One time ago, the Lord clearly told me to leave Onitsha and go do something elsewhere. It was so clear that I didn’t doubt it one bit. I would sleep and see success in dreams, I would be reading the Bible and hear God talking to me about it. My God! I was so motivated to go ahead just as the Lord had said.
Guess what? I went and it all failed! I was frustrated and I came back to Onitsha in shame. A friend even asked me “George, are you sure it was the Lord that spoke to you?” I smiled and responded with the affirmative. I was so sure it was God; this same God who woke me in the middle of the night when I was still a child and asked me to go and teach His word. That night, I acted like a child, I knew nothing and I didn’t have a bible at that time. But guess what? I was going around the streets preaching! I was using any bible verse I come across in my mum’s red Ancient and Modern Anglican prayer book.
This same God that changed the direction of my life and made it so dependent on ministry that without it, I cannot be living; it was Him who sent me out of Onitsha. I don’t usually come up to make bold claims that God spoke to me but when I do, He did. I remember before leaving, I told all my friends who were also in ministry that God asked me to leave Onitsha to a certain place; a village at that. I remember I sold some of my properties to be able to pay for an apartment and I went into that place with no one. I had only a friend and a sister in that location.
When it wasn’t working the way it was shown to me, I was getting very frustrated. I felt maybe I didn’t pray enough or had enough faith. I remember coming to a place that was supposed to be our venue, I would sit there, cry and talk to the Lord. I would sweep and arrange the place and in the morning, I would come and talk to empty chairs and perhaps my sister. For a long time, it was like pouring water on the rock.
I asked God why He would bring me here to suffer me! Well, God helped me pull through but one thing was sure, I never for one day started doubting that God brought me there. I ran into lots of troubles including financial problems. The more I tried doing something on my own, I cause more damage. It came to that point where I stopped having the initial meeting I had moved into the village for. I started trying to alternate, to reach out to children and very young youths who weren’t exposed. I met with many prominent people including a man that was reported to me to be very occultic and they welcomed the idea. I felt maybe this was exactly what God brought me here for.
Guess what? I got ill and was diagnosed with severe immune problems. The doctors suggested I had been stressing myself, not eating well, not sleeping well and all of that! I had to pause my life for a while. The pain was very severe that I became suicidal. Well, even in this pain, I was so convinced that it was God who asked me to come to that village. However, what I wasn’t sure of anymore was if he wanted to deal with me. That vision I wanted to run with very young people never saw the light of the day.
Some ministries in that area already knew me and what I came for, the shame of not meeting up kept me inside for a long time. On Sundays, I would just stay at home either praying, studying the bible or just doing nothing. I didn’t know if I should move forward or backwards. One day, I felt a push in me to visit a certain fellowship. Some who knew me were surprised to see me. It took me nailing my pride to be able to come in there, sit and listen to people I would usually consider I do better than in the teaching of the word.
While they would usually teach certain things I may not agree 100% with, I usually felt at home. That was where I believe God started dealing with my pride. Although I have been a non-denominational person before then, that was where I learnt I could work with other believers even if we don’t share certain beliefs. While I remained there, I also became a frequent visitor to another ministry. I joined in their soul-winning reach outs and would always go with a friend of mine to houses of people, preaching the gospel to them, leading them to Christ and ensuring they grow. I was no longer concerned if the initial thing I came for was progressing. I found a new joy in doing these things.
I left the village to go witness the burial of my grandmother and I had plans of coming back. I didn’t want to go to Onitsha and tell people who I had told earlier “the Lord sent me” to report back that I failed. However, somehow, God ensured I didn’t go back. Each time I wanted to go back, something else would come up. On Sundays, I usually didn’t go anywhere because anywhere I go, people who knew me so well would see me and start asking questions. It took a while, I decided to start visiting a neighbouring assembly where I used to be a member. It was like a homecoming, they wanted to fix me in everything and ensure I don’t leave again. I wanted it too because I felt maybe, it would cover the shame if I stay there for some years and maybe see what God would do with me there.
Although I wanted it, God never gave me any form of assurance in my heart. Each time I try manipulating it to seem God is convincing me, I don’t see any conviction. In fact, in my dream, I would see the set man of that assembly and the way he addressed me seemed that though I was important, I had a distinct ministry. I went ahead to commit myself into something but I was always troubled in my Spirit.
Suddenly, God started troubling me in my dreams. Anytime I shut my eyes to sleep, I would see the man of God under whom I had travelled earlier. It was a problem reporting back to him because I felt very shameful. Each time I dream, I would see him around and I knew God was about doing something. Somehow, I felt God was just humiliating me and making a mess of me. After I discussed with a friend and she gave me a heartwarming encouragement and personal testimony, I decided to go ahead and meet with him. One evening, I summoned all the courage left in me to go for midweek service. Everyone was surprised, some things had changed any way but I walked up to him after service and we talked. The fear disappeared because he spoke to me with so much love and concern. Certain assumptions were settled too. However, I became very limited to what I could do there. As much as I would have wanted to serve in an amazing way, those opportunities seemed to have been prevented from coming.
Some months later, I had to leave the city again because of a new job. I stayed in this new city a few months trying to understand my way around. One certain time, I decided to pay a certain assembly a visit and from that visit, something in me convinced me that I was in the right place, I had never felt the way I felt in a long time. I didn’t want to bring out myself, I focused more on my job, my personal assignments but didn’t always miss service. At some point, I wanted to join a department but being an evangelistic person, it seemed where would really do well don’t exist. The choir was the next preferred place but I needed something very much more fulfilling as regards to my calling, something that would put me in the forefront of witnessing to the un-churched.
After several months, a Pastor beckoned on me and said he wanted us to talk. I gave him my phone number. To cut it all short, he said to me “you don’t look normal. Whenever I look at you, I don’t see someone who is meant to just sit in Church and listen… I see someone who has been called out for the young people especially.” I was a bit excited in my spirit because I have been talking to God about it. He said so many other things that sounded truly like a revelation, things I had only kept to myself. he wasn’t claiming he had a revelation, he said it was just what he felt but I knew it wasn’t accidental. God orchestrated it.
Well, after that… A lot has happened and I was drawn back to whatever had happened the previous year and I heard a voice say “I didn’t send you to that village to succeed, I sent you there to change certain directions of your life and teach you from those failures. Now, you know what it looks like and it will be easier for you now.” I got it! I had been wondering why God sent me there and yet allowed me to fail… He had given me the answer! He sent me to fail! In the midst of this, a young lady had come to me saying that her mother was dying. Before she would describe what she was going through, it was dropped in my mind that her mother was going through the same ailment I went through at the village. I started asking her questions about the symptoms and she affirmed to all of them. Using my experience, it was easier for me to encourage her and tell her the simple procedures her mum would go through and get restored. I also recommended medical checkup after her mother has been relieved for further care. It was easy!
When God asks you to do something, sometimes don’t assume that it would take a certain direction. Just go ahead and do what He asked you to do and then relax! It may even end up being a failure but you have to relax and never try figuring it out your own way. The Bible says all things work for good to them who love God. Obedience to God’s word is one of the ways we love God. He may decide to lead you through the valleys of shadows of death, it doesn’t mean He has left you to yourself. He may have forseen the mistakes you will make and even allow you to make them so that you can learn from them.
Maybe, God even asked you to do it so that you will fail. Maybe, God never wanted you to succeed in it. Maybe, He just needed you to have some kind of experience before leading you into the main place He wants you to be. Sometimes, He may want to use that failure to teach you how not to fail in a bigger assignment. No matter how people try convincing you that God may not have been with you in that sinking ship, always remember that Jesus was in a boat and the boat was sinking. His presence in that boat never stopped the boat from attempting to sink. However, you can trust the Lord. If He had sent you or given you that assignment, just trust Him to see it to the finish.
We may never understand why God had asked us to do something at this moment but it may be clearer tomorrow. Don’t try getting the whole picture before embarking on that journey, just start going if He asked you to go. He will lead you through the path of peace and righteousness. It may not look like it now, but get going and keep trusting Him.
~ George O.N