Monday, December 15, 2008

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Shout Outs!!!

Dele-Ijagbulu Oluwatomidimu December 2nd
Isikhuemen Obehi December 5th
Soda Jesutofunmi December 11th
Ajayi Joseph December 12th
Abadunni Omotayo December 14th
Olatinwo Omotola Ibitayo December 15th
Dada Oyindamola December 18th
Oni-Orisan Iyanu December 18th
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Sofela Abiodun December 25th
Ojelade Abiodun Olayinka December 27th
Ekheoveh Jesse December 31st

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Oyeyinka Oyinloye January 9th
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Idowu Seyi January 13th
Olutogun Olatunji Olumide January 13th
Bashiru Kehinde January 18th
Kukoyi Shola January 18th
Nelly Tolulope January 26th
Olugbile Mofiyinfoluwa January 28th
Olaoye Yemisi January 28th
Oshisanya Oluwasemilogo January 31st

Novella: Choices (Chapter 15)

Thomas and Shola met the nurse at the reception. They explained their absurd situation to the nurse and expected her to laugh them to scorn but she just smiled knowingly and led them to the doctor’s office. It was there they understood the woman’s smile. It was a Christian hospital with a Pastor as Chief Medical Officer. So, speaking in terms of God’s leading to walk into a strange place was not news to them but there was more.
The CMO introduced himself as Dr. Charles Onuzo. “Nurse Tunrayo told me about your reason for being here, but if you don’t mind, I would want to hear from you again” he said.
Thomas went ahead to explain how God had told him earlier in the day that there was a soul to be saved and how he’d been led to the hospital just a few minutes back.
“This is amazing. I’m glad young people like you are listening to God” He paused and looked at them with a sad smile. “I had been praying all day that God would just send someone to reach out to one of my patients who is about to die. She is a teenager and is not saved and is just a few minutes, at best, hours from her eternity, and here you are.” He lifted his hands upwards. “Thank you Father.”
“Anything you want to tell us about this patient before we see her?” Thomas asked.
“I picked her up on the road early this morning at about 6:30am on my way to the clinic. It was still quite dark but I saw she was staggering and noticed, with the help of my head light, that she was dripping blood. What surprised me most was that she was wearing a theatre robe. That was absurd and it caught my attention.
“I stopped my car close to her. Just as I touched her to ask her name, she fell in my arms, unconscious. She must have been walking a great distance. I rushed her to my clinic but knew it was already too late; she’d lost too much blood and strength, and worse, her wound had been infected. Most importantly, she’d lost a will to live. That she’s still alive, I believe is a sign that God really wants to save her. Someone, somewhere must be praying for her.”
“What was the cause of her dripping?”
“You won’t believe if I tell you she’s refused to talk to anyone since she got here and she has no ID, so we know little about her.” He paused. “To your question, from my observation, I noticed she was cut opened inside and wasn’t sutured back. It was quite easy to discover when I saw the part opened. She was carrying out an abortion that was terminated right in the middle of surgery. That’s still a mystery to me”
“Thanks doc”, Thomas said, suddenly feeling an urgency to see the patient and do what God had sent them to do. “Please, can we see her now?”
“Sure”, he said. “But can we pray a prayer of agreement before you go that God would use you to reach her. To be frank, I don’t why it’s you guys, young chaps like her that God brought, but I know there’s a purpose.”
They bowed their heads, connecting in prayer holding on to the scripture that if two of God’s children shall agree concerning anything, God would do it. After the prayer, Dr. Onuzo called for Nurse Tunrayo to lead them into the patient’s room.
Shola sat on the bed and Thomas sat on the seat beside the bed. Thomas had learnt to do as the Spirit led him, and the leading he had was for Shola to sing a song he had come to love. And she sang gracefully. The presence of God literally filled the hospital room that housed only the teenage patient as she sang the song. She placed her hands gently on the girls arm as she sang the words over and over. Thomas’ head was bowed in prayer.
He touched me
Oh He touched me
And Oh what joy that filled my soul
Something happened and now I know
He touched me and made me whole
As Shola was still singing, the girl stirred and turned her head, painfully but deliberately towards them. Shola almost stopped singing. There was something familiar about the girl. She tried to shake it off but couldn’t. The girl looked at Thomas first, trying to focus on the face, then she turned slightly to the singing voice and her eyes froze on the face before her.
“Sh-Shooola” she managed to say.
Shola was taken aback but not as much as Thomas was. “Easy girl!”
The girl on the bed just seemed to find the strength to talk a little more. “Shola Bankole?” she asked, slowly but clearly. Shola nodded. And noticed tears flood the girl’s eyes so fast and spill over just as fast.
“What’s your name?”
“Moni”, she paused to regain strength. “I was your junior in secondary school; a junior that desperately wanted to be like you” as she said that, the tears increased.
Shola lowered her head; the message was all too clear. Thomas, being privy to Shola’s past, put pieces together. It was at that point he knew he had no part to play than to pray. God had brought them here because Shola and the girl, Moni, needed to meet. Shola was the tool God intended to use. He sat back and began praying silently but fervently for them both. Moni for her salvation and Shola for strength; it was obvious her past was haunting her; she needed strength to overcome the guilt that she had done this to this girl.
For twenty minutes, Moni painfully recapped how her heart had been diverted after seeing Shola at the Home Coming. She talked about the Bayo episode, then the modeling. It was at that point she came to the most painful part; the part that had brought her to this end.
“I went there as early as 5:30. I didn’t want anyone to see me going there; it was my first time. I met only one person there; he said he was the doctor” He paused and coughed. “The guy gave me a little anesthesia but said he didn’t believe in knocking out his patients. He had opened me up and removed whatever it was he had to. Just then, he had a phone call, and can you imagine he left me to receive the call.
“Fortunately for me, he went to the toilet next door to pick the call; I guess it was a private call. But the conversation soon caught my attention. He was saying words like ‘Yes, I have one with me’ also heard ‘You need a fresh one today?’ Strange fear gripped me. I didn’t care if he was referring to me or not. I stood up and started walking out as fast as I could. Thankfully, there was no one to stop me and it was dark. I thought he would follow me but he didn’t. I didn’t take chances but kept walking. It was then a car stopped behind me and I went unconscious, only to find myself here.”
“The doctor said you lost so much blood and…”
“I’m going to die. Yes, I deserve to die!” She said resigned.
Shola took Moni’s left hand in hers and stroked it. “Moni, you don’t have to die”
“Don’t give me that!”
“Okay, why not settle with God?”
“Shola, don’t preach to me. I know who you are and the things you’ve done. You’re the reason for my being on this bed”
Shola’s eyes filled at that stab. “I’m sorry Moni, please forgive me. I was a blind leader of the blind. I didn’t know better myself and didn’t know girls were choosing to be like me.”
“Only if you knew!” Moni sighed.
“Jesus rescued me, Moni. He can do the same for you. Things can still end beautifully for you. He’s turned my life around. I almost committed suicide but…”
Moni was wide-eyed, questioning.
“Yes.” Shola briefly told the story and saw Moni was softening. Shola glanced at Thomas and saw he was still praying. She was encouraged. “And since that Sunday, when I answered the altar call, my life has never been the same.”
“Won’t God regret me, seeing I’m accepting Him on my death bed?”
“No dear. It’s no coincidence that we came here today. God wants you, Moni.”
Moni recalled several of Pearl’s preachings and gave in. “Shola, if Jesus could save you, then I guess He can save me too.”
“Yes He can and He will.” Shola said, smiling through her tears. Thomas held Shola’s left hand and she in turn held Moni’s hand and led her in a prayer of repentance.
After it, Moni’s face was all wet, and there was brightness in her eyes that if anyone needed a confirmation of Moni’s salvation; they had it. Shola felt she needed to do one more thing. “This is Thomas, the man God blessed me with even after I was all messed up” She said facing Thomas.
Moni smiled. “God is weird, isn’t He?” she said, smiling still with tears in her eyes. There were her last minutes; she couldn’t help it. But now they weren’t tears of despair but of gratitude to God who came through for her at her last minute.
“I need one more favour” she said. “Before you call any family members, please call Pearl, my best friend, to tell her that I’m gone but gone to be with her Jesus and my Jesus” she said with a teary smile and dictated Pearl’s phone number to them.
Shola wrote it down. “We would” she looked at Thomas and saw he wasn’t left out in the teary moment. Moni then asked for the doctor. Thomas went to call him. He came, with Nurse Tunrayo behind him. What he saw brought tears to his own eyes too. “I had been praying for the past hour in my office.”
“Thanks Doc” she breathed.
He nodded. And with a few more breathes, Moni was gone to be with the God who loved her till the very end.
Pearl, Chuba and Ifeoma were having fun. They had just eaten; room delivery and were maximizing their benefits. They were now settled to watch TBN and they were so thrilled to see the next minister; Pastor Franklin Jentezen.
“I look forward to seeing him live during the Conference” Ifeoma said.
“You had better sit in front for that to happen!”
“You bet we will.” Pearl chipped in. Just then, her phone rang. Chuba was on the seat close to the TV while she and Ifeoma were lying on the bed with faces, close to the TV. She picked the call, and adjusted her position, rising to sit at the edge of the bed so as not to disturb her colleagues.
“Hello” … “Yes, speaking” … “Hi, Shola. How did you get my number?” … “Great, is she okay” … “You can’t be serious! Hey! hey!, stop this!” Pearl lowered herself to the floor, placing her left hand on her head, trying hard to suppress the tears that threatened to burst out as the person talked on.
“I’m still here” she said after a long pause, surprised she was still able to talk. “Did she?” she brightened up a bit. “When?” … “Praise God!” she said through the tears that had now started making their way down her cheeks. “Thanks for calling” … “I will” She said, dropped the phone and hurried to the bathroom. She cried her eyes out. It was too much bear.
“Moni, why?” she repeated over again. When she was a little relieved, she remembered Shola’s words. “Moni said I should tell you she’s gone to be with your Jesus and her Jesus”. She smiled through her tears. She was happy her friend was in heaven but just wished things had turned out better. Both of them alive and serving God joyfully would have obviously being a better bet. As she stepped out of the bathroom, she heard Pastor Franklin’s words.
He was saying. “…God desires the best for all of us and has made all good things available to us in Christ Jesus but there is one thing that determines when and how much of these blessings we get. Do you want to know?” he said
The TV audience shouted “Yes!”
He then said, “The Choices we make in life.” He paused for effect “Our choices determine whether we receive these blessings or not. Turn to your friend and say ‘Choices’”
Pearl thought about it and knew that was the bottom line; we’re all products of our choices. She joined the TV audience in echoing. “CHOICES!!!”


Written by Timilehin Adigun

(If this is your first time getting this magazine and you didn’t read the preceding chapters of this novella, please visit our blog; and you’ll be able to read Chapters 1-10 of Choices.
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Novella: Choices (Chapter 14)

Bayo was on top speed. He had left an hour behind schedule. He had planned to leave at 6am, but it was already past 7. He had mixed emotions as he traveled; different thoughts plagued him. When he had sobered earlier this morning, he remembered a few of Macho’s words the night before. He had been lured into helm with wrong motives, and now he was practically stuck.
He thought of the many girls he had slept with; starting with Sunbo in secondary school till his present conquest, Bimbo that he hoped to sleep with after his exam. Since he had slept with Moni four months back, he had only spoken with her once; the day she broke up with him. He had gotten what he wanted from her and there was nothing more he needed from her.
His mind went to Amaka and what she had threatened. Recently, whenever he saw her, she had this triumphant look in her eyes that scared him; he was sure she was up to no good but wondered what she was planning. He wondered why he’d gotten himself so stooped in this lifestyle. Analysing it all, he admitted to himself that it wasn’t worth it; it wasn’t fun at all. Guys saw him and thought he was hip, but deep within, he wanted to be nice to these girls and become clean again but it was like an external force was controlling him. He hated himself for what he had become.
At that, he remembered the conversation he had with Thomas, his roommate, before leaving. Thomas had tried to dissuade him from traveling. He remembered his roomie’s words “It’s not wise for you to travel Bayo. Please let it wait. I’m saying this because I care about you”
“You care?” he had scoffed.
“Yes. I’ve been praying for your conversion since the day I met you and I’m still praying because that’s the greatest thing that can happen to anyone.”
“Thanks, I appreciate it” he had said sincerely. “But I’m not ready for this yet.” He had dismissed himself, leaving Thomas behind, who was preparing for his last paper.
Just as he remembered Thomas’ words, he also remembered Sunbo’s words from the night before. A conviction came on him and he was about to cry out to God for forgiveness. But just as fast, he was overcome by his desire for Bimbo. He had seen her at a party in Lagos and had literally been obsessed with the thoughts of having her for one night. This was his chance and he wasn’t going to blow it.
‘I’ll stop! God I promise; I’ll stop after this one’. With that, he dismissed the conviction and looked forward to seeing Bimbo in a few minutes. Subconsciously, in the excitement of seeing the girl again, he floored the turtle up a hill and swerved to overtake a trailer, throwing caution to the wind because it was a one way drive. ‘No vehicle can be approaching’ he thought.
But he was wrong. There had been a diversion on the other side and a truck was coming in full speed but Bayo couldn’t see from his vantage point. By the time he was up hill, just beside the trailer to his right, he faced the truck headlong and practically left the stirring, there was nothing he could do. The truck rammed hard into his car. The last thoughts on his mind were; ‘Is this how I’m going to die? I am too young!’ and as he was thinking, everything began to fade and soon all was black.
There was a little crowd around the notice board in Fajuyi hall. Anyone passing through the hall to their different destinations would definitely notice the handful of people; that was gradually increasing as passersby sought to see what others were seeing.
Amaka walked over to the place and tried hard to see but didn’t because of her height. As she was about to move on, a word caught her attention ‘demise’. She stopped. It was an obituary, obviously fresh for it to have gathered so much attention. She waited for the crowd to thin out but she already knew. The folks who had seen the obituary had started passing comments.
Bayo was dead. She smiled, triumphant. She read the photocopied obituary. It was obviously done in a rush; his friends probably knowing that after that day, most students would be traveling. It was the least they could do for their friend. A candle-light procession was to be held for him that same night, according to the information Amaka read.
What caught her attention most, which she had wanted to know was the means of his death. She had hoped it was painful, and now she was sure it was. It read that he died in a ghastly accident. A fellow there commented that he was in the OAUTHC when Bayo was rushed in, unconscious. That means he didn’t die immediately. ‘That’s good for you, Bayo’ she thought as she eased away from the notice board.
As she walked away, her conscience smote her. ‘How could you be so callous, Amaka?’ she dismissed the thought and walked away. As she did, she walked past an old poster but didn’t notice it. It read, “Never repay evil for evil. Whatever a man sows, that he shall also reap!”
The Mercedez Benz was in good shape and glided on smoothly and quietly. But that couldn’t account for the dead silence in the vehicle. Thomas had heard about the death of Bayo just before leaving his room for the journey. He had been immobilized at the news. It took over ten minutes before he could get himself to rise from his bed after hearing the news.
Now, over an hour of hearing the news, he was still numb with pain. Shola understood how it could be and allowed him grieve. They were both seated at the back in the vehicle. He needed the time. “I prayed so hard for his salvation” Thomas lamented. “I still talked with him this morning. Father, I really don’t understand. Why didn’t you save him?” Tears came down his face now. He had held them in since he had heard the news, he was finally grieving indeed.
“But Lord, I prayed for him. You could have saved him!” Thomas was besides himself.
“It’s not the Lord’s fault, Thomas. You prayed for me too, right?” Thomas nodded. “And I chose God’s salvation. It was a choice. Bayo had a choice too but he chose otherwise. God offered us both the same grace”
Thomas nodded; glad Shola was around at such a time. It was still hard to bear though. “Guess I need to be a little more aggressive in soul-winning. Maybe if I had…”
“Stop Thomas.” Shola chided him. “You’re not in God’s place. You did the best you could. It has never and will never be in your power to save a soul. Remember you taught me that!” He nodded; amazed that it was now Shola teaching him. “I’m sure God is pleased with you and doesn’t hold it against you.”
“Thanks Shola”, Thomas smiled through his tears. “I needed those words”
“They are your words, just echoing them back to you”
He nodded, thankful to God for blessing him with his fiancée once again. “I’m blessed to have you, Shola. I might not know how blessed I am yet to have you until much in the future but I still know deep within that after the salvation of my soul, you’re the best gift God could have given me, and I’m indeed grateful to Him for you. I’ll always be thankful for you”
Shola was flushed. “You’re my knight, Thomas. God used you to save me from my distress. But I have grown from loving you out of gratitude to loving you for who you are and all that you stand for. I see a great future ahead of you and have been praying that God will prepare and build me up to be a help, meet for you indeed.” She said and squeezed his hand as he swiped at his tears with his free hand.
Soon, they drove into Lagos and turned in at Berger. Thomas lived at Ojodu, while Shola lived at Apapa. The driver had said he knew the way to Thomas’ house. As they turned at Berger, Thomas remembered a word God had spoken to him. “Shola, while I prayed at night, God revealed to me that He was going to use both of us today to save a soul from hell. I wondered how He would do that since we were not going by public transport; I would have said that would happen when either of us preached in the bus. I still wonder how He’ll bring His word to pass”
“I don’t understand so many things yet; especially this hearing God audibly thing, but I know God brings His word to pass. Just experienced it once so far, you remember?”
“Yes, I do” Thomas said. “When God told you He’d surprise you after Prof’s threat”
“Yes. It was such a great feeling.”
“You’ll still have more of that as you grow closer to God” Thomas affirmed.
“I can’t wait.” Shola smiled. “Knowing God is so exciting. I only wish I had started earlier. There so much to know, so much to experience…” her voice trailed off in the excitement.
“It’s never too late to start. Thank God you’ve started and if you continue with this crazily hungry tempo, you just might overtake me if I’m not careful”
“You better stay on your toes in the Spirit” she said, pinching him. “I’m closing up on you fast!”
Thomas smiled, and just then, as he looked out the window, the Spirit spoke to him. “Please can you tell your driver to stop?”
“Oga Kehinde, please park” she said to the driver and then faced her fiancé. “What’s the matter?”
“God just ministered to me that the soul we’ve been called to save is in that hospital.” He said pointing across the road.
“Bethel Hospital?” Shola said, reading the signpost, still amused. “Have you been there before?”
“No, I haven’t. I see it often, when I pass this road but hardly pay attention. Can you spare thirty minutes?” Thomas asked Shola.
“Don’t be silly. This is God’s work, and I’m with you, remember? I can spare all the time in the world.” She tapped the driver. “Please, park well, we’ll soon be back.”
With that, they got down, crossed the road, and walked into the hospital not knowing what or who they were going in for but trusting the One whose voice is better obeyed than ignored.

Novella: Choices (Chapter 13)

Shola was speechless. She stared at Thomas who was sitting opposite her; waiting. Her eyes filled. She had always thanked God for this great friendship and blessed God for bringing Thomas into her life. She had always eyed one Sis Emilia as the lady Thomas would ask out. Emilia was what she wished for someone like Thomas. She was beautiful, simple, spiritual, caring, pure, innocent and more. Her CV was simply impeccable.
Shola had felt jealous at some point when she saw Emilia try to get close to him but reminded herself that she wasn’t Thomas’s type; was soiled and meant to be a friend and nothing more. She desired more than friendship with this guy that had won her heart totally in four months. She had wondered hard what her life would be like when he started dating someone else. She only reminded herself at those times, that she still had God.
And now the same Thomas had just proposed to her. She was speechless. Her eyes filled. ‘God, this is too much’. She looked at him, smiled and nodded without words.
He smiled back and placed his hand on hers. “I need to hear something, Shola.”
“Yes, Thomas. Yes. I would love to spend the rest of my life knowing and loving you.” The tears spilled down now. He kept a hand on Shola’s and reached out with the other to wipe at her tears.
“Thank you dear. Together, we will win!”
Shola nodded, again unable to talk pass the lump in her throat. Thomas reflected and was grateful to God for this gift. He had known for a while that Shola was to be his fiancée but even then she wasn’t born-again. He expressed his heartfelt gratitude to God. He had told God in his 200level that he didn’t want to leave OAU ‘empty-handed’, and now one day to becoming a final year student of Economics, God had blessed him with the most beautiful, teachable, intelligent and well-spirited lady he’d ever met.
Looking into her eyes, he said the words he’d never told any other female apart from his mum. “I love you” It was barely above a whisper.
“I love you too” her voice was hoarse – emotion laden. They were a very rare combination but she was so sure God was with them and things would work out great.
After the romantic air simmered down a bit, they picked up from where they had left up. “Congrats dear, you’re now a 400-level law student. Should have said that earlier but had to get this thing off my mind.”
Shola smiled. “I understand. Thanks. Congrats to you too, FYB.”
“I have looked forward to it badly”
“I’ll miss you when you leave school”
“Easy now! We still have one session to spend together.”
“I know” she said.
“It’ll be the best session for both of us, ever”
“I believe so too, Thomas” She paused. “I’ll miss you during this break”
“I’ll miss you too but we’ll speak on phone and since we both live in Lagos, though quite far from each other, we should see each other quite often.”
She shook her head like a child. “It won’t be the same”
“I know, but we’ll make do.” There was a pause as they held hands across the table. “We should travel to Lagos immediately after my paper tomorrow, right?”
“Yes. Dad said he’ll send the driver and I told him a friend would be coming with me and he agreed”
“Thanks” Thomas said.
“You’re welcome”
“Can we seal our special day with a prayer?”
“Sure. Please do the honours.”
With that, they committed their newly budding romance to the hands of the One who Himself instituted romance and asked Him to lead them through. Thomas’s emphasis was that God would help them to fulfill purpose together and that He would keep them undefiled in the relationship until their wedding night.
Shola said Amen and entrusted her heart to the two people in world she’d grown to cherish most in the last four months; God and Thomas Baderin.
Pearl couldn’t shake off the feeling that something was awfully wrong with Moni. She hadn’t seen a need to press Moni further to come on the trip. She had lived with Moni for years and knew when to let her be; this was one of those times. She knew there was one more thing she could offer her friend that would go a very long way in being a blessing to her.
She went on her knees and began praying for her friend. She started praying for Moni’s health, admission, family but wasn’t flowing. At a point, she began praying for the salvation of Moni’s soul and it was like she had hit the jackpot. Grace was poured on her as she prayed. A passion, like she hadn’t felt in a long time, consumed her and she prayed for Moni with every bit of strength in her.
Before she knew it, she was on the floor. Soon, she was praying in the spirit. When she felt God’s peace, she rose up and discovered she was soaked in sweat and she had tears on her cheeks. She felt a deep sense of peace that it was well with her friend. With that, she went to the shower to get refreshed.
“Adetumi, it’s almost midnight. Have you finished packing?” Sunbo yelled from the living room.
“I’m almost through.”
“Adeolu, what about you?”
“I’m making progress”
Sunbo walked over to her sister’s room and peeped in. “Do you need help?”
“Won’t mind. Thanks sis.”
Sunbo walked in and helped her sister pack. Her parents had been in the UK for four years running. They had called Sunbo last week to tell her that she and her siblings were all to come over, permanently. Fortunately for them, they were all under 18years.
The timing couldn’t have been better either. Sunbo had finished secondary school the year before and wasn’t in the university yet. Adeolu had just finished his junior WAEC and was moving to senior school. Adetumi, the last born, had just completed her primary 5 and was moving to secondary school. They were all going to pick up from where they stopped in Nigeria without losing a year.
Sunbo looked back at her life in Nigeria and could only conclude that God had been very good to her. She’d heard that it was easy to get wayward and forget God when you travel abroad, so she made a solemn promise to God that she won’t make the mistake others had made. ‘Lord, I will serve you till the end. You’ve been too good for me to turn my back on you wherever I go. You are my identity Lord. I can’t live without You’. That had been her prayer to God during the week as she prepared to travel.
In the cause of the week too, she’d done a mental analysis of those she needed to inform she was traveling. She had called them to say bye. It was as she was helping Adetumi pack that she remembered that there was yet another person. Bayo! She excused herself and went to the living room. She picked her phone and reclined on the sofa.
“Hey Bayo, watsup?”
“Who’s this?” a groggy voice said.
“Sunbo. I’m sorry for waking you”
“Watsup?” an indifferent voice asked, not the usual excited Bayo.
“I’m good. Just wanted to tell you that I’ll be traveling to join my family in the UK tomorrow.”
“Wow, that’s great news” he sounded more like himself now. “Will miss you over here” he said, sincerely. They had been friends before secondary school dating and sex ruined it all.
“Will miss you too.” Sunbo said. There was a pause. “There’s something I still desperately need you to do for me, Bayo”
“And what’s that?”
“Please Bayo”, Sunbo said, picking her words deliberately. “Give your heart over to Jesus. He really loves you and can make a great guy out of you.”
“Sunbo, please not tonight!”
“Tonight is the best time, my friend. Jesus loves you and is waiting. Don’t postpone it!”
“Okay. I’ll think about it!”
“Promise?” Sunbo pleaded.
“Promise. I mean it this time. I’ll think about it.”
“Thanks, Bayo. This means a lot to me. I can’t bear the thought of missing you in heaven if Jesus was to come now or if anything was to happen to either of us.”
“Anything like?”
“Don’t be silly Sunbo” Bayo scoffed. We’re too young to die”
“Death is not for…”
“I know what I’m talking about, we can’t die now. There’s still so much to enjoy in life” he said, interrupting her.
“But you’ll think…”
“Yes I will”, he said, interjecting again. “Say me well to Tumi, my sweetheart.”
“I will. Be good. God bless you friend.”
“Amen, Good night” Bayo said, obviously eager to go back to bed.
“Good night.” Sunbo said as she pressed the red button on her mobile phone. She said a silent prayer for her friend, believing for his salvation. She then rose and went to her sister’s room. “I’m through sis”
“You sure?” Sunbo said as she scanned the room for unpacked, relevant things. “Guess we’re good to go then?”
“Yes sis. Can I watch Hannah Montana?”
“You should be sleeping, Tumi”
“We’ll have all day to sleep in the plane” a male voice said. Sunbo looked up and saw Adeolu walking toward them.
“Okay then”
Tumi hurried to the TV, with Adeolu calling behind her “I’m watching Super Sports after Hannah Montana”
“Whatever!” Adetumi said.
Sunbo just watched her siblings and thanked God for the grace He had given her to take care of them in the absence of their parents. “By the way, Tumi, Bayo said I should say hi” her sister nodded absent-mindedly. As Sunbo lay on the sofa, drifting into sleep, she heard a now familiar voice that filled her heart with indescribable joy. ‘I will go with you and bless you. You will please me in all things. You will find a man after my heart, together with whom you’ll fulfill purpose.’ And as if on purpose, the voice waited a while. ‘And you’ll have children; I promise you!’
Sunbo couldn’t contain it, she rolled over to her knees, the tears flowing as her heart soared in gratitude to the God she’d met who’d never ceased to trip her and to make her joy full. After pouring her heart of thanks to God, oblivious of her siblings watching TV, she stood to search for her dairy; she wasn’t going to let a word slip her mind until she had written everything God said down. ‘Thank you Jesus’ she said as she unzipped her handbag, pulled put her dairy and started scribbling.

Novella: Choices (Chapter 12)

Ifeoma was sorting through her belongings. She was packing for the African Christian Students’ Conference in Cape Town, South Africa, scheduled for Sunday 5th to Saturday 11th of August. She was unpacking her traveling bag. She had just removed a few things in it since returning home after her Valedictory service last month. As she emptied the bag, she saw a folded piece of paper.
‘Oh! The letter Chuba wrote to me’. She had been looking for it but didn’t know where she kept it. Now when she saw it, she remembered she’d been trying to hide it where no one could easily see it. She had put it under her clothes in the bag. She picked it up again, and opened it with mixed feelings. It was a short note. She began to read.
How are you? I’ve wanted to tell you this for quite some time now. I don’t have to but I feel obligated to. If we are really friends as we claim we are, I feel I should let you know I’m not what you think. Much earlier in my life, I was exposed to pornography and somehow, I’ve gotten stuck. It progressed to masturbation two years back when I was at home after our SS1. I have tried over and again to stop but haven’t been able to make it.
At times, I make it for about two weeks or a month then, I relapse again. I’m still struggling with it and praying that God will help me. In fact, I fell yesterday, and felt so guilty when I had to teach Sunday school the same day. I don’t know what you’d think of me after this, but that is Chuba for you. The best you can do for me is pray for me; I’ll really appreciate that.
Your friend,
Ifeoma relived the day she read the letter for the first time. She had been initially disappointed but that feeling was soon replaced with concern for Chuba. He sincerely didn’t want to do it but felt helpless to help it. Right there, she bowed her head and said a prayer for him.
At lunch that day, she found him they talked. He was surprised that she still came to him, and she could see that he was greatly encouraged. Instead of parting ways, they had even become better friends, friends who had no secrets between them and who desired each other’s good. She had made it a duty to fast and pray about Chuba’s addiction every Friday. And Chuba had made it a duty to fast and pray about Ifeoma’s self-esteem and confidence.
She had just broken her fast after praying for him before she started packing. She was sure; he would soon call, so they could pray a prayer of agreement. As she was thinking it, her phone rang, and she knew it was Chuba. She had assigned his number a different ringing tone.
“Hi. Ready?” he asked.
“Mm-hmm” and he led a short prayer with Ifeoma agreeing by saying Amen.
“Felt something as I fasted and prayed today.” Chuba said, rather seriously.
“What was that?”
“That we should include a few more Christian friends in our circle, who we’d be as blessing to and vice-versa”
“I’m not convinced. Is that the only reason?” Ifeoma knew the reason but hoped Chuba won’t say it.
“Actually, I think we need other people around us, so we don’t get too emotionally attached to each other, seeing we’re not in a relationship.”
Ifeoma knew it was the right thing to do but she knew it would be hard all the same. “Any suggestions?”
“Not really. I was thinking we’d agree on that on our trip and would be ready to incorporate them when we are back from South Africa.’
“Nice idea” Ifeoma said, appreciating Chuba’s wisdom once again.
“Heard they would lodge the four of us at Sheraton tomorrow.”
“Would be nice seeing Moni and Pearl again, especially Pearl’
“Yeah, she was the one who came over to talk to us that day; enjoyed our brief talk.”
“We would sure have fun” She said, then added, “When are we leaving for Lagos?”
“First thing tomorrow, with Cross Country”.
“Okay then. I have so much packing to do.”
“Would call you later tonight”
“Okay” she smiled. “Will be expecting your call”. The line went dead and she dropped her phone. She was fallen hard for this guy. She was glad he was desirous of pleasing God and doing things right. Involving others in their friendship would obviously taper the growing emotions. She smiled again. It was always fun and peaceful doing things God’s way.
The Honda Accord was about to move when the driver’s glass came down. “Don’t miss us too much dear. We’ll pray for you” Pearl’s step-father said from the car.
“I’ll try not to, dad. And please pray for me as you’ve said.”
“Call us when you get to South Africa and please keep your copy of the key very well.’
“I will, dad” She bent to look in the car and waved at her mum seated in front and her brother at the back seat. Chief Okposu eased out of the compound and Pearl locked the gate.
She couldn’t suppress the smile. Her family was going for RCCG Convention at Redemption Camp. The convention was starting upper Monday but they had decided to start the Okposu convention a little earlier. Her step father had practically become a pastor in the last four months. It had all started when Kafy was discovered pregnant.
She’d accused Pearl’s step-father but when he confessed his impotency, she confessed it was the neighbor’s driver that was responsible. She was sent away, and Chief was left with the problems he’d brought on himself. Pearl’s mum was really mad at him and threatened to divorce him. Pearl, however never ceased praying for them.
Till the present, Pearl can’t explain what happened. After sleeping in separate rooms for a whole month, Mrs Okposu suddenly woke up one morning and told her husband he was forgiven. When Michael described the scenario to Pearl, he had said their step-father was open-mouthed; couldn’t believe what had just happened. It was indeed a miracle.
The next day, which was a Sunday, he took the whole family to a nearby church, a Redeem parish. He told them that he’d sworn to God that he would serve Him if he didn’t have any STI and if his wife took him back and forgave him. Fortunately for him, he didn’t and she did. He promised to fulfill his vow, and that he was doing, and doing so well.
Pearl was amazed at God’s grace and was indeed glad that she found Him when she did. How would she have known that a crisis was about to break forth in her family. But He knew and saved her and because of that, her family was saved from what had destroyed many homes in times past. She was grateful to God.
‘God, you’ve been too kind to me. I dedicate my whole life to you. I don’t need any guy in my life; you’re man enough for me. I’ll live every breath for you. Please, be glorified in me’ was Pearl’s heart cry.
She walked in and closed the door. She had packing to do ahead of the trip. Moni had said in passing that she wasn’t going again, and Pearl wondered why her friend would let such an opportunity pass her by. She decided to call her friend.
“Hey Moni”
“How far?”
“I’m good. Have you changed your mind?”
“No, I haven’t”
“Girlfriend, why now? We were looking forward to this, weren’t we?”
“Yes, but there are better fishes to catch now.”
“Why don’t you tell me about them?” Pearl asked, hoping Moni would say something. She had been evasive ever since they graduated. She avoided visiting or being visited by Pearl. She didn’t answer questions directly. Pearl was worried for her. “You know you can still trust me” Pearl said.
“I know. We’ll talk more when you’re back. Keep the entire gist for me o!”
“You know I will but I really wish you would come!”
“Baby, let’s not go there, okay?”
“Take good care of you. I’ll miss you” Pearl, said sincerely.
“I’ll miss you too” Moni said.
“If you change your mind, please tell me.”
“You’d be the first to know” Moni said.
Pearl sighed, hoping against hope that her friend would change her mind. Pearl cut the line, not knowing she’d wish later that she’d been a little more persuasive during this conversation.
Moni dropped her phone and smiled. If she had any friend in the whole world, it was Pearl. But there were some things better left unsaid. ‘Pearl, you won’t understand’. Moni thought to herself. They had both weathered the storms of secondary school life together. They had rejoiced when they did their last WAEC paper. They had cried during their valedictory service, knowing things where not going to be as usual, no matter how hard they tried.
She remembered Pearl comforting her when she was scared she would get pregnant after her episode with Bayo. Somehow, it seems Pearl’s prayer had worked and she didn’t get pregnant. To kind of repay God and Pearl, she broke the relationship with Bayo, and Pearl seemed happy. She wasn’t sure if God was happy but she hoped He was. It was a huge sacrifice on her part to let go of Bayo and she hoped God saw that and appreciated the favor she was doing Him.
But as time went by, she forgot all about the fears and guilt-trips. A few weeks after graduation, she met this guy, Joseph. He called himself Joe-black. He was actually black, not dark, but black. He was a model-manager, at least, so he called himself. He noticed her on her street and talked her into modeling; raining praises on her ‘slim, shapeous and curvey body’, in his own words.
She agreed after a week of persuasion and their first outing was with an upcoming fashion magazine. She made #15,000 from it, after giving Joe-black his 25% commission of the #20,000 deal. It was too good to be true. Moni imagined how much she would make if she walked her way up the ladder to model for top Nigerian magazines, and maybe International magazines eventually.
She stood up and looked at herself in her life-size mirror. She was wearing a pink gown; she’d just returned from a get-together of models before Pearl called. What she saw took her four months back. She looked just like Shola Bankole. She was so proud of herself. She turned and observed her features; she was actually looking more attractive than Shola. ‘If I can keep up my shape, I’d steal all the attention from Shola next year’s Home Coming. I can’t wait to see the looks on people’s faces.’ She smiled. ‘Shola, thanks for the inspiration; I owe you’
There was one problem however. She had been making out with Joe-black. She had learnt in the past few weeks of working with other models that it was the norm in the manager-model ‘contract’. She had however discovered the day before that she was pregnant. She was scared and wanted to call Pearl but knew what Pearl would say, and she didn’t want to hear it.
She knew she would see Joe-black that day so she kept it. She saw him at the get-together and had pulled him aside to tell him. She had expected a frown or a scowl, but he smiled as someone who was used to hearing such statements. “It’s okay dear” he’d said. “You’ll go for an abortion tomorrow”
“No way” she had said, knowing that was the likely option but still wanting to fight for an alternative.
“Remember, the contract interview you have on Monday”
“Yes?” Moni asked, wondering what the correlation was.
“They perform pregnancy tests for their intending models to ensure there’ll be no disappointments once the contract is signed.”
Moni’s eyes were wide. “I can’t lose that #250,000 contract”
“You’d be dumb to do so” he said, smiling and walking her back to the hall where others were dancing.
“The interview is Monday” Moni, said still pensive.
“That’s why I said you should get rid of that thing tomorrow.”
“Okay”, she replied as they entered the hall. “Where’s the place?” she had asked.
“I’ll text the address to you” he whispered in her ears as they mingled with others.
Moni flipped through her phone and saw the text he’d sent a few minutes back. She would visit the clinic tomorrow. She hoped she would have healed well enough o go for the interview on Monday. She couldn’t miss it for anything in the world; not even for the African Christian Students’ Conference in Cape Town, South Africa which she and Pearl had planned to attend.
As she contemplated the abortion, she remembered overhearing some Royal girls say they had had a private chat with Shola Bankole when she came for the Home Coming. She doubted it but listened to them anyway. They had said Shola admitted to having committed three abortions already that there was really no big deal in it. Now, thinking back, she chose to believe the girls’ words. ‘If Shola could do it and still look so prim and proper without any defects or side effects, I can do the same; she doesn’t have three heads.’
She couldn’t tell that to Pearl. ‘I would explain it all to Pearl when she’s back’ she thought to herself as she wrote down the address of the abortion clinic. She didn’t trust PHCN to bring light and her battery was almost out. She absolutely forgot that the foreboding she’d had four months back that hadn’t materialized was dependent on her getting pregnant. And now, she was pregnant.

Novella: Choices (Chapter 11)

“Amaka, I’ve been begging you to revoke that curse you placed on Bayo. Please!”
“Not after what he did to me. I was fortunate I didn’t get pregnant for that… See I don’t want to talk about that guy.”
“But you know the semester is about to end” Zainab was saying, not relenting.
“So?” Amaka said, knowing fully well what Zainab was talking about. She had gone to an herbalist four months back, after that night in his room when he’d called her another girl’s name. She had explained her plight to the man.
The herbalist had told her that the charm he was going to give her could only work if she was sure that it was Bayo that deflowered her. She affirmed that, and he told her the things to bring. Most important of the items was a bottle-cap-full of her menstrual flow. She had been nauseated at the thought of getting that and bringing it to the man but he had said that was the most potent part of her that she had to offer. She had obliged, and she stated her terms. She wanted his life to go down the drain slowly and steadily, and then suddenly, just when he thought he would finish the semester, she wanted him dead.
The man had smiled and she had jumped. His teeth were the most ugly she’d ever seen. She paid him quickly and was assured that the work was done. She didn’t need any confirmations. In the past four months, she had seen the curse work. Bayo’s grades had dropped; lecturers had started picking on him. It wasn’t hard to know all these. Bayo had been getting popular before her curse, so rumors about him spread fast.
A lecturer had already promised to fail him. Rumor had it that Bayo had slept with the man’s ward, who he’d been intending to date. Shortly after that, she had heard that Bayo had gotten into Indian hemp, and she knew that would eventually ruin him. His life was turning out just how she’d hoped. It was even getting better. She was enjoying the show.
“He’ll soon die if you do nothing about it”, Zainab said, bringing Amaka back to the present.
“I won’t do anything, girlfriend. That guy deserves to die.”
Zainab was pleading. “Can’t you see it in his eyes that he’s already suffering?”
“I’ve not seen his eyes in a long time.”
“Don’t be silly. Look how thin and haggard the former fine boy looks now; he’s suffered enough.”
“I don’t think so” Amaka smiled. “I overheard from a doctor friend at the Health Center that Bayo contracted some STI. Maybe that’s why he’s losing weight.”
“But, I thought you said the guy never had sex without protection?” Zainab asked, rather curious.
“At least with me, yes. But with the helm he’s taking now, that might be out of his control. Moreover, this protection thing is not safe at all.” She smiled again. “I hope he has packed AIDS, Gonorrhea, Syphilis, and all of them together.”
“You’re cruel” Zainab slapped Amaka on the back. “We’re in the last week of exams. If that man was right…”
“And he’s been so far” Amaka interjected.
“Bayo has just a few days left to live”
“Exactly” Amaka said, winking at the friend.
“How could you be so heartless?”
“Oh! I’m just giving the cold-hearted Bayo a taste of his own medicine” Amaka said and enjoyed the thought of seeing Bayo’s obituary on the notice boards during the weekend. ‘How delightful’ she thought and smiled.
The Student Union Building had been closed down for several months now but students still hung around there for different reasons. Prime on the list, where drug addicts who went there at night for their usual shots and trade. It was a season of longer nights-shorter days. It was a few minutes to seven and the sky was as black as if it were 9pm already.
Bayo sat at the stair behind the building, with a stick in one hand and a bottle in the other. He had had one apiece already and was on the second. His friend who had introduced him into it was standing against a pillar opposite him, gaping at him.
“Bahyor, how far with you now?”
“Wetin happen?” Bayo asked.
“Na me start you up. Now you dey smoke more then me. Take am easy o!”
“Macho, I know wetin I dey do.”
David, known as Macho by his buddies, was worried for Bayo. He’d taken to hemp so fast and was sure to graduate in no time. “I’ve been on this thing sine 200 level, and now I have one more paper and I’d be out of this school. The way you’re going, you might not get past 200 level”
“Na swear?” Bayo barked back.
“No be swear. I was able to control myself. The fact is, I really wanted to stop, still want to, but I haven’t been able to.”
“You knew that, and you still hooked me up” Bayo stared with red eyes.
“I didn’t want to. It was like something was just pushing me to pull you in. I guess I was just jealous that you were enjoying the girls and had nothing holding you back. I was, and still am, a slave to this; I wanted you in my shoes too; I guess that was my undoing.” He looked sadly at Bayo and the stick in his mouth. “I’m sorry, pal!’
“See, leave that one! I’m enjoying this thing. I should be thanking you.”
“Yes, but it’s short-lived. A time will come when you would want out like me, but it would be too late.”
“Let’s wait till then” Bayo said, dismissing the thought. “How about that babe we want to pick up in Babcock tomorrow?”
“I have a paper 8am, I won’t be able to make it. When is your paper?”
“I think it’s 4pm.”
“Then, call the girl and tell her we’ll pick her up on Sunday.”
“No way” Bayo said, crushing with his shoe the stud he’d just dropped. “Can’t wait one more day for that babe. Would dash to and fro her school, go for my paper and enjoy the night”
“It’s too risky. You could miss your paper.”
Bayo laughed. “You underestimate me, man! That golf my father bought me is a wizard. Wait till tomorrow; I’ll tell you in how many hours I made the trip.”
“Have you read?”
“Yes I have.” He smiled again, “and there’s backup”
“Bahyor! Na wa o! Just don’t be caught.” On a second thought, he added, “How far with your health?”
“I’m better. Those things can’t stop my performance men! That girl… what’s her name again?”
“Yes! She’ll see me in action. It’s been one week that the thing has kept me away; I’m bouncing back in full force.”
“Take it easy with the babe o!”
“Leave that one. I beg you get another stick there?” Bayo said, extending his hand for another roll of Indian Hemp.
The joy in the air was palpable. It was the penultimate UJCM household prayer meeting. Fellowship activities had been suspended at the start of the examinations. Shola missed the ECU mid week services but was happy Sunday services still held. Thomas always went ahead for his pre-meeting. She had grown to enjoy the lonely walk to All-Soul’s chapel through the bush path from Sports Complex. She was enjoying God there.
Swaying to the music by the UJCM praise team, she smiled, jubilant. Thomas was beside her, dancing too. Shola couldn’t contain the joy; God had been indeed good to her. She looked sideways and saw Thomas’ tempo had waned, and she bumped him with her shoulder. “Dance jo!” and she continued hers.
It had been four long months but God had been very good to her. The praise team soon ushered the congregation into worship and Shola went down on her knees. And surprisingly, a song that was usually sang fast was sung slow in worship, a song that always melted Shola’s heart. A song that the leader would ask ‘Do you know why - do you know why?’ and the answer, which Shola cherished, was; ‘I don’t know why He loves me – I don’t know why’.
That was the only worship song that night, repeated over and again. Shola knelt there, tears of joy ad gratitude flowing down her face. All she could sing with whispers of gratitude were the words, I don’t know why He loves me – I don’t know why.
God had rescued her that night when he sent Thomas to her. Life had been heaven on earth after. Professor Toriola had threatened her but through Thomas and her follow-up teacher at Evangelical Christian Union, her faith had been strengthened in God’s ability to pull her through.
Just as the mid-semester tests were coming up and she feared that failure was around the corner, she heard that Prof had been called on to represent the country in a three-year research abroad. She couldn’t believe her ears. ‘Why did it have to be so exact? In three years, I would have graduated from the university.’ She had thought. “Jesus is too much!” were her words to Thomas when she told him.
The tests had been beautiful; she read hard and did all the tests herself. She had had fun; it was good using her head for a change. Now, she had finished her exams the day before, Thursday and all her papers had been lovely. Thomas still had one the day after, that’s why she hadn’t left for home yet. In the past months, her relationship with her family had been restored. They had accepted her back and forgiven her for all her wrongs. “What more could I possibly ask for? Thank You Jesus” she mouthed as she yet worshipped.
After the service, Shola tapped Thomas. “Service was so great”
“Yeah” it was. Shola noticed that Thomas was quite pensive, but before she could ask what the matter was, he brightened up some, and asked. “Can we go to Chicken Plaza?”
Shola was shocked. “You, Thomas!”
“When did you start believing in spending hard earned money on frivolities?” she asked, mimicking him.
He laughed, thinking of what to say. “Don’t we deserve an end-of-session celebration?” he said finally. ‘Good boy, Thomas’, he thought to himself.
“Sure we do.”
‘Lord, I’m scared. Are you sure this is okay – what would she say?’ he asked God, silently as they rose to leave.

Appraise And Correct

Each time God created something when He began to create the earth that we see today, He always took a second look at it to see what it looked like. Now that is very instructive. Our God is infallible God, He cannot make a mistake. He does not make errors. He is “I am that I am”. Yet after each day’s work He took a look at what He has made and “He saw that it was good”. So if Big Baba would pause for a few minutes to examine what He had done even when He had pre-planned it, then you ought to, at every point of your life, particularly at this time of the year.
We need to appraise what the year has been like and see what we could have done better or not. Now we should not misconstrue this. This appraisal is actually meant to increase our efficiency and effectiveness. It actually helps us to take a second look at the ‘whats’ and ‘hows’ of our lives. We are a product of our actions and inaction. We are what we are today as a result of what we have done and what we have not done but ought to have done. So if you do a proper appraisal of your year you will find a few things you ought to keep doing and some others you need to drop.
You’ll discover a few relationships you need to cultivate and some others you must terminate so that you can remain on the part to success. Appraisal makes us better. So you need to look at your life in retrospect right now and begin to assess your character against the standards of the bible. You also need to access the things you have achieved against the goals you set for yourself earlier in the year. Ooh! I just got you. You did not have goals at the beginning of the year. That is wrong. You should always have plans and set targets or goals for yourself.
No, it’s not so hard. It’s simply prayerfully thinking of and writing down what and what you wish to achieve in the future, and in this instance during the New Year. It’s as simple as leaving your house and having a destination you are heading in mind. That destination determines the road you will take out of the many roads available to you. It will determine how fast you will move. It will determine what you will do or not do. It’s about choosing from the range of options available to you and everyone will take different routes depending on the where they are going. So you have to determine your destination. I hope you are realizing the importance of goal setting.
Now imagine the opposite, those days you are just at home feeling ‘bored’ and you just take a stroll, with no destination in mind. Anything is acceptable on such days, anything. That’s the way we live our year when we don’t have goals. So you must have goals for next year too. You must.
However that appraisal is still important. Like I said earlier, you look at your character and your achievements. Any flaws you observe begin to think about how to rectify it. Set high standards for yourself. And if you have any limiting fear, you have to deal with it now. Remember, FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real. So the first thing is that it is false. It is not real. And as long as you allow it a space in your mind, it will LIMIT you.
Do you stay hungry because food can get burnt when you cook? Do you leave you dress dirty because it might get stained when you wear it? Do you stop your trip because you can have an accident? NO. In spite of these possibilities, you still go ahead with what you have to do. Even though those things are a possibility, you prefer to go ahead, believing they are cannot happen. So that’s exactly how you should treat those false evidences…, sorry, your fears. And if you have experienced some of them before, then take your case to Big Baba IN FAITH. That’s the key thing, IN FAITH. And I can assure you, it’s as good as done.
APPRAISE could also mean ALLELUYA and PLENTY PRAISE. And that’s what you must do. So appraise the year again. But this time just praise the Almighty God. I mean that, praise Him, everyday from now till next year. Ensure you say words of gratitude for what he has done. You have reasons to praise Him. Oh! You don’t think so. I will give you one. Praise Him for the life you have and the opportunity to appraise. If you were dead or insane, you wouldn’t be able to. You have an opportunity again. Have a LIMITLESS year of possibilities in Christ .Cheerio

Written by Dade Akinwande

Setting Goals

The Cambridge dictionary defined “Goal” as aim or purpose for wanting to pursue and achieve something (italics mine). Other meaning of goal could be target, objective or destination. In life, goal is a very crucial concept that every Christian youth must have and define. Why? Because a person without a goal lacks focus. For example, picture a man driving without a pre-determined and pre-defined destination; he may arrive at a particular geographic location but his movement cannot be counted as progress because it is not measured against a pre-determined destination.

Setting goals transcends our academic sphere because as young people we must set goals for every area of our lives in order to measure our successes. So we are approaching this topic from a more holistic perspective, rather than limit it to academics. First, it is interesting to know that God desires we do well in life. Look at what the Bible says in our text to see some of the goals God has set for us: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”
Put it this way; God has goals for us, so must we for ourselves. A life without purpose, aim, objective, target or destination is like a sailor sailing the Atlantic Ocean without a compass for direction. Such a journey could be painfully wasteful to say the least and possibly prove to be disastrous and fatal.

Jeremiah 29:11; Joshua 1:8

Setting goals for our lives is very important for many reasons. First, let’s consider this topic under the subject of academics. Academic excellence does not come by wishful thinking; it must start with a purpose of heart, aim and objective for excellence. To be the best in your class, you must work towards it by studying hard, praying hard, reviewing your progress and learning from your mistakes.

Unfortunately, not many youths set goals for themselves at the start of the academic year. We all want to do well in our studies, but it is not enough to want to do well. You must define what ‘doing well’ means to you and work towards it. Academic excellence requires a huge amount of purpose, focus, commitment and hard work. God says in Joshua 1:8 that He wants us to have ‘good success’.
As Christian youths, we must aim to be the best in our studies. Start each lecture with a prayer and confess by faith, “I am the best in this class because I am child of God.”

Let’s not limit the setting of goals to our studies. Setting academic goal is just one facet of life and all of life must be planned. Becoming a doctor, lawyer, pastor, engineer or computer scientist must begin with a passion and purpose (goal) for that field. Every Christian youth must have goals for other areas of life such as career, ministry and walk with God, family and life as a whole.

So why set goals? A few pointers are as follows… Setting goals:
1. Gives you a sense of purpose and vision in your studies and all other areas of life.
2. Enables you measure the rate at which you make progress or otherwise. These are known as milestones.
3. Helps you approach a problem with confidence and a positive mindset.
4. Gives you an edge over your peers who have no defined goals in life.


Imagine God creating the universe without a clear purpose… Imagine how Jeremiah 29:11 would have read If God wasn’t clear about His plans for us… “For I AM NOT SURE OF the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, PROBABLY thoughts of peace, HOPEFULLY not of evil, to TRY TO give you an expected end.”
Jeremiah 29:11 would be a disaster if it read as above. But thank God that we know His plans for us are certainly of good. So how does that apply to you if you fail to set clear goals for your life? The following are some pitfalls to avoid in the process of setting goals, whether academics, careers or ministry:

1. Avoid setting goals that are neither God-centered nor biblical. 1 Corinthians 10:31, John 3:30. Self-centered goals may bring you a measure of success, but not necessarily good, God-glorifying and lasting success, Joshua 1:8. If you have a goal to make First Class grade, that’s good. But don’t set a goal to achieve your First Class by cheating during the exams. Your objectives must be guided by biblical principles for the glory of God.
2. Avoid all distractions to your dream and goal. Distractions often come through friends at school, family members and personal, selfish ambitions. Be focused on your goal. Dream it! Pursue it!
3. Avoid surrounding yourself with people who have no defined and articulated purpose and goal. Such people can kill your dream, goal and purpose. Remember Amnon and Jonadab in 2 Samuel 13.

The dangers of failing to have a clear set of goals and purpose are colossal and grave.

Deuteronomy 28:13; Proverbs 22:29

The rewards of setting and pursuing goals are boundless and many practical examples abound for us to see:
1. Promotion: Joseph was promoted to honour in a foreign land and granted favour to the highest level of authority because he pursued his dream. Genesis 41:39-46.
2. Excellence: Daniel purposed in his heart to serve God and he excelled in learning above others. Daniel 1:8, 17, 19, 20. This was excellence at its peak!
3. Fulfilment: Paul knew his goal in life was to fulfill the ministry God gave him and he pressed on to reach that goal. Philippians 3:14; 2 Tim 4:7.

In our contemporary world today, we are surrounded by many living witnesses who have excelled in academics, ministry, career, etc. Therefore, we are without excuse but must take up the challenge to set goals, pursue them and excel too. A goal-oriented life requires commitment to yield the desired results. But it always pays off at the end with good, great and sweet success. The rewards are endless.

Written by Joseph Iregbu
Joseph is a Youth Coordinator and mentor. He lives and works in London. For further details, please visit

Being The Best I Can Be

When I first came to America, I came with a heart filled with ambition but with very little knowledge on how to achieve my goals. I quickly learned that I had to surround myself with like-minded people, people who not only wanted to succeed but wanted to do according to God’s will. As soon as I did that, I started doing things that I didn’t know I had the ability to do.
I think the most grossly under-emphasized lesson that Jesus taught us is the importance of community. Jesus didn’t need assistance because he was God in human form but yet, he surrounded himself with the 12. While Jesus didn’t expressly tell us that he chose these people in order to show us how important it is to be surrounded by like-minded people, I think it’s an implicitly taught message that resonates throughout the word of God. After Jesus left, there were the apostles, the early Christians, Paul and Silas and the list goes on and on. I think we can theorize that Jesus was just following the nugget of wisdom recorded in Ecclesiastes 4:9 that says “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor” (NASB).
Thank goodness we don’t have to be pioneers who had to pave the way; those people who had to reach places that are devoid of footsteps of any forerunners. The first doctors, engineers, politicians, Pastors must have been extraordinary people who dug deep within themselves to find the courage to achieve that which has never been done before. Thank God that we have the examples of those men (and women) who had no examples to follow.
Sociologists have claimed for years that you are product of your environment (the theory of learned behavior). They support this postulation by citing many children of university educated parents who tend to go on to get University educated themselves, even exceeding their parents’ highest level of education. As a humble intellectual, I have to agree with this idea but only to a point. If this theory of learned behavior were absolute, then we would have no pioneers, no innovation, no development because everybody would just follow the ways with which they are familiar. Cavemen would have been cavemen forever. There is a spirit that I believe God gives every man that makes us want to create and that is how I believe the pace-setters ignited the fire of innovation, change and development.
This innate spirit of creativity along with a community of excellence will ensure success. The power to create is innate. How do I know? We were created in the image of a God who created everything. It only makes sense to conclude that we can create also. After all, Psalms 82:6 does say that, “We are gods. We are all sons of the most high God.”
The community of excellence however is something that we must consciously build. We must seek out and connect with people with the spirit of excellence like Daniel had Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Imagine for a second that Daniel surrounded himself with people who are greedy for the life of luxury that living in the King’s court would have afforded. What a disaster that would have been.
If you want to be the best you can be, surround yourself with people who are pursuing GOOD success. If you can, make friends with people who have achieved a lot more than you have. When you have successfully surrounded yourself with the right people, learn how to ask them the right questions. One of my favorites is “what do you do and how do you do it?” Find some of your own good questions. God bless.
‘Being the best I can be’ continues next edition.

Written by Ayo Sopitan

Coping As A Preacher's Child

The preacher had the attention of the congregation. The message was sinking in. She suddenly launched into a story. “I got home yesterday and one of my daughters told me ‘mom, you know we should start dancing like this’”, then she demonstrated what she thought was break dancing. The whole church laughed.

“Yeah right”, one girl said as people turned to look at her. She bowed her head to avoid the eyes. “There we go again.” That girl was me. How could someone just lay down the whole story of my life for some group of believers to hear? Well, that’s not my style of living. I mean. How do you cope when everybody knows how you were born and all the surrounding circumstances, when you turned thirteen (and every other age for that matter), when you passed WAEC, even when you became a woman (huh!)? Nothing ever went unnoticed – and unannounced.

A lot of us have to cope with parents who are not only Christians but also leaders of other Christians. Maybe not everyone has to battle with being exposed during a sermon on Sunday or any other service day, but we sure have to deal with all the eyes that look at us and the mouths that say “that’s the preacher’s child”, or “and she calls herself a preacher’s child”. Oh no! That statement has a way putting me on the edge.

Or even those people you don’t really like but you have to smile at them and say “Good evening, Mrs. Jegede, how’s Bisi?”, when Bisi bullies you at school everyday. And yes. I think another big challenge is trying to see your preacher-parent as mum or dad at home and pastor in church. Sincerely, sometimes, the pictures just don’t fit (you know what I mean). Actually, I can’t begin to list all the ways in which we have challenges with our parents being preachers.

So, you really hate this kind of life and you’ve told your Preacher-parent you can’t cope with his /her using you for examples every time but they just don’t seem to stop, and all the church members don’t seem to remember that you’re as human as they. What do you do?

You must first realize that your parents love you – a lot! This may be hard for you to accept at this time, but it’s true. I’ll take this from my friend’s view. She said “your parents love you and that’s why your name is the first that comes to their minds when they are talking.” I didn’t believe it then. Look at it this way. If you have a pet dog and you love it very much, whenever you see another person’s pet, even if it’s not a dog, you readily want to talk about your dog. It’s the same way with your parents. They readily want to talk about you because you make them proud. So next time you’re embarrassed, brace up and put up your best smile like it isn’t you being talked about. Look at the crowd confidently as if to say ‘yes, that’s me’. Like someone said. ‘Act the way you want to feel and you’ll feel the way you act.’ Act confidently and soon, you’ll feel confident even if you’re being talked about. And you know what? Love them back.

Also, as the Bible says, it’s the son that the father loves that he chastises (Proverbs 3:12). Trying to see that parent of yours, who shouts at you in the house and even canes you till you cry, as the loving pastor who is always smiling and petting children, could be very difficult. It could even make you wonder if he’s pretending or putting up a front. Then the people from church come to you and say ‘Oh, I wish your mother was my mother’ (or father as the case may be) and you go thinking ‘Mmhm. Why don’t we exchange for just one week?’ Well, you’ve got the answer already. Parents who really love their children chastise them if they do wrong. It does not follow that they should cane every other child doing wrong. That’s for their parents to do. The Bible says ‘spare the rod and spoil the child.’ Your parents don’t want to spoil you so, caning you is not against the rules.

Here comes the interesting part. How do you cope with all the people who expect so much of you because you’re the pastor’s child? This is easily the most difficult challenge a preacher’s child faces. Having to ‘live up to standard’ (to the extent of behaving like an adult when you’re just a teenager) is quite hard. Stuff like the kind of music you listen to, the kind of clothes you wear, your speech and even your facial expressions are easily picked on. Tell you what? It’s simple. The Bible makes it clear. To whom much is given, much is expected. Your dad or mum pastors a whole church and is an example to the congregation. Easily, you’re the example for the congregation’s children because they believe the preacher’s child behaves as a result of what the preacher preaches so, much is expected of you.

This is not to scare you or make life difficult for you to live, but you have a part to play. You’re a Christian and so, you must exhibit the life of a Christian. You don’t have to forfeit your youthful exuberance to please others. Use it to serve God. Listen to good Christian music, wear decent clothing, smile and be ready to listen. Get involved with the lives of other teens in church. Share stuff, have get-togethers, and centre your life round Christ. Matthew 5:16 says ‘…let your light so shine before men that they may see your good deeds, and praise your father in Heaven.’ If you live your life to please God, being an example to others won’t be so difficult and may even be a good idea ’cause we sure want some more youth for Christ.

I could go on and on but space won’t allow. However, I’ll leave you with these. God doesn’t make mistakes. Being a preacher’s child is one of the very good plans that God has for you (Jeremiah 29:11). Don’t forget, there are also many good things about being a preacher’s child so, don’t only look at the bad side of things. Live your life to the fullest in Christ. Being a preacher’s child is not such a bad idea!


Written by Ife Ogunkanmi

Do I Have To Get Married?

A young man sees a young lady, falls in love with her, sums up courage and asks her out. She tries to prove ‘hard to get’ but after sometime, she says YES. They begin to go everywhere together; they are so engrossed with each other; they hardly notice that there are other people around them.
If there are opportunities for overnight chatting like with MTN, the love talk will continue till early morning. What of chatting on Yahoo Messenger or visits to the cinemas? They just don’t want to leave each other’s company.
This is God’s divine programme. He saw this at creation. When he created Adam, He saw that Adam could not live alone. It was not good. God created a help, meet for him; He gave Eve to Adam in Genesis 2:22.
Whatever happened after this was not God’s plan. Have you wondered why some relationships turn soar after some years of marriage? It is because the two parties involved took their eyes off God who ordained marriage in the first instance. Love can sustain a relationship for sometime but only God can sustain it forever.
Imagine a couple that has been in love for some years. They eventually get to discover each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Instead of focusing on each other’s strengths, the devil will make them dwell on the weaknesses so that a relationship that was very cordial and sweet before all of a sudden becomes very bitter.
So are you still wondering whether you should get married or not? My answer is YES. The fact that it didn’t work for some people doesn’t mean that it wont work for you. There are still many happy married couples in the world today.
You must purpose in your mind that your own marriage will be a success too. There must be the desire to make it succeed.
Always remember that God’s thoughts towards you are good Jeremiah 29:11. God doesn’t do evil neither does he tempt anyone with evil.
Focus on people whose marriages have succeeded. As you have students who fail in examinations, so you have those who pass. If you cannot say you won’t sit for examinations because others have failed, then you shouldn’t say that you won’t marry because some marriages have failed. Let it be a matter of Philipians 4:13.
Anytime I look at my children, I always bless God for making me fruitful. I believe that as a boy or girl, you would like to be fruitful in the future. Having a child out of wedlock would be sinning (fornication). It is only in marriage that pregnancy is lawful. So, if you desire fruitfulness, you must desire marriage. Then, you would be fulfilling God’s purpose.
In marriage, there is companionship – you have someone to share your thoughts, aspirations, burdens etc with. There is someone to listen to you while you share your intimate thoughts.
Other friends will come and go but your marriage partner is for life. If the person is God’s choice for you, you will enjoy heaven here on earth. There will definitely be challenges but as you depend on God, He will bring solutions to them (…be of good cheer, I have overcome the world).
However, may I add here that there are three types of Eunuchs (people who never marry) – Matthew 19:12:
1) Eunuchs by birth
2) Eunuchs, by the making of men
3) Eunuchs for the Kingdom’s sake.
So, you can still be single and happy. But like Jesus said, “In the beginning, it was not so”. The book of Genesis categorically tells us that God said it is not good for man to be alone.
At the right time, barring ALL biases, please seek God’s face concerning the issue of marriage and let Him speak to you about your life partner.
I love people getting married. I am a marriage counselor, by God’s grace, and the thought of people getting married thrills me. Please in X years to come, when you are sure you are getting hooked, please remember to invite me. It is well with you.
Love you so much!

Written by Sinmisola Adigun

Teen Celebrity

Can we meet you?
My name is Afolayan Esther. I come from Kwara State (Edidi). I’m fifteen years old. I’m the third child out of four; second daughter.

What’s your present status?
I’m a student of Methodist Girls’ High School, Yaba. I’m in SS3 and a science student.

What church do you attend and what’s your involvement there?
I attend RCCG, Faith Center Parish, Abule-Ado. I’m just a member but hoping to join the choir soon.

Do you hold any leadership position in school?
Yes, I do. I am Assistant Senior Prefect.

Do you hold any positions out of school too?
Yes, I’m the Senate President of the National Children’s Parliament.

What is this parliament all about?
It’s a body that advocates for the rights of children; ensuring their survival, development, protection, and participation in policy and decision making.

When did you become a member?
I became a member of the Lagos Parliament last year, June 16th, 2007; the Day of the African Child. Then, I was Deputy Speaker in Lagos state.
Then, July 23rd, this year, I was elected as Senate President of the National Parliament.

That’s impressive but we’ll come to the National one later. First, please tell us how you qualified to become a member of the parliament in the first place.
We wrote an essay, by districts. Five parliamentarians were chosen per district. Amazingly, three of the five in our district were from my school. Then, we went for elections and swearing-in.

You were elected then?
Yes, I was.

How did that go?
I gave my manifesto and the children parliament voted.

Now, how did you become National Senate President?
I was told I would be representing Lagos at the National level. I went to Abuja in July and was informed that there would be elections. I thought I should go for the seat of Senate President; I gave my manifesto and was voted in.

How has it been so far?
Interesting. It has been full of experiences. Now, my major passion, apart from school, is children, children, children. It has been so exposing.

When do you have seatings?
We have them during holidays so as not to disturb our academics.

How have you been able to balance it with your academics?
It has not been easy but with wisdom and God, I’ve been able to manage it.

What challenges have you had?
We all come from different states, so when I take decisions, some parliamentarians tend to think I’m being biased. It’s been a challenge relating with members of the parliament. Only a few understand the unity factor.

What is the age bracket of the parliament?
We’re between 10 and 17 years of age.

Have you met any prominent Nigerians in the process?
Yes. I have met with the Senate President, Senator David Mark and the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development. I also visited the Governor of Lagos, along with others, on children’s day this year.

With your experience as Senate President of the Children’s Parliament, do you see yourself going into politics?

I don’t like it; can’t do it. From my little experience, discovered some teenagers were already bribing during elections – at that level!

So, what would you want to become?
A Computer Scientist.

Why is that?
I love computers. I want to do programming. I’ve decided to have an ICT firm, so that’ll help me in that direction.

What are your hobbies?
Reading and singing, basically.

What more can you tell us about yourself?
I could be very friendly. I don’t take things too personal, not angry easily. I’m very principled; there’re things I won’t do or take from anybody. I like God-fearing people. I don’t like being around boring people. So, everywhere I am, I try to start up conversations to make the place lively.

What makes you different from other teenagers?
I’m just myself. I’m me.

Any advice for fellow teenagers reading this magazine?
There’s an acronym we used to use in my former church. “Be MAD – Make A Difference”. So, do something that will make you stand-out from others. Let’s be socially responsible; respectful and God-fearing.

Thank you Esther. It was really nice chatting with you.
You’re welcome.

Is there something very unique about you or that you’ve achieved and you want to be interviewed on this magazine or you have a teenage friend who you know is very special and should be interviewed, please send the name(s) and contacts (e-mail and phone number) to us at We’ll get back to you and after listening to you, you might just be chosen as our next Teen Celebrity.

Bobos' Yarn With P.Leke Johnson

Q: I stay with my mum and my step father but they quarrel so much about me. Anything about me gets him angry; anything bought for me also gets him angry. At times, the quarrel may make him send us out of the house and later he would come and apologise. He talks as if my future depends on him. He would tell me that when I finish secondary school, I would go and work. My mum grows lean each time they have such quarrels. I feel that if I’m not there, every thing will be ok between them but I don’t know where to go. Even my mum doesn’t know where to take me to. Please I need your advise because I don’t feel comfortable being the cause of their quarrels.
I commend you for knowing you need to seek counsel, and Godly one too for this delicate matter. Now, you need know that you are not the cause of the problem between your mum and step dad and your life and future does not depend on them or anyone else, but on God.
From statistics, it has been discovered that those who are exceptionally great in this life are those that life has hardly given the opportunity to live in this life at all, so I am sure God has put so much in you that this world is waiting for and the devil doesn’t want that, so he must devise his own means at stopping you from reaching the world.
Let us find out what exactly are the things that get your step dad angry with or about you? Are they things you can change? Like a habit, or is it by just seeing you? If it is the former, then, let’s work at changing those things for good, but if it is the latter, you might need to reduce his seeing you to the barest minimum so as not to spark those angry sessions again. For example, is your biological dad still alive? If yes, are you sure you wont want to go stay with him, at least, if that alternative is available? Your mother’s health is also a matter to put in mind, you need all the people who can support you still living for you.
For this world to stand at attention when one day you share your story on how you walked the rough roads to success and victory, you need to equip yourself with as much education as you can grab, if not right away, then gradually, as the opportunity unfolds. If the need arises, tell your mother to let you shuttle between school and work to be able to raise enough money for your school after secondary school if she can’t do it on her own and she won’t want to ask your Step Dad.
Meanwhile, you need a lot of patience, perseverance and inputting the very nature of God in yourself, so that when you start unfolding, it will be unto joy and you won’t be ashamed at all. Remember, store good things only in your spirit and soul, no matter what; it will help you grow and attain your goals fast. So, no bitterness, no anger, no hate and no regret anymore. See your life as a whole story, not the unpleasant and harsh bits and pieces you see now. It is the whole story that counts. See you at the top. Ciao.

You have questions you want to let out of your heart, right? Send an e-mail to and indicate if you want the question(s) addressed personally or through the magazine.