Stories

The “Born Again”

April 4, 2022

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I often say “The gospel is
my life”, many people don’t get
why I say so. It is because
it is literally so.
I once had a life,
the one I lived so riotously
that was ladened with scars,
bruises, and a lot of errors.
I naturally assumed at the time
that I was living my best life,
that I was the master of my destiny.
I was brilliant and extremely smart
but I was prone to do
more wrong with it than right.
When I was nine years old,
Mr. Babalola, a teacher in Army Children
school 3 flogged me for not getting
some of the things he taught
us in class right.

He would write “see me”
on your classwork, if you were
due to be flogged. After marking
our work, he would say
“All those who have “See me”
on their notes should stand up.”
We will and he will proceed to
cane each of us depending on
the number of the classwork
we got wrong. I hated Mathematics
and I got flogged a lot.

One day I felt enough was enough,
so I wrote a letter stating that
“My son is a sickle cell warrior
and his cane triggered a crisis
which had landed him in the hospital”.
I signed it as “Mrs. So and so, Mother
to Gbenga”. My younger brother was
in primary two at the time. I told
him to take the letter to
my class while I hung out with
some boys at the mammy market.
I stabbed school for a week
after that, my parents had no
idea what was going on.
I would leave home in the morning
and go to the mammy market
until school closes, then I would
go home with my brother.
When I resumed school, Mr. Babalola
stayed away from me.
He started calling me sickie!
It dawned on me at the time
that I was smart.

When I was in secondary school,
we had four “Sowemimos” attending
the same school. Myself, my brother, and
two cousins. My daddy was paying
the school fees for all of us.
I end up paying for just
one person, I would share the
three tellers to my brother and cousins.
They would take it
to the bursary and collect
the receipt. I will then go to
the staff room and record one
of the receipt’s numbers against
my name indicating that I had paid.
It went on till I graduated,
smart guy. I forged my JSCE result,
I was 12 years old at the time.
I had failed mathematics and got
P in other science subjects.
I was afraid my parents would
scold me, so I went to the post
office and typed out my own
result on the school’s letterhead paper.
I got away with it.

I wrote letters stating that students
were to go on excursion and signed
the principals’ signature.
I shared the letters to my friends and
roommates in the boarding school.
Our parents never questioned it and all
my friends returned to school with
extra-500 naira out of which I got
250 Naira from each for my smartness.
I wrote exams for thousands of students
at “Special centers” and got paid well
by principals who recruited me as a
mercenary every year from 1998
till 2004.

I wrote JAMB, NECO, GCE, WAEC, etc!
Smart guy!
Walking the straight and narrow path
was not for me.
Only God knows how many times
my father disowned me for stealing
his money. I usually don’t intend to
steal but somehow knew where
the money was and I knew how
to get it. I was flogged, begged,
spoken to and insulted but I
just felt he was a sore loser
who was screaming because I outsmarted him.
I would leave home for months
until I finish spending my loot and
then I would return home unrepentant.
It got so bad that my mother
took me to Agodi Prison in Ibadan
so that I could see firsthand
what prison looks like and
perhaps change my ways.
It didn’t work.

My mother took me to so many
churches for prayers, it only made
me hate pastors. Sometimes I would
use a broomstick to remove money
from the offering box just because
I was smarter than God,
or so I thought!
I would say, if God is so
powerful let him kill me while I
was stealing his money. God refused
to kill me and therefore I concluded
He wasn’t powerful. Only God knows
how many people cursed me for stealing
from them but they were many.

One day in the boarding school,
we were all very hungry and
we had ran out of provisions.
Some students contributed rice, Maggi,
egg, etc and began to cook in
the middle of the night.
I waited until the food was almost
done, I went to wake the housemaster up by
throwing stones on his window until i
heard him stir and put on his torch light
The man came out, the
students went to hide the food
somewhere and put off the fire.
I jumped the fence into the compound
and carried the hot pot of rice,
I sneaked it into my room
and woke my roommates up.
We ate the rice until we
were satisfied.
The housemaster went back to bed,
the students sneaked
to the compound to get their rice
and it was gone. They cursed
all night at the top of their voices
while I laughed my head off.
I can go on and on but I
believe you already get the gist.

In my final year, I found myself
in big trouble over some scheme
I started which backfired.
Finally “caught”, I was told
I wouldn’t be graduating with
my certificate. I was still cocky
I remember telling our church reverend
that I don’t need a certificate to
make money.
I had a lot of schemes planned
out which I was going to unleash
on the world of men!
Then I met Jesus!
It was an intrusion that I
fought with all my heart.
I wanted him to mind his business.
He refused.
One by one he took away
everything that I held dear,
starting with my babe at the time.
The lady looked at me one day
and said “You have changed-
I cannot be with you anymore,
you have become a born again
Christian”. She was right,
I had changed.
The glint in my eyes was
gone. I had lost the appetite
to deceive or manipulate.
I had lost that desire to
outsmart people, that edge was gone!
I had become ordinary – or so thought.
That was what I feared
the most – being ordinary.
Conforming to the system,
being a law-abiding citizen like
everybody else.
It was a tough reality to bear.
I hated my boring life at
that point and felt it was
better to die.

One day, the Holy Spirit said
to me “I am the extraordinary
reality you were born to walk
in but you keep resisting me”
I was reading “Daughter of Destiny”
that day and I heard Him
so loud that I was flung
from the couch to the other
end of the sitting room.
I started shivering and panting
until I slept off right there on
the floor. After that, every time
I got tempted to do anything
untoward, a dread would fall
on me. I would feel as if the
Holy Spirit would kill me.

I had never known fear
until one day I fell down
in the bathroom and scratched my
backside against the tap in the
process just because I was contemplating
“borrowing” out of the money my
brother brought home from the office.
I nursed the wound for months
but I learned my lesson
I decided to yield to the Holy Spirit.

He was relentless in his pursuit
and the only option was to continue
to suffer If I continued to be
stubborn. This was how my new
life began in 2007. I began
to learn how to walk in His will,
I began to renew my mind by
the word. I didn’t change all at
Once but I worked hard at it
until I made new friends, formed new
habits, changed my thought pattern
and my mindset.

The Holy Spirit led me to
this point in my life! Yesterday,
as I listened to my citation from
the Nigerian Books of Record being read,
I realized it could have been different
I could have been standing in
a dock, before a judge and
my crimes being listed out
for the world to hear while
I await the judge’s decision

That was how my story should
have ended but the Holy Spirit
changed my life completely
I am the real “Born Again”

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