How to help God when He’s busy

It’s amazing how swift the year is going, it feels like last night I was out with my sisters and cousin trying to light the fireworks to usher in the New Year. While a lot of people felt January was extremely slow, February seems to be making up by breezing through. It’s been one interesting year, with the current trends happening globally as well as our individual lives. Most of us started off the year pumped up with ideas, resolutions, prophetic declarations and mind-blowing themes in Churches etc. Such themes like I’m a living miracle, year of mega exploits or like my local Church my year of walking in faith. Trust me when I say we have had many people who have already stepped out in faith and are experiencing the fruits.

We’ve been having a series on Faith in Church and the aim is to peel each layer to its simplest form. It’s been one interesting ride so far, a lot of people are stepping out of their comfort zones. More direct and deliberate prayers are been said, people’s mind are stretched to accommodate the inherent capacity on the inside, business ideas are birthed and it’s not frightening to execute it. Don’t get me wrong it’s not a walk in the park, people are stepping out with trepidation and palpitation, some are making ‘seemingly’ foolish decisions but for a greater glory, some are making crazy sacrifices and delaying gratification. But in between praying, stepping out and receiving what we want is a waiting period. And that is the hardest part. Let me paint a story.

But in between praying, stepping out and receiving what we want is a waiting period. And that is the hardest part.

A couple had been childless for many many years, they heard the message of faith and found the promise of having their own children in God’s word. They were excited although the wife silently doubted if she could ever conceive; science backed up her doubt by reminding her she had entered menopause. But her husband was fully persuaded and even told her he personally heard from God that they both will have their own child. So they entered their waiting period and the long journey started. She would often stuff her gowns with clothes to create a false baby bump and stare at the mirror to imagine what she would like pregnant.

 Days turned into months and into years and no there was no sign of a bump and then it occurred to her she could speed up the process or in her words help out. She advised her husband to sleep with her maid, after all her maid belonged to her and the baby would still come from her husband too. Her doting husband obliged her and by now for the Bible students you know this is Abraham and Sarah and the union led to Ishmael. Ishmael wasn’t the child of promise but in a bid to “help God” Sarah suggested to Abraham and Abraham had heard he was going to have a child so it was only logical for him to go on with the plan.

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Besides he was supposedly stepping out in faith. Herein lies the issue, many people are hearing but are not patient to let the Word of God have a thorough work in them. Yes we have read, show me your faith by your works but the question is what inspires the works we produce. Have we trained our inner ear to differentiate between the voice of God and the Devil? Jesus Christ had been led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to fast for 40 days and after that He was hungry, and the Devil appeared on the scene to tempt Him with food. Was Jesus hungry? Was He believing God to be fed? Yes to all those questions. But He knew not every “gift” is from God. I recently needed a particular thing, I had even prayed about it that morning and before noon that day someone offered just what I wanted. But in the euphoria of the excitement of how fast God answered I was jolted back to sieve out “not every gift is from God”.

Jesus Christ had been led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to fast for 40 days and after that He was hungry, and the Devil appeared on the scene to tempt Him with food. Was Jesus hungry? Was He believing God to be fed? Yes to all those questions. But He knew not every “gift” is from God.

I am always reminded with these words “which son will ask his father for bread and receive stone or fish and get a snake, if earthly fathers though evil know how to give good gifts how much more our heavenly Father” Matthew 7:9. God desires we receive good gifts in fact He has said “no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly” Psalm 84:11b. So step out in faith, refuse to be mediocre, the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead lives in you therefore live, dominate, rule and have authority in the world. But at the same time be sensitive to the schemes of the devil, he is subtle and can sneak up on you when your guards are down. God is never busy for you, His mind is filled with thoughts of you. He doesn’t need your help rather needs you to trust Him for the next step.

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While reading this and somewhere in your heart you realize you don’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ, we can say a short prayer together. Dear Father I come to You in the name of Your Son Jesus Christ, I acknowledge I’m a sinner and that has prevented me from receiving the love Jesus has been offering me. Today I ask for Your forgiveness and I accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Thank you Father. Welcome to the family, join a community of Bible believers close to you, get a Bible you can understand (Amplified, New King James) and start to experience your new relationship.

Loads of Love

JMAD

N/B : Photo credit : Google

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What do you want?

Happy New Year, I hope you had a good Christmas holiday. Many of us if not all of us have written down a few plans for the year. In a recent conversation with a few friends one of them said a mother defined New Year resolution to her little daughter as “a to-do list for the first week of January”. So I ask, did you create a to-do list for only the first week of January or the entire year of 2017? While there are those who have mapped a plan for the year there are others who haven’t, for various reasons. Some may say Que sera sera (whatever will be, will be), others may say the previous year plan wasn’t achieved, so what’s the use of creating a new one while some may be scared of writing down anything as a result of fear. While reading this, you will probably find yourself in one of the categories.

While there are those who have mapped a plan for the year there are others who haven’t for various reasons. Some may say Que sera sera

Let me start with the last category, there was a time I was like you. I have shared the story of my risky decision to switch careers before on the blog here but what I didn’t mention was what a friend told me. You see, its one thing to take a study leave for a Masters to return to that same job or something similar but it’s another thing to leave for a course entirely different from your already established career path. In his words he said “what do you stand to lose going for this course, what if you decide not to go and live with the thought of how your life would have turned out”? Yes I took the risk, one (1) year after graduation I’m still amazed at how far God has taken me and I know He hasn’t started with me yet. With that in mind take that risk.

what if you decide not to go and live with the thought of how your life would have turned out”

For the category of those who aren’t planning for the year cos’ of the unachieved goals of 2016, I have a few questions.  Who says it’s wrong to carry over a plan into the New Year? Who says a plan terminates on the 31st of December? I have experienced unexecuted plans and I gladly moved them over. Did I beat myself? No but I learnt from the experience.  You probably would have compared your life to someone else who got all their plans checked. But who says you’re in a race with the person. At the end of the day what was your goal for putting down those plans? Was it for the praise of men or a higher objective? With that in mind go to work.

For the category of the Que sera sera, my dear friend once said “if you don’t have a destination, you’ll get to the bus park and any bus will be convenient for you and you will never know when you’ve reached your destination”. What this means is you’ll receive anything 2017 throws at you, you can’t accurately rate your progress cos’ you don’t have any yardstick to calculate it. It’s like meeting a potential employer and when asked what kind of job you are looking for and you respond anything.

“if you don’t have a destination, you’ll get to the bus park and any bus will be convenient for you and you will never know when you’ve reached your destination”

2017 is not the year to say and expect anything, life doesn’t throw anything at you rather specific things. A man who had been sick for 38 years, clearly needed to be healed but when Jesus met him, he asked him in John 5:6 “Do you want to be made well”, Jesus Christ met another man begging by the road who was blind and He asked him in Luke 18:41 “What do you want me to do for you”. Ever wondered why He had to ask these men what they wanted? In the two verses the first man gave excuses why he hadn’t been healed while the second man kept on screaming Son of David, have mercy on me! Even when people kept him to shut up he kept on screaming which eventually caught Jesus’ attention. Are you going to keep on giving excuses why your life has taken a particular route or will you speak up?

Are you going to keep on giving excuses why your life has taken a particular route or will you speak up?

Just like the New Year message in my local church, “There’s more to me”. Until I do something nothing will be done by God. I need to Speak, Get Up and Move. You may have to make some decisions but it can’t be life as usual. Have you dreamed of going back to school, starting that business, writing that book, getting married, having your own children, purchasing that property, visiting a new country? It’ll only remain wishful thinking until you start making plans to achieve it. So I ask what do you want? At the end of 2017 what would have changed? Can the decisions you make this year be effective enough to affect the generations after you? See you on the other side.

dreams

Loads of Love

JMAD

 

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From Maiduguri : No one is born a terrorist

I had come across a Regional Youth Summit on Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) in the Sahel region in September organized by Search for Common Ground (SFCG). I was pretty excited to apply notwithstanding the venue was in Maiduguri. For those who don’t know about Maiduguri, it’s the melting pot of the terrorist group Boko Haram (BH). That said it was a “dangerous place” to be in but for some funny reason I wasn’t scared. Months later I was notified of been shortlisted, logistics were planned, security briefs were sent out. On the 27th of Nov I headed off to the airport to meet fellow participants from Cameroon, Chad, Mali, Niger and Nigeria. I could literally feel the excitement on the plane, I couldn’t see a trace of fear on their faces. Although we knew the risk ahead of us, regardless of the various security presence escorting our buses no one expressed fear.

Although we knew the risk ahead of us, regardless of the various security presence escorting our buses no one expressed fear.

We all settled in with the friendly volunteers who made sure we were all comfortable and ended the day with a welcome dinner. Before I go into the summit, I want to appreciate the management of University of Maiduguri (UniMaid). There are many things we are not told and here I was listening to the Vice Chancellor (VC) and shaking my head. UniMaid was never shut down all through the period BH terrorized Borno state, in the words of the former VC they couldn’t shut down because they would be sending their students out to their villages that had been taken over by BH, it’s either they get killed or are forced to join.

On the first day the Deputy VC pointed out how Borno which is originally the Home of Peace has become the home of pieces. A Malian youth delegate led the discussion on the theme “youth and the fight against violent extremism: how important is the participation of the youths?” While one of the speakers talked about the challenges of preventing violent extremism as the following : – Highly secretive (special means of communication), Identifying and cutting the sources of funds, Insincerity of the community, Politicization, Instilled fear on the citizens, Insincerity and lack of commitment from the leaders, Poor motivation by the government to the military, Lack of clear rehabilitation measures. He went further to give the following as the way-forward: – Education as the bedrock, strict monitoring of community members, regulation of public preaching, strengthening of Islamic school. One of the speakers led the conversation on the common misconception associated with radicalization and extremism. Everyone is a radical in one way or the other the difference in extremism lies in the use of violence.

In the plenary session on Global and National agendas engaging youth in CVE the Cameroonian speaker highlighted the need to involve women in CVE but went further to view women not just as victims but as actors. I think this is a good narrative because seeing them as just victims prevents a holistic approach to CVE. Nigeria has experienced many female suicide bombers, last year a family of nine in Bradford England crossed over to Syria under the guise of hajj. The Nigerian speaker who was a product of the SFCG Naija Girls – a camp involving young Christian and Muslim girls from about nine (9) – fifteen (15) living together to know each other and change the narrative of “us” against “them” prevalent in Plateau State. In her words they were previously “fed from wrong ideologies and fed from wrong plates”. These young girls moved from the camp and started training other young girls on the need for peaceful coexistence. In one of the presentations these quotes stood out to me “no one is born a terrorist or fighter”, “if youths can be such a powerful force that can destroy a nation, why do people overlook our resources when we are working for peace” – Rwandan Youth Movement Leader

if youths can be such a powerful force that can destroy a nation, why do people overlook our resources when we are working for peace”

On the second day the theme for the plenary session was “Challenges and opportunities for youths in CVE”. A Nigerian Youth speaker gave a presentation on gender-based violence and how women are been empowered to prevent their recruitment into such violent groups. One of the speakers gave a profound truth “conflict is always between right and right” He went further to demonstrate between the six (6) and nine (9). Just because you see a six doesn’t mean I’m wrong seeing a nine. The issue isn’t what we are seeing individually rather the ability to accommodate what the other person is seeing.  Everyone has their own truth – this couldn’t have been said any better. If you ask some terrorists, they’ll probably give you their version of truth. Peace building is how I want to reflect on myself by opening my listening mind. Some of the challenges mentioned are youth participation in democratic processes, lack of leadership capacity by the youths and lack of belief by the elders. One of the facilitator was almost eaten up when he said the youths are the leaders of tomorrow. The hall went berserk with participants saying they are the leaders of today, tomorrow may never come.

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We were divided into four working groups namely: – Preventing violence and recruitment into violent groups, facilitating young people’s disengagement from violent groups, producing and amplifying new narratives, fostering effective and meaningful partnerships. I worked on amplifying new narratives, we came up with the following: – Understanding the problem, direct contact with the actors to understand them, bring parties to a common ground, and address misinterpretations of narratives. Something stood out to me, the Country Director of SFCG asked us “not to think of the white elephant”. I’m pretty sure you have the picture of a white elephant in your head. Bottom line highlight your positive message for example instead of saying “Violence is not the answer” you can say “Peace is the answer”.

On the third day we were placed in working groups to come up with an action plan for each country facilitated by some academics. It was brain racking but exciting at the same time. One of the academics from Niger suggested some general action points: – Inter-religious dialogue, inclusion of the female in peace processes, control of the Koranic school (licensing of the Koranic teachers). It was interesting listening to an ex-rebel leader who has made something meaningful from his life. He went back to school and has a PhD and contributing his own quota in CVE.

Friendships were forged over the four (4) days we spent in Maiduguri. Although we had to put on our translators when the French speakers led the discussion, it didn’t prevent our communication. Yes there were times I took a bilingual participant to enable me ask some questions but I enjoyed every bit of it. At the end of yesterday all the various country representatives submitted their action plan and awaiting approval to kick off.  Following the UN Security Council adoption of Resolution 2250 in December 2015 urging member states to consider setting up mechanisms that would enable young people to participate meaningfully in peace processes and dispute resolution. We have definitely moved from rhetoric to action. Can we be the ones to end violence in our own generation?

sfcg

Loads of Love

JMAD

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From Kutara ; displaced but placed by God

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The kids in the camp

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It was one of those conversations you have with a friend, you remember the economic climate and the many job losses in the country and he suddenly says “Chijioke what of IDP camps”? This unplanned conversation ignited a fire that had gone dim for a while, thank you Gbenga. That same week I had gone to visit a friend and found out an IDP camp was close to his house. Oh! I was extremely excited, told my aunt and we took our first set of relief items in the form of clothes and shoes. But the visit left us disappointed, it wasn’t organized, we saw a lot of bags of clothes in a particular container, apparently they didn’t have a proper system for sharing.

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The arrival at the camp

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Tim getting acquainted with the kids. After they had sung their welcome song

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Rachel leading them in the greeting in Hausa language

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Tuboson, Rachel, Ejike and Tochi capturing the moment

I still knew there were more IDP camps and I went further to get a more detailed list of IDP camps at the outskirts of town. Thankfully I found about seven (7) camps and I chose Kutara Camp. Meanwhile a mentoring group I’m part of decided to carry out Charity work with an emphasis on IDP camps. I had posted a status on facebook without asking for help but causing people to think of how they could help towards the refugee crisis in Nigeria and I got private messages as well as comments on how they can get involved. You see when you have a desire to do something God causes the earth to respond. The journey to raise funds for the visit to Kutara started.

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Solar panel for the bore-hole

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The bore-hole

 A little N2,000.00, few baby clothes and it kept coming. I was getting overwhelmed with people’s donations within and outside Abuja. A colleague overheard my conversation over the phone and asked how he could get involved. I explained the needs and he gave $100 and further made others to give $200. Oh! My heart was bursting with excitement, my friend Melford said my excitement was infectious even over the phone. While I was sorting out the clothes, shoes and textbooks I couldn’t believe all the things people sent. They were all new and laundered clothes, I saw the prettiest aso-eke for a little baby girl and I saw tampon too. That definitely made me smile but reminded me I needed to buy sanitary towels too.

I was awake by 3.00 a.m. on that Saturday and couldn’t sleep, not sure if it was anxiety or excitement but I was glad to be up to know a little thought was about to come alive. We were eleven (11) on the trip, three colleagues, six friends and the camp coordinator Adamu. We headed to Kutara in three (3) cars with lots of emotions running through our minds. Only one of us who is a doctor had been to several IDP camps. The trip became pretty interesting when we veered off the major road and kept on driving for another thirty (30) minutes and the camp was nowhere in sight. At some point my friend Efe who was in another car called to ask why I didn’t ask them to bring their passports cos’ it was clear we were leaving the borders of Nigeria. We finally got to the camp situated in the middle of nowhere and beheld the sight of many little children waiting for us at the entrance and singing a welcome song.

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Tuboson and Adamu the Camp coordinator who doubles as their respected leader

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Yea Peace to the world… watch out for that kid

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Women and Children…

When we all came down no one remembered the distance we covered to get to the camp. They are displaced persons from Adamawa and Borno who were attacked by the terrorist group Boko Haram. The name of the camp is Kutara in Masaka, Nassara state. The camp is made up of seventy (70) families, sixty (62) men, sixty (60) women and two hundred and twenty-eight (228) children and they all live in houses provided by the Church of the Brethren Mission in Switzerland through EYN Church Headquarters in Mubi, Adamawa State . The same church owns the land they are occupying. There’s a solar-paneled bore hole in the camp. We all went to various areas in the camp. Tuboson who’s a doctor had a session with the public health worker in the camp, Rachel had a session with the kids where she recited the alphabets and sang the National Anthem in Hausa language, Efe, Ejike, Tochi and I went to view the make-shift school.

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The walk to the school

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Getting information from the teachers. Me, Efe, Ejike, Tim and Tochi in the classroom.

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The make-shift classroom

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One of the teachers

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Tim giving the kids their football. He was supposed to play with them but time was an issue.

There are three (3) structures built with Zinc with a black board gotten by painting wood with charcoal. They have five (5) volunteer teachers who cover from per-crèche to primary three (3). The remaining kids go to private schools in neighboring villages which is funded by the produce from their farms. They are predominantly farmers. Tim had fun with the children while Iztok and Guy were busy strategizing on the next steps. Not to forget Chioma who was gracious enough to document our experience with her camera. I can’t forget what the young lady said when we handed the sanitary towels to her, she said the women in the camp use rags and wash it to re-use. Yes in the 21st century we still have such practices.

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Rachel reciting the alphabet in Hausa language

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Rachel in her element

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They were reciting the National Anthem.

The heads of various groups spoke to us and the head of the camp who we observed to be highly respected said something very profound, “We were displaced by Boko Haram but God has placed us here”. They have made Kutara their home and when I asked him if he will like to go back home, he responded by saying TO WHERE! I can’t say we met all their needs but a child went to bed that day with a new dress on, one had a chocolate drink, another ate noodles while another child used a toothbrush and a bathing soap in the morning not to forget the new shoe a man will put on and the woman who will be using a sanitary towel that day. Or the volunteer teacher who took back money in envelops as a reward for their help in molding the next generation. You see, we all wished we could do more but at the end of the day we were glad we changed one life after all it starts with one.

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Dr Tuboson discussing the medical needs with the health professional in the camp.

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Our amazing driver Stephen who was extremely patient with us and Efe off-loading the relief materials

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Beyond what we gave them, they were excited that we crossed all the seven rivers and mountains to spend the day with them. They said people hardly visit them cos’ of the distance and the few people who visit them make promises but never come back. Although we didn’t make any promises but we’ve decided to be a little different. We have met after the visit and talked about what we can do for them. So here we have it: –

  • A proper school – We plan on constructing up to six (6) classroom blocks with desks and chairs.
  • A better health post
  • Medical supplies – Malaria is the major disease in the camp
  • Mosquito Net
  • Sanitation facilities
  • Fertilizer for the farmers
  • Skills acquisition and initial start-up for them
  • Solar panel for electricity for the camp
  • Improved accessibility for local transportation
  • Publicity – We want to do a documentary to share their story with the world
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The oldest man in the camp

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Not sure what I was saying

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Efe, Rachel and the youth leader behind them

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That moment our great philosopher Tochi gave a talk on the audacity of the youth. He gave a good pep talk

If there’s anything we all noticed there’s transparency in the sharing of relief materials they receive. We plan on empowering them in making them self-sufficient so they don’t rely solely on aids. So like I asked in my Facebook post, what do you have in your hand that can help? Whatever it is, let us know and we’ll take it up from there. Yes we just made a difference last week Saturday but we are about to change the lives of many people to translate to many generations. After all said and done we live to leave a lasting legacy and at the end we all have the same color of blood and that’s all that matters.

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She’s 3 years old and bold…watch out for her

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Who knows, maybe Efe just carried a future president of the country. You just never know

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Did Rachel just take a picture with a future World Bank President? You just never know

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She’s just two weeks old

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That moment Tim led the closing prayer with all our hands clasped together.

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And Tim raises his hand, not sure what he was saying

Loads of Love

Friends of Kutara

 

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