Pastor David Musa, stood before the Church Council, ready to make a presentation for support of his missionary outreach in the Mambilla Plateau. It was a yearly event and each year, he brought a different testimony to the Council, evidencing the progress made and outlining where the work will be focused on next. This year, he brought Tobi’s story.
Tobi was not your regular man. Dark, six feet tall, with a carriage that made you fear him, even when he did not say or do anything fearful. Looking at him, in his usual shorts and T-shirt, you could assume he was a wrestler or a boxer. His angular face had a few scars, which he had gotten from a car accident that nearly took his life in his younger days. He was handsomely attractive and looked out of place in a village or a farm.
I met him when he initially came to survey the village. Being one of the few who could converse in English, I served as interpreter for foreigners that visited. I introduced Tobi to the village head and acted as his translator when land purchase discussions were being had. Talking to him, I discovered that he believed in nature and loved the outdoors. For this reason, he abandoned his lucrative job as an analyst in a well known consulting firm, after ten years of meritorious service, to farm in the Mambilla Plateau, which was considered the food basin of the country.
According to him, instead of talking about improving the economy of the country, Tobi wanted to get his hands dirty and show that it could be done through farming. Liquidating all their assets to buy land, he initially started on his own, while his family remained in Lagos. A year later, when he had settled down and built a farmhouse on their property, he relocated his entire family to join him.
As could be expected, major changes had to be made. The children were to be homeschooled by Laide, his wife, who had to stop her job as a lecturer in the new Digital University. Tobi said they had debated the issue on and off over a period of five years before Laide finally agreed to take the plunge. Three years into the whole arrangement and their lives had changed completely.
From Laide’s perspective, the decision was a blessing from above. In the three years, they had spent more time together as a family. They were more intimate and understood each other better. The children, two rumbuctious boys, had flourished in the atmosphere that offered lots of space to play and endless adventures. The icing on the cake was her new found relationship with Christ, which happened a year into their stay.
Laide had come to church with her boys initially. Over time, I ministered to her and she eventually made a decision for Christ. Coming to faith was a big deal for her and it opened her eyes to the wonders of God and His ability to plan out their lives. She believed God definitely sent them to Nguroje, although they did not know Him at the time. The only dark shadow was her husband’s criticism of her approach to faith. According to him, he believed God existed, but He did not require people to pray loudly and go into theatrics in church. Church to him was a few hymns, a few silent prayers and that only on Sundays. That was enough. He did not believe in giving his life to God. As he always said, ‘God has it already’.
Tobi rarely accompanied them to church, but once in a while, he did, just to please Laide. On one of such occasions, a prophetic word came during the service. According to the prophecy, a day of darkness was approaching and everyone was to be alert and be prepared.
“Darkness in daylight, people scrambling for fear. It is the day of the Lord. Repent and be saved, that you may not be consumed on this dark day, says the Lord”
That was the prophecy.
Tobi shrugged the word away. Laide later told me that he complained, saying that he objected to prophets always prophesying doom. Why couldn’t they see a good thing?
Familiar with his criticisms, she had merely replied that prophets will say what they are led to say, nothing more or less and they left it at that.
Nothing could have prepared them for what happened a month later. The whole village was caught unawares. We all woke up to a regular day and were going about our regular business. It was early, around 7 a.m. For Tobi and Laide, they had woken up early, as usual. Activities on their farm was off to an early start. Laide went to collect fresh eggs from the chicken pen and on her way, picked some fresh tomatoes to fry with the eggs. Although the farm had a big poultry unit, she kept her own chickens in a pen, within her reach. She also had a small garden of her own, where she grew a few vegetables for their needs. She delighted in serving her family fresh food. It was one of the perks of farm living.
Tobi had gone for his ride around the farm, which he did every morning, before joining his family for breakfast around 9 a.m. The boys would help around the house, sweeping, cooking and cleaning.
Everything was okay, until a loud explosion was heard, followed by a trembling of the ground. Electricity was cut off and everywhere was quiet. There was a strong smell of burning and smoke in the air. Villagers rushed out of their huts, panicked. The early morning daylight vanished, and there was darkness everywhere.
Laide, home alone with the boys, panicked as she went to check on her boys. She found them huddled in a corner of their room. She took them with her downstairs, where she searched for her phone. Finding it, she called Tobi but could not get through. She discovered there was no service on the phone. She waited anxiously, hoping Tobi would show up; unable to imagine what could have caused the explosion and hoping it was nowhere near him. The eerie quiet persisted but after a few minutes, natural light was restored, as abruptly as it had disappeared. They were able to see well and they ventured outside.
Outside, everywhere looked normal, except for a thick cloud of smoke colouring the sky. It seemed to come from not too far away. And the smell of burning persisted. Phone service was still out and Tobi was nowhere in sight. As they stood waiting, not knowing what to do, they saw Tobi’s truck approach with speed. Once it stopped, they rushed to hug and hold him. Laide was surprised to find he had tears in his eyes.
“What happened?” she asked.
“Something fell from the sky, a huge rock. I think it’s a meteorite or whatever they call it. It’s quite huge. It landed right in the middle of the corn field. It brought down the power lines and started a fire. The villagers helped to put it out. Let’s go inside.”
“I think it must have brought down the telecoms lines too. There’s no network service.”
“Yes, I noticed. I tried to call you”, Tobi told her. “Thank God we are all okay. There’s quite a bit of damage but no one is hurt.”
“Thank God o!”
Laide continued with breakfast and after they had a hearty meal, Tobi drew her aside to tell her something she did not know.
“When that explosion happened, and it was dark, I was so afraid. The words of that prophecy came to mind and I just started praying, asking God to forgive me. I prayed the prayer of repentance and gave my life to Christ.”
“You did?” Laide shouted, excited.
“I did. And do you know, He answered me. I heard His voice in my heart and He said ‘Don’t be afraid, Tobi, I am always with you. Be at peace.’ And do you know, I immediately felt such peace. Even though I still didn’t know what had happened, I had such peace in my heart. I knew everything was going to be alright.”
Laide was elated, pulling him into a tight embrace, “Thank God! I’m so happy! We have to tell the boys.” She got up to call them, but he stopped her.
“Before you call them, let me say this: God tricked me. That prophecy and this incident. What are the odds that a meteorite will choose to fall on this land where we are and soon after such a prophecy?”
“It tells me that God will go to any lengths to get your attention. He didn’t trick you, he just drew your attention.”
“No, He tricked me. But I am most grateful for it.” He knelt down and pulled her down with him, in a praying position
“Thank You God for tricking me”, he prayed.
“Today, I testify that God sent me to the Mambilla Plateau for people like Tobi and Laide. And the many other villagers that have come to faith through our work. I can say that the harvest is still much and I would crave your full support to keep this work going. Thank you.”
Pastor David concluded his presentation to loud applause.