God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land. — Psalm 68:6
A PEEK INTO MY CHILDHOOD
I grew up in a family of seven – three males, two females and my parents. I had a very close bond with my dad. We were so close that he taught me how to cook, although the first soup I cooked with him (okro soup) turned out to be ‘okro pepper soup’ or ‘watery okro soup’. I had added too much water and I was only eight years old then.
My siblings didn’t like me much because I was my dad’s favourite, and because of all the other troubles I had caused them. I could be really mischievous at home. I could spoil something and blame it on one of my siblings who would then receive a beating from my dad, because he was of the erroneous opinion that I always told the truth.
I would say my actual life started again when I lost my dad (who was my idol) at the age of eleven. It was as though my whole life had crumbled and I was left to fix it up myself. I was scared, very scared. I needed a cover, someone who I could lean on and who would be a covering for me.
I remember during the period he was sick, he would have spiritual attacks during which he would call me, asking me to pray for him. After some minutes of praying, he would tell me to stop because ‘they had gone’. I didn’t really understand the whole thing, especially because my dad wasn’t even someone who went to church. I missed school most times just because I was scared something might happen to him while I was away during his illness. However one day, while I was leaving for school, I saw the fear in his eyes as I went down the stairs. All through that day in class, even though I was young, I didn’t have peace. I just couldn’t wait for school to be over. I ran home immediately school closed and when I got to the stairs, I heard voices coming from our flat. People were praying when I entered the sitting room and I saw my dad’s lifeless body on the couch with foam in his mouth. They quickly covered my eyes and took me into a room, then locked the door behind me after ensuring that there was no sharp object lying around me. All I could do was pray, asking God to restore my dad’s life. I came out later and when I didn’t see my dad, I asked my mum and this was the one question she dreaded. All she could say was that they had taken him to the hospital. But later that night, I overheard her telling my elder brother that he had been taken to the mortuary.
I became cold, so cold that I could barely talk. I even started using sign language to talk to them when I wanted to. I barely ate and started to stutter, out of fear of the unknown. It was so bad that I did not shed even a tear during my dad’s burial and everyone was worried. I stopped believing that God even existed. I and my dad shared a very close bond, so when he passed, I felt unprotected. When my mum noticed that I couldn’t talk well again after my dad’s burial, she sent me to stay with her elder brother who was married with one child.
It was very tough for me. I lived in fear, feeling like the only one who loved me and protected me was no more. I couldn’t relate or socialize with people. I would always stutter each time I managed to say something. I lost concentration and focus in everything I did, especially in my academics. I became very forgetful because I was always lost in my thoughts. And the only excuse I could give was to lie. I could lie about anything just to avoid being hit or scolded, knowing that my defender was no more. Hence I grew up a perfect liar. The more I tried to stop it, the worse I became.
At some point, my uncle’s wife couldn’t accommodate me anymore and said I wasn’t normal. My uncle tried his best to keep me in the house but it ended up creating so many issues in his family so I was sent back to my mum. A year later, my mum’s younger sister got married and decided to take me with her after she gave birth to her first child. During my stay there, she complained that I was lazy, confused, possessed and so many other things. I really wanted to change because it was really bad. My aunty couldn’t send me back because of the help I rendered her; taking care of her daughter and other house chores.
Once, in my SS3 (2015), while in school, I was passing the corridor and heard some students learning a song by Elijah Oyelade “Take me to the Place”. When I got home that day, I searched for the song online, downloaded and learnt it. This wasn’t normal. My aunt was surprised because that was the first time she ever heard me sing.
That night I had a dream where a man, whose face I could not see, was teaching me and writing on a white board. The topic was “Limitations Towards Achieving The Kingdom Of God” and I was writing while he listed out seven key points. The seven things were double-mindedness, lying, stealing, doubt, unfaithfulness, hardness of heart and fear, and he spent more time explaining fear. When I woke up, I wrote them down and forgot about it.
After SS3, I called my mum and told her that I wanted to come back home, giving the excuse that my aunt didn’t want to send me to the university. I came back home in December 2015, applied for JAMB and got admission to study Economics. Before I resumed, I got a job in a hotel and this exposed me to so many things, and my search for someone who could protect me just like my dad did increased.
I got molested by a Deacon in my mum’s church, after I trusted him to take care of me. This made me detest the male folk. I began to enjoy leading them on and breaking their hearts as a result. I would literally accept to date a guy, and in less than 3 weeks, leave him, with the excuse that he tried to force me to kiss him and the likes. It just gave me joy seeing them that way [sad]. One of them literally knelt down in a fast food restaurant filled with people begging me not to leave him but I pushed him and left. The people there kept throwing curses at me but I didn’t care because I was happy!
After I resumed in the university, I learnt that at the time, Economics was not accredited in the school I had been admitted to, and so I dropped out and registered to write JAMB again.
During this period, I indulged in writing NECO and WAEC exams for students since I wasn’t working anymore. I knew this was wrong, but I didn’t really mind.
When I registered for the JAMB examinations again, University of Uyo was not an option for me. I literally just told the people helping me with the registration to put any University. All I wanted to do was to study Economics. When the JAMB printout came out, I discovered my exam was the next day. I didn’t want to stress myself coupled with the fact that I wasn’t feeling too well, so I asked someone else to write the JAMB exams for me. When the result came out, I passed with a high score, and that was when I saw that University of Uyo was the University on my slip.
While waiting for the admission, I got another job where I was learning to make bed sheets. I was earning well, so I started saving some money for school. But a family issue came up, and I used all that money to resolve it.
Finally, I got admitted into University of Uyo in 2017, and I stayed with a childhood friend in the hostel. This friend happened to be the bunkmate of one of our sisters in the church group I now attend [God’s Lighthouse]. After the admission was given, I was supposed to pay my ‘Acceptance Fee’ but didn’t have enough money to do so. The friend I was staying with introduced me to a young man who worked in a cyber café and he promised that he would loan me the money and I could pay back later. While staying in the hostel, I got introduced to my friend’s bunkmate [Sis AA]. She was really nice and soft spoken. I noticed she went to church almost every day and returned later than would normally be expected on Sundays and this was unbelievable to me.
I had attended a church meeting only once since I arrived in Uyo. And I had decided not to go to any church in Uyo again because the Pastor of the church my friend attended collected her number under the guise of hosting a special prayer for her, then he started asking her out. He gave the excuse that everyone wasn’t perfect and everyone has a weakness.
Anyway, one day I came back from class and saw Sis AA. I asked her if she had some garri (cassava granules). She gave me some. I began to chew the garri instead of sip it, I wouldn’t do ordinarily. It was the best garri I had ever tasted! I asked her where she had gotten it, and she said that people in her church group had planted, harvested, processed and fried it. It was unbelievable to me. I wondered, “How?”
She explained more to me, that the Pastor was very interested in training them to know basic skills, and to work hard, and this was one of the projects at the time. The garri was so nice that I chewed all of it and started walking round the hostel looking for any other member of her church group to ask for more garri, not because I was hungry or couldn’t afford food but because the taste was so special to me.
Shortly before this incident, I would always wake up to hear people singing with angelic voices around 5am. I decided to join them when I saw Sis AA. among them. She explained later that God’s Lighthouse members in the hostel usually held devotions every morning, so I told her to wake me up every morning when she was about to go out for the devotions. Few days later, she asked me if I would like to follow her to church and I said yes, although the reason I agreed was so I could get more garri from the church even if it meant asking the Pastor himself. Who would believe it was garri that God used to pull at me? That was how I came to God’s Lighthouse!
That first day, as I entered the place where the church met, they were singing a song, the memory verse from Lamentations 3:22-24 — Through the Lord’s mercies, we are not consumed because His compassion fails not…
Their voices were so calm and gentle. When I sat down and looked at the white board, I had a flashback of the dream I’d had in 2015 where a man was teaching me and writing on a white board. I enjoyed the meeting and decided to keep coming.
Few weeks later, God gave me a special gift – “Eyes to see” and this opened my mind to a whole lot of things. I started having the Holy Spirit reveal things to me in visions. I never believed that people could actually see beyond their physical sight.
As I was taught in church, I began to study the Bible personally, and in fellowship with the brethren. Most times whenever I felt like just backsliding or giving up, I’d remember all the different things the Holy Spirit had spoken to me through visions, dreams and His word, and I would hold on. I was taught (and learnt) to keep going to fellowship with the brethren, and listen to His word, even when I stumbled or fell short.
About one month after I resumed school, the school payment portal was about to be closed. I spoke to Sis AA. who had become my shepherd [a leader in God’s Lighthouse I was placed directly under, to ensure I was adequately cared for spiritually and otherwise] about my inability to pay my school fees. Pastor got to hear about it and sent me money through her for the fees which is unbelievable because no one had ever given me such amount of money freely without my working for it. When I got there, I found out that my acceptance fee hadn’t even been paid yet, and the young man who had promised to pay didn’t pay. Instead, he gave me a fake acceptance fee receipt as I had given him part of the money [he was to help add up the rest]. Because of this, I was unable to pay my school fees. I was weak! But somehow I knew God was on my matter and this never allowed me give up.
On the day of my matriculation, Pastor called to see me after the celebration. That was when I finally opened up to him about the fact that someone else had written my exams for me to gain the admission. This was the first time I had opened up to anyone about anything pertaining to me ever since I lost my dad (it was as though someone had cast a spell on me). I was prayed for because of all the issues with the school fees and acceptance fee. Part of some prophetic words given to me was that that I needed to defer my studies. I was to make a choice, whether to defer, or quit and start all over again. It was such a tough one that I couldn’t even call my mum to tell her what was happening.
After the meeting, I still went right ahead to process my school registration and thereafter, opt for deferment. During that period, I went to meet the faculty officer to explain things to him. He asked me to bring all my documents for another screening after one week. When I got to his office on the screening day, I noticed I couldn’t find my JAMB Admission Letter. I couldn’t understand how it disappeared from my well arranged file. While returning back to the hostel, I kept hearing someone laughing at me. For some strange reason, I felt it was the Holy Spirit. What surprised me most was that Sis AA. and I had arranged that file that morning according to all the documents required. When I got back to the hostel and told her what had happened, she decided to check the file herself and that was when we noticed that my school Admission Letter had also disappeared, including my ‘Authority To Pay’ slip which was given to me during my first screening procedure.
Before this happened, the Holy Spirit had been nudging me to give up on this particular pursuit, but I refused. I had started out this entire schooling process with falsehood. My results were not mine.
I sat on the floor and instead of crying, I started laughing. I laughed so hard that tears began to drop from my eyes, and that was when I said “Lord, I give up already”. I couldn’t go on with the registration; my documents were not complete, and my results were not mine.
About two months later, I was still in the university campus, lying down in the hostel on a Monday morning when a sister from church, who also happened to be one of the leaders, came to see me in the hostel. Long story short, a place was found for me to stay in the short term and I was to work there as well. This was necessary as I was not really doing much in the hostel. The woman I was to stay with had children and this made me upset. I thought I had been able to run away from raising children and the “bondage” (I thought) of staying with people and being under authority.
SHAKINGS AND MOULDINGS
I loved my freedom a lot and didn’t really want any one setting boundaries or telling me what to do or what not to do. I hated authority. I begged the sister to tell Pastor to allow me stay in the hostel for an extra day, at the least. Sis A. was not even around. I kept wondering why I wasn’t given a day’s notice. I was very angry, packed a few clothes in my bag and left. I was very rude to the brother who was waiting in front of the hostel to take me to the house. It was some drama and the people around would have thought he was asking me out because of the way I was yelling that he should leave me alone! All of these were totally wrong responses. I had no reason to react in that manner.
On the way, somehow I kept pondering on Abraham’s journey, “was this how Abraham felt when he was told to leave his comfort zone to the place God will show him?” Funny enough, that was the passage I was reading that morning. It was very painful.
When we got to the house, after greeting the owner of the house – Aunty M, and dropping my bag, I received instructions. I had been employed to work in her shop. She had two shops and I was to run both with the help of another girl who had been employed earlier. I went into the other shop which was quiet and started crying. The thoughts of my dad and his death came back strongly. I wished he would come back and put an end to all of this happening to me at the moment. The brother came into the shop and saw me crying. He consoled me and left. After he left, I was all alone again, with no phone, and no one to talk to. I became sad once more.
The owner of the house, Aunty M. used to complain that I liked staying alone, and whenever I tried engaging in a conversation with someone, it would be as short as possible so that they will be dismissed very quickly. I also recall those days when my family would travel for the Christmas holiday and I would stay back because I wanted to be alone. But I’m grateful that God has been helping me with that.
Aunty M’s house has been like a training ground for me, a school – a real one where I have to learn. It was clear God had laid it all out before bringing me to this world. Most of the attitudes I felt were part of me and I couldn’t get rid of were addressed. An example is snubbing (ignoring) people. If there was a word like ‘snub lord’, it would have been a perfect nickname for me. I cared less about how important anyone’s question was. I wouldn’t even act like someone said anything to me. I felt I wasn’t being paid for the words I spoke or the answers I was to give. It was very terrible. My mum was always worried and would say, “do you think any man would want to marry you with this attitude of not wanting to say a word to anyone?” My brothers would add, “does she look like someone that wants to get married?” They weren’t wrong because I had already decided not to get married due to how much I detested authority. My whole plan was just to adopt a child and stay single like a celebrity role model I looked up to back then.
But coming to Aunty M’s place was a huge training ground for me. It has not been easy though – getting rid of my flesh. Many times when I couldn’t bear it anymore, I would call Sis A. and vent. I was very disobedient and didn’t even want to humble myself to learn. I had a lot to work on – ability to relate with people without getting anyone upset; pride, anger, impatience, lack of peace, doubt, lying, and ability to open up on matters pertaining to me as I was very secretive.
I thank God for the ability to cook well through the training in Aunty M’s house, to take care of a business and participate in taking care of a household too!
On many days, I get to wake up by 5am, sometimes 4am, to prepare breakfast and may end up preparing three different meals excitedly. I would make sure the food is ready before 6:30am, get the baby dressed for school and be at work by 7am. I’m also grateful that I no longer detest marriage (even though I know I’m not ready for it yet.)
GRACE TO SHARE MY FAITH
Evangelizing to people has helped me to learn to speak too. Before now, I could have a lot of words I’d planned to say but I couldn’t open up to talk about them. I thank God for Sis A., my shepherd, who helped me in those areas after sharing her testimony with me on how God had helped her and given her the ability to share with people too. It gladdened my heart that I could actually sit down with someone or a group of people and talk about God. I mean, a customer that comes to my shop said he comes because he doesn’t leave without a word or two that strengthens his faith towards God. Also through my prophetic giftings, with guidance, the Holy Spirit has helped me to touch the lives of different people.
I thank God for Hebrews 6:1-3 which has been a great foundation in my life. The teachings on these elementary principles of Christ, [taught] in the Believers Bible School, has been of great good to me. I thank God for the class on the Resurrection of the Dead especially. These messages have brought back the peace that had left when I lost my dad. Now I can even say, “thank you Lord for taking dad away”.
I thank God for Mr. Ita Udoh, the Pastor here who nurtured me, and my shepherd who never gave up on me.
I also thank God for giving me amazing brethren. Now I can boldly say I have friends! Writing this is a huge testimony on its own. (This is exactly one year and ten months now since I started worshipping in GLH – December 2019) I pray that the Lord will continue to strengthen and increase His grace upon me more and more as I continue to press in to please Him.
May God be praised!
– Sis PA
© God’s Lighthouse 2019.