Hef-zibah’s Story—My 18 Days Battle Continued.

Hef-zibah’s Story—My 18 Days Battle Continued.

You know the saying that you don’t know what you have until it is missing. Well, I then knew that I had a fantastic marriage. Regretfully, I started recalling the trivial things that I’d previously gotten angry over. Like hubby playing video games. If only my husband were here playing video games. I reminisced about my husband’s relentless encouragement. He would often say, Write new songs, practice your guitar, practice your singing, get better. Now, I tried to do those things, but he wasn’t here to see me.

 

Despite all, Lola wouldn’t give up on me. She called me every day for 18 days straight. Every midnight she would call me, and we would pray for hours, each time persuading me to actively participate. My brother-in-law also came through for me. I was stymied in visiting my husband at the hospital, but my brother-in-law would occasionally visit. One time, he put through an audio call where we got the whole family to speak with hubby. And when it got to my turn, I started singing. Slowly and gradually, my husband started to move. He wiggled his toes and finally opened his eyes. The nurse rushed in to check if everything was fine. She stood in amazement. she said, “Do you know how many drugs we have used to sedate him?” She wasn’t expecting him to wake up quite yet. We have used three (3) different sedatives to knock him out, the nurse pointed out. “If he is responding this good, maybe in two or three days he’ll be out of here”. And with that slender glimmer of hope, my heart was strengthened.

 

I hear a different story. Only two days later, the hospital notified me that my husband had gotten worse. I don’t get it. “Are you people conducting an experiment with my husband?” I raged. There is a different thing attacking the lungs, the doctor answered. It’s bacteria; He’s having pneumonia. I wondered what they were doing there at the hospital. How can we bring a patient to the hospital, and he’s getting worse? This is nonsense! “I hollered at my brother-in-law in frustration. I was upset.

 

The next time the doctor called me, I demanded to know what they were doing to my husband. Oh, we ran a test, the doctor replied. “He has a strong cough, which is good, but it is not good for the machine. He is fighting the machine, so he needs to relax”. “Give me the names of the drugs” I insisted as if I knew all about drugs. “I got the names and began researching drugs used on COVID patients.

The hospitals were swamped. On Saturday when my brother-in-law went to visit hubby at Peter Lougheed hospital, the previous one-to-one 1:1 patient/ nurse arrangement had suddenly turned to one nurse to three patients. Next, I hear that they’ve moved my husband to Foothills, the hospital that I initially wanted him taken to. But no one informed me before they moved him. Upon that, they wouldn’t let me see my husband and it is one week now.

At Foothills, the nurse called me as the next of kin with surprise news. She told me they had iPads that patients could use to talk to relatives. I still couldn’t visit – except it was the end of life. I was elated.  I was overjoyed to see my husband ‘virtually’ for the first time after a time that seemed like forever. My husband could barely keep his eyes open when I saw him. He heard my voice and opened it before shutting them again.   ‘’ His lips were as dry as the desert. However, the nurse assured me she’ll take care of him here. I spoke and sang to him for about 30 mins to 1 hour. With the many requests from family, in the following days, we set up a video call with our extended family from Canada, the US, and Nigeria. We all saw him, oh what a heartwarming time!

I received a new report on Tuesday: He might have caught a bug. My husband’s eyes were entirely red-shot. ‘’What is this, how did this happen?” I questioned. The Nurse wasn’t sure.  The nurse thought it might have to do with the move. “I need to speak to a doctor” I demanded. I just want to let you know your husband is doing well. The doctor tried to console me. But the nurse just told me otherwise.  “What is happening there?” I fumed. Oh no, he said, “Looking at it from all his charts, I am telling you he is doing well. We are looking for ways to get him out of Coma. “I need to know the truth, is he doing better or worse?”. My heart was begging for answers.

 

That evening the nurse called me back. Possibly scolded for giving me that information, he said the test came back. My husband did not catch any bug and he’s even virus-free. “You mean, no more COVID virus?” Yeah! Hallelujah! I screamed in excitement. “Can you make an exemption for me to visit now?” I inquired excitedly.  Since my quarantine would end the next day, the nurse said I could come that day. I took that invitation with a grain of salt. I reasoned, why were they suddenly asking me to come? Perhaps it was the end of my husband’s life, and this may be a trick to lure me in to see him. I was afraid.  The doctor called me the following day, reiterating their exception for me to come to visit. Now, aghast, I wondered If I could get myself to visit the hospital.  I eventually summoned the courage to go see my husband that fateful Wednesday. I walked past a room – covered with a transparent curtain- and I couldn’t even recognize my husband’s frame. He was semi-conscious with very many tubes, and wires connected all around him.

 

When I asked to speak to a doctor that Wednesday, I got to speak with a resident doctor since most doctors had left for the day. I asked about the condition of hubby’s health and if there were any hopes of us leaving soon?  The resident doctor said that many patients get to stay in the hospital for three (3) months “What three months?” I lashed out.  I rejected that prophecy. At the hospital that Wednesday evening, however, I was asked to come the next morning if I wanted to see the head doctor. Meanwhile, I and Lola had been praying that my husband would come out, as in, walk out the door by his birthday, Friday just 2 days away. Lola would ask me to point to the door. We prayed that the Lord would order his angels to get him out of the hospital. We said you will walk through this door; you will come back for your birthday.

Thursday was the last day the head doctor watching over my husband since arriving Foothills would be around, so that would be the last chance to see him.  My request was “Please Lord, bring him out of COVID. Eventually, they opened visitation to me from 9 am to 9 pm. Another friend reminded me that there was Wi-Fi at the hospital, and I could work from there since I was working from home. I jumped at that idea. Then there’ll be no excuse not to visit.  I packed my things and left for the hospital. About shortly past 9 am that Thursday morning I was at the hospital, waiting for the doctor to do his rounds. The rounds were delayed. Finally, at 12:00 noon I got to talk to the Doctor.

 

Yet another conflicting report. This time the respiratory therapist informed me that they needed to take my husband off the ventilator, however, the doctor tells me something different.  I felt lied to, so I called my friend in Nigeria. I complained, the doctor says this, and the nurse says this, whose report should I believe?” We shall believe the report of the Lord”. My friend thundered. “His report says your husband is healed; His report says he is well.” Before the doctor came in that day, the respiratory therapist said they tried lowering the ventilator support for my husband, but then he started to cough.  I begged the respiratory therapist to test my husband again, “I’m sure, he will do well”. Well, immediately after the first test, the nurse insisted they change his position.’’ The moment they changed his position, my husband reacted.  His BP started rising and thus they halted the test.

During the rounds later that afternoon, the respiratory therapist reported that they tried to do the test this morning, but he didn’t do well. The doctor said it wasn’t ethical to keep his mouth open for more than 12 days. Seeing that my husband had passed that mark, they planned to do surgery (incision to his throat) the next day. ‘’ Tomorrow is his birthday! It is not the day to cut anybody’s throat’’ I lamented. Then the doctor remarked that I ought to be grateful my husband was still alive as many had died in this situation.

On my way to the hospital Friday the next day, I called the nurse to inform her that I was on my way. She replied, “Just come, nothing is happening for Him today “. In my mind, I said it is a lie. That morning, on Cover2Cover we read of the children of Israel, finally leaving Egypt and I felt that was a sign. Today is his birthday. Something will happen. Surprisingly that Friday on his birthday, a new doctor arrived. This doctor, Dr. Chip was sent from heaven. The doctor empathized, “What can a hospital give to a man on his birthday? Let us try to bring him out of the coma”. There were some hesitations with the new respiratory therapist. However, she later obliged. Anyway, long story short. They planned to do one test. And if he breathes by himself in the three (3) hour test period without any help from the ventilator, they’ll take him out of the coma. Then I asked the respiratory therapist, “What are you looking out for?” “His oxygen needs to be at 96 /94 without the support of the machine.” Right away, this became our new prayer point

Instantly, I sent out words to friends to please pray for my husband ‘’ They are running a test. Please pray, so that they can bring him out today”. In that whirlwind of medical activities, I paced to my husband and held his hands. I whispered to him saying, “You have to relax. Breathe and pass this test, so we can go home. Ok?” He nodded—he could communicate by nodding, blinking, or wiggling his toes.

 

Meanwhile that day, I asked my husband if we should release or pause the song we had previously planned to release on his birthday— I could only ask yes/no questions. The song was a thanksgiving song ‘Exceeding Grace’, I personally thought we should wait until everything was ok.  He gestured that we should carry on with releasing the song. “How will we be praising and singing to God when we were still in the middle of this storm?” It didn’t add up. Anyway, by faith, we released the song.

 

I thank God for the new doctor. He did a great job defending us. I kept watching my husband’s oxygen during the test. After about two hours, I heard the respiratory therapist speaking with the doctor, outside. Saying, he is not doing well. The doctor told her don’t worry. Go ahead and do it. At worst, you will put him back into a coma. Then she complained again saying, it’s usually hard to put a patient back into a coma. “How did you put him in a coma at first? Did he give a problem when he was out at first?” The doctor asked.  She now said no. He didn’t really give many problems. I kept wondering, “Why are they saying the numbers aren’t good. The number seemed fine to me. He was breathing at the 96 mark the respiratory therapist mentioned. It was then that the nurse revealed to me that there were other numbers being looked at. They looked at how deep of a breath, and how long he was breathing for. With the doctor’s order to go ahead, they proceeded to take him out of the coma. At that same instant, a pastor, Rev. Chris Delvan from Kaduna State in Nigeria called my phone.

 

‘’I heard your husband is at the hospital, is he there with you? ‘’ I answered yes. He ordered me to hold his hands. He began to pray. He prayed, declaring that every chain of darkness be taken off him now. Almost at the same time, right before my eyes, all the cords, and tubes that had been wound all over his neck and body were being removed.  The pastor continued” We lose everything off his body. They were now removing the gigantic balloons that they put in his throat. Everything! Ah, it was like deliverance! The respiratory therapist then asked, can you open your eyes? He opened his eyes. Can you say something? In fact, before the completion of the sentence. He screamed “Aaaahhhh”. she asked can you talk to us; He said in a croaky and hoarse voice “Hello”. But that voice was music to my ears. The most beautiful thing I had heard. Before we knew it, my husband’s phone started ringing. Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday. The breathing continued. By the grace of God, he could sustain himself without the ventilator. Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Praise … the Lord! Hallelujah.

True to Genesis 50:20: As for you, what you intended against me for evil, God intended for good, in order to accomplish a day like this…to preserve the lives of many people.” To God be all the glory! Oh, what a merciful God we serve!

 

Man is prone to error but God does not make mistakes; he will hold fast to His promises. Let’s search them out and use them as keys of the Kingdom of Heaven to petition for the miracles Christ wants to give you and receive them with Thankfulness!

Here are Some of My Takeaways.

Takeaway #1 Praise works wonders

Takeaway #2: Carefully choose your inner circle who can pray with you through a storm

Takeaway #3: God is real, His miracles are real, and His love and mercy are most real!

Takeaway #4Even though he was still in a coma, my husband said let us praise God. Even though we had not seen everything we wanted, he said let us praise God. That is faith

Takeaway #5: Don’t station your faith in God based on the pain and distress of the moment, anchor your faith on the unchanging, inerrant word of God. And locate people who will remind you when you’re swamped in your troubles.

Takeaway #6: Choosing to continue doing what God instructs us even when it bites is proof of our faith in God.

Indeed, I will exalt you, Lord,  for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me. Lord my God, I called to you for help,  and you healed me.

 You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead; you spared me from going down to the pit. Sing the praises of the Lord, you, his faithful people; praise his holy name.

For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favour lasts a lifetime weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. (Psalm 30:1-5)

 

Hef-zibah’s Story—My 18 Days Battle Continued.

Hef-zibah’s Story—My 18 Days Battle

It all started in January 2020, right after the cheer of Christmas and the new year. That cold winter day in January, my husband, a loving, decorous, and otherwise healthy husband left for work. The day was like other days. The only difference was that they announced in his office that day, that someone was sick and so everyone including my husband, had to take a COVID test. Two (2) days later, the result came out and my husband broke the unexpected news to me that he tested positive. I paused in shock for a moment. “But you are very healthy and there’s nothing wrong with you” I protested. “How can that be?” I asked incredulously. I assured myself that the hospital must have mixed up the results. I didn’t like the sound of this, but it wasn’t something we couldn’t handle. Maybe my husband was just asymptomatic.

In the days that would follow, my husband started showing flu-like symptoms. Since it was just like the flu, I began giving him juice from the native concoctions of ginger, lemon, garlic, and all sorts. Then, almost like the attack of an armed band, my husband’s health took a severe hit —He got weak, incessantly coughing, and had lots of hiccups interrupting his speech. He started talking like actors in the movies when on their deathbed.

About, two (2) weeks before my husband went for the COVID test; precisely on January 2nd, 2020, the Lord laid in my heart to go through the Bible in a year on YouTube. We call it Cover2Cover. During the study of the Bible character – Job, I had a vivid dream about an evil eye that set out to attack me so that what happened to Job—he lost his possessions—would happen to me. As a result, I planned to make Cover2Cover private but was dissuaded by my husband. “This is God’s work” he interjected, “It needs to go to the ends of the World”. About 2 days after this dream I woke up in the middle of the night to a dark foreboding that my husband was in danger. It was after this dream that his office requested the mandatory test.

I tried anything and everything. While hubby’s health plummeted, I administered my husband the native mixture, and I would have him confess that he would live and not die. I was praying, screaming, crying, pleading, begging—whatever it took. One day, I rolled on the floor, pleading, ‘’Lord, heal my husband! This is not the way to treat people that serve you’’. All day, my husband would sit on the couch, looking up to the roof, and shaking. All attempts to feed or give him water failed. He would stare at me but wouldn’t seem to see me. I was clueless, confused, disoriented, and terrified. One moment he seemed aware of his surroundings, and the next he wasn’t. It got to where his favourite Kirk Franklin songs were a mere nuisance to him. His favourite psalms were no help either. My man’s health spiralled downwards with each passing moment, and I was petrified. So, I did the only next thing.

I made a panic call to our family doctor. The doctor faxed the prescription directly to the pharmacist since I had been exposed and needed to isolate. After receiving the prescription, I hurriedly dispensed two (2) tablets of codeine to my husband as prescribed. My husband slept off immediately like a sleep-deprived child. ‘’ Ah! What a relief! I announced to myself. Finally, I get to rest’’. He slept deep and long. When my husband woke up, he wasn’t only drenched in a cold sweat, but he also woke up a total stranger.

Hubby started acting strange. Next, my husband began hallucinating. He was all shaky and jittery and would fling food off my hand in my attempt to feed him. My heart sank at his cold-eyed stares at me. It frightened me seeing my husband fidgeting, wildly looking around as if he was in a strange place, with incessant painful coughing. The next day, I repeated the same dosage, thinking that he will feel better with more pills.  No, the illness did not subside. Things got worse, and I couldn’t think right.

How could I tell when it was the drugs or my husband speaking? One of those days, hubby dashed into the studio —where I host my morning ‘Cover2Cover’ bible study program— like someone who’ had lost his mind. He rushed in, screaming “Help me, help me!” oh how my heart was crushed at that sight. I abruptly ended the program to attend to my beloved husband. “Can I put my head on your lap?” He cried. When I saw how terrible my husband was looking, I announced to him that I was going to call 911 and they may take him to the hospital.  “Please don’t let them take me. I want to be with you” He pleaded. I wasn’t sure if it was the drug or my husband speaking. One thing I knew though was that whatever we were drinking wasn’t working.

That Saturday night was the scariest. As his wife, I made the executive decision to flout all COVID rules. The rules advised that my husband must sleep in a separate room, not share the same space as me, must not maintain physical contact with him, and required me to pass his meals off to him. It was now obvious that the more I stayed apart from my husband the worse things got. Hence, that night, I packed back into our room. My husband was restless the entire night. No sleeping posture seemed comfortable. We eventually made it through the next morning, but hubby was very weak and unable to stand.  I gave him a warm bath where he soaked up the warm water for about fifteen minutes. That was when I noticed he was coughing blood!

I immediately sent the picture of the blood to our family doctor ‘’I think the dosage isn’t good for my husband,’’ I complained. This was when the doctor revealed that he prescribed 1 – 2 tablets as needed and not the 2 tablets twice daily as received from the pharmacist. This meant he could take 1 tablet in a day or 1 in two days as required. So, I have been giving my husband the wrong dosage all along. I wondered.  ‘’You have given him 4 already today?’’ the doctor interrupted my thought.  ‘’Yes, because the prescription I received said two tablets twice daily,’’ I retorted. ‘’ Do not give him anymore’’. The doctor blurted. After the doctor received and saw his requested cough sample — filled with blood, he asked me to quickly call the ambulance.

When the blaring siren eventually stopped outside my house, I ambled up to the door to let them in. The ambulance team, a female and a male paramedic trotted into the house. ” It is not everybody we attend to because of COVID” The female paramedic announced to me. Next, she bent over to check my husband’s pulse and oxygen level. She observed that his oxygen level was 50 whereas a normal oxygen level is about 97 and above. She summoned her colleague to pass her the oxygen tank. “Do not move sir” She instructed while inserting the oxygen tank into my husband’s nose. They let the reading increase to about 57 before they quit monitoring. “If the oxygen doesn’t go around his body, his organs will start shutting down”. The female paramedic informed me, lifting her eyes to me. I watched, quivering.

They took my husband away from me. The paramedics now informed me they would drive my husband to the hospital, and I couldn’t come along since I had been exposed. “Can you please take him to Foothill’s hospital? ‘’ I implored. “No!” the lady paramedic replied curtly, “We will take him to the nearest hospital and Foothills is not the nearest hospital, we are taking him to Peter Lougheed”. My spirit was very much against the Peter Lougheed Hospital. That I would surrender my husband to total strangers unsettled me. “Will they take care of him properly?”. I already had my preconceived notions about this pandemic. Everything was so emotional for me. However, my husband was brave. He tried to look his best and managed to walk himself to the ambulance. I painfully watched as the paramedics whisked my husband off to the hospital.

The moment they left, I cried and cried. My heart was breaking. “I hope I’ll see my husband again” I pleaded with God, “O God! What did we do? Did it have to come to this?” This shattered my heart in pieces, and I felt all alone.I couldn’t hold myself, so I defied the paramedic’s stern warning to not call until after two hours. After about an hour, I rang my husband, but there was no answer. It was a Sunday morning and since I couldn’t leave the house, I had ample time to cry.  I prayed and cried my eyes out. I was devastated and troubled, so I started making calls to close friends and family members. First, I called my mum and mother-in-law in Nigeria. My mother-in-law was as calm as the smoothest waters. I kept trying to reach my husband, but all my calls met dead silence. I felt panic setting in as I wondered what was going on at the hospital. “I needed to be there”.

In that frustration and sensations of overwhelm, I called a friend, Lola, in Nigeria. Not entirely sure why I did but hmm, Lola was divinely appointed for that time.  she reminded me “You are a worship minister; this is the time to do your ministry”.  “Ok, start singing” Lola persuaded. But there was no song in me. I was in the pit of despair, the darkest and deepest part of it’’ I muttered up a song. A lifeless song on my lips. There was no life or heart as I sang: “Glory be to God in the highest, Amen for His mercies endureth forever Amen” Lola yelled through the phone, “Are you sitting down? Stand up! dance! praise God. Louder! I’m not hearing you!” She kept stimulating me.   Lola stayed with me on the phone, praying fervently with me for an hour.

As if in answer to our heartfelt prayers, my phone rang. It was my husband.  He was still at the emergency, and the network was jammed so as not to interrupt the machine readings. He had been in the emergency and was upset that no one had attended to him. At about 3 pm, the doctor called to give me updates. By the time the doctor finished speaking with me, I found myself on the floor, trembling. The doctor goes “The CT scan shows that your husband’s lungs have been severely infected. This is a critical case, and it could go either way. When it gets to this extent, people usually die. The virus has really damaged his lungs.” He continued “His lungs are not getting enough oxygen, but we will do our best. We will put him on a life support ventilator and then in a coma, and make his lungs stop breathing. Now the ventilator has its own side effects.” The doctor added. “Some people do not take it well.”  My head was spinning. I was like “he cannot die, he will not die. No, not this one.” “I will update you” the doctor finished.

Right after that, I called my pastor and his wife. ‘’ Help me O” I cried, “My husband’s oxygen level is 50”. My pastor’s wife, a medical doctor, screeched. The worst she’s ever seen was 68 or 70 and then the person was in a very critical state. However, my pastor reassured me saying “Don’t worry, don’t worry! Do you have communion? Do you have bread or wine?” He continued. My pastor now started making decrees. “We have a covenant with the Lord that we will not lose anyone to COVID”. “Amen” I declared frantically. I took the communion and felt some consolation.

Sunday evening, a nurse called to inform me that they were giving my husband oxygen. They put him in a special unit to monitor his blood oxygen, and if it elevated to a reasonable level, they would move him to a normal ward. Not after an hour, another doctor called to inform me that they had put my husband in a medically induced coma. “He is on the ventilator, now on life support, prone sleeping position” “Can I speak to him before you do all this?” I asked. The doctor said no as it was an emergency.” What is the assurance that he is going to come out?” I asked. We don’t know, the doctor said. “You don’t know, and you wouldn’t let me speak to him before inducing him? What if he doesn’t come out, and you couldn’t let me speak to him?” I exclaimed as tears flooded my eyes. That night, I woke up looking for my husband beside me. I thought this was all a bad dream. I groaned painfully as I thought of being a widow at such a young age. So, my husband is in a coma! Where will I get another husband? Will a new husband love me as my husband does? Will we be able to do music together? God, save me from this horrid challenge.

Disenchanted, I tried to work and keep my mind intact but then; I had a mental vision of my husband where he gave a loud wail. I instantly fell to the ground shouting: Jesus! Jesus! Over and over. It was like my heart was being ripped out. I called my mum, stressfully contemplating stopping my Cover-to-Cover program. My mom said if you stop then the devil has won. You must keep it on. Therefore, I kept up with the program but could not share publicly what I was going through. I would cry and worship on the program and people would think I was in the spirit, but I was in despair. “This is how God rewards me for wanting to do His will?” At that point, I battered with many thoughts in my head – Is God even real? Where was God when things got out of hand? How did he allow my husband to get into Coma? And now there’s no assurance that he will come out alive. No one knows anything. It was agonizingly alarming!

I started making plans of what I would do if my husband died: I wouldn’t pack anything, I would simply disappear; no one will see me again; neither my parents nor his family, no one! “Maybe this God isn’t even real, maybe these are mere stories. Why will this happen? Where are all God’s promises?”. I was angry with God. Even though I grew up in church and my parents are pastors, I had never felt so alone in my life. I had absolutely nothing to hold on to. Just anger. There was no rhema, no song, no revelation. I felt so much despair. Then I thought about many people who had left the faith. This Christian thing does not work because I prayed many times. And it felt like the more I prayed the worse the sickness got. My 18 Days Mental Battle Continues Here


 

Hef-zibah Recounts Her Blessings — How The Pandemic Braced and Then Rocked Her Life (Part 1)

Hef-zibah Recounts Her Blessings — How The Pandemic Braced and Then Rocked Her Life (Part 1)

A Story from Hef-zibah in Calgary

 

Before 2020, we were productive and used to being swamped. Sounddior, our music school in Calgary was thriving. We scampered through the day and raced to the finish line of every day. Hearing children’s excited voices drifting in and out of our house delighted us. We were making music, learning songs, teaching piano and guitar lessons. We were sharing our lives, engaging our passions, and connecting with our students. What more could we ask for? Everything seemed great.

Our basement-turned-classroom became a treasured place to many of our students. It thrilled myself and my husband to serve and minister to our pupils in this area. We loved those kids; we adored them and didn’t mind giving them our best. The only problem however, was that the pressures of holding a full-time job and running our music school were relentless.

In catering to the occasional needs of our students —snacks, after lesson entertainments, pick-ups, and drop-offs and ever so often, child-minding — we unwittingly blurred the lines between business and our personal lives. It was usual for us to make countless trips, picking up and dropping off students up until late into the evenings. As the excited moments mixed with unrelenting work turned to days, and the days rolled into weeks which dovetailed into months, our bodies gradually slipped into exhaustion.

 

Come Covid 19.

Do we move online or not?

In April 2020, we thought to move online. However we wondered if our students would willingly adopt the move to online school. We prayed that the Lord would let us retain at least half of our students. After much musing, we concluded that the benefits of going online far outweighed the fears of any unknown. We eventually took the leap of faith and plunged online. And much to our surprise, about eighty (80%) of our clientele transitioned online with us. The good part was that those who previously couldn’t enrol at our school because of distance could finally enrol. How sweet!

 

Not only did the Lord sufficiently supply for us in a season of economic upheaval, mental weariness, and surging uncertainty, He also rejuvenated our minds and bodies. Where we’d been previously too tired, too fast, too drowsy, too exhausted to continue enjoying the traces of joy, health, and blessings that were right in front of us, God slowed us down. He helped us to catch our breath and then to catch an even greater sight of Him.

 

The year 2020 ushered us into a place of new insights and increased opportunities. That’s why this Christmas, we couldn’t help but say, “Thank you Lord! How great thou art, oh Lord! How great Thou art! We are so grateful for all you’ve done and continue to do! Thank you, Jesus!”

Now, I’d like to say that this was the end of the story. But no, this was only the drive out of the driveway. The days that would follow led us through paths we had never treaded.  We clinched onto the edge of our seats desperately pleading for the ride to come to a halt. And when it did, our lives never remained the same. Kindly watch out for Part 2 of this story.

Like my friend Hef-zibah, this Christmas, let’s take some time to reflect on all our blessings.  As comely as presents, gifts sharing, sumptuous food, friends, family, light and decorations are, Christmas is so much more. It’s loving and truly appreciating the one, who steps into our mess to cleanse us, forgive us and reconcile us to the father. Amidst the bustle of the season, may we find the solitude to give Him our hearts.  For Proverbs 23:26 says ” My son give me your heart and let your eyes delight in my ways”. This is the reason Jesus came. And don’t forget to reach out and bless the less fortunate.

Merry Christmas to you and your family. And feel free to share with us what your blessings are in the comment below or better still  share your story.

 

Kindly check out our previous Christmas writings.

A Christmas Spoken Word / Poetry

Why Christmas? Three Reasons and its Promises

 

Stay tuned for Part two (2) of Hef-zibah’s story!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taiwo’s Story of Devine Providence

Taiwo’s Story of Devine Providence

Faith is about trusting God when you have unanswered questions.” ― Joel Osteen.

In the fall of 2016, I  left Nigeria to take on a Master’s degree in International Relations at a University in Norway. I was excited and looked forward to a splendid life far different from the one I left behind.  As days turned into weeks and weeks to months, however, my dreams of a colorful and brighter future were fast becoming bleak.  There I was, alone in a strange land. I had no job, relatives, or friends, I struggled to find my daily meals. The thoughts of the big fat debt I incurred for my travel  — collecting interest by the minute— consumed me. Every step I took seemed I was walking against the wind. I had to make some drastic changes.

Taste and See

No one told me life was going to be this hard. In despair one day, I asked, is the bible really true?  Is there any truth to its claims? Can I count on Psalm 34:8  Which says to taste and see that the Lord is good? “I need a change so badly and I will do whatever it took,” I thought to myself. “I will make studying the bible and praying, a priority every day,” I said to myself. Not long after  I embarked on this adventure, I started noticing something. I noticed a change in my thought process. I was becoming aware of my thoughts, and the thoughts of God about me and others. Like one who just learned a new language, I could now tell when God instructs me. The daily words and thoughts I heard from God helped me turn my countless worries about groceries, bills and my debts to Him. Moreso, the more I spent time in prayers, the less I felt the need to worry

Obedience, a Test of Faith in God

About my second year of studies, the Lord brought my attention to the few teenagers at the church. I felt the teenagers weren’t catered for and I sensed that the Lord would have me speak to my pastor about it. I hesitated at first, but when I couldn’t resist the Lord’s prompting any further, I told my pastor my thoughts to see the teenager mentored more closely. My pastor welcomed the idea, however, he said: “There’s no one to take on the responsibility, would you take on the responsibility?”

Starting this group was challenging to say the least. We had only two teenagers show up at the start and it didn’t make sense to organize meetings just for the two of them.  I continued regardless— in the rain, sun, or snowy because I realized it was the Lord’s desire.

About this same time too, the Lord instructed me to start a weekly prayer meeting at the church. The pastor embraced this idea as well, but only a handful of people were open to this, so very few attended. On many occasions, I was the only one present at the meetings —this made absolutely no sense to me— however, I knew I shouldn’t stop just yet.

I tried all in my power to be present at all the meetings  —I took Fridays off to give more time to both the teenagers’ fellowship and the prayer meetings. Meanwhile, at this point in my life,  many uncertainties were piling up. Here I was approaching the end of my studies yet I had no clue what my next steps would be.

 More Weights Stacked up

The months that would follow were stacked with even more trial weights. My visa was expiring in a few months, yet as I applied for jobs, dead quietness was all I received. I explored all possible options by applying for a PhD. studies in several countries as well.  About four months to the expiration of my visa, I got an offer to do my PhD. in Scotland. Yeah!!! I was stunned by this offer as I didn’t feel qualified for it. Though elated by the news, somewhere inside me, I didn’t feel it was the right step for me at this point —One more request of clarity added to my many requests.

At my Wits End

I kept on applying for jobs but by May 2019, I became distraught by the negative replies or should I say the dead silence from the companies. I was at my wit’s end or so I thought until the Lord asked me to quit my job at McDonald’s. “Quit my job, Lord, is this you speaking?” I convinced myself I was making this up.  Though this job wouldn’t renew my visa, it sufficiently settled my bills. “But I have no other source of support Lord,” I thought. No, I did not obey, at least not that fast.  My reluctance to obey came with a cost. I became sick and had such excruciating back pain from the job that I had to quit.

Now, with more time left to spare, I spent my days praying, meditating and applying for professional jobs. I had time for church meetings — but still no job.

My Groceries Paid for

I saw untold miracles during this time without a job. I recall one cool afternoon, I stopped by the grocery store to get some biscuits. Just as I headed out of the store, an elderly man whom I’ve met before walked up to me. He said: “The Lord asked me to pay for your groceries,” I stood there bemused. Not sure if I should cry in shock or laugh in excitement. “I don’t have much left at my house”, I thought to myself in amazement.  I  was quite embarrassed by his outlandish offer and almost shied away from the offer. Thankfully, he persisted.   I  returned home that day with a big bag full of groceries. My Landlord at some point wouldn’t even ask for his monthly bills. What was happening?

My Debts Paid

The Lord miraculously cleared my debts too. I got a report a certain week from the Norwegian Tax Office that my annual tax for the previous year was short of 12000 Kr ( $1700).  What a time to owe the government?  I was unhappy. “This is too much for me to bear” I whined.  Again, I turned to God in prayer and He showed me what to do. His instructions were simple:

1. Write down all your debts on a list  (amounting to Norwegian krone 17,000Kr   –  a little over $2,800 Can dollar )

2. Thank me for providing.

I did just that. My friends, before the end of that week, the Lord instructed someone to send me exactly 17,000kr. Incredible? Exactly, I was dumbfounded! I then looked back and realized that though I wasn’t working, God sufficiently met all my needs. The Lord needed me to focus on Him, serving him and others.

Job Search Continues

No, my need for a job didn’t vaporize. Following the disappointments from my many job rejections, I almost lost hope and thought to pursue the Ph.D. offer instead. The problem? The University didn’t release my funding. Anxiety began to swell as I mulled over the possibility of being sent back home.  Ever so often as I meditate on God’s words, His promises reassure my heart with peace like one observing fresh red roses dancing on water. However, I remained clueless.

It was a crisp evening when I visited a friend who had just put to bed. “No news yet” was my response to my friend’s question about my permit and job. Out of concern, my friend referred me to her friend who later sent me two job vacancies she found online. “How is this any different from my previous job applications?” I bemoaned. Reeeluuuctaantly, I summoned some energy and courage to apply for only one of the jobs. About one week later, I received a phone call requesting me for an interview. “This has never happened,” I exclaimed! I was startled at the thought that I almost lost this opportunity.

First-Ever Interview

The interview went well.  At first, the interviewers asked general questions and then asked how I’d been involved with youths. Of course, I didn’t hesitate to tell of my countless experiences working with youths.  The interviewers’ countenance glowed as I passionately narrated my involvement with youths. I had a feeling that I impressed the interview panel.  A few days after the interview, I received a call from the HR department of the company informing me that I’d been offered the job; my contract was sent shortly after that.

I realized that God instructed me to start the youth work not only because of the church or the teenagers but also for myself. God knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10), and He knew I would need to leverage on that experience to get my job. I eventually got my work permit despite the hurdles and I can only look forward to the glorious future the Lord has for me in this land. Praise the Lord!  God is a good Father.

As I write and think about  this story I can’t help but ask myself and if you will you too, these:

Are you and I intentionally putting in our best foot to listen and hear God’s instructions for us regarding parenting, singlehood, career, business, finances…

Have we been struggling in our healths, relationships, business or studies because we plainly are too busy to sharpen our blades?

Do we persist and continue to do the right things we know to do?

See the Lessons I Learned

  • Every challenge and hardship we face is an opportunity to engage deeper; It is a calling to taste and see God’s goodness (Psalm 34:8).
  • “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four hours sharpening the ax” —Abraham Lincoln said. We accomplish much more quickly as we sharpen our blades through prayer, meditating on the Word, and obedience. Eccl 10:10
  •  When the clouds are full of water, they pour rain on the earth —Diligence and persistence is the key to reaping all the blessings God has for us. Eccl 11:3.
  •   God rewards those who diligently seek Him.  Hebrew 11:6

Praise God!

— Submitted by Taiwo from Norway

We’d love to hear your stories and chat with you in the comments below.   God Bless You.

How God Spared My Father’s Life—Amaka’s Story

How God Spared My Father’s Life—Amaka’s Story

This time of the year as I sit back to reflect on my life, I can’t help but recall how God miraculously spared my father’s life in 2017.

It was thick darkness. A man I barely recognized was dragging a piece of material with my father. They both pulled this thing for what seemed like forever. Fidgeting, I watched this struggle occur beside a gaping hole which this man was ferociously trying to push one of my siblings into. I Shriveled in fear at what might happen to my father. My feet glued to the ground as the chills ran down my spine, and… behold, I opened my eyes. Ah! It was all a dream.

In real life though, my dad had been involved in an age-long controversy over some land with some of his kin. I understood from the dream that what I had seen was related to that controversy. I woke up knowing that something terrible might happen. I called my father and asked him about the land. I asked him to pl-e-a-s-e make peace, and resolve the issue.

 

More Death Dreams

Some months had gone by, and again,  I had another dream that my dad died and my mom was in deep grief. Seeing how critical this is getting, I Immediately called my five sisters. We agreed to pray and fast for my dad.  Not wanting to frighten my dad by my dreams, I told him to be prayerful and careful. My sisters and I fasted and prayed and believed that God had heard us.

 Yet again, I had another horrible dream. This time around, my mum and dad were out of town. In guarding my parent’s house, a wise elder in my hometown sent his son to give me a message. The message says, “ Inform your father to set his home in order for he is going to die”. I woke up soaked in perspiration.  I was in utter despair and confusion and my mind was spinning a million and one questions.

 

Your Dad will die in 7 days

To add a cup of glaze over the confusion,  my younger sister called me a couple of weeks later. In a frantic tone,  she cascaded a gloomy prophecy she heard. “My husband went to his hometown” she narrated, “ And decided to visit his longtime friend who was a man of God. the man of God  vividly described our father, his family and the recent occurrences in our family.” He went on to say that my dad had recently lost his brother and was currently burying him ( which was accurate). He now said that my father’s life was in danger. That some close relative wanted him dead. He added that my dad was going to die in seven days if we did nothing. This man instructed that my father should bring some soil from the family home and come to see him for prayers. These words were swirling through my head at lightning speed. “Oh, not again.” I groaned.

 

Is this Prophesy from God?

Totally freaking out! my sister persuaded me that we needed to act urgently. “ Dad must go see this prophet immediately along with everything he requested” she beckoned.  At first, I tried to dismiss the idea as a lie from the pit of hell, but  I was stunned by the degree of accuracy of his description of recent events. “Is this truly from God? But why should we bring some soil from the family home? Should my father go see him?” I had zillion questions. But at that moment, I remembered something the late John Paul Jackson once said: “ Peace is the potting soil for revelation”. Trying to make sense of what I heard. Just then, as in a whisper, I heard in my spirit “ Familiar Spirits”.  Familiar spirits? What on earth could they be?

Plunging unto google, I searched for familiar spirits. I found an article online  that talked  about familiar spirits in the church. The writer of that post went on to say that many prophetic voices in the church are disguised voices of the enemy. That gave me temporary relief.

Meanwhile, at my house, there was so much clamour about going to see this man of God. My sisters were on my neck to approve this dangerous escapade. In fact, even my dad was fearfully preparing to go see this prophet. There was an urgent need for us to act, but deep within me, I felt this fear wasn’t from God.

 

My Friend Asks Me Thought-provoking Questions

 Feeling hedged in, I asked God  “ What do you want me to do?”  We have prayed. We have fasted. Do we have to go to this prophet?  But you also hear our prayers. Besides, you said, “Whatever is not from faith is sin” ( Romans 14:23). In my turmoil, I asked my precious friend what she thought. I will never forget!  She asked me my deep convictions. Her many thought-provoking questions dug up my staunch beliefs about consulting said people to find answers (yes, I believe God gives instructions to his servants about issues, but for some unknown reasons, I couldn’t get myself into agreeing with this prophet’s instructions). But this phrase from my friend was the last straw that kept me resolute in my decision. “ Maybe God is testing you to see how convinced you are of your conviction”

 Hearing that response and seeing the hideous crimes many so-called prophets have rained on families, I was being careful to fall into error. I wanted  God’s will at all cost. With a fast again, I turned my face to the wall like king Hezekiah (2 Kings 20:1-11) and pleaded with the Lord for mercy. I repented a million times for my father and asked the Lord to spare his life, however, he may have deserved death. I promised God, I would publish this story if he spared my father’s life. After much deliberation and praying, I instructed my father to go nowhere but to only fix his eyes on God.

Dear friends, It’s way over one year now, and my father is very well and alive. Hallelujah!

Glory, Glory to God!

 

”I will glory in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. I sought the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame” (Psalm 34:2-5).

This is my Testimony. Hallelujah!

 

Some of the Things I Learned

1. Yes, we may be ignorant about some things, but I realized God honors our faith when we apply His Words we already know especially when we are desperately wanting to please Him.

2. We cannot overemphasize the importance of godly counsel in the grey areas of our lives; we are blessed to seek godly counsel from seasoned saints who we know to walk with the Lord. (Psalm 1:1)

3. Sometimes God does not answer yes or no, He expects us to use the scriptures we know to discern His will for our situation

4. Fear is never from God. God may send a warning dream, but the interpretation, declaration and application of the word may be subject to human error if we do not carefully compare it against the ways of God.

5. There are prophets and there are “prophets” how do we know which is which?

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me according to John 10:27-28. Diligently training ourselves in the word helps us recognize when an outlier is speaking.

6. In troubled times, we must set our minds on the Prince of Peace to receive revelation. The word:  “He keeps in Perfect Peace whose mind is stayed on Him” — (Isaiah 26:3) was one scripture I held tightly unto during this fierce windstorm.

 

I am forever grateful to our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ!

My Life Before and After Drugs; How God Saved My Life—Rob’s Story

My Life Before and After Drugs; How God Saved My Life—Rob’s Story

I was probably fourteen (14) the first time I smoked pot.  As a teenager, I became involved with a group of kids who experimented with drugs. We would gather together for fun and smoke dope or do harder drugs like LSD or MDA. Most weekends we would have parties that often involved doing drugs, drinking and listening to music.  This eventually led me to use needles to get high.

One night, I had decided to take things to a higher level, so I filled two needles with MDA and shot them at the same time. “It was powerful.” I thought.

Many nights, as I look back now, I recall my friends trying to take my drugs away from me. I won’t forget one particular night I woke up after a dramatic drug experience, my friends called me aside and told me how I’d scared them. They said I’d gone too far and asked what was wrong with me.  As I walked home that morning, I recounted my foolishness and began to consider what I’d done.  I said to myself “I could have died, how could I be so stupid?”

It was there that something extraordinary happened: I heard this voice, a startling voice that said, “Yes you could have died, but I didn’t let you because I have a purpose for your life.” I was sure someone came up behind me and said this because it felt so real. However, when I turned around, I was all alone; this scared me even more and left a lasting bang in my life.

 

Shortly after this incident, I stopped doing hard drugs but smoked occasionally; thankfully, I was never addicted to drugs.

 

We were not staunch Christians, but we sometimes attended a United Church just a few blocks from our home. The time came when my family decided to move from Edmonton (Canada) to Calgary, to pursue a business opportunity.  Meanwhile, I remained alone in Edmonton.

After about a year my parents moved, my family was struck by a severe tragedy; my youngest brother was accidentally killed.  That was probably the lowest point of my life.

“My brother’s death was an opportunity for me to leave Edmonton; a chance to leave the negative influences in Edmonton and start all over again”.

I eventually joined my parents in Calgary and soon became friends with a boy whose parents were friends of my parents.  He and his parents were Christians and there was something striking about him that drew me to him.  I think his family may have been trying to lead us to Christ.

As a direct result of my brother’s death, we began attending a church nearby to seek comfort. During this time, I went through a time of soul searching and exploring other faiths.  I read the Bible and the book of Mormon. Finally, I rejected the book of Mormon but continued to read the Bible occasionally.

One day, someone invited me to hear a young evangelist speak at a church we attended occasionally.  It was there that I heard the gospel clearly spoken. Thus, I decided to ask Jesus to forgive me and come into my life. I felt weird and quite confused as people hugged me.

The young evangelist told me that I needed to read the Bible and attend church so that I can grow.  This marked the start of my journey. Thank God! That journey has taken me a long way through many challenges and amazing experiences in my quest to know Christ more intimately.

 

Reasons to Quit the Drugs and Alcoholism

The flashbacks I experienced when I overdosed on LSD: These flashbacks were magnified when I smoked dope, and they terrified me.

Often I was awakened in the night with my heart beating furiously, and I would hear noises in my mind. It sounds like a massive wind-up machine that would release once it reached optimum strength.

Hereafter, I would see hallucinations as if I were stoned on LSD again. I was afraid the horrible feelings would never go away.Click To Tweet

Drugs entrap!!

When I started doing drugs, it was for fun; but apparently, there were risks that far outweighed the rewards.

Why Christians Need to Pray for Unbelievers

Looking back now, I wondered if anyone was praying for me to come to the Lord. The only one I could think of was maybe my grandmother. (My father’s mom). Although she never told me, and we never discussed spiritual matters, she was perhaps the only one I knew who attended church.

Paraphrasing 2 Corinthians 5: 14-15, We who have received the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ have a grave responsibility to no longer live for ourselves. But instead to be compelled by God’s love to witness, care for and pray for those around us who may be making bad choices.

The fervent effectual prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available (James 5:16)

 

My Advice to Anyone Contemplating Drugs

Drugs seem fun initially, but they momentarily become hazardous. Due to my foolishness, I became infected with hepatitis C. It wasn’t until years later that I discovered this.  At the time there was no cure; it was only last year that I received a costly treatment. Thank God! My liver was getting to a dangerous place, it could have killed me.

Motivated by My Past

Once I became a Christian, I was stirred to be a good influence on other young people and hopefully, help to prevent some of my mistakes reoccur in their lives. I joined an organization called Youth for Christ; they had a big reputation for reaching young people.  My friend and I enlisted the same day; we saw many delightful testimonies there.

My friend and I rented a large house and would often invite troubled teens to live with us. It was a tough time, yet exciting and fulfilling. We managed to get the youths involved in a program through Youth for Christ called Worth Unlimited where they worked and learned some life and social skills. One of these young people was a young man named Pat Nixon who became the founder of  The Mustard Seed a wonderful organization that ministers to many of our down and trodden out people of society, praise God!

God has done a fantastic work of transformation in my life; I can only thank him and give my life to Him as an expression of gratitude. He set me free from sin, and much more. God has a beautiful plan for each of our lives, His plan goes way beyond our understanding and even beyond our wildest imaginations.

I have been a Christian now for over 40 years now. He has blessed me with a beautiful wife, five great kids and soon to be five grandchildren. He has given me hope and a reason to live.

 

Drugs brought death and destruction, but Jesus brought life, peace and wholeness. (John 10:10)

Hallelujah!

Story from Rob, Calgary

 

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