By Femi Aribisala
Members of the Healing Wings choir came to me with the suggestion that we should establish a recording studio at the back of our building in Festival Road?” I thought it was a good idea, so we sat down to discuss how to bring it about. First, the building would have to be sound-proofed. Then, we would equip the studio.
By the time we had finished with the planning, the price-tag for the project came to 7.5 million naira. I was able to raise 2.5 million naira, which meant we had a big shortfall of 5 million. Not to worry, I went on my knees and asked God for the money.
Way back when, He had made me a promise: “(I will) make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8).
God’s answer blew my mind. He told me he had already given me the money. The required 5 million naira was even then sitting pretty in my bank account.
Indeed, some weeks earlier, 5 million naira was deposited in my bank account. But, strictly speaking, the money was not mine. It belonged to an Alhaji in Ibadan to whom my brother had sold a piece of land.
My oldest brother sold the backyard of our family house in Ibadan to him for 5 million naira. However, I refused to sign off on the deal on the grounds that our family house is not for sale. But my brother had not only collected the money, he had spent it.
When I refused to sign the agreement for the sale, the Alhaji threatened to have my brother arrested. We either must refund his money or sign the papers for the sale.
Then my other brother came up with a brilliant idea. He suggested that we should sell another plot of land in Moor Plantation that we inherited from T.S.B. Aribisala, and then use part of the proceeds to refund the Alhaji.
So, we sold the Moor Plantation land for more than the needed 5 million naira, and the money was paid into my account. We then divided the balance between the three of us, leaving 5 million for the Alhaji.
But then we hit another bottleneck. My oldest brother refused to sign the agreement for the new Moor Plantation sale. He insisted the money should have been paid to him, the oldest brother, and not to me, the youngest.
It was while we were at this stalemate that the issue of building a studio came up. The Lord told me He orchestrated the stalemate so I could use the 5 million naira earmarked for the Alhaji to establish the studio in the meantime. He promised to refund the money at the appropriate time.
Jesus says: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” (John 10:27). “They will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” (John 10:5).
By the grace of God, by that time, I knew the voice of the Lord. So, I knew He was the one who gave me the go-ahead to use the 5 million naira. Therefore, I used the money to put up a spanking studio in Healing Wings.
But a few weeks thereafter, the impasse with my brother was resolved and I was required to pay the 5 million naira to the Alhaji in Ibadan. I confidently asked the Lord for the money, but all I got was the silent treatment. He ignored me and did not provide any money.
I suddenly found myself in a quandary. The Alhaji from Ibadan was not amused. He wrote me a stinker. He called me all kinds of names. I was accused of being a thief; a 419 man to boot. Worse still was the reaction from one of my brothers. He was very quick to hurl insults at me. He told me that I had been pretending all along to be righteous and Christian when he knew that, deep down, I was nothing but a crook.
I could not defend myself but turn to the Lord. I cried out to Him: “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far away when I groan for help? Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer. Every night you hear my voice, but I find no relief.” (Psalm 22:1-2).
Reproach of men
I did not know then what I know now that God deliberately puts those He loves in such cul-de-sac. He does this because he wants us to share in the reproaches of Christ.
David says: “For Your sake I have borne reproach; shame has covered my face. I have become a stranger to my brothers, and an alien to my mother’s children; because zeal for Your house has eaten me up, and the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me.” (Psalm 69:7-9).
I did not know at the time that the answer I sought from the Lord was already written in the scriptures.
Paul says: “In all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings; by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true. as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.” (2 Corinthians 6:4-10).
Fight of faith
As believers, God requires us to fight the good fight of faith in all situations and circumstances. Since I knew it was God that put me in that conundrum, I had to take all the abuse and insults with fortitude and determination, waiting for the salvation of God.
In the end, the Lord provided the funds to repay the Alhaji in Ibadan. He not only did that, but He also gave me, at the same time, the money to send my son, Femi Kevin, to boarding school. This not only shut up my abusive brother, but he was also confounded when he asked after Femi Kevin and I told him: “He has gone to school in England.”
The Lord says: “Listen to Me, you who know righteousness, you people in whose heart is My law: do not fear the reproach of men, nor be afraid of their insults. For the moth will eat them up like a garment, and the worm will eat them like wool; but My righteousness will be forever, and My salvation from generation to generation.” (Isaiah 51:7-8).
Therefore, the writer of Hebrews counsels: “Let us go out to him, outside the camp, and bear the disgrace he bore.” (Hebrews 13:13).