Friday, 14 April 2017

Why I Believe series (part two)

The first time I realised that not everyone believed in God was when I came to the UK to study. I guess I had lived a pretty sheltered life. For the first couple of years I lived with a host family that went to Mass every Sunday but I wouldn't call them Christians; that's what they did. I went with them a couple of times but decided it wasn't for me, so I stopped going. I attended a Catholic college and met RE teachers and fellow students who were atheists. I was perplexed. I didn't go to church for about a year; I decided to do church at home instead. I was 17 years old, had been to church all my life, and had what I understood to be a relationship with God. Christianity was all I knew but suddenly I felt like I knew nothing after all. I felt alone. University was a life saver for me in many ways. I met people from all over the world and realized we were all in the same boat; everyone was new and wanted to make friends. People didn't care if you were White, Black, Asian, or Other. I walked into the first Christian Union meeting of the term and almost stopped in my tracks. There were tens, if not hundreds of students- White, Black, Chinese, you name it, all worshipping, at the same time. Some had their hands raised high. I felt like I had come home.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Why I Believe series (part one)

Recently I did a course on how to effectively share the Christian message with people. Part of the course involved sharing my own story, of how I became a Christian. I'm one of those people that can't really make out a specific time when I became a Christian. It was more of a gradual process for me. The course made me stop and think, reflect on why I believe what I claim to believe. It led me to write down what I discovered, and I decided to write the series, 'Why I believe'. The Bible talks about always being ready to give an account to anyone that asks us for the reason for our faith. It's important that as Christians we're able to share our story. We all have a story, no matter how trivial or unimportant we may think.

Here's the first part in the series:

My earliest memory of going to church was when I was about 6 or 7 years old in Nigeria. The church wasn't very far from the house, but it probably took me about 20 minutes to walk there by myself. If my parents weren't awake yet (first service started at 7am) or my neighbors weren't ready, I went by myself. I enjoyed Sunday school; got to hear fascinating stories from the Bible. My favorite Bible story was the one about Solomon and the two prostitutes. These two women had a baby each and one night, one woman's baby died. When she woke up and saw that her baby was dead, she switched her baby with the living baby and pretended the living baby was hers. The mother of the living baby woke up and realized she had a dead baby sleeping with her, and she knew it wasn't hers. As both women claimed the living baby was theirs, they went to King Solomon to help resolve the issue. His solution has always fascinated me. As the women argued back and forth, he asked for a sword and said he was going to cut the baby in two and give half to each woman. The first woman was pretty much cool with it. The second woman begged for the baby's life and asked for it to be given to the first woman instead. Solomon decided the second woman was the mother and gave the baby to her. I was bowled over by the story and the wisdom of Solomon. I wanted to be as wise as him, knowing what to do in every situation. At Sunday school we got to ask questions. I'll never forget the time a little kid asked the teacher who created God. The teacher's response was 'we don't ask questions like that'. As a kid myself, I was confused. I didn't understand why the teacher said we couldn't ask the question. I thought it was pretty simple; no one created God. If someone did, then that person would be God, and we could just go on and on forever. Anyway, that was the beginning of my journey of faith.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Is God asking me to wait?

Patience is a virtue, as the saying goes. But sometimes it's so difficult to wait, especially when what you're waiting for is good and you feel like you could do with it 'right now'! But, sometimes, God asks us to wait. We don't always get what we want when we ask for it, not because God doesn't want to give it to us, but because it may not be the right time; He may be preparing it for us, or preparing us for it.

As Christians, we're called to trust God with every aspect of our lives, including our work, relationships, goals and aspirations. But what do you do when it seems like you've been trusting God for a very long time and it’s just not happening? We must remember that delay is not denial. The fact that something is taking a long time to come to fruition doesn't mean that it will never happen. Think of it like this; you wouldn't give your child food that wasn't cooked thoroughly, no matter how much they screamed and begged for it. You would only give it to them when it was ready, in its best state. It's the same principle with God; He gives us what is good for us, but only when it is ready and will not cause us pain or grief.

We must also be ready. I'll give you an example from my own experience. I wanted to get married at 22. I felt like it was a good age to be married and I wanted to have all my kids by the time I was 30. Now God had other plans for me and it didn't quite happen how I wanted but when I look back now, I'm so glad I didn't get married then; I had very little idea who I was or what I wanted in life! Marriage is not something that you go into lightly and I just wasn’t ready. God knew that, even though I didn’t. Marriage is just one example, but if that is what you desire, bear in mind that God may be preparing you in the different situations you find yourself, so that when you finally get married, it is not stressful or burdensome for you or your spouse.

For you, it may not be marriage, it may be something else, like starting a family, getting a new job, or buying a new house. Don't give up hope. Don’t think ‘it’ll never happen for me’. God may be preparing something very special for you, and He does make all things beautiful in its time (Ecclesiastes 3:11). He will reward your faithfulness. Use the season you're in to prepare, to develop yourself and to plan.  

If God is asking you to wait, trust that He is faithful and will grant your heart's desire at the right time.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

My thoughts on Brexit...from a non-EU migrant.

Image copyright here
So, I've been looking for words to express exactly how I feel about the UK leaving the EU, and to be honest, I can't seem to find them. Obvious words like sad, disappointed, shocked and angry, don't seem to do it justice. I wanted the UK to remain part of the EU; I felt that it was in the best interests of all countries concerned. The 'Leave' campaign didn't seem to have a plan, and I wasn't going to fall for the whole 'immigration' propaganda.

Actually, the only reason for me to vote 'Leave' would've been because of immigration. EU migrants 'have cost me jobs'. As a non-EU migrant, getting a job in the UK is incredibly difficult. I pretty much got a 'dream' job offer once, only to get turned down later as the company HR realized they had to offer the position to an EU citizen / migrant first. I was disappointed and hurt. But then, I came to the conclusion that that job was not for me. I don't believe that anyone can take something that God has destined for me to have. So, I stopped being bitter towards EU citizens or other migrants. I started believing that what was mine, was mine and no one could stand in the way of my blessing.

I currently work for a company that has a good proportion of EU migrants. They are some of the most hardworking people I have ever met, and I don't say that lightly. On Friday morning, I went into work and the atmosphere was just...different. People were smiling but you could see worry behind the smiles and the light-hearted jokes they tried to make about the referendum results. I asked one colleague how his wife was doing (they just had a baby) and he jokingly said she was packing (to go back home). I smiled and joked back that he wasn't going anywhere. But, I don't know that, and he knows I can't promise him that.

My bosses were fuming; the results are going to cost the company.

I don't know what's best for the UK. I can't say that I know what the right outcome is. I know that many others such as myself prayed that God's will be done in the EU referendum results.

So, for the second time that week I knelt down and said 'Lord, you know best.'

I hope this is the right outcome. I pray this is the right outcome. 

But, every news bulletin at the moment seems to suggest otherwise.

The disgusting racist outbursts spreading across the country seem to confirm that something is seriously wrong. 

I don't want a second referendum. We can't turn back time. And even if a second referendum was called and people voted to stay, I sense that something seriously unpleasant has been unleashed and it's going to be difficult to control or contain it.

But, in all of this, I have hope. I choose to trust in Him that holds the whole universe as well as my future in His hands. God works all things together for the good of them that love Him. So, 'even if the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, I will not fear' (Psalm 46).

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

When singleness is hard...

So a while ago, I wrote this article. The purpose-driven single. That was me. 26 years old, loving God, learning a lot and confident that I would be married anytime soon. Fast forward 5 years, and on the one hand, a lot has changed. On the other hand, not much has. I still don't like to hear people bemoaning the fact that they are single. I love to give advice. That's part of the reason I wrote that article. Find your purpose. Serve God faithfully. Wait patiently. God is enough. More than enough. Marriage won't make you happy.

I meant what I wrote.

But I didn't realise that I would go through quite a bit of testing over the next few years to see how much I meant what I wrote.

Being single can be hard, really hard, when you feel like you've been waiting a long time for something that you were made to have.

For something that is supposedly good.

When you feel like you've tried to honor God by trusting Him and waiting for His best, and His timing.

God is enough, yes, but why doesn't it always feel like that?

There's so much to be thankful for, yes, but why does it feel like there's still something missing?

I don't have all the answers. But, personally, I came to a point in  my life where I knew that I had to make a choice. I was either going to just go for it in my walk with God, whether or not I ever got married, or, I could spend the rest of  my life wanting and waiting. I was either going to be fully in, or just opt out.

After a really hard breakup, I made my decision. I couldn't afford to hinge my happiness on an imaginary man that might never show up, or one that would disappoint me in the future, whether or not he was 'the one'.

I felt like God was saying to me, 'how long are you going to keep doing this, going round and round in circles, breakup after breakup, waiting for a man to complete you and make you whole, when I'm right here, all that you need?'

It took that experience to help me come to the realisation that God was indeed enough, and the only one I could really put all my hope and trust in.

Sometimes, God allows those kinds of experiences to happen, for us to come to the same realisation.

So, even though I know it's hard sometimes (or maybe even a lot of the time for some of you reading this), I pray you hold on, and just keep moving. I pray it will someday be a thing of the past for you, and you will get your heart's desire.

But most of all, I pray that even if you don't, you don't settle for less, and miss out on life and all God has in store for you.

If you only had five years to live...

So I regularly meet with a couple of young people, to disciple them and just do life together. At the moment, we're going through 'The Purpose driven life' by Rick Warren. Great book. Yesterday we were looking at the chapter that focuses on eternity and how there is more to life than life here on earth. Our life here is just the dress rehearsal for eternity.

I asked them this question; if you knew you only had 5 years to live, what would you do differently with your life right now (if anything)? What would you stop doing, and what would you start doing? One person mentioned that she would do whatever she could to see the world (a dream of hers), and another person said he would ask God to show Him what to do with those 5 years.

I had had some time to think about the question, so I gave my answer. If I knew I only had 5 years to live, there was one main thing I would stop doing.

Wasting time.

You know how sometimes you sit around just doing nothing (or maybe just scrolling through social media) and you suddenly realise that two hours have gone by and you haven't actually done anything worthwhile? Well, that's me, sometimes. So, I would stop wasting time and use it more wisely.

What would I start doing?

I would start spending time doing the things I know God has called me to do, some of which are sharing my thoughts / learning points through various forms of writing (hence restarting this blog), mentoring young people, developing myself in the area of worship leading, amongst others.

So, I ask you the same question;

If you knew you had only 5 years to live, what would you do differently?

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Songshare- O Lord, you're beautiful

So I read an article yesterday about how writing makes you a better person. Long story, but some of the reasons given were that it helps you think, makes you feel accomplished, and it helps build discipline when you write habitually.

So, here I am, writing. Again.

Anyway, I want to share a song with you; one I've known for years but still has a deep impact on me whenever I hear or sing it. It's titled 'O Lord, you're beautiful' and originally by a guy called Keith Green. One day, I'll share his story. But, for now, just listen...(I've shared the version from Jesus Culture, but you can find the original version here).

Here are the lyrics...

O Lord, You're beautiful
Your face is all I seek
And when Your eyes are on this child,
Your grace abounds to me

I wanna take Your word and shine it all around
But first, help me just to live it, Lord
And when I'm doing well, help me to never seek a crown
For my reward is giving glory to You.

I can't really put to words all the reasons I love this song, but one of them is because it challenges me.

'And when I'm doing well, help me to never seek a crown, for my reward is giving glory to you.'

I'm always struck by these words because I know that when things are going well for me, whether in some form of ministry, or in my career, when I'm in the spotlight, that's when I'm tempted to think that I got there all by myself, and it's all about me. That's when I'm tempted to lap it up, to be noticed even more.

This song reminds me every time that it's not about me, it's about Him. My reward is not an earthly crown, or praise from men. My reward is bringing glory to His name.

Let me know if it speaks to you too.