money inside a thank you card
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But this I call to mind, therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:21-25 ESV

Pam and I have the privilege of volunteering in the prayer tent at JH Outback in the spring and fall retreats. We are privileged to meet a lot of wonderful people and work alongside some great volunteers. One former camper shared his story during the gratitude talk, his name is OB and he is from Nigeria.I’m writing the following testimony as if I was OB.

As a young boy in Nigeria, my sister and I watched a plane flying overhead. I told her one day, I will be the one going to the other side. I will be that person up there and not down here.

We lived in a small house, so everyone could tell when another person was getting up. My mom woke up each day at 4:30 a.m. to pray. I noticed that she prayed from a sheet of paper and I asked her what was on the paper. She told me she had written down everything good that God had done for her. She would tell God each day thank you for His kindness over her life.

When I graduated highschool I told my parents that I wanted to go to college in America. For two years I worked and saved money to go to college.  Finally I had enough money to go to 1 semester of a Jr College in Kansas.  The next week, I went and applied for my Visa. I was rejected and then discouraged. My mother told me God gave me a dream and I should reapply.

I worked harder and did all of the required documentation. I arrived at 6 a.m. for the 8 o’clock appointment. I was going to be the first in line and the first interview. I was going to let them see my passion and desire. I walked in to the same lady and was rejected again in a few moments.

I knew something needed to change. I went home and took out a sheet of paper and wrote down all the good things God had done for me since Jr. High, Highschool and up to the present. The next morning I got up at 4:30 and started praying with my mom, except now I had my own paper.

I determined to try a third time to get my Visa. It was now 4 years since I graduated. My Mom felt like I should have the preacher pray for me before the visit. I told her yes and went to work in the market. It was a very disappointing day selling.  I only made the equivalent to 10 American dollars for a days work of trading. I left the market to go to the church for prayer.

Outside the church are beggars. On this day a lady walked right by the guards into the courtyard outside the church. She came to me and begged for money for food.  I told her no. She kept asking. I was upset that I only had the 10 dollars and not enough to give. It was such little amount and did little to help pay for my needs. Not sure why, but I gave her ALL of it her. I was not ready for her reaction.

A huge smile came upon her face. She held all of the money up toward heaven and gave God thanks. I suddenly realized that I had made the exact amount of money all day, but I was frustrated at the low amount instead of giving thanks.  She now had my money, the same amount that was in my hands moments ago and she was overjoyed. Before going outside to purchase food, she went into the church to give some of it to God as a way of saying thanks.

The preacher did not pray about my Visa. He asked me if I was willing to give all of my life to God. I said yes, and received God that day.

The next day I went to get my Visa. I did not have the lady, but another man. He told me that a lady from America had written good things about me and why they wanted me to come to college.  The letter of favor made him say yes without even having to go over my documentation. I was on my way to America two weeks later.

I worked in the cafeteria to try to raise money for college for the next semester. It would not be enough. A lady at the college invited me to come to her home over Christmas break and work in construction with her husband. I now had a family again.  They gave me thousand dollars toward my spring semester. It still would not be enough. 

I became an assistant for the Basketball team. I was still lacking enough funds. I received a letter at the beginning of February that I would be kicked out of the dorm and have to leave the College if I was unable to pay the remaining amount. I sat in the Library looking at a tree which had beautiful leaves in the fall, but now it looked dead. I thought, “the tree is not dead, it is waiting, it will soon be beautiful again in the spring.  It has learned how to wait.”

I went back to the lady of my new family and was honest with her about my financial situation. I told her how I came to America with only 1 semester of funds. We took a step of faith and now I do not know what is going to happen next. Like a loving mother, she called the president the next day.

In a couple of days, I received an email from the VP. She said, “You are working in the cafeteria, which will provide you with meal tickets. You are working with the Basketball team, we will increase the scholarship so your tuition will be covered.  If you decide to become an RA in your dorm, your housing will be covered.

How did God prove himself to be so good to me? It took 4 years from High school before I was able to make it to America. Maybe your time will be 10 years, but wait on God with thankfulness.

At this point OB was overwhelmed and had trouble continuing. His page of thankfulness for God’s goodness had gotten even longer. He challenged us to make up our own list of things to be grateful for. There will come a time in our lives that we would need to remember that God, who had carried us through before, will be faithful to continue to lead us through the storms now.

I hope you were encouraged by OB’s story. Here are a few thougths I had.

  • Giving to the beggar lady opened up the door to receiving.  It was not tit for tat. But God loves a cheerful giver, because they have opened themselves to receive even more. Give and it shall be giving to you.
  • Your life follows your words – so speak what you desire to be true. OB spoke his dream of going to America…it became true through much effort (he worked for almost 4 years) and hope from others.
  • A heart of gratitude can be cultivated. The mom chose to look toward the good things that God had done instead of all of the injustices and troubles we experience. A grateful person walks in joy.

Blessings, Love y’all