zion Assembly) Abuja chapter. This
affair I have come to know as a form of abuse as
you would see the different elements of abuse
very present.I met Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo many years ago. I was
getting bored of the church I was attending and someone
suggested COZA. At the time, I had never heard about it.
My friend said, go there, I'm sure you would enjoy the
word. But he also gave me a strong warning. He said he
would advice that I remain a member only and not join
the workforce. I agreed. The first time I attended COZA, I
felt it was my church and decided I was going to plant my
ass there. About eleven months had gone by and I was
still attending the services quietly and faithfully. I really
did like the church. One day a worker in the church
approached me that the senior pastor wanted to see me.
Me? I thought. Why would the senior pastor want to see
me? Not the second man but the head nigga in charge?
Ok na! I started to think my sin was oozing so bad the
pastor could tell I needed Jesus. (Poor old me.) I saw
him at the end of the second service (they had two
services at the time) and he said to me that he would like
me to work with him. I knew I had no intentions of
becoming a pastor so I had to ask in what capacity. He
said he'd like for me to join a department, preferably the
Pastoral Care Unit (PCU).
A few weeks later, against my friend's advice not to join
the workforce, I was a PCU member. All of a sudden, I
had some status in church. I was 'somebody.' Dress had
to be on point, hair, shoes and what not… As workers,
we were literally trying to outshine each other or so it
seemed. Anyways, I felt like I was a privileged member
of an elite circle. Hehehe. (It did feel good though, for the
most part.)
About a year after joining the workforce, I was on my
way to London for a Masters degree program that would
last two years. As was the rule for workers travelling, I
wrote to say I would be away for 2 years and Pastor
Biodun Fotoyinbo asked that I keep in touch by sending
him my number and email when I had settled in London
so he "makes sure I continue in the faith" because
according to him, people loose their faith when they
leave home and he wanted to make sure I didn't. So, on
that note, as soon as I got a phone line in London, I was
sure to call 'my pastor' to say I arrived safe, had settled
in and also gave my phone number.
We had spoken a few times especially when COZA
started to stream online. I always watched and would
give feedback on quality of production and share a little
bit on the challenges I faced settling in a new land. One
evening, Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo called me that he was
coming to London and needed me to help him make
some hotel bookings as the person who was meant to do
it couldn't get it done (this was rather strange as I had
never been involved in his travel itinerary) Later that day,
he said it had been sorted and my help would not be
required but that he would like me to arrange a cab to
pick him up from Heathrow. I was happy to help my
pastor from Nigeria and even saw it as a privilege. (I
would later come to learn that all of this was a calculated
attempt to hatch a plan that I suspect was set in motion
when I was asked to join the workforce.)
The cab guy was there to get him the next day and when
he arrived, he called to ask why I didn't accompany the
cab to pick him up (again, this was strange but I stopped
my mind from overanalyzing the situation as I knew I had
no business with his visit to London) About two hours
later, he called me and said he would like to see me.
When I arrived his hotel, I called from the reception but
he asked that I come upstairs. I got to the room and tried
to stop my mind from thinking why I was going to his
room. As he opened the door and invited me in, I had to
speak to my heart to stop its palpitations. My better
judgment asked me not to go into the room but the kind
of reverence I had for Pasotr Biodun Fatoyinbo bordered
on fear and I steeped into that room.
"Care for a drink?" Asked Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo.
"No sir," I said.
"You don't have to be shy Ese, even if it's alcohol, feel
free and order what you want." I wasn't sure I heard my
pastor asking me to order alcohol. I imagined it was a
test and ignored the voice inside that was saying, "I'd
have henny and coke please." He proceeded to ask how
I had been coping in London and if I was a committed
member of any church. He also said he thought there
was something special about me and wanted to know
that I had not strayed from my faith. I really thought he
had heard I was doing something I shouldn't while in
London but tried my best to focus on the conversation
instead of my straying thoughts. He kept telling me to
relax and feel comfortable with talking to him. After a few
minutes, he asked that we go to the roof of the hotel as
his room was a pent suite and had a connecting door to
the roof.
While there, he sat on a reclining chair and asked me to
come sit on his laps. This was a bit awkward for me and I
froze for a moment as I asked why. He said he had told
me to feel free with him and loosen up. I found myself
strolling to sit on his laps. At that moment, I felt like a little
girl who was experiencing something her mind couldn't
fathom. He asked me to kiss him and all I could think
about was seeing him preach on the pulpit back in COZA
Abuja, Nigeria, which was my home church. He again
said 'feel free Ese.' And asked again, that I kiss him.
A few hours later, let's just say, we were rolling under the
sheets. It felt as though my mind had paused. I am not
saying I was jazzed, (although it's possible I was in some
trancelike state and didn't know it but I just was so afraid
that I couldn't say or think otherwise.) That was the
beginning of this affair. A sexual affair that went on for a
little over a week, DAILY!
I can hear somebody's mind thinking, 'well, you weren't
raped." And I remember a pastor I opened up to when I
couldn't take all the mind games asking if I seduced him.
No, I didn't seduce him and no, I wasn't raped but I felt
trapped in this affair. Come to think of it, how could I
have seduced him when I wanted nothing from him? I
mean, I was too busy minding my business in London
trying to get through with my masters program and I was
overly comfortable. And even if I wanted to seduce
anyone, it wouldn't be a married man, not to mention a
married pastor.
What I couldn't reconcile the whole time, was how the
same person who preached against the very things we
were doing (i.e drinking in pubs, fornicating, committing
adultery) was the same person endorsing and
encouraging it.
At some point, I got really confused about what
Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo and I were doing that I
had to ask how he handles it. I will never forget
what he said to me. He said and I quote, "I will
teach you a level of grace that you don't
understand." My mind couldn't fathom that
somehow grace was enough covering for not
just fornication on my path, adultery on his path
and the many lies that was bound to follow what
we were doing that was clearly abominable. I
somehow dealt with the thoughts and fears that
followed on my path. He had said to me that he
wanted me to be his girlfriend and he would take
me around the world and spoil me with money
and things. Somehow, money had never been
one of the things that motivated me (I am from a
home where all my needs have been adequately
met) In all my 'badness' through finding myself, I
never did things I did for money but more of
rebellion against rules and authority.
Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo also said to me that he
had a dream where I exposed what was
happening to the media. Said it was all over the
place and that people were calling me the girl
that caused chaos in COZA. He also said I
should remember the bible said to "touch not
God's anointed." I immediately started to rebuke
the devil and said I could never do anything like
that. I was almost swearing with my entire family
as I thought really I had touched God's anointed
by submitting my body to be used. Little did I
know at the time that all of these were ways to
mess with my mind and even manipulate my
Fast-forward a few months later, I was back in
Nigeria and my church had become
uncomfortable. Anytime I sat in church and
listened to Pastor Biodun preach, I felt shame. I
finally sent him a message saying I wasn't
comfortable anymore. I was confused and
needed to talk about what had happened. He
said I should meet him to talk and I did. It was a
really weird meeting for me especially when he
tried to kiss me at our meeting. I finally realized
at this point that he couldn't help me. I thought
God was angry with me and I couldn't pray so I
decided to withdraw completely from COZA. This
was the beginning of my mental torture. I
couldn't talk to my family because already, I was
the only one attending a different church and
somehow my mom never liked the idea. As the
days went by I tried to use drinking and smoking
to cover up the deep shame and guilt I was
battling with. But as soon as the high was over,
the thoughts came back and I felt stuck like I
couldn't move forward.
I felt I had to talk to someone and I decided to
speak to my then good friend, Ernest Akale but
unfortunately for me, Mr. Ernest did not have the
capacity to hold what I said to him. He broke
down completely the days that followed and I
found myself having to pause how I was feeling
and what I was struggling with to help my friend
be strong. After a while, he withdrew from not
just me but his then fiancé and friends. I had to
then tell the fiancé what had caused it (she
suspected we were having an affair so I had to
clear the air) To my surprise she was a lot
stronger than her man and told me to suck it up
(I'm paraphrasing). She said if she were me, she
wouldn't leave the church but stay to torment
Pastor Biodun and collect money from him. Ok!
That sounded extreme for me, as my intention
was not to blackmail but to heal my broken self.
Anyways, I finally found the courage to speak to
my then unit head who said he was going to talk
to Pastor Biodun but didn't have the liver to do
so. Before long, the story was spreading and
naturally getting twisted.I went to a new church and it seemed like the
COZA bug had chased me there. The pastor
would always refer to COZA as some example
and each time that was done, it seemed like a
spear was thrust through my chest. One day, I
broke down in the service and started crying
uncontrollably, as I couldn't take another
mention of COZA and the pictures it painted in
my head.
Very long, boring story cut short, for the last 5
months I gave the whole church thing a big
space and break. I wasn't sure I believed in God.
I wasn't sure I understood what it meant when
people said 'Jesus saves" and I definitely wasn't
sure how to deal with the mental torture that was
affecting not just me but my relationships with
family and friends. I was very unstable, fearful
and worst of all guilty. I got a chance to talk to
Pastor Folarin of COZA Lagos Chapter,
popularly called Pastor flo about everything. I
made an effort to reach out to him because I
realized the right thing to do was talk to an elder
in the church and seek some sort of remedy to a
wrong I believed had been done me.
Instead, Pastor Flo said, Pastor Biodun had
confessed to him and they had 'talked' about it
and somehow that was supposed to be Ok. He
asked what it was I wanted coming to talk to him
about it when I did, I told him I realized what
happened between Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo and
I was wrong and not just that I felt abused and
manipulated. I also said I thought it was wrong
for Pastor Biodun to go on preaching without
taking time to deal with his personal character
flaws. I said I thought he was danger to all the
young women that attended the church. Come to
think of it, maybe he meant if I wanted
something monetary or material (as someone
had suggested when I opened up to her) but the
truth is, I never wanted his money (or is it the
church member's money.) All I wanted was to
meet with him and have him accept that he
misled me, betrayed his wife and the church he
pastors. I wasn't the only lady in COZA who had
been a victim of his sexcapades and
manipulative patterns but I was the one who
could come back after months of struggle with
not just my faith but also my affair with him. And
I wanted to set things right. I wanted to talk to
Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo maybe for closure and I
felt like I needed an apology because he played
the "touch not my anointed" card to keep me
locked in guilt, shame and fear when all along it
was a calculated plan and I dare say, it started
when he asked me to join the workforce.Not to mention the audacity to talk about
teaching me a level of grace I didn't understand.
I had no intention of understanding a grace that
would permit me to go on doing things that were
wrong and what's worse having to carry the
burden for almost a year.
Different surprising advises came up in the
weeks that followed the rumour making rounds. I
was told to hush because Pastor Biodun
Fatoyinbo had been a cultist in the past and
could send people to shut me up. All my so-
called friends in COZA withdrew from me and
treated me like I had the plague. What was
worse was Pastor Flo finally saw my then pastor
to 'talk' about what had happened with Pastor
Biodun and lied that it happened once and was a
mistake. My question then became, 'do these
people even care how broken I had become?'
'do they care about the emotional and spiritual
welfare of the people they were pastoring?' The
sad answer was NO. Most of us old members of
COZA kept leaving but they couldn't care less.
What was important was to keep growing the
church and having more and more cars with
stickers that read "More than enough." Back
then, I always felt horrible when I saw another
car drive past me with the sticker. I was
breaking, I was struggling but no one could help.
All they could do was ask me to hide so Pastor
Biodun's goons don't hurt me. And then the
interesting one was if I had evidence to prove my
claim. Let me just say here that, it isn't a claim,
it's a confession to free me from all of the guilt
and shame I have had to live with for no reason
at all. (That being said, I have evidence to prove
all I have said here, dlatest being a 58
minutes recording of my meeting with Pastor Flo
a few months back)
This is my confession and I cannot begin to
describe how much weight has been lifted off
my shoulders just pouring the truth out about
what went down. So, to all my ex COZA friends
gossiping about me, get your facts right.

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