Archive for the ‘Dairy of a Freeman’ Category

From child sexual assault to domestic violence to workplace harassment, abuse destroys countless lives. New stories filled with allegations of sexual abuse or assault by leaders and prominent persons continue to emerge. The #MeToo phenomenon has drawn significant attention to an issue that many are afraid to talk about. Only recently, some young girls spoke out against abuse by young Nigerian boys in UK universities, when they conducted a walk around the Bourdillon, Ikoyi area to bring attention to this issue. This negative trend is now impacting people in our churches and those we are trying to reach with the message of the Kingdom.

I believe many churches desire to get it right on this issue but often do not get involved because leadership may lack the competence to address the problem. Many lack the confidence to address sexual abuse because they don’t feel adequately equipped to handle the complexities involved. Others do not have sufficient training to address the challenges of sexual or even domestic abuse matters throw up. We need to understand how this issue of sexual abuse can be addressed in the light of the Gospel:

  1. Caring for survivors:

Protecting and caring for others was a priority of Jesus Christ in His life and it should be for us today. The effect of sexual abuse cannot be overlooked or minimised. The trauma experienced by a survivor of sexual abuse should drive us to compassionate ministry. Many have never told anyone and I believe when they do, they need to be met with support and care as a first response. Because it is difficult to share, we must be sensitive even to delayed, vague or partial disclosure. Even in cases where it is still an allegation, survivors should still be supported as many innocent victims who have hitherto been shamed into silence are encouraged to voice their pain. There is no quick fix to this trauma. So we need to work patiently, not shaming the survivors, but allowing time for grief. If we do not respond appropriately to issues of abuse, we will end up bringing greater pain that traumatize the individuals, and we would never be able to effectively address this issue.

  • Confronting sin:

We must call sexual abuse sin. Since we understand God’s design for sexuality, it will be sad if the world were more willing than the Church to name and address the issue of sexual abuse. Sexuality was created by God for our good. When we understand the beauty of what God designed, we can appreciate the devastating effects of sexual abuse. We cannot ignore or cover the matter. Properly dealing with sin like this reflects what we believe about God and the Gospel. When prominent personalities in the world do not offer apologies for their actions, it provides a backdrop for the Church to discuss what genuine repentance should look like. Confronting sin means we are being honest when things go wrong in the Church. We must evaluate what went wrong in order to make appropriate changes in situations of abuse. It is never late to do the right thing.

  • Seeking justice:

Abuse is not just a sin. It is also against the law in many countries. As we have seen in cases globally where there is an attempt to cover up abuse, it is usually in a bid to avoid a scandal. Unfortunately, this produces a system that empowers and protects abusers and in the end it is the abused, particularly minors, who suffer. We need to be more concerned about dealing with sexual abuse in a way that cares for survivors and demonstrates justice rather than with the fear of what a scandal might produce. We must recognize sexual abuse as a sin but also something that goes beyond the jurisdiction of the Church. This is where many organisations make a mistake by trying to handle sexual assault allegations internally. Some have blamed survivors, even those who were children at the time of the abuse and have often pressurised them to forgive rather than seek justice. There is a sense of not wanting other people to know. We don’t want to air our dirty laundry in public. But we must never pressure survivors into forgiveness. Yes, we do need forgiveness; but we must not use forgiveness to undermine the severity of sexual abuse and keep survivors quiet.

  • Protecting the vulnerable:

We must look for ways to improve our effort to prevent and stop abuse. We can protect the vulnerable through sexual abuse awareness training. We need to demonstrate that the Church is a safe place both in preventing abuse, protecting the vulnerable, and getting help for those abused. We have a God who cares for the vulnerable and hears their cries. We as His people should be like Him. The Church should be the place where victims of sexual assault find help and hope. Training on how to identify sexual abuse and respond to survivors will help members navigate this difficult topic in a Christ-centered approach. We have a long way to go in not shaming the abused. We have been too afraid of being attacked by outsiders and too focused on maintaining our image. The truth is that addressing sexual abuse gives us the opportunity to acknowledge our sins and our need of a Saviour. It also demonstrates the nature of God to a broken world.

Written by Dr Tony Rapu

In the English language, there isn’t really a word for the opposite of loneliness.

A quick Google search puts the word “popular” as the top hit, but I find the meaning of popular to be too contrived; it defines an outward setting, but misses the condition of the heart. After all, we can be completely surrounded by bodies, yet feel the emptiness of being alone.

I recently read a book of essays and short stories entitled “The Opposite of Loneliness” by Marina Keegan. The article from which her collection of stories and essays proffers its name was first published in the Yale Daily News. Marina addresses her graduating class and speaks of the camaraderie and togetherness she experienced at Yale. It was this indefinable familiarity, which produced a potential energy to make her and her classmates feel worthwhile and abundantly capable.

In describing the opposite of loneliness Marina offers, “It’s not quite love and it’s not quite community; it’s just this feeling that there are people, an abundance of people who are in this together. Who are on your team.” It is difficult to nail down a concrete definition.

I’m finding that this opposite of loneliness is belonging. It is the knowing of loneliness that gives us an understanding of the opposite of loneliness.

We cannot know what it’s like to be “un-lonely” unless we have known what it’s like to feel alone. Perhaps this mystery lies in the fact that we have yet to fully experienced the true and complete opposite of loneliness, and so we don’t know how to label it.

As we walk this earth, even if we are happily married, happily single, immersed in a beautiful community, surrounded by loving friends and family, there is still a tinge of aloneness because we are not yet fully united with our Maker—the only unflawed, all-knowing being who is love and can fill every cavity of emptiness within us.

When that time comes we will experience a union with our God that will dismantle any form of loneliness because we will belong.

We will have found a place where we are made new; we will be fully known, fully loved and can fully know and fully love our God in return. Right now, in grace, we get a glimpse of this redemption, but it is not complete; for now we will inevitably fall short in loving rightly from time to time.

So what do we do in the interim? How do we live well now in the face of our loneliness?

We fight for those glimpses of belonging for both those around us and ourselves. There is great purpose in the here and now; passivity in waiting goes against our design. We won’t lose the longing to belong, so we harness that longing to propel our world toward Jesus’ return. We use our passions, with our eyes faithfully set on hope, to love with the love of Jesus now as best we can. And the mystery and thrill of it all is that this looks differently for each of us.

In the book of Hebrews, the author interrupts his description of many faithful lives before us to share an element each of them had in common…

These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland…they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. Hebrews 11:13-16

Let us be people who hold the assurances of God in our hands courageously. Let us be people who, through the way we live, shed light on the distant homeland we seek and its promise to be whole and good. Let us lean into the inevitable loneliness now, to yearn more for the opposite of loneliness with eager expectation.

And when that day comes we will greet our Maker, having known what it is to feel alone, and experience the triumph of never having to know that feeling again. We will belong.

MEGAN SEXTON

When we went to Ajegunle for the Lagos Street Store, some vessel inside of me broke.

I felt thoroughly abused by the reality called Nigeria. I’ve been through hell before, but this one was a new level of hell.

I never did a proper recount of our experience, it was intentional.

Those kids wanted something, anything. You could see the agony when you told them you didn’t have their size, their face dried up instantly.

You need to see mothers push to be on the queue for a rubber of rice, oil, tomatoes and seasoning.

One woman kept standing close to me…

Somehow she identified that if she did, something would get to her, I died inside of me.

Then we had to mark people’s hands when they got food, so they don’t come back.

We only served food to women, but one time I heard @Tee_Tayme Scream “Daddy, Na only women we Dey give”…

I had to nudge her to give him, whatever dignity broke inside him to stand in a queue of women to receive raw food, he needs the food.

There was this little girl that screamed “me I just want books o, what do I need clothes for”

It broke me that we didn’t bring books her age.

I remember his eyes when he said “uncle, I didn’t get clothes” I was probably frustrated enough but how could I scream “what do you want me to do?”

The little boy did have genuine heart, what would he wear this Christmas.

As the holiday passed, I remembered him many times.

When we needed rubbers to share the rice with, one woman in the market gladly gave us her tomato cup, I remember how she spoke Yoruba that I didn’t understand, something about it was cheerful when she asked me to keep her own specially.

Then the area boys that almost stopped us?

I wanted to understand them, I couldn’t. How do you ask me to pay to be good to you? How do you take my 5k and throw it in my face because it was not enough to buy you cheap alcohol and weed.

For that, you were willing to scatter our efforts, I desperately wanted to understand.

With their permed and dyed hair, weed in one hand, chanting gibberish and showing feats of violence, how could any set of people be so self absorbed.

I remember the Iyaloja who stood to tell them that if they do anything to us, they’ve done it to her.

What would have happened?

I look back at all of it and realise that as @amb_ore says it, “when these kids grow up, take one bus to the island and realise that life has been unfairly distributed, then they pick up guns or their laptops to level the differences, I hope we all accept our roles in this evil?”
In fact when our bus first came, one of the locals said “Na PDP abi Na APC?” I hated that all he knew good to be was something that had a leash on his neck, something that says “to eat, you must vote for me”

Are we dogs? Are we children of ghouls, is Nigeria a haunted house?

I’ve had to take a virtual course at MIT on the challenges of global poverty even more recently and the realities are daunting. Food prices, labour costs, the lot, are indicators of doom for the Nigerian.

18000 minimum wage? Let me tell you the dynamics of that in Nigeria.

Do you know how much half a bag of rice is? About 9k. Half of minimum wage gone

I spit on your grave If you are going to tell Nigerians to live within their means from the comfort of your banana island and Lekki homes, at least take a trip to Ajegunle, I beg you, just one trip.

People have less than enough to feed, go to their jobs, pay children’s fees, and other health issues.

You know what is a global issue? Mosquito nets, should we give them to Africa for free or not?

Economists don’t have answers, whether foreign aid is helping Africa or not.

The man who is lucky enough to get a 20k paying job, is dead the day his son comes down with cholera from bad drinking water, because his salary doesn’t cover medical emergency, you can’t afford to be sick, how could you of your own volition just become sick?”
When I was serving in Enugu, my boss reduced the old cleaners salary by 1k because she didn’t come early to work one day out of 21.

She didn’t complain, she thanked him, but I saw it in her eyes, when I gave her back that 1k. I saw it.

We can’t keep preaching poverty economics

Real people are trapped behind poverty lines, depression? Na who don’t chop Dey Dey depressed nau.

As we drove off, the kids started singing “Able God” we smiled and laughed so heartily.

Were they content to live within their means? Ajegunle never answered that question for me.

It’s close to two years that I volunteered to teach maths at maiyegun primary school for 5 hours per week. I saw it, I did.

Sodiq was been flogged everyday because he couldn’t afford N2000 uniforms, I had to buy for him.

Rasheedat never wanted to go home after school, no food.

I got her lunch everyday and you could see her top the class in assignments, I remember her dada hair, I didn’t even know it was a girl for weeks.

Sodiq would come to the front of the class, sit on the floor to take notes, I never knew for weeks that he was short sighted…

He never got my class works right, I was supposed to teach for 1hour per week until I realised that the school had primary 5 A, B, C, D and E and each class had at least 60 students.

I remember @Ibukun__ coming to teach with me on one of those days. at least you saw it too.

Kids who ruled their books in halves so they could save pages. There’s that too.

But zoom out of this local school in Lekki are schools like whitesands just across the road, meadow hall, the lot.

We can’t isolate ourselves from the problems, we really can’t.

I was glad when @BankyW ran for office, these were things I would have shared with him, because a5 least, we would have access to help create equitable systems that levels society in say 20 years.

Policy can do that, legislation can.

We can’t keep glossing over real problems.

We are making huger plans for the Lagos Street Store this year, we’ve held two street stores in Osun and Enugu, it’s been massive.

We are meeting new partners, thank you @duchesskk and the @freesanitarypad team, your support overwhelmed us.

There’s more, we have to do more.

The team at @TheLagosSS phenomenal guys, I would love to name names, but we have decided to not beat a gong about our efforts, we will just keep doing.

Can’t be blind to a reality, we won’t attack pseudo issues like population expansion when the ones alive never chop.

Nah Fam.

I’ve received a lot of requests to donate to the event. @paystack has made that happen for us.

Last year, we fed 300 families, we hope to do more this year. Writing materials for kids, maybe a medical outreach, increase number of families fed to 1000.

By Stephanie Busari
Last year Ifeanyi Ugokwe was arrested and locked up for weeks. His crime: he tried to take his own life.

After weeks of being hungry and jobless, the 25-year old says he reached breaking point after a security guard pushed him to the ground while he was searching for work at a building site.

“I was tired of walking around that day. And I was determined to work there… so I tried to force my way in, then he pushed me, and I fell down flat on the floor,” Ugokwe told CNN.

“I started begging him because I was tired, I really needed that job because I needed to eat.”

Humiliated, Ugokwe went to a nearby lagoon and jumped in.

After being rescued by passing fishermen, Ugokwe says he was handed over to police officers who arrested him and put him in jail.

Attempting suicide is a criminal offense in Nigeria, under Section 327 of the Criminal Code Act, and carries a penalty of up to one year in prison. A holdover from when Nigeria was a British colony, the law was abolished in Britain under the Suicide Act of 1961, which happened after Nigeria gained its independence in 1960.

Ugokwe says he’s speaking out about his attempt to take his own life despite stigma around the subject in Nigeria because he doesn’t want people to suffer as he did.

When he woke up on the fisherman’s boat, Ugokwe says he was angry that his attempt had failed.

Following his arrest, Ugokwe was held at a cell near the Lagos lagoon, in the country’s economic capital, before being transferred one week later to another cell on the Lagos mainland.

Ugokwe says he was unaware that attempted suicide was a crime in Nigeria.
“When they put me in the cell, the first thing that came to my mind was what did I do? I didn’t kill anybody. I did not steal. What am I doing here? What did I do wrong? It’s my life, not (the) government’s life,” he said.

Shortly after his arrest in February, Ugokwe appeared before a magistrate to determine whether he had committed an offense. His case was postponed and he was transferred to another facility on Lagos Island.

It was there he met Imanuella Ojeah, a criminal lawyer and a member of the Elevation Church in Lagos, whose volunteer prison unit makes weekly trips to local prisons.

“I remember he seemed tired of life. He begged me to get him out of that place. He told me… I am not mad. I am just depressed and don’t have money to eat,” Ojeah told CNN.

Ojeah and her team represented Ugokwe at his next court appearance at Sabo Magistrates Court, a few weeks later, in April 2017. They were asked if someone was willing to act as a guarantor for Ugokwe and look after his welfare if he were released.

Ojeah found someone from the Elevation Church who agreed to look after Ugokwe and the magistrate dismissed the case.

Although Ugokwe found freedom, the legal process around these types of cases is lengthy and complicated for people suffering from serious mental health issues, says health law expert Cheluchi Onyemelukwe who is campaigning to abolish the suicide law in the country.
“What happens in the legal process is the police arrest you, put you in a cell, and then charge the matter to court and you are arraigned before a magistrate who determines whether it appears an offense has been committed,” she says.

As in Ugokwe’s case, the survivor is then remanded to jail to wait for a trial date. If found guilty, they may be imprisoned for a maximum of one year.

Although jail terms for suicide survivors are rare, Onyemelukwe says it is the process of arresting and taking them through a legal process that is particularly cruel.

Death rate for suicide per 100,000 people in Africa in 2016

“I believe it doesn’t reflect who we are as Nigerians… it is inhumane and I know that we can do better than that. I think it is probably the worst possible thing that you could do to somebody who finds themselves in that sort of situation,” she said.

Attempting suicide is a criminal offense in Nigeria, under Section 327 of the Criminal Code Act, and carries a penalty of up to one year in prison. A holdover from when Nigeria was a British colony, the law was abolished in Britain under the Suicide Act of 1961, which happened after Nigeria gained its independence in 1960.

Ugokwe says he’s speaking out about his attempt to take his own life despite stigma around the subject in Nigeria because he doesn’t want people to suffer as he did.

When he woke up on the fisherman’s boat, Ugokwe says he was angry that his attempt had failed.

Following his arrest, Ugokwe was held at a cell near the Lagos lagoon, in the country’s economic capital, before being transferred one week later to another cell on the Lagos mainland.

Ugokwe says he was unaware that attempted suicide was a crime in Nigeria.
“When they put me in the cell, the first thing that came to my mind was what did I do? I didn’t kill anybody. I did not steal. What am I doing here? What did I do wrong? It’s my life, not (the) government’s life,” he said.

Shortly after his arrest in February, Ugokwe appeared before a magistrate to determine whether he had committed an offense. His case was postponed and he was transferred to another facility on Lagos Island.

It was there he met Imanuella Ojeah, a criminal lawyer and a member of the Elevation Church in Lagos, whose volunteer prison unit makes weekly trips to local prisons.

“I remember he seemed tired of life. He begged me to get him out of that place. He told me… I am not mad. I am just depressed and don’t have money to eat,” Ojeah told CNN.

Ojeah and her team represented Ugokwe at his next court appearance at Sabo Magistrates Court, a few weeks later, in April 2017. They were asked if someone was willing to act as a guarantor for Ugokwe and look after his welfare if he were released.

Ojeah found someone from the Elevation Church who agreed to look after Ugokwe and the magistrate dismissed the case.

Although Ugokwe found freedom, the legal process around these types of cases is lengthy and complicated for people suffering from serious mental health issues, says health law expert Cheluchi Onyemelukwe who is campaigning to abolish the suicide law in the country.
“What happens in the legal process is the police arrest you, put you in a cell, and then charge the matter to court and you are arraigned before a magistrate who determines whether it appears an offense has been committed,” she says.

As in Ugokwe’s case, the survivor is then remanded to jail to wait for a trial date. If found guilty, they may be imprisoned for a maximum of one year.

Although jail terms for suicide survivors are rare, Onyemelukwe says it is the process of arresting and taking them through a legal process that is particularly cruel.

Death rate for suicide per 100,000 people in Africa in 2016

“I believe it doesn’t reflect who we are as Nigerians… it is inhumane and I know that we can do better than that. I think it is probably the worst possible thing that you could do to somebody who finds themselves in that sort of situation,” she said.

“I believe it doesn’t reflect who we are as Nigerians… it is inhumane and I know that we can do better than that. I think it is probably the worst possible thing that you could do to somebody who finds themselves in that sort of situation,” she said.

“People who are thrown into a cell right after… wonder why the suicide wasn’t successful. It makes people that I have spoken to feel helpless and feel like there really isn’t a reason to go on.”

Ugokwe says he contemplated suicide again while in jail because of the conditions he was held in.

“The worst part of it was not just that they put me in prison, it was that they locked me in a cell with crazy people. I was with mentally disturbed people. Most of the people there were talking to themselves and jumping around.”
In jail, Ugokwe says he and other inmates were forced to take pills.
“At first, when they brought the pills to me, I refused… there was nothing wrong with me, but then I was beaten and forced to take the pills.
“Those pills had terrible effects on me… all I want to do is sleep and eat.”

A spokesman for the Lagos division of the Nigerian Prisons Service, which operates prisons in the country, denied Ugokwe’s allegations.

“Allegations and incidents of force-feeding, beating and or forceful admission of medication on inmates are false and do not occur in any prison within the Lagos Command,” Rotimi Oladokun told CNN in an emailed statement.

“The Controller of Prisons, Lagos Command has no tolerance for such excesses and will not condone such under his command,” he added.

The Lagos State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Adeniji Kazeem told CNN that although attempted suicide is criminalized in the country, the state does not recommend that anyone should be locked up.

Suicide rates are usually underreported in Nigeria because of the stigma associated with it. However, the World Health Organization estimates that there are 9.5 suicides per every 100,000 people in the country.

African countries where suicide is illegal

Some common causes are depression and anxiety linked to high levels of poverty.
A 2017 WHO report found that Nigerians have the highest incidences of depression in Africa, with around 7,079,815 suffering from depression, a figure that represents 3.9% of the population.

In 2015, Lagos State amended its law to recommend hospital treatment for those who have attempted suicide.

But the law has yet to be changed at a national level and is not currently being considered for review, according to health law expert Onyemelukwe.

“We are guided by what the law says,” Kazeem says. “But in the hierarchy of offenses, this is a simple offense, and the recommended action is hospitalization.

“The law does not say anyone should be incarcerated. Attempted suicide is not a crime. It shows some form of disorder which needs medical attention.”
Kazeem added: “My office has not prosecuted anyone. The state government does not prosecute attempted suicide victims. We are not aware of any prosecutions, if it was brought to my attention, we would advise against it.”
Kazeem said police officers do have prosecutorial powers in Lagos State and he could not speak to whether such a trial went ahead in Ugokwe’s case.
However, Kazeem acknowledged that more training was needed for police officers.

“We are going to do that education process. They are doing the wrong thing if they lock up victims,” he said.

CNN made several requests for a comment from the Lagos State Police Commissioner but did not receive one.

Youth unemployment in Nigeria


Unemployment is rife in Nigeria, which has a population of around 180 million. It is estimated that 18% of the population is unemployed.
This is particularly high among young people who make up 60% of the country’s population.
Nigeria recently overtook India as the nation with the most extreme poverty in the world. Around half of the country’s population are thought to be living on less than $1.90 a day.
Despite being the largest oil producer in Africa, Nigeria has struggled to translate its resource wealth into decent living standards for people like Ifeanyi Ugokwe and many others who attempt suicide because of hunger and hopelessness.

There are frequent reports in local media of survivors being arrested and tried for attempting suicide.

In July this year, a 27-year-old man was charged in court with attempting suicide in June.
Other African countries like Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, Gambia, and South Sudan also outlaw suicide.
Onyemelukwe says the suicide law, a legacy of the colonial era, has no place in Nigeria today.
“I want Nigerians to see real people who have attempted suicide and have survived and realize that these are people who could be our friends, our brothers, our sisters, our mothers, our fathers.
“Attempted suicide in itself is a risk factor for contemplating suicide. In fact, it is the predictor of the fact that somebody will commit suicide. We are in a place where all of these laws deserve a second, a third, a fourth look until we change it,” she added.
She believes police need to be given the power to refer survivors for treatment rather than arrested and put through the legal system.
“The person doesn’t have to spend any time in prison,” she says.

Life has started to get better for Ugokwe in recent months. He’s found friends he can call on when he’s feeling sad but he’s still trying to get back on his feet.

Thinking back on his time in jail, Ugokwe says he wouldn’t want anyone to go through what he experienced.

“No one deserves that,” he said.

“At that time, I needed love. I didn’t need to be put in prison and punished for something I don’t even understand.”

BY RHONNI GREIG

In the field of special education, students with disabilities are often referred to as children with exceptional needs. As I reflect on the countless students I have worked with over the years, I am reminded of what it means to truly live an exceptional life.

As a speech and language pathologist and a student of “narrative” language, I have come to learn that we tell ourselves stories and then we live by the stories we tell ourselves.

This has never been truer as I consider my own life’s story. From a very young age I have always been directed to the cheerleading frontlines and sometimes broken pathways of working and engaging with the marginalized and disenfranchised in both my professional and my personal life—with my ultimate endeavor to be an instrument of hope, belonging, and restoration for those who have been abandoned on the periphery of opportunity and acceptance.

If asked what my spiritual gifts were, I would most confidently list mercy-showing and exhortation, but I know that these ministry gifts that God gives so freely are only a small reflection of my passion to impact lives through the love and kindness God has first extended to me.

Working with children with special needs I have witnessed them learning to walk (and sometimes crawl) among the ashes that were not of their own making. In those moments of overcoming great obstacles, I have been gifted with a rare glimpse into the shadows of triumphs that can bring redemption to life and work.

In my therapy sessions with students I see why these amazing children are considered exceptional.

It’s hard to describe what happens in the human heart when, in a moment of time, a child’s self-identity is redefined. “Disability” is no longer a part of their personal narrative. The knowledge and perspective of “possibility” releases an inner feeling that can only be described as pure joy for both the student and me the therapist.

Recently, I was captivated by the concept of ‘the glory of God’ which we read about in vivid descriptions in scripture and I wondered if there was a possible connection between God’s glory and our human experience of inner joy and contentment. I was intrigued by a message I heard from a dear friend and pastor from England, Mike Pilavachi, as he reflected on the life of Moses in the book of Exodus; and Moses’ bold request for God to reveal His glory to him.

I thought—the nerve, and in some ways the presumption of Moses! It’s not as if Moses’ life was lacking of any proof of God’s provision and presence—or His glory. God overwhelmingly displayed His glory to Moses in a multitude of ways from the burning bush, the plagues of Egypt, the parting of the sea, His daily provision of manna, through a pillar of fire by night—and the cloud by day.

But somehow even after experiencing all of those signs, Moses still felt that he hadn’t yet truly experienced God’s glory. So Moses prays, “Show me your glory” (Exodus 33:18). Really? What more could God do to demonstrate His glory to the people He loved?

The astounding beauty of this exchange between God and Moses is how delicately and intimately God answers Moses’ honest request. God responds. It is not with another supernatural display of His manifest presence such as fire, thunder, lightning or shaking of the earth, but rather God’s response is a close and private exchange in a crevice of a mountain,

And the Lord passed before him [Moses] and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands…”
Exodus 34:6-7

In this exchange God’s Holy presence is tenderly intertwined with His words of remembrance about His character and nature toward mankind. God makes it very clear to Moses that His real glory is proclaimed and revealed through the simple acts and gestures of goodness, mercy, and compassion.

What a revelation to everything within me that calls out for an authentic experience of God. Could it be that in those moments when we are compelled to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God that, God is quietly and affectionately invading our story and ushers in His glory through uncomplicated acts of goodness, mercy, and compassion.  The fruit of which releases “joy” to our soul.

If true, I’m deeply humbled and yet also profoundly moved to receive this great gift God extends to the followers of Jesus Christ—that through the work of His Holy Spirit, when we are afforded the honor to represent the Heavenly Father’s mercy, grace, and goodness—the very nature of God—the glory of God is revealed and I experience His joy. What an exceptional life!

The Apostle Paul understood very well the purpose and effect of seeing and experiencing the glory of God,

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
2 Corinthians 3:18

Paul is telling us that once you receive this revelation of God’s glory—of his love, mercy, grace and long-suffering—the Holy Spirit will continually open our eyes to more of these aspects of God’s nature and character. We have an ever-increasing revelation of God, in the way God wants to be known to us!

As David Wilkerson paraphrases the Apostle Paul in Galatians 1:15-16, “I have within me much more than some doctrine somebody thought up, more than just a head knowledge of Christ. I have a revelation of who Christ is—a revelation of his grace, mercy and love. And this revelation has become the very source of all I am and do. It’s the very essence of my life!”—an exceptional life.

Scripture tells us that when Moses experienced this revelation of God’s glory in the cleft of the mountain—the revelation that God is good, loving, caring, gracious, forgiving—Moses quickly fell to his knees and began to worship,

So Moses made haste and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshiped.
Exodus 34:8

As I worship God today in gratitude and thanksgiving, I too boldly ask to see His glory in my life. Suddenly my eyes and heart open to the young pregnant mother who was just informed that the child within her womb has severe chromosomal abnormalities and will probably not survive the pregnancy, and if the child survives the pregnancy probably will not survive the delivery, and if the child survives the delivery—will not survive his first breath. The courage of this young mother to say, “I will not end the life of this child. He has value and a soul and I will carry him, give birth to him, hold him and pray over him for as long as God gives him life.” Through this young mother’s narrative—I experience God’s glory and bear witness to an exceptional life.

This young mother’s story and the many other young mothers and fathers I have been blessed to work with over the years—add beauty to my life. They help to write a narrative of an exceptional life—worthy of God’s love, mercy, compassion, and sacrifice.

A favorite lyric of mine written by the worship leader Sara Groves reminds me that, “their pain changed me, their dreams inspired, their faces a memory, their hope a fire. Their courage asks me what am I afraid of—what am I made of and what I know of love. And what I know of love.”

Today, God hands each of us a pen to write the stories we tell ourselves—our narrative. Within our grasp is a story filled with tales of God’s goodness, mercy, and compassion—His glory helping to define an exceptional life.

We also have the great privilege and sacred opportunity to inspire others to discover and write their own stories. Is there a friend or individual God is encouraging you to help write—or rewrite their story out of the ashes?

Discover and embrace your spiritual gifts and experience God’s glory as you write your narrative and help others to find the words to their story—experience the joy that comes when you chose to live an exceptional life of love, mercy, compassion, and sacrifice!

Here are some ways to use your spiritual gifts with families of special needs children and those on the margins of life’s opportunity:

▪ Volunteer to mentor a child with special needs in your church’s Sunday School
▪ Offer to babysit for a family with a child with special needs
▪ Volunteer for your local chapter of Special Olympics
▪ Host a “play date” for mothers with special needs children
▪ Begin a “Special Needs” family ministry at your church
▪ Help a family with special needs children find the resources in your community for social, academic, and vocational assistance
▪ Help to eliminate the feelings of isolation and abandonment that families with special needs children experience by inviting them to parties, gatherings, Bible studies, and vacations
▪ Volunteer at a women’s shelter
▪ Become a foster parent to a needy child

BY CARSON LEITH

“You’re going to be a pastor,” God tells me in the summer of 2011 while working at a fishing lodge in the Haida Gwaii in western Canada.

And then I shoot back, “Are you crazy?” It seemed to make sense but I was scared of it being true, even after I told Him that He could finally have a hundred percent of me.

“It sounds like you want to be a pastor,” says John Mark Reynolds, my mentor during my time in the Torrey Honors Institute, a Great Books program at Biola University. “You just need to stop being afraid of it.” I stare around at his office filled with books and think of how I want to lead, write, preach, teach and counsel: all with the motive of helping people grow. Maybe that’s what a pastor does…

“I think you need to be a pastor,” Chad tells me over a meeting that was supposed to be about a fishing trip. “You have the gift of ‘withness’ and presence. You’re just denying it because you’re afraid.” Coming from someone who did not know me in depth, this was both shocking and peaceful. Shocking because he pulled back the curtain on my soul without much history. Peaceful because I knew that what he was saying was a timely truth from God.

I was in business at the time and could play that game well, but it wasn’t what I was supposed to be doing long term. God certainly led me into business for a time of growth, which I consider invaluable. But it was time to move on. Four days later, I applied to Regent College in Vancouver Canada without telling anyone but my wife.

Not telling anyone was significant for me. I have historically sought much counsel in large decisions partly to be wise, partly to please others. And I lived in California, where my family lives. But here I was, applying to a graduate school in another country without consulting anyone because I was confident that this was the school I wanted to be shaped by: its people, its setting, its mission, its values, and its vision. Regent is a glove-fit for who I want to become: not just a pastor, but also a whole person who is intelligent, vigorous and joyful about his commitment to Jesus Christ, His Church, and His world. This newfound confidence in my decision to apply showed me that I was sure of this direction without needing anyone else’s opinion.

So what does this have to do with spiritual gifts? Everything.

The journey of discovering your true self is one that is actually quite disruptive. By “disruptive” I mean that it may lead to a geographical move, a career change, hardship, financial stress, and saying goodbye to those you love the most.

This is why many do not attempt to know themselves: it’s a scary process. But I would argue that it is a process through which you’ll experience the truest form of life there is.

Knowing yourself has so many factors to it. To name a few, there’s Meyers-Briggs, Strengths-Finder, family background, heritage, place, personality, weaknesses, passions, natural gifting, and last but not least, spiritual gifting.

It’s unfortunate that many people in Christian circles make a joke out of spiritual gifts—because to deny them or even worse to make fun of them is to miss out on how God himself has gifted you by His good will. It’s to miss out on your destiny.

Spiritual gifts matter a great deal. Because by them, God, out of His grace, uses us to bless a community. The gifts are not to build up our own kingdom, but His Kingdom.

I’ve had jobs all over the place. And it’s fascinating to observe the consistencies in my spiritual gifts across a wide variety of roles.

My primary spiritual gifts are:

  1. Shepherding
  2. Mercy-Showing
  3. Teaching
  4. Exhortation

I am a pastor-shepherd everywhere I go. I love to help people grow, I love protecting and governing and caring for my wife, I am burdened for the love, growth and care of the Church. Even when I was in business, people recognized my pastoral heart toward my coworkers. Nowadays, I’m the Dean of a Residence Hall at the University of British Columbia, where my wife and I get to take care of 40 undergraduate students who all have separate journeys and life stories. This role has been an incredible privilege and has been exhilarating as I get to essentially pastor a small group of students every single day.

To some this might be a draining role, but to me, it is life to my bones.

I feel alive. I don’t think about having to “go to work” or “do my job”—I’m just being myself everyday, and it just happens to be a “job” that the college wants someone to do! This kind of natural fit might be a clue to your own spiritual gifts being utilized.

The gift of mercy-showing comes out whenever I sense a burden or need in someone. I immediately want to surround them with love and compassion and comfort, often through physical touch. I am usually the first to notice someone on the fringes of a community and am drawn toward befriending them. Without really thinking about it, I desire to share in the pain of others and also help them to relieve their pain.

I am gifted in teaching. In every job I’ve had, I like to teach: how to make coffee, create a website, do direct marketing, write a great subject line on an email, study the Bible, start a blog, play guitar, and on and on. It’s my natural bent to teach people, and I’ve seen that gift in everything I do.

Lastly, I am an encourager-exhorter. I love to encourage my wife, friends, parents, brothers and sisters, coworkers, or people just doing great work in a given area. I am thrilled when I can exhort others to action, help them apply a situation to their life, or discover a little more about their purpose. Come to think of it, that’s probably why I wrote The Star Smith, my free 32 page eBook. The book’s primary purpose is to encourage others to find and do work that matters. In nearly all my writing, I end with a line that acts as a “push off the ledge” to go and do something or to be inspired or moved.

As I discovered my spiritual gifts, I slowly realized that they fell under the multi-faceted role of pastor, which was an incredibly freeing and exhilarating thought. Over the slow course of hammering this out, submitting myself to God, and a good deal of conversation with others, I’ve found my calling. I found a role that will require all of my particular gifts, talents, passions, and personality.

There is a great temptation in seminary to feel like you have to wait until you’re in an official role to start using your spiritual gifts. My own common mistake is thinking too much about how I can be utilized in the future while forgetting about what God has given me today.

So I encourage you to look at what’s in your hand. What has God given you today? Who are you in relationship with? What communities do you serve? Your spiritual gifts are for those people and they can be used today.

Someday, if the Lord wants it to happen, I will be at a local church, using my gifts for the people of God there.

But what to do with today?

Use my gifts for the people of God here—the community I am in today.

Now…is enough.

The book of Proverbs has so many timely sayings and ideas that are appropriate for everyday life.

Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint. Proverbs 25:19

This particular verse has always intrigued us because of the completeness of what it says in so few words. If we place our confidence in someone who is not faithful to help us when we need it, we are in serious trouble. When this happens, we are hampered in not only what we say (broken tooth), but also in where we go (foot out of joint)…and both of these are very painful.

I you have ever had the painful experience of having a root canal in your mouth, or if you have bitten into something that was harder than you thought, which resulted in your breaking a tooth, then you know of this type of pain. You cannot eat because of the pain. It is difficult to talk because of the pain. Many times the pain is so intense that your sleep is adversely affected.

Let’s go one step further. Let’s say that along with the pain in your mouth, you have also disjointed your foot. Now not only is it difficult to talk, eat, and maybe sleep, it is almost impossible for you to walk around.

Think of it. Not being able to eat, sleep, walk, and having a hard time explaining any of it to someone else because of the pain. This is truly the picture of a miserable individual. It is certainly a place that we would never want to find ourselves.

But how many people do we put in that very same position when we do not hold what is told to us in private, in the strictest of confidence?

When what is told to the pastor in confidence gets “preached” at the next Sunday sermon?

When someone has for the first time told their deepest secrets to someone that they trusted, and similar information is haphazardly mentioned in a social gathering or shared with others “so that they could pray for the individual”?

When your best friend confides in you…and you open your mouth and let the confidential information slip to someone else, increasing the likelihood of the secret being spread like wildfire?

People’s hearts can be broken, lives can be ruined, trust destroyed, and relationships harmed by careless handling of confidential information.

Being a friend or a caregiver holds a great responsibility to keeping our mouths shut with information told to us in confidence.

However, if you are serving counselor, there are two exceptions you should point out to all people you counsel before they share information with you. These exceptions are valid and important because they can cause you, the caregiver, great legal and ethical trouble if not handled correctly.

  1. When a person tells you that they have either physically or sexually abused a child, most state laws require you to report this information to a local social services person.
  2. You cannot pledge complete confidentiality if the person tells you that they plan to kill themselves or that they plan to harm someone else.

Keep in mind that confidentiality relates to what we say and to whom we say it.

In every case, we need to think before we speak. We need to protect confidential information. We need to be considerate and trustworthy as a friend. And, if you are a counselor, you need to be professional and ethical, and follow the guidelines of the laws in your area.

Don’t be the source of pain in someone’s life through broken confidence.

Be a source of hope and healing to all.

People’s hearts can be broken, lives can be ruined, trust destroyed, and relationships harmed by careless handling of confidential information.

Being a friend or a caregiver holds a great responsibility to keeping our mouths shut with information told to us in confidence.

However, if you are serving counselor, there are two exceptions you should point out to all people you counsel before they share information with you. These exceptions are valid and important because they can cause you, the caregiver, great legal and ethical trouble if not handled correctly.

  1. When a person tells you that they have either physically or sexually abused a child, most state laws require you to report this information to a local social services person.
  2. You cannot pledge complete confidentiality if the person tells you that they plan to kill themselves or that they plan to harm someone else.

Keep in mind that confidentiality relates to what we say and to whom we say it.

In every case, we need to think before we speak. We need to protect confidential information. We need to be considerate and trustworthy as a friend. And, if you are a counselor, you need to be professional and ethical, and follow the guidelines of the laws in your area.

Don’t be the source of pain in someone’s life through broken confidence.

Be a source of hope and healing to all.

“They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord” 2 Thessalonians 2:9

To be shut out from God’s presence and from His power is to be without hope and without love forever. This is one of the hardest truths in the Bible. But here’s something I’ve discovered—the hardest truths can produce the most tender hearts. If you grasp this most difficult of doctrines, God will use it to soften your heart today.

To sustain your faith in a suffering world

“He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled… when the Lord Jesus is revealed.” 2 Thessalonians 1:6

If you’ve suffered at the hands of other people, or if someone you love has suffered at the hands of others, you will be faced with this question: Where is God in all this? How can I believe that God is loving and just when so often good people suffer and those who do evil prosper? This doctrine helps. It tells you that you haven’t yet seen the end of the story.

God says to suffering believers: “A day is coming when Jesus Christ will be revealed. Then you’ll see the full measure of My justice and the full measure of My love. Use this to sustain your faith in a suffering world.”

To restrain your desire to even the score

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge… but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.” Romans 12:18

Someone hurts you. Your immediate instinct will be to want to hurt them back. They brought you down, and you find a certain pleasure in bringing them down. How do you restrain the desire to even the score?

God will repay, so leave room for His wrath. You don’t need to take it into your hands when you know it is in His. You can leave it to Him.

On this foundation God says, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head” (Romans 12:20). If you don’t believe this, you’ll always be trying to even the score.

To increase your compassion for people who harm you

Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you Matthew 5:44

Anyone who’s suffered at the hands of another person, as all of us have, will hear this and say, “Love him? Love her? How is that possible?”

If the person who harmed you was to see what they did and truly to repent, you might find it in your heart to forgive them. But if they just go on with no awareness of what they’ve done, or worse, they continue doing the same thing, it is very hard to have compassion.

Where do you begin in loving this enemy? The Bible’s teaching helps. Think about everlasting destruction in relation to the person who hurt you, and what it would mean to be shut out of the light and joy and hope and love of the Lord forever… You would not wish that on your worst enemy.

A deep grasp of this truth will help you to pray for those who’ve harmed you. Bitterness cannot survive long when you begin to pray, and you’ll be amazed at the way compassion sneaks in the back door of your heart.


This LifeKey is based on the message “God Will Bring Justice for You,” by Pastor Colin S. Smith, delivered January 9, 2011, from the series “Staying the Course When You’re Tired of the Battle.” Colin currently serves as Senior Pastor of the The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in Arlington Heights, Illinois. He is committed to preaching the Bible in a way that nourishes the soul by directing attention to Jesus Christ.

BY KAREN ARKAN

We’ve lived under some “real” persecution.

When I think of some of the situations my husband and I have lived through over the past 10 years, it almost seems like I’m an outsider looking in on my life, watching someone else’s nightmare unfold on some crime show. It seems very surreal and outside of our existence. But the truth is, we have tasted persecution.

Only a few years after we were married, Ramazan and I had come home from work, eaten dinner and then turned on the news in our home in the nation of Turkey. Ramazan left the room for a few minutes and, like some kind of weird prank, suddenly his picture was on the television with a headline that I could make out even with my limited Turkish.

“Man Arrested for Plotting to Kill Pastor”

What!!?? At first I hesitated and doubted my translation. But I read the headline again and I was sure that is what it said.

I called my husband Ramazan into the room and in a very low moment of our relationship he explained to me that indeed someone had tried to kill him and that we had been living under police protection for several days.

Suddenly my concern shifted from the headline into anger towards my husband for hiding this information from me.

He didn’t want me to worry.

For the next 4 months, police with were us 24 hours a day.

The day after the news broke, I went to my teaching job at a Turkish school. During the lesson, the principal’s secretary came into my classroom and asked me to come to see the owner of the school.

I panicked.

I called Ramazan to tell him that surely I was going to be fired. We both assumed that the school was now concerned that parents would be upset after seeing my husband on the news. They may have figured out that the wife of a Christian pastor was teaching their (mostly) Muslim students.

We quickly discussed what I should say to the owner of the school and that I should ask for at least a few months of severance pay.

I was shaking as I walked into the office.

For several moments, the owner of the school chatted with me about how I was doing, what she could do to support me, and how she could help.

This kindness was unexpected.

She finished and I waited for the next part. The firing. But it didn’t come. And I said to her, breathing a sigh of relief, “I assumed you called me here to fire me.” She replied with a generous amount of grace, “If any of the parents of our students are upset that you are working here, they can take their child and leave this school.”

This was the first episode in an outpouring of loving kindness which we received.

Another almost comical story comes to mind. A close friend of ours went to do his military service. He was being trained as an officer. In one of his training sessions, the instructor gave a slide presentation. Our friend was surprised when a picture of my husband Ramazan came up as an “enemy of the state.”

So yes, we have faced some difficult days. Hatred. Threats. False accusations.

Ramazan was even “unofficially” arrested at one point.

But today I’m thinking about something else. Today I’m thinking about a different kind of persecution that has been pretty intense in our lives this year.

I hesitate to even call it persecution. But in so many ways, some of what we’ve been facing hurts even more deeply then having some stranger after your life.

Hebrews 11 has always been one of my very favorite Bible passages. I always read it with such a sense of awe of what these faithful Heroes of Our Faith experienced and endured…

And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about (those)…who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies…There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.
Hebrews 11:32-38

Whew! That puts our troubles into perspective.

With all that we have walked through, nothing has been as severe as that.

And yet, maybe comparing our persecution isn’t the point.

As I said, it has been a hard year for us. Hard in a different way. It seems almost laughable to call what we have lived through this year “persecution.” But I think it has the same roots. It comes from the same origin. Jealousy, anger, hatred, selfishness, fear. Whenever we become the object upon which these emotions are projected, I think it pretty much feels like persecution.

Its personal persecution.

Ramazan and I are the first to admit that we don’t have it all together. We still feel very young and inexperienced even though we are technically now middle-aged. We don’t claim to have all the answers and it is very hard when we are in the position of helping others and for us to know the best ways to lead, guide, and encourage the people we serve. We don’t take this role lightly and we feel very accountable to the Lord for our decisions and for the counsel we give. We know this is a big responsibility and a job we cannot do on our own.

This year we have faced some trying situations in ministry. We’ve gone into places of helping and guiding to which we haven’t been before. And because of the magnitude of the responsibility we feel, we have carefully and prayerfully plodded these new territories. We slowly and carefully made decisions which we felt were best for handling the relational problems going on in the church we serve.

But the problem is, sometimes people ask for help and then they don’t want the counsel you offer. Sometimes people become resentful of the ways we try to help. Sometimes they blame us for not fixing their situation. And sometimes they lash out. Sometimes they cut us off. Sometimes they choose to stay in their brokenness and become even more angry.

Persecution is defined as: hostility and ill-treatment, especially because of race or political or religious beliefs; oppression. Persistent annoyance or harassment.

Persecution hurts because its personal. It hurts because we really love and care about the people we are trying to care for. It hurts when we try to do the right thing, to please and honor God, and then it is misunderstood as something else by others.

I don’t doubt that you’ve experienced the same thing. The same feelings of being the object of someone else’s wrath when you’ve truly tried to help. Its a lonely feeling. Its discouraging. And on the flip side, its the best place to be.

During our discussions, Ramazan and I always end up coming back to the same point. We did what would honor the Lord. Even when it was hard and unpopular. Even when we would have rather excused behaviors for the sake of staying on the good side of someone. Even when it was easier not to get involved. Even when it took us extra time and put us in awkward situations. And surprisingly we have found an ocean of peace in that place.

God has never asked us to be pleasers of people. He has asked us to be faithful. And the deepest place in our hearts yearns to be as faithful and honored as the Heroes of Our Faith.

Years ago, Ramazan chose to take what he thought was the easiest and best way to handle a terrible situation. He chose not to tell me about the man who was arrested for trying to kill him. He was afraid of what my reaction would be. He thought staying silent was the best thing for me (and for him). He thought avoidance would protect me. This kind of tiptoeing actually hurt our relationship more than it helped us. Since then he has definitely learned his lesson and the Lord has redeemed that situation by bringing us closer as we faced that deep trial together.

There are definitely times to stay silent, but fear shouldn’t keep us from making the right choices in standing up for our beliefs and encouraging others towards living lives of integrity.

So While in Church this morning my Senior Pastor reminded me of the piece opined by Elnathan John in July 2012, though sacarstically comical, it points to our religiousness as a people and lacking Godly Character. I will allow you read through it, feel free to drop a comment or your thoughts in the Comment Section.

The Nigerian god is one. It may have many different manifestations, but it is essentially different sides of the same coin. Sometimes, adherents of the different sides may fight and kill each other. But Nigerians essentially follow the Nigerian god.

This article is for all those who want to become better worshipers. If you are a new or prospective convert, God will bless you for choosing the Nigerian god. This is just how you must worship him.

First, you must understand that being a worshiper has nothing to do with character, good works or righteousness. So the fact that you choose to open every meeting with multiple prayers does not mean that you intend to do what is right. The opening prayer is important. Nothing can work without it. If you are gathered to discuss how to inflate contracts, begin with an opening prayer or two. If you are gathered to discuss how to rig elections, begin with a prayer. The Nigerian god appreciates communication.

When you sneak away from your wife to call your girlfriend in the bathroom, and she asks if you will come this weekend, you must say—in addition to “Yes”—“By God’s grace” or “God willing”. It doesn’t matter the language you use. Just add it. The Nigerian god likes to be consulted before you do anything, including a trip to Obudu to see your lover.

When worshipping the Nigerian god, be loud. No, the Nigerian god is not hard of hearing. It is just that he appreciates your loud fervour, like he appreciates loud raucous music. The Nigerian god doesn’t care if you have neighbours and neither should you. When you are worshipping in your house, make sure the neighbours can’t sleep. Use loud speakers even if you are only two in the building. Anyone who complains must be evil. God will judge such a person.

This is how the Nigerian god judges people who are your enemies- evil people who want to spoil your hustle; like your colleagues who don’t want your promotion; like your single old aunties who secretly don’t want you to marry that rich handsome man (who you haven’t met yet); like all your neighbours who are stopping you from getting pregnant: He violently consumes them by fire. He returns all their evil plans back to sender. So when making requests about all your enemies, do not pray that they be forgiven or that they change. Pray that the Nigerian god kills them off with such violent finality that there is nothing left of them. 

Attribute everything to the Nigerian god. So, if you diverted funds from public projects and are able to afford that Phantom, when people say you have a nice car, say, “Na God”. If someone asks what the secret of all your wealth is, say, “God has been good to me”. By this you mean the Nigerian god who gave you the uncommon wisdom to re-appropriate public funds.

Consult the Nigerian god when you don’t feel like working. The Nigerian god understands that we live in a harsh climate where it is hard to do any real work. So, if you have no clue how to be in charge and things start collapsing, ask people to pray to God and ask for his intervention.

The Nigerian god loves elections and politics. When you have bribed people to get the Party nomination, used thugs to steal and stuff ballot boxes, intimidated people into either sitting at home or voting for you, lied about everything from your assets to your age, and you eventually, (through God’s grace), win the elections, you must begin by declaring that your success is the wish of God and that the other candidate should accept this will of God. It is not your fault whom the Nigerian god chooses to reward with political success. How can mere mortals complain?

The Nigerian god does not tolerate disrespect. If someone insults your religion, you must look for anyone like them and kill them. Doesn’t matter what you use—sticks, machetes, grenade launchers, IED’s, AK47’s. The Nigerian god sometimes deeply appreciates a good beheading for people who blaspheme. If the person who insults your religion is online and you can’t locate them, feel free to threaten to kill them. Like we say in Nigeria: “at all-at all na im bad pass”. Something is better than nothing at all. 

The Nigerian god performs signs and wonders. He does everything from cure HIV to High BP. And the Nigerian god is creative: he can teach a person who was born blind the difference between blue and green when the man of god asks, and he can teach a person born deaf instant English. As a worshipper you must let him deliver you because every case of sickness is caused by evil demons and not infections. Every case of barrenness is caused by witches and has no scientific explanation. So instead of hospital, visit agents of the Nigerian god. But the Nigerian god does not cure corruption. Do not attempt to mock him.

If you worship the Nigerian god, you are under no obligation to be nice or kind to people who are not worshippers. They deserve no courtesy.

The Nigerian god is also online. As a worshipper, you are not obliged to be good or decent on Facebook or Twitter all week except on Friday and Sunday, both of which the Nigerian god marks as holy. So you may forward obscene photos, insult people, forward lewd jokes on all days except the holy days. On those holy days, whichever applies to you, put up statuses saying how much you are crazy about God.

These days, the Nigerian god also permits tweets and Facebook updates like: “Now in Church” or “This guy in front of me needs to stop dozing” when performing acts of worship. Also, nothing like a Twitter hashtag with your pastors sermon. These are great hashtags to consider for Sundays: #SundaysWithJesus #JesusRocks #SundaySermon #Crazy4JC

In all, the Nigerian god is very kind and accommodating. He gives glory and riches and private jets. And if you worship him well, he will immensely bless your hustle.