Friday, January 20, 2012

"Me nene laiyafin zaman lafiya?" (What is the crime in living in peace?) Part 1

          I've been resisting the urge to write a post about #occupyNigeria or the bomb blasts in the North of Nigeria for partly two main reasons:
         I didn't want to write a post ranting about the need for change in Nigeria when I've seen the need for change since I was four. I lived in Kano, Nigeria from ages 4 to 17, and I've known that corruption and violence eats at the very core of our daily living. I didn't want to write a post in anger knowing that there is possibly nothing that I can do about it. Do I want change in Nigeria? Yes, I do. Do I want peace? Yes, I do. The question is how do we enact that change? I am not talking about about another inflated political campaign to pull in the reins of corruption or another NGO in the name of saving motherless babies or another strike that backs down in the face of government threats or underhand deals. I am talking about change that begins at the very core of who we are as Nigerians... In our homes, in our schools, and in our interactions... How do we change the mindsets of people when we were raised to believe we are different? I'm a Bura girl from Garkida, Adamawa State. I'm also a christian. I remember growing up with an internal struggle of going with cues from society on choosing friends either from my religion or my place of origin. Soon I learnt to categorize people as being either from Arewa or Kudu (north or south), and based on being either Muslim or Christian. My question is how do we change that mindset? How do we change the very core of instruction that automates us to categorize people based on states of origin or religion. Nigeria is diverse, hugely diverse with over 160 million people and 700 different language groups: our strength and our very weakness. How do we get to a phase where I am not just Bura and Christian, you are not just Yourba, Igbo or Hausa or Nupe, or Jukun or Marghi or Kanuri or Tarok or Chip or Chibok and either Muslim or Christian but we are all just freaking Nigerians??? How do we enact such change?
        My second reason is that I'm mostly pessimistic and minutely optimistic about Nigeria. I believe that change is possible... I know that change is possible, but I also know that it is impossible for change to happen if the same cycle continues. You can enact as many revolutions as you want, you have have as long a strike as you want but the minute we ignore the fact that change needs to come from within, the same cycle of corruption and violence will continue. We need a revolution on how we think of ourselves and how we think of each other - as Nigerians! This is our country, and sadly even though I'm writing this from the States, I'm reminded of the grim reality of the fact that millions do not have another country. If we don't repair it, if we don't want the good of it for ourselves, the British or the Americans or the Arabs are not going to come and repair it for us. We have to be the change we want to see - we have to take matters into our own hands if Nigeria is going to be habitable. And no, I'm not speaking of violence - I'm speaking of a change of heart, a change of mindset.
        I've turned this post into a rant because I don't know how to do this. I don't know how we can go about enacting change in the way we view each other. I don't know how as a people we can return to the very grassroots for a change of societal view.
        I just got off the phone with my sister and the rest of my family in Kano after hearing about the 20 serial bombings that happened today and I reached a crack point. Between having flashes of fear that I would lose my family, and not knowing how they were doing, I felt a rush of anger and panic. I tried to pray, and I couldn't. And the thing was everyone I was with on the phone kept mentioning prayer... I mean I know what prayer is... I've been doing that for most of my life... fasting and praying and pleading with God for change. That is what all Christians in the north of Nigeria specialize in - praying for peace in the North. We probably all have a Ph.D in it now. In my anger, I asked Him feeling so betrayed again: "Where are you? and What are you doing? And why do you let innocent people keep dying? Why all this fear for all these years?" In moments like this, I stand like the disciples confused at the mission of Christ. While they thought He came to rescue them from Roman rule, I stand wondering that if He has said it is finished then why are we still here... still struggling? It is hard looking at the light of Christ in the midst of fear and panic... Despite all of this... despite the walls crumbling and fleeing and doubts and so much frustration the truth is where will we run to? And I also mean this practically for Christians in the north? Where will we flee to when that has been our home for years? And our living?
And despite all this still, I stand like Peter asking that to whom shall we turn to except God? The first verses of Psalm 23 provide comfort in these times, and I'm also reminded of Psalm 91 reminding me that the Lord is our guide, our guard, our shield, our refuge and our everything... So yes, I know we ought to be on our knees - praying as always, and yet, It is enough. Something has to change.

There is no crime in peace.

And with that, I now take my stand publicly. I am #occupyNigeria. Enough is enough!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Trust YOU

This is a brand new section to the blog and an experimental project. The goal of the section 'Broken to Healed' is to write and relate stories of brokeness from my life and the lives of guest bloggers that will be featured here. The point of showing our brokenness is to also show you our scars and the healing stripes that have resulted because of the grace and loving goodness of the God that we believe in. We believe that no matter how many times you've fallen, or how many shards you've been broken into, Jesus still saves and is willing to walk through your life day-by-day if you just let Him. I hope you enjoy - kick back, relax and watch out for this! 

If you are interested in writing a post for the 'Broken to Healed' section, contact me on twitter @mwajimal, or you could leave me a message through the contact form on this blogger site!


Happy New Year to you too!!!

I'm superbly excited to introduce you to a close and dear friend of mine, that I've mentioned a few times on here - M. She has graciously written up a guest post that will be kicking of the Broken to Healed section of this blog that I've been unable to kick-off till now. The purpose of this section is part of the underlying reasons for this blog. For some Christians, we've somehow accepted this lie that our lives are supposed to be pictures of perfection. And yet, everywhere we look at in this world of ours screams imperfection, pain, ugliness and destruction. And it's even worse within us. We find ourselves reading that we are redeemed and new creatures. We read that Christ has brought us good news and that we do have good news to tell others. However, the truth is that many days out of the year I find myself on the opposite side of the fence. Reading the words and wondering how I'm different. I find myself struggling with repetitive sins that I theoretically know He has freed me from. I find myself justifying my cleanliness by a rules of Dos and Don'ts that I think make me righteous in front of Him... I find myself dissatisfied and struggling over and over again, and repelled by how far off I fall from my own image of perfection. I am broken. We all have pieces of us that are broken, pieces His light keeps uncovering, pieces that we continue to learn to bring before Him.

I hope to continue to bring more blogposts of this nature from me and guests, that speak of a specific aspect of our brokenness and hopefully we can start/continue to merge towards relationships of authenticity in this world, as redeemed by His blood.

Trust YOU

I wish I was writing this blogpost to share with you how I have been struggling with something and was able to tell you what the Lord did for me and how I overcame it. But I’m afraid this is not a victory post. However, if you are in a similar situation, I pray it comforts you to know others are struggling as well. I pray that it gives you hope and strengthens your steadfastness in seeking Christ.

If you are like me then, I’m sure you know what I mean when I tell you how hard it has been for me to trust God. Even as I say it now, I can’t believe myself. It’s all I tell people to do and part of me still argues that I do. “Have Faith” I would tell my friend, or my usual “This unfortunate circumstance doesn’t define you,” I would say to my roommate. These words are frequently coming out of my mouth. And in the same spirit, when I’m feeling worried about an exam or something coming up I say to my self, “Trust God M…. Just breath and trust God.” But at that moment if you had walked up to me and asked me if I truly, truly believed that all my sins are covered by the One Who Died for Me, I would have shamefully answered No and would have gone home, tired and broken down into tears.

Every so often, the Lord grants me a moment of brutal honesty and it feels like someone has shone a high beam light on my soul. Just recently I was so touched and convicted by a sermon I attended on topic of moralism and the meaning of Christmas that I ran as quick as my legs could take me to my room and hid in the darkness. Sat on the floor and cried my eyes out. I was wrong in a lot of ways – How can I have been so wrong for so long. I felt like someone slapped me really hard.

Yes I am ashamed to admit, I’m the Christian that sets moral standards for herself and others so high that I get disappointed when I don’t fulfill it or when others fall short of  my expectations. I’ve have created guidelines and rules around the law to save myself. Lord knows how long I’ve been like that, Lord knows how many times I have read the story about the Pharisees – thinking that it had nothing to do with me –yet, here I was doing the exact same thing.

Matthew 23 :1-4
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.

Yes, I am the Christian that values being right than glorifying God for His amazing mercy. Yes, I am the Christian that loves to say – I have not sinned much today Lord. Knowing very well that …

1st John 1:8-10
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Yes, I am the Christian that claimed that my sins are less than yours. I claimed to be more appealing to God than you are. All because I set my own standards and according to me- I’ve fulfilled most of them. Forgetting that…

James 2:20
For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.
And ….
Romans 3:23
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Yes I am the Christian that judged others without ever looking at myself thoroughly… even though I’ve known the following verse since I was 6.

Matthew 7:1-5
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.”

And to tell you the truth, even in that honest moment of weakness - I couldn’t sincerely ask for forgiveness. I trusted God to carry me through an exam that is worth 20% of my grade but I couldn’t trust Him to save my life knowing fully that is why He came to this earth. So I brushed my tears away and got up again, fighting to convince myself about the freedom I know I have been granted but still fail to completely surrender to.

Father God, I reek of sin, I exude hate, I stink of judgmental thoughts in my heart, I fear weakness, I fear honesty, I prefer to appear things I am not, I full of pride and afraid to admit when I have made a mistake, I crave humility but not for Your Glory but mine so that others can say I am humble and I know nothing about love and forgiveness. Lord, I realize that this implies that You and I don’t have a lot in common. But Lord I want You so bad, I need You in my life so desperately. Break this pride of mine, make me fall to my knees in honesty and sincerity. Stop me from trying to earn the freedom I have already been granted.

Like the so many verses I have mentioned above, that suddenly began to make sense so did this song.
Hillsong- Nothing but the blood of Jesus

This is my prayer tonight ~ I pray Lord shows you that You can trust Him too. 

Brandon Heath says it better than I do -Trust You

Have a wonderful week!


If you have a story of going from Broken to Healed in your walk with Him that you'd like to share on this blog, please feel free to contact me. Join in our efforts in showing that walking with Christ does not mean instant perfection - it's a journey of trust and faith, not our efforts and rules.