Then, You Can’t Be My Child

I was born a Moslem. My father spent 26 yrs in an Arabic School. His father was one of those who brought Islam to our town. Naturally, I was sent to an Arabic School. I spent 14yrs in Arabic School and even now, I can still recite the Koran very well. Up to the time I went to Secondary School, I had not gone to Secondary School, I had not touched a Bible nor heard about Christ; all I knew was Islam. By the time I went to college, I was well known in the Arabic circle because I was young and enthusiastic about the things of that religion. I became second to the Chief Imam of the College, so I was exempted from Bible Religious Knowledge (BRK) as a subject at College. Each time that subject was being taken, I would go to the Library.

      One day, when other students were writing the BRK exam, I decided to sit under a tree to read my notes for the next subject. That same day, the Principal decided to go home for breakfast after the assembly. He saw me under a tree, walked up to me and asked “Young man, why are you sitting out side here?” “Sir, they are writing BRK and I am exempted” I replied. He asked why, and I replied that I was a Muslim. Then he said, “you study English, are you British?” I said “No” “You study Latin, are you Greek?” I said “No” then he said, “you don’t have to be a Christian to study BRK”. He took me to the class, and insisted that I write the BRK examination with other students. The first question was ‘write short notes on these names: Pharaoh, Abraham, …’. Not having ever gone to church nor touched the Bible, I thought, Pharaoh? That sounded like a river. In the dormitory, I often heard students talking about a man who was attacked by robbers while travelling from Jerusalem to Jericho. Those were the things that occurred to me so I wrote: ‘Pharaoh is a river that flowed from Jerusalem to Jericho’. Then Abraham, I remembered Ibrahim of the Koran and I wrote about him and submitted my answer script. 

      When the result was released, I scored 58%; that was the day I made up my mind to study BRK because I considered it easy. I reasoned that it would help me consolidate my first position in class if I could study BRK and score above 90% on the subject. So I bought my first Bible and began to read from St. John’s Gospel. I became fascinated by such things as “I am the way the truth and the life; no one comes to the father except by me”. As a Muslim, I prayed five times a day, reciting the same verses each time; I had studied the Quran for 14 years but couldn’t translate it into my language; I didn’t even understand it.I just knew that ‘X’ is for prayer and ‘Y’ is for cursing and so on. At times, as I read the Bible tears flowed from my eyes. Gradually, I started absenting myself from the mosque while stealing into the school chapel. That was how I came in contact with the Gospel.

      When my father heard that I was going to church, he invited me home immediately. Before I met him, my mother had advised me against telling him the truth until I was out of college. But when I met my father, the spirit in me did not allow me to tell him that lie. I faced my father and told him that I am now a Christian. He said “then, you can’t be my child and be a Christian, you are a ‘kaferi’. He swore not to pay my school fees any more.

      For failing to pay my fees, the school authorities decided to send me out of the boarding house, so I went to my father. His question was, “have you changed your mind?” I answered ‘No’. He also replied that he hadn’t changed his either. So I went back to school, but on the day I was asked to pack out of school, it dawned on me that I had no place to pack to; I couldn’t go back to my father’s house because of the conflict. At that very point of my dilemma, the Principal’s secretary came and said that the Principal wanted to see me. My first reaction was “he got me into this problem, what again does he want from me?” When I got there, I met two other students. The Principal announced that he was very happy to inform us that the three of us had won the Western Government Scholarship because we came first, second and third in the entrance examination to the college. He announced further that the fee we had paid the previous year would be refunded and the Scholarship attracted a monthly allowance of Two Pounds. That was how the Lord paid my school fees through college.

      I became a member of the Student Christian Movement and in my final year, I was elected President of the Movement. I came in as almost the Imam of the school and, five years later, left as the President of the Student Christian Movement. When I encountered Jesus, my life never remained the same.

      I left college with Grade One and sat the entrance examination to Igbobi College and Government College, Ibadan for Higher School Certificate. My father again said he was sorry he couldn’t sponsor me since I was not ready to return to Islam. I left for Lagos, got a job at the Federal Ministry of Trade and attended the evening programme of the Federal School of Arts and Science. My salary was Fifteen Pounds, Ten Shillings. Out of this, I would pay rent for my room at 32 Hawley Street, Lagos. I would trek to the office in the morning, trek to the school after work at 3 p.m. and at the end of the lectures at 10p.m., I would trek back home, because my salary couldn’t pay the fees, buy books, pay rent and also pay for transportation. I did that for two years and, thankfully, at the end of the programme, I passed my three papers: Applied Mathematics, Pure Mathematics and Physics.

      I took the result to the University of Lagos where I was given admission because my result was one of the best. When I received my letter of admission, it occurred to me that I could not pay my school fees, so I took the letter to my Director, Mr. John Raleigh, who headed the Nigerian Stored Products Research Institute, a Department in the Ministry of Trade. He congratulated me on my admission, but I told him that I was not going to resign, since I needed the job to save for the school fees. The man said “No”. He lent me fifty five pounds, to cover my initial school fees, to be returned in six months when my father would be town had pressurized my father against allowing me to become a Christian. They warned him that he would go to hell if he allowed his son to be a ‘kaferi’. Today, the Chief Imam’s first son is a pastor). My father was scared and kept wondering how I could have let him down. So I went back to school praying, “Lord, you did it for me in the secondary school, you will do it again”.

      One morning, I was informed that my name was on the notice board in the bursar’s office, as one of those awarded the Federal Government Scholarship. The money I had paid was again refunded, because the scholarship took effect from my first day in the university. I immediately returned Mr. Raleigh’s money. Again, God paid my fees through the university, from the scholarship.

      When I thought that I have reached a dead end, God made a way.

      I got my first graduate job with UAC (United Africa Company Ltd). After that I joined RT Briscoe, as the youngest of the managers in age and status at the time and I was among those who were sent to Denmark for training. Three months after our training, I was promoted above the other managers; a position I didn’t apply for, so I prayed about it. Then, the Lord reminded me of the revelation to set up my own company. I prayed “Lord, every man is made for a purpose. If it is my purpose in life to start my business, you must show it to me now, and provide me with the resources.” That night, a question came to my mind “If you become the Managing Director of RT Briscoe, will that give you fulfillment?” Of course, I answered “No.” It was quite clear that the Lord wanted me to start my own business, which meant I had to resign my appointment at RT Briscoe, despite the promotion. When I gave the letter to my Managing Director, he asked if I had gone insane, but that was how I left RT Briscoe.

      In UAC, I worked with a division called African Timber and Plywood Industry Industry, Sapele. That Division closed down shortly after I left. So I testify that my leaving was by divine arrangement; the Lord led me out of that place before it collapsed. He is the one who’s been leading me. With the little money I had, I rented a two-bedroom apartment at Ikeja, Lagos. I would sweep the place and clean it up myself in the morning, and in the afternoon I would go to the post office to collect my mails. Despite leaving the luxury of RT Briscoe, I was enjoying myself and I felt fulfilled. Gradually, God helped me to move to an entire floor of a big business complex in Ikeja; I now have offices in Port Harcourt and Warri.

      Later, I built a six-bedroom bungalow for my father; I also gave him a Toyota Crown car. He later visited me in Lagos and prayed for me. He said even though I was the only child he didn’t train, I didn’t bear any grudges against him; I was the only one that built him a house, bought him a car and gave him monthly allowance. He took my hand, placed it on his head and asked me to pray for him too. I took my hand off as this was against our culture. He then replied that the hand was not mine but that of my God who trained me when he refused to. The Holy Spirit asked me to lead him in a sinner’s prayer, which he accepted. That was how we reconciled. Finally, he prayed that I would be home the day of his passage, so we would pray this prayer again on his death bed.

      One day, my wife and I were traveling to Ekiti, but decided to make a detour to our hometown, Owo, for the night. When we arrived, my mother told me that my father had been in excellent health and was even preparing for the coming Muslim ramadan. On seeing me, he smiled, but couldn’t talk. I asked if I should call a doctor, but he said no. We surrounded him, prayed for him and, I anointed him with olive oil. That night, I had a dream in which I saw a man wearing white leading my father to a big mansion. I remembered that Jesus said “…I go to prepare a place for you … where I am, there you will be also” and with that I woke up. Later that morning, I got news that he had passed on, at 90.

      While I was a Muslim, I had the notion of marrying four wives, as my father; However, with the help of the Holy Spirit, I have been married to my only wife and we are so used to each other that it may be hard to see one of us without the other.

      Though I met Christ quite early in the secondary school, I had no Holy Spirit experience, so I lacked power. I would make New Year resolutions and never be able to keep them, I would fear what others could do to me. When I travelled home, my mother would caution me against bringing home my car and I would obey and keep my car away from home. Now that I am baptized in the Holy Spirit, I know that He that is in me is greater than he that is in the world, so all fear is gone.

      When I was looking for funds to build a factory, I approached a bank and they asked for a well-known person, in the rank of a Director, to introduce me. I got someone who satisfied their requirement but a week later, the bank refused my application for support. I learnt later that my ‘Director’ colleague had found my feasibility report very profitable, gone back to the bank to cancel our request, then went ahead to buy all the machinery and set up a factory for himself. I didn’t begrudge him but kept trusting God to actualize my vision. A few months later, my partners in the Netherlands called and just encouraged me to set up ‘something’ in my country, as they were thinking of empowering their representatives in different countries. They said ‘you set up in your country and focus on the African market’. I told them I didn’t have the funds and they assured me that I didn’t have a problem. They arranged the money and purchased all the machinery from Holland, with the condition that the factory could pay back over a 10-year period, at very low interest rate. I was thus saved the 40% and other interest costs which Nigerian banks were charging at the time. When I opened the factory in 1991, the state governor and members of his cabinet, the traditional ruler and his council of chiefs were all present, among many other dignitaries. It was a glorious day. The factory employs about sixty five people at present. The other fellow went into heavy debts and couldn’t break even.

      After the commissioning, I thanked the Lord. That night, the Lord said to me that He had done it that men would praise Him. He then said that someone would speak to me and I should listen. Three days later, someone came to tell me about Holy Ghost baptism. I didn’t take him serious because I felt he was below my class. However, before the meeting was over, I eagerly received the baptism, in November 1991. In the last five years, my wife and I read at least five chapters of the Bible every night. I have learnt to pray and seek the Holy Spirit’s direction before taking major decisions. Every day, I ask the Lord for guidance.

      Since the last fifteen years, I set up a house cell fellowship in my house with my neighbors and we meet every Sunday evening. My children are doing the same in England where they are schooling. Sometime, I traveled to Holland. I had surrendered the trip to the Lord, to do His will there.

      As I got there, my business partner asked me to be a Guest Speaker at the National Convention of the FGBMFI Netherlands and I obliged him. They offered to translate my book into Dutch. The following day, my partners and I travelled to Brussels. At a meeting there, they remarked that as their representative in Nigeria over the past sixteen years, I had performed better than all the other representatives all over the world. They then offered me their representation for all of West Africa, covering Cameroon to Ivory Coast, and asked me to open offices in these countries. This is how God can promote.

      

      

      

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