2017 Lenten Reflection – Temi

Shared on March 29th, 2017


Thank you all for coming, and having me to share my faith journey.

When I was writing this, I said to myself I have to shorten this, otherwise I will be writing a book here. Because my faith journey started right from the womb, full of testimonies and wonder, worshiping the power of God. I see this presence around me all the time.

My parents had me late in life. My mom was almost 50 years old, when there was no medical breakthrough of in-vitro fertilization, so God was at work here!

I was born in the church, baptized after birth and dedicated to the Lord, Jesus Christ our Savior.

As many of you know my dad was a reverend, a vicar of St. Jude’s Anglican Church in Lagos, Nigeria. I lived all my life in the church, just as Samuel. I went to church every Sunday, read the bible, and devoted most times to prayers. As I grew up I had to memorize bible passages. Our father who hath in Heaven was my first memory verses, and the book of Psalms. Apart from Sunday School assignments, my parents gave me chapters to read daily, and verses to memorize like Psalms 21, 23, 27, 91 and so on, and I had to recite either for 6am collective family prayers or during 9pm evening prayers before we went to bed. My sister was already off to the boarding school, so they had time to really concentrate on me very well.  Church was a must, we lived right there in the compound and my school was right there also, just few walking distance from home. Therefore, no excuse for me not to go to church. I was eager to learn, because I knew if I did very well, I was going to be rewarded with butterscotch and cookies. I knew all my verses well.

On Saturdays and Sundays it was quiet. I had to observe the hours of prayer. 6, 12, 3, 6, 9…my parents kept me occupied with the bible and prayer. Very quiet life. But I found it very rewarding later in life.

On Sundays we went to church together and I would depart to the Sunday School Service. After, when I came home I had to recite all I have learnt to my parents. But I didn’t mind. I enjoyed the moments and I was happy doing what I was asked to do.

At 12 years old, I was sent to an Anglican Missionary Boarding School about 300 miles away. Before I left for school, my parents sat me down, gave me a new bible and reminded me all I’ve been through at home and never to forget to read my bible daily and pray. At this age I was already trained and been exposed to all the rudiments of a Christian life.

I thought I was getting off the hook at home from all the prayer routine at home. Little did I know.

At the boarding school, it was even stricter. We woke up by 6am, had collective prayer in respective dorms, led by the senior prefect, took our shower, got dressed and headed to the school chapel before 7am for morning devotion led by the principal with all staff present also, and after departed to our classes. In the evening we gathered again at 7pm for evening prayer devotion.

By 8:30pm our science teacher came, took us outside led us in prayers as we studied the stars in the sky. We were not many in class. Just about 12 in each class.

Going to 2nd year, you have to be active and serve, so I joined the Christian Student Society. We kept the chapel running, organized weekly/monthly programs, prepared assignments for bible readings and prayer rotations. On Saturdays we organised scripture studies and once a month we represented the school at the Anglican cathedral Church for Sunday worship in our school uniform – blue pleated skirts and white blouses with brown shoes. On other weekends, we did evangelism in the community and gave tracts trying to win souls for Christ. Also, we visited the sick in the hospital, and served the poor. These we did on rotations. It was a very enriching experience.

Then I moved to the United States as a student. I went to St. John’s University, New York, a Catholic school. Catholicism was different to me, although I had friends who were Catholics. But one day as I was watching the TV I saw Rev. Robert Schuller of the Crystal Cathedral Church in Garden Grove, California, and I was very interested by it. I watched it for years. That was my church service then.

One thing happened to me in New York, that I will never forget but be very grateful to God everyday of my life.

I used to work at one of the Twin Towers in the kitchen. But one day I mistakenly cut my middle finger while cutting cake. They used to have a guy come once a week to sharpen the knives for the chefs. I was using one of the knives not knowing how sharp it was, and mistakenly cut my middle finger, and was rushed to a nearby hospital, and received 13 stitches on my finger. My finger was bandaged and the doctor told me to return to work after 3 days. Getting back to work, my boss told me they had hired someone else. I couldn’t believe what I heard. I left, nothing I could do, and went home crying. This wasn’t fair. I didn’t do this on purpose. Where will I go from here? I knew what it took me to get this job. I had hardly recovered from the loss of my dad, now this. Reality of life began to strike, around me. I turned to prayers for guidance. Prayers and the bible was my rock and inspiration. I knew how to dig into the archive of the word of God to pray concerning any situation I am facing in life. I thank my parents and devoted teachers for giving me such a solid foundation.

As in Nahum 1:17 – The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble and He knoweth them that trust in them.

I was sad for a while after losing my job. I went back to the doctor and got the stitches removed, packed my suitcase and left New York and moved here at RI with my cousins – at least I will be with some relatives.

A few years later, I stood in awe as 9/11 struck. The building I used to work was first hit and was in flames. I could have been there that day if I wasn’t fired. I thank God for his love, grace and mercy upon me, and most of all the gift of the Holy Spirit that was first telling me to leave the environment completely.

Getting in RI, I landed on a life-long career that I have to this day. God knows how to take care of us and compensate us for our losses.

I’m here with you today by the faith and the mercy and the grace of God.

When I got my apartment a few blocks down the street, I was looking for a place of worship, and I saw Central Congressional Church. I came to worship the following Sunday and after service I was greeted by the Reverend, our beloved Rebecca Spencer, with a warm smile, welcoming me to the church and asking me to come back again. I felt much at home and I’ve been here ever since.

My faith journey has renewed my mind. I see things differently now. Earthly things become dim to me. It taught me compassion, love, patience, kindness, to have feeling for others, reach to those in need either in the family, neighborhood or in my community, and to be in solitude with God always.

Amen.  Thank you.

Posted in 2017 Lenten Reflections, Lenten Reflections.