Hello, my name is Lawal and I have a story to tell you.
People who know me a bit more intimately know me as Kehinde, not Lawal — I have a twin, my brother Taye.
Twins are often said to have a special bond which surpasses the regular communal bond between siblings. This was no different between Taye and I. Only that in addition to this bond, we fought a lot.
In one of our many fights, Taye had used a knife against me. I still have a scar on my right hand which I sustained from that incident. I really can’t tell why we fought so much. Maybe we just engaged in it as some form of sport. Maybe.
We were born into a Muslim home and raised religious Muslims. But at some point in our individual lives, changes began.
On a certain day, while at home, Taye approached me and told me something I considered to be extremely unacceptable. I wondered if he were in his right senses when he uttered the words mo ti gba Jesu saye mi (translated I have just received Jesus into my life). That was one of the strangest things I had heard from him yet. And on hearing him say that, I, probably moved by the same unexplainable desire to fight him, hit him hard in the face. And what followed was all the more surprising — Taye made no move to retaliate. I, after getting such unexpected reaction from him, knew in that moment something had changed in my twin. But this knowledge was not enough to cause me to seek a similar change.
Time passed and I kept noticing the changes in Taye’s life.
Usually, while I was in secondary school, I fell ill a lot, especially every third term. These illnesses often got so bad my folks feared they would lose me to the hands of death. So, I took ill again, and this time, it seemed conclusive that I would die.
At the hospital, the doctors seemed not to have a ready remedy for my ailment, so I was left on the hospital bed, while everyone hoped for some miraculous way out.
While lying there as close to dead as I could possibly be, unable to move, talk or carry out even the smallest of physical activities, a man walked into the room. My eyes were shut, yet I saw him walk in. He stood before me spotting a regular body, and clothes — nothing celestial. Then pointing to the sky, he said to me “look up.” And somehow I raised my gaze to the sky as he’d instructed.
On looking up, I did not see a cloudy or cloudless sky. I was startled to find a huge rock in place of the sky. And once I saw the rock cum, the man who stood before me, whom I presume was an angel in human form, still pointing at the rock, said to me, “this is what will kill you if you don’t call the name Jesus.”
What?! Call what name? “No, I can’t,” I refused. How could I, considering my religion, call Jesus?
He didn’t panic, he didn’t get angry. He just stood there waiting, gently repeating the same words: “this is what will kill you unless you call Jesus.” Again I refused. And as I rejected each request of his to call on Jesus, I saw the sky gradually fall. It did not fall at the speed at which a rock would fall under the influence of gravity; it fell slowly. Yet, this man was patient for as long as it took to fall – this display of patience still affects me now.
I couldn’t imagine myself calling the name Jesus. As a result, I kept rejecting his request to call the name until the rock came so low as to touch my head, then impulsively I shouted “Jesus!” and this held up the rock. Immediately I shouted Jesus, I heard – now in the physical – the doctor say to my family who looked after me: “we will inject him with this, and if he cries after we do so, then we have hope he’ll live.” I knew I would live even before he said that because of what I had just seen happen in the non-corporeal realm.
Today, I am alive. But this is not the end of my story.
A few days after my experience with the man and the falling rock, Jesus came to me. I saw Him, clothe in shining white. He came to me, then carried me in His hands to a mansion up high. I was about 17 or 18 years old at the time, but when He carried me, I felt like a baby in His hands.
When we entered the mansion, I found it was beautiful but empty. It contained no furniture, nothing, it was just plain. Jesus played with me for a little while in this place, then He said: “I am coming soon.” Then He took me out.
When I recovered and went home, I was with Taye when someone was teaching Him more about this Jesus. So I asked “who exactly is this Jesus? Tell me about Him.” It was thought that I asked this question out of mere curiosity. I alone know what I had seen. Listening to this man helped me understand who Jesus was.
I still went back to praying in the mosque after that, but the last day I spent at the mosque, the day I knew I couldn’t stay anymore, I couldn’t pray like everyone else prayed, rather, while still at the mosque, I said, “God if you really want me to follow this Jesus, then I do not want any trouble from my family when I switch to Christianity. And it happened just like I had requested. I started to attend church, I still do till now.
My prayer to God on my last day at the mosque set a template for how I began to pray. I don’t just shout and scream, or repeat prayers like a lot of people do in places of worship, I talk to Him (anytime) as one speaks to a Father, a Friend and He responds in kind. When He calls me I know. He even calls me by my name Kehinde, not Lawal, and when He does, it’s unmistakable. Sometimes people see me smile without reason, they have no idea the conversation I am having with my Love, who saved me from death: physical and spiritual.
People, even those I meet in church, have no idea why I follow Jesus. Sometimes I am told I do too much. I alone know my motivation. I will always remember that the day I met Jesus, I met Him alone. Nobody took me to Him.
I have seen that mansion He took me to more than once. I live each day striving, hoping that the mansion isn’t empty still the day Jesus returns as He promised.
The only difference between Paul in the Bible and I is that Paul accepted Jesus immediately He had His first encounter, I, on the other hand, tried to argue. But mercy prevailed over me. Such mercy makes it difficult to turn back on Him. Now, no one can tell me that Jesus isn’t real. No one can.
Michael Light: This is not a work of fiction. There are so many other things Lawal shared with me as we spoke: dreams and visions of Jesus, challenges encountered in following him, so many things. As God wills, and as Grace prevails, I’ll share them with you another time. And not just Lawal’s but the salvation story of many others.