2 Cor 2:14 But thanks be to God who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and who makes known through us the fragrance that consists of the knowledge of him in every place.
This testimony has chronological timelines starting from 2017 when I was in my fourth year studying Chemical Engineering. Preparation for the first semester examinations had begun when I was informed of an arrangement for an interview that would qualify me to secure an internship opportunity at Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. So, I had to travel down to Port Harcourt for the interview which was an aptitude test.
Because of this trip, I lost a lot of time that should have been spent reading for the semester courses because normally, all reading was left till just before the exams. At the time, those were challenging courses. I feared failure of one of the courses more because of the lecturer. He was a very strict man who would go out of his way to check spellings and grammar and could give penalties for that.
When I returned from my interview in Port Harcourt, I was so tensed. I felt like there was no room in my brain for more course content. I was already battling to retain the ones I’d learnt; some were even ‘vapourizing’. When the exams came, they were arranged back-to-back – days in a row. I wrote as much as I could, but with external ‘help’ – the ‘cheats’ and ‘clique formations’. I hadn’t come to God’s Lighthouse yet, so cheating was a ‘rational’ choice at the time.
Time passed. I thank God I secured the internship placement (testimony for another day). I went for the internship and returned after the six month-period which was the entire second semester. The results for the first semester were released; I passed the course I feared the most and failed the course I feared least. This was where the journey began.
Upon my return to Uyo, my elder brother introduced me to God’s Lighthouse. Prior to this, he had been bugging me about the need to read my Bible, and he was always in church meetings! I used to wonder why he would stay spend all that time in church. I didn’t have to wonder much; I later found out. My first shock was when I heard his life testimony. I couldn’t believe it. My ‘gee’ was a forerunner of things! (He was involved in fraudulent activities). I am grateful for the salvation experience and starter-pack God granted him. He spoke of how the church group was full of young people, and that got me interested. It was just exciting to hear that young people like me were on fire with the Holy Spirit. At the time, I was still a regular customer to altar calls for the impartation of the Holy Spirit, but to no avail. So, it is no news to say that I was impressed. By October 2017, I started attending the Believers’ Bible Class.
By 2018, I was a new man – bouncing in the Lord, mind-shift in progress, and so much in view. I was enthusiastic. As for my failed course, I figured I would just fit in the course with my final year courses. Little did I know a journey just begun – a journey I had neither a map nor a compass for. This was one journey I had no idea of the destination. I was in a crucible—in God’s own palm, awaiting the unfolding of an experience. This experience would bring an avalanche of God’s grace, love, discipline, light, death, and an awakening. There is no way I could have ever imagined what laid in store for me. Would you have known?
GOING THROUGH GOD’S SCHOOL
Ecc 7:8 Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.
Heb 5:7 Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;
Yay! Final year came quickly; I was ecstatic. I just got admitted into the school of the Spirit unknown to me. Yet again, examination results were released, and guess what? I failed again. The course ‘passed’ over me. It wasn’t an issue then. There was room in the semester’s schedule to squeeze it in. Life went on as usual.
This is 2018, and I was a freshman in the College of the Spirit, although a final year student in my engineering discipline. A lot of changes were occurring around my life. I just had to adjust. Did I mention that a lot of things were checked off my list?
Baptism of the Holy Spirit – check
Prophetic insight and dreams – check
Deliverance from demons – check
So, believe me when I say I was having a blast. My life took a revolutionary circuit. I had what most would call a triangular life, and I loved it –from my house to campus, to church meeting, and then back home. This was like a perpetual ordinance I found grace to know and keep. And boy, I kept it!
I started the Believers’ Bible School (BBS). That was another experience on its own. That is, being soaked in sound teaching. But there is a slight twist to this story. There came a time when I started going late for the BBS classes. Sis. A, a principal person in the class noticed my latecoming. She called me, and spoke to me on more than one occasion, but I made no effort to change. On one such occasion, after reprimanding me, she gave me a message. What she said amounted to: “You better be serious or you will be disciplined.”
WHEN GOD’S BIG EYES ARE WATCHING
On one such BBS day, I did something foolish. About an hour to the class, I started keeping tabs with an old acquaintance, a ‘damsel’ from where I did my internship. I was on my phone with her for such a long time until my battery died. It was then I realized I had stayed way beyond the time for BBS. At that point, I was in a fix as to whether to go or not. I knew if I arrived late as I was bound to, Sis. A’s watchful eyes would definitely see me. I went for the class eventually. But on my way to the class, I had an unpleasant experience. I lost my phone and only noticed this when I got to the class! With a new humility that wasn’t there some hours before, I approached Sis. A after the class, narrating my ordeal to her. She pretty much said that God would help me.
That night, I cried – real tears to the Lord in my room. Amidst my tears, one thought dropped in my mind. I said, “Lord, I’ll still attend the classes but You’ll have to do the tasks that the lost device did for me in reminders, alarms, checking up class schedules with course reps, and the big one – Internship report writing and defense”. This was a big deal because my draft report was in the lost device. Having said that to the Lord, I trusted. At the time, I don’t know how much that worked, but I believed He heard me.
Trusting wasn’t easy; it was hard at first. But it soon softened into a tingling, scintillating flow of events and experience with God. I recall that that was the period fondly termed the ‘fire’ season in God’s Lighthouse; the time when God dealt with demonic strongholds in our lives. It was also the time when we got to know the Lord as ‘The Lion’, giving way for a lot of spiritual ‘surgeries’ and healing.
Permit me to speak a bit figuratively here. Like my brethren, I went through God’s Laboratory, taking the required tests and scans. It was during one of such prayer sessions that I received the gift of the Holy Spirit with evidence of speaking in tongues. After that, I started having dreams which was something I didn’t frequently experience in the past. I started having dreams of myself bathing; of water washing over me and many such events. Now I understand that that was a picture of the internal cleansing and regeneration of the Spirit going on in my life.
Something else happened. I suddenly had an ability I never knew could be manifested – reading the Bible. Understanding started flowing like a steady stream and the Holy Spirit would wake me up early. I did not have to worry about not having alarms. This happened for as long as I didn’t have a phone. I did not have to worry about my lectures either even though I could not receive information about classes. I was thoroughly led by God. Some days, I would find myself reading the Bible longer than usual. Often, when that happened, I would arrive school and find out that the lecture either didn’t hold or something just came up.
Worship was just amazing. I would have quiet times that lasted for hours – spent in worship and Bible Reading. I really did put the Berean Christian attitude on; I would crosscheck every Bible verse pastor mentioned in BBS. I would read, study and take notes on them all over again. Being in such partnership with God wasn’t just new to me; it was exhilarating. I couldn’t be happier.
To top all of that, the unexpected happened. Exactly one month after I lost my phone in a minibus, it was returned to me. How? To keep the long story short, a church member of our family church in Port Harcourt called my brother (who happened to have just arrived town). Apparently, someone had called this brother from my former church group while going through my contacts and trying to establish communications with me in order to return it. The ‘good Samaritan’ had seen the phone fall, and fought with another passenger to gain its custody.
I was eventually contacted. And oh, what joy that filled my soul!
The guy who returned it kept telling me that I served a living God. He had tried using the phone but to no avail; the phone battery was already dead before I headed for BBS that night. His conscience wouldn’t let him be either; he would feel so convicted. Eventually, he managed to pull out my SIM and got a contact. This too has remained a mystery to me because I saved contact on my phone memory and not my SIM card for easy synchronization with my email and WhatsApp. He even said that how he kept that phone for more than 20 days was strange to him.
That was such a miracle! It was so unbelievable! Why? At the time, the rate of stealing at the area called ‘plaza’ was really high. It was therefore inconceivable that anyone who lost his dual-SIM android phone with an enviable-sized memory card would have it returned to him.
The joy flowed into my academics. I did my project defense without a hitch. I even had an ‘A’ and had a 5.0 GPA that semester. Everything was just too good to be true. Here I was with a buoyant spiritual life, good grades, and technology to help me reconnect with spiritual siblings and friends. What more could I ask for? But what remained most priceless in that period are the things that happened while I was without a phone; I breathed in the breath of life. That was a year of personal and experiential growth in the Lord by His Spirit. Jesus was a lot more personal to me. I experienced the same thing in my interaction with the Holy Spirit. And since this is an academic type testimony, I will give credence to the fact that I was marvelously helped right from that particular semester.
THE FIRE AFTER THE HONEYMOON
Philippians 1:6 …being confident of this very thing, that he who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.
Let me rewind a bit to 2018. Learning to fully practice the “no-cheating in exams” teaching was easy to accept and strange to practice. I started to practice it during the first semester of final year. It was hard. I tried though and by the second semester, I had overcome a lot more and attained the feat. First semester results came out and, dear me, I failed the same courses again. That meant an automatic extra semester. This got even more serious when failure in the second semester’s courses gave me a full extra year. I was greatly troubled. My house rent was due to expire. If all things had gone as planned, it would have just have expired at the perfect time – when I finished my final year. But my present reality meant I had to go through a whole new cycle – new rent and a new lifestyle. I remember that time when people in God’s Lighthouse would desire to have an extra year so they would spend more time in fellowship with God’s people; I was among those people. But when all these happened, ‘objects in the mirror became closer than they appeared’ and it wasn’t funny. So much happened in between all of these to build up my faith and stretch my spiritual muscles.
2019: SPILL – 1.0.
Given the new circumstances of my life, I had to move to a new accommodation. First, I moved to the place where the church would gather at the time. Later, I moved to brother U’s house. It was time to go through the “fellowship of the brethren class”. A lot of things happened. But one significant thing was the fact that I was greatly humbled. I also learnt patience and how to share during devotions. Yet again, I took the school courses again and failed them both. Things were really not looking favorable at this point. That was when I got a mental shift. This happened after a meeting with our pastor. He advised me to stop thinking like an undergraduate. He said that my parents had tried, and I should be grateful for the support they had given till date. However, I should start thinking like a man, hustling and working. Then, I was asked to join the volunteer team who would go to the school where God’s Lighthouse was doing outreach to and assisting through teaching. I am really grateful for that experience as well. At some point, I got so caught up with the outreach that I did not notice when the Youth Prophetic Conference at Jos came up. Our pastor’s wife persuaded me to attend and I am very grateful that I went to that conference. That was another time maker for me.
THE FIRE GETS SEVEN TIMES HOTTER
The 2019 session came to an end. Yet again, I failed both courses. This time, there was a real fire on my mountain. My parents were obviously not happy. Soon, they attributed my repeated failures to my church group. On a personal level, I gave up on academics. I felt the entire weight of frustration. In fact, I thought that I was likely bewitched, among other things. My brother had a similar case. What if it was an ancestral problem of sorts? My mind wandered to many places.
I thank God for giving me a job at that time. That kept me busy and occupied. In addition, I had homework and assignments under the curriculum of the school of the Spirit. This was around the time we, the delegates who went for the Conference in Jos returned with marching orders. We started going out to evangelize in teams. I was assigned to the group going to Ikot Ekpene. God did an amazing work there; pioneers for kingdom purposes were raised. But that is a testimony for another day. Even in all these ‘failures’, God had pumped me with so much faith and virtue. Soon, another problem arose. I was staying with Bro. U, but his rent was bound to expire at the end of the 2019 session. It was obvious that another cycle was to come to an end. These events were quite discouraging. I was worried. But I thank God that I had people to share my burdens with. I kept my shepherd (an older believer who I was accountable to, who watched over my spiritual life directly) up to date with events happening at the time. The encouragement from brethren kept me going.
Eventually, I had to travel back home, and intimate my parents on the state of things. This was not easy. I heard lots of complaints; it was a whole new experience. My reprieve came in form of a message my elder brother gave to me on the 29th day of December, 2019. It read:
‘Savvy, Pastor wants you to be around for recording tomorrow ‘cos we’ve got a deadline of two days then you could go back, treat as urgent o. Tell ‘em at home today.’
When I got this message, my first reaction was that of wonder. How on earth was I going to explain to my parents that I was going to Uyo? And in the heat of all that was happening? Did pastor even know that I was in a hot cauldron here? It was just unbelievable.
I did what I could. I thank God for wisdom. I had the church’s music files and archives with me, and that was my pass. Although they did not fully approve of it, my parents just had to let me go. That move was a wakeup call for me because I had started walking in doubt. At the time, the doubts had bloomed to the point where my shepherd couldn’t handle it and wanted me to meet with our lead pastor for counsel. I am thankful that I obeyed and went to Uyo at the time because I had more peace after the move.
ANOTHER ATTEMPT AT WINNING
2020: Spill 2.0
My second extra year came; another cycle to go through. I had no drive to pursue academics but I kept going for lectures anyway. My volunteer job became a full time job, since I had few lectures. In all these, my parents did not want me to have any associations with God’s Lighthouse. They knew I wasn’t staying in an apartment of my own; there was no such money. However, they’d rather borrow the money from external sources to give me than allow me live with brethren.
I am thankful for the strength to press through on that one. I eventually stayed with brethren. It was a week to exams and I had just paid school fees when the earth entered her Sabbath a.k.a COVID-19 Lockdown. That was how my exams were shifted till 2021. I took the second semester course in 2021, and it took such a long time for the results to be released.
Let me explain this for some context. In my department, results are not released on time. That means one cannot resolve technical issues, if any, in time. Therefore, one would be left with no other option but to rewrite the course. When I wrote this time, I died to any strength in myself. All I could do was trust in God. I cannot really say I understood what I wrote in the tests and exams. I just trusted.
BEAUTY FOR ASHES: SAFE IN HIS HANDS
In the midst of all the trials, confusion and eventual victory, I got insight into the prophetic direction for my life. It happened that my elder brother talked with about the prophetic implication of the people I had met through my trying journey. Previously, he had shared his own experience with another brother, brother E. My job brought brother E and I together. together. One day, this brother mentioned that he had seen the place we were working at in his dream before that became a reality. He had recorded it in his dream book, and showed it to me. It was a wonderful moment for me. There was just this peace that enveloped my soul. The peace came from knowing that I was in God’s will the entire time. My extra years in school were all part of the experience. That day, I knew that come what may, I was secure in God’s hands. I lost all sense of fear—fear of failure, doubts and unbelief all became a thing of the past. I started tracking my cycles, my times and seasons with God. It was another eye-opening experience. It is actually a testimony for another day.
This is my testimony: In the last week of December, 2021, the result of the first carryover course was released. I passed! Oh! My joy knew no bounds. I was so happy that I remained on the altar as a living sacrifice; that I stayed in the fire. I was thankful for the lockdown period. I was thankful I did not take the easy way out, which was to bribe the lecturer.
Few months later, in 2022, the result for the second carryover course was finally released. And the Lord did it! I passed as well!
And I know that all things work together for good to them that love God…who are the called according to purpose. Knowing this that the testing of your [my] faith produces patience, and patience, character, and character, hope. (Romans 8:28, James 1:4, Romans 5:4)
In His acceptable day and time, He answered me. Therefore:
Ps. 22:21b, 22-24 I will declare your name to my brethren. In the assembly [congregation], I will praise you…and…For He did not despise or detest the suffering of the afflicted, He did not ignore him; when He cried out to Him, He heard [responded].
I am thankful that I remained with this congregation of God loving people. I am thankful that I had them to comfort me in times when I was down. I had never experienced that kind of ‘fire’ before, but I am glad I stayed. I am glad beyond what words can express. I almost gave up but thank God I survived. I sulked, I stopped in my tracks sometimes but I am thankful because even before all these began, He completed it already. He knew all this before it happened. His grace was, and still is available to me. Now I know of a fact that His grace was really sufficient for me to go through the experiences I did.
I am forever grateful to God: for the new bonds formed, new skills learned, for virtues added, for freedom acquired, for the different people He SENT my way along these times. I am grateful for pastor and the teachings that came during that period. They formed a springboard of faith – well-padded – to enable me make some leaps and jumps into the river of God. From this first-hand experience, I can boldly say and affirm that Jesus came in the flesh. I too am a warrior! May God be praised.
Taking the same courses for 3 years has now become an awesome part of my life. I give God praise that my faith remained and was not shipwrecked. Faith toward God is a reality. For this practical class and much more, I thank God.
Praise God! Amen.
Bro. S. EK.
1st Jan. 2022