Proving God's Faithfulness
Okechukwu relates his story:
Something spoke to my heart: “Do not be up in front!” and I obeyed. It was Easter Sunday in 1969, during the civil war in Nigeria, and I was with a troop of soldiers ordered to clear Owerri. A few moments later, the soldier in the front of our group tripped on a booby trap and it exploded. Eight men died. I was the ninth person in line, and sustained wounds all over my body. However, if I had not obeyed, I would have died and gone to Hell that day because I was not a Christian.
That was the second time my life had been spared. The first incident occurred in 1961 after I left primary school. I jumped from a moving express train going from Enugu to Port Harcourt, Nigeria. The train guard noticed that something fell off the train, and pulled the emergency brake. Because of my injuries, I was taken to Aba and treated. After my discharge from the hospital, I was acquitted for my offense because I was a minor. I believe God spared my life those two times for a purpose.
I was born into a nominal Christian home. We went to church every Sunday, and my mother woke us up every morning for prayers. I was confirmed during my secondary school years, received holy communion, and sang in the choir, but sin was in my heart.
My friends and relatives mocked me and gave me three months to come back to them and return to my former ways.
Then the civil war broke out and I entered the army. As an officer, I lived like the other soldiers and did everything they did. However, I was restless and unhappy. I knew I was a sinner, and when the war ended, I felt compelled to find God. I prayed and was truly saved; how I thank God that He forgave all of my many sins. I made restitution, straightening out my past. I even returned the library books a friend had stolen and given to me. The principal, who was a priest in another church, thanked me and told me to keep what was in my heart. I also received the experiences of sanctification and the baptism of the Holy Ghost. My friends and relatives mocked me and gave me three months to come back to them and return to my former ways. However, it has been forty-four years since my conversion, and I am still serving God.
The Bible says that “all things work together for good to them that love God” and that our lives are in His hand. I have proved that to be true. My first major spiritual test after I became a Christian related to the results from my A-level exams. They were not too good so I had to study longer than my classmates to enter the university. However, God helped me obtain a government scholarship to come to U.S.A. to get my Bachelor’s degree and then complete graduate school.
While I was in the United States, I was able to attend our Apostolic Faith churches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, California, and to spend holidays with the late Sister Ruth Ashwell and her husband in Portland, Oregon. Sister Ruth was of tremendous spiritual help to me as she sent me recorded sermons and books, and encouraged me in my spiritual walk.
My wife and I faced a challenge in our married life when we lost our first child in October, 1979, but the Lord did not fail us in that hard place.
In 1977 I traveled home to Nigeria to get married. My wife and I faced a challenge in our married life when we lost our first child in October, 1979, but the Lord did not fail us in that hard place. In 1981 God opened the way for me to travel to the United Kingdom on another scholarship, and there my wife and I attended Sunday services with the Apostolic Faith group in London. God performed a miracle for us in June, 1982, by giving us a son to console us. In January of 1984 we returned to Nigeria, and settled in Akure. There, God gave me many privileges, allowing me to take part in the work as an Association of Visiting Secretaries member (AVS is a group which spreads the Gospel in the schools), and to be a Sunday school teacher. For a time my office at the university was a place used for AVS, but today that group has become an Apostolic Faith church.
An offer came in November of 1990 for me to become part of the faculty at the Federal University of Technology in Owerri. My family joined me in early 1991 and as God would have it, the church leaders appointed me as a minister in the work there.
My wife and I have experienced trials and tests along the way, but I thank God for His deliverance in the time of trouble. There was a period when my progress in my career was almost stalled but God intervened for me. In my academic work God helped me to move from one step to the next. Once a position of leadership came up, and a friend asked me to lie about my age in order to qualify for the position. I refused. That shocked him! He said that everyone falsified their ages, but I told him that I would not lie to obtain a job. I was glad for the opportunity to show him that a Christian does not tell lies.
In Owerri in July 2002, armed robbers attacked us. They tied up our security man, and used a pump-action gun to beat me. It was the mercy of God that they did not shoot us.
My wife and I raised four children together. While we were in the U.K., our son took very sick with a bronchial disease. I wrote and requested that an anointed handkerchief be sent from our Portland headquarters. When the mailman delivered it to our house, God instantly healed our son. One year as we were traveling from camp meeting in Lagos back to Akure, we had a serious accident but God delivered us and no one was hurt. In Owerri in July 2002, armed robbers attacked us. They tied up our security man, and used a pump-action gun to beat me. It was the mercy of God that they did not shoot us. I thank God that He spared us and especially our three girls.
It has been exciting to see the work of the Lord grow in Owerri. Retiring in 2011 has given me additional opportunities to use my time in serving the Lord. It is my privilege to go to small churches as a visiting minister and to help in the work of Apostolic Faith Campus Fellowship. I have been on the road often in the past four years, but have never had a major car breakdown. There also have been health challenges, but God has helped me. It pays to have Jesus as a Healer, Anchor, and Protector.
I am grateful that my wife and I had the opportunity to be at the 2015 camp meeting in Portland; the meetings were wonderful. The Lord has blessed me, and my desire is to do more to spread the Gospel to lost humanity. My prayer and hope is to meet Jesus in the Rapture.
Gloria tells how God called her
Thank God for making me a part of this wonderful Gospel. I was born into a polygamous, nominal Christian home. My father insisted that I go to church and sing in the choir, so I did that from an early age. I was zealous about attending church, and there God started to talk to my young heart. As the songs were sung, tears would roll down my cheeks. One song especially touched my heart. The words, “Dear Lord and Father of mankind, forgive our foolish ways; reclothe us in our rightful mind, in purer lives Thy service find, in purer reverence, praise,” caused me to wonder when that was going to happen.
My parents did not have enough money to send me to high school, but in time a way was opened. I prayed to God and promised that if He would allow me to finish high school with good grades, I would serve Him. God did help me, providing for my financial needs until I finished, and I came out in the top grade. I give Him the glory for that.
In December of 1971, I came across a group where I was told that I needed to confess and renounce my sins for Jesus to come into my life.
The civil war came, and my family moved from place to place. I started doing things I knew were bad, and God reminded me of my promise to serve Him. I began joining different religious groups, going from one group to another until the end of the war, but found no satisfaction in my heart. In December of 1971, I came across a group where I was told that I needed to confess and renounce my sins for Jesus to come into my life. That registered in my heart, and at their crusade altar, God showed me the sins that I had committed way back to the time when I was four years old. I cried out to God to save my soul, and He answered my prayer. He showed me restitutions I needed to make, so when I went home, I went to people I had held malice toward and to those I had offended in one way or another, and made peace with them. I went to my former school and returned the books I had stolen from the library. The joy of Heaven filled my life and soul so completely that I desired nothing other than God.
My search for a place of true worship continued until I was invited to the Apostolic Faith in February, 1972. God witnessed to my spirit that this was where I belonged. There I sought for the experiences of sanctification and the baptism of the Holy Ghost, which the Lord mercifully gave to me. In August of that year, I attended the Lagos camp meeting and took part in the ordinance of water baptism.
It has been wonderful following the Lord one step at a time. Before coming to the Apostolic Faith Church, I had applied for a scholarship to study medicine in the United Kingdom. I was selected, but felt led to not accept the scholarship. This brought a lot of persecution from my parents; they even threatened to kill me, but God did not let them carry through with that. In 1973, God gave me another scholarship, this time to study education in one of the Nigerian universities. There, He helped me in my studies, and allowed me to graduate with very good grades.
Although I had no financial means for continuing my studies, I prayed that if God knew I needed to get another certificate, He would provide. Miraculously, people I did not know paid for me to obtain my Master’s degree and even gave money for my maintenance.
I was so sick that I wished for death, but God was there. As I cried and prayed on one occasion, Jesus spoke to my heart saying, “When you are carrying a heavy load, the heavier part is borne by Me.” I wonder what that experience would have been like if the Lord had not borne the heavy end.
In 1977, the Lord led me to marry a Christian man. In 1979, our son was stillborn, and that birth almost took my life. I was so sick that I wished for death, but God was there. As I cried and prayed on one occasion, Jesus spoke to my heart saying, “When you are carrying a heavy load, the heavier part is borne by Me.” I wonder what that experience would have been like if the Lord had not borne the heavy end, because I went through terrible pain and many sleepless nights. However, in God’s own time—during the dedication of the Lagos Apostolic Faith tabernacle—He descended and healed me completely. Glory be to His name!
God blessed my husband and me with another son, and later, with three daughters. Child rearing was not easy but God was always present to answer whenever we called. The goodness of the Lord cannot be exhausted or fully recounted, even if I were given one month to tell of His many blessings. He has been our Healer, Helper, Confidant, our all in all. I would not exchange this Friend of friends for everything in the whole world. May His name be praised until I see Him face to face in Heaven.