Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Those who fear God

Rev. Paul Ogunyale was the pastor of Oja Oba Baptist Church (which being translated means King’s Mountain Baptist Church). This was the church my family attended when I was a child. Rev. Ogunyale was my pastor.
His is a story of reckless faith. When he was a young boy, his family sent him to a Christian school because they wanted him to learn to read and write. They had no intention of him becoming a Christian. They already had a mix of Moslem and Pagan in the family and that was enough religion for them. But since this mission school was the only way he was going to be able to get an education, they allowed him to attend.
But one day at school, young Paul learned how Jesus had come to the world to save people like him from their sins. Paul made a profession of faith in Jesus as his savior. He was so happy and just couldn’t wait to share the good news with his family!
Sadly, his family was not happy for him. No, they were not happy at all! The people of his village were steeped in superstition and one of those superstitions was that the number three was an evil number. Because of this, his family could not allow Paul to bring a third religion into the family and they demanded he renounce his newfound faith.
Paul refused.
So his family held a council where the elders of his family concluded they absolutely could not allow this third religion into the family or it would draw the anger of the gods and they would surely all fall into some type of doom. So strong was their belief that this was the case, they concluded the only thing they could do if Paul continued to refuse to announce his belief in Jesus was to kill young Paul.
The elders informed him of their decision and offered him the choice of becoming either pagan or Muslim. But still Paul refused. Before going to bed that night, his mother made a tearful plea with him to renounce Christianity and choose one of the other religions. Paul lay down on the floor that night as he did every night on the mat he used for sleeping so as to not be sleeping directly on the dirt floor of his mud walled house underneath the window where he always slept. But he did not go to sleep. Instead after all others in the household were fast asleep, Paul who was about twelve at the time, quietly climbed out the window near his bed and fled for his life. He ran to the house of a British Anglican missionary who was one of his teachers. This man took Paul in and became like family to him.
What a privilege I had to know people who had actually given up everything for the sake of Christ!! 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Life as I Knew It

Photo: I'm holding my pet monkey, C.J. Marianne is on one side of me and childhood friend, Sherie Pitman on the other.CJ Caboodle
Once upon a time in the jungles of Africa, a hunter by the name of John did something hunters should never do. He fired his weapon before actually seeing the animal he was firing upon. John saw some trees limbs moving and shot his gun. After all, he was in the depths of the jungle; the movement could not be anything but a ferocious animal, right? Wrong.

After firing the gun, John heard a thud when the animal hit the ground. But as he approached, it became clear that the animal (or at least the animal that was still living) was not ferocious at all. There on the ground before him lay the body of a dead monkey and with her a tiny newborn monkey, clung to his mother for dear life.

John felt terrible! He picked up the baby monkey and brought him home where he cared for him like a baby, feeding him through a bottle until the little guy was strong enough to eat solid food. Then he called his friend, Cecil Roberson.

Cecil was “Uncle Cecil” to me. He was one of my missionary uncles. At the time I knew him and his wife, “Aunt Marie” their children were grown and had moved on. Since my real grandparents were half a world away, Uncle Cecil and Aunt Marie became like adopted grandparents to me.

John asked Cecil if he knew a family that might want a pet monkey. Uncle Cecil thought of my family with our four children. When he called my dad to see if we wanted the monkey, he said he already had a cage too and if we would take the monkey, he could make a trip our way bringing the monkey, and cage – the whole caboodle to us. My dad named our pet Cecil John Caboodle, but we called him CJ.

CJ was different from most pet monkeys. He lived in a cage in our back yard, yes, but unlike other pet monkeys who had to stay in their cage or they would escape; CJ could be let out to play with us. We did this almost daily. In fact, CJ was a bit of an escape artist. He managed to pick lock after lock of his cage. I assume his tiny finger would fit in the key hole and he just manipulated it until it came open. Once, my father even placed a combination lock on the cage. CJ managed to open it as well.

But no worries, CJ never left our yard. We think he was afraid of the bush, after all he had never known anything but humans. He was one of us. And oh the fun we had with him! I remember sitting on a tree limb with CJ on another limb and telling him to jump to me. I learned the hard way that a monkey, even a small monkey, jumps with considerable force. The first time CJ jumped to me, I fell backwards onto the ground and had the wind knocked out of me. After that, I made sure there was also a branch behind my back to stabilize me. There is nothing quite like having a tiny monkey jump into your open arms from ten feet away. He always landed with his little arms open clinging to my shirt.

Sometimes CJ was trouble though. Sometimes he got into our house and raided my mothers costume jewelry. He especially liked her earrings which he put in his mouth. Did you know that monkeys have pouches on either side of their mouths? They put food in these pouches to save and eat later. I guess CJ thought my mom’s earrings were food. We would have to hold him down and pry open his mouth to retrieve the jewelry. And CJ loved to chase the cats. We had two cats who were both afraid of CJ. I have eaten many a dinner to the sound of animals running across the tin roof above me. First would come the sound of a scamper and then another scamper followed by CJ’s paws sort of lopping across. My dad would roll his eyes and say, “CJ got out of his cage again. After dinner one of you kids has to catch him and put him up for the night.”

My childhood was a rare treasure indeed!