THE DRUNKARD’S DAUGHTER
Born into a family of seven, parents inclusive, I often wondered why my parents had up to five children when they knew they didn’t have the means to take care of them.
My dad was a renowned troublemaker in the village. When he picks a fight, he holds out on it until he wearies himself sore. It was so bad that if a person fought with him say today, when he met that person on the road the next day, he’d continue the fight. Stories have it that parents of children would come to beg my father’s parents to restrain my father. He even fought with his elder sister and raised a cutlass at her. He was just really troublesome. I remember going to the village as an eight-year old and everyone wanted to meet the troublesome man’s daughter.
Apart from fighting, my father drank a lot; he was a drunk. The nights were very scary times for all of us because of his outbursts. We usually hid our youngest sibling behind a big chair, so that my dad would not see him when he came back home drunk to beat us up. We did not want him to go through the horrors we endured.
My father was also a construction worker, so he traveled a lot. We were glad when he was away. The only time we wanted him home was when we needed money for clothes and school fees; otherwise, we would rather he stayed away. When neighbours try to intervene, he would accuse them of affairs with his wife. At some point, to avoid embarrassments, the neighbours gave up trying to interfere and stayed away, leaving us helpless and vulnerable. Whenever he beat our mum, we would cry and beg him to leave her alone, but he wouldn’t budge.
Irritated, I would ask my mother, “Can’t you fight? Why don’t you fight back?” Maybe she tried, and her strength did not match his. Their fights usually resulted in wounds and a bloody mess. If you dared to ask the next day why he always beat his wife, he would send you out of the house. Many nights, we did not sleep in our house. We had to go to the house of an old woman nearby to sleep. But this did not deter my father’s assaults; he would even harass the old woman saying she was housing criminals (we, the children) and a prostitute (referring to my mum).
Subsequently, we got to know the reason for his displeasure. He was angry with my mum because of an untold family truth.
My father was a hard man. I recall an incident when the ₦500 note was newly introduced in the country, my elder brother stole some money to buy something. When my father found out, he pierced my brother’s right palm with a nail. Notwithstanding pleas and reprimands from neighbours, my father went ahead to do what he wanted. I remember once when my father and mother were fighting and it got really bad. It seemed he was going to kill my mother. I got in-between them and tried to separate them. He accused me of beating him. He called everyone in his family and told them I beat him.
My father was also very abusive. One thing we all shared in common towards my father: Hatred!
Our house became like a beer joint with time. People would come to drink, dance and hook up with ladies. As children, we had our part to play; we were sent on errands to buy drinks. Out of spite, and a desire to redeem things, we started stealing my father’s money. We reasoned that if we stole his money and he had little to nothing left, he would not drink so much. We justified our actions by saying it was better he lost the money to us rather than to liquor vendors. Particularly, I made sure I took out of his money whenever I was sent to make deposits in the bank. I covered up my tracks by ensuring I deleted the alerts sent.
To sustain my stealing habit, it was not uncommon for me to pitch my parents against each other. One day, I took my dad’s money as usual. I did not know he was a bit sober. That day, he caught me said I was a thief. When my mum returned from having her bath, I went to report that I had been falsely accused. As expected, she took my side. Similarly, whenever I had a disagreement with my mother and I told my father about it, he would take my side as well. In all these, no matter how much we stole from our father, we never stole our mother’s money. It’s unfortunate that he is not alive to hear me confess all these. One sin always led to another: every time I stole, I had to lie to cover it up!
My mother was a busy woman. She was always at work, and barely had time for us. She had to work because my father stopped giving her money for upkeep. So, she came back at night most times. We, the younger children were in the care of my elder brother who was not very diligent with his duty. Once my parents left, he would leave as well with his soccer ball and return when he knew my parents would return as well.
When I was about age five or seven, he left me behind at home as usual and I got raped by an older neighbour. Even though I can’t exactly remember the incident in detail, I remember shouting but no one came to my aid. I was also molested by my father’s friends. In addition to all these, in our neighbourhood, there were many exposed children. We engaged in a lot of immoral activities ranging from lesbianism, incest, pornography and such similar things. Between age nine and twelve, I had a boyfriend and we did immoral things.
Whenever my father found out, he would beat me severely and strip me naked. However, such hard treatment changed nothing. I had nothing to be ashamed of; being beaten and stripped naked in front of people was a common occurrence.
THE GHETTO GIRL
When I had nothing to do, I spent a lot of time with guys at home and in school. I followed some guys to the forest where we would hunt for grasshoppers. It was therefore not surprising that I started behaving like them. I even fought a lot with them without fear. At school, the headmaster knew I was a troublesome girl. While people would be at the assembly ground, I would be in the classroom eating everybody’s food. It became the norm for me to be called into the headmaster’s office after school for one case of theft or another. I bought a phone at a tender age with my father’s money which I stole. I was just really troublesome.
The fall-out was that I disliked guys who tried to bully me. I showed no mercy to any of them who made a wrong move. There was a very chubby boy who troubled me. I was playing with my friends when he stopped by and said our play was childish. I got very angry and fought him till he fainted. After the incident, I ran away. I locked myself in the house because his grandma was a well-known traditionalist; I was scared she would cause me spiritual harm. When my father heard of the incident, he did not punish me. Rather, he commended me and defended me.
I skipped attending school a lot, whenever my father beat me and sent me out of the house. In such a circumstance, I was only able to attend if someone could sneak some of my clothes out of the house without my father’s knowledge. The person who sneaked out things for me was also at risk of being sent out, if caught. He would only allow the person in if he/she knelt to beg with a bottle of seaman and chicken.
One would think I liked my mother more than my father. No. That was not the case. My mother never had time for me. I remember the times I cried, begging her to stay with us but she refused. It was a constant occurrence that went on for years.
I think my father liked me a little because I was more intelligent than my siblings though. There were times he would say, “I would have liked you more if you were a boy. All your brothers are dull.” I was so full of anger. I was angry that my parents reproduced five children they could not take care of.
TURNED A NEW LEAF?
In JSS 3, I decided to get born again so I started praying for my father to quit drinking and become better man. Nothing happened. As a result, I started doubting the power of God. After a while, I pushed the responsibility of praying for my father on my mother; after all, he was her husband. In return, she would insist that I was his daughter.
On several occasions, I suggested that we leave the house, but my mum would say that having half a husband was better than none. I just could not understand such reasoning. She was the same woman who needed God’s mercy to sleep soundly in the house without a violent incident. This was except my father was not drunk because when conflict ensued, he usually sent her away, asking her to bring a chicken and seaman hot drink to beg him or she would never enter his house again. He would reiterate that his father married seven wives but he married only one and yet, she was being problematic.
LOVE REPLACES HATRED
Years after my father’s death, I still felt hatred towards him. After I joined God’s Lighthouse in February 2020, I was taught forgiveness and asked to forgive him. I did, but the memories I had of him were still very painful. I was taught to pray by asking God to forgive him, just as Jesus taught. I thank God for eyes to see, ears to hear and light that has been shinning in me. After sometime, I started remembering good things about him. I understood the concept of our warfare not being against flesh. He may have wanted to be a better father, but since he wasn’t submitted to God, demons influenced him. Presently, although the painful parts cannot be denied, the good memories are also coming to the surface. When I remember him now, I remember him with pity and not with hate. He could not help himself; he was in bondage.
When I hear testimonies of my brethren in church who have reconciled with their fathers, I cry. There is no opportunity for me to do that since he is late. It is miraculous because I was the same person who thought his death was a better option. When he died, I laboured under much guilt and shame. The devil brought accusations telling me, “You wished your dad was dead, and it has happened. You killed him! Remember the saying, ‘Be careful what you wish for?’ You actually killed him!”
All that is gone now! I thank God who freed me from guilt and condemnation.
I also thank God for delivering me from rejection and fear of rejection. I didn’t know this was a thing until God highlighted it through my pastor’s teachings and prayers. My mother was always busy at work as mentioned earlier, and barely had time for us. I felt rejected. I had to forgive and ask God to forgive my mother as well. Now, I can talk to my mum. We even have conversations where I open up to her about personal matters.
Prior to this, she barely knew anything about me. If she hears this testimony, she will look at me like a stranger. I had not met with her after getting born again in February 2020 until September 2021 when I returned home for the two weeks break given after the NYSC orientation camp.
When I travelled back, we discussed extensively on everything, we seemed like long lost friends. Every time she came back from work, after I gave her food, she would talk with me till late at night! I got the attention and care I craved for in the past from her.
Our relationship is now superb. She calls me so often now. When I was returning back, I knew my mum would miss me when she hugged to bid me goodbye. This is the first time such happened between us.
I thank God I can now talk with my mother like a mother and daughter would, and for restoring our relationship.
RESTLESS AS SEA WAVES
One of the consequence of my experience was that I slowly stopped talking to people back then. I did this because whenever I had an issue with my friends and they told their parents, I would be referred to as, “You daughter of a drunk” when they were speaking to me.
Soon enough, I started going after older men, especially my father’s friends who were also drunks, because I was lonely and they gave me money as well. When my father found out, he told my mum to put ground pepper in my reproductive part. That did not deter me. I needed the money. This went on for a good while I knew no peace. I hoped my parents would get divorced and have peace, but that did not happen. I thought since there is no peace for the wicked, I must have been wicked.
Soon, I started writing poems. I wrote poems that were searching—searching for peace: “Is there peace in this life? Can I ever find peace?”
When I finally gained admission into the University, and had to leave home, it was like a breath of fresh air. I thought I would finally find peace, but that was not the case. In fact, I did not find peace both internally and externally. It was then I concluded that it was only when a person died that he would have peace.
MENTAL TRASH CAN
To escape all the troubles that plagued me, I started reading a lot of romance novels. The novels fuelled my imaginations. My reading progressed over time.
I became an addict to literary pornography; I would either buy them or someone would give them to me. It gave me a false sense of security since I didn’t know how else to fight. This probably started in my junior years in secondary school. Once I had a book in my hand, I could escape every trouble by being lost in the character. Reading novels just gave me joy; I couldn’t wait to get started on the next one.
Novels gave me pleasure especially those centred on werewolves. At the time, they emanated power, magic, influence, dominance, affluence, and lust (and not love as I’ve gotten to learn in church). Soon enough, I started liking witches, and other things I thought were ‘good’ because of how they were presented –half animal, half human witches.
These novels filled my mind with filth; as such, I escaped the physical troubles I was facing to more bondage. My imaginations ran wild even while I walked on the road. It was funny because whenever I was asked if I would get married, I would respond by saying I wanted to be a Reverend Sister. My desire was to be a no-nonsense business woman who could get anything she wanted. I read about sperm donors and planned to get two children that way. I didn’t want to have a husband or let him come near my children or my money.
In addition, I had endless sleepless nights and suicidal thoughts plagued me. There were times I would hold a knife to my stomach to stab myself. I thought: if I cannot find peace while living, at least I should find it in death.
These books also filled my mind with different ideas like running away from home. I would have actually run away from home if I didn’t gain admission immediately after secondary school. I could read novels in church when bored, stay up late at night and waste data on apps where I could access novels. I became often absent-minded; I could be looking at someone while he/she was talking to me, yet not hear anything because I was thinking of the last novel I read. Even though this still happens sometimes, it has really reduced. I am a much more attentive person now. At the time of giving this testimony (July 2021), it is a year and few months I have gone without literary pornography. Thank God I’m experiencing pure freedom with Him. What a privilege!
LIES AND MANIPULATIONS
Another aspect of my past was that I had a skill – lying. It was so bad before a question is finally formulated, I would have thought through the question and fabricated a lie as a response. No one could really tell that I was lying because I kept a serious face always. Even my parents were fooled and believed everything I told them.
Lying became a part of me; I could not stop even when I wanted to; I asked God to help me. I did not believe it was possible to live without telling at least a ‘white lie’ to get yourself out of trouble. I was among those who believed it was impossible to practice righteousness and holiness.
I was very manipulative. If I wanted something, I would go to any length to get it even if it involved ungodly measures. I attributed the successes of my manipulations to “God making a way for me”. If I wanted something, I got it. If I didn’t get it, I threw tantrums and fought.
Rebellion and stubbornness were my thing. I felt I was this way because the authority figures in my life didn’t treat me well so I did not want anyone to take me for granted. Submission was such a hard thing to do, even to my relative who was my host at Uyo. I was always rude while trying to defend myself, and at some point, I left her house.
After I came to God’s Lighthouse and started to learn submission, obedience and humility, I went back to stay with her. I have learnt to remain silent even when I think I am being accused falsely. She is even surprised at the difference in my lifestyle.
THE GOD OF PEACE
I was a very angry person too, full of rage. Whenever I got angry, I would physically vibrate and pace about. The urge to vent it on someone would come very strongly. Now, that feeling has drastically reduced. Thanks to God. Pastor prayed for me one day while in church and in the course of the prayers, he stood for a while and then said, “I ask for peace”. It was amazing how specific that was! Peace eluded me for so long but God has been restoring it.
As a child, I could not laugh anyhow, especially when my father was drunk. As such, I got used to keeping a straight face. During my childhood, my happiness never lasted because of thoughts of my sad experiences that crossed my mind. I started smiling again after I came to church. There is no longer constant depression, anxiety and worry! I have been trained on how to fight depressing thoughts and maintain my joy through the the teachings I’ve heard here and wise counsel. During the GLH Passover Retreat held in April 2021, I experienced burdens lifted. I felt so light after the deliverance prayers held on the last night of the retreat.
In the past, I believed it was not possible to live a righteous life. But look at me now; even though I am not where I want to be yet, I am far from where I used to be. More and more, God is working on me.
A SECOND CHANCE AT LOVE
When I moved to Uyo, I attended a particular church group but due to the far distance, I stayed back from church. Soon enough, I started listening to a false grace preacher and somehow, what he said made sense to me. During that time, I started keeping late nights with my neighbour. I hated drinking because of what it cost me but with this friend, I started drinking a lot of alcohol; I was on the road to becoming like my father.
Some brothers from God’s Lighthouse moved into my neighbourhood but I didn’t usually talk to them. Here and there, people would come to visit them, pray in other tongues and fellowship with them. I did not like the way the sisters dressed at all (they didn’t wear clingy short clothes) and it made me angry.
One day, one of them, brother S. stopped me and said he would like to talk to me. He asked me about my understanding of what ‘Grace’ was, and I casually replied that it meant ‘favour’then he told me it meant ‘ability’ but I did not want to pay attention to him. On another day, he persuaded me and showed me the chart explaining the Elementary Doctrines of Christ from Hebrews 6:1-2 (this is what is usually taught in the Believer’s Bible School). It didn’t make any sense to me so I gave him a limited time, emphasizing that there was nothing new to learn.
After sometime of persuasion, I followed brother S. to his church meeting. This was in February 2020. There was a family meeting going on, so I had to wait outside being that I was a visitor. I was given a book to read but I did not understand anything in it. Then a sister brought me some biscuits to eat while waiting. This pacified me a bit. It was surprising because I ordinarily would have left in anger but I waited for the meeting to end and then, joined the main church service. I thank God I did not leave that day. My life would have gotten worse. The church meeting that day ended late and I was hungry and tired. When I got home, my friends made fun of me for staying that long in Church.
But brother S. did not deter. He invited me for the Believers’ Bible School and I attended it even though it clashed with my hangout time. This made my friends mock me even more.
I did not understand a lot of what was said in most church meetings at first but I kept coming for them. I did not even know where some books of the Bible could be found, even though I had been going to church for a long time. In fact, I was the head usher in my church then. Now, I thank God for knowledge and understanding.
When pastor prayed for me on the first day I came to God’s Lighthouse, he asked that the Lord will give me eyes to see – the Ephesians 1:17-19 prayer. He kept saying, “Choose Life”. After the service, I met the Prophetic Intercessory Team for prayers as is the custom for first timers. The prophetic words they received for me were exactly what pastor said to me while praying. I did not understand what it meant at that the time because I had accepted Jesus as my Lord and Saviour so what other ‘life’ was I to choose again?
In my family, we did not care so much about each other; every one faced his own work. For instance, I do not think my elder brother ever attended to my school assignments at all. We did not even know until much later that my younger brother had dropped out of school because he repeated a class. I brought the same attitude to God’s Lighthouse. I kept to myself a lot.
When Pastor talked about the church being a family, I did not understand because mine was not a ‘normal’ family. I did not know what a ‘real’ family was.
Because my father was typically unapproachable, I avoided my pastor. I would not even want to walk on the same path as he. When I heard that pastor donated blood for the treatment of one of us, I was surprised because many fathers would not have done that. Pastor is a father, but nothing like my father. He was not inaccessible or unapproachable as most pastors were.
I was afraid of pastor’s wife as well. When she saw me one day, she took me outside to have a better view of me and become acquainted with me. That made me feel special. I never had a close relationship with my mother; I blamed her for marrying my father, and thus putting us in the mess we were in. I was also angry with God for putting me in that family.
When I started attending God’s Lighthouse, I felt like a new baby. Members were really nice to me, asking for my name and looking out for me. They would see me on the road and hug me or start a conversation with me. I loved the attention and did not want to become old but rather remain the new baby of the house. I eventually realized that I had to grow up so I would help raise newer babies. Also, I had to learn to see pastor and his wife as parents and other church members as siblings. Pastor often admonishes us to bond with brethren. I heard all that but did not know how to go about it. I found it hard to open up about my personal issues. My shepherd, the older sibling, who was placed in charge of me was patient and was always there to give a listening ear.
When my house rent expired, one of our brothers suggested that I stayed with a sister in church. I did not like the idea because of my previous encounter with her when she pointed out where I had not considered another person’s interest before mine. I did not expect to be treated, I mean corrected that way, because I felt I was still new to the church group. I thought I was being manhandled and it brought back memories of my mother, who allowed my father do that to her. This is why I did not want to stay with the sister. I was afraid I would lose control one day, and actually fight her. However, looking back in hindsight, I know I have missed a lot. It would have been a good opportunity to be around brethren and learn a lot from them.
ASK AND IT SHALL BE GIVEN
Another thing that has changed is how I get my needs met. I didn’t believe I could have my needs met in a clean/godly way. Now, I am no longer a student and that means fending for myself with no support from home. I’m learning how to be contented with the little I have. I have also come to learn that it is possible to have needs met through honest means. When my last phone spoilt, God miraculously provided a new one when I least expected it. Before now, I used to get my devices from one ungodly source or another. Getting to know God as my provider has been one of the greatest lessons in this period of my life.
I feel really privileged to be a part of this family; it is hard to find people who are actually striving to practice what the Scriptures say. I feel unworthy sometimes. When the worship is going on, I cry not because of my past but because of God’s overwhelming love. God has chosen me to see His light, to see things differently and be a part of His army. I no longer feel that God is far away. He has shown me that He is and has always been with me. Things could have been worse, but He was with me through it all.
How did I have the nerve to blame God for my past? Now, I see His love clearly. He has redeemed my past; I know deep within that He loves me. I believe that no matter what happens, there is no one else on this earth who loves me like He does. My life is in His hands; everything will work together for good.
©God’s Lighthouse 2021