My Testimony starts on Good Friday 2006, seeing my older brother who I would have called my idol at the time get water baptised. I remember a desire in me arising to have the same experience. Not because of the sentiment of baptism, but simply because my brother had done it. And of course like any idol, because he did it, well I had to.
Thus the following year I did. There was no spiritual tie, I had missed all the baptism classes and frankly it was a bucket list decision and a step closer to being made in the image of my older brother whom at this point clearly was NOT following Jesus. I don’t remember much about the immersion into the water but I remember standing outside the chlorine pool drenched with water and watching the next person take that plunge, thinking to my self “I think I might try this Jesus”. How that emerged I don’t know, but it was not a commitment to Christ , it was just a strong feeling that made me focus on why people get baptised. To follow Jesus, right?
This thought propelled me into the next day, I felt a sense of perspective and peace. but as I lay down in my living room with the sound of my mum giggling at the latest nollywood show, my phone rings. I look and see a number that I could not recognise but I pick up anyway.
“Hello? Is this Tobi”.
“Errr…yes! Who is speaking?” I ask as I listen to this young lady voice.
“ it is (Lady P) I took your number down a couple of months ago at PFC”
“Aaaah I see”
Track back 3 months ago, I was in a chicken shop under the bridge in mare street, hackney called Perfect Fried Chicken. At the time i was venturing into a small time business selling bootleg designer clothes with my much older business partner. I turn around from the counter and I see 2 young ladies. I approach the first and her rudeness forces me to turn to her friend (Lady P). Who instead of conceding to my adolescent street charm offers to take my number instead. This seems great but when it comes to chatting up ladies I knew that, that was a sign she will never call me again. But it was fine at the time, I will walk away with the kudos I got from my older business partner as he tapped me on my back and said “yes, brother!
This was my life before Christ, a series of dates and spending money on women. I modelled what I thought my older brother’s life was and sought to find an identity in the midst of it. I was the guy who was admittedly insecure about his looks, so used his humour, charm and acting abilities to attract women. It worked, until God interrupted what I thought was ‘the Life’.
Back to post baptism. Lady P from the chicken shop had called after 3 months of silence and scarily straight after I had been baptised. In hindsight there were such similarities to Jesus being tempted straight after His baptism in Matthew 4. Lady P and I spiralled into a sexual relationship and resultantly the thought of following Jesus was on the back burner. The thought of following Jesus just disappeared. Eventually Me and Lady P broke up after 2 months of childish arguments and insecurities. I mean we were just 17. But when our relationship ended I felt Something breaking into my conscience and I didn’t understand who or why. I admit, I would still casually go to meet Lady P to be intimate as the relationship turnt from a full stop to an ellipses as she still pursued and I capitalised. But something had changed, every time I was close to engaging in intercourse, at points even during intercourse I felt a huge bout of conviction. Like a weight was on my chest and the only way to get the weight off was to not follow through with my intentions. This happened for about 3-4 years with different women and I could not help but question what this conviction was and who it was coming from.
I was brought up in a Christian household and was forced to go to church. I found church a burden as I didn’t understand it, but in the same light found a sense of grounding in attending. Jesus was the one I heard spoken about in church and home and all of a sudden I felt he was speaking directly to me. Calling me. These convictions had to be Him. No sex before marriage, that’s in the bible right? I had also started to feel convicted for my use of language. My habitual sexual jokes was being questioned. Soon the conversations I was having with these women started to involve the topic of God and to be honest I couldn’t help but talk about this unknown God even though my pleasures where greater than my dedication and knowledge of him. Something in me was changing and to be honest at first I didn’t like it, but couldn’t help but realise it was for my Good. The satisfaction of obeying the conviction was greater than the feeling of a missed opportunity. AND I WANTED TO KNOW MORE. All of a sudden my ears perked up more in church. I listened and understood what was being said. I enjoyed the teaching ability of my then and now pastor. I felt such intrusion into my conscience but it was one of safety and peace. Yet the express image of my older “almighty” brother was still looming and that couldn’t be shaken so much. Until…
A friend of mine invited me to a meal and I met a few young ladies. For me it was Game time, they seemed cool. I didn’t mind having a few extra females attracted to me. Little did I know that God had captured me in my own trap. They invited myself and my friend to their church for a drama production. Sounded decent and I thought I probably can secure the deal with these ladies and have them besotted over me. So I go and watch the play at the potters house church, Kensington. And it’s all about heaven and hell which if I had known, I probably wouldn’t have gone at the time. It was a pretty raw play, terribly acted but for some reason effective. This amateur dramatics gave me the most realistic experience. The scary outcomes of people’s disobedience to God. The truth is I tried to keep my cool at the front of these young ladies but I was so transfixed and could hear, feel even taste my conscience being prodded, AGAIN! But it wasn’t the push to not do something this time, it was a direct question. “ Now what are you going to do?” And not just that but “where would you like to go?” This moment was like pieces to a puzzle; Those constant convictions after my baptism, then the little gems I had taken in from church then this play about Heaven and Hell. At that point I knew and agreed that I wanted Jesus. But this time it wasn’t a query or a thought, it was a confession. I walked up to the alter despite ripping my fashionable dungaree checkered shorts as i shimmied through the pews and with all surrender I released my life to Christ. I tried to impress these ladies and was caught in my own trap by God. But there was no shame, embarrassment or anything, it was the best trap ever. That day I went home feeling refreshed, peaceful, sober yet anxious, as something in me knew that the only way I can propel into this new journey is by confronting the root of my past. MY OLDER BROTHER. I knew that I had to tell him what had happened and boldly state that I am now a new person. And with sweaty palms I approached him on the landing of my family home stairs. Looking at him indignantly in the eye I said “bro, I gave my life to Christ tonight and there are certain things I can no longer do”. He said nothing but gave a look that made me know he registered the change in me and from that point my image was taken from him and given to Jesus. That was the start of my journey in Christ. I still had issues after that with women and the mindset. But as the word of God watered my life, the renewing of the mind was transforming my actions. In 2011 I called 3 women that I had been dating and broke ties all on the same day. It was sharp, but better than me stringing all 3 along. And from that point God gave me my identity back in relation to women. Healed my thinking and showed me that as long as my life is in Him there is security.
Fast track to 2019 and I am almost 5 years into marriage with 2 kids. Working within the entertainment industry and trying to reach and encourage Actors to embrace their identity in Jesus, to be integral, to not be ashamed, to not look back – and above all, allow the world to hear the gospel.
In hindsight I realise 2 forces were working in my life.
My brother who was an idol to me
And God who’s voice grew stronger as I grew older.
It’s true what the bible says. Bring your children up in the way of the lord and they will not depart from it.
«Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.» Proverbs 22 :6 NKJV
Both forces had great influences on me, difference is, God has access into my inner most man. And whilst I sought the identity of what I thought will make me whole, God uninvitedly interrupted me, showing His Glorious Mercy and brought me Home. Often times we think we choose God but like the bible says in John 6:44
“ No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.”
I can boldly say He choses me.
Oh and by the way, my brother is in love with Jesus now and a great inspiration and Leader to many.
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