I was coming back from an errand when I noticed the crowd gathered at Kenyatta junction. Curiosity got the better part of me and I went to have a look. I couldn’t see the man on the podium, but I could hear his powerful voice reverberating all over. He was talking about the love of a man called Jesus and how he had the ability to restore hope to the hopeless. I stood transfixed. I had always attended the services held in the church down my street some Sundays but I had never heard Pastor Evans talk about Jesus the way this man did. I had always thought Jesus was a fearful man waiting for me to mess so He could deal with me so I made up my mind never to have anything to do with Him.
The man on the podium was making a call for those who wanted to experience the love of Jesus and I found my feet moving towards the direction of his voice. I was carrying so much pain, bitterness and emptiness inside of me and I was ready to do anything to get it off. I didn’t even look to the side to see if anyone was coming with me. On getting to the front, the middle aged man standing at the podium made a prayer of confession and repentance with those who answered the call. We were then directed to a young lady in her thirties who spoke to us, encouraged us, shared Bibles and follow up materials with us, took our details and promised us that certain persons would check up on us from time to time. I was elated. Joyful. Something had changed and I knew it.
I got home quite late and Mother was very angry with me. She complained and complained until I couldn’t bear it anymore and stuffed my ears with my old wrapper. Anyways, she couldn’t steal the joy that was flooding my heart right now. I looked at my new Bible and smiled to myself. I had never owned a Bible. I never really saw the need to have one, and Mother would have called it an unnecessary expense. I opened to the book of John and I slept off on the first chapter.
I didn’t really understand the concept of being born again, but I did what I could in my own little way. I read some verses from the Bible every morning and I made attempts to pray. The guilt from the abortion however wouldn’t go away. Thankfully, the organizers of the outreach kept to their promise and sent sister Stella to check up on me at home. We bonded almost immediately and she started to follow me up. When I opened up to her about the abortion and about how I still felt guilty, she read from the book of 1 John 1:9- “if we confess our sins, God is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. She explained to me that God never keeps track of our sins and once we confess and genuinely repent, he gives us a clean slate to start with. I felt so relieved hearing this. It was like a burden was lifted off me. I always looked forward to sister Stella’s visit because she always had something new and soul lifting to teach me. Her teachings had even improved my relationship with Mother as I was no longer as hot headed and stubborn as I used to be. Then the worst happened and my nightmares began again.
I was returning one evening from tutorials organized by my school for SS3 students in preparation for the senior secondary certificate examinations when I was waylaid by two young men. At first, I thought they were trying to be mischievous but when I saw the dark look in their eyes, I became afraid. I tried to call for help but one of them covered my mouth with his hand and they carried me into an uncompleted building nearby where they raped me. It was like a dream to me. How I managed to get home that day still remains a mystery. I didn’t tell mother about it. I couldn’t. The hurt and anger I felt in my heart was almost choking me. How could Jesus let this happen to me? Where was he when it happened? Was he trying to punish me for my past? So many unanswered questions raced through my heart. I didn’t know what to do.
When sister Stella came visiting the next day, I pretended I had a terrible headache and Mother told her to go and return some other time. She told Mother she wanted to pray for me and Mother brought her to my room. I pretended like I was fast asleep. Sister Stella laid her hand on my head and began to pray for my healing. In that instant, a sudden anger rose up within me. I felt like screaming at her to leave me alone but I held myself back. Jesus had failed me, and I had nothing to hold on to. The peace and joy I had experienced briefly were only a mirage. My sins were too great to be forgiven. I would never be good enough for the Lord.
Few months after, I got admission to the University of Nigeria to study Nursing. Mother was overjoyed. For the first time in a long time, mother hugged me tightly as she danced for joy. If only she knew what I had been through. What kind of mother was she anyway? How could she not have picked a signal that her beloved daughter had been going through hell? Well, I was glad that I was leaving her house, away from her constant nagging and incessant complaints. I was ready to live life to the fullest.
During my registration, I met Deborah. Debby. She hated being called Deborah. She was the first friend I made on campus, and she was the one who would subsequently take me on a journey that almost wrecked my life. I loved Debby because she was so happy and full of life. When I couldn’t pay for my hostel accommodation because I had exhausted the entire cash Mother gave me, Debby invited me to stay with her. One evening, Debby invited me for a fresher’s welcome party and I went with her. That was the onset of my partying and clubbing. I didn’t have anything to lose, right? I had been jilted by a boy who claimed he loved me, I had suffered heartbreak, rejection and abortion. I had been raped while God watched from heaven, doing nothing. I therefore didn’t owe him anything.
Gradually, Debby and I became quite popular in school. We rolled with the big guys and girls, clubbed every other weekend, got high on drugs and changed boyfriends regularly. Money was no longer my problem. I was very comfortable. I had thought that my lifestyle would bring me the fulfillment and satisfaction I so longed for, but it didn’t. With each passing day, the void got larger, and the emptiness felt hollower. By the time I was in my third year, my CGPA had taken a downward slope but I didn’t care. School no longer interested me. I had already carried out two abortions. My mind was darkened. Hardened. Until I met Ifunanya.
Thanks for reading Episode 4 comes up next.