WHEN people ask me about my life, I often tell them, “I am luggage in Jehovah’s hands!” What I mean is that just as I take my luggage wherever I choose, I want Jehovah and his organization to do the same with me—to direct me where to go and when. I have accepted assignments that involved hardships and at times a degree of danger. But I learned that trusting in Jehovah is the key to true security.
A LIFE OF TRUST IN JEHOVAH BEGINS
I was born in 1948 in a small village in the southwest of Nigeria. During that time, Uncle Moustapha, my father’s younger brother, and then Wahabi, my eldest brother, got baptized as Jehovah’s Witnesses. When I was nine, my father died. I was heartbroken. Wahabi told me that we could see Father again in the resurrection. That comforting thought moved me to study the Bible. I got baptized in 1963. My three other brothers also got baptized.
In 1965, I joined my older brother Wilson in Lagos and enjoyed close association with other regular pioneers in the Igbobi Congregation. Their joy and zeal motivated me, and in January 1968, I too joined the pioneer ranks.
A brother serving at Bethel, Albert Olugbebi, organized a special meeting with us young ones regarding the need for special pioneers in northern Nigeria. I still remember Brother Olugbebi’s enthusiastic appeal: “You are young, and you can use your time and energy for Jehovah. The field is open!” Eager to imitate the prophet Isaiah’s Isa. 6:8.volunteer spirit, I submitted an application.—
In May 1968, I was assigned as a special pioneer to the city of Kano, in northern Nigeria. This was during the Biafran War (1967-1970), which had ravaged the region before the hostilities moved to the east of Nigeria. A well-meaning brother tried to convince me not to go. But I told him: “Thank you for your concern. However, if Jehovah wants me to serve him in this assignment, I have no doubt that he will be with me.”
TRUSTING IN JEHOVAH IN A WAR-TORN REGION
Conditions in Kano were very sad. The civil war had ravaged this large city. While in the ministry, we sometimes came across the corpses of those who had been massacred during the conflict. Although there had been several congregations in Kano, most of the brothers had fled. Fewer than 15 publishers remained, and they were frightened and discouraged. Those brothers and sisters were overjoyed when six of us special pioneers arrived. The publishers responded well to our encouragement. We helped them reestablish a spiritual routine and resume sending field service reports and literature orders to the branch.
We special pioneers started learning the Hausa language. On hearing the Kingdom message in their own tongue, many locals listened to us. However, members of the dominant religion did not favor our preaching work, so we had to be very cautious. On one occasion, my partner and I were chased by a man with a knife. Fortunately, we had a head start and managed to escape! Despite the dangers, Jehovah made us “dwell in security” and the number of publishers began to grow. (Ps. 4:8) Today, over 500 publishers are serving in 11 congregations in Kano.
FACING OPPOSITION IN NIGER
Later in August 1968, after being in Kano for just a few months, I was sent to Niamey, the capital of the Republic of Niger, alongwith two other special pioneers. We soon discovered firsthand that Niger, in West Africa, is in one of the hottest regions on earth. In addition to learning to cope with the heat, we had to learn the official language, French. In spite of these challenges, we put our trust in Jehovah and began preaching in the capital alongside a handful of publishers who lived there. Within a short time, just about everyone in Niamey who could read had received a copy of the Bible study book The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life. People would even come looking for us to get a copy!
Before long, we realized that the authorities were not favorable toward Jehovah’s Witnesses. In July 1969, we gathered for the first-ever circuit assembly in the country, with about 20 in attendance. We were looking forward to the baptism of two new publishers. However, on the first day of the assembly, the police arrived and stopped the program. They took the special pioneers and the circuit overseer to the police station. After questioning us, they ordered us to report back the next day. Sensing that trouble was on the horizon, we arranged a baptism talk in a private home and then discreetly baptized the candidates in a river.
A few weeks later, the Ministry of the Interior expelled me and five other special pioneers. They gave us 48 hours to leave the country, and we had to use our own means. We complied and went directly to the branch office in Nigeria, where we received new assignments.
I was assigned to the Nigerian village of Orisunbare, where I enjoyed a productive ministry along with the small group of publishers who lived there. But after six months, the branch office invited me to return to Niger by myself. After my initial surprise and not a little apprehension, I was eager to meet the brothers in Niger again!
I returned to Niamey. The day after I arrived, a Nigerian businessman recognized that I was a Witness and started asking questions about the Bible. We studied together, and after he quit smoking and heavy drinking, he got baptized. Thereafter, I was pleased to participate in the slow but steady growth in various regions of Niger. When I first arrived, there were 31 Witnesses in the country; when I left, there were 69.
“WE DO NOT KNOW MUCH ABOUT THE KINGDOM WORK IN GUINEA”
Late in 1977, I returned to Nigeria to receive training. At the end of the three-week course, the Branch Committee coordinator, Malcolm Vigo, had me read a letter from theSierra Leone branch. The brothers were looking for a healthy, single pioneer brother who spoke English and French so that he could serve as a circuit overseer in Guinea. Brother Vigo informed me that I was being trained for the assignment. He stressed that it was not an easy assignment. “Think it over before you accept,” he advised me. I immediately replied, “Since it is Jehovah who is sending me, I will go.”
I flew to Sierra Leone and met with the brothers at the branch office. One Branch Committee member told me, “We do not know much about the Kingdom work in Guinea.” Although the branch was responsible for the preaching work in neighboring Guinea, communication with the publishers was not possible because of the tense political situation there. And despite several attempts, the branch had been unable to get a representative into the country. Therefore, I was asked to travel to the capital of Guinea, Conakry, to try to obtain residency.
“Since it is Jehovah who is sending me, I will go”
When I arrived in Conakry, I went to the Nigerian embassy and met the ambassador. I told him of my desire to preach in Guinea. He urged me not to stay as I risked being arrested or worse. “Return to Nigeria and preach there,” he said, to which I replied, “I am determined to stay.” So he wrote a letter asking the Guinean Minister of the Interior to assist me, and the minister received me cordially.
Shortly afterward, I returned to the branch office in Sierra Leone and informed the brothers of the minister’s decision. The brothers shouted with joy when they heard how Jehovah had blessed my journey. I had been granted residency in Guinea!
From 1978 to 1989, I served in the circuit work in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and as a substitute circuit overseer in Liberia. At first, I fell sick quite often. This sometimes happened in isolated areas. But the brothers would do their best to get me to a hospital.
On one occasion, I contracted a serious case of malaria, along with intestinal worms. When I eventually recovered, I learned that the brothers had been discussing where to bury me! Despite these life-threatening events, I never thought of abandoning my assignments. And I remain convinced that true and lasting security comes from the God who can raise us from the dead.
TRUSTING IN JEHOVAH AS A COUPLE
In 1988, I met Dorcas, a very humble, spiritually-minded pioneer sister. We got married, and she joined me in my assignment in the circuit work. Dorcas has proved to be a loving and self-sacrificing wife. Together, we walked as far as 25 kilometers (15 mi) between congregations, carrying our baggage. For more distant congregations, we used any transport we could find totravel along the muddy roads riddled with potholes.
Dorcas is very courageous. For example, we would at times have to cross crocodile-infested waters. During one five-day journey, the wooden bridges over a river were broken and we had to use canoes. As Dorcas stood up to get out of the canoe, she fell into deep water. Neither of us could swim, and there were crocodiles in that river. Fortunately, some young men dived in and rescued her. We both had nightmares about that event for some time, but we continued in our mission.
Early in 1992, we were very surprised to learn that Dorcas was pregnant. Was this the end of our career in full-time service? We reasoned, “Jehovah has given us a gift!” Therefore, we decided to name our daughter Jahgift. Four years after the arrival of Jahgift, her brother, Eric, followed. Both our children have turned out to be spiritual gifts to us. Jahgift served for some time in the remote translation office in Conakry, and Eric is a ministerial servant.
Although Dorcas eventually had to stop special pioneering, she continued to regular pioneer, even while raising our children. With Jehovah’s help, I continued in special full-time service. After our children grew up, Dorcas was again able to serve as a special pioneer. Now both of us serve as field missionaries in Conakry.
THE SOURCE OF TRUE SECURITY
I have always gone wherever Jehovah has taken me. Often my wife and I have felt his protection and blessing. Trusting in Jehovah has spared us many of the stresses that plague those who trust in material things. Dorcas and I have learned through personal experience that the Source of true security is the “God of our salvation,” Jehovah. (1 Chron. 16:35) I am confident that the life of all those who trust in him “will be wrapped securely in the bag of life with Jehovah.”—1 Sam. 25:29.