The Spirit-Filled Believer

By OA Fakinlede, St James’ Church, Oda June 2, 2024

We taste Thee, O Thou living Bread,
and long to feast upon Thee still;
we drink of Thee, the Fountain-head,
and thirst our souls from Thee to fill.

Our restless spirits yearn for Thee,
where’er our changeful lot is cast;
glad when Thy gracious smile we see,
blest when our faith can hold Thee fast.

Bernard of Clairvaux (Hymn 387)

Looking at the topic of the day, what should be the duty of the preacher? Is it to
1. Tell how to become a Spirit-Filled believer?
2. To show how to recognize a Spirit-Filled believer?
3. To understand how a company of Spirit-Filled believers will act like or what they will achieve?
4. To avoid counterfeits and avoid the wastage of time resulting from wrong emphasis?

I leave for my hearers the judgment if any of these possible goals is achieved. Nearing the close of the Epistle to the Romans, Paul told us: “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Romans 15:4. One bitter truth written for us is about the people of God in the old Testament. They behaved in such a way that we have this testimony about them for our instruction and to ponder on: ‘For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”’ Romans 2:24. Here the Apostle was quoting Isaiah 5:25 on the conduct of the People of God! Their lives, things happening to them, in this place, were putting the name of God in disrepute!
They lived in error! And when you are in error, you can easily do the terrible thing of being responsible for causing the name of the Lord to be blasphemed! Our Lord Jesus explained to the Sadducees, the deep disease that caused them to go into error. “Ye do err”, He told them in Matt 22:29 – “not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God”. We will therefore begin on what the scriptures tell us about the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit: The Activity, the Character & the Word of God
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8
Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. John 16:7-14

Why are the scriptures so important? And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1:19-21
Organizing a Spirit-Filled Company
My real focus in this sermon is the entire book of Titus. In there, the Apostle outlined the organization of a Spirit inspired and activated company of Christ’s followers. There the principles are enunciated and the goals of each member are clearly outlined. Enough of this pining for the days of the Apostles! This is OUR DAY! We can actually serve God right now because we are the people appointed for this hour!
The most important thing about being Spirit-Filled is Desire! Paul actually implied, if you interpret like I do, that you can have as much of the Holy Spirit as you want! Doubt me? OK, can you have as much coke as you want? Can you have as much wine as you want? If that is true, consider what Paul says here: Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Ephesians 5:15-20

Sound Doctrine for old men & women, boys and girls, bond and free: Titus 2.
Note the purpose of each admonition: “that the word of God may not be reviled”.
Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. 3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. 6 Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. 7 Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, 8 and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. 9 Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.
11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. Titus 2:2-14

Prayer to the Holy Ghost: Hymn 235
1 Come down, O Love divine,
seek thou this soul of mine,
and visit it with thine own ardor glowing;
O Comforter, draw near,
within my heart appear,
and kindle it, thy holy flame bestowing.

2 O let it freely burn,
till earthly passions turn
to dust and ashes in its heat consuming;
and let thy glorious light
shine ever on my sight,
and clothe me round, the while my path illuming.

3 Let holy charity
Mine outward vesture be.
And lowliness become my inner clothing.
True lowliness of heart,
Which takes the humbler part,
And o’er its own shortcomings weeps with loathing.

4 And so the yearning strong,
with which the soul will long,
shall far outpass the power of human telling;
for none can guess its grace,
till Love create a place
wherein the Holy Spirit makes a dwelling.
— Bianco da Siena

Living in the Knowledge of His presence

OA Fakinlede, Oda, April 7, 2024

16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” 17 And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” ESV Genesis 28:16-17
“16 And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not. 17 And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven”. KJV Genesis 28:16-18
Jacob, having cheated his brother, was on the run for his life. Tired, he saw what he thought was an ordinary place by the wayside. Unlike us, he did not get a good pillow – he had to make do with a stone! But the night was eventful. He saw a mighty vision in the night. Angels of God were ascending and descending and he received a promise – not just of protection, but about mighty acts of God that transcended his immediate problems. By the time he woke up, he had a completely different perception of the extra-ordinariness of the place! “The Lord is in this place! And I did not know!”
11 And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. 12 And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! Genesis 28:11-12
When he knew of God’s presence, what was his opinion of the place? “Dreadful”! “Awesome”!
One baffling thing about the present religious climate in Nigeria is the “arifin” of God. In the new testament, simply falsifying the account of what they gave to God caused the death of Brother Annanias and Sister Sapphira! (Acts of the Apostles, chapter 5) The presence was awful, it was dreadful! It was not trivial! It was awesome!
The presence of the Lord with the travelling Israelites to the promised land was as mighty as it was awesome! It was a shade during the hot day sun, it was a defence and fire in the night. Awesome!
We cannot demand the presence of God! We are too unworthy to even ask! Imagine that I wish that the governor of Ondo State to have his presence with me when I am going to the market. Can I go and ask him to follow me? Maybe his assistants will think I was mad to even contemplate that! But it will be a different matter if Mr Aiyedatiwa, of his own accord, decided to follow me to the market! Jesus said “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I will be among them!” Matt 18:20. It was His idea, not ours. Otherwise, it would have been preposterous!
There are several issues to consider about our being in the presence of God. Two of these will be discussed today: Being in God’s presence worthily, and being conscious of it! Are we not most frequently like Jacob? The Lord was there, he was not aware.

He’s got his eyes on you
He’s got his eyes on you
My Lord, sitting in His kingdom,
He’s got his eyes on you!

I will not be a liar, I tell you the reason why
Cause my Lord might call me,
And I wouldn’t be ready to die.
He’s got his eyes on you …”Hypocrite”, “Cheater”, etc.

Backtrack to the passages given by the reverend for this occasion. There are six of them. When I printed them out. They occupied four pages! If I were to simply read them, they would take the time! But I guess he wants me to do better than that. I will therefore base this message on only one of these passages.

“1 I will bless the Lord at all times
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2 My soul shall make her boast in the LORD:
the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.
3 O magnify the LORD with me,
and let us exalt his name together.
4 I sought the LORD, and he heard me,
and delivered me from all my fears.
5 They looked unto him, and were lightened:
and their faces were not ashamed.
6 This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him,
and saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the LORD encampeth
round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.
8 O taste and see that the LORD is good:
blessed is the man that trusteth in him.
9 O fear the LORD, ye his saints:
for there is no want to them that fear him.
10 The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger:
but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing”. Psalms 34:1-10

First three verses here are our lead and watchword every communion service and Hymn 290: Through all the changing scenes of life

1. Through all the changing scenes of life
In trouble and in joy,
The praises of my God shall still
My heart and tongue employ.
2. Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
With me exalt His name;
When in distress to Him I called,
He to my rescue came.
3. The hosts of God encamp around
The dwellings of the just;
Deliverance He affords to all
Who on His succor trust.
4. Oh, make but trial of His love,
Experience will decide
How blest they are, and only they,
Who in His truth confide.
5. Fear Him, ye saints, and you will then
Have nothing else to fear;
Make you His service your delight,
Your wants shall be His care.

We shall conclude this morning message by focussing on verse 5. How many times does the word “fear” occur in the Bible? 437 times!
Did you know that God commanded us not to fear 366 times in the bible? There is a “Fear not for each day with a spare one for the leap year.
Did you also know that the reason God gave that we may not fear is NOT because bad things cannot happen to us? The quality of faith is not in the avoidance of evil. It is instead in the hierarchy of the evil. “iku ti o pa ni, t’o ba si ni ni fila, ka maa dupe”! Some things are worse than others!
In verse 5 the poet drew powerfully on that thought by telling us whom to fear after which we have nothing left to fear! Matthew 10:28. Fear hath torment (I Jn 4:18-20. Jesus came to destroy all the works of the devil. One of the works of the devil he came to destroy is to free those who through fear are made captive all their lives-Heb 2:15 “and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.”
One “koko” of the matter of walking in the consciousness of the presence of God is in our not fearing not being afraid. The positive part is in being thankful: two sides of the same coin.
Do you forget the presence of God? You are like Jacob, and you come to know it intermittently? Do you fear for your life? Are you in bondage by the fear of death?

You are not alone! I fear like you also.

1. Come to the realization
2. Know that God has a cure
3. Thankfulness can help us practice the presence of God. It helps us know that God is near us, that He is with us.
4. We can grow. We do not have to go from bad to worse. We can be better. We can know God better. And feel him better. And be more obedient.
5. It is a choice to move in that direction; or the opposite!

The goal of Leadership in the Church

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. Titus 2:11-14

What does it mean?
I am often disappointed when the instruction given to our young people, especially women, is that the goal of their lives is to live passively and unobstrusively – do not rock the boat; do not dress indecently; do not engage in prostitution; etc. Young men: do not become “Yahoo” boys, do not engage in criminality; etc. To interpret it this way is to restrict our understanding of the goal of the gospel, and our leadership in it, to “training to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions.” But we need to move forward to “living self-controlled, upright and godly lives”. And we need to live “in the present age”. Even that, unfortunately, is still not sufficient!
We need to be people whose lives are marked by a deep consciousness of “the blessed hope, and the appearing of the glory of the great God and Saviour Jesus Christ”. This same Jesus that, “gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness”. But that is not all. He did all this in order “To purify unto himself, a people for his own possession that are zealous for good works.”
If we do not get anything from this passage, we should at least see immediately that the goal of the gospel, and of leadership in it is NOT something passive. It is active.
The Author, Finisher
The first worker is Jesus Christ: He did the dying, he is actively working on the purification, he is constantly interceding for us; He is pleading our case with the father; And all he wants from us is our cooperation! (I remember taking my younger daughter for her injection in the hospital: She will not cooperate. I had to bind her hands and legs, force a cooperation so she did not get wounded) Lack of cooperation can be deadly! The Apostle Paul, with all his compassing land and sea going without a home, or a family, spreading his whole life to preach the gospel, realized, that the first worker is God himself “We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 2 For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you.” 2 Corinthians 6:1-2
The first duty of the Christian, and the leader, is to cooperate with the Master Jesus in his effort that, after dying for us, he is trying to “purify, unto himself, a people that are his very own known to all the world for their zeal to achieve God’s good purpose”.
In telling us to be careful of anger, the Apostle James warned us with this same thought: “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” James 1:19-21. Human anger does not achieve the righteous purpose of God. So, we must always ask ourselves, not if we are dressed in a way not to attract unnecessary, ungodly attention, or whether we are cheating to live, but “Are we accomplishing the righteous purpose of a God, whose primary work right now is to ‘purify for himself, a people of his own possession, zealous unto good works?’ ”
The Present Age
We are to accomplish God’s holy purpose “In the present Age”. Look at the passage again: “to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age”. What is the “Present Age”. We are living in a Nigeria of 2024 where there are essentially only two types of jobs: Begging and Looting! The beggars are those that are unemployed or underpaid and can barely survive from month to month. The looters are those that have devised a method to profit from the mess Nigeria is going through. They may be politicians or Civil servants. They are often not part of the economy and are usually being begged for favours by the rest of the population. We, as Christians, have a high calling to be neither Beggars nor Looters.
What did the Apostle say? “and give no opportunity to the devil. 28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:27-29
It is our duty to always find ways to do honest labour. That is precisely what Nigerians, in the present Age, do not want to do.
Churches are filled to the brim because certain people are telling them there is a trick where God will cause to happen, a miracle of favour, where you will get a jackpot by praying very well and having sufficient faith! Of course, not everyone in such gatherings is wrong: the preachers themselves are correct, as they usually receive that miracle of favour and are usually well kept and provided for. Only problem is that the number of unemployed people, widows, orphans, destitute, etc., are not reduced by all the proclaimed faith! It is a lie that such preaching have helped Nigeria. It has not. I started working in 1978 as a Graduate Assistant at the University of Lagos. My salary was about 320 Naira per month. One Naira, at that time was closer to two US dollars. Today, 46 years later, I make slightly more than 500,000 Naira each month. Convert it and see that Nigeria has marched backwards. Non-Christian societies such as China and India have multiplied their per-capita GDP 10 to 50 fold in the same period!
What is more damning, is the fact that the Apostle and the whole scripture do not agree with this “favour” principle! “Let him labour, doing honest work with his own hands” ni Apostle wi o!
Furthermore, the Apostle, in a direct speech to the same Ephesians in Acts he showed that he did not only preach this idea of hardwork with your hands, but that was how he lived openly among them: “34 You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. 35 In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:34-35. And the Apostle was telling them the words of our Lord Jesus Christ! These are not the words of Fakinlede! Words of Jesus Christ! “Labour, work with your own hands”!
Slothfulness
My third point is related, it is the immorality of Slothfulness. This point, if not understood correctly, may appear controversial. Or it may look like an unnecessary emphasis. But it is deep. It is so deep that we will not have time to deal with it, sufficiently, is a three-hour sermon. It flows from Point 2. The word “moral” is usually interpreted in most Churches as “sexual morality”. That interpretation, in comparison to the entire history and faith of the Church of our Lord Jesus, is entirely in error. Seven immoralities, to avoid, are taught in the Bible. You may be surprised to know that, lust, the one pertaining to sex, that the church fantasizes every day about is NOT even the worst of the immoralities. This erroneous approach makes people interpret every note on morality as sexual morality. Important, as that is, the confusion caused is immeasurable. I will refer any interested person to go to my personal webpage and read a series of sermons preached by a great Christian lady – nearly 80 years ago, where she painstakingly listed and elaborated on each morality.
My beef today in on just one of these. It is called slothfulness. A slothful person is immoral! You do not have to sleep with another man’s wife to be immoral! Are you covetous? OK, let me list them all: pride, avarice (greed), envy, wrath, lust, gluttony, and sloth or acedia.
Point three is that we should avoid slothfulness. It is a deadly sin; it is an immorality. It is as serious as the sin of lust or the favorite sexual immorality that keeps us talking all day! And the church is often guilty of slothfulness!

Excellency in Today’s Terms

If you are already a university student or a graduate, please also read The Set of 2020 article on this site.
Dateline 1965.
What were my 9-year-old ears hearing from the common Rediffusion of those days?

“Bata re a dun ko ko ka
Bi o ba ka’we re,
Bata re a dun ko ko ka.
Bi o ko ba ka’we re,
Bata re adun pelebe pelebe pelebe!”

This erstwhile popular song must be nuanced and given context for it to make sense. First, what was “Reddifusion”? In 1965, believe me, there were no smartphones. Akure had some electricity but even in homes, like mine, that had a little access, it was mainly for lighting. Some people had “Transistor Radios” but most of those used dry-cell batteries. Hotels and beer parlors often had loudspeakers playing songs in the streets. I learnt most of the popular songs of that time on the streets from kind Parlor owners that broadcast IK Dairo, Haruna Isola, Jim Reeves, Ogunde, Olaiya, Roy Chicago, etc., as you passed by their buildings on the way to my father’s shop!
The government of that time had this little box that talked all day and was wired into all subscribing households. It was like a wired radio set to a single frequency. The little box was called “Rediffusion” or Asoromagbesi in Yoruba. It was such a clever idea. For a little monthly fee, each household could be connected to government programs, hear the latest news, listen to some music and adverts. That was perhaps the first idea of Power-over Ethernet, popular today, as it did not require you to have electricity in your house.
At that time, the young school child was taught that education will allow him to climb the social ladder and become “important”, “successful”, etc. by studying very hard at school. Our ideal in 1965 was the middle-level civil servant that wore covered shoes. Most of our parents: farmers, traders, cleaners, etc., wore slippers. The above song therefore counsels you to study hard (Ka iwe re) so that you will wear covered shoes that make the sounds “ko ko ka”. If you failed in school, you will either be like your parents – wearing slippers or become a servant. That is why your footwear will sound “pelebe, pelebe pelebe”.
My mother, having no school education herself, was waiting for me to return home from school with my result at the term’s end. Unfortunately, she could not read the result herself. She would not listen to whatever I told her about my result. She waited for a civil servant tenant to pass by. Such people will be called “Akowe” in those days. My report card will be given to an Akowe and he would explain my grades subject by subject to mama. And mama had ready, a spanking rod or a bowl of delicious food – usually rice and stew. Which one I got, depended on the interpretation given to my report card by the Akowe.
Now that we have an idea of what that song said, let us study the philosophy that drove people of that era.

1. It was not your duty to build your society. Just read your books and take the place of a civil servant to maintain the colonial structure built by the British.
2. The social order is fixed, just find your place or seek to move higher.
3. Your ticket is your paper certificate.
4. Nothing else matters!

In the next 60 years, the philosophical underpinning of our society values created a Nigerian mindset that is perpetually seeking paper qualifications. In secondary school, our chemistry book taught us topics such as the Fractional Distillation of Crude Oil as well as the Blast Furnace manufacture of Iron from Ore. We were taught the Saponification process of soap making as well as fermentation process in alcohol manufacture. Even the sanitation of our environment to prevent mosquitoes from biting us to the direction of flood waters to safely drain our water are all known to us in secondary schools.
Why do adult Nigerians develop zero inquisitiveness to find how these can be used to create products and services so to make a better living around themselves? Can the answer not be found in the fact that your duty – your bounden duty was to repeat these processes to the teacher at the end of term and collect your grades for promotion to the next class? Was the goal not only to get the Civil Service job so that “Bata re a dun ko ko ka?” Was there any other incentive?
I had the opportunity to ask my children to repeat SS3 in Canada after finishing here in Nigeria. Ireti’s comments comparing Physics and Chemistry as taught to final year secondary school students in Nigeria and Canada opened my eyes! The people here learn more chemistry theory and principles with much more mathematics than the Canadian school leaver. But the purposes are different! The little the Canadian child learns is orchestrated to produce something! The plenty the Nigerian child learns is CPPF (Cram, Pour, Pass, and Forget).
In Abuja, I observed that several young women that had completed the NYSC opened hair dressing salons along the roadside behind my house. I sometimes used the rear entrance and observed that they threw hair remnants and used threads into the drain – creating a good habitat for mosquitoes to thrive. These mosquitoes bite them, and they fall sick. And most of them are post NYSC – some of whom taught Biology and ecology during their service years!
Conclusion: Excellence in today’s terms is not merely “Academic” in the CPPF format of your parents! Of course, you still need to pay attention and succeed. But it is not enough! It is a mistake to imagine that it is when you reach university that you will learn what is needed to survive in society! Primary and secondary education are far more important than university education! You need to start early to develop excellency in skills and seek how to be productive using knowledge as early as possible! There are enormous opportunities to be creative that you are missing right now. Find out about them and stop doing “Bata re a dun ko ko ka”!

Post 2023 Nigeria: My Fears After Buhari by Francis Ojo

Dateline Kaduna

The last week has been different in drama, trauma and in death. The calamity has been extensive as terrorists focused intensive attention on Kaduna, the historical capital of Northern Nigeria and Abuja, the political capital of the Nigerian Republic.
First, they invaded the Airport on Saturday march 26, 2022. Two days later, Monday, they bombed Kaduna Abuja rail track, derailed a moving train, killed some killed, injured many and kidnapped many more. Feeling unchallenged and more confident, four days later, they invaded an Army barracks, killed 16 soldiers, injured 40 and according to vanguard of 6th April carted away arms and ammunition after burning down 3 army Attack Tanks.
With clear agenda coupled with flawless demonstration of capacity, they acutely dominated and morbidly choked the Armed forces and cut off the transport infrastructure of both critical cities. It is as if the refrain is: “Take over the two Capitals simultaneously, subdue the Army, break communication completely, and match from there onwards to take over Nigeria.” Not a sound from our President. The stark reality today is that Abuja and Kaduna have been intensely and robustly isolated by land, rail and air and the two zones completely insulated from each other and totally and entirely choked up.

Kaduna as Foundation of Nigeria’s Security
Those who know Kaduna State will tell you it is not just the historical capital of Northern Nigeria; it is the seat of the entire foundation of the Nigerian Security system. Look at the Institutions domiciled here:
1.    1 Division Nigerian Army
2.    Nigerian Army Depot Zaria
3.    Armed Forces Command and Staff College Jaji
4.    Nigerian Defense Industry Kaduna
5.    Nigerian Air Force Training School Kaduna
6.    Nigerian Police College Kaduna
7.    Nigerian navy School of Armament, Kachia Kaduna
8.    Nigerian Army School of legal Services, Bassawa Zaria
9.    Nigerian defense Academy Kaduna
10.Nigerian Army School of Artillery Kachia
11.Nigerian Army School of Military Police Bassawa Zaria
12.Army Operation base Southern Kaduna
For a rag-tag so called ‘Bandit’ formation to think of, dare to and directly challenge all the forces massed up in this State should make you suspect monkey business in Government. And our elders are expressing suspicion openly. Listen to a quote attributed to General I.B.M. Haruna: “We are in for sensitive happenings. I think the attack on the rail lines, airports and roads are all processes of de-democratization of Nigeria. The situation makes one suspect that either the present administration wants a situation of self-succession or an emergency Government which would come under its leadership.” Even the usually restrained and calm cleric of the Redeemed Christian Church, Pastor Enoch Adeboye expressed doubts about the future of this Country. Hear the man of God: “God has not told me there will be an election next year.” He continued: “For now, so many things are on my mind. Most especially, the attacks on Kaduna State. Why Kaduna? Who is trying to isolate Kaduna and why? And after Kaduna, which State next?”

What gives Boko Haram Such Swagger?
With all these in mind, Nigerians would wish to ask a few questions
1.    What is the State of our intelligence services?
2.    If Mallam Sheikh Gumi could locate terrorist camps, go there and take high fidelity photos, why can’t the DSS or any other of our Intelligence service find these bases and get the military to annihilate them?
3.    Why are our very expensive military so successful in West African flash points but now being eliminated and disgraced by ill constituted, scantily trained and equipped rag tag insurgents?
They won’t tell us but we can guess. I will start with a few illustrations.

Capturing Nnamdi Kanu
From the rumours, this was the brilliant operation that captured Nnamdi Kanu:
The DSS had studied and gathered copious human and electronic intelligence on Kanu, identifying his two key passions; Biafra and sexy ladies. They tested his appetite in England with some of their fine female agents, planted electronic surveillance devices and gathered robust intelligence. They now arranged some funds for his other passion, Biafra and thus set him up in Kenya. They organized, through the Government of Kenya to grab and fly him in a private jet to Abuja.
Now, if that is not a incredible Intelligence system, effective, efficient and coordinated, tell me what is. In one fell swoop, they coordinated local DSS, foreign NIA and bilateral Nigeria Kenya agencies and synchronized all like a clock. This should tell us that our Intelligence system is super.

Questions for Government
There is an interesting quote making social media rounds attributed to late General Sani Abacha: “If insecurity lasts 48 hours, then Government is involved.” If I do not know whether Government is involved, I sure know that they know who is, how the cycle or chain can be broken and Nigeria brought back from the precipice. If our DSS is so efficient and capable to coordinate very complex International, Inter-agency project to capture Nnamdi Kanu, I have no doubt that it has the operational competence and proficiency to bring Boko Haram sponsors to book. But is it not strange that not a single Boko Haram member, their officers or sponsors has been brought before our courts even as United Arab Republic has jailed 6 of them in far away Abu Dhabi? Rather those arrested are quickly sent to ‘rehabilitation’ camps without accounting for the murders they commit.
It is a well-known fact that these terrorists live in camps, we should ask DSS and Military Intelligence if these camps are located on Mars. How about their supply chain? Granted that they can get hold of motor cycles, can these bikes run without fuel? If they cannot, where are these fuels procured from and why has Government not cut off these supplies? We are even told that they get most of their arms and ammunition from Military Ordinance, can the army swear they do not have inventory control over their arms and ammunition. If they do, how many of those in charge have they court marshaled? The way they walk casually into Army Barracks to kill our soldiers and cart away arms and ammunition indicate internal sabotage and local espionage within the army. How many Boko Haram soldiers within the armed forces have been identified and punished? We can go on ad infinitum but it is very clear that many fingers point to Government.

My Worries
My apprehension is two dimensional. They cycle around our National flag, the uniforms designed to protect it and effect of President Buhari on both long after he is gone.
Remember our first national anthem which General Obasanjo changed?

Our flag shall be a symbol That truth and justice reign,
In peace or battle honour’d; And this we count as gain,
To hand on to our children; A banner without stain.

O God of all creation; Grant this our one request,
Help us to build a nation; Where no man is oppressed,
And so with peace and plenty; Nigeria may be blessed.

A nation’s flag expresses the idea, ideology and aspiration as above. Now, this administration has damaged and stained this flag. It no longer stands for truth and justice but for hate, ridicule and oppression.  A flag designed for all now serves the interest of tribe, tongue and religion. The military and other services in uniform mandated to protect the nation now recruits those who continuously kill their comrades in arm. Boko haram has been inching towards Abuja. Will this Government donate us to them? How do we get our Country back after Buhari? I worry.

The Way of the Cross

As men are not able to fight against death, misery, ignorance, they have taken it into their heads, in order to be happy, not to think of them at all.” Blaise Pascal

One well know Easter song, “Jesus Lives” has as one of the stanzas the following:

Jesus lives, henceforth is death
Entrance-gate to life immortal
This shall calm our trembling breadth
When we pass its gloomy portals. Alleluia

There is a lot that can be said about the idiom: “The way of the cross” which is our meditation this morning (an idiom it is for sure because its meaning goes beyond the exact words and refers to a particular event). The way of the cross is many things. Of this many, one unmistakable one is the fact that it is the way of death.
It is about a Jesus who was crucified on the cross. When we talk about the way of the cross, we are firstly referring to that. Our Lord Himself said:
‘The kings of the gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them are called Benefactors. …’ Lk 22:24 “Not so with you! … whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be the slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” Mk 10:43-45.
That ransom was, we believe, paid at the cross. There Jesus did the dying. And we are to reap benefits. It is grace. And here is where we have to be careful: The streams of teachings, commonplace among us, say we can enjoy an endless flow of the consolations emanating from the sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus. And it is true. However, when we view it like that alone, we may be making a great mistake. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a 20th century martyr for this cause, said we do not understand the way of the cross fully if we stop there. Rather, we are preaching what he referred to as cheap grace. The most damning thing about such a version of grace is that God is called upon regularly to be “a present help in times of need” but, otherwise, Jesus is not Lord of our lives because there is no necessity to pay close attention to his commands!
One modern-day feature of such cheap grace is the kind of stuff that passes for prophesies in several places of worship. In conformity to “cheap grace” prophesies are a stream of consolations- Always telling ourselves nice things. Who does not want to hear that nice things will happen? Oh we all do. However, to any serious student of the scriptures, we must remember that the quality of prophesy is not if it is a nice statement. Since we are so used to prophesies as nice things, let me supply two counter examples where prophesies were NOT nice things. The first quality of prophesy is that it is a true statement of what will happen. Is it true? Paul the Apostle, talking to the Elders of the Church at Ephesus in Acts 20, said this,

“…compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city, the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task that Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace…”

He was going to a Jerusalem. He did not know what will happen there. The Holy Spirit told him that he will face imprisonment. He did NOT pray against it. He just went on because he was going to accomplish the purpose of God.
My second example is from the OT. In IKings 22:27, we have this remarkable passage: “ Thus saith the king, Put this fellow in the prison, and feed him with bread of affliction and with water of affliction, until I come in peace. …” The king was angry! Why was he so angry? Read around that passage you find the problem was simple: King was going to war, He called the prophet of God to tell him how it would go. The prophet OF GOD told him the battle will not end well. He got angry and uttered those words in annoyance!
Of course we can also find many examples where God comforted his people and promised them better days. “Say kind words to the heart of Jerusalem, crying out to her that her time of trouble is ended, that her punishment is complete” the prophet blared in Is 40:2! The fact that is incontrovertible is that it can go either way! That is a fact! If not, if we must only hear nice things, it is soothsaying NOT prophesy! The grace that is true grace, Dietrich calls costly grace. I never tire quoting this:
“Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ
It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.
It is costly because it condemns sin and grace because it justifies the sinner.
And above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his son: and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life but delivered him up for us…”
He calls us to enjoy the consolations of the Gospel. Wait a minute. He first calls us to follow him. Those consolations are for those who are obedient to the call.

Must Jesus bear the cross alone,
And all the world go free?
No there is a cross for everyone,
And there is a cross for me!

The way of the cross is about death. It is about resurrection. It is about a life that follows death. It is meant to be a consolation.

May your life and death supply
Grace to live and grace to die
Grace to reach our home on high
Hear us Holy Jesus!

Epilogue – Brother Thomas: A Hard Act to Follow

OA Fakinlede (SJC 518: 1966-71)

Coli fotoWe, the Alumni of St Joseph’s College, Ondo at different times and from different locations in Nigeria, ending up – largely at the upper echelons in our society and in Diaspora, have testified, in this document, how effective Brother Thomas and the Lasallian Brothers’ fruitfulness have been in our lives.
As a lecturer, I use the experience of St Joseph’s, and how ignorant I was despite ability to see the efforts of the Brothers in helping us to get on in life. When my students do not appreciate the efforts I am putting in to make a difference in their lives, I reason that it took me close to forty years to appreciate that for Brother Thomas to come to our dormitory at six o clock in the morning, he must first wake up, probably have a small fellowship with other Brothers and walk through the unlit campus with his long touch light to reach our sleepy heads saying things like “Rise and shine”, “Oya, oya, o…” etc. while encouraging us to wake and begin the day. I am humbled by how little I have done compared to this supererogation!
There is more to say on this. Nigeria of today is a challenging place to live in. I do not begrudge my colleagues, who, for several reasons give up and leave. I know (at least from the example of family members that have done so) that many of them remain a mighty resource in the way the rest of the family survives in Nigeria. As a person, I have a problem. I studied Mechanical Engineering at Lagos and in Canada to PhD level. If I run away from Nigeria, and met Brother Thomas in Toronto, and he asked me what caused me to flee, I imagine this conversation taking place:

Thomas: Hello Fakinlede, I heard you have now come to live in Canada.

Fakinlede: Yes, brother. Nigeria has now become an impossible place to live in. There is no water, no reliable electricity, the educational system is a shadow of itself. I need something better for my family.

Thomas: That is interesting. You said you had no water supply from the Water Board? Did you not see the cistern we dug in our time that supplied water for our use? We even created another one near the swimming pool for you pupils. In addition to these there were various wells on the compound to get water from.

Fakinlede: Yes sir, I remember that! Did you say you dug them?

Thomas. Not really, we employed local labor and masonry to do all that.

Fakinlede. But how did you pump the water. These days, NEPA or its descendants will roast your pump!

Thomas: We used manual pumps for all our needs, and we never had an occasion to use buckets to carry water! We paid 12–15-year-old lads that were all too glad to gain a little pocket money and they lifted the water to our overhead tanks.

Fakinlede: But how did you iron your clothes? The epileptic power supply makes that such a big problem. And my freezer was out of commission for several months because of low current!

Thomas: In our days, we supplied you with electricity from 6-10pm. It was ONLY at that time that we too had electric power! Is it not arguable that you may have more clothes than you need?

Fakinlede: You made a good point there, Brother; but remember, I am not a monk!

Thomas: Ok, Fakinlede, I know I have taken extra orders and that was my choice. But tell me again, what did you say you studied in the University?

Fakinlede: (Now blushing) bachelor’s in mechanical engineering at University of Lagos, and PhD at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. I know how to model extremely complex systems such as Nuclear Power plants and heavy manufacturing that Nigeria does not have. That is one of my frustrations! And that is why I am in Toronto, looking for a job now!

Thomas: But is engineering not designed to help you orchestrate life at its present state, while you build up to the future?

Fakinlede: I am finding this conversation heavy going Brother. I probably need to do some more thinking….

We can end it there. I remember that travelling from Ondo to Lagos as recently as 1971, there were no bridges where two vehicles could meet mid-stream. What we had was a situation on those big rivers where oncoming traffic had to wait their turn to use the single lanes that existed!
When you add that to a war situation, we begin to understand two things: The brothers were far smarter than they appeared to us! They may not be registered engineers, but they supplied water, electricity, basic infrastructure, and the necessaries that made our school superior to most schools in the environ; And they did not need the millions or billions for a plot in Banana Island to be comfortable!
I come from Akure. I remember when the Roman Catholic Bishop’s compound – 2 km from my house was purchased. They simply planted trees and arranged things around the square – classroom-looking block for the bishop’s residence. Yet go and look at it now, the natural ambience and superior environment makes us seem like cave dwellers within two kilometers of the same building!
I conclude that I write here only about my personal feelings. I am not qualified to judge others as I have, on several occasions, taken the easy road. All I want to say is this: Thank you Brother Thomas. But you are a hard act to follow! Happy birthday!

A Note of Acknowledgements

Nearly 30 former pupils of St Joseph’s College responded to my call to do this document. My thanks go to all the individuals that, despite their schedules, considered it worthwhile to let Brother Thomas know that we value and appreciate his contribution to our lives. Each of us was able to speak from the heart and there was minimal interference with content. Brother Thomas can therefore see for himself what our hearts confess. I thank you all.
I want to especially thank the seniors (to a 1966 class one pupil) that participated. My thanks to those of you I did not meet in school and were very enthusiastic to join this effort. Nob. Steve Nwabuzor comes up for a special mention for tirelessly organizing the seniors that are not known to me. I especially wanted to see Nob. Bimbola Oladapo made contribution. He was Senior Prefect in 1966. Thanks Steve, for getting us Senior Bimbi and several others.
The sets from 1965-69 to 1967-71 are especially dear. I call the first the “365 days is not a joke” set. These are the likes of Nobs Francis Awosika, Ebenezer Lafe, Diran Ayodeji, Folageshin Akinnawo and others. They know what they said to us in 1966 when we came into St Josephs. Again, old friends and seniors, many thanks to you for the fellowship of celebrating together, our great mentor and inspiration.
At the end of 1966, I was the only person that failed and repeated form one; a feat that Kido Boy (Muyiwa Olawoki) needed another 365 days to achieve! Francis Ojo – remember that you were too brilliant to get into that joy! That granted us the privilege of belonging to two sets! What a blessing! I have enjoyed all of you. Despite all the trouble I was to both sets, the love and friendship that I have enjoyed makes this collaboration just another chapter in our long-time association.
I end this note with a mention of two people: Nobs Ebunlade Betiku and Jimi Awosika. I slept next to Ebunlade in 1966 in Xavier 3 when Senior Ikusika was the “demigod” at the other end of the room! That was my first time of sleeping anywhere other than my mother’s room. Let us not even begin talking about bed-wetting! Ebunlade, you were a wonderful senior. There were three years between us, and I was not a model student by any means. You were so focused on your studies that nothing else mattered? You did not even remember, for once, to punish this pest of a boy! Thanks for what you have been and for giving us your wonderful insight in this book of memories and tributes.
And Jimi, we have come a long way! We have stories to share that go far beyond what we can write here. Together we shared that last year of expulsion from school and, as teenagers, navigated the world of adults and survived to eke out a WAEC certificate meeting again at the University of Lagos and are brothers for life. Your memory of the fine details of what I have completely forgotten makes me think I sleepwalked through our school. And as a busy CEO, I know how important this is to you to have spent time to respond so comprehensively.

SJC by Choice

Rahman Olusegun Mimiko.
School Number 524 (1966-1970)
Medical Practitioner, Politician and Former Governor of Ondo State (2009–2017)

I became a student at St Joseph’s College by choice. Apart from being the best school in town at the time of my admission, I had two cousins, the Ajao brothers, (Taoheed and Rafiu) who were already students of the institution and who regaled me with tales of the near-paradise lifestyles of boarding students in the school managed by a group of De La Salle Brothers from Canada. Moreover, my late father had the strong belief that you either went to St Joseph’s or you go and learn a trade.
So, even before I got to the school, I had heard of two of these wonderful Brothers: Brother Bernard Broderick and Brother Thomas McCrea.
On resumption in the school and almost daily, I encountered Brother Thomas. Early every morning, he went round all the dormitories twice to wake us from sleep with his famous refrains -‘Rise and Shine ‘ and O ya o, o ya ya ya o..He was with us in the school chapel, in the classrooms, in the dining hall, in the kitchen, on the football pitch, with the cooks and the laundry men. You would also see him go round late in the night after the lights out, to ensure that we were safe. In short, he was everywhere.
In later years, I concluded that Brother Thomas was only demonstrating that he was (and I am still sure he is) a true driven by agape love to have make these enormous sacrifices for his wards at St Joseph’s.
He operated a style of administration that aimed to convince you to see how right or wrong or even foolish your actions or inactions are. As Principal, he never harassed, bullied or coerced his students.
Mimiko He was a great democrat, allowing students to freely express their views on various issues. He taught us to be bold before anyone, including himself and encouraged us to make our positions known on any matter affecting us as students and the school as an entity. The culture of democracy at St Joseph’s fired some of us to become politicians later in life.
An incident that continues to linger in my memory is when a local menu (Eko agidi and efo riro) was introduced into the school’s elitist menu by the Food Master who incidentally was an old boy of the school. The students rejected the menu and Brother Thomas ordered a reversal to the old order, saying it was legitimate to protest against what you do not want or like. I also remember some of his encounters with some students on matters of discipline. Even when they were wrong, these students would insist on the excuses for their bad behavior and still get off the hook with Brother Thomas. In retrospect, it is only in St Joseph’s of those days and under Brother Thomas that some of those students could have completed their secondary education. Elsewhere, they would have been thrown out of school.
Even in his simplicity, Brother Thomas was very firm on many issues. When I experienced a brutal attack from some of my classmates following my movement from the ‘B’ arm to the ‘A’ arm in our class 4 in 1969, Brother Thomas who initiated the movement refused to return me to the ‘B’ arm.
Brother Thomas was a great motivator and encourager. On one of his trips out of town, he took me, Tomide Oyebola and Taiwo Akinkuolie along with him to the campus of the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University). After driving round, the beautiful campus, he asked if we liked all that we had seen. He encouraged us to work hard if we aspired to become students in the institution. As it turned out, two of us later made it to Ife while the third person ended up at University of Ibadan, where, incidentally, Brother Thomas had taken him to on one of his trips to Ibadan.
As you turn 90 Brother, I wish you long life in good health and a sound mind. May the peace and joy of the Lord be your portion in the remaining days of your life.

Tribute to a Life of Service

Peter Akinjiola (SJC 1963-67)

Peter
I met Brother Thomas (Francis) McCrae, 1962, when I was about 11 years old during the sleepover, which was then a part of the entrance interview at Saint Joseph’s Secondary School (SJC). He was a young man of about 30 years old. Brother Bernard was our principal, while Brother Thomas was his able deputy. With his physically dominating presence, Brother Bernard brought out the best behavior in every student whenever he was around, at a hearing distance or when there were rumors he was around the corner. He was mostly around the school premises and rarely in the dormitory area.
In contrast, Brother Thomas was everywhere. He would catch you just when you had assured yourself that you are safe and have escaped with breaking the school law. No hideout was secure enough. He knew every nooks and crannies of the campus, and those of the bushes around the school. The element of surprise and guilty conscience overwhelms when you are caught. Brother Thomas uttered no harsh words of admonition. He would let you know that your little game was up, and he encouraged you to abide by the law. Some of those pranks included missing classes, missing masses, missing prep, unauthorized trip outside the campus, etc. He was the silent and efficient operator.
Residing in Canada and the USA increased my appreciation for the sacrifices of Brothers Thomas, Bernard and the other La Salle Brothers. These God-fearing men gave up themselves, family, money and other career choices and the comfortable living conditions in Canada/USA to develop the school and the young men of SJC. Ondo in 1959 was under-developed even by the town’s standards today. The town has grown over 20 times over the years. There was no pipe born water, electricity or telephone in the town. St Joseph’s was just the fourth secondary school in Ondo after Ondo Boys High school, St Louis and St Monica’s.
Unlike other schools in town, the SJC financially supported a good proportion of the students. The school did not send out any student because of their inability to pay fees. The school was very creative in customizing scholarships or financial assistances to every student with needs. So many indigent students like me could not have been able to attend a secondary school without SJC and the reverend Brothers.
In addition, SJC taught the students how to study. The Brothers taught any subject as needed by the school. Brother Thomas taught Biology, Chemistry, English, etc. We were regularly tested during the school year and there was no end-of-the year or end-of-term examination pressures. No cramming and students learnt to understand and appreciated the essence of every subject. This SJC learning legacy was invaluable in my journey through Higher School Certificate, undergraduate and graduate schools.
I re-established my contact with Brother Thomas a few years ago; about sixty years after the first encounter. His indelible sacrifices were still fresh on my mind and I did not hesitate to let him know my willingness to contribute to his retirement and his organization. He replied he was well taken care of and his La Salle organization was doing fine financially. I was humbled. Here is a guy that took the vow of poverty, obedience, celibacy and service … etc. in his twenties. In his eighties he is satisfied and lacks nothing!
Brother Francis, your life and those of the members of your organization are living treasures for humanity and your journey through life is worth our emulation. As St James (2:18) wrote: “… I will demonstrate my faith from my works”. We have seen your faith through your works. May God bless you.