It started like any other day. It had an extraordinary ending. On that fateful day, the first day of December 2001, and about 6pm in the evening, Nigeria local time, a friend of mine rode me on my dad’s bicycle to the pharmacy. We call it ‘chemist store’ in Nigeria.
Unlike in the United States where you can buy certain medicines over the counter but majority by prescription only, and where only trained medical professionals can dispense or administer medicines to you; in Nigeria, everything is bought over the counter. You do not need a prescription. In as much as you can pay for it, you can get whatever dosage you want for any medicine or combination of medicines. And you do not need to be a medical professional to open your own chemist store or administer medicines to customers. Folks who could not afford to go to a doctor can walk into a chemist and describe their symptoms to the chemist and he or she can prescribe medicines to them based on the information they gave to him or her. If they (the chemist) decide the customer needs a shot, they can as well decide the dosage of the shots they want to administer to the patient. The expertise of a chemist on the subject of medicine is gotten, not from going to school, but from apprenticing for an already established chemist. This apprenticeship can last from six months (for those that already have family money to fund their startup), to six years (for those who do not have family money to fund their store but based on the contract they signed with their master, hope that by the end of the six years, the master will give them enough capital to start their own business).
Now, that Saturday, December 1, 2001, was my fourth day visiting the chemist store for treatment. The chemist has been injecting me with the antibiotic crystal penicillin through my bottom for the past three consecutive days.
I was sick but didn’t know the cause of my sickness. Because I was a little bit reckless sexually as a teenager, I was afraid my sickness was a result of sexually transmitted disease I might have contracted through my philandering. But I didn’t want to find that out by going for a blood work, so I gave the sickness a name. I told myself I was suffering from pneumonia and went to the chemist and asked for seven doses of crystal penicillin, one of the antibiotics for treating pneumonia in Nigeria. She obliged me. Because the antibiotics is administered one dose per day, the injection was spread for a seven-day period.
Because of the effect the needle has had on my bottom for the past three consecutive days of injections, I couldn’t sit down comfortably anymore, and to bend down to pick up something or to wash my feet became very difficult. So, on that fateful Day 4, I suggested to the chemist to inject the antibiotic through my vein rather than through my bottom. That medicine is not intravenous. It didn’t stop there. I had four dosages of that injection left. Because I did not want to return to the chemist store anymore, I also suggested to her that she put the remaining four dosages into one and inject me with all four at once. Being a quack, she did not pause for a moment to think about the grave consequences of my suggestion. She readily accepted the suggestion of a novice (which is what I was as far as the field of medicine was concerned) and injected me with a heavy overdose of crystal penicillin. The antibiotic was supposed to be a cure to my imagined ailment, however, it turned out to be a precipitant for my untimely death.
After the injection, my friend rode me back home on the back of my father’s bicycle. On our way home, I started shivering, a feeling that never accompanied the previous injections that was administered correctly. By the time I got home, the shivering had gotten worse. My friend was concerned about my state, but I assured him that I was going to be fine. So, he left. As fate had it, I didn’t lock myself inside my room that evening as I was in the habit of doing. And it was just our dad and my second sister that were at home. Dad was busy at the backyard compiling English premiership match results, and my sister was in the kitchen preparing dinner. Neither of them noticed when I came in, or the predicament I was in. It was around 7:30pm that very evening when my sister, on coming into the room to serve my dinner, and discovering that I was about crossing over to the other side of eternity, raised alarm. And it wasn’t long before neighbors, villagers, and even folks from neighboring villages, converged at our house. Some, to commiserate and some to witness how the mighty has fallen.
You see, I was kind of popular growing up in my village – a combination of my virtue and vices. Those that disliked me did so because, to them, I was arrogant and proud. I was. Those that loved me did so because to them I was not just good-natured, but intelligent and precocious. They believed so much in me and placed high expectations on me. To die at such a young age, without living up to, or above their expectations, will be to them, a sin. I too, am naturally ambitious. This knowledge, it was that prompted and strengthened me in my struggle with death that very evening.
GOD is Love……. I heard that. I believed that. I know that.
Back in 2001, I did go to church, you know. I studied the Holy Bible; I believed in God; I knew the difference between righteousness and sin, good and evil; and of course, I prayed to God. But was I a Christian after all these? No. God was not the Lord of my life and I had no personal relationship with Him through His Son, Jesus Christ (John 14:6). Yet, in spite of my unworthiness, He had compassion on me and showed up on my behalf when I needed Him the most.
How did it all happen?
You see, as the antibiotic I overdosed on was having its toll on me, it got to a stage where I became oblivious of all activities around me. While lying on my bed in my bedroom, on the outside, feeling of numbness had overwhelmed my body, and my breathing had become sporadic. Water was being poured over me; palm oil was being forced down my throat. All to no avail. However, in the inside, in the subconscious, it was a fierce battle for my life. Stupid negative thoughts and suggestions were pouring in from the devil. They were so overpowering, and I was too weak to resist. I was voicing them out as they came. And as I was doing so, the situation was getting worse. And I was really drifting away into darkness. Finally, I got to the interface between life and death. It was then that the killer suggestion came on. The suggestion that was supposed to finish the job for the devil. Much stronger than the strength of the previous ones put together. “Tell them to give up on you. That all that they are doing, their prayers, is in vain.” I never had the strength to resist before, so what do I do now? I have a purpose to fulfill. Why should I die this careless death? I was in pain, but I managed to mutter a prayer in the subconscious. You know, God has a way of running His show. He will first appear not to notice, not to be near, and in so doing, allow satan to exhaust all his arsenals on you. When satan thought that he has knocked you out, then God will show why He is God. And He doesn’t need our help to do that.
You see, the Holy Bible said that “His strength is made perfect in our weakness.” True to His word, He made strength available for me and I was able to resist. Rather than confess a lie and die, I blanked out. It was in the early hours of the next day, Sunday December 2, 2001 that I came around.
That was not the end though. It rather was the beginning of a life transforming experience; a lonely walk in the wilderness of life.
Before I became ill, I was very good at soccer. I mean, I never contested the outside left position (11) with anybody in my village team. I had a strong physique; hence I do all manner of work that requires energy and strength. Aftermath of my brush with death and still with the disease, I became something I could not put in words. I mean, I couldn’t run in the field of play for a straight three minutes before I burn out. I couldn’t lift a 110lb container filled with water anymore, and while riding our bicycle along the road in the village, I would be crying from pain in my lungs caused by wind blowing against my body. When I find myself inside a commuter bus, I dare not seat near the window in fear of the effects of wind on my body. I will always opt to sandwich myself between people. Those days, when I sat down, I always felt as if all my insides are caving into my stomach. Life was a living hell. I was dying in silence, but the irony of it was that I looked very handsome. It was after the day my mother came home from the market with a tuber of yam that looked very okay on the outside but after it was cut open was found to have rotten completely in the inside, that I opened up to my family about what I was going through. Yes, because my mother offhandedly remarked that some humans are like that. Alive on the outside but dead in the inside. On the 24th day of that same month, December 2001, I was sent to my eldest sister, a medical doctor, who was practicing and living with her husband in the city, for her to take care of me.
When I got to my sister’s house, she subjected me to every manner of lab work. I mean, my body was reduced to a specimen. Meanwhile I became an embodiment of fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear that I might’ve contracted HIV/AIDS. The fear I have been running away from. Since things have gotten out of my hands, what if my fears are confirmed, how will I face my family when my sister breaks the news to them? News travel fast. So before long, people will get to know. How will I face my friends, the young ones looking up to me, and how will I go about contending with the stigma? Her inability to bring me in on the results of the tests, as they were coming in didn’t help matters. I resorted to eavesdropping on her and her husband whenever they were having closed door conversation. Maybe, I can confirm my fears that way and run away to a far away city where no one will know me and wait there for my time to come. By God’s grace though, I got to learn after a while that of all the series of tests: I did not have typhoid fever, I did not have tuberculosis, and I did not have HIV. Not even malaria. Yet I was dying. From what? I did not know.
In the long run, my sister gave up on me as she was unable to diagnose me of any particular ailment. But she did well to refer me to a colleague of hers. An austere guy. On my first meeting with him, he told me bluntly after turning me inside out, “young man, I don’t know what is wrong with you, but you are running a high blood pressure, and with the way things are going, you may find yourself six feet below in the next six months, if things didn’t change.” He prayed for me though and asked me to start studying the Book of John.
Salvation didn’t take time to come.
It was the night of 31st December 2001. It was a cross-over service into the New Year. It was a festive event, you know, and everybody was looking their best. I was the odd man out. Among a crowd of over three thousand people in the church auditorium, am very sure I was the only one sporting a cheap worn-out flip flops and a t-shirt that was conspicuously torn at the tail. So, you can imagine my embarrassment when towards the end of the service, the ministering pastor made an altar call. You see, by then I’ve come to realize in my long walk, since both herbal medicine and synthetic drugs have failed me, that I needed a miracle if I will live. And I’ve resolved to turn to God in total surrender. It was the only option. I knew I had to make peace with God that very night for there to be a turnaround in my life. I was ready. That was why I came to church in torn clothes and flip flops. I didn’t own any better. But I was courageous enough to come to church looking poor. To go out to the altar to advertise my poverty was something on a different level. That I was not ready for. But the man of God in his altar call was specific that I should run to the altar for total surrender. He wasn’t pleading as oft is the practice for me to come and make peace with God. He was sounding a warning that that was my last chance. I was torn. Why can’t God come and meet me in my seat in the pew? He knew my heart. He knew I was ready to accept Him into my life as my Lord. And He is omnipresent. So why can’t He reach out to me where I was seated and receive me there than wanting to make an open spectacle of me? While these questions were lingering in my heart, the pastor had started counting seconds for me to come out and surrender my life in totality to God if I wanted to live. The pastor did not point at me, but I knew God was addressing me specifically through him. Well, I had to run out to the altar in “total surrender” to Him. I asked Him into my life as the Lord of my life, and till now, that is still the best decision I have ever made. I later realized as the year 2002 kept progressing that it wasn’t me, but the devil and his mark upon my life that was made an open spectacle of, that particular night.
My healing wasn’t instantaneous after that cross-over night.
Into the year 2002, as the days were progressing, it appears as if nothing was happening. On the contrary, things seemed to go worse. When normal/healthy people were complaining of hot weather, that’s when you’ll see me drinking hot pap on a hot afternoon. When they were complaining of cold, that’s when I’ll be feeling like I’m in a lake of fire. While praying for a sunny day, it seemed to rain. Still, I kept on praying, studying the Word of God, and claiming all the promises made in the Books of Psalms 103:1-5, 118:17; Matthew 8:17, 1st Peter 2:24, and 3rd John 2 concerning divine healing. I had plenty of time on me then and whenever there was electricity, I’ll watch Christian programs on Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) and believe God for my miracle.
The first breakthrough came in the form of a word from Pastor Rod Parsley, as I was watching one of his daily telecasts on TBN. Rod Parsley is the founder and lead pastor of World Harvest Church in Columbus, Ohio. The word opened the channel through which the healing powers of God flowed through me. My prayer is that: as many as find themselves in such or similar a situation as I found myself years ago, that this word will have the same effect on you as it had on me, in Jesus Name… He said, I mean, God said through him something to the effect that, “when doctors say there is no treatment, they are correct; when they say there is no cure, they are also correct. But when they say there is no HOPE, they’ve gone out of their territory.” It was this “hope” that I held on to that brought about the transformation that gave birth to a new entity called me. By the first quarter of 2002, I was healed completely and made whole. Fully restored!
How? I still do not know. But I remember that there was a day in my dream that I saw myself in an operating room. Bad parts were being removed from my body and were replaced with good parts. After that day, I woke up and felt different. And things were not the same anymore.
That same year, I wrote the college entrance exams without studying for it, passed it, and got admitted into the university. I began to play soccer all day at will and ran for miles without running out of gas. I could again lift 50kg bag of cement or bag of rice with ease. Since then, I’ve not worn anything clothing or footwear short of designers. I still give out clothes till this day. And as am writing this testimony, I am living in the United States of America, a father of two beautiful boys that bring abundant joy to my heart, and a citizen of this great country. Dreams that 18 years ago almost died at the altar of drug overdose.
Isn’t God wonderful? Such a compassionate and faithful God! Then it appeared impossible. I was convinced I was going to die. I was counting days for real. Men wrote me off. But did He?
Folks, you may find yourself in the same or similar situation as I found myself 18 years ago. Please go to God in prayer. Surrender all to Him. It will be a decision you’ll live to relish. If you are not in similar situation, see, you need not be, because the grace that saw me through may not be available to you. Still surrender to Him today. Tomorrow is improbable. Yes, some may have all the riches of this world put together. Whatever they want, just at the snap of their finger, they get it. But despite all their acquisition and affluence, deep within them, there is this persistent feeling of emptiness (absence of peace) all they have cannot fill. Jesus Christ only can fill that emptiness. He is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), you know? Ask Him into your life today to be your Lord and His peace that transcends all understanding shall keep your heart and mind through Him (Philippians 4:7). Peace and Joy that money cannot buy. Or maybe, you think that your sins or whatever atrocity you may’ve committed in the past cannot be forgiven. You miss it, dear. He is Love Himself (1st John 4:8). His love is boundless. Wait a minute! Wasn’t He the one that went all the way to Calvary for you and me, while we are still languishing in sin (Romans 5:8)? He has paid the price in full. Do not allow the devil to convince you that you are too messed up to be cleaned up. The Blood He shed on the Cross of Calvary can wash away every sin no matter how dark, no matter how dirty. In as much as you would want to let go of fornication, adultery, murder, lying and their lot; in as much as you would not want to continue in recidivism (Ephesians 4:28), He says to you, “Come now, and let us reason together: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool (Isaiah 1:18). If on the other hand, you have the world on a platter, and nothing seem to bother you. You answer to no one and you conduct yourself the way you wish, exporting and importing hate crimes and spreading all manner of wicked works. Well, watch it. This is your chance to retrace your footsteps. There is a Supreme Being that we all will one day give account of what we did with the life that He gave us, here on earth. A day of reckoning is coming. A day of God’s Judgment is coming. Where will you spend your eternity, after here? It doesn’t even matter whether you are an atheist. That does not remove the reality of Heaven and Hell. Both are as real as we are. Heaven for the Righteous and hell for the haters of Christ Jesus.
Whoever you are reading this testimony, I implore you with the love of God, resolve in your heart to seek Him out and ask Him into your life as your Lord today. You’ll be glad you did. Every one of us need God! All you need to do is to go humble yourself in prayer before Him. Confess your sins to Him and ask for His forgiveness. Ask Him to give you the grace to forsake and never to go back to your sins. Acknowledge that He died a shameful death to save you. Acknowledge Him as your personal savior. And ask Him to come into your life and reign as Lord.
Now pick up your Bible and let us read: ‘I am the Resurrection and the Life…’