By Femi Aribisala
If Satan can’t steal your joy, he can’t keep your goods.
On December 26, 1993, I was attacked by armed robbers on the road from Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos. This attack has proven to be one of the greatest blessings of my life. Joseph said to his brothers who sold him as slave to Egypt: “You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good.” (Genesis 50:20). Similarly, my ears were opened during the attack and I heard the Lord speak to me for the very first time. He said: “Femi, nothing is going to happen to you here.”
That became my introduction to “kingdom dynamics.” Although the Lord assured me nothing would happen, something happened almost immediately thereafter: I was shot in the leg. However, the Lord ignored this and continued: “Femi, there is nothing wrong with your leg.”
God said to Habakkuk: “The just shall live by his faith.” (Habakkuk 2:4). Accordingly, the Lord’s challenge to me was to live by his word and not by the feeling in my leg. A few weeks later, the Lord visited me and healed my broken leg miraculously. That healing blew my mind. Today, there is still a bullet in my left leg. But, according to the word of the Lord; there is nothing wrong with my leg.
The healing of my broken leg became a watershed for me spiritually. Suddenly, the hills of my life came alive with the songs of deliverance. My attitude to the word of God underwent a sea-change. Jesus says: “Freely you have received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:8). To receive the Lord’s healing is to have healing to give. Jesus also says: “These signs will follow those who believe: in My name they will cast out demons… They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mark 16:17-18). Therefore, I knew I would be praying for the sick for the rest of my life.
The first sick person the Lord asked me to pray for was my sister-in-law’s mother. He said he would heal her if I laid hands on her and prayed for her. I visited her in hospital and did exactly that. But two weeks after that prayer-session, she died. I started wrestling with God. Why would you ask me to pray for someone and afterwards the person dies? What then is the point of the prayer? But the Lord offered me no explanation.
Some weeks later, I got a visit from a delegation of the women’s group of Ikoyi Baptist Church, Ikoyi, Lagos. I had given a testimony in their church about how the Lord healed me miraculously. They informed me that one of their husbands, Chief Olagbaju, was seriously ill. They had been fasting and praying for him. Suddenly, the Lord reminded them that I had been to their church to testify of his healing power. He told them if I prayed for Chief Olagbaju, he would heal him. When I asked the Lord, he confirmed that he had, indeed, sent them. So I eagerly went with them to pray for him at home. But two weeks after that prayer-session, Chief Olagbaju also died.
I resolved to mind my own business after that and to pray for no one ever again. But the Lord would have none of that. He asked me again to go and pray for the mother of Chibuzo Nwoke; a colleague of mine at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Lagos. She had a stroke and was in a coma. This time, I decided to go with some accomplices so that, if the woman also died, I could not be held solely responsible. I persuaded Mrs Margaret Vogt and Mrs Titi Ayanfalu, also my colleagues at the Institute, to accompany me.
I was greatly encouraged during the prayer because immediately I touched the comatose woman, she moved. Therefore, I was convinced I had finally overcome my deadly anointing. But two weeks after that prayer, Nwoke’s mother also died. This plunged me into a big crisis of faith. It seemed I was being used to kill and not to heal. My wife did not help matters. She said jokingly: “Whatever happens, Femi, don’t pray for me.”
Wrestling with God
I was quietly minding my business at the house-fellowship of my church, when the Lord decided to provoke me again. My first cousin, Tunji Bamgbose, told us the story of one Kehinde Ladipo, the Managing Director of Lisabi Mills, who was terribly sick with cancer. Then he said: “I think Femi should go and pray for him.” I immediately recognised this to be the conspiracy of God and, like Jonah, was determined that I would not go to Nineveh and be embarrassed yet again, but would head instead for Tarshish. (Jonah 1:1-3).
However, mindful of being swallowed by a big fish, I finally went to see Kehinde Ladipo most reluctantly. I discovered he was not a baby-Christian like me. Although in considerable pain, he was strong in faith, trusting in God. When I told him my testimony, he needed no convincing. He already knew Jesus heals. I prayed for him and went back home, convinced I had finally turned the corner.
But two weeks later; I was back again to square-one. His family sent for me. They said after that prayer-session, his condition improved remarkably. But now, it had become so much worse. Could I come back and pray for him again?
By this time, I had reached the end of my rope. I told the Lord flat out: “I am not going.” So he said to me: “Femi, don’t pray for him again. Just play a videotape for him.” But what tape would one play for a man dying of cancer? The Lord chose a videotape by Jerry Savelle entitled: “If Satan can’t steal your joy, he can’t keep your goods.”
After much soul-searching, I went back to see Kehinde Ladipo. When I tried to play the tape, it stopped playing after only ten minutes. Nevertheless, I gave him the gist of the message: “Don’t let Satan steal your joy.” Accordingly, for the next two hours, in concert with members of his family, I sang praises to God with Kehinde Ladipo. Afterwards, I took my leave and went home.
Two weeks after that praise-session, Kehinde Ladipo also died.
This time, I decided not to fight the Lord. I told him: “I don’t care anymore. I will pray for whoever you ask me to pray for. Kill them if you like, that is your business. My own business is to pray.”
When I reached that conclusion, the Lord suddenly asked me to sing a song. The song says: “I will enter his gates with thanksgiving in my heart; I will enter his courts with praise; I will say this is the day that the Lord has made; I will rejoice for he has made me glad.”
Finally, I understood. The song told me everything I needed to know. Kehinde Ladipo was going to heaven. I was not sent to heal him, but to prepare him. The Lord was saying to him: “I want you to enter my gates with thanksgiving in your heart. I want you to enter my courts with praise.”