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.
The Benefits of Praying and Fasting; How I Got My Job After a Long Wait

The Benefits of Praying and Fasting; How I Got My Job After a Long Wait

 

It was in 1999. I’d just graduated from the Federal University of Technology, Yola in Nigeria; and just finished my youth service (we served the country for one year). I sought a job from November 2000 to October 2001.

 

I come from a Moslem family and my father had many political and business networks.  He was ‘well connected’ as they say in Nigeria. Incidentally, I studied Chemical Engineering at the University so it was nothing for him to connect me to his friends working at the oil companies in Nigeria.

My father contacted many of his friends on my behalf. One time, I received an envelope encasing a letter from the president’s office; to deliver to Shell Nigeria for employment considerations. I still remember the letter, it had an engraved Nigeria’s coat of arms. I hadn’t seen such a well-designed letter. 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 back from that office to date.

 

 

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 an opportunity in Exxon Mobile. We even contacted the then Chief Security Officer (CSO) Rivers State Government for a position in Nigeria LNG Limited (NLNG) Bonny, yet nothing came from it. I applied to several companies but no one gave me a callback. The intriguing thing about everything 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 1 year.

 

 

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 announced, ” doors began to open”. I was swamped, daily by such suggestions from my Dad and my half-sisters who by the way thought I was too proud to take anyone’s advice. It got to the point where my father commenced verbalizing his dissatisfaction with me. He said he had done everything possible a father could do for his son. He had put me through school;  he took me to his friends with high status. “There must be something wrong with you”.  I must have been cursed with some sort of bad luck,” he suggested, angrily. “Christianity is a useless faith,” he continued, “We pray five times but you Christians pray only once. Which do you think will have more power?”

 

 

 

 

I decided to do something differently…

Perplexed by all the rantings and disappointments, I told my dad I needed to go away for five days. On 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 during 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  Jeremiah 17:5, The scipture 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,” The Lord rebuked me. Ah, 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 stumbled upon Psalm 102:13 which 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 those words were whispered 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 some tune or some music. I only stopped for not wanting the neighbour to think I was crazy. I had a reassuring peace that God had heard me.

 

The next day, Tony my friend visited me. And out of excitement, I told Tony that I was going to get a Job. He looked at me expressing surprise like, what has come over you? Seeing, we have both been looking for a job for the past year.  He asked, “so what has changed?” Anyways, 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 down for an interview.

 

This was the first interview letter I’d received after countless 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 doubts in my head asking “How are you sure you’ll be selected?” The results came out, and I learned that the company selected those who had a score of 70 and above. I luckily scaled through with slightly above 70 marks. There were many others with high scores in the ’80s and ’90s.

 

In preparation for the 2nd interview phase, I read all the 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. 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 a 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 almost word for word what I’d read from my diary that morning. Seeing this,  excitement gripped my heart. My first words 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 had already received a rejection letter. This made me all the more nervous. I called the company to find out what was happening and was advised 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 —as was my custom— in the Assemblies of God church in Port Harcourt city, Nigeria. 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. On arriving at the company’s building and having waited at the reception office for a while, the Managing Director summoned me into his office.  We began to talk. The director asked me questions starting with subject-specific questions and gradually veered into more general questions. This 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 replied, that 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…

Kate later explained 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 an employee who 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 to me. This God is good! All glory to God!

 

 

  I learned that…

  1. We shouldn’t trust in the arm of flesh— my letter from the office of the presidency.
  2. As believers, we cannot dictate to God ”Use this man or this person”. Let God use whosoever he wants to.
  3. 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.
  4. The promises we claim by faith are promises that are revealed to our spirit. It feels as though you’ve already received it when the written Word becomes revealed to you. We must, however, properly position ourselves to hear God.
  5. This experience increased my faith by leaps and bounds. I was able to respond to my father that God was alive. What my dad couldn’t do, God did for me.
  6. 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.

 

Oh, thank you, Jesus!

God Bless you for reading!

—Submitted by Omotayo from Norway

Have you had a similar experience? what happened and what did you learn? Please comment below. We’d love to hear.

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When God Helped me Through a Tough Disappointment; How to Overcome Difficulty with a Good Attitude

When God Helped me Through a Tough Disappointment; How to Overcome Difficulty with a Good Attitude

Disappointment to a noble soul is what cold water is to burning metal; it strengthens, tempers, intensifies, but never destroys it.” — Eliza Tabor

Have you been disappointed or hurt by a dear friend, a colleague at work, or a relative?

Who sets out for the day hoping to be let down by anyone?  Distress, disappointment, and hurt sometimes find their way to us when we least expect them. However, building inner strength prepares and strengthens us in times of distress.

Disappointment and hurt come with life. At some point, we’ll either offend someone or be offended. But just as an abrasive smoothen out rough edges on materials, distress can be an abrasive that helps refine us.

How we go about disappointment and pain, however, determines how refined or boorish we’ll become. Our response goes a long way in shaping the quality of life, friendships, freedom, and opportunities we’ll experience afterwards. It also affects our ability to pursue goals with energy and persistence. 

The scripture puts it this way:  “A broken (crushed) spirit saps your strength, but a cheerful heart is a good medicine” —Prov 17:22 

iwannatestify

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I received shocking news…

It was in February 2012, I’d only returned from my four (4) weeks vacation. Like any other day, I resumed work at one of my company’s branches. I’d phoned one of my colleagues who was also the store manager for some help. But her response over the phone gave me an inkling that something was amiss. She added also that she’ll be coming to meet me in my branch office shortly.

My branch manager walked in with a gloomy look that confirmed my suspicion. She narrated some incidents that had occurred while I was away. Then she made some staggering statements that weren’t true about me.

As those words swirled around my head, I could only freeze. I lost all ounce of strength to defend myself, let alone a clue of what to do. In my wildest imagination, I didn’t see any of those accusations coming.

As I stood startled, trying so hard to think straight, she then announced that I would no longer be working with them; I had two weeks to make an appeal. 

I learned only a few days later that there’d been some chit-chatting behind me while I was away. This was only the aftermath of their conversations.

Fear, mixed with anger, gripped my heart. The world stood still at that moment as myriads of thoughts raced through my mind. “What would people say?” I’d testified how I miraculously got the job. “What a bad example you are, how will we pay our bills? No other person will want to hire you…” The thoughts kept flowing. 

I felt so angry and hurt as everything within me was yelling, “lash out!”  Just then, I heard this gentle whisper of the Holy Spirit saying to keep calm.

Somehow, I restrained myself. The days that followed were simply horrible!  They were filled with confusion and bewilderment. I felt no strength or motivation to do anything. This reminds me of what the scriptures say in Proverbs 24:10  “ If your strength fails on the day of battle, your strength is small.”

In other words,  if we sink, withdraw, slack or quit, on a day of affliction, troubles, distress, or challenge, our ability and strength are insufficient.

We fight back with strength from our Spirit within…

Now, my thoughts were blurred with anger and disappointment. Yet, as I studied and pondered on God’s word, the anger gradually diffused. One day, the thought that ” Everything works together for good to them that love God and are called according to His purpose in Romans 8: 28” occurred to me.

This thought suddenly gave me an assurance that everything would go well. I was quite unsure of what to do, so I spent more time with God in prayer and in the Word, trusting Him to direct my steps.

Avoid the temptation to run off to go tell people a negative report before speaking with your father above. Sure, we may seek counsel from people but let’s learn to consult God FIRST. That shows we trust and value His opinion more than anyone else’s.

Regarding this, the Bible says: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his arm, whose heart turns away from the LORD. He is a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land. Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD”— (Jeremiah 17:5-7).

As the days passed, we (I and my husband) felt we should contact a lawyer. Meanwhile, one day, I felt led to read Matthew 5:44-48 please find time to read). Paraphrasing, it says: to love our enemies, to pray for those who persecute us, do good to those who hate us and to bless and do not curse.

With God’s help, I prayed this way. I asked God to forgive my colleague. I started saying that I loved her, I forgave her, and I prayed for God to reveal Himself to her. Gradually, I noticed my attitude toward her beginning to change from anger to compassion. I couldn’t speak ill of her anymore. I’d forgiven her.

Interestingly, on the day of the hearing, even my other colleagues I hadn’t called upon spoke up for me. I was shocked at the outcome of events in my favour: The company apologized profusely and annulled their statement against me. To say the least, I was restored to work.

Surprisingly, like the ricochet of a bullet, the store manager was demoted and replaced some weeks later.

Two years later, after we both had left the company, she called me to apologize that she offended me. Glory to God! 

It’s so exciting to watch how God fights our battles when we approach issues His way; God designed for us to overcome ALL hurt and challenges of life with a good attitude.

My Key Takeaways

  • God’s word gives us the right perspective to deal with relationship issues; if we make time for God’s words, it will show up in times we need it.

  • People’s bad attitudes shouldn’t change our good attitudes.

  • God uses situations, both good and bad, especially people’s bad attitudes, to refine us.

 

  • A strong spirit can stand in anything (Prov 18:14). God’s Word is food for our spirit. It becomes our thoughts and words if we feed enough of it. God’s word can work through us helping us overcome any challenge.

  • Entrusting our lives to God helps us respond to negative circumstances out of a living relationship with Jesus Christ —love and not bitterness.