Counting My Blessings: Pregnancy, Fear and God

The month of July, 2016 was a very reflective month for me. My eyes had been wet with tears in appreciation of God’s goodness. You know the feeling when you have been walking with God and trusting Him, then you encounter a situation where you thought your end has come and yet God comes through for you? That was exactly how I felt.

I have always known God for His faithfulness, but He has demonstrated it towards me and my family in ways that are dumbfounding.

WP_20160315_10_18_17_ProWhen I picked seed in my first month of marriage, I had not adjusted to my new role as a wife yet.

Coupled with my first pregnancy, the experience was quite overwhelming for me. I asked God for grace daily. You could hear me say aloud ‘Lord help me!’

Then came the nightmares. I had dreams where I had miscarriage. There was one dream where someone told me that no matter how long I carried the pregnancy, they would abort it. All I could do was pray and keep trusting God. I read a lot about pregnancy from babycenter.com and the more I read the more I became afraid of what awaited me in labour.

I had to go through a Cesarean Section because I developed preeclampsia (pregnancy-induced hypertension). But God outsmarted the enemy and helped me through a safe delivery of a bouncing baby boy on the 21st of April.

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About the same period of delivery my dad got seriously sick and remained so for a long time. The enemy bargained with me to choose between my dad and my son but I rebuked him. I chose both my son and my Dad. The devil wanted to cut short the joy that the new child had brought into the family but Jesus said NO. God saved us from sorrow; He did not permit that I wore black instead of the white I was supposed to wear as a new mother. Glory to His name.

There were petty issues of unforgiveness in my family that created a doorway for the enemy but the blood of Jesus spoke on our behalf. At instances where we did not know how to pray and were weak in prayer, the Holy Spirit interceded on our behalf. He revealed whatever was hidden and helped us handle them through prayer.

When we chatted as a family, laughed together with my dad and played with my son, all I could do was to raise my eyes to heaven and say ‘Lord indeed your faithfulness abounds’.

In the month of July, I graduated with an MPhil in African Studies from the University of Ghana—a journey purely made on divine provision.

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We had the naming ceremony of our precious angel, Nyamedea (he truly belongs to the Lord) which coincided with our first marriage anniversary—what I call the triple blessings!

We owe it all to Jesus. His praise will continually be on our lips. If there is something I will never stop doing, it is trusting God with my whole being and relying on His will and directions for my life. The journey has just began; we rely solely on His abundant grace to keep us going and winning, all to His glory and purpose. I urge you to also count your blessings and give Him the praise He deserves.

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Misplaced Priorities

My husband sent me pictures taken in 2010 in which I was saying an opening prayer at the inaugural ceremony of the Classics Students’ Association (CLASSA). I was the electoral commissioner for the association then. When I saw the pictures and showed them to my siblings, they laughed at me. I could not help laughing too because I was very skinny then.

As I observed the pictures, I was full of gratitude and praise to God. I could not stop pondering on God’s FAITHFULNESS. Even when we are unfaithful, He is faithful. You know, friends and family members disappoint us sometimes in various circumstances. But as for God, He never fails. He has sworn by His name that ‘I will never leave nor forsake you’ (Heb. 13:5b). 

IMG_0297Now, do you know why I never put on weight? Sacrifices, fastings, waiting, studies, sleepless nights. And why am I writing this? It is for you who say I am your role model. In life, there is nothing as important as the period of sowing because what we sow is what we reap. It is like putting up a building; the foundation is very important.

Whether you will build a story building or not depends on the foundation. The challenge is that a lot of young people are unable to decipher between the sowing season and the ordinary season. The sowing season does not last forever. It is usually for a short time. It takes the prudent soul to identify that season and take advantage of it to sow valuable seeds that bear great fruits during the time of harvest. And so the wise King Solomon says, ‘there is a season for everything under the sun’ (Ecclesiastes 11:10).

One has to stay committed to whatever he or she does, be it studies, trade or work. For it is deadly for one’s youth to be wasted. Same applies to our spiritual lives. At a tender age I sought to know God for who He is and to have a relationship with Him.

As I grew up, I climbed Atwea Mountain several times alone and sometimes with friends just to seek God’s face and His will for my life. The important thing to note is that I did not go there because I wanted a husband or a child or visa or anything. All I wanted was fellowship with God. I cherished the solitude I enjoyed anytime I went there.

There, I received new strength, new directions, and I came back refreshed. And you know my favourite prayer topic? ‘God help me to know your perfect will for my life and grant me the grace to walk in it’. Will you learn to pray such prayers daily? During prayer sessions in church when the leader says, ‘Ask God for your heart’s desire’, I always said, ‘Lord help me to always stay close to you’.

The amazing thing is that the more I waited on God, the more His power was released into my life and made impossible situations possible. To be brief, it is His power that broke every family covenant and set me free from bondage; it is His power that gave me distinction in my first and second degrees, an amazing husband and a lovely son in miraculous ways. His power has done the unimaginable for me. Indeed, in ‘the presence of God there is fullness of joy and at his right hand are pleasures ever more’ (Ps. 16:11).

IMG_0298But why am I sharing this as I do not like to write about myself? It is for myself, so that I do not forget my foundation and my source of sustenance. It is also for you to know how to set your priorities right regarding your relationship with God. God loves fellowship and not bargains. He wants your love and commitment. He does not want to be treated like a prostitute, but like a cherished wife. Do not come to Him with the long list of things you need—money, car, husband, child, visa, scholarship, among others—and behave as if He is a mean God when your responses are delayed.

What God really wants is a true relationship with Him, that of true friendship and love. No wonder the first commandment goes like ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength and with all your mind…’ (Luke 10:27). When this portion is fulfilled, then follows untold blessings promised in Deut 30:9-10:

‘The Lord your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your body, and in the fruit of your cattle and in the fruit of your ground; for the Lord will again take delight in prospering you, as he took delight in your fathers… if you turn to the Lord with all your heart and with all your soul.’

When you seek to know God and love Him for who He is through his son Jesus Christ, His power will make things fall in place in your life. When members of the Great Commission Army (a missionary group I belong to) meet, we do not pray about individual needs; rather, our concern is to raise intercession for the universal church of Christ and for souls. Yet, you see God’s hand in the lives of our members. In 2015, we were blessed with three weddings of members and an outdooring.

There are some people I support with prayer, but I cannot invite to GCA prayer meetings because it will be boring for them; when they want a visa or a spouse, you are talking about making intercession for lost souls and the body of Christ! The day you learn to love God and place His business and matters of His kingdom first, the imaginable will happen to you. The Lord bless you.

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Professor Folake Onayemi: An Angel in A Life

Today I celebrate not just a university professor, but a wonderful woman of God, philanthropist, mother, mentor and inspirer, Professor Folake Onayemi, of the Department of Classics at the University of Ibadan.

I first met her in 2009 when I was assigned to pick her up at the airport. She was visiting our Department of Classics at the University of Ghana as a scholar for the academic year. Her stay was going to open new opportunities in my life as well as influence my crossroad stage.

In the second semester of 2008/2009 academic year, I had failed two Latin papers and performed poorly in my remaining papers (the details will be a subject for another time). Due to this I could not graduate. I had to wait until the following academic year to write the papers. I was a young man with so many challenges. I had lost my mum the same year of 2009 (she was 47); my dad had had a stroke since 1998 and wasn’t in a position to work; and I was the first of four children.

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With Prof Onayemi during my MPhil graduation, November 2013

You can imagine the burden of responsibility I now had to manage. Even when my mum was alive, and in spite of being on financial aid, I had to take a SSNIT loan and send it home for their upkeep. Now, I was out of school, a national service person, with no aid or loan but with three siblings and a father to support. It was a challenging period.

 

Professor Onayemi had already taken me as her son, but when she learned of my situation, she made it her responsibility to provide me with a monthly stipend out of her salary. It turned out I wasn’t the only one on her budget. There were several such people both in and outside Ghana. But one other thing she used to push me was her words. She never ceased encouraging me to clear the Latin papers; she never ceased encouraging my faith in God; and she never ceased monitoring my progress.

In 2010 my financial situation had worsened. I had worked for six months without pay. It was a trying moment. In my quest to get something into my pocket, I enrolled for a malaria vaccine trial, but on one of my visits to the lab, I collapsed. I was starving, depressed, and overburdened. I cried often in my room. I wept bitterly at the thought of my late mum. I sacrificed to make ends meet for my dad and siblings.

But Professor Onayemi always had a word of encouragement to lift me up. God used her to make me see light at the end of the tunnel. There are so many things I can say about her. By all means they will feature in the book I have been working on for the future.

Let me end by saying that her influence has contributed to my spiritual and professional growth and my current position. She continues to monitor my progress and still calls me “Angel”. In future, when I am delivering my inaugural address, she will surely be acknowledged, and I pray that she will live to see that day. Congratulations mum on your inaugural.

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Prof Folake Onayemi during her inaugural, June 2016