I think back to my own early hunger after God. In 1952 when I was seven years old, I remember my father preaching a message on the new birth. He said that as the wind blew and no one knew from where it came and to where it went, so was a person born of the Holy Spirit. I longed to be born again.
That afternoon I went to the field and walked round and round, trying to start and go in a direction which no one could tell. I wanted to enter into the experience but I could not ask my father. I was not satisfied. I asked another pastor’s son, Peter Ekwoge, who was older than I how I could be sure that I would go to heaven when I died. He told me that when I died God would immediately show me two lists. On one would be written all the sins I had committed and on the other would be written all the good things that I had done. The list that was longer would decide where I would go. If my sins were more than my good deeds, I would go to hell, but if my good deeds were more, I would go to heaven. So for the next years I tried to do as much good as possible and as little evil as possible and, thereby, hoped that I would make it to heaven. This continued until 1955 when I was ten years old. My father, who used to receive and distribute tracts that were produced in America, one day gave me a tract entitled, “Some One Died for You.” This tract explained that Jesus had died for me and that I should receive Him and be saved. I followed the three steps outlined in that tract and invited Jesus into my life. Joy filled my heart and I immediately ran to the village one mile away to tell my friend (Reuben Unota) that Jesus had died for him. A hunger to read God’s Word was born in my heart and by the time I went to the Secondary School in January, 1960, I had read the entire Bible twice over. There were times when I read the Word up to 2 a.m. I used to take my father’s old Bible and underline the verses that he had underlined in his Bible in mine. In the Secondary School, I prayed and carried out many religious and Christian activities. I was living for the Lord in part, but I lived mainly for myself. I wanted to be famous. I wanted to earn a doctorate’s degree. My heart was divided. I had no assurance of salvation. I lied and would have liked to commit fornication. The only thing that kept me back was the fear that such a thing would bring terrible shame to my beloved Daddy whom I loved and idolised. So, although there was not much outward sin, my heart was rotten. When I got to the University, I saw the rottenness of my heart, turned radically to Jesus, gave Him the master-key of my life and dedicated myself to love and serve Him, and I have never withdrawn from that surrender. Immediately after that commitment, I knew for the first time that I was indeed a child of God, that my sins were washed away permanently and that my name was written in the book of life once and for all.
As I look back, I know that if I had been helped on that day in 1952 when I first heard that sermon on the new birth, I would have been born again then and, if I had been led into an assurance of salvation, I would have loved the Lord and lived for Him from the age of seven. Oh ! How much time would have been gained from the service of Satan and self for the service of the Lord Jesus and the Gospel!