THE FIRST ROUND OF TESTS
“The nearer the bone, the sweeter the meat.” The degree of the taste of the meat of Christianity depends on how close one is to its bones.
Radical or Liberal Christian?
I started my saved life on a desperately mixed footing. For the first, I didn’t want to get saved at that time, but once I was led through the sinner’s prayer of repentance, I promised that I would rather die than go back to sin. This could have been enough to set me on a radical footing. But this was not to be if my first testimony of my changed life was something to go by.
After the meeting where I got saved, the first person I testified to about how I met Christ was Jwan, a very close friend. If you remember, he is the same man who had earlier asked me to leave his room because he needed time to read. I told him that I got saved but that I was going to be very liberal.
Some months earlier, Jwan and I had preached to Kuto Nalianga until the latter couldn’t hide the fact that he had something serious to think about. We started as a joke, telling Kuto that he needed to get saved. How we were hypocrites! I had not gotten saved and Jwan was not saved either. I can’t remember the content of our preaching but I remember that it was enough to bring Nalianga to what I later learnt is called conviction. The amazing thing, however, was that the message, despite the messengers, seem to have had an impact. Nalianga didn’t surrender to get saved then but I remember him going away sad. He must have been experiencing the tug of war between the flesh and the spirit.
Little did we know that Nalianga would soon be diagnosed with cancer. He died few months after the diagnosis. It was sad—very sad indeed.
So here I was, telling Jwan, my once “preaching partner”, that I had received Christ but that I would be very liberal. His response was: “You, of all the people, you can’t get saved!” Jwan didn’t mean that I was so evil to be saved but that I was so dedicated to the pursuit of the pleasures of the flesh that he couldn’t imagine that I would tone down. He gave me two weeks. My other friends also gave me at most a month to shed off the temporary euphoria.
The first distracting thought that came to me as I walked from the ward of my second birth was: “Are you really saved? You are still the same person—nothing has changed!” That was something to think about because I really wanted to feel the change. When I looked around me, I realised that the ladies were still beautiful and attractive. I wondered what my future would be as far as my affinity to ladies was concerned.
Men Forbidden to Cry
I grew up in a culture that scoffed at boys crying. Just as girls were proud to be girls so were boys proud of their identity as boys. No boy would condone being called a girl and no girl would like to be called a boy. It was generally acceptable for girls (and women for that matter) to cry for any reason but any time a boy cried, he would be told that he is crying like a woman. This was not in any way to belittle women, it just refers to our emotional make-up. Crying is just a way of expressing emotion. Although “you are crying like a woman” sounded negative, I think it is not an expression to reprove crying per se but a denunciation of identity mixed-up as far as gender emotional make-up is concerned.
If boys were not allowed to cry, it was unheard of for men to do so. At 26, I was a man enough not to contemplate crying for whatever reason—except perhaps, at a funeral. I have told the story above how I cried at the time of my second birth. It was extremely humbling, to say the least, and humiliating, to call it what it was, to have let especially ladies see my tears. I had no control over the way I was overwhelmed by the conviction that fell upon me. I had come into contact with something I never knew existed—the power of the Word of God.
If we can offer our life for it, sacrificing sensualities and anything else wouldn’t be too much a price to pay.
Immediately I got saved the reality of God was revealed to me in ways that surpassed the way I had ‘known’ Him when I was only religious. It dawned on me that I never had the power to keep myself holy. According to me, there were chances that I’d still fall for ladies. I was in a dilemma. I wanted with all my heart to live for God, at the same time, I was well aware of the power of the flesh and how women easily catch my attention. Because of this, I told God that I was willing that He could take my life a day prior to going back to sin. For me the only sin I knew could deal me in was sexual. So when I told God that He could take my life instead of letting me live to go back to sin, I meant this sin. This thing that made me cry in public, especially in front of ladies, was something I was willing to give my life for. I was very prompt in making this commitment. It was therefore interesting that less than an hour later, I was giving a mixed signal, namely, holding that I would be a liberal Christian.
How could I be willing to die rather than go back to sin yet pledge to lead a liberal life? Liberal Christianity is not far from the edge where one can easily fall off the circle of grace. Liberal Christianity may be what the story of the young man called Eutychus signifies. Because he was sitting at the window, it was obvious where he would fall when he fell asleep at the meeting (Acts 20:9). (1)
This mixed-up reminds me of Peter who had talked from a revelation from above, yet almost immediately countered it with a talk that the Lord Jesus could only identify with Satan (Matt. 16:15-23). I have learnt that whenever we make a commitment that would honour God, the devil is always standing by to counter it by giving mixed signals and countering acts and/or utterances.
It didn’t take me long to throw away the luggage of liberality since God had laid it in my heart that one can only be successful in Christian life if one is willing to die for it. And if one is willing to die for it, how can the pleasures of this life be too precious to sacrifice? If we can offer our life for it, sacrificing sensualities and anything else wouldn’t be too much a price to pay.
The caption statement I gave at the beginning of this chapter captures the spirit of commitment. As the old adage holds that the nearer the bone, the sweeter the meat, so it is in enjoying being born again. When we move closer to the hard stuff about Christianity that is when an abundance of grace will be poured our way. Grace is like lubricating grease which helps a machine do heavy work which would otherwise cause friction, tear, wear and breakdown. This is why with the outpouring of grace, committed Christians have been able through time to weather persecution and do so graciously. I therefore chose to move as close as possible to the bones of Christianity so that I may enjoy its meat.
I never knew that what looked like an impulsive euphoria, that is, telling God that I was willing to die than lose my relationship with Him laid a strong foundation that would help me weather through tests and temptations, and they have been innumerable and scathing.
The first test was simple but effective.
Sausage and the Proof of Salvation
It must have been the same week. Elisha, An’giella (my roommate) and I were sitting at a breakfast table in the university’s dining. We had tea, buttered bread, sausages and boiled eggs. Tea and bread were not rationed—one could take as much as one needed. Sausages were rationed—two each and eggs, one each. Since I was allergic to eggs, An’giella was always there to eat my egg share.
The sausages were extremely delicious. I used to spare them until I would be through with other stuff. An’giella and Elisha had started with the sausages. Towards the end, as I was preparing to munch my sausages, Elisha joked: “If you are truly saved, give your sausages to Dan!”
I was extremely offended. I felt so bad not because I was asked to give away something so delicious but because it was to be used to gauge the reality of my salvation. With all sincerity and of all the people, Elisha couldn’t have meant to harm me in any way. It was just that I was still so delicate a baby to be subjected to such a joke.
I stopped eating and for a while I started reasoning inside of me. All my reasonings were pushing me away from salvation:
• I am the newborn baby. I was the one to be “welcomed” and pampered. If there were sausages to be given out on that table I was the one to be the beneficiary. I was however not eyeing anybody’s sausage.
• Was it necessary for Dan who also had already had his two sausages to get another round from me just to prove that I was truly saved? Was it to test my generosity?
• How can something that made me lose face in front of people be so cheap?
• How can something I was willing to give my life for be ascertained by offering a couple of sausages to someone who has already had his?
If this was the salvation I took, then it was a cheap thing not worth the value I had accorded it. I seriously contemplated abandoning it.
This was a very insignificant test but proved very effective. The reason was that it was such a solemn thing I wouldn’t allow any joke around it—No, not that soon!
On a second thought though I realised that I had covenanted with God, that is, I was willing to die instead of going back to sin. The problem however was that my definition of sin was so limited. I was only thinking about what I thought was the only threat to my salvation—women. This is why when the enemy approached me from an unexpected angle, I had not prepared for it. It almost caught me wrong footed by the way I took offence at a joke.
Another thing that also helped me was that I thought about the implications of my backsliding. Really, was I going to fall away because of two sausages? It would look like I liked sausage so much that I’d rather leave the faith than identify with people who wanted me to prove my salvation by giving away the sausages. That would be embarrassingly ridiculous!
Chased by Friends
Another testing moment came through my friends. I didn’t consider isolating my friends although they hadn’t been saved. Few days after getting saved we were together after supper. It was a general chatting, but it soon degenerated into filthy, idle and odious talk. I used to be part of those talks, but now they sounded defiling to the soul. I censored and rebuked them. One of them reminded me that just less than a week ago, I not only enjoyed such talks but that I led in them as an active participant. He told me that the only reason I was censoring them was because I was saved. That was true! It hadn’t been long since I got saved and I couldn’t pretend that I didn’t know what they were talking about. My presence didn’t intimidate them because they still saw me pretty much the same person that they had enjoyed his company. This made them continue speaking odiously. I held my peace but this was very temporary indeed.
I soon found that their language was more and more obnoxiously repulsive and repellently loathsome. I rebuked them one more time. One of them didn’t mince his words: “Ogweno, we find you too ‘holy’ for us, please leave us alone. Go look for the saved people—you may enjoy their conversation.”
I left! I was hurt! I realised that I had to sacrifice my former friends in some way. It was painful because the truth was that I hadn’t established a working attachment to the saved people. The people that I could have started enjoying their company had just hurt me by asking me to give away my sausages “to be accepted”. It felt like I would have to face uncertain future of some social isolation, yet I was not (and still not) the pariah type.
With the outpouring of grace, Christians are able to graciously weather persecution. Therefore, I chose to move closer to the bones of Christianity that I may enjoy its meat.
With time, I matured to stand to such “persecutions”. I realised that if I kept away from them, there would be no chance of reaching them. I went back, not to partake of their perverse language but to be a light in their midst dispelling the darkness of perversity. I had also acquired some authority which made them a bit ‘intimidated’ enough to avoid filthy languages when I was around them.
DID I BECOME IRRESISTIBLY HANDSOME AFTER GETTING SAVED?
Look Lord! This is my soft spot—very soft indeed. If You allow the enemy to put his finger on it, I’ll go down. What about escape? Please take me with You before he reaches out to my soft spot!
“You Are Not Handsome!”
Before I got saved I was one ugly man—a lady told me so to my face.
It was some time in my late teens. A friend of mine had connected me with a lady he felt was a good match. After he introduced us, it was my part to do the rest. I tried all my best to win her for a relationship but she declined. After several weeks pestering her, I felt like it was time to find out why she was adamant, frustrating my efforts. She was not willing to tell me why either, but I insisted. She finally accepted to tell me on one condition.
“Promise that you will not get mad with me if I tell you why I have turned you down”, she demanded.
I promised not to get mad of course—why would I get mad? But when she told me why she declined my advances, I was both stupefied and disoriented. I had no slightest idea that she would say what she confidently declared in my face—looking unblinkingly into my eyes:
“You are not handsome; in fact, I find you one ugly creature in the name of a young man!”
Wow! I had never imagined someone telling me to my face that I was ugly. I had no ready response. She unarmed me.Was I really that ugly to warrant a lady telling me about it to my face? All along no one had ever hinted that I was. I occasionally look at myself in a mirror but so far I liked the image I was seeing. It may not have been the best but it wasn’t bad either.
After she dropped the bombshell, she stood there in front of me, and I also stood there in front of her—speechless! The kind of gesture she cast was that reminding me that I promised not to get mad. I didn’t know what to tell her. She was apparently waiting for my response, kind of challenging me: how do you deal with that?
Failing to get a response and seeing that I stood there empty, she continued, kind of trying to lessen the impact of the bombshell she had just dropped on me. “I didn’t mean that you are ugly for everybody, maybe there are some girls out there who may find you handsome”, she consoled.
As she was explaining that her observations were personal and may not represent others’ view, I remember that I knew her by proxy—that is, through a friend.
I asked her that if she has a friend or a relative who spotted a cloth and judged it a good one for her, what would she do with the cloth if the friend bought and brought it to her even if she didn’t like the cloth. While she was wondering what I was up to, I told her that she would take the cloth and perhaps not use it for special occasions but put it on when she is doing her menial chores. She agreed that instead of disappointing her friend by rejecting the cloth, she would take it but not use it for special occasions. She didn’t know that she had played into my trap.
I then reminded her that it was her friend that “bought” me and brought me to her. The rest is history—and that was by the way.
Weakest Point under Attack
The question I pose as the topic of this chapter is only for rhetoric purposes. If I was ugly according to the lady above, it wasn’t a general observation but an individual’s opinion. The fact of course is that I remained the same person physically but a new person spiritually. My spiritual appearance must have been glowing attracting the enemy who didn’t like it. He knew what had been my weakest point and would approach me from that side before I was fortified in my new-found life.
Salvation is real! It must have bothered the devil when I got saved. Think of it! Before I got saved, I used to chase ladies up and down; left and right. Never at one time did a lady offer herself to me on a silver platter. When I got saved, ladies started hunting me down—literally.
Before I got saved I was one ugly man—a lady told me so to my face.
If I didn’t put my life to go with it, there were chances that some temptations might have overtaken me. I later learnt that I only needed to give my life to Christ, and be truly committed to serving Him. He would then take care of things in His own way. As I indicated in the caption below the topic of this chapter, I thought that the best solution God was going to use was to play escapism with me—that is, snatch me from this life before I fell back for a lady. As I continue telling my story, you will realise that the Lord doesn’t work that way. My weakness indeed became my strength.
The ladies didn’t stop being beautiful. They never stopped attracting me, more often even sexually. Nevertheless, I was seeing them in a complete new picture.
In fact, when God led me to be close to Cate, He was training and preparing me on how to relate with the opposite sexes without being motivated by sexual intentions. Through this relationship, it was proved to me that it was possible to relate with a lady very closely without ulterior sexual motives. That is why to me it was like a miracle.
When we started relating with Cate, I never knew that God was empowering me to be in charge of my life so that I don’t have to follow wherever the sexual instinct was pulling me towards.
I once entered a cafeteria where some party was being organised. There were cakes placed on the table. They looked so good any cake-lover would profusely salivate from temptation. Even though a proverb advises us not to judge a book by the cover, there are many things we essentially judge by the way they look. It was not difficult imagining that the cakes would taste as good as they looked.
There was nobody in the cafeteria at the moment. Whoever put the cakes there knew that someone would be tempted. There was a note written in bold letters and placed as conspicuous as the cakes themselves: Don’t even think about it! The note read.
The person who put the cakes there was warning anybody who might be tempted by the cakes not to give in to the temptation by attempting to taste them.
I mused over the warning and concluded: Definitely not meant for me! Cakes were no temptation to me at all. I was allergic to eggs. Knowing that one of the ingredients of most cakes are eggs, I had not been “thinking about cakes” even when it was alright to do so.
“Don’t even think about it!” That is the point—the real secret for pre-empting the power of sensual temptation. The following advice captures the point:
Sow a thought, and you reap an act;
Sow an act, and you reap a habit;
Sow a habit, and you reap a character;
Sow a character, and you reap a destiny.
Many things go wrong when we start contemplating in our heart things we ought not to contemplate on. Premeditated sins begin with a thought. This is the background against which Christ’s wisdom resounds when He warned: “But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matt. 5:28). In other words, what the Lord was saying was: Don’t even think about it!
The First Cases of Former Hunter Being Hunted
Not once or twice, or thrice. Not four times or five terms. If I was to compile the cases where either a lady directly asked me for a relationship or seduced me by being overtly and aggressively suggestive, I would have a catalogue of such cases.
Lonah (not her real name) was not in the meeting where I got saved. I had not seen her for a while. As far as I knew, she didn’t know that I had been saved. She used to come to a neighbouring room to visit. There had been some changes and this neighbour was now my new roommate. My namesake roommate had moved to stay with someone else. Lonah and my new roommate were coming from the same area.
One afternoon Lonah came knocking. I was alone in the room. She asked about my roommate. I told her that he was attending lectures. I commented that she had been so rare of late. “That’s why I’ve come”, she responded and added, “I’m whole here, just for you—if you know what I mean!”
Wow! I felt shivers of terror run through my veins and nerves. Was I misinterpreting what this lady was saying? No! I didn’t misconceive her message. She made it easy for me to decode her message because she had backed her words with those seductive, suggestive and hypnotising feminine gestures.
This was my first sexual temptation. This, as I have owned up, was my major problem. The only sin I was scared could take me back into darkness. The enemy was putting his finger on the softest spot where I was most vulnerable. I remembered the solemn covenant I had made, that is, I was willing to die than go back to this kind of thing. I was so convinced that God would do what I requested Him that I said to myself: “It isn’t going to happen because if it were to happen, God would have taken my life yesterday!” I had told God to take me a day before. I was not suicidal. This meant that I would not start thinking about the sin. The only thing was that I was desperate to live for Christ. The idea that “it isn’t going to happen because if it were to happen, God would have taken my life yesterday”, became my fallback fortitude of safety whenever I was faced with this kind of temptation.
I was able to divert her attention to general stories about lectures and assignments. It worked; she never pursued longer what she had attempted to do.
There followed cases of ladies just being “too good” to me. Some would isolate me so that we would have a chat without being interrupted. I steered clear from any kind of talk and isolation that would get me into problems.
I had just managed by God’s grace to pass my first test. I didn’t know that this was just but the beginning. The enemy would not let me go that easily. If he failed at the university, he would wait for me at home. If I thought I was tempted by Lonah, then I was in for a shock—more vigorous ones were yet to come.
When God led me to be close to Cate, He was training and preparing me on how to relate with the opposite sexes without being motivated by sexual intentions.
I had been in a relationship with a woman at home. Whenever I went home for holidays, I used to go to her the same day I arrived. This time, of course, I didn’t have the kind of business I used to have with her. I was so scared to face her and tell her of what had happened. I had decided to play escapism. I had been at home for a week. She came to know that I was around but was wondering why I hadn’t gone to her.
She braved the pitch darkness in the countryside in the middle of the night and came to my place. When she knocked at the door, a terrible fear gripped me. I am generally not a fearful person. And again, our village was not known to have thugs. Why was I terrified? I think it was the battle in the spirit and the fact that my life—my spiritual life was on the line. I went to open the door to find out who it was. “Jucy” (a nickname I had given her) stepped in.
Without even greeting her, I fled into the bedroom. I was terrified. I didn’t know what to tell her and what do with her. I had not rehearsed on what to tell her. I had a barrage of rhetoric questions to ask God and they came in supersonic flashes. The first question was: Lord, didn’t you see her coming, why didn’t You stop her in one way or the other? Other questions followed, crisscrossing in my mind: What am I going to tell her; what if someone comes here and find her with me, will not that ruin my testimony forever? How would I convince anyone that nothing happened? What am I going to do? I also had a catalogue of wishes: I wish I was not home; I wish someone told her that I have been saved and that it was over—but wait! Our relationship was secret, who was supposed to know and tell her! I had just to take the responsibility myself.
A whisper in my mind interrupted my questioning and wishing session: She is here! You can’t wish her away and the questions will not help anything. Stop asking questions, and instead give the answer to the following question: What are you going to do?
I don’t know how long I was in the bedroom where I had “taken refuge.” Without even thinking of what I would tell her, I came back to the sitting room. She was still standing in the sitting room, wondering what kind of reception I was giving her. How could I just escape into the bedroom without saying a word?
“Did you meet someone out there at the courtyard?” I found myself asking unpremeditatedly. I had just started a plot of a lie.
I explained to her that there was someone I respect and whom I didn’t want to know about our relationship with her. The person had just stepped out the door when she knocked. That was why I got jittery and had to figure out what to tell him if he asked why you are at my place at such odd hours. Of course she didn’t meet anyone but she bought the lie and when I asked to escort her back she immediately accepted.
She had braved the night. It wouldn’t be fair to throw her back into the dark and let her find her way back home. I decided to escort her all the way back to her house. But there was a problem. I kept on worrying that we might meet someone. Although it was dark, people know one another in the village by their voices. The rule was that when you meet someone at night, you have to talk, at least exchanging greetings. There was no way I could find a plausible alibi for this nocturnal expedition. I prayed in my heart that we don’t meet anyone.
On the way, I explained to her that I lied just to get her out of my house. I went ahead to explain that I had gotten saved and there was no way we could continue with the relationship. She didn’t believe me. She told me that I was damping her because I had met a learned university lady. She started crying, threatening to go and drown in the lake. I rebuked her and told her that with time she would come to acknowledge what I was telling her.
She then asked me to take her all the way INTO her house. I had wanted to leave her about 10 metres from the house. She had started figuring out how to trap me. I accompanied her into the house. She quickly disappeared into her bedroom as I announced that I was leaving. She took it personally; started overreacting saying that she was still a human being and her house was not a stinking toilet where one would want to leave as soon as he finished the business there. I felt so sorry for her, but at the same time, I knew what she was trying to do. I didn’t want to just tear away. But I had determined that I wouldn’t even think about sinning with her. I stood there at the sitting room and she wasn’t coming out of the bedroom. We were having some exchanges. She maintained that I was mistreating her and that she didn’t like it while on my side I was trying to calm her down. She finally called me into the bedroom, claiming that it would be a sign for her that I didn’t regard her as the devil himself and that she wanted to show me something she put up while I was away.
This confirmed what I had already known—the fact that she was trying to trick, trap and trip me into bed. But I was a different man. What I did was something that may not work for everybody—please don’t try it at home or away. I must, therefore, append a solemn disclaimer thus: Don’t you ever try to do what I did in the circumstance; I repeat: Don’t you ever try to do this unless you are willing to die rather than fall in sin. I am not telling this as something to be emulated. I went into the bedroom. All the years we had been in the relationship, I had never experienced her being so seductive. It is not civil giving a graphic description of what she did to get me into changing my mind. Let me just summarise that she did all the womanhood stuff to get manhood into the mood. I stood there watching her blankly, cold as a dodo. When I realised that she had exhausted her seductive tricks, I asked her: “Have you finished, can I go now?”
She stopped, gasped and stepped back, saying, “I now believe you! Something strange has certainly happened to you. I knew the kind of a man you were—you are no longer that man!”
With that I left and went home. Later, I witnessed to her, banking on the change in me she herself could testify about. She got saved.
Two More Cases
The enemy was not giving up and I was not giving in. As is expected he doesn’t give up. But it really doesn’t matter that he doesn’t give up; it matters that I don’t give in. Two women—married women—made life difficult for me. They determined to hunt me down. I had had nothing do with either of them.
The husband of one of them was working in some far town. She started hanging around where I was. Because I had decided not to be quick reading “signals”, I ignored her for a while. I was however becoming pretty uncomfortable by her getting so close. People might start making up stories and this would not be good for my testimony.
The idea that “it isn’t going to happen because if it were to happen, God would have taken my life yesterday”, became my fallback fortitude of safety whenever I was faced with this kind of temptation.
When she realised that I was not picking her signals, she decided to be freaky frank. One evening I had gone to help an old woman write a letter to her son who was working in some other part of the country. The path to that old lady’s home passed near the house of the lady in question. She had been timing me. On my way back, she frantically attempted to intercept me. She called me, welcoming me to enter the house. I refused but didn’t have the guts to tell her off. I had wanted to find a way of frustrating her efforts without necessarily hurting her. I don’t like hurting ladies.
After refusing to enter, she walked over to me and pressed a piece of paper in my hand. I asked what it was. She told me that I will find out when I get home. Again, I didn’t have guts to refuse to take the paper. When I reached home I lighted a lamp and looked at the paper. It was a letter in which she had expressed her feelings for me.
I never responded. Because I was planning to go back to college in a few days’ time, I decided to ignore everything. That I was saved is something that quickly spread around in my village. This was because I was witnessing to people left and right. In one of my witnessing missions, a man jokingly told me that I was just hiding behind salvation so that people may not mistake me for mischief even if they see me with their daughters or wives. I laughed it off and told him that it wouldn’t be difficult to tell something genuine with time.
By the time I came back for another holiday, the lady had given up on me. But there was another woman who was trying her shots. I must confess that at this time I was not brave neither had I matured enough to rebuke such people. I played hide and seek, taking advantage of the fact that I would not be home for long. After the holidays I would “disappear” back to college.
The reader can come up with his/her own conclusions but for me, the kind of person I was as far as women were concerned, the timing, the frequency and fervency with which ladies were hunting me down only tells one thing: Salvation is real and the devil doesn’t like it; he knows our weakness and would effectively use it to get us back to his kingdom of darkness. As you can see, he was playing on my weakness but God was on my side. The devil was not done, as I will tell more later.
Proceed to Chapter 15