My name is Raymond Yakubu, formerly Abdulrahman Yakubu. I was born and brought up as a Muslim in a normal Muslim family. Although I am the fourth born, I am the first son and I have three younger brothers. I am an indigene of Okene in Kogi state though I grew up and had all my education in Lagos state.

Growing up, I was a devoted Muslim. I went through an Arabic school. I knew what I was supposed to know as regards being a Muslim. I know how to go the extra mile doing all the writing on the slate. As young boys, after school we would be loitering, ‘toasting’ girls. I even went to church with one of my friends to go chase a lady. Normally, I always accompanied my friend to visit her but on this particular day, she invited him to church and because of what he wanted, he agreed to go and I accompanied him. I knew I was a Muslim, but just for fronting, I decided to go with my friend to church with this lady that day.

The church was The Redeemed Evangelic Mission (TREM). That was when TREM was in Akoka. And it was Pastor Oke, one of the branch pastors who preached but it didn’t make sense to us because we had come there for another reason. We were just waiting for them to finish their service and we continue with our “guest”. The second time, the lady asked us to meet her in the church. So we went and lo and behold, it was Bishop Mike that preached this time. The message was a bit convincing, he talked about Faith but as at that time, faith didn’t really make sense to me. So, in my mind, I concluded that it wasn’t for me because I was a Muslim and based on my background I believed then that anything that happens is natural and bound to happen.

But there were some certain things he said that really struck me, like if you pray with faith; things will work out fine for you. It struck me because as a Muslim, it was different. I remember there was a time I was trying to date a girl and when I told my alfa about it, he told me there are ways to go about that. For example, a guy could write some Arabic inscriptions on a slate, wash it into a bowl and drink it and then go to face the girl and the girl would accept his proposal or he could tie some stuffs on a tree and the girl would be running after him but eventually it doesn’t always work like that. So, getting to hear the message on Faith now got me curious, I wanted to know what this faith was all about. But as at that time I didn’t give my life to Christ.

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On one of the Sundays I attended service with my friend, after the message, the altar call was made and the man of God said that there was time for everything and that whatever decision we made right there would determine how far we would go in life, and he ended with a question – where you are now? I asked myself that question. At that time in my life, sometime in the 80s, I had finished secondary school and was still awaiting university admission whereas my friends had gone to universities. I was not able to answer that question, so something just prompted me and I stood up and went for the altar call, forgetting that I was a Muslim. That was the day I gave my life to Christ.

My friends made jest of me after the service and it was then that what I had done dawned on me. That was how I started going to church regularly without the knowledge of my father although I would still wake up early to join the family in our normal prayers. It was a serious conflicting lifestyle for me because I had to be dodging to go to church, and when the church’s (TREM) follow up team were coming to check on me, my father was suspicious and I had to be dodging him, telling him they were just my friends.

The day my father saw a Bible with me, it was not funny at all. He asked me to either return it to the person who gave it to me or throw it away and it got to an extent that there was so much conflict in my life. Here’s a religion I’m coming from and a religion I’m going to, I was trying to work with the two. I just remembered what the man of God said that it is the truth that you know that will set you free. Because I remember that I’ve been in this place and have nothing to show for it.  One day I was so confused that just got up and said, “God, am I on the right track?”. That was the prayer that took me out. Because then I didn’t really know how to pray. I just had to tell God; that was the only prayer I could pray, that “God if being a Muslim is the way, please help me Lord. Don’t let me stop because I noticed I was moving away, but if it is this new religion, give me the zeal.” Before I knew it, the zeal was too much. I didn’t understand the rate at which I grew. Coming from a Muslim background, my friends and everybody around me became serious Christians. We literally experienced the joy of salvation; everybody wanted to minister to somebody then. In a gathering we wanted to share with ourselves.

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What helped me then was that anytime we were in a fellowship somebody would come up with a scripture and we would begin to expatiate. To me being a Muslim it helped me grow so much faster that within one year I was assisting a fellowship.

It was not really easy; the persecution was much from my dad. I come from a polygamous family. Issues arose between my parents and my mother left. She went with my younger siblings. My older siblings were already married when she left. I was the only one who decided to stay with my father. Staying in my father’s house with my stepmother was not really easy. It was terrible. It was challenging.

It got to an extent that when I woke up the only thing I said was is that “the just shall live by faith because he will meet you at the point of your need.” I just had to hold on that somehow food would come. The pressure was too much and there was nothing I could do.  My father was not pleased with my conversion.  When I eventually gained admission into the university he said he would not sponsor me through school until I returned to Islam.

Everyone seemed to be against me. With all the pressure, I don’t really know what kept me going. The persecution was much to the extent that I got home from church one day from choir rehearsal and evangelising, and when questioned about where I was coming from, as soon as I said church, an argument ensued and I was asked to leave the house.

The only thing I had then was my choir uniform that I dried outside the house. A white and a black uniform that was the only thing I had then. I had to leave.

For the next 15 years of my life I was living like a destitute. I left that night with only that my choir uniform. I got to church that night and slept in a friend’s balcony. Woke up the next day got to church wore my choir uniform and even ministered that day. I met my house fellowship leader and he encouraged me, reminding me that though persecution arose, God would see me through.

When my admission came I was still sleeping on people’s balconies. It got to an extent that in order to survive I would go to Mile 12 where they have this yam place. I had to follow their big trucks. I would take yam from a different location to another location. I’d follow trucks like that and work with them. Whenever we come to my area I used a face cap to cover my face just to earn N150.

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Accommodation too was not easy for me. It was terrible staying in people’s houses; from one place to another. It got to an extent that, within that year TREM started Anthony and when they started building it I had to just be a volunteer just so I could have a place to stay. When we had heavy rains all the reptiles walked around, I had to stand and wait. It was really terrible. While they were building TREM headquarters I was just in one kiosk where the labourers put their materials; that’s where I was staying and all the while I was still going to school. I had to sponsor myself.

Even with all the persecution and troubles, I would still go to church. It never beclouded my mind. I never thought of saying, “OK, this is too much, and the pressure is getting too much.”

During this period, I met my father; he came looking for me. He admitted that things were not supposed to have degenerated between us, saying that he did not know why he allowed things get so bad.

The second time we saw was when I went to tell him I was going to get married. The sad part about my relationship with my dad is that after everything, he did not give his life to Christ though my mother, my brothers and sisters are now Christians. My mother is a Deeper Life member and my sisters too.

God has brought me through many challenges. In many ways, where I had thought there was no way, God has seen me through. I have worked in a bank, I have worked in NNPC and I have worked in MTN, the last place I worked before I set up my own business. But somehow when I look back I just say, it couldn’t have been better.

I thank God today I can sing a better song. With my life, I have been able to reach out to other Muslims.