Your pride

I searched her face for a sign: something, anything to convince me about the Principal’s statement a few seconds ago but there was none. I couldn’t feel my legs anymore as I dropped back into my seat and Mrs. Hakeem rushed for me.

When I got a call from the office of the Principal through his Personal Assistant stating that I was needed urgently, a lot of thoughts fled through my mind. I had just returned from lunch at the office when the call came in. I didn’t know what to think. Was Simisola sick? Did she have an accident? Did her father show up –as he had been threatening he would—at her school? It just didn’t cross my mind that Simi, my only child would be involved in bullying of any sort. So I was amazed when the Principal said, “your daughter flogged a child into coma.”

As soon as the call had dropped, I picked my purse and keys, locked my office and left the building in a haste. I only remembered on my way out to call Mr. John, a colleague, and ask him to tell anyone who asked that I was called at my daughter’s school.

The drive to Simi’s school that afternoon was filled with mixed feelings. Unlike the normal excitement and ecstasy I felt when going on the usual monthly visits, I was filled this time with fear and rage. What had happened to her? I feared. “Oh, is it that man, her uncaring father who had come to take her? I raged. Whatever it was, I would soon find out.

I hurriedly pulled over at the Visitors’ park and didn’t notice the windows were still wound down. The security tried to call my attention but I ignored him. It was Harmattan and there could possibly be no rains. The dry winds blew harshly on my face and on my thoughts. I was almost sure by now that it was her Dad, he had come for her.

As I walked to the Principal’s office, I met a few members of the staff. We exchanged greetings. Their faces wore expressions of sympathy and shame. My heart got heavier. I didn’t have an idea what the problem was, so I hastened my steps. In the office, even as the Principal tried exchanging pleasantries, I remained worried. I wanted him to spill the beans as soon as he could. It was until he asked that Simi and the house mistress, Mrs. Hakeem be called in that I began to think, it may not be her Dad after all. Yet I still knew it was a serious matter. I began praying inaudibly.

In a few minutes, Simi came in with head bowed, shoulders slouched and fists clenched in front of her. Mrs. Hakeem walked in, after her. It was then that the Principal started talking about why I was called. He started by saying that Simi had been a good girl. I nodded in panic and saw  Mrs. Hakeem nod too. Then, he said that he was disappointed in ‘my daughter’. She had flogged a 13-year old JSS3 student mercilessly. I sprang up before I knew what I did.

While I was still trying to understand where such behavior came from, he made the statement. “your daughter flogged a child into coma.” That was when I slumped back into my seat and began screaming, “Simisola Ogechi Akala has killed me.” “Madam, calm down, calm down Ma.” I heard Mrs Hakeem say as she rushed for me. Her plea wouldn’t console me.

After about thirty minutes, I am sitting in the car with Simi. I parked my car after I drove us a few meters away from the school gate.

“Simisola, what is your problem?” I ask, not looking in her direction.

My cheeks feel cold from the tears dried up by the harmattan wind and my eyes sting: hot and teary. She doesn’t respond. I pick the envelope that the Principal gave me. I didn’t open it then because he already told me its content- a suspension letter- but now, I open it and pull the letter out. I give it to her to read aloud. She does. I barely hear anything she reads because she is muttering the words.

When she is done, I take her face in my palms and look her in the eye. She begins to cry profusely. I let her go and ask her why she did it. She says the junior girl was rude to her and her classmates were looking to know what she would do.

“So it was your pride that put someone in the hospital and I have to foot the bills now. Eh?”

“She was asthmatic.”

“You shouldn’t have beaten anybody!!!”

“I’m sorry mum.” And she bursts into another round of tears.

“You are a child of God, Simi. Even though your dad is far away, which is best for us, you know how your dad…I point to the car roof, behaves. Love is God’s nature. It should be all you do and know. You would have let the junior go and reported her to the house mistress. Your classmates and some other students saw you right?” She nods.

“They would have witnessed for you. Pride is a very stupid emotion to act on. The Bible says God resists the proud and because you know God does not hate anybody, you understand that he hates such character and attitude. Everything done in pride doesn’t give glory to God. Why are we created?”

“For His glory”

“Good! You didn’t give God glory. You acted in the flesh!”

“Mum, I’m sorry.”

“I know. So what do we do?”

With a voice shaken from crying, belching at intervals, she said, “We will go and visit her in the hospital. I will use all my savings. You say what is best for us to buy.”

I hug her tightly, and say a word of prayer in gratitude for God’s word and His work in our lives when we let Him.

Kendra Okpara
©2019

The criticality of our lifestyle as world changers

An Issue Paper presented at the National Strategic Youth Missions Summit, Salem University Lokoja, Nigeria by Steven Kator Iorfa

Introduction

You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.(Mt 5:13-16)

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect(Rm.12:2)

We live in a generation where the undiluted Word of God is already scarce. The youths especially can no longer endure the sound doctrine of God’s word and therefore teachers, mentors, disciplers, pastors, etc. are beginning to look for more appealing ways of presenting the gospel. They adopt high sounding philosophical and psychological motivations to get young people coming to church, and in very bad scenarios, some have employed devilish methods to attract, exploit and retain members. 2 Timothy 4:3 is fast catching up with us and before our very eyes, our friends, colleagues, children, wives, husbands, fathers and mothers have begun to accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and are beginning to turn away from listening to the truth and are wandering off into myths. However, in all of these, our heavenly Father has affirmed over and over again in 2 Timothy 2: 19 that His firm foundation stands, bearing this seal:“The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.” What more can we say? Generations may come and go, civilizations arise and fall, dispensations change, but the Word of God will remain. The interpretation of His instructions on Christian holy living and conduct will not be subject to geographical locations or changes in generations. It is therefore critical that as world changers, we begin to pattern our lives and conduct to reflect the change we want to make, the change God has called us to make. To do this, we have to adopt a lifestyle different from what the world knows, has defined and accepts. We have to conform and be transformed to the life of Christ, the kingdom lifestyle. 

This plenary addresses issues on godly living for young persons who are aspiring to change their worlds. And it must be noted here that asides the term “world” meaning the physical planet earth, our worlds could mean the different platforms our Father has graciously granted unto us to serve him through. Thus, I would be having us treat the term “world” in a generic sense that would encompass the worlds of politics, academia, fashion and entertainment, sports, health, science/technology and innovation, art. Even the world of religion and spirituality. We will briefly define some key terms and then go on to look at the lifestyle of a world changer, its nature and criticality.

Lifestyle: a) Someone’s way of living; the things that a person or particular group of people usually do; b) the particular way that a person or group lives and the values and ideas supported by that person or group; c) someone’s way of living, for example the things they usually do, where they live, what they spend their money on, etc.

Critical: a) of the greatest importance to the way things might happen; b) extremely serious or dangerous; c) extremely important to the progress or success of something

World-changer: A world-changer is someone who is committed to changing the world. A Christian online devotional has this interesting thing to say about who a world-changer is; A world changer is not someone who blends in, a world changer stands out, sticks out and stands up ready to make a difference. A world changer goes beyond the usual expectations of Christianity. A world changer finds the most intense demands that Jesus places on Christians and does not shy away from them but goes after them with all his/her heart. A world changer does whatever it takes to get the job done. A world changer pursues God passionately. A world changer has been radically, completely and totally changed by their relationship with God. 

The world changers’ lifestyles

a) Dressing 

Do we now begin this endless debate about dressing? About whether it is okay to put on this and that as world changers? A world changer knows that when our Lord gave a command, He meant it and they are determined to live up to the standard. A world changer does not conform to the standard of dressing dictated by this world. He or she sincerely yearns to fulfil the mind of the Father. A world changer knows that he/she is always in the presence of God the Father and permit me to say that there is no sincere child of God who does not know how to dress and appear before his/her father. As God is with him/her always, so his/her dressing also, always must please the Lord. Or has the interpretation of the Word of God suddenly become subject to geographical locations such that our compliance with and obedience to it varies from place to place? Have we become so pretentious that the intensity of our obedience increases with our proximity to church alone? Are we world changers? Do we desire to become world changers? Can we please let our dressing and appearance reflect the true nature of the life we carry? Let’s be reminded of the scripture in Hebrews 4:13 which says “no creature is hidden from His sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to Whom we must give account”, and remember that He knows the very reasons why we dress the way we do. There is a pattern for Godly dressing, the pattern a world changer is known by.

b) Earthly riches and wealth

What about the love and desire for earthly riches? I know this is another area most believers do not agree on. But has our Lord not also clearly stated in Hebrews 13: 5 that as believers we should keep our lives free from the love of money, and be content with what we have? For our Father has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you. What does this mean for us? Does this translate to our living beggarly lives and becoming burdens to our brethren and the heathen who seem to prosper? No. Our heavenly Father has also promised in Mathew 6: 33 that if we seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, then all other things will, in addition to His kingdom, be given unto us. We are not to live poor all our life. How else do we speak into the financial crises of our generation? How do we offer solutions to the enormous financial challenges of missions? We are to tap His resources for life, ministry and missions. But even if, He so desires, that through the denial of earthly riches, His children’s character be polished, shaped and sharpened, would we then as clay, tell the porter how best we want to be moulded?  

c) Prayer life and personal altar

A world changer is on fire for God and his/her prayer altar is always burning. He or she recognizes the Word of our Lord Jesus Christ in Luke 18: 1 that men ought always to pray and not to faint. World changers are committed to building an intimate secret life with God for they know that in it alone lies their strength. Therefore, they will not trade their Quiet Times and alone with God for anything else. They cherish the refreshing times spent in the presence of God and are always eager and yearning to return there. King David, a man who radically changed his world in his generation, had this to say about God’s presence; “one thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.” (Ps. 27:4).

Conclusion

In Mathew 28: 19, our Lord Jesus Christ commanded saying, “go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. In other words, go therefore and change the world. How else can we change the world other than through the very best way we live our lives?

Firstly is the need to understand that the ability to really change our world and not just try to slightly improve it can only be divinely given with the ideas needed divinely inspired as in the case of Joseph and Daniel. Changing the world requires a power from Him that made the world.  Truly changing our world is about changing men and bringing them to the point that they become like Jesus. Where there is a complete transformation and renewal of the mind. It goes beyond an ability to put together a long list of exhaustive dos and don’ts to an internal transformation that seeks a fundamental foundation laying that equips an individual with the ability to take the right decision even in situations never met before or never put down into law.  This can only be achieved as God gives a man the ability to do so.

The second matter that proceeds immediately from the first is the fact that this ability is not available for every dick and harry. The decadence we have seen thus far cannot be attributed to the inability of God but rather the unavailability of usable men. There are those certified by heaven to carry out this task. Only such certified individuals get endowed with the divine grace to affect their generation and leave indelible marks of eternal worth upon the sands of time.  2Chr 16:8-9, makes it clear that God is actually more eager than us to demonstrate His power upon the face of the earth, but the bottle neck of the whole mix remains in the ability to locate such men on whose behalf He can show Himself strong. Such men that He can point to other men, such men about whom he can say “this is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased, hear ye him”. It is needless to say that such men are scarce. This necessarily brings us to the point of realizing that it is such men who please God that will get endowed. Now the big question is what is the criteria, and the clear answer is “life”. There is that life that God is willing to associate with, that life that pleases Him, that life that He can call a friend. These are lives embedded in divine consecrations, lives that the actions you constantly see is a manifestation of the fact that they are completely sold out to Christ, again, lives who’s lifestyle is embedded in consecration. Heb 11 gives an account of such men in the Old Testament, men who loved not their lives. Even though they had limitations. They had not experienced the death and consequent resurrection power of the cross. As it is written Christ in you is the Hope of Glory.

The inability to connect with the almighty, the very SOURCE is what makes many resort to other means, but alas they can only be noise makers not change agents. If we must have devoted workers, honest students, faithful husbands, submissive wives, responsible fathers, sincere bosses, the list goes on… We must have correct lives to compel a following, lives inspired by God. True change comes from above.

We see few of such lives already existing in the world of missions, but many more are needed in business, law, engineering, medicine, banking…..lives before whom the Nebuchadnezzars of their professions will tremble and bow and acknowledge as in Dan 4:1-37. That the Lord HE is God. 

Steven Kator IORFA

© 2019

 

Tattooed me

But He was wounded for our transgressions
He was crushed for our wickedness
The punishment for our well-being fell on Him
And by His stripes we are healed.

The stripes signified his tattoos …
Our names where tattooed there on his body
Don’t be startled he cant forget us
Our names are permanently tattooed on his skin
So say to yourself “He tattooed me”

With his Alcoholic love,
That produces eternal drunkenness
He tattooed us
So that when we fall in love we get risen by his Grace
Cause falling for him is rising in peace
So say to yourself “He tattooed me”

When troubles seems to roar at us,
Like the animal king trying to scare its pride
We roar back with an unknown language
And confusion becomes the dress they wear
So you know what to say “He tattooed me”

Let us suck sense when we think of Success
its not by what you have but by who you have
And when you succeed and the seed you sucked
Makes you feel it is by your power then your sense sulks!

I’ll tell you a story
about one man they called Joseph,
Whose destiny was wrapped carefully with poverty,
Whose freedom was enclosed in the hands that collected money for him to be sold,
Who was tied above for people to watch from below exactly how God made him,
Whose pride was locked up in a prison they called circumstances!
But within him laid a being that has been his assurance, he called father
Who looked at him in such situation and called him ‘Success’
so when you feel it is all finished
Say to your self “He tattooed me”

I believe,
Not in the power of other spirit
But in the power of the spirit he promised never to leave or forsake us
For the sake of love on the cross he shed his blood for me!

…and when my feelings tend to lecture me on if God is with me or not
I’ll sit it down and give it a cup filled with his words to taste and see that the Lord is good!

 

– Felzpoecy (2019)

GENERATIONS

I have really wise friends
I have really smart friends
And then I have these other friends. These ones I don’t know how to classify them.

For when you hear their thought process, you will wonder if this part of the body called a brain is vestigial in some animals.
When they utter words, you automatically want an occupation with hammers for every thing they say make you want to break their head.

But then I got to thinking;
6 years,
10 years;
200 years from now and these same ‘not so senseless’, poor in making decisions, and utterly tiring friends of mine would be known as ‘the ancestors’
A status men will begin to idolize.

I see us use a whole lot of our mind’s compartment to believe things that were told to us by people who couldn’t figure out simple things, I mean, some of the very learned of them actually argued that the earth was flat, like a table.

Hollup!

I am not even talking about the unlearned ones from your villages that birthed those you now call grandpa. Just imagine it.

They told you to pour drinks on the floor for the ancestors and you agree, well it’s *Omenala, so it can’t be broken.
They said a woman should be shorn when her husband dies and well, who are we to not obey the voices of ignorance passed down to us?

We carry knowledge like tentacles on a snail’s head but still slip back into the cave of ignorance we use to shell whatever good we can make of life, just because we have been told to ‘stand on the wisdom of the elders’,
Now guess who said that? ‘THE ELDERS’

I feel this is rigged.

Then our faith, love, strength, and even humanity is subject to a broken past called tradition,
Something that might have been suggested by a ‘not so smart’ old man who was only opportune to live before us.

So I take a stand today.
I will relate with the rules of the ancestors like they were still alive now
I will weigh their wisdom based on how wise it is, NOW!
I will not waste my time in their myth, only to satisfy their dead bones long gone with the sands of time.

I will make decisions now and then advice younger generations to learn from my words, but before I go from this earth;

I will let them know I wasn’t the wisest
I wasn’t the smartest
I was as man as man can be

And most of all;
As they grow, and find better ways to do what I said couldn’t be done,

They shouldn’t be afraid to discard my letters and fly the plane of their imaginations to outer space and back.

For no matter how sacred we decide to treat the scrolls of heroes past,
And bend always to their judgments on matters, using them as the ultimate yardstick to measure life.

I dare say that many of them were also as confused as we are at some points of important decisions,
And to crown it all, some chose wrongly.

Which only goes to say that we with them were all normal humans.

And if I won’t let another man dictate what I do and decide I run my life, I’m including the great ancestors too.

 

*Omenala is the Igbo(Nigerian Language) word that means tradition

When Love Leads…

The Evil In The Heart Of Men Flee
The Wounds That Caused Me Nothing But Pain And Shame Would Surely Heal
My Smile I Would At Last Regain
The Stone That Lies Deep Down My Chest At The Centre Of My Rib Cage Would Soften
And A Heart Full Of Love Would Arise And Become Flesh
Our Mothers Would No Longer Desire To Set Their Homes On Fire
And Our Fathers Would Realise Why They Should Adore Their Wives
Instead Of Chasing Them With Knifes
When True Love Leads
Hatred Would No Longer Be Seen
Lust Would Now Be Regarded As Nothing Else But Sin
Wars! Crisis! Chaos!
Would Be Placed Under Our Foot
We Would No Longer Run For Our Dear Lives
Our Children Won’t Be Afraid To Picture Their Future In The Stars
Dreams! Goals! Ambitions!
Won’t Be Stepped Upon By Bourgeois’s Right Before Our Very Eyes.
When Love Leads!
God Leads!

By

Princess Pirinye