I had my ups and down as a struggling Christian. I managed to read my Bible here and there and preach a little too. I felt my life was fairly okay until I got trapped in the web of gambling which almost destroyed my life. This is how it all began…
In 2014, I had a shop I was sharing with someone. The rent expired and my co-tenant did not tell me that he wasn’t going to share the rent on our next payment. This left me stranded as I only had money to pay for 6 months. I tried to beg the landlord but he refused and insisted that I pay for one year, so I left the shop. I went for a training [apprenticeship] afterwards and when I returned, my mother gave me some money which I added to the one I had saved earlier. I paid for another shop in June, and my business started in August 2014.
When I opened the shop, there was a girl who stayed around my shop. I hated her initially because she was quite disrespectful. A few months later though, I cannot explain how it happened, but we became close friends, and then she became my girlfriend. I went on to ask her out despite being told the previous night in a dream to leave her alone, else she would cause me so much pain. Every time she was with me, I kept hearing, “She will cause you pain,” but I didn’t listen.
Later on, I felt that living with my mother was no longer conducive for me as I now had a girlfriend. I decided to get my own apartment in order to keep the relationship. I moved into a house and committed the sin of fornication all through my stay there. But the word I had gotten, “She will cause you pain,” kept coming to me. One day, I called her on the phone and while the call was going on, I heard a male voice in the background and something that sounded like a slap followed. I was shocked and worried too, because before we started the relationship, I had asked her if she had a boyfriend and she said no. Of course I believed her because I thought that since I didn’t lie about being single, then why would she lie? I called back and the male picked the call. I insisted on meeting with him but he refused. After this incident, I still continued the relationship with the girl after we settled the dispute. However, my life was taking a downward slope as things didn’t seem to be getting any better financially.
Introduced To Quick Money
One Sunday morning, my girlfriend came visiting so I decided not to go to church. Instead, we decided to go to a friend’s place. On the way, we passed by a gambling/betting shop and she told me she wanted to go in and play a little game. I decided to follow her and see how the game was played. This was the first time that I had entered that kind of shop. She went in and started to play ‘colours’. I didn’t understand anything she was doing, I was just standing and observing.
I was curious because I had heard a lot about the whole betting thing. She played the first round and she won! Before my very own eyes, we had made some money that morning just like that! I didn’t know it was that ‘simple.’ So I told myself that I wasn’t going to play the game yet, all I will do is to ‘sit down, watch it and monitor how it is done.’
I did the study for quite a while with my own unique techniques. Soon I started being able to predict the colours that will come out. I could tell a player “blue will come out, go and play” and it would be just as I said it. Each time I predicted, it was correct so this really encouraged me. Then I decided to play. The first day, I played, got some money and went home. And just like that, I was in [i.e. had become addicted].
A New Lifestyle Formed
God was so kind and began to reach out to me with corrections and warnings…
By my second week of betting, I had a dream one night and someone (who I believe was an angel) came to me and told me to go and ask the people who played the game if they had done anything useful with the money they had gotten from gambling. He told me not to go near it anymore. He told me it was evil.
When I woke up in the morning, I began to think. Even though I had only been in the game for about two weeks, I had put in (and lost!) a lot of money and was even low on cash. The earning was such that; if you won ₦10 today, you’ll end up giving them back ₦100 unknowingly.
Also, within those two weeks, I lost my phone in the Bet shop. I realized this when I got home. I called my number and someone picked up and told me to come and get the phone at a certain location. When I got there, I called the number and the person didn’t pick the call again. The next day, he called and gave me another location to come to. I went there, and again when I arrived, he refused to pick. I got fed up and when he called to give me another location, I told him to keep the phone, but please return the sim card, as I didn’t back up the numbers. That was the last I heard from him. Losing the sim card was serious because it was my business line, and so every connection and contacts of potential clients that I had were lost.
Sinking Into More Folly…
I had another dream where I was warned again about betting, on a Sunday. The next day, I took some money, about ₦3,000 to get myself a small phone that I would be using. On my way, I saw a Betting shop and I entered. I sat down and started playing. I played ‘red’ twice with ₦200 each, but a man beside me told me that red was not going to come out (I wasn’t going to win if I kept wagering on red). Out of annoyance (Who was he to tell me how to play my game?), I decided to play red five times, and each time, I won! I made about ₦8,000, and before I knew it, my money was up to ₦15,000 that day.
I started giving out some of it till I was left with about ₦13,000. I was about to stand up and go home, but I couldn’t go. I remembered that I was owing someone ₦15,000, and I wanted to buy a phone too, so I needed some more money. Now that I think about it, I should have just gone out of there with the money to buy the phone or gone back to my shop. But I did neither. I decided to play again, and this time I started playing ‘blue’ just like that. Even my friend that was there told me severally, “Don’t play blue! Only red and yellow are coming out,” but I insisted. I played till only ₦7,000 was left. The owner of the shop wanted to close the shop for the day but I begged her to wait a bit so I could play one more time. I played ‘yellow’ to the sum of ₦1,500 three times. Red came out instead, twice. I decided to try again, and blue, then red, then blue again and finally, red, came out. That was how I lost all the money with me that day. I stood confused, I couldn’t understand what had just happened. Then I heard, “I warned you, now you have seen it.”
I left immediately, around 9pm, back to my shop and began to lock up. One of my neighbours told me that a man had come to look for me earlier and my phone number was tried to no avail. When I was told the man’s name, I was so sad because I had been waiting for his visit for a while. I went back home and couldn’t sleep. I went to see a friend who knew the man’s house. He took me there and luckily, the man received me and told me he had come to offer me a job. He paid me immediately for the job after our discussion.
Before this whole gambling phase I was in, I had already trained myself to purchase all the materials I’d need before commencing any job I was given. So I quickly went and bought all I needed and finished the job in time. The man paid me for my work and I kept the money in my shop to avoid any temptation to spend it, since this transaction happened during the weekend [Saturday], and only went back home with ₦2,000.
The next morning, a Sunday, I felt that my clothes were not good enough for me to wear to church that day so I stayed back (excuses not to go to church would usually abound at that time). I was lying down in the house when my neighbour came to ask if I wouldn’t be going to church. I told him I wasn’t and he asked me if I had anything to eat. I told him to come in and take anything he saw, so he did and ended up eating all the cooked food I had in the house. When I became hungry, I decided to go out to look for what to eat. I picked up ₦1,000 and left.
When I stepped out of the house, my eyes fell on the Betting shop that was just a stone’s throw from my house [If I had eaten and left for church wearing any decent thing, this temptation wouldn’t have come at this time]. I had vowed that I wouldn’t enter that particular shop because of how close it was to my house. I had even told people around me that betting was evil after I lost all my money. But despite my vow, I entered the shop. This was around 9-10am.
As I was sitting there after I had played some rounds (and of course lost some money), a young man came in and started playing. I went up to meet him to offer some advice. I told him, “The way you are playing this game, I see you crying at the end. Take it easy, don’t rush. Calm down.”(I was such a knowledgeable adviser). But the young man did not listen to me. So I went back to my seat. All of a sudden, I heard him shouting, “Jesus! I have lost ₦22,000.” I looked at the time and it wasn’t up to one hour since he started playing. He started begging the shop owner to give him ₦200 naira to go back home. This incident added to my list of experiences that enabled me preach properly to people to stop, even while I was still playing.
I noticed that I behaved myself, and had self-control each time I wasn’t with money. But when a little money entered my hands, I couldn’t resist the urge to enter into the Bet shop. I continued playing the game in the shop close to my house that Sunday morning till I had gambled away the ₦1,000 I was with. I rushed home to get the remaining ₦1,000. By now, the hunger that had initially made me leave the house was gone, as I was focused on the bet game, and hoping my next game would favour me. I desperately wanted to recover my money so I played yellow worth ₦500 and a single yellow did not come out. I tried again and that was how I lost the whole ₦2,000.
The kind of hunger I experienced after that was as though I hadn’t eaten for one month.
I found my way to the shop and collected ₦1,000 from the money I had kept earlier, from the profit of the man’s job. Did I eat? No! I went back to the Bet shop and starting playing again. Before I knew it, I had gone back to my shop (which wasn’t far) three more times taking ₦1,000 on each trip, making a total of ₦4,000.
On my 5th trip, I literally heard, “Are you stupid?!” The money I was wasting could have been used to settle some of my debts! Somehow, and thankfully, this brought me back to my senses so I bought foodstuff and headed home.
I was reminded that I was owing my girlfriend ₦15,000 (which I had wasted on betting). Now I was broke! I was also reminded of the word, “She will cause you pain.”
My shop rent had expired as well and I managed to raise about ₦10,000 from someone who was owing me so I could give it to the landlord to hold on to. After I collected the money, I sat down and thought, “If I play this money, I can make ₦30,000.” Another thought came, “If you lose, the money is gone!” I decided quickly to just go to the landlord and give him the money with a promise to give him the balance later. I however resolved that if he didn’t accept the money, then I would use it to play the game.
When I went to see the landlord, he didn’t even allow me finish talking before he took the money from me, and so I returned to the shop. Time passed and I couldn’t raise more money, so the landlord gave me a three month notice to leave his building.
I didn’t have any money anymore. I tried several times to stop betting, and I had ‘made up my mind’ countless times too, but each time a little money came into my hands, I was there in the bet shop playing it away. I would initially make some money from the game, but shortly after, I would lose it all. Betting literally dried me up. The landlord of the house I was living in was on my neck shortly after. I knew I couldn’t go back to the village, so I decided to go and live with my cousin who was a politician, even though I didn’t like living with people.
In 2017, I met one of the sisters in God’s Lighthouse when she was walking on the street to her house. My intention was to be her friend since she was a beautiful girl, so I went up and walked with her. When she got to the gate of the compound she was to enter, she told me she was stopping there. I told her I had noticed many young people enter and come out of that compound and asked what was happening there. She told me it was a church meeting and invited me. I told her I would attend “one of these days.”
Flickers Of Hope
Coincidentally, the day I attended was the week a retreat was going on. When I entered the building, I saw people praying, and some of them were laying hands on each other. I was folding my hands, standing and looking around. I wanted to be sure it wasn’t a ‘familiar spirit’ as I called it, causing them to do funny things. The next day, I came again and as I was seated there, the Pastor came up. I heard him say things that I hadn’t heard in a long time. The message touched me. When I got home, I asked myself, “Do people still preach these kinds of words?” I began to look at my life and all that had happened. I repented sincerely and asked God to help me stop my lifestyle of betting, baptize me, and fill my heart again.
I attended the meetings till the end of the retreat and then I stopped. I just decided to stay back and concentrate more on my [former] church group. I stopped betting for two weeks but found myself going back after that. I was also planning to reopen my shop, but I couldn’t due to a lack of funds. Then I remembered that during the period of the retreat, I had started reading my Bible again and I had a good fellowship with the Holy Spirit. But when I stopped attending the meetings, I began to feel lazy to read my Bible. I also noticed that any day I didn’t read my Bible or spend time with God, I would fall to the temptation of betting that day. And this time, when I betted, all my predictions came out wrong! I didn’t win even one naira, but I still kept playing.
One Friday evening, I had only ₦500, and had planned how to manage it till Monday. But the money got lost on my way back home. I was so sad, and was walking on the street as though I was mentally unsound. When I couldn’t take it anymore, I knelt down on the street in desperation and prayed to God to deliver me…
And He heard!
Victory, Freedom, Peace
I went back to the sister’s church group, and started being more serious with the Bible studies and fellowshipping with the brethren there. I started to obey the things I was being taught. I had a real and rich relationship with the Holy Spirit. Scripture was opening up to me in a whole new way. I became a happier and fulfilled person.
I also learnt about what the Bible says concerning money making, and being diligent in business or work. I can’t say exactly when I stopped gambling, but after my desperate prayer on my knees on the street, I gambled a few more times. However, being under the words of God delivered me.
I can now thank God that I passed through all of that ‘betting phase’ because I can boldly tell someone of my experiences and advise them properly, while now practicing what I say.
I even got to meet someone who had won ₦1.3million from betting, and I asked him “So what did you do with the money?” He had nothing substantial to say about it. In fact, he was sad and told me that he was trying to stop the habit. I tried to talk to him…
Wealth from get-rich-quick schemes quickly disappears; wealth from hard work grows – Proverbs 13:11
– Bro E.E.
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© God’s Lighthouse 2018.