The Persistent Love of God
In 1882, George Matheson wrote the words to the song “O love that will not let me go.” The love of God that he wrote about has been a constant in my life. I was born in 1977 to Nigerian parents who were studying in Boston, Massachusetts, and was the fourth of six children. My mother had been raised in a church but was not saved at the time, and my father was in a backslidden condition. In 1980, our family returned to Nigeria and settled in Benin City, Edo State. My father was awarded many government contracts, and one of the workers he hired invited us children to Sunday school at the Apostolic Faith Church. Our parents permitted us to go, and there I learned about the wonderful love of Jesus. Then our family fell on hard times, and we stopped going to church.
Our home life was difficult because of our financial situation. My father was unsuccessful in his enterprises, and my mother worked from early morning to late at night as a teacher and a restaurant owner to make ends meet. She was determined that her children have a good education so she sent us all to private schools.
During those years, I lived in a spiritual wilderness. My heart grew callous toward God, and I began stealing and lying. Though still a little girl, I knew I was a sinner and needed to be saved. After entering secondary school around the age of eleven, I decided to go back to church. My mother supported this desire and gave me money to take public transport, and my father never prevented me from going. However, by then my mind was filled with different ideas about religion, and the preaching of God’s Word had much to contend with. I realized my need to put away my thoughts and ideas and have a tender heart toward God. I started praying and confessing my sins. Yet, after praying on Sunday, on my way home I would argue with the bus driver over the fare and would feel like I had lost any spiritual progress. Thank God for His love that did not let me go during this period in my life.
When I rose up from that prayer meeting, the world around me looked newer, the trees greener, the sky bluer. God had given me the genuine experience of salvation.
After a while, my mother decided to attend church with me, and when she prayed, God wonderfully saved her. One weekday she went to church for prayer meeting and I went with her. When I rose up from that prayer meeting, the world around me looked newer, the trees greener, the sky bluer. God had given me the genuine experience of salvation. My sisters also started attending church, and one by one, they were saved as well.
After that, my life revolved around church, school, and home, and I learned to pray. When I was in high school, I grumbled about my chemistry teacher, and God let me know I needed to apologize to her. This was hard to do, but just before the chemistry finals, God gave me the courage to do it. Then right there during the examination, the Lord wonderfully sanctified me. I felt the fire burning in my soul and desired to walk more carefully after that so I would not lose that experience.
God also miraculously protected me. On several occasions, our family woke up in the morning to find that our home had been robbed during the night. By the mercy of God, we were never harmed nor did we ever see the robbers’ faces. Once, they came upstairs through the balcony and stole all they could from the living room, but they never crossed to the bedroom where we were sleeping. Another time, they broke the bottom part of the door of the main entrance leading upstairs. Our entire family gathered at the top of the stairwell and started shouting, “Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!” I don’t know how God did it, but the thieves were unable to enter though they charged at the door. Proverbs 18:10 says, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.” This Scripture proved true for us that night.
In my final year of high school, I fell sick with exhaustion and this lasted for many months. I felt very tired after the slightest exertion, had a constant high fever, lost my appetite, and had to be fed. While still quite ill, I took college entrance examinations. My pastor and the people at church prayed for me, and I consecrated my life to God. The devil was at hand to tell me that I could not keep those consecrations so I should not make them, but I knew that since Heaven was my goal, God would help me keep them.
In time, God healed me. However, when the results of the college entrance examination came out, I was three points below of the cut-off mark for the university and the program I had chosen. My only option was to repeat the examination the following year. During that interim period, I helped my mother by working in her restaurant. Although I was disappointed, a minister of the Gospel encouraged me with several Scriptures, including: “Is there not a cause?” “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you,” and, “All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” This proved true in my life. I retook the exam but before the results were released, God opened the door for me to return to the United States to continue my education.
When my younger sister and I graduated from the community college, God gave us full-tuition scholarships to Boston University in Massachusetts. There were only two scholarships for that school, and we won both by the grace of God.
When I moved to the States in 1996, I lived for a time with an aunt while I worked and attended Roxbury Community College in Massachusetts. God provided and I sent for my younger sister to join me. Together we worked and assisted the rest of my family to come to the States. When my younger sister and I graduated from the community college, God gave us full-tuition scholarships to Boston University in Massachusetts. There were only two scholarships for that school, and we won both by the grace of God. He led me to study mathematics and computer science and provided work, internships, and resident assistantships while I studied. This meant free room and board. Our God is a great provider!
In 2000, a young man I had met years before in Nigeria named Joseph, reached out to me. With godly counsel, I prayed and received a clear witness from Heaven that he was God’s choice for me. In 2002, I went to Nigeria for a traditional marriage ceremony, and God made it possible for my husband and me to return to the United States together. That was a miracle because I had only applied for a fiancée visa for him, but God gave him permanent residence.
I had attended my first midwest camp meeting in Murphysboro, Illinois, in 1997. While I prayed there at the altar bench, a sister laid her hand on me and I felt the power of God pin me to the altar. I could not move for a while, and I thought I had been baptized with the Holy Spirit. Later I heard a sermon that helped me understand that the witness of speaking in a language that was unknown to me accompanied the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Subsequently, at other camp meetings I felt the same blessing but was not breaking through.
In 2011, I attended the Portland camp meeting. When I volunteered to help out in some way, I was asked to vacuum the church platform. As I vacuumed, chairs had to be moved so I could reach under them. God helped me realize that over the years I had let my spiritual life become cluttered and that clutter had to be removed. At the youth service on July 8, 2011, a sister prayed with me. I told God I did not know how else to pray and He would have to help me. Then I asked Him to remove the things cluttering my life and to do whatever needed to be done for me to get the victory. Until that time, I did not mind praying at the altar, but I did not want others to pray with me, and I preferred praying silently. That day God brought someone to help me and He led me to pray out loud. I gained victory when I came God’s way, and I broke through to the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
God has blessed our family with four wonderful children and has provided our every need. In 2017, He opened the way for us to relocate to Portland, Oregon, providing me with a job and making it possible for my husband to remain with his current employer by working remotely. God has taken us through many challenges and difficulties, but through it all, His love has been our stay. I pray that God will count me as an instrument He can use. It is my desire to serve Him until He comes.