I first noticed Ezra the very first day I attended the Nigeria Christian Campus Fellowship at orientation camp. I had been posted to Oyo State for my one year national youth service and I was excited about it. I had lived all my life in Awka, and so coming down to Oyo State was my first time in the Western part of Nigeria.
The day after I arrived at the orientation camp for my 21 days camping exercise, I was invited to the NCCF meeting by my bunkmate, Beracah. I didn’t want to attend at first, not because I wasn’t a Christian, but I felt I needed a little space. However, Beracah wouldn’t let me be and on the third day, I followed her to the hall of meeting.
When we entered the hall, the atmosphere was so charged and electrifying, I could literally feel the presence of God all over. What amazed me was that the service had just started and this was the opening prayer. The hall was filled with corp members like me, putting on the trademark white on white.
I looked towards the podium and that was when I noticed Ezra. He was average in height with a skinny body build but his deep voice reverberated all over the hall. He was pacing up and down the podium as he chanted powerful tongues. I was awed. I quickly closed my eyes and joined the flow.
Fellowship that day was so awesome. I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it. At the close of fellowship, we were encouraged to join at least one unit as a platform to serve God. Beracah pinched me quietly and asked ‘which unit do you want to join?’
‘I don’t know yet’, I replied. ‘I’ll think about it’.
As we were leaving the auditorium, I saw the prayer unit gathering at the back of the hall to pray. Ezra was part of them. I smiled. This brother must be a “highly spiritual” brother o, I thought to myself.
The next day, Beracah and I attended fellowship together. I had decided to join the drama unit. I loved acting. Beracah on the other hand joined the ushering unit. When she told me earlier, I teased her saying ‘you just like to be noticed, shakara pikin’
She slapped me playfully and said ‘before nko? I must shine for Jesus’
Over the next few days, I noticed that Ezra was very active in fellowship activities. He was in the Bible study unit, the prayer unit and the publicity unit. Whenever he made contributions during Bible study, it left me in awe. He had so much depth and richness in the word.
Whenever he handled prayer sessions, he practically brought the presence of God down into our midst. I so much admired and respected him. It seemed the State Executive leaders also noticed his zeal and passion, and they gave him more tasks to handle which he carried out dutifully.
Soon, the Leadership started inviting corp members in the fellowship for a one on one panel interview. I heard that it was their way of selecting new state executives. Trust me, I dodged every invitation I was given.
Being appointed as a state executive meant I would live in the family house, something I had promised myself not to do. I was making plans on how to rent a place in whatever Local Government I was posted to.
Secondly, such appointment would consume my time, money, resources, privacy, plans etc. I also wasn’t ready for that yet. I just wanted to serve my God and live my life, quietly.
By the end of the second week, I was almost certain Ezra would be appointed as the new Papa (State president). He was loved by all the leaders and patrons. Even our fellow corp members loved him. I had engaged him in a conversation once and I realized how intelligent and wise he was. With his grand profile, I wasn’t prepared for the scary revelation God showed me about him.
That night, I had slept late as usual. It was a Thursday night, and I and my squad (Esther, Faithful and Rejoice) had a one hour prayer time every Thursday via whatsapp.
I had just started sleeping when I saw Ezra kneeling in a dark dungeon with heavy chains and fetters on his hands and feet. He was surrounded by some horrible looking demons who were laughing sporadically.
Right before Ezra was a large screen, and the demon by his left was trying to force him to look at it. He tried looking away but with each attempt he made, the demon by his right whipped him mercilessly.
I tried calling out his name but I couldn’t voice out anything. It was as if my vocal cords stopped working. Then, before my very eyes, he began to sink into the darkness.
I jumped up from my bed in fright. What kind of dream is this? Ezra? Could it mean that he was in great danger? I knelt beside my bed to pray for him and I heard the Lord say clearly: Ezra needs help.
‘Help?’ I echoed. ‘What kind of help Lord?’ I didn’t hear anything but in a few seconds, I knew what to do.
The next evening, after fellowship, I walked up to Bro Jesse, the prayer coordinator.
‘Good evening sir’, I greeted.
‘Good evening Jael’, he responded. ‘How are you today?’
‘I’m fine sir. Please can I see you briefly?’
‘Sure. Just give me a few minutes’.
I rested my back against the pillar while I waited for him. Shortly after, he joined me.
‘Hope all is well?’ he asked.
‘Hmmmmm’, I replied. ‘I hope so too’.
‘It’s alright, you can talk to me’
In details, I narrated the dream I had about Ezra to him.
‘Prayo, I think Ezra is struggling with something. He needs help’, I concluded.
Bro Jesse was in deep thought. I guess he was trying to grasp what I had just told him. The great and mighty Ezra? It looked difficult to believe.
‘It’s okay’, he responded. ‘Thank you for sharing this with me. I will get to the bottom of this’.
‘Thank you sir’, I said and scuttled off. I ran into Ezra at the exit door and immediately, the dream flashed before my eyes.
‘Ah, Jael where are you running to? Come and join us in prayer unit today na’, he said as he flashed me a wide smile.
I looked at him intently. Was there something he was hiding? Was he been oppressed?
‘This one you are looking at me like this, is there tomato stuck in my teeth?’ He asked as he laughed.
I laughed too. ‘No o, I was just beholding God’s perfect creation’, I responded with a twinkle in my eyes.
‘You’re very funny’ he said as he laughed again.
‘I’ll see you tomorrow’, I said as I bade him goodbye.
That night, I couldn’t sleep well. The handover service was in three days. I was very concerned about Ezra. I wanted to ask him certain questions but I didn’t know how to. Silently, I prayed for him again. ‘Help him Lord’, I muttered.
Thanks for reading. Episode 2 comes up next!