John Onyekachi 1 year ago
@Author John On... 12 min read Write a comment #short-stories

God Gave Me A Second Chance

God never gives up on His own. He gives more opportunities if we will look to Him with simple, child-like faith. That was exactly what He did to me when I failed— He gave me a second chance.

Today, I want to let you in on one of the little secrets of my life. Only a few people know this story, except those who have worked with me. This is not a story that I am proud of. It is one of those things I am so ashamed to speak about. It was a mistake — an error — that cost me so much and affected my life and ministry in a remarkable way. As you read this story, I want you to see that I am not perfect, that I have made mistakes too, failed in my assignment, and disappointed those who trusted me and had great expectations from me. 

I want you to see that, as a human being, I am weak and full of shortcomings. But much more than my weakness and mistake, I want you to see God's abundant grace, His amazing faithfulness, boundless love, and consistent loyalty. I want you to see how God stood by me in my worst moment, strengthened me in my weakness, and refused to give up on me, even when I gave up on myself. I want you to see how the Lord came through for me in my state of hopelessness and brought forth hope for me even when there was no reason to hope.

I believe that I am one of the most privileged and graced individuals in the world today. You can go ahead and argue about that, but it is true. I had the privilege of pastoring my first congregation when I was just 21 years old. Since then, I have had other amazing privileges. I have pastored the best congregations any pastor can ever think of. I've had amazing congregations who loved me and devoted themselves to God and me. In all the congregations I have pastored, not once did I ever have any problem with any church member. 

The people loved me, and even when I rebuked or corrected some of them, they took it knowing that I did that out of my love for them. Fast forward to the year 2016, when I was transferred to a new church as the head pastor. I reported to duty on Wednesday, the 3rd of February, 2016. The church loved me so much, and they wholeheartedly gave me their full support as their pastor. Everyone laid aside their individual differences and braced up to work together to help me fulfill my ministry and assignment in the church. The Lord seemed to confirm that He sent me to them by giving me a special grace for ministry that I never had before. I began to minister differently, and the Lord increased my influence and authority in the spirit.

We began to experience the wonderful workings and ministry of the Holy Spirit. Oh, it was so amazing! And to think that I was at the center of it all and even leading it was mind-blowing. And just as it happens to almost every young person going through a period of success, it got into my head, and I was carried away. Fast forward again to September 2016, we were to have our third major program for the year as a Church, which was to be an open-air crusade (that turned out to be my last crusade there). 

The crusade planning committee had been set up, and everyone had been assigned different tasks to accomplish concerning the crusade. Then, one morning, I received a credit alert of #125 000. You can imagine how happy I was. We desperately needed money to begin mobilization for the crusade. This was September, and up to that time, we had done virtually nothing except a series of meetings for the crusade. Money was desperately needed. To be sure about who sent the money, I made a few calls to some of the brethren, but it turned out none of them sent that particular money. 

There were other seeds sown towards the program, but that particular money could not be traced to any of our members. So, since I could not ascertain who sent the money, I believed it was a divine provision for the program — after all, we had been praying for financial provision. So, immediately, I called a few brethren and began to mobilize them for the various tasks they were given in preparation for the program. Then, it happened. The next day, I was called by a staff of Guaranteed Trust Bank (GTB) from the PortHarcourt branch office in the South-south region of Nigeria. This was the conversation that ensued afterward.

GTB staff: hello, good afternoon, sir, this is (he mentioned his name). I am a staff of GTB from the PortHarcourt branch. Am I on to Mr Onyekachi Ajah John?

Me: Good afternoon. Yes, you are.

GTB staff: Ok, Sir. Please, there was a deposit to your account yesterday by (he mentioned the depositor's name) from GTB PortHarcourt. I'm sure you are aware of it.

Me: Yes. I'm aware of that.

GTB staff: That was a mistake, sir. I mistakenly forwarded a fund meant for someone else to you. (A church member had made a direct deposit of the sum of #10 000 from that particular branch the same day the money was sent to me. So, it is possible the money passed through the same cashier.)

GTB staff: We noticed that you have already withdrawn some part of it. (As I said earlier, I had already withdrawn some money from it to mobilize the brethren for the crusade). Please, could you make a deposit so that we can withdraw it from here?

Me: It is well, sir. I received the alert, but I couldn't ascertain who sent it. I am a pastor, and I withdrew a part of the money to pay for some things in preparation for our forthcoming crusade.

I continued: You can withdraw the #60 000 remaining in my account while I find a way to make up the remaining one. I can't make a transfer right now because I don't have the funds. The conversation ended as we exchanged pleasantries.

Knowing that the crusade was just about one month from that day, I decided to keep this information away from both the Church Management Committee (CMC) and the Crusade Planning Committee. I wanted everyone to focus on making the program a great success. I also had to collect some money from our church income to augment the one we had, hoping to raise money from another source to balance up later. I forgot to mention that I was only a part-time pastor. My monthly remuneration was #10, 000 and I lived on that amount every month. It took care of my feeding and other expenses.

The crusade was a huge success, and the name of the Lord was glorified. But I had a huge debt to pay. My local church was not strong enough (financially) to offset that debt, and I couldn't source money from the ministry leadership because the ministry did not send me to do that crusade. So, it was entirely my business. For six to seven months, I was paying from my monthly remuneration. As the church paid into my account, the bank withdrew all of it immediately. So, throughout that period, I wasn't receiving any salary. I wonder how I survived because I wasn't working anywhere else.

Thank God! I was able to settle with the bank. The debt had been completely cleared. But I owed the church. I went to my Zonal Pastor and explained everything to him. He gave me his advice and offered to cover me up for some time until I could pay up. But I failed him. I couldn't pay up. That man loved me so much and was willing to do almost anything for me. But this time, he didn't know what to believe about me anymore. He couldn't trust me anymore, and my issue was putting a lot of pressure on him and his ministry.

Finally, the decision was made. I was told to hand over the church and leave. I was ashamed. I had disappointed the leadership. I had disappointed my people. I had disappointed God. And I had disappointed myself. For the period I had until Sunday, I was to hand over, and I cried every day in the office. Nobody knew about it. I was seriously depressed. At one time, I even contemplated suicide. I felt like I had failed everyone, and I was ashamed. So, finally, and ashamed, I handed over to another pastor in July 2017 and went home to my family. I was 25 years old then.

I felt like I'd lost everything, and I blamed myself every day for what happened. It's been five years since, and I have wished I knew better. I wish I didn't spend that money. I wished that whole scenario didn't happen. But in all these, the Lord didn't see a failure. He stood by me through it all and has remained my strength. When others gave up on me, He remained my closest and most trusted ally. In the midst of this, the Lord sent wonderful people who loved me and helped me get back on my feet. He watched me like a hawk and encouraged me as a friend and brother would. Miss Abba Merit Ogonnaya was really amazing. She loved me genuinely in the midst of it all and encouraged me greatly. Pastor Enyi Patchibuikem, that one? 

My mum didn't stop telling me how special I was and tried her best to get me to pick up the vital lessons from the whole thing and move on. If it had not been the Lord who was on my side, that incident would have been the end of my ministry and possibly, my life. Just as I said earlier, I contemplated suicide. It was that bad. In the midst of this, when I thought that I had been disqualified from public ministry, the Lord gave me a special calling to carry out a special ministry of bringing a revelation and experience of His love.

God gave me a second chance and a new opportunity in ministry. The Lord came through for me and saved me from an obvious disaster that would have destroyed my ministry. Now you know, I have failed too and betrayed people's expectations. But the Lord didn't fail. He remained consistent and got me out of it all. What did you learn from my story? Can you relate to it? Have you failed before? How did God come through for you? I'd like to read from you in the comment section.

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