A New Goal
January 01, 2014
A love for soccer had consumed him, but God made a change in his heart.
The home I grew up in was a Christian home where I was taught the love of God and was taken to church. A typical Sunday in our home would start with a wake up call at about 6:00 a.m. I can vividly remember recorded Gospel songs from the Apostolic Faith choir and orchestra being played as everyone was getting ready for church. We children were taught to love God and fear His commandments.
In spite of that training, one thing held me captive and that was the love of soccer. Although there were traces of the love of God in my heart as a young boy, I loved soccer more than God. I would go to church as long as there was no game. As I grew older, I decided I wanted to be a professional soccer player and trained very hard to be one. I spent a considerable amount of time watching games at different stadiums and on television, and eventually enrolled in a soccer academy in Nigeria. The trainings were very regimented and demanding, but I would do anything to fulfill my dream of being a successful professional player.
One day in 1984, after coming back from school, I used the last of my money to take a bus to the stadium for soccer practice. We were preparing for a weekend match. After a short training session, our coach told us that the professional team in our city would be playing that evening and it would be good for all the academy players to watch and learn from the professional players. I headed for the stadium, but had no money to buy a ticket to watch the match. Suddenly, I thought of what my Sunday school teacher had taught me about Zacchaeus—that he climbed a sycamore tree to see Jesus. I thought to myself, If I can climb one of the tall trees beside the stadium, I wouldn’t have to pay to watch the match. I did just that. I climbed so high that I was able to easily watch the match.
Although I did not climb that tree looking for Jesus, I am thankful that He was looking for me. As I was watching the soccer match, the Lord spoke to my heart and asked, “If you fall down and die, where will you spend eternity?” I had been taught that eternity will either be in Heaven or Hell. I knew I was not saved and needed to have my sins forgiven to spend eternity in Heaven. With a broken and a contrite heart, I began shaking, and then prayed a simple, honest prayer, “Lord, if You help me get down from this tree, I will give my heart to You.” Slowly, for fear of falling, I made my way down the tall tree. The Spirit of the Lord continued convicting me of my sins on my trek home. Then right in my bedroom, I prayed a sincere and committed prayer, asking the Lord to forgive me of my sins and promising Him that I would never turn back if He would save my soul. The joy of the Lord bubbled in my heart and I felt the peace of God down deep in my soul. I knew right then and there, I was saved!
My life was transformed from then on. My goals and ambitions were changed—I was no longer held captive by the love of soccer; I became held and bound by the love of God.
My life was transformed from then on. My goals and ambitions were changed—I was no longer held captive by the love of soccer; I became held and bound by the love of God. Instead of missing church to be at the stadium, I loved to be with the people of God. The Lord can make something beautiful from nothing, and I am thankful that He made something beautiful of my life.
That summer in 1984, I was at the Lagos camp meeting seeking the Lord for my sanctification. The Lord’s Spirit spoke to my heart, “What about the restitution you have to make?” Ready to do anything to draw closer to the Lord, I promised God that I would travel to my elementary school (in a different state) to make the restitution. Instantly, the Lord sanctified me! What a cleansing! I felt clean inside and out. It was such a definite experience with the Lord. I can point to the place inside the tabernacle at Anthony Village in Lagos where the Lord sanctified me.
Soon I started praying for my baptism. I kept laying all of my life on the altar before the Lord, except one thing—the restitution I had promised to make. I prayed for four years seeking my baptism, and over and over, God would tell me to go make that thing right. I tried so hard to talk God out of it but His will never changed. Then I took my savings and traveled to the state where I had my elementary education. I was panting as I approached the gate of the school, but then I prayed asking God for strength and grace. I spoke with my elementary school teacher and told her that I had stolen some writing materials when I was a student there, and that I had come to pay her back and ask forgiveness. At first she looked shocked, and then said she was humbled that a teenage boy would make so great an effort to come and make such a little thing right. Although it seemed small to my teacher, it was big enough to deprive me of wholly consecrating my life to God and receiving my baptism. She willingly forgave me and asked which church I attended. When I headed back to Lagos I was full of joy.
When I returned, I was hungry and thirsty for the Lord and began to seek to draw closer to Him. I wanted Him to show me if there was any part of my life that was not consecrated, and I dedicated my life to God again. The following Sunday, we had a visiting minister come to our church. Just before he stepped to the pulpit to preach, there was a loud sound of a trumpet! Then the visiting
minister asked, “If that had been the sound of the Trumpet of the Lord, would you have gone to Heaven? Is your all on the altar of sacrifice laid? Have you received all your Christian experiences?” Those words cut deep into my soul. The minister did not have to preach for long as everyone rushed to the altar to pray and there was a mighty revival. That day, the Lord baptized me with the Holy Ghost and fire.
I am thankful to God for all the privileges He has given me in the Gospel. The Lord has blessed me with a wonderful Christian wife and we have both enjoyed serving the Lord together. We have been blessed to raise our three beautiful children in this Gospel and to watch them grow in the love of God. The Lord also gave me the wonderful privilege to work as a secretary for the former Overseer of Africa, Josiah Soyinka, until he passed away. The journey of faith has not always been rosy, but God has been more than a match for every situation in our lives. In all the countries we have lived—Nigeria, Canada, and the United States—we have been blessed to be surrounded by the people of God and to enjoy fellowship with the saints.
Even though it has been almost thirty years since the Lord saved my soul, my goals have not changed. I want to continue to please the Lord, lay my life on the altar, and draw closer to Him every day until I see Him in Heaven! I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, and I will never exchange it for anything. It is sweeter as the years go by. I am grateful for this life-changing Gospel and I recommend it!
A New Goal