NEWSZENTS: How the woman with a child was able to beat the security to gain access to my office was unimaginable, all of a sudden, she was there in my presence, she pulled the chair and sat down with her child who could not be more than three years old, her husband had ran away with another woman, she was left with her daughter, with nothing to eat for the past two days, she said in tears, I did not know what to say, but to listen to her and how I could help.
The economy was going south then, all the banks were closing down, it was the age most banks long and short term deposits ended with Forum Finance in Nigeria and most companies lost their credit facilities and layoffs were massive all over the country. It was indeed the age of direct contact, no reliable telephone services, no email, nothing like text messages, if you wanted something like raw materials, or contact with your buyers or suppliers you would have to go there physically, it was the way we did business in those days. It was funny and horrible.
My staff had gone to Ita-Agarawu in Lagos to pick up most of the scheduled receivables from customers, and without thinking, I empty my wallet for the helpless woman in my office, she was grateful and left in the same way she came, few minutes later, I came out of my office, I asked my Secretary who the Lady was, she said she did not see anyone, I knew I could not have be hallucinating, because I parted with my money to the Lady with a Child in my office.
My staff came back from Lagos without a single Naira, and I had nothing on me to return to Abeokuta in Ogun State, earlier that morning, I had left my car with my Mechanic for two days service and how I would return home without borrowing money from my staff was the problem. I thought I had carried my faith in Jesus too far to have emptied my wallet for a stranger, I bowed down and prayed in my office, a soft voice told me, I am the Lord, I would take care of everything for you.
I opened my eyes, and probably still did not believe in the soft voice, I picked all the coins on my table, it was not even enough to take me from Idi-Iroko Road to the motor garage, but the voice kept telling me it would be fine. I guess I was mocking myself, how could a voice be fooling me when I knew I had no money to get home to my family was a misery to me.
I stood by the roadside for about three minutes waiting for a cab I never had the money to pay for, but somehow a Tax cab stopped, the driver knew me when I was teacher at Kobape High School, his son was one of my students and he remembered the interest I took in his son, who was a very belligerent and defiant kid and who turned his life around, that was in 1986, he gave me a free ride to the motor park on Lagos/Abeokuta road. It must be a coincidence I thought, I waited by the roadside again and waited, and the voice kept telling me I would take care of you, if only you would trust me.
Five minutes was all it took, for a government car, with plate number OGSG with air conditioned Peugeot 504 came humming, in those days, the humming sound was the best side of any government car, apart from the sign of authority and attention it drew, it was the best thing in those days, the car stopped, he was my driver when I was working for Gateway Pharmaceutical Company, Ikangba, Ijebu Ode as the Project secretary. He was redeployed to the Ministry of Commerce after I left the services of Ogun State government, he told his new Boss, about me; they gave me a ride from Sango Ota to Abeokuta.
We had fun in the vehicle, we talked about everything, and the new Boss was sharing in the talk, the same voice kept telling me, I have not finished with you, but I was mocking the voice, it must be a coincidence. Can this be the time of Jesus? Common, this is 20th Century, you want something you pay for it, that was my thinking.
We got to Abeokuta, I was hoping I would be dropped around Ibara Roundabout with the hope I could walk to my friend’s place around Onikolobo for a ride to Idi Aba, until the new Big guy in the back of the car, asked for my help, his car which was parked in his office had a problem, the starter never kicked in timely, sometimes, they had to push it, because it was a stick car, it was not automatic, how could I say no to a man who just gave me a free ride from Sango ota to Abeokuta in Ogun State? I offered to help
We drove to his office, I came down with the driver, he sat in his car, he tucked in the ignition key instead of the resistance he was expecting, the car started and he smiled, he said that must be a miracle because his car never behaved like that before, he asked me if he could take me home instead of looking for a taxi, I said yes, with a smile, I was in his car and still smiling when I realize he lived one block away from house. We became friends, and I was happy, the soft voice I heard was from God not a spirit mocking his glory, I opened the gate to my house, my Mechanic had finished with my car ahead of the two days he promised and had packed it. I smiled at the soft voice; and it said again, “I am not done with you yet”.
I climbed the stairs to my apartment, my daughter Abidemi jumped on me, I hugged her and my son Toba came running towards me, I balanced myself as I carried the two most important people in life, my wife and children were all happy because Daddy was home, far from the constant horrible accidents road of Lagos/Abeokuta road with terrible Tipper loaders drivers that used to drink Ogogoro, I was smiling. “Be still I still have more for you” the voice said.
In my living room I had a visitor who was waiting for me, he came to pay off the money he borrowed years back, it was two thousand Naira, more than anyone could imagine in 1994, he said he felt he had to pay off the debt since I have never asked or bothered him, I smiled again, and I collected the money I did not even bother to count it, it did not matter, I just put it in my pocket. He was grateful to me, I was indeed grateful to the Supreme Being for his kindness.
When he left, the same voice said. Can you give your life to me after showing just little bit of what I could do for you? As a Catholic, I knew I gave my life to Christ the day I took the first holy Communion Saint Gabriel Catholic Church Mokola Ibadan now in Oyo State that was in 1966, but that very day in 1994, I rededicated my life to Jesus Christ, I have never had any reason to doubt God again because He is real and loving.
My friends, I could write more and more on my encounter with the soft voice of God but as we moved into the middle of the Year, remember the voice of God is the soft one that keeps reminding you of his Glory, as a covenant with the soft voice, I have been keeping that same smiles on my face, if you can take the time to listen you too can hear the soft voice of God just plug yourself into his temple and his presence, the smile on my face is my little appreciation for His love and revelation to me.
To be continued
Zents Sowunmi is a New York based writer.