My Father Didn’t Believe It

Who is that black skinny boy getting a big hug from a well-built white man?” they wondered. The driver asked “Have you known him before?”. In his nearly 30 years of picking westerners from the airport, he had never seen such a thing. What they did not understand was that, (or was it that they have never seen?) Christianity is universal and we are all the same in the Kingdom of God. How will they react if I had told them our friendship started on Facebook? Well, I saved myself the stress of explaining a “fairy tale” to them. In all of it, Jesus was the glue! And if Christ be the glue, brotherhood is the relationship. We are family! 52 and 20, there is no difference. Westerner and African, there is no difference! Christ is the center. From a Facebook Group, CS Lewis and His Master that I was added by Philip Dimka, we struck up a friendship with Thaine Norris. Little did I know that Thaine was a Pastor, Missionary, Computer Programmer and a truly passionate Christian! We talked about many things, many many things. All centered around living a complete Christian life on earth and making it to heaven.

In July 2017, we had started a Community Initiative which was called Jenta Reads Community Initiative which has started the Jenta Reads Community Library. Philip Dimka, the leader of this group and pioneer of the vision had put up a simple Facebook post that changed our lives. We began soliciting for books and seeking for ways to make the library a reality. God was faithful enough to make it a reality. We got a space and fully started our activities.

Moving with snail speed, we always thought about what to do next and how to go about it since all of us are not working. After fellowship on Mondays and Wednesday, which lasted from 6 PM to 7:30, we will stay for another 2 hours discussion various issues and talking about Jesus. We raised problems, we discussed how to attend programmes that enriched us and we spoke about our future. Our focal point was our faith. We cherished it. We didn’t have any other link to nourish ourselves other than this. Amongst us, we found the brotherhood of Christ! During those discussions and during numerous prayer sessions, we have asked “Lord, how can we be a solution to our community?”.

Unknown to us, Pastor Thaine was also praying “Lord, what are you doing that I can be part of?”. It was this short but effective prayer that brought the missionary to Jenta. This man of God, insisted that he will stay in Jenta throughout his one week stay! Oh, what astonishment that was to us! It had never happened before.

A prayer collided with the will of heaven and the sense of mission as the skateboard, Thaine headed for Nigeria

This meant a lot to us. Pastor Thaine’s visit didn’t only bring the much needed books, it brought hope to us. One elder in community exclaimed “Jenta may be hidden from the eyes of men, but it is not hidden from the eyes of God”. Another member of Jenta Reads commented that “A king came down to see us. His visit, alone without the books, is already a big blessing”.

One week of adventure, of sharing the gospel, of getting to know each other and staying together brought tears to my eyes on the day that Pastor Thaine departed Nigeria. I missed him already! I still miss him. As he entered the airport terminal most of those we were together with looked but I looked away. I couldn’t bear the thought that I won’t be seeing him for a very long time, that we will go back to chatting behind phone screens.

My Father Didn’t Believe It Too

Yes, my father didn’t believe me too when I told him Thaine was coming from the US. The news was just strange to him. I remember leaving many people mouth agape after delivering the news. One of my aunties would have opted to beat me, if she was close by. We hadnt met for nearly 10 years now. You know Aunties, they hold on to either the bad side or the good side of a person. I was unlucky in this one. Mrs. Goma had said “Well, its fine”. Many people just looked at us as some crazy guys. Well, very few did believe us and those few helped us!

The books he brought are already been devoured and there are bookings for the next read. Some books have never remained for more than a day in the library ever since they were borrowed for the first time. Some people have gone the extra mile of tracking those who borrowed the book and ensuring that they follow up and ensure that they get as soon as it is returned.

Also, I am more happy now because I don’t have to talk to people about Narnia as though it is something that they can never read about. Narnia is in the library. Anyone can travel there anytime and we will all talk as Narnians.

The friendship with Pastor Thaine has been a big blessing to me; it has forced me to grow, to live up the faith, to serve others, to be an Ambassador and to always be reminded that someone far away is praying for me. Beyond culture, beyond age, beyond distance and beyond status, he stooped so low in order to enter my world. I find this a rare privilege, for sure, my life has been altered! Right at the center of our friendship is the cross of Christ, nothing bonds likes Jesus. Nothing! Only Him could make Peter live with Paul, Judas and John and all the odds that have been crushed at the foot of Christ.

I am loss for words on how to describe you. Totally lost! Hey, let’s wait for Lewis to describe this for me, please.

And the family over there. I am grateful to you and to the “American Brothers”.

Ouch, I am not mentioning David Jack and Romelia Roney? That’s weird. They’ve been great help. And Mr. David Jack is the owner of the ” wardrobe” that knot this.

I, personally, feel the extra need to specially thank those within and outside the community that believed in us, that supported us and ran this vision with us. Your sacrifice is forever engraved in my heart!

Thank You, Your reward is in heaven, not because you don’t deserve the good things of life but because all the good things of life are not enough for your reward.

I don’t want to be the one asking for this, it presents my selfishness but I cannot keep mute “Please when are you coming back Dad?”

We will pick up from where we left off… Visiting the tombs of dead missionaries in Bassa Local Government!

“What would it be to taste at the fountainhead stream of which even these lower reaches prove so intoxicating?” C.S Lewis

Editor’s note: Thaine Norris does not accept any of the titles attributed to him by this enthusiastic author. Although he hopes to grow into one of them, “truly passionate Christian.”

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