By Femi Aribisala
God sometimes tells us the future beforehand through dreams. Thus, Daniel said to Nebuchadnezzar: “There is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and he has told you in your dream what will happen in the future.” (Daniel 2:28). Since only God is able to do this, dreams become one of the things that affirm conclusively that our Lord is God. Jesus says: “I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am he.” (John 13:19).
In February 1996, the Lord gave me a dream. In it, I was at a funeral but could not tell who was being buried. So I pushed people aside in order to find out. When I got to the front, laid out in the coffin was my “old man:” T.S.B. Aribisala. I shouted: “No. But it is his birthday!” Then I woke up.
Sickness not unto death
25th of June, 1996 would be his eightieth birthday, and we were planning to have a big thanksgiving party for him. I prayed vigorously against the spirit of death and did not give the matter much thought thereafter. But on 10th June, 1996, I got a phone-call from Biodun; my brother. “The old man is very sick,” he said matter-of-factly, “you better go and see him because I don’t think he is going to make it.”
The next day, the Lord woke me up with a scripture. He said: “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” (John 11:4). I was overjoyed on hearing this. It was raining cats and dogs, so I decided not to go to Ibadan again that day. When I went the next day, T.S.B. was much recovered. He was sitting up in bed and having something to eat.
I spent the entire day with him and left Ibadan for Lagos in good spirits. However, on 15th June, 1996, I received an “inner witness” of the Holy Spirit to go to Ibadan. It took me a while to respond to it. When I finally got there, my sister-in-law met me at the door. “Papa is gone,” she said. I did not quite understand her. I thought maybe he had gone out. Then I discovered that he passed away that morning. “But it is his birthday!” T.S.B. passed away ten days to his eightieth birthday.
I became terribly distraught. So what was the point of the revelation I received in Austria? What was the use of my fervent prayers against the spirit of death? Why did the Lord tell me the sickness was not unto death? And yet, he still passed away on the eve of his birthday.
Sickness unto resurrection
The scriptures finally opened to me the “kingdom dynamics” of this divine revelation. I discovered that after Jesus observed that Lazarus’ sickness was not unto death, Lazarus actually died. Then Jesus raised him from the dead. Therefore, I realised belatedly that what the Lord meant was that he would raise T.S.B. from the dead to eternal life. How carnal I had been, praying against an eighty-year-old man returning back to his Father in glory. Indeed, God turns man back into dust and says: “Return, O children of men.” (Psalm 90:3).
When I finally came to this realisation, I was filled with joy so overwhelming, I suddenly started laughing. Like Sarah, it was the Lord who put the laughter in my mouth, so it was completely out of my control. (Genesis 21:6). I laughed and laughed non-stop for several minutes. When I finally stopped, I was exhausted. “When the LORD brought back the captivity of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing.” (Psalm 126:1-2).
In 1997, I rented a building in Lagos. However, the Lord assured me he had given it to me. As a result, I spent a small fortune renovating it. At the expiration of my lease, the landlady offered to sell it to me, even though I never asked to buy it. She agreed for me to pay her unconventionally; in instalments over four years. After four years, I took out a bank-loan for the outstanding N10 million. Thereafter, I did something totally foolish: I closed down all my businesses in one day; eleven of them in all.
When I met the Lord, I owned Videonet; then the largest video-rental chain in Nigeria. The business grew by leaps and bounds from Lagos to Ibadan, to Port Harcourt. But because of the dramatic circumstances of my meeting Jesus, and his miraculous healing of my bullet-ridden leg, my big fear was that one day he would ask me to close down my business and concentrate on the gospel.
However, I was very relieved when God reassured me he would never ask me to do this. It took me nearly ten years to understand exactly what he meant by this. Since I knew he wanted me to close down the business, the Lord wanted me to do so myself, without his having to tell me. I resisted this because the business was my pride and joy. Finally, I relented. In just one day in 2005, I closed down all the branches of Videonet in one fell swoop. The nagging question was then how I proposed to pay back my outstanding ten-million-naira bank-loan.
Old wives’ tales
Out of the blue, the Lord provided the answer. Christian folklore says if you ever see a dead person in a dream, it must be the devil. I know for a fact this is not necessarily so because, a few weeks after closing down all my business outfits, the Lord appeared to me in a dream as my late “old man,” T.S.B. Aribisala. In the dream, I was arranging video-tapes on a shelf. When I saw him, I started sobbing, saying repeatedly: “I am sorry, I am sorry!” He drew me to him and held me to his chest. He wiped away my tears and told me to stop crying. Then he said to me: “I am sending you some money next month from Canada.” That was the end of the dream.
Within eight days, I received unsolicited gifts from friends totaling N11 million. One long-lost friend walked into my office and said: “The Lord says I should give this to you.” He placed a cheque on my table face-down. When I turned it over, it was for N6,300,000. Thus, I was able to complete the repayment of my bank-loan. As a matter of fact, I got the bank to knock off N2.1 million because I cleared it outright.
There are many old wives’ tales about what God will do and not do through dreams. Those who fabricate them may read the bible but they have little or no first-hand knowledge of God. Don’t bother with these chronically envious “Christian agnostics.” God’s works cannot be limited to what is recorded in an inspired book called “the Holy Bible.” Thus says the Lord: “Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it?” (Isaiah 43:19).