“The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.” —I Thessalonians 5:24 (NIV)
The nearly two decades of the Liberian nightmare (civil conflict that started in 1989 and lasted until 2005) plunged many into an undefined and unrealistic sojourn. I walked from a classroom as a teen to exile as a man. The journey wasn’t easy. Like one going on an adventure, I followed my brother Ernest and family across the border to neighboring Sierra Leone for safe haven. Leaving my homeland and city (Monrovia) then was one of the best decisions, appropriate for escaping the on-going carnage as heavy artilleries and machine guns became toys in the hands of child soldiers. Oh what a gamble then to remain in Monrovia!
This so-called adventure was calculated to last just two weeks. Later we came to realize that two weeks was mere projection, and the reality surpassed our speculation. After nearly a year, Sierra Leone like Liberia started its own armed conflict. Another nightmare resulted in our forced migration to another country, this time French-speaking Guinea. There it became clear that we would not be returning to our home anytime soon. We summoned up our courage and began making plans for a new life.
As a teen, my utmost desire was career development, and Guinea, being a French territory, wasn’t an ideal environment. With this in mind I moved to far-away Nigeria (my third home as a refugee). All through my stay in Nigeria, with challenges due to my religious background and the complex Nigerian society, I heavily relied on the Lord for his providence and power. This reliance was based on God’s faithfulness to his covenant promises. There was no reason to fear or doubt for God is not a man that he should lie. He’ll do what he says he will. Under extremity I trusted the Lord for everything about life, career and sustenance.
Discerning the call of God, I was blessed to do some spiritual formation or discipleship before advancing to theological training. To allow me to enroll, the college had to overlook many financial requirements because I was a self-supporting refugee. Many a time when fees were due, I had to ask for clemency, pardon or consideration, while trusting God for provision. Many people did not believe I would continue. To God is all glory that, though it was hard, I persevered. Before I finished four semesters, my financial arrears had passed the limit, and I was therefore not allowed to continue my studies.
In the midst of this confusion, God brought First Lutheran Church of Sioux Falls my way. God demonstrated his faithfulness through this church. In spite of the thousands of miles that separated us and without seeing me, they believed everything about me and sent a financial grant to support my theological pursuit more than once when I was on the verge of quitting my studies. This was to make vivid God’s grace. In the absence of God’s faithfulness my story would have had a miserable end. We need to trust God who is faithful; when he says it, he will certainly accomplish it, no matter how long it takes.
Abraham B. Gayetaye, Volunteer consultant, First Lutheran African Ministries