Do Miracles Exist?
First, I am writing this as a Christian full with the power of the Holy Spirit. I received the gift of speaking in tongues on June 1st 2016, at exactly 12:00a.m immediately I was to start my daily mid-night prayers. So this write-up is not to pull down the Christian faith (which I am proud of) or ridicule the power of the Holy Spirit nor to portray myself as being righteous. And to the Glory of God, I still receive the blessings of the Spirit till this day, so before you see the negativity in this article, please do endeavour to read down and see where I am going with the question I posed and understand where I am heading at.
According to the Pew Research Center , Nigeria has the largest Christian population of any country in Africa, with more than 80 million persons in Nigeria belonging to different church denominations in the country. 68% of this Christian population are in the southern part of the country.
The most thriving and growing denomination is the Pentecostal churches in threapuntry, many of which are domiciled virtually everywhere with a population of 1 church to three thousand, eight hundred and seventy members, provided the church population is distributed evenly with the number of churches in the country. This statistics is to show you how much churches there are in our country and how ‘religious’ we are that religion has become the rationale for our mode of working, and sometimes is substituted in place of common sense. For the purpose of this write up, I will make use of some biblical quotes to back up my points.
In Galatians 6 vs 7, the scripture said ‘…God cannot be mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he shall reap’ (KJV) but sadly, today, our Christian populace has changed the narrative of the scripture and resorted to getting things the easy way out. They now expect to reap where they have not sowed, and even sometimes, sowing sparingly and expecting to reap bountifully. This is not gainsaying, it is the truth. And for the cause of this write-up, I interviewed some frequent church goers to know the psyche they have about our ‘miracle working God’ who would bless them even without any input whatsoever from their own.
Emma is a 24 year old undergraduate student of the University of Lagos, Nigeria’s most prestigious university. He confirmed that he gained admission to study at the university after three years of waiting until God intervened through one of the night vigils he attended before his post UTME exam. He said ‘I had previously tried to study at Unilag but I was denied admission the two times I did post UTME, so I told myself I was just going to try once more with the same school and if it doesn’t work out, I’ll try another school’. His father is a priest in the church he attended and that had a great effect on his religious being. ‘ So in one of our night vigils, I told God to help me get admission this last time to the school and if He doesn’t, I will accept it as my destiny and try out other schools. But this time, to my greatest surprise, not only did I pass the exam, but I was also admitted. Now I’m in my 300 level advancing to the next’. Asked if his ‘miraculous’ pass was because of his vigil vow or his preparedness, he said it was all down to his vigil vow and not preparedness. ‘I had prepared for other past exams but I did not pass. So this time that I took it to God, it was something else. In fact, a day before the exam, I was supposed to be studying, but I chose to go the revival we were having at our church then and it was great’. He passed. God had secured his admission for him miraculously, for ‘what man cannot do, God can do much more’, he said.
Emma’s issue above is quite interesting in one part and in the other part, maybe very stupid, but brave. First, he had prepared for the same exam before and he failed, so preparedness may not be key to success this time around so he resorted to a mightier power than he had and it paid off. But many had more interesting story than his. Mr. Lucky, as his name implies, is indeed lucky, and he shared his own miracle story with us.
‘My wife had just delivered and we have spent all we had on the baby’s naming ceremony but we were trusting God to help us with our house rent as our landlord promised to send us out of the room we occupied if we couldn’t pay him in a month’s time. He pitied us till that time because he knew we had spent all we had on our baby’s naming ceremony. But God works in mysterious ways. We later paid him two years rent instead of one year which we normally pay’.
Mr. Lucky said he was able to get the money after he had sowed a seed of faith in Church a Sunday after the landlord’s warning. ‘The man of God prayed for us after sowing our seed. It was the last money with me but I knew I couldn’t multiply it or let it work for me anyhow so sowing it as a seed was easy. My wife already prepared what to eat before leaving for church that day, so he had no trouble with me using my last cash as a seed. And has God would have it, that seed opened many doors for me. That same day, my in-law called me that he had a job for me and paid sixty percent of the total cost of the job even before I started. Though I didn’t later do the job as the contract was cancelled, but he never worried me about paying back the money to him. He insisted I kept the money and till today, he does not want to talk about the money’. Mr. Lucky’s testimony is now two years ago. His rent is due this coming December and he still expects the same miracle. ‘ My brother, who can question the ways of God?’ He asked after I enquired how he intends to renew his rent. He continued further ‘Even the prophet that came that time will be holding a new fire revival in our church next month. If he wants me to empty my account for him, I will gladly do it so far as I am doing it for the good of the house of God’. This is how much Mr. Lucky believes his luck can work for him again. But then, one would be made to wonder what the scripture meant when it said faith without works is dead.
Like Mr. Lucky, there are many Christians in the country who believe in getting this miraculous bail-out from their many issues. Whilst some of these people work out their faith in getting the desired result, many others totally leave their all for God to bare. Mrs. Ajulo is one of such who resorted to totally leave out the working of their faith to God. Her husband now keeps late night And is no more loving to his own family. Some times, he even beats his wife if she decides to try to speak to him to change his ways. The issue seems diabolical and spiritual So she faced it all hands spiritually. She joined one of the white garment churches in her area and began praying for her husband to change his ways. At first, the result seemed promising but became unbearable after some time. In her words, ‘I had just joined the church at the end of our street that even people were amazed to see me go to church but I was not deterred. I knew why I had gone there and what I want to achieve. And after about three weeks, I noticed my husband started changing for the good of myself and our kids. He started eating my food and I was happy with the outcome but all of a sudden, he changed again. It was then I knew the case is not ordinary. I had not stopped going to church so I continued with my prayers but till now he is yet to change. But I’m sure God will change him again to be the loving husband that I married’.
Like the American movie, ‘War Room’, Mrs. Ajulo faced the devil head on And initially conquered but now it seems the victory has been thrown down the side of the devil. What could have caused a change in result? Now, she does night vigils in the church three days of the seven in every week and sometimes, even go forty days night vigil straight with numerous days of dey fasting. That is the extent she would go to ensure victory and seal it. But her neighbours see her victory living somewhere else.
‘She has to learn to respect her husband and make life easy and bearable for the man’, Eunice, a co-tenant in the same building said. ‘Most times, this woman would harass her husband after he comes back from work and was making the man restless. The man had to start staying in clubs and bars drinking till late night before coming home. But later we saw the wife had changed. She was going to the church at the end of our street and we thought God had taken control of their family but it seems the woman had sent the man outside again. She now frequents church And sleeps in church more than she sleeps at home. Some times, it is the husband that would bath, feed and take the children to school because their mother is in church doing night vigil. I just pity the children and the husband. He seems caring enough for that kind of woman’. Other neighbours see from Eunice’s point of view and suspect the woman is the architect of her own misfortune which she now seeks solution for.
Going further, I met young Juliet, a worker at the Ogun state secretariat who just received her own miracle. Last week was her birthday and God used her boyfriend to surprise her. He got her a tokunbo Honda Accord car. She needed one to elevate her status in the society and to ease transportation to and fro work for her. And God answered just at the right time and now, she owns one of The hottest rides in town. ‘I am now a proud car owner’, she said, flinging the car keys at me with a bunch of other keys for her house and her shop. ‘I pray this kind of blessing for hard-working people like me too’, she said smiling at how much she has achieved at a young age compared to her peers and the sound of ‘Amen, me too’ echoed the office building we were in. Five out of the seven of us in that office were ladies her own age. They are all level five workers at the state secretariat.
In Nigeria, poverty rate is among the highest in the world. Just recently, it was designated the poverty capital of the world by a report from the Brookings Institution, overtaking India. In the report, “At the end of May 2018, our trajectories suggest that Nigeria had about 87 million people in extreme poverty, compared with India’s 73 million. What is more, extreme poverty in Nigeria is growing by six people every minute, while poverty in India continues to fall.” And while churches continue to grow and expand, the standard of living continues to decline in the country. The people have now totally left out what needs to be done to God to take care of. Miracle jobs, spouses, finances, amidst other expectations are now the hopes of an average Nigerian, giving more credence to the President’s assertion of the youths as being ‘lazy’.
In this report, there are other cases of people who totally left all and expected miracles but were left wandering when it seemed their miracles were not forthcoming. One of such people is Faith, a 29 year old lady trusting the Lord for a spouse. She is in her sixth church now after several programmes for searching singles were started in those churches she had become a member. Asked what she had done to seek and attract the love of her life to her, she responded that she believed everything happens at God’s own time. She is not on Facebook or other social media and rarely uses her phone. Her name has such strong hold on her that you cannot but help wonder how strong one’s Faith could be in this turbulent time of hers. Like her is Tunde, a 32 year old graduate of Botany who is seeking for employment. He said he ‘visits’ the church often so he can get connections with the ‘men that matter’ in town so they can fix him a good job. He attends one of the prosperity-preaching churches at Abeokuta where men come to church with their SUVs every Sunday showcasing their beautiful families for all to glare to the Glory of God. Asked what he does when he doesn’t go to church for ‘connection’, Tunde says he reads the newspapers at the newsstands everyday seeking job openings and vacancies. Also asked when was the last time he saw or applied for one, he said the ones he saw were not in his locality and the ones that are located within his vicinity don’t pay much to keep body and soul together. Currently, he plays sports bet (gambles) and stakes on high odds to increase his chances of becoming a millionaire sooner than expected. He hopes to win his first million before February next year.
Like all who have been mentioned in this report, there are millions of other Nigerians living almost the same lifestyle or prototype lifestyles of the people mentioned. Messages of blessings and miracles are their forte. It is what they listen to every Sunday, and see the effects of these ‘miracles’ as one senator who has just benefited from the proceeds of a graft can gift his young lover any expensive gift So far as she can show him much love than he has been getting. Juliet’s boyfriend and lover is a serving lawmaker in the country’s red chambers.
So while I believe in miracles, I do not believe in magic neither do I subscribe to the Nigerian definition of miracles because it is what God cannot do-magic. We cannot expect God to perform magic on our behalf when we fail to do what needs to be done at the right time. It is this belief that makes most Nigerian church-bound because they expect some form of magic from God. And as I quoted earlier, do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. Whatever a man sows he shall reap (Gal 6:7 KJV).
This piece is written by Abiodun Olumide Daniels and I retain the copyright to it. It was first featured on my Nairaland article here
Please note that all the names in this write up has been changed to protect the identities of the interviewed persons.