My Interview with Pastor Isioma Joshua

“But evil people and charlatans will go from bad to worse, deceiving others and being deceived themselves”-2 Timothy 3:13 New English Translation (NET Bible)

First of all,” she says, “you’re going to hell fire.”

I look at her. “All I’ve done is… sit down,” I say.

“It doesn’t matter oo,” she says, “you’re sha going to hell if you keep up with these your anti-Christian preachings. My husband has already told me about you.”

Pastor Isioma Joshua, wife of renowned Pastor Philemon Joshua is seated on the chair in front of me wearing a chequered dress straight from Balmain’s new collection. Her fingers are each adorned with gold rings.

I ruffle the papers in my hands and take a deep, deep breath. “Anyways,” I say, “we’re here to talk about what you said last week about married women and how women dress in your church as a whole.”

She smiled, nods and gestures for me to continue.

“You said…” I squint at my paper, “that the women who dressed with short skirts in your church were all,” I cough, “‘harlots and jezebels who would die without finding a husband or the happiness of marriage’.” I look at her for confirmation.

“I did,” she says, her smile unmoving.

I go on. “You also said that women are getting too angry and impulsive nowadays. Here, you said that if ‘your husband cheats on you and you leave, the joke is on you. You should always stay and work things out with him, what if it’s your own fault that he is cheating? This generation is just too quick to point fingers’.” I look at her again, there has to be some kind of mistake.

But her smile is impeccable and it stays. She’s waiting for me to finish.

I cough again. “Okay,” I say, “that’s…wow…that’s it.”

She looks around, the question clear on her picturesque face. “Ahn ahn,” she says, “that’s it? That’s what you and your studio want to talk about?” She laughs. “Hei God. You people are just something else. But okay, I’ll entertain all of this. So, which one do you want me to tackle first?”

I look down at the paper and then her again, “the one with dressing seems like a nice starting point. You also called the women that dress with short skirts in your church ‘toys’ that could be ‘flung whenever the man doesn’t want to use them again’.”

“I’m simply preaching the word of God as it says so in the bible,” she says, annoyed. “You people don’t engage with the word of God and that’s the problem. How can you come to church and you’re dressing like a harlot?”

I clear my throat. “But shouldn’t churches be a safe haven for people of all kinds to come and worship?”

She looks at me like I’m the most idiotic man on earth. “So, what?” she asks, “we should be allowing armed robbers inside, ehn? Prostitutes with skimpy dresses that will come and distract all the men in the church? Anthony, please endeavour to grow wisdom, it’s important.”

I sit up. “If it’s a church, why should men be looking at what women wear and not their bible notes? Are your men so weak that any woman can turn their heads?”

She shakes her head. “Men will be men.”

“Nonsense. Men will be whatever the society enables them to be. And you, Pastor Isioma are enabling them to be assholes and more than that, abusers. And this leads us to your comments commanding women to stay with their cheating husbands.”

She puts her arms out. “Cheating is a mistake and women must stay with the husbands and sort it out. Abi, don’t you know that God frowns on a broken home?”

“I think he also frowns on infidelity.”

She scowls.

“When I ate my sister’s plate of food instead of mine, that was a mistake. When my shower door broke in my hands as I tried to open it, that was a mistake. You don’t accidentally go and have sex with another woman then painstakingly try to hide it. That’s a deliberate action and if you want to stay, it’s because you decide to, not because some self-proclaimed woman of God tells you to.”

She looks at me for a long moment and surprisingly, she smiles. “My husband was right.”

I cock my head. “Right about what?”

Her smile widens. “You’ll see. Soon.”

And without ceremony, she takes her expensive bag, flips her expensive hair and walks out in her expensive shoes, leaving me to sit alone in the room and wonder, quietly, which one of her private jets she’s going to use today.

Interview with Pastor Philemon Joshua here-

Anthony Azekwoh is a Nigerian-based author and artist. He has written five books so far, and is now working on the sequel to his fourth book Ṣàngó, Oya.