I was laid in front of the altar, in a church where I’d spent most of my Sundays. Dad was a deacon before he died. Mum was the president of the Godly Women Association. The auditorium was packed full that day. I stood right there, invisible to everyone. A glance at the lifeless body in that coffin, in front of the altar made me cringe. That person didn’t look anything like the vibrant brother that I was. When I faced the congregation that had gathered to mourn, I noticed a lot of students from my school where I was a 400 level Chemical Engineering student were seated across the large auditorium.
My fianceé, a final year accounting student sat somewhere beside my mum, staring blankly behind sunglasses. I was the President of the Joint Christian Campus Fellowship(JCCF) in my school. The name ‘Pastor Wale’ was well on the lips of hundreds of students. I was well-respected. My Vice President, Yinka, mounted the podium. He said so many great things about me. The love I shared. The way I was committed to God’s work. The miracles wrought by my hand. I smiled. Mum spoke next. I loved God since I was a child. From the time I turned five, I’d given myself over to the service of the Lord. I was resting in bosom of Christ, free from the pains of this world. My brother was sitting in front too.
Deji had been the black sheep of the family. He did whatever he wanted and nobody, not even my father, could stop him. I remember mum would say, ‘Deji, can’t you be like your brother. Look at the way he comports himself. He has never given us any problem. You better change or you’ll end up in hell.’ My brother stopped coming home after he gained admission into the university. He got into drugs and failed so badly he was close to being expelled from the school. He was also in a cult group and my parents were helpless about what to do about him. Many times, I’d seen my mum on her knees groaning in prayers for my brother. One day, Deji returned a changed man. He said he’d received Christ but was scared of returning to school because of the possibility of being killed by his ‘Capon’. He had to apply to another school and rewrite JAMB. The excos of the JCCF were present. I saw Presidents from different campus fellowships. It was a wonderful sight to behold. Someone tapped me and before I could say Jack, I was lifted off the ground. It was so quick. I landed in front of a gate made of pure gold. I heard voices inside. I knocked.
A man in a white overall opened the gate. ‘Good day. What can I do for you?’ I stared at him puzzled. ‘I want to go in.’ ‘I’ll be right back.’ Another man, taller and muscle-built came out. ‘What can I do for you?’ What was wrong with these people. I was getting pissed. ‘My room is in there. I want to go in.’ ‘Who are you?’ The man asked, leaning on the gate I let out a quick breath. ‘Please can you call Jesus for me?’ ‘You are talking to Jesus.’ I took a step backward, shocked. Could this really be him or was someone playing games with me? ‘Jesus, this is Wale. You recognize me now?’ Jesus shook his head. ‘No I don’t.’ ‘How can you say that? I have served you all my life. I was the President of my campus fellowship for two years and later I was made the JCCF President.
I went for evangelism, slept on benches, drank muddy water, gave my money for the expansion of your work. I spoke in tongues. I fasted every year for 40days. How can you not recognize me?’ ‘I’m sorry. I don’t know you. There is no place for strangers here.’ Then he shut the door. I covered my face with my hands and wept. Someone coughed behind me. I turned. A man in dark suit flanked by two other men was grinning widely. ‘Wale, I know you. I recognize you very well. Come, let’s go.’ He grabbed my hand and led me away. I kept turning back to see if Jesus would open the gate and say, ‘Wale, I was just pulling your legs. Come in.’ But instead I was alone with these men, wondering where they were leading me to. As we moved faster, I suddenly began to feel hot. It was intense and worse than the heat I’d experienced back in Maiduguri when I attended a three week training for student pastors.
Then I heard loud screams. A thunderous mix of wails and lamentations. I began to sweat profusely. At that moment, I knew where we were going to. I had preached about this place several times. I was going to hell. I began to cry. I tried to pull away from the man’s grip but I couldn’t. ‘Jesus, help me!’ Suddenly, the cries stopped. The men were gone. I was alone. I woke up, panting hard. The room was crowded. Ladies in night gowns. Men in boxers. Some were praying, others were speaking in tongues. Some brothers surrounded my bed. Then I remembered where I was. I remembered who I was.
I was the President of one of the largest fellowships on campus. I was in the fellowship secretariat, in a room allocated to the President. I asked to be left alone. When the last person shut the door behind me, I fell to my knees and began to cry. Then I heard a voice. ‘Wale, the Word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart. This word of faith which you have heard several times. If you will confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised Christ from the dead, you will be saved.’ I started. ‘Lord Jesus. I acknowledge I’m a sinner. Forgive me of all my sins. Wash me with your precious blood. I believe you died and rose from the grave to give me a new life. Jesus, I receive the gift of righteousness and I confess you as my Lord and Saviour.’ I began a journey with Jesus that night. It would be the first time I ever made a decision to follow Christ. For the first time, being born-again made sense. I’d only known it in my head before. I thought my fervent service to him mattered a lot. I thought a prayer life and zeal for his work would impress him. How could I have been playing church all these years? On Sunday, I shared my dream at the fellowship and called out to those who wanted to receive Christ’s offer of salvation. They came out. From the choir. The ushering team and even from among my executives.
I stepped down as the President that day. I wanted to learn about Jesus. I wanted to build a deep relationship with Him. As the vice president took my place, one thing gladdened my heart. I had come into the family of God. I had become joint heirs with Christ. Fiction **** …Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name have done wonderful works? And then I will profess unto them, I never knew you. Depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Matthew 7:21-23 Did you notice the definite usage of the word ‘never’ in that verse? I never knew you.
There was never a record of you being a member of the family of God. Yes, despite your plenty church activities. Every Sunday, houses turn out men and women in beautiful dresses. Correct gele and lace. Clean suits. Bereat on point. Men and women serving in various capacities in church, teenagers singing melodiously in the choir. Pastors and Deacons ordained every year. The question, ‘Does the Lord know you?’ Jesus didn’t mince words when He said, ‘Not everyone that says unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven but He that does the will of the Father which is in heaven.’ What exactly is the will of the Father? It is clearly stated in John 6:40 ‘This is the will of him that sent me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes on him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up on the last day.’ Will you start a relationship with Jesus today. Will you take a definite step by asking Christ into your life? Your regular church attendance. The position you hold in the church. Your conservative lifestyle. Your generosity. Your knowledge of scriptures. None of this will bail you out on the last day. Death calls at anytime.
God has provided a way out of eternal damnation, don’t be stubborn by refusing to yield to Him. He is calling you into a beautiful life that does not end here. Please respond to His call. For us who have genuinely accepted Christ into our lives, God desires to have us come into a deeper relationship with Him. Since we have declared the Lordship of Jesus, let us depart from iniquity. As we give the Holy Spirit room to teach us how to live holy, we are sure to see great transformation in our conduct and daily walk. The offer of salvation is a done deal. It’s time to grab the full package made available to us.