Tasting failure for the first time in summer 1983 devastated my fourteen-year-old soul very badly. I got my WAEC results and couldn’t reproduce my above-average performance that had characterized my High School years. Only 5 years before was end of year at St Michael’s Primary School and I was the cynosure of all eyes as I got the best result in all subjects in addition to being overall best in all the arms put together. In a hurry to see us grow up, Dad had registered my brother for the School Leaving Certificate Examinations the year prior and he had gone to High school a year ahead of time, and I had to use his registration in tow. My immaturity caught up with me and turned me into an average student. I however kept performing enough to earn annual promotions until failure came at the end of it all.
Hope seemed to revive when my mum sold her moribund Volkswagen Beetle car to register me for a repeat examination the following year but there was such a grinding poverty that befell the family which made payment for classes a discarded idea and at fifteen, I failed again. With no job to do, nowhere to go, I fell into a pit of depression. The future looked gloomy and it was unthinkable that I would ever amount to anything in life without a university degree. It was obvious that education or a lack of it had differentiated between the rich and poor, the elites and the masses, the celebrated and the ridiculed in the Nigeria of 1980’s. I contemplated suicide but lacked the courage to execute it. The sun had set on my promising young life.
With a battered self-esteem, I became the meekest man on the face of the earth and put up no resistance when an Uncle invited my brother and I and another Uncle for a ‘Holy Ghost Seminar’. It was a bunch of young men and women, mostly university students that made up the small group of Pentecostals who organized the event. Although I had viewed them before with disdain due to their charismatic displays and speaking in strange tongues, I could care less as long as their fanaticism could get me out of my hopelessness. If God was in their foolishness, I was ready to find him there. It was at this event that I had life-changing encounters with God that got me on track with Him spiritually. Sermons by ‘Brother George’ who would become a mentor to me, his older brothers and other ministers persuaded me the Pentecostal way was the way to go.
Almost immediately, I knew God had called me into the pulpit ministry. The passionate desire to preach, images of myself holding the microphone from place to place began to flood my heart. I imagined it would be something to do part-time like most of the speakers at the seminar, only for the conviction to grow stronger and stronger till I surrendered to a lifetime of preaching the gospel. Although I hadn’t preached my first sermon, by December 1985, the vision of a future of global travels as an evangelist had crystallized in my heart and had become an all-consuming passion and persuasion. For several months, my Saturdays were spent in prayer and fasting, asking God to confirm the calling to me and reveal His purpose for my life. While I had hoped to see fire like Elijah, a vision like Paul or hear an audible voice like Jonah, God chose to flood my heart with unshakable images of my future ministry, baptize my heart with fire for soul winning and imparted to me a sense of divine compulsion for the assignment. Truly in the words of the late Dr Myles Munroe, ‘if you want to know the purpose of a thing, ask the creator of the thing’(Jeremiah 33.3).
Although my family still grappled with poverty, my academic failures had not gone away overnight nor had the global evangelistic ministry manifested, the revelation of purpose had driven away my fears about the future, removed me from the pit of depression and revived my hopes for a bright future. Laughter returned, joy was back and a young man had found something to live for. Compared to my ambition to be a lawyer and a politician before, there was nothing selfish about the new direction God was giving me. I was being called to live my life in the service of humanity. It all started within me and in the last 36 years, it has been an unfolding glory.
I have discovered that if your dream is God’s purpose;
- It will be confirmed to you if you ask Him.
- It will be so real, it will fill you with hope.
- It will come with divine equipment for its fulfillment.
- It will give you a sense of significance and contribution.
- It will connect with your temperaments and talents.
Life is unsatisfying without a sense of purpose and can remain a mirage even after the acquisition of fame and fortune. It is in purpose of God that the soul finds rest, finds supernatural strength and a life finds meaning.