The poster above is a program I am billed to address on October 5th, 2018, at The Hub in Port Harcourt. I will be Speaking to thousands of youths that night.
It all started when I called back a number I had missed a call from. I always try to call back any missed call. I learnt to answer all my calls personally unless I’m preaching or driving. I also learnt from the story of a man who picked his call about 11:30 at night, many years back, when there were only land lines in Africa. He was told to run away from his home, immediately, because assassins were on their way to kill him—I mean a government hit-squad during those turbulent days of coups and counter coups in Africa. He picked a few things and ran out of his home. About an hour later, armed men surrounded his home but he had fled. That was what saved his life.
It turned out that the caller was a young man who was at Abia State University, Uturu, as a student when I went to address a conference, “The Eagles Conference”. I had shared the vision with Dr. Paul De Beloved and he ran with the vision. I was the first guest preacher and the message was “Born to Soar”. I did not know that several of the young people in that conference would be all over the globe later in life. The young man later metamorphosed to a world-class producer and media personality. His business name is Mr. Eazee; he introduced himself and later paid me a visit at Ughelli.
There were times I wondered if I was wasting my time teaching youths. However, I always told them the story of Booker T. Washington, who always removed his hat while greeting young people but hardly did when greeting old people. He would always say that he already knew the old man or woman, but for the young person, he might just be greeting the future president of America.
I was recently in the ReD conference in Port Harcourt. It was my younger brother that introduced me to the pastor. I was in Calabar to speak to our youths during the Eastern Regional Youth Convention of the Church of God Mission, International. It was my Bishop’s son, whom I used to convey to the children’s Bible Study class that was their Regional director. I was at Abuja for the Northern Regional Youth Convention of the Church of God Mission, International; it was another young man I taught in Sunday School that introduced me to them.
Now it was the turn of this young man to host me in this great program that will bring some of the best gospel artistes from all over Nigeria. I was treated like a superstar when he visited. A special set of clothing and shoes are awaiting me in the hotel to wear for the occasion.
The same way a boy, who was serving my pastor friend in those days, gave me 24 pieces of clothes in one year. He also hosted me alongside some other great men of God at Aba.
When I got to Adelaide in Australia, a young man, his wife, and their newborn son came to receive me at the airport. He was also in the meetings I used to address at Abia State University, Uturu.
On the 2nd of October, after the Word and Wisdom Conference, 2018, a great preacher from South Africa also came visiting with Rev. Samson Bodjor, my dear son. Rev. Bodjor, a young man I met when I came to town earlier on and mentored, has turned to be a great minister and a blessing to my life.
I must not forget Rev. Asingba of Yenagoa. I knew him when he was passing through very difficult times at Ughelli and I gave an offering God instructed me to give to him instead of in a big church. He never forgot it. One day I saw him waiting for transport at Sagbama junction, and I reversed and carried him. I remember him telling me, “How many big pastors will reverse and carry a small pastor like me”. Many years later, I met him at Yenagoa; he was a big pastor then. Some years ago, he hosted me in his church, and put me in a very beautiful hotel after sleeping at the Governor’s house for a night.
The youth is like a palm nut in your palms. You can squeeze the oil out of him, crack him, and squeeze the fruit out of him, or you can roast her and squeeze the oil out of her. You can also plant him/her, let the palm tree inside grow out, and make them flourish. Handling youths and teenagers is extremely difficult, but very rewarding if we persevere. Don’t crack them. Don’t boil them. Don’t chew them and spit them out. Plant them, nurse them, nurture them and, if possible, transplant them to where they can flourish.
Any church that does not invest in their youths and give attention to their physical, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual needs will eventually become an old people’s home, because many of their youths will drift away to where they hear the following E’s every message should do—educate, excite, emancipate, empower, entertain, and evangelize. Any nation that fails to prepare their youths to take over leadership, deliberately, will be like a football club without a youth club and football academy. They will field old players that cannot compete in a competitive league.
That is the problem with Africa and Nigeria. That’s why we are progressively regressive at a very shameful pace. When men like Paul Biya, Buhari, Bola Tinubu, Oshiomole, Audu Ogbeh, Abakyari, Jeremiah Useni, David Mark, Atiku, etc. are still those who determine who rules or not, know that it is a nation ruled by retired generals. Such a nation is a tired nation with a frustrated citizenry.
God Bless You.