It was In 1999. I had just graduated from the Federal University of Technology Yola in Nigeria, and had finished my youth service (we usually serve the country for one year). I sought a job from Nov 2000 to Oct 2001. I come from a Moslem family and my father has huge political and business networks, “well connected” as they say in Nigeria. Incidentally, I studied Chemical engineering at the University so it was a small thing for him to contact his friends in the oil companies in Nigeria. He contacted many of his friends on my behalf, In fact, at one time, I received an envelope containing a letter from the presidency’s office to take to Shell Nigeria for employment considerations. I can still remember the letter, It has an engraved Nigeria’s coat of arms. I hadn’t seen such a well-designed letter before. I travelled from Portharcourt, where I lived at the time to Lagos. There I, and my dad went on to deliver the letter to the office of Shell’s human resources director. I didn’t hear a word till date from that office.
They disappointed me…
I’d tried quite a number of my father’s connections. We went to the executive vice chairman of Exxon mobile at the time for opportunity in Exxon Mobile, we even contacted the Chief Security Officer (CSO) Rivers State Government for a position in Nigeria LNG Limited (NLNG) Bonny, yet nothing. I applied to several companies but didn’t get a callback. The intriguing thing was that I was praying and at the same time “pressing the buttons” hoping to get help from my connections. I tried every possible connection until I burned out. This lasted about 1yr.
Something must be wrong with me…
Out of frustration, one day my well-meaning, Moslem dad had an idea. He advised me to go have a spiritual bath. He went ahead to introduce me to one of his friends that had taken a spiritual bath. ” After I had this spiritual bath, ” his friend said, ” doors began to open”. I was daily swamped by such suggestions from my Dad and my half sisters who by the way thought I was too proud to take their advice. It got to the point where my father began to verbally voice out his dissatisfaction with me. He said he had done everything possible a father could do for his son. He has put me through school. He took me to his friends with high status. “There must be something wrong with you, you must be cursed with some sort of bad luck,” he said in anger, “Christianity is a useless faith,” he continued, we pray five times but you Christians pray only once, which one do you think will have more power?”
I decided to do something differently…
In perplexion from all the rantings and disappointment, I told my dad I needed to go away for five days. Sept 9th, 2001, I left for my friend’s house in Ebonyi State for a spiritual retreat. I embarked on a three day, morning to 6 pm fast. It was in this fast that the Lord reprimand me. He said I was foolish in thinking that the arm of flesh would get me a job. He reminded me of Jer 17:5, It says “Thus says the LORD, Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind And makes flesh his strength, And whose heart turns away from the LORD”. “You have not looked up to me,” He said. With a penitent heart, I cried bitterly to God and repented of my sins.
God heard me…
About three days after the fast, in my father’s living room, I read the scripture from Psalm 102:13 that says “Now I will arise and have mercy on Zion for it is time to show favour to her; the appointed time has come.” I felt as though these words were spoken directly to my spirit. There was no shadow of a doubt that those words were for me. In excitement, I jumped up and started dancing. I danced and danced such that an onlooker would think I was dancing to a tune or a music. I only stopped for not wanting the neighbour to think I was crazy. I had this peace that God had heard me.
The next day, Tony my friend came visiting. Out of excitement, I told him I was going to get a Job. He looked at me with the expression of, what has come over you? Seeing we have both been looking for a job for the past year. He asked, “so what has changed?” Less than a week after I read that verse—around September 18th, 2001. I received a letter from the company: Fugro Consultant Nigeria, formerly called Nigeria Prodec Fugro asking me to come for an interview.
This is the first interview letter I am receiving after several applications. The moment I saw this letter, I knew it was my job. The company needed to select only 2 successful candidates. As I prepared for the interview, however, I heard this voice in my head saying how are you sure you’ll be selected? The results came out, and I learnt the company selected those who had a score of 70 and above. I luckily scaled through with slightly above 70 marks. There were still others with a score of 80’s and 90.
In preparation for the 2nd interview phase, I read all relevant books I could think of. On the morning of the interview, after my quiet time with God, I began to do a recap of all I’d read. Just then, I heard the Holy Spirit speak to my heart to pick up the diary I’d used during my youth service. In the diary contained some points I jotted down from a book called “How to answer tough interview questions” I’d completely forgotten about this diary and hadn’t opened it for a year. I opened it that morning and dusted it, then I glanced through it for few minutes and continued with my engineering book.
As I sat for the 2nd phase of the interview, I thought it was going to be a question and answer exam. Surprisingly, it was a written exam. There were 16 questions. 15 of the 16 questions were a word for word what I read from the diary that morning. When I saw this, I was excitedly paralysed. The first words that came from my mouth were “ God I thank you”. I tingled with Joy as I happily reproduced back the answers.
I didn’t receive a response after the said time…
After waiting for the stipulated 2 weeks given by the company, I was quite concerned I’d not been called by the company. Anxiously, I called One of my friends who had also made it to the 2nd round. He informed me he has already received a rejection letter. This made me even more nervous; I called the company to find out what was happening and was told to wait until I get a response.
About the 3rd or fourth week, I received a letter requesting that I come for discussions with the management. On the eve of the scheduled discussion, I attended a vigil in the Assemblies of God church in Port Harcourt city, Nigeria —as was my custom. After the prayer meeting that night, I bought a book displayed on the tables there at the church.
The next morning, I left for the management discussion with the book I’d bought the previous night. I arrived the company’s building and was waiting at the reception’s office. It wasn’t long before the Managing Director called me into his office and we began to talk. He started with subject-specific questions and gradually veered into more general questions. That was when he asked me why I was holding a Christian book. Now that was a logical question as my names reflect my Moslem background. I told him I was born a Moslem but was miraculously converted to Christianity. On hearing this, he immediately called the office secretary (the late Kate Okafor) to give me my employment letter to sign.
What I later found out from Kate…
She said that the company had already selected the 1st candidate and had reservations to pick me as the 2nd candidate. They’ve had an issue with a former Moslem employee, so this time around the company wanted people that would fully participate in the company’s values. My confirmation was delayed because my two first names are Moslem names. Even today, I often wondered why they still held on with me. Glory to God
I learned that…
- We shouldn’t trust in the arm of flesh— my letter from the office of the presidency.
- As believers, we can’t dictate to God ”Use this man or this person”. Let God use whosoever he wants to.
- People say you need to know someone before you get a job. I’ll say you need to know God and then He’ll connect you with the right people.
- The promises we claim by faith are promises that are revealed to us. It feels as though you’ve already received it when the written word becomes the spoken word. We must, however, properly position ourselves to hear God.
- This experience increased my faith by leaps and bounds. I was able to talk to my father that God was alive. What my dad couldn’t do, God did for me.
- During the times we were hoping in our connections, something kept telling me, why don’t you take out time to seek God? I knew something was not in agreement with my spirit but because I desperately needed a job, I ignored the HolySpirit and tagged along; until I hit rock bottom.
God Bless you!
—Submitted by Omotayo from Norway
Have you’ve had a similar experience? what happened and what did you learn? Please comment below. We’d really love to hear.