“I grew up with little or no parental care. My dad worked so hard to take care of my elder sister and me. One day, he went out and never returned. Things had been hard even when he was around as we could barely feed well. His disappearance ushered in a new level of suffering and humiliation. I hated God for making me suffer so much. My elder sister soon got married and, together with her husband, allowed me stay with them. I was not grateful. I thought they owed me that much. I was unruly for many years till eight months ago when the literature teacher at the UTME tutorial centre I attended, Miss Ruby, took interest in me. I didn’t know what there was about her that made me talk to her about my fears. She asked if it was okay for her to pray with me. I agreed.” Toni suddenly looked up at the only bulb in the room that had just come on. Power was restored and I excused myself to charge my phone. I did not waste time before I returned to the position I had been sitting in. I wanted to hear the end of her story.
“That night, I could not sleep.” She continued as calmly as she had begun. “I was restless for reasons I did not know. I avoided Miss Ruby the following day but when I did not feel better, I walked up to her at the end of the day’s lessons. I had many questions for her. Amazingly, she did not try to defend God like many other people I had met did. She just showed me some things in the Bible which I’ll soon show you too. The following week, she got a better job and had to move to Abia state. But she had planted a seed in me. Soon, I started reading the bible for myself. I tried to pray as she had taught me but I always ran out of what to say within the first two to five minutes until one day when I was meditating on John 7:38”
At that point, Toni gave me her Bible to look it up for myself. It had so many highlighted and underlined portions.
“…OUT OF his BELLY shall flow rivers of living water” she joined in as I read the concluding clause. Then, she continued her narration. “Suddenly I felt a strong urge within me to blurt out something indistinct. I looked around to be sure that neither my sister nor her husband had returned from work. I did not want them to witness the strange happening. I immediately called Miss Ruby to share what I had experienced. She assured me that all was well and that I had just received the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in new tongues. What started as some unintelligible utterance grew in bits as I prayed. I noticed that I was beginning to spend more time in prayers, each time, I felt like there was fire within me.” She paused for a moment and looked me in the eye. “Bimbo, I can’t even say I was born into a Christian home. But I can tell you that I am a Christian today because I have not only heard about the love of Jesus. I have both tasted and experienced it.”
That was a turning point for me.
I followed her for Bible Study the following Thursday. I was shocked to see many more people like Toni. I watched in awe as they spoke about the love of God with fire in their voices by way of contributing to the interactive part of the Bible study. I envied them silently. They seemed so sure of what they were saying.
That night, after the Bible study, as I waited for Toni to wrap up her conversation with the vice president of her fellowship, I heard myself say “God, if you are as real as these people make you seem, I want to know you. Show me a sign that all of this is not made up”
Toni returned just then and held my hand to say she was sorry for having kept me waiting. As she touched me, I felt a weight fall on me. I was quiet all through our walk back to the hostel. She did not ask questions. She seemed to understand. As soon as we got to the room, I sat on my bed and opened my mouth to say that I did not understand how I was feeling. That was the last thing I remembered.
A while later, I felt Toni’s hand on my back. She held a cup of warm milk to me. According to her, I had been groaning there for about two hours and had only calmed down five minutes before. Indeed, it was past eleven and I had not had dinner. I received the milk with immense gratitude but could only take a little. I felt different. That was the first time I felt the hand of God.
Between that time and now, I have come to understand a whole lot about my faith in Jesus Christ. I now know that I am a Christian first because God himself ordained it so. My response to this belief has been to simply believe in Christ’s sacrifice for mankind. More than just believing in it I see myself in the finished works of Christ that earned me my salvation from sin and its consequences. I never will stop wondering at how God reached out to me even before I believed in Him. Oh! The depth of the Father’s love!
Today, I walk free and happy. Not much about my financial or family status has changed but I have grown to embrace contentment simply because the Bible says He cares for me more than he does the birds. That God who used to be invisible and far away has become so dear. I now have a very active relationship with Him. I talk with him while on the bus or while I’m walking through the park. It’s not religious. It’s natural. It is who I am—an heir! I have the seed of God in me. Do you understand?
Oh! Excuse me. I need to take Toni’s call. She’ll be getting married this weekend. God is faithful.