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Identity: Conduct & Responsibility

Until you resolve in your hearts, your very foundation in terms of who you are, you’ll stand confused all your life. Tell yourself, “I’m a child of promise and I’m a wonder of God”. Do you believe it?

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In the society in which we live, a malleable sense of truth creates false realities; whether media spin, non truth, or biases that have been accepted by political tactics, as long as they line up with the objectives of those speaking them.

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If I Perish, I Perish

by Pastor Afolabi Oladele

“If I Perish, I Perish!” was a statement made by the famous Queen Esther, wife of King Xerxes (Ahasuerus) of the Mede-Persian Empire, who reigned from 486 to 465 BC. Queen Esther, being a Jew, was faced with anti-Semitism which started after Joseph, in Egypt. For the privilege of her being Queen at that time, she had to stand up for her people against an evil plot by Haman, the second in command to King Xerxes, to wipe out all Jews in the Empire. And for her to do this, she had to develop a mindset of “If I perish, I perish” in order to go to the King and seek his help to thwart that decree, or at least give the Jews a right to defend themselves.

Her mentor Mordecai said to her, “Don’t think for a moment that because you’re in the palace you will escape when all other Jews are killed. If you keep quiet at a time as this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?”

“For Such a Time as This” was the theme for the Eagles Youth Camp 2014, and this message preached by the Senior Pastor of The Christian Brethren Church, Lagos, is central to that theme.
Right from the beginning of time, God gave examples in His word of young people; from the days of Joseph, Daniel and the three Hebrew children, to Esther and down to the New Testament, it took only a handful of people who stood out for the laws of God even if it meant laying down their lives. Joseph was alone, Daniel and the three Hebrew children were alone, Esther was partly alone. All of them were given the mandate to bring a change into their time. They were agents of change.

Will you be a change agent? Change agents make up their minds. It is usually a choice made, and not one to be taken lightly. This choice usually has a price to it. I would like to lay a foundation to a few fundamental principles to what you need to do in order to have a mindset of “If I perish, I perish!”
There is so much easy living of “what will be will be” that has characterized this generation of which I often wonder: Do they really know what it’s all about? The quality of the outcome of anything that you do in life is dependent on the amount of preparation that goes into it. You need to understand that taking Esther through a twelve-month preparation wasn’t just for fun. This generation of young people does not take preparation seriously.

Esther has a book named after her in the scriptures, the book of Esther. There were six principal characters in the book of Esther namely: Mordecai, Esther, Haman, King Ahasuerus, Vashti and Hegai. The first six verses of the book of Esther point to very important factors in establishing three basic principles that are critical for anyone who wants to develop a mindset of “If I perish, I perish!”. And if you don’t get them and make up your mind as to how you deal with them, you have a long way to go.
Esther 1:1-6 NLT “These events happened in the days of King Xerxes, who reigned over 127 provinces stretching from India to Ethiopia. At that time Xerxes ruled his empire from his royal throne at the fortress of Susa. In the third year of his reign, he gave a banquet for all his nobles and officials. He invited all the military officers of Persia and Media as well as the princes and nobles of the provinces. The celebration lasted 180 days—a tremendous display of the opulent wealth of his empire and the pomp and splendor of his majesty.

When it was all over, the king gave a banquet for all the people, from the greatest to the least, who were in the fortress of Susa. It lasted for seven days and was held in the courtyard of the palace garden. The courtyard was beautifully decorated with white cotton curtains and blue hangings, which were fastened with white linen cords and purple ribbons to silver rings embedded in marble pillars. Gold and silver couches stood on a mosaic pavement of porphyry, marble, mother-of-pearl, and other costly stones.”

Firstly, King Ahasuerus was ruler over a large kingdom. He was so wealthy that he set a celebration that lasted for six solid months! This tells that this king loved to have fun and to show off his opulent wealth and abundance of fortune. This was a society where the leadership had nothing other than pride to show the extent of his wealth. But who gave him the wealth or the power? A thread of pride ran through the lives of the kings in their time, beginning from King Nebuchadnezzar.
And I want you to look at yourself in this generation. What drives your life? For those of you have beauty to show off, or those of you whose parents have wealth to show off, I want you to know something very crucial: you are nothing outside God. And when you begin to show off and to trample upon the One who gives you grace and all things, you are not fit to be a change agent; you are an instrument for destruction!

Pride was what king Ahasuerus exhibited in showing off his wealth, and simultaneously, his wife, Queen Vashti was also doing the same. Lesson number one is the question of pride: pride has no place in the lives of those who want to become change agents, because pride says, “God, I don’t’ need you.” Ponder on your life so far, what is it that makes you swollen- headed? Is it your sonorous voice, your good shape or your intelligence? There is nothing that you have that was not given to you. And wherever pride establishes itself, God is not there.

The second foundation as history tells was that King Ahasuerus lost out on a battle against the Greeks that began the fall of his empire, after all his showoffs. This tells that pride goes before a fall. There are two ways and you have a choice to make in this matter of pride. 2 Chronicles tells the story of Hezekiah. The Bible tells that he was a man that was deeply committed to the ways of the Lord. It is rendered in the King James Version as “he lifted up his heart in the ways of the Lord.” Pride is a way of lifting up your heart; but you can be proud in the things relating to God as Hezekiah was, and you can be proud in the things that are contrary to God.

Yet another king, Uzziah, is spoken about in the Bible who when he became powerful, he also became proud and that led to his downfall. So in terms of your heart being lifted up, there are two directions: you can be strongly committed to the ways of the Lord like Hezekiah was, or you can be committed to yourself like Uzziah. That’s why I say the matter of pride boils down to choice. If you don’t have a heart that is strongly committed to God, you won’t become the change agents that God wants you to be.

The second foundational principle had to do with Vashti. History has it that it was an established law in Persia that strangers were not allowed to look on the wife of other people, and particularly the wife of the king. The king became drunk and asked for his wife to be brought so that all the people who came for the celebration could see her raw beauty. Vashti was caught between the law of the land which said people cannot gaze upon a woman’s nakedness and the order by her husband to display herself before the whole nation just to please the king. She obeyed the law of man and she lost all.

It was in the words of Memucan, one of the seven princes of Persia, who suggested the punishment to be meted on Vashti for disobeying the king that we see there was a superior unwritten law of God which says that a woman, should obey her husband. When you obey the law of man and despise the law of God, not only are you arrogant to God, you become an instrument that is ready to perish. In this question of being a change agent, you will come against laws of men that stand contrary to the word of God which is the superior law. What choice will you make when you face that test?

What would have been true caution for Vashti? True caution is obeying and being in submission to God over the laws of men. But Vashti responded with the flip side of true caution, which is rationalization. She rationalized that she would be better off obeying the laws of the land. But rationalized fear has no place in God’s standard because it finds excuses to just play along with the world. Joseph would have given in to Portiphar’s wife if he responded with rationalized fear over losing his job. Caution and rationalized fear are two principles that run through the entirety of the story of Esther.

Joseph, Daniel, the three Hebrew children, and Esther all got to a point where they had to decide between caution and rationalized fear, where caution means obeying the word of God in totality. The Lord Himself warned us while He was here; He said in Matthew 10:28 “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

Change agents will face threats at some points in time. There is more to being a believer that just going to church; and singing and dancing. Jesus told us not to be afraid of those who destroy you. Because apart from threatening you, they can go afar as killing you. Don’t be afraid because they can only kill your body but they cannot kill your soul. And the Christianity that brings us to this stage is not the yuppie kind of Christianity that is prevalent today, when unrighteousness is like drinking water at all levels. You have to make a choice whether to walk with God and be in the place of caution that God is calling for, or you want to be in the way of the world.

Jesus went on to say: “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.” There’s nothing that happens to a believer that God does not know, or has not permitted; but He is not obliged to give you an explanation or to ask your permission. And it is in His hands whether to save you or not. Those who are developing the mindset of “if I perish I perish!” they come to terms with this.

Who are those likely to threaten you? Acts 4:13-26 shows that those who would threaten you are those who feel that their position will be jeopardized by your obedience, because it would expose them and show that they are wrong. What about your friends who cheat at exams and you stand against them and try to expose them? Don’t some of them threaten you or even organise people to beat you up? Are you making a choice to stand for the truth and the right? If you cannot stand up against these little challenges around you, do you think you can stand in the day you are faced with the challenge to either deny Christ or die? Rationalized fear would have made Stephen to run away for his life and deny Christ, but he stood in the place of caution, because he knew that his soul will be spared. Consider Peter when Jesus was arrested in Gethsemane. Peter responded with a sword to threat, even when his master Jesus, standing right beside him, did nothing. Your right response to threats should be just prayers and continuous obedience, nothing more.

I want look at the attributes that characterized the life of Esther. Mordecai and Hegai were the very two most important persons in Esther’s life. I am persuaded that Mordecai was a man that had a solid relationship with God in such a degree that God was told and showed him what He was going to do with his people. This first element in the life of Esther she was her humility. She never claimed to know too much. She was an orphan whose parents had died in harsh conditions, while Mordecai, her cousin, both from the royal family, adopted her as his own daughter.

Hegai, who never knew nor met Esther before, was attracted to her humility. Humility attracts favour. Hegai had never met Esther before, but there was a mark upon her life that showed that she recognised authority over her life. But what do you hear in our society today? You are told to sell yourself; to blow your trumpet. You need to have the sensitivity to understand those whom God will send to your life to chaperon you into destiny in fulfilling God’s purpose. If pride of beauty had been in Esther, she would have messed herself up and wouldn’t be a candidate for the king.

God sent a Mordecai, who understood the destiny that He had appointed for Esther in the spiritual, and he was committed to it not for his own sake, otherwise he would have accepted Esther’s gift in the day of trouble and that would have been the end of it. He was a man who was close enough to God to know God’s purpose even when it had not been fully understood by Esther herself. As Mordecai was on the spiritual side, so was Hegai on the physical side. For one whole year of preparation that Esther went through just for one night with the king, it tells you that the quality of what you become depends on how well you have prepared. And I ask you: how well do you prepare for anything that you are doing in life?

I have worked and have been in business for forty plus years and when I go out for marketing presentations, I’ve found out that the results I get depends on the amount of good work that I have done. But you young ones, all you want to do is to twit and to Facebook, and those things take your time away. Because you don’t have the discipline of when to put them aside and face what is important for your lives. You have to know what God wants for your lives if you really want to be change agents.
Esther 2:15 “Now when the turn of Esther, the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her for his daughter, was come to go in unto the king, she required nothing but what Hegai the king’s chamberlain, the keeper of the women, appointed. And Esther obtained favour in the sight of all them that looked upon her.”

Why would Esther not ask for anything? Could she know better the taste of the king than the King’s chamberlain and keeper of women? She couldn’t. That is recognizing the place of those whom God has set over you as mentors, as chaperons and as guides to get it to the place of destiny, they know better. They are not a people who want to abuse you and use you for themselves. Hegai demanded nothing from Esther, her humility already won his heart and he was willing to do all to bring her to the place that she was going to be, as queen over the empire.

Mordecai on one hand, who by virtue of his closeness to God understood what God was working out in the life of Esther, and indeed for the entire Jews. How do I know this? Let’s look at the genealogy of Mordecai.

Esther 2:5 “There was a certain Jew in Shushan the palace, whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite”

Mordecai was related to Saul. He was the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, the father of King Saul. And why would he not bow to Haman? This brings us back to caution and rationalized fear. We need to understand Mordecai’s root and note that there are two issues that this should invoke in our hearts: Saul his forefather was destroyed because of disobedience to God in totally destroying the Amalekites.
The word of God did not make a mistake in talking about Shimei and Kish. Shimei was the man that cursed David. So on one hand the mention of Shimei makes us to know that Mordecai knew the difference between respecting divinely constituted authority, because Shimei his grandfather failed in that he did not respect constituted authority. So the reason he was not respecting Haman was not because he did not know he ought to respect authority. God mentioned Kish to bring to us the memory of Saul not killing Agag, thereby disobeying the instruction of God. And so God swore that throughout his generation there would be war between Israel and the Amalekites until the Amalekites are wiped out from the face of the earth. Mordecai was sound in the knowledge of the Word. How much of your Bible do you know?

How can you know true caution if you don’t know the Word? Are you in the prime of your youth and you don’t even know the basis for which you are opposing the enemy? Mordecai understood the history of what happened to his fore-fathers; he knew that they lost the royalty for sparing the Amalekites and Agag. He understood that constituted authority was to be respected, but only those that God actually put in place. It was a reflection o f how close he was to God in the circus he was. God put all these in the scriptures so that we can understand why he did what he did when he came face to face with Haman. So when a Haman an Agagite shows up vaunting himself in pride and Mordecai refuses to bow to him, you understand that before Esther actually faced the test of “if I perish, I perish!” her mentor already faced it.

You should cry out to God for shapers of your destiny; people who have gone through these things and have triumphed in them. The moment people began to tell Haman that Mordecai refuses to bow to him; Mordecai could see his own fate, because Haman was the most powerful man after the king. Yet he demonstrated the “If I perish, I perish!” mindset and was prepared to lose it all so as to stand in the place of caution and obedience to the living God.

The disposition of Esther
Ephesians 6:1-4 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with a promise: “that it may be well with you, and you may live long on the earth.” You fathers, don’t provoke your children to wrath, but nurture them in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

This scripture has three components tied to it that we often put aside. The context addresses children and parents. Paul makes it clear that children have responsibility before God and that the commandment actually has definite benefits to it. The prosperity of Esther in destiny is not devoid of the fact that she was obedient to Mordecai. You cannot prosper on your pathway or even at your destiny without being obedient to those who God has set over you, because tied very closely to this issue of obedience is that aspect of the prosperity. One of the benefits as stated in Deuteronomy 4:39-40 is the prospects of long life, which also contains an implication of prosperity. And because Esther had recognised the place of obedience to Mordecai and Hegai, it is impossible for the Word of God to fail, that she would have a long life, it was only a question of the choice that Esther had to make in crossing the Rubicon of the “if I perish, I perish” mentality.

Concerning the test that will come your way to prove if you have made up your mind on the “if I perish, I perish!” mentality, you need to understand that God will not ask your permission, He is not obliged to give you an explanation, He has right to do what He wants with your life. It’s up to you to make the right choice.

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Youth is a conundrum. It can be just as exciting as it can be challenging. The scriptures say in Genesis 8:21 that the imagination of man’s heart has been evil from his youth; and Paul speaking to Timothy said: “Flee youthful lusts” (2 Timothy 2:22). And it is this conundrum of feeling mature at one time and directionless at other times that result in the weirdness of youthful dressing and behaviours.

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Your Story, Your Worship

by Pastor Afolabi Oladele

The famous quote: “All things are possible with God” is one that resonates right from the infallible word of God as written in the Bible’s book of Mark 10:23.

It is widely acclaimed that many successful people are people who have erased the word “impossible” from their dictionaries and from their lives. Come to think of it, why would some people live as if nothing is impossible while others live as if nothing is possible? It is all a matter of perspective!
The way to having an “all things are possible” perspective is to believe that you are pregnant with possibilities. And there is no other expected end of pregnancy other than birth. This is a reminder to all young people in Christ, that you can achieve your life’s purpose with God on your side.

A vivid example of a young man in the Bible days who was pregnant with possibilities was David. He was a stripling youth who was a shepherd for his father’s flock. From the wilderness to a battle front, David found himself in the first battle of his life against a giant named Goliath, whom he defeated.
How can a young man without any experience of battle defeat a giant whom expert warriors were afraid to confront? He had never gone to war before, but he had gotten experience from the fields where he was a shepherd, and he had learnt to rely solely on God for his help. His life types the life of a true worshipper of God, because worship flows from the womb of true worshippers. David had been trained of the Lord in the place of worship.

In Psalm 144, David declared how the Lord had trained him: “Blessed be the LORD my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight: My goodness, and my fortress; my high tower, and my deliverer; my shield, and he in whom I trust; who subdueth my people under me. . . Bow thy heavens, O LORD, and come down: touch the mountains, and they shall smoke. Cast forth lightning, and scatter them: shoot out thine arrows, and destroy them” (Verses 1-6).

In the imaginary that David presents in this Psalm, we see a man who is surrounded by enemies, yet recognizes his inability to face his troubles, expecting his salvation only from a great and holy God who is able to deliver him. Here we see David expressing the power of worship.
In typical battles, swords and weapons are used, but we find David using only five stones against Goliath. In the above Psalm he presents 5 qualities of God in which he describes God as his goodness, fortress, high tower, deliverer and his shield), depicting the five graces he applied in using five stones to war against Goliath: five attributes, all standing upon the platitudes of a holy God who is able to deliver.

The battle that David fought was before he became king, although he had been anointed before then (See 1 Samuel 16). And though he had not become king, he saw the task ahead of him, and he prayed: “Rid me, and deliver me from the hand of strange children, whose mouth speaketh vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood:” (Verses 11-12).

Why did he pray this prayer? The answer is in the ensuing verses: “That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace…”

The only way that youths can grow to be like cornerstones in God’s palace is to understand the power of the eternal God to deliver them from the factors that can hinder them from fulfilling God’s purpose for their lives. It is in that light that I present stories of young people who surmounted their challenges and became glorious in life; so that you can draw lessons from them and understand that you are pregnant with possibilities, irrespective of where you find yourself at the moment.

The first story is that of Cohbams Emmanuel Asuquo, a visually impaired Nigerian musician, producer and songwriter. He is currently the CEO of Cohbams Asuquo Music Production CAMP, an all-encompassing entertainment company that discovers, nurtures and exposes great talents.
The following are excerpts from his interview on TEDxEuston in 2012, where he spoke about his gift of blindness:

“I am a dreamer, though not in the literal sense, but in the futuristic sense. Fortunately for me a lot of the things I’ve dreamt about in my life have come true for me. I believe very strongly that one of the elements that fuel my very strong sense of imagination and my ability to dream is the gift of blindness. So I am going to share with you a couple of things that I have learnt, and a couple of life lessons that I think will be invaluable to you.

“I was born blind; no one else in my family of six children is blind. There is no known cause, no links, no explanation, just the reality that I cannot see with my eyes. I was born and raised in the poor side of the military barracks where we lived in a small block of eighteen 2-bedroom flats. I shared a flat with my two parents, my three siblings, and whatever stray pet came our way at the time, as well as with my father’s Honda Road Master 80/100 which slept in the living room with us for fear that one of its mirrors might be stolen by morning.

“In my neighborhood there was always something to look forward to. My mornings were characterized by news of whose water-pumping machine had been stolen, or squabbles between neighbours over who had wrongly killed someone’s chicken. Actually some people attempted to resolve the chicken issue by tying a piece of red string on their chicken’s legs. I don’t know how it worked, but such was the environment I grew up in.

“To me, blindness does not have any physical, psychological or social meaning because since I had never experienced sight, I was not aware that I was without sight. I thoroughly indulged in the innocence of young boyhood—I ran down the stairs, jumped over gutters, played hard, fought even harder, and got into every imaginable type of trouble that a skinny rambunctious young child could get into.

“On a number of occasions I ran into walls, people, and furniture, so hard that observers would shake their heads in pity and say in pidgin English, “Person wey we dey feel sorry for, e no dey feel sorry for himself.” And of course my response to such a rebuke was to scurry off and catch up with my friends, and to hide whatever bruises or cuts I had sustained away from my mother’s disapproving eyes.
“Initially, I scoffed at other people’s well meaning concern and pity because I did not understand what the fuss about my blindness was all about. But as I grew older and gained more understanding of the intricacies of living as a sightless person in a world designed for sighted people, I was faced with the looming possibility of failure in my life. But what I actually considered to be much worse was that people were ready to excuse my failure because of my disability. This is brings me to my first lesson: Do not excuse failure for any reason and on any account.

“I don’t mean that we should be unmerciful and impatient towards those who are either less able or disadvantaged; I believe that we should share one another’s burden because we all face low points in our lives. What I am saying is that failure will come, but in the same way that it comes, we should see to it that it goes.

“Instead, what I have observed is that wherever there is a larger than life seemingly insurmountable flaw in a system, in our cities, in our leaders, even in our own character and bodies, we choose to excuse failure. We overlook it, indulge it, become even comfortable with it and even find different terms for the failure such as “the Nigerian factor” which we call it here, and then we move on with our lives. But by excusing failure and blaming it on some systemic flaw, we miss the opportunity to scale through insurmountable obstacles to elevate ourselves and others.

“When I turned ten, I was enrolled in a boarding school for the blind. Fast forward to graduation day, teachers and other well wishers were giving us advice about going into the sighted world. We were forewarned that we would come across people that would be generally mean to us—they would snatch away our books, pull out our typewriter ribbons, give us incorrect change, and generally just take advantage of us because we were blind.

“I am sure as you may also know, that not all public opinion is correct opinion. I didn’t want to worry myself about those so I decided not to take that particular piece of advice. I didn’t know if it was conscious, but I just decided that there were so many unfortunate things in life that can happen to you regardless of whether or not you are blind. This is a tough lesson but I have learnt to trust, sometimes even when I have no reason to.

“As a child I was quite fun to be with and playful too. My older brother had taught me how to jump over
open street gutters, so anytime I was with my friends and they informed me that there was a gutter before me, I would jump. Pretty soon, I discovered that my friends were telling me to jump even when there were no gutters to jump over, just so they could have a laugh. But eventually, we all had a good laugh about it. And even after I found out, I still continued to jump. I chose to trust them because quite honestly staying out of those smelly gutters was very important to me. You might ask, “Can’t a person be too trusting?” But I think that trust has no expiration date. Blindness has taught me to keep trusting, keep hoping, and keep believing.

“Because I trusted, I went ahead in my university days to buy myself a Beetle Mercedez Benz Wagon while my friend drove me around. And even though it broke down on the first day I bought it, it was a thing of pride for me yet people just wondered why I was bothering myself.

“For me, I have come to find out that sight sometimes is a distraction. I say this because I found out that when my wife goes shopping, no matter how good her intentions are to purchase only the items on her list, she somehow manages to come home with extra—“good deals”—as she likes to call them. She knows a lot about sales and she is a fantastic woman. But don’t get me wrong—sight is very precious gift, but on your way to your destination, what you see can also be a big distraction from your goal. So, I have learnt that you have to be blind in order to be focused. Focus is blindness in a sense. Most of you can relate to this because your goals and successes can only be achieved by being blind to several things in your life.

“We live in a culture that esteems sight over blindness and understandably so, and associates blindness with weakness. Yet from blindness in all of its weaknesses, I have drawn some key strength in my life’s journey. When the brutal reality of blindness stared me in the face, self-pity and failure loomed over my shoulder. Some, I am sure, would have excused me if I became a failure. But I found it more fulfilling to break away from their expectations of mediocrity to successfully navigate and negotiate my way through life, even if it ruffled the feathers of those who genuinely cared about me.”

What do you make out of Cohbams story? A very good point to note from Cohbams is that not once did a word of blame issue from his mouth such as “why me?” What about you? Do you blame your situation on your parents or your background? You need to remove that toga of excuses from your life because you have the mighty God.

The next story is that of a young man, whose life is predicated on the scripture in Proverbs 18:16 which says, “a man’s gift makes way for him and brings him before great men.”
His name is Frank Edwards. He is a Nigerian contemporary Christian singer-songwriter and recording artist. He is the founder and owner of RockTown Records. In an interview with Grace Digital in 2016, which he titled My Story, My Testimony: the secret behind the glory, he shares his story and tells how he has gotten to the place where he is today.

Excerpts:

“I am a product of my worship, and it is not by singing, it is by grace. I am living in a house that I did not pay a dime for. Do you know what it means for someone to finish building a house and give it to you? Every time I come out of my house I look around and ask myself, “How old are you?” because I know it is not by singing. But now I just want to even let people know the secret behind the glory they celebrate.

“When I released my first album the definition, Loveworld Records produced it for me and the first night we sold a hundred thousand at the Night of Bliss and that was a lot of money. We didn’t know it was going to sell that much. And then we had another programme and it was also sold. So the Loveworld productions called me to say that they have made quite some money from the sales and they would like to give me one million naira. To me that was I lot of money! When I told my mom she advised me to leave it as my first fruit to God. And it was not as if she had any money, we used to hawk together in Enugu state, and at the edge of a breakthrough—to receive one million naira—we turned it down and turned it over to God as a first fruit.

“Later I was taken to South Africa to shoot my first video by Loveworld as compensation. There in South Africa I met other people who wanted to promote me but asked that I remove the name Jesus from my songs and use God instead, in order for the music to circulate and reach people who can be offended by the name Jesus. When I saw the offer, I thought “Well, Jesus, God? Is there really any difference? But God spoke to me and said, “If you do this, you will not last, but if you don’t, I will double whatever they promised you.” So again I let the offer go. My manager even felt I made a mistake.

“When I returned to Nigeria, God began to do His work. I released my second album and from nowhere, I was told that somebody had been trying to reach me and had even sent all her staff to look for me in my church. She finally got my number and called me to say, “I have been listening to your music and as I listen, God keeps nudging me to do something for you, do you mind coming to see me in my office? I went and she called all her staff and they took pictures with me. Then she said she just wanted to bless me like God placed in her heart and she gave me an envelope. On my way home, I opened the envelope and found out that she gave me ten thousand dollars. I thanked her and she even promised to foot the bill of any project that I wanted to do.

“When I got home I separated my tithe from the bulk money. The upper week I was told that someone else was looking for me. When the person contacted me, he said, “I have been listening to your music and it has blessed me so much and God placed it in my heart to bless you. Can you come to my house?” When I went, it was the same story. God does not make empty promises and He knows how to make the chain reaction. A forth night later, another woman called me to ask, where do you live? I told her I lived in Ikeja and she said, “Ikeja is noisy, how do you create your music in that noisy environment? Would you like to move to Victoria Garden City?” I first calculated how much accommodation costs in that high rise area in Lagos, so I told her that I was not ready yet. Then she asked me when I would like to move and I told her that I would work on it. The next thing was that I saw moving trucks at my house that had come to move my things to VGC. And I was asked “what would you like to move from this your current house?” I told them I wanted everything but I was told that the house in VGC was already furnished so I only needed some very essential things. That was how I got a house that I did not pay for in Victoria Garden City, and I live like a king. God kept His promised and I kept my own part of the deal—I did not disobey.

“When I met Don Moen, all I wanted to do was to take pictures with him—the usual thing to do when you see a big superstar. But when he put his hand on my shoulder, he looked at my face and said, Frank Edwards (I was like, you know my name?) Then he brought out his phone and showed me my songs and said he had told himself that anytime he gets to meet me we would do a song together.

“I never asked for collaboration with Don Mon, I don’t even know how to reach him but God knows how to
do His things. So Don Moen arranged for us to do a recording together. I told him that I didn’t have a Visa to travel to the US, but he said he would come to my studio in my house. I thought it was a joke, he came the day he promised and he was with me from 8am to 9pm. And after that, he also said we have to do a recording in his home in Nashville.

“So I had to get a visa. I got someone me to take to the consular general’s office without observing all the necessary protocols, but it did not work out. This all goes to say that when God does His things, He does not want any man to take the glory. I felt I had gone about it the wrong way, if after meeting face to face with the consular general and your visa is declined, what else?

“I asked God for mercy and applied again, this time without telling anybody. When I got there, all the embassy staff from the entrance where all saying “O Frank Edwards, we love your music!” even inside the interview hall I was told to go to counter 10. But God had gone ahead. The interviewer smiled and said to me “I love your music! You were amazing at the Experience!” and that was how I got my visa and went to USA to meet with Don Moen and we are done with the Album in which Don Moen spoke Igbo Language for the first time, and that is the first African Collaboration with Don Moen or with the Integrity Music Inc.

“While I was in America, God opened door and Don Moen asked me, “What can we do for the upcoming African artistes who have so much talent but lack the right exposure and technology? The result is that we opened another company together of which he is the president and I am the vice-president. So I went from hawking goods on the streets of Nigeria to becoming the vice-president of the biggest recording label in Africa! I don’t know what you are believing God for, but don’t let your background put your back on the ground. It does not matter your circumstances or whatever, if you are in Christ, you are a new creature. Old things have passed away and all things are become new!”

Another interesting story, right? One of the lessons from Frank’s story is, Never negotiate away God in you r life! Never negotiate Jesus away for money, pleasure or whatsoever! You can take examples from the lives of Whitney Houston and the likes, who all started well in the church, but when they got to the threshold of fame and popularity, they threw away God, the cornerstone out of their lives. Don’t let immediate satisfaction take away from you the lasting possibilities that God has put in your life. That is how Satan deceives people.

Secondly, you must have ears that are open to God because that is how you will receive instructions from Him. And the foundation for that is your relationship with God. How is your relationship with God? Are you really a true worshipper of God? Worship is really all about total dedication to that which you esteem the most important in your life.

A man’s gifts makes way for him but above all the crowning glory is the eternal God who calls the things that be not as though they were. You may not be an Asuquo Cohbams or a Frank Edwards, but you are you, and you are pregnant with possibilities. God is more than able and ready to work in you as you put your trust in Him.

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