Today we bring you the concluding part of an interview with the Chairman of Christian Voice Newspaper, Sir Barr Chudi Onuzo the firswt part was published last week.
50 YEARS IN MINISTRY
I was born on June 14, 1945 at Oraifite in the present Ekwusigo Local Government Area of Anambra State. I came to be born there because my father, at that time, was a ‘travelling teacher’ and the Headmaster of the primary School at Oraifite under the CMS. As I said earlier, my boyhood days weren’t memorable until that wonderful morning in 1962 when the Lord appeared to me in a Vision of Light. The days following that event became the happiest days of my life; and till today, still represent the high point of my life. In those days, I engaged with the Spirit of the Lord in hours of chit chat. I conversed with Him like a man would converse with a friend. This experience began even before the Lord’s physical visitation. At that it afforded me an escape from the world around me. But from the day of that visitation, I didn’t need to escape any more. God had changed my over-all disposition and I began also to enjoy the company of my fellow students and the environment around me.
At that time, the Lord also began to endow me with spiritual gifts – gifts of understanding and ministering the Scriptures, the gift of healing and the gift of casting out of demons. I recall the day I went to the village and found my step grand mother very sick indeed. I went into her room laid hands on her and prayed over her. Shortly afterwards, I bicycled to the village market to run an errand. On my return, I found my step grand mother fully recovered. According to the testimony of those at home who witnessed the miracle, one of the goats tied just outside her window suddenly gave two distress bleats and immediately fell down and died. Simultaneously, I was told, my step grand mother revived and was instantly healed. Unfortunately, this special grace I had with the Lord did not last. I was still in the village when the Lord asked me to go pray for a man who had died in a neighbouring village so he would be revived. In spite of the assurances of the Lord that the instruction was indeed from Him and that the man would surely be raised from the dead, I could not summon the faith and the courage to go. As it happened, the man was duly buried and with his burial my fellowship with the Lord became prematurely aborted. I went back to talk with Him as in the past but there was no more response coming from Him. He was not there anymore and would chat with me no more. Even though I still hear the Lord speak to me now and again, that special relationship that enabled me converse with Him as a man would converse with a friend was not and has not since been re-established. Not only did His spirit leave me but the demons returned and my life began to slip into sin and hopelessness.
But His Grace didn’t entirely leave me. Sometime in 1971, I cried out desperately to Him for help. I said to Him, “Lord help me and restore me. I am your son. Yes, I may be an unworthy one because I have done and thought things that have not portrayed me as your son but I am your son nevertheless”. The Lord answered the prayer in a most comprehensive and amazing manner. He opened a door for me to travel to India for the coaching course I talked about earlier. With my salary being paid into my bank account for the eleven months I was away and the Government of India providing for all our needs and a monthly allowance to cap it up, all the debt that I had accumulated back home was paid off while I was away. The burden of paying the university fees of one of my brothers was taken off me as the Lord caused him to be granted, just as I was leaving for India, a very lucrative scholarship from the German Government. While in India, I fell ill and no amount of drugs could restore me as numerous tests I underwent at various clinics and hospitals could not reveal the cause of my ailment. I expended all my monthly allowance on medicaments which didn’t help. Finally, I resorted to the Lord again. I cried out to Him in desperation, confessing my sins and pleading for His mercy and forgiveness. As I knelt and wept before Him, I vowed to Him that if He would take away the ailment, I would never again depart from Him. I vowed to remain obedient and loyal to Him all the rest of my life, only let Him touch me and heal me. Getting up from my knees, I took all the medicaments and threw them into the bush and rested my hopes for healing completely on the Lord. And as sure as He is God, He came through for me. By the following afternoon, the infection was completely gone and I was completely healed till today. That was also how my very serious stomach ulcer was healed. At that time, I used to carry a bottle of antacid tablets around and chewed every fifteen minutes because of the terrible gripes that I suffered. I said to the Lord, you had healed me before. You will heal me again. Having confessed that to the Lord, I threw all my medications into the bush as I had done in India. When the gripes came, I remained resolute that I wouldn’t take any more drugs. By the next afternoon, the gripes had ceased and the ulcer healed completely till today. With this second intervention of the Lord in my physical body to heal me of my diseases, my gift of healing of others was restored. And God has since used me to bring healing, deliverance and hope to a variety of people in a variety of situations and circumstances. Once on a hospital visitation, I was led to prophesy to a patient whose surgery had got terribly septic and was being dressed three to four times a day that she would be healed and off her hospital bed in two days. And so it happened that when the nurses came to dress her sore on the day I told her she would be healed, they found to their astonishment that the deep hole made by the sore had miraculously filled up over-night and the flesh had been restored over it leaving only a small tender portion of the skin to show a sore was there previously.
Also, when I was leading the Children Evangelism Ministry, one of our Youth Corpers who had a very serious attack of malaria fever sent for me to pray for him. When I arrived, I found him with a very high fever and a terrible rigor with his body shaking all over. I pleaded with him to take some malaria drugs but he would not hear of it. He just kept pleading with me to pray for him. So, I joined my faith to his and prayed a prayer of faith. When I came back the following day to see how he was, I was amazed to find he had been completely healed and was about his normal duties, vibrant and awfully thankful. There was also a case of a man who lay dying. He was completely emaciated and there were blisters on his lips. A priest friend of his was there to visit him when I walked to see him because I had heard he was ill. The priest asked me to pray and I prayed a simple prayer of faith using James 5: 13-14. He was taken to hospital the following day when it looked like his problem was getting worse. After a series of tests, he was quickly discharged the next day. But the day after he came back home, his miracle happened. Suddenly, the disease began to leave his body and within forty-eight hours, he was completely healed and restored. I later asked his wife what he had been suffering from. You can imagine how shocked and humbled I was when she told me her husband had AIDS. How amazing that the Lord answered a simple prayer of faith and saved him. The man is still alive and well. He subsequently gave his life to Christ and is today serving the Lord as a priest. Of course, I don’t claim to be a miracle worker or anything of the sort. I am simply an ordinary servant of God, most unworthy and undeserving, but through whom, by God’s special mercy, is used now and again to minister His grace in the lives of other people.
I come from a family of dedicated born again Christians, most of them pastors and ministers and two of them, international evangelists. But when on the day of the burial of my father, a torrential downpour threatened to ruin the day, it was to me, the lowest and the least spiritually renowned of them all that the Lord ministered a solution. We had refused to hire rain makers to ensure it didn’t rain. Our uncles who thought we were making a terrible decided on their own to pay deposits to the known rain ‘doctors’ in both our town and in all the neighbouring towns. When they then approached us for money to complete the payment, we chased off reminding them that we control the weather, not through rain ‘doctors’. When this message was fed back to the rain ‘doctors’ they declared a rain war against us. Everything was fine and dry for a good six weeks before the date of burial but by half past six on the morning of the funeral, the heavens opened as it were and a really fierce rain-storm descended on us. The whole family spontaneously went into prayer calling on the Lord to vindicate our trust in Him. We railed at the rain ‘doctors’ and made all kinds of declarations against them. At the height of our frenzied prayers, the Lord’s voice came quietly to me telling me that we were praying the ‘wrong prayers’. He ministered that I should step out onto the balcony, lift my both hands to heaven and command the winds bringing the rain to turn back and that the rain would stop. This time, I was strong enough to respond with faith. So, I immediately stopped praying and my two sisters who were in the same room praying with me, also stopped and as if directed to do so, immediately left the room. As soon as they were gone, I walked out to the balcony and did exactly as the Lord had directed me. “You winds bringing this rain”, I said. “I command you in the Name of Jesus, TURN BACK”. I say, in the NAME OF JESUS, TURN BACK”. I paused and watched and sure enough the winds were turning back because all the branches of the palm trees were bending clockwise as the force of the wind turned direction. In ten seconds, the storm ceased, the rain tapered and came to an abrupt stop. I could hardly believe what had happened and I was too humbled to share the testimony with my family especially as I didn’t want to draw any attention to myself or to detract from the collective effort. I however eventually shared the testimony with them but it took another several years after the event before I decided to do so.
Even though this interview is being held to mark my 67th birthday, it should be more appropriate to say it is to mark the golden jubilee of my walk with the Lord. For everything that has happened in my life and God willing, will continue to happen in my life, has been tied and will continue to be tied to that my 1962 experience with the Lord and the ministrations I have continued to receive ever since. I had earlier told you that the Lord over-ruled my desire to go into full time ministry to be ordained a priest of the Anglican Church. According to His word to me, He was calling me to public service and not to the clerical orders. So, when it came to the time when I desired a wife, I asked God to give me a wife who would fit into the role of the wife of a public figure. I asked for someone who would make a befitting wife of a very visible Christian public figure – a pretty, confident, personable and intelligent Christian woman. I was prepared to wait as long as it took to find the woman of that description. The problem was that at the time, I didn’t have the credentials that would make such a woman want to marry me. But I was in it with the Lord. So, I was not discouraged by what I felt were my inadequacies at the time, knowing what God had destined I would become in future.
So, when one day after evening church service, I saw a very personable young lady, tall, fair skinned and exuding much self confidence as she chatted with two young men, I immediately took it that I had met the wife I had sought for months and years. I wasted no time to make her acquaintance. We got on so well so quickly that I took it that she was surely God’s appointed wife for me. But she wasn’t as she was already engaged to marry a young out of town soldier. When it became clear to me that she had no plans to abandon the soldier, I decided to let her go. It wasn’t easy though, because in my human calculation, it would be years again before I could meet someone like her again. But having made the decision to let her go, I went back to the Lord and I said to Him, ‘Lord, I have no business hanging on to somebody else’s wife. Give me my own’. It took only three months for God to arrange for me to meet the wife I eventually married. It was a once in a million chance meeting so contrived that there was no question but that the hand of God had done it.
God gave me a wife who has everything – glamorous beauty, elegance, natural wisdom, academic ability, extremely hard working, a kind and generous spirit and a charm that endears her to everyone who comes across her. A few months short of sixty years and with seven lovely children to her credit, she still looks as pretty and elegant as ever. As I asked the Lord, so He gave me a wife that will remain suitable and relevant no matter to what heights it may please Him to lift me. In a tribute in a recent interview with a national magazine, one of my daughters testified that her mother has been the greatest influence on her. She also spoke of her mother as not only beautiful but also the most hard working and elegant woman she has ever known. Well, she is her mother but she is also my wife specially given to me as an act of grace by the Almighty God. In two months’ time, my wife and I would have been married for thirty-six years having wedded in August, 1976. Like all human beings, she’s not without fault of course but her virtues clearly outweigh her faults. So, to God I give all the glory.
I can go on and on recounting the blessings of God mostly undeserved but which God has nevertheless continued to shower on me. Shall I talk of the marvellous children He has given me or the excellent results He helped me to achieve in all the exams I had ever taken in my life making it appear as though I truly belong among the brilliant ones.
But following the Lord in obedience is not as easy as it sounds or as some people make it out to be. If the truth must be told, walking with the Lord in obedience is about the most difficult experience anyone can have. But there cannot be a more rewarding one. But it requires patience, perseverance and an unflinching belief in the goodness of the Lord who calls us to obedience, no matter what betides along the way. Like He did to the Prophet Jeremiah, God has testified to me that before I was conceived in my mother’s womb He knew me and called me to be His prophet; to speak His word to the people especially to those in church who claim to be the people of God, whether they will pay heed to me or not. And so, I continue, regardless of the fact that I meet a stone wall each time I minister to the leaders of the Church. Sometimes, I’m told the problem is my style; that my approach is too direct. I do really wish I can do it differently but I have no regrets because I have searched through all the Scriptures and I have not been able to come across a prophet in the Bible who ever minced his words, not one; not even the Lord Himself. The truth of course is that those who will hear will hear and those who will be saved will be saved.
As for me, I will soldier on as the Lord directs me and as He grants me His grace and favour. I have no choice. I am completely sold to the Lord as both His prophet, His ambassador and His servant; and in spite of my many weaknesses and faults, I strive as much as I can, falling and getting up and getting going again ever so often, to fulfil God’s mandate and His purposes for calling me into His vineyard. My prayer continues to be that in His infinite goodness and mercy, the Lord will continue to be gracious and merciful to me as I walk this very difficult path of Faith and discipleship unto which He has called me and which He has stretched out before me.
I want to use this opportunity to thank all those who have at various times sown into my life by way of counsel, material assistance and true friendship. To my wife and children and to my brothers and sisters who have continued to be a tower of strength to me as well as to my close friends and associates, among them, those of the ordained ministry; and to my colleagues here at the Christian Voice newspaper, I say, may God continue to bless you all, in Jesus Name. Amen.