The Arts

April 15, 2024

Fight fear with faith, Okolobo teaches in new book

By Osa Mbonu-Amadi, Arts Editor

In John Chapter 2, during a wedding event in Cana of Galilee, Jesus, at the behest of his mother, performed His first miracle by turning water into wine after the party ran out of wine.

Jesus’ wine was so good that the master of the feast who had no idea how the wine came about said to the bridegroom: “Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!”

In this 216-page book, “FEAR NOT!” by Precious Okolobo, published 2024, with a foreword written by Mazi (Dr) Sam Ohuabunwa, the author, as the bridegroom in Cana of Galilee did, served what some people would consider as the best part of the book in the last three chapters (13, 14 and 15) which tell the spellbinding story of how he battled the scourge of fear to survive cancer.

Reading those last three chapters first would have better acquainted the reader with the author who lost his wife to the same cancer a few years before becoming afflicted himself, as well as convince the reader that this man knows what he is talking about in this book, although the author explains he didn’t want the story of his cancer journey to distract readers from the key message which had inspired the book.  

In chapter 1, the author defines fear as “our response to a perceived sense of danger or threat.” After considering other definitions he concludes that fear is a product of our perception, which may be real or false.

Here, the author does not use the word, “perception”, to mean sensory perception – the use of our sensory organs (eyes, ears, tongue, nose and hand) to gain a better understanding of the world around us; the ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses. Rather, he uses the word, “perception” to means the different ways in which something is regarded, understood, or interpreted.

The use of “perception” in the book is closer in meaning to “perspective”, a point of view, which varies from person to person. Two persons, for instance, see the tail of a reptile near their feet in a brush. One thinks it is a snake and jumps up in fear. The other person remains cool, believing it is the tail of a lizard – same object, eliciting different responses, depending on perception or perspective.

The author also uses chapter 1 to discuss what he calls “a trimmed list” of fears, including cowardly fear which God puts in the same category with murder, idolatry, sorcery, etc.

In chapter 2, using examples from both the Bible and secular sources, the author makes an expert anatomy of fear, showing not only how it tempts, torments, imprisons, debases honour, stops the show and causes foolish behaviors, but also how fear can be a catalyst for good. How does fear do all these? Find out by reading chapter 2 in detail.

Chapter 3 begins its second paragraph with a number of related important questions that have to do with fear and suicide: Why do people fear to the point of seeing nothing worth living for anymore? Why do they worry to the extent that they lose sight of the pain and trauma that the loss of their lives would cause loved ones? Why do some people stop seeking answers to their problems and instead opt to kill themselves? The whole of that chapter is devoted to addressing those questions.

READ ALSO: Chibok girls: Stakeholders berate FG, decry spate of kidnapping in schools

In the midst of all the fear-inducing problems of this world which were already foretold by Jesus, the author prescribes that “believers will take these things in their stride and ‘redeem the time’ but unbelievers will be in a state of perpetual suspense and ‘confusion of face.'”

Chapter 5, titled “Mechanics of fear”, explores how Satan instills fear in us. In addition to other weapons, distortion of reality, exaggeration and doubt are Satan’s key modus operandi. Of those three weapons, doubt is probably Satan’s most potent weapon, in the sense that doubt, which creates unbelief, is the opposite of faith in Christ, the best antidote to fear. The author identifies other weapons which Satan deploys to instill fear in us and how we can crush those weapons.

The aim of the book, as the author puts it, “is for us not to open the door of our hearts to fear.” What are the main gateways of fear? One of the gates, and no doubt, the most malleable and vulnerable of all human faculties, is what the author calls “Mind Gate”. In connection to this important gate, the author warns on page 100 and repeated it on page 102 for emphasis: “Watch what thou thinkest”. That warning is quite reminiscent of Norman Vincent Peale’s bestseller, “The Power of Positive Thinking”. Find out what other gates of fear there are from chapter 6 titled “Fear Gates.”

Chapter 7 discusses the difference and conflict that arise between fact and truth, asserting that without faith truth cannot be accessed. This reinforces the author’s thesis that faith is the key weapon available to us for combating fear. Chapter 7 naturally dovetails into chapter 8 titled “Fighting fear: Principal weapons” and chapter 9, “Fighting fear: Lethal weapons.”

Teaching on how to listen to the voice of God in chapter 9, the author identifies a widespread sickness afflicting many Christians today:

“The challenge with you and I is that we want drama more than the message. Until God speaks to us as He did to Moses on Mt. Sinai through fire, thunder and earthquake, He has not spoken. We’re a generation of drama, noise and glamour seekers. We’re fun seekers who are not fond of the Lord.”

Chapter 10, “Mind Transplant”, details and emphasises the crucial role the mind plays in the ‘fear matrix’, prescribing different mindsets – mind of thanksgiving, praise, rejoicing, love, obedience and prayer, as antidotes to fear.

The author zeroes in on the ailment (fear) and the medicine (faith) in chapter 11, “Faith versus fear”, two opposing forces which can be considered to be at the core of the book.

Chapter 12 presents some heroes of fear, and of course, of faith. Commendably, the examples are drawn from both biblical and secular sources.

Chapter 13, 14 and 15 narrate the frightful cancer journey of the author, a journey of death, and of survival through the application of the principles the book lays out. This unusual, terrifying experience by the author more than convinces us that he knows what he is talking, about fear and faith. In chapter 15, page 210, the author writes: “I often wonder why God kept me alive when there was every reason for the contrary to happen.”

Although he gives his own answer citing 1 Chronicles 28:4 as example, many may like to believe that God kept the author alive to tell this story, deploying his excellent writing skill, knowledge of God and ministration ability, so that those of us who will read the book will be humbled, give our lives to Jesus and appreciate the gift of good health instead of taking it for granted as majority of us do. The author says exactly that in the 3rd paragraph of the next page, 211:

“This is the story of a man who danced with death and walked away alive. Life is a gift. We would be ungrateful if we felt entitled to it. You didn’t go to bed last night with a guarantee that you would wake up this morning. Even if you did, life would have still been a gift. Don’t take the gift for granted. The best way to appreciate the gift of life is to turn it over to the Giver. Life in the hands of The One who created it is the best. Where is your own life?”

General comments

To his credit, the author brings sources from outside of the Bible to support his views – Dr. Zachary Sikora, a clinical psychologist with the Northwestern Medical Group, U.S; Walter Bradford Cannon, an American physiologist; The Baton Rouge Behavioral Hospital, U.S; John Hopkins University School of Medicine, The Northwestern Medicine Group in the United States, and quite a number of other authorities.

Not a few Christian literature writers, including Norman Vincent Peale, Joyce Meyer and Richard Roberts, agree with the thesis of this book that the antidote to fear is faith. “You can cancel out a fearful thought or an apprehensive thought with a faith thought,” Norman Vincent actually wrote in one of his articles, “Overcome fear with faith.”

Beyond serving as a manual for conquering fear, Precious Okolobo’s FEAR NOT! is also a compendium of materials for discipling – a concise but condensed textbook for training of those who have decided to be followers of our Lord Jesus Christ. The author could not hide his proficiency as a Sunday School teacher in Assemblies of God Church, Nigeria, which writes and publishes one of the best Sunday School manuals in the world.

Apart from a few footprints of the inescapable printer’s devil observed, and the author’s copious quotations of Bible texts in indented forms (instead of using more in-text citations) which may pose some challenges to readers not so inclined to reading many Bible verses, Precious Okolobo’s FEAR NOT! is an excellent book, both in print and in content.

This is a book nobody, irrespective of religious affiliation, can afford not to read, because nobody is immune to the problem of fear.