Episode 1: CARRY THE CROSS
My journey in Christendom has been a mix of joy and sadness, happiness and sorrow, good and evil, pleasure and pain, gaiety and grief.
As a new convert, I had thought my decision to stand for Christ despite my strong Islamic background would bring me ease. “Let me escape the recurrent sadness I felt whenever the ritual ‘Call to Prayers’ was made by clerics in the neighbouring mosques,” I had thought. I was not prepared for the phase of “sorrow and misery” I experienced as a new Christian convert from being a hard-hearted Muslim.
Playful but Mysteriously Planned Journey to Salvation
My mother had cautiously watched as I frequently defied my father’s instruction to steer clear from Christians in the neighbourhood. As she watched on, she neither discouraged nor encouraged my decisions to mingle with the Christian friends I had then. Perhaps curiosity got a better hold on me as I secretly longed for answers to my reluctance to devote myself completely to the Islamic studies my father had enrolled me into as a little child.
More so, I couldn’t resist that urge to listen to and watch the vibrant and energetic evangelists preach. I secretly envied them whenever I heard those preachers preach from their amplified microphones in my neighborhood every Sunday morning.
On a fateful day, one of my friends invited me to a 3-Day Crusade tagged: “Let Him Carry Your Cross”. I got elated and determined to attend, though secretly. I wanted to attend, not to get saved or get any miracle of some sort, but just for the fun of it… To watch the energetic and vibrant evangelists preach. To listen to the beautiful and glorious voices of the choir singing.
Of course, it would be added fun to see some raw miracles with my naked eyes. So, “I must watch them firsthand today,” I had determined. After attending to my chores, I sneaked out of the house that Friday evening for the crusade. It started two days earlier. This was the last night and I couldn’t afford to miss it. Unknown to me, my mother had heard my friend narrate some testimonies that had been recorded from the crusade so far. As I listened, I reaffirmed and promised him I’d be there to witness it myself, given this last opportunity.
She said nothing but watched on as I sneaked out of the house. To cut to the chase, right there at the crusade, I surrendered my life to Christ. The preacher’s sermon had appealed to my soul that day. Deeply broken, I repented of all my sins. I planned to witness signs and wonders. A greater sign and wonder was wrought in me. I couldn’t understand the supernatural force that melted my heart that night.
I felt numb in my body as I walked slowly to the altar when the call for salvation was made. But alas, as I confessed my sins and pledged my allegiance to Jesus Christ, my Saviour, a great peace descended on me. Instantly, I knew all my sorrows and guilt were over. I suddenly found something to live for. A new hope. A new focus. A new sense of belonging. And a new life. I was now a changed person. A new creature. Hallelujah!!!
When I got home that night, I felt so sober as I reflected on my past sins. What if I had died in the last sickness I had? What if I had lost my life when I had that major motor accident where seven other passengers, including a pregnant woman, had died? My life was hanging on a cliff all along, and I was so ignorant. If I had died in my sins, I would have been lost forever, I thought. As I meditated on my new-found joy that night, I couldn’t share this wonderful experience with anyone. I went straight to bed. I never said a word to my mother, but I sensed that she knew something had happened to me since I returned from the crusade looking sober.
Neglected Path to Glory
My mother herself had a Christian background but had been very unfortunate to marry my father, a Muslim.
This was due to her father’s carelessness, love for material things, and friendship with the world. He let down his guard and fell to the devil’s devices. As a contractor, a Muslim friend had recommended him to the Ministry of Works and Housing. The ministry had awarded her dad a contract worth millions of naira to build a housing estate in the state. The contract had been without any form of bribe or trace of corruption.
He had wondered how pious a person could be in awarding such a contract without seeking or receiving any form of gratification. So in return, he opened his heart to this Muslim friend who had recommended him for the contract and they became partners. Their children also got acquainted with themselves as their friendship grew. That was when my parents met.
Mum’s Fate and Faith
My father, a young Islamic scholar at that time, had deceitfully worked his way into my mother’s heart. He promised to convert to Christianity after the wedding. They fooled my mother and her parents into believing these lies. Thus, they joyfully went into, not only business, but also marital ties with “unbelievers”.
Afterwards, life got tough for my mother and she was not allowed to serve her God again. Although a weak believer, even before the marriage, she knew which religious path was right and which was wrong. And she knew she had missed it in marriage. My mother had then vowed secretly to show us, her children (there were four of us) the right path when the time was right…So on that fateful day when I went to the crusade, she had sensed in her spirit that something definite had happened to me.
She kept her thoughts to herself and waited for what destiny had in store for me.
No Gain without Pain
The next morning, after my father had gone to work, she sat me down and gave me lessons on what fate lay ahead of me. “If you are to tow the path of this newfound religion of Christianity, you will have to carry your cross“, her words echoed in my ears.
She then went on to reel out a series of persecutions I would likely face from my father especially, the world, and even sometimes, other believers. Now, when I look back on that day, I knew God had spoken to me through my mother. Although her words had seemed frightful and had appeared designed to make me fret and renounce my salvation, they have rather strengthened me and given me more reasons to hold on to my faith and to defy all stumbling blocks that I might face.
In fact, my mother had been my anchor, secretly giving me support, hope, courage, strength, and succor through my journey as a Christian pilgrim. Though the cross may be so burdensome to carry, as I grew in faith, I realised that believers need the grace to pull through till the end.
Despite the hardship, turbulence, trials, and temptations that our glorious decision to stand for Christ bring, when we stand in Christ, we will not stumble, for He will carry the cross with us.
Diary of A Christian Pilgrim is an account of my pilgrimage as a Christian. Watch out for the next episode as I face the dilemma of towing this right path.
What lessons, have you learnt from this episode? Have you witnessed any major persecutions and trials arising from your newfound faith in Jesus Christ? Or do you have someone in similar situations? Share with other believers in the comment section below, and strengthen yourself in the Lord.
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