Yashim Bible Club: My First Pastoral Duty
By: Deji Yesufu
This morning I remembered my children at Yashim Bible Club, Hanwa, Zaria, Kaduna State: my very first pastoral duty. The year 2004/2005 will remain a landmark year for me. I had returned from Lagos, after a botched attempt to secure a job in the city of dreams and money. After concluding my National Youth Service Corp in 2003, the word at camp was for anyone who had the means, to head to Lagos to get a lucrative job. With a degree in Electrical Engineering, I was sure that my forage through the Lagos labor market will secure something sure for me. I was wrong. I stayed in Lagos for a whole year, and nothing came out of it. I returned to my parent’s home in Zaria broke and disappointed. My stay in Lagos was however not a total waste. With benefit of hindsight now, I realize that God sent me to Lagos for two purposes: first, I got a major health issue sorted out through a surgical procedure that was carried out at Lagos University Teaching Hospital. Second, I learnt entrepreneurship from Pastor Tunde Bakare. The first is the reason why I am still alive today – I would eventually have died from that health challenge if not attended to. The second, lessons learnt from Bakare, is the reason why I am into blogging today.
My parent’s home used to be located at Hanwa Zaria, just behind the Zaria Hotel outfit. The house was mostly empty; my brothers were either finishing up in schooling or out there somewhere in Nigeria looking for a job, while our parents were outside the country. Tunde Bakare had taught me that rather than running around the place, looking for a job, I should take advantage of my solitude and wait upon the Lord. His point was that God was my Father and he would provide me a job. So, whatever my hand finds doing, I should do it well – that was my job. I took that period of solitude, between January and March 2005, to put my parent’s home in order. I also learnt of an ongoing training for children evangelists at Samaru, opposite the Ahmadu Bello University campus. When I joined the class, I was their oldest student. Most of the attendees were hundred level students of ABU who had indicated interest in being trained as child evangelists at the University Chapel. Also, most of their teachers were students also. I humbled myself, took the class and graduated the six-month course.
While the training was going on, I took the initiative to commence a Bible Club in my neighborhood of Hanwa, Zaria. The same Tunde Bakare mentality of diligence, hard work, and starting up anywhere you have the opportunity were the driving force behind me. I found a house where there used to be Bible Club, but which was no longer in use. I reconvened the Bible Club and began to approach parents in their homes in the neighborhood to send their children and wards to our meetings – which held on Saturday evenings. Several children joined the club and this morning the memories just flooded back at me. The youngest of our children then would have been about three years old and the oldest was fourteen. It occurred to me that the youngest of those children will be in their late teens now and the old will be in their early thirties. The Bible Club was called “Yashim Bible Club”. This is how we found a name for it.
The dear woman who opened her home to us to have fellowship, also had some other children in the group I taught. One day, many weeks after we had commenced our meeting, this woman told me her story. She used to have a son who was named Yashim. The healthy young boy suddenly took ill. This woman abandoned her work and began to go from pillar to post to save her child. Unfortunately, the boy died. She told me that God has however been kind to her; that after that boy died, she has gone on to have other children. As she shared that story with me, you could still see the pain in her eyes. To relieve her pain, I told her that since we did not have a name for the Bible Club and we were searching for a name, we will name the Bible Club “Yashim Bible Club”. She appeared to appreciate it and I believe that occasion was the only opportunity I had to converse with that lady; she was usually not around when I came to talk to the children. Yashim Bible Club was my training ground as a child evangelist. I had the rare opportunity of putting into practice everything that we were being taught at the Children Evangelism class (organized by the Children Evangelism Ministry – CEM) there.
Something happened at the Yashim Bible Club that remains quite indelible in my memory. As my training at the CEM was ending, I was expected to attend my graduation ceremony at the Chapel of Redemption, Ahmadu Bello University – along with my other classmates. That period was however quite difficult for me financially and though God had provided me transport from Hanwa to Samaru every time I needed to go for my training, on the day of my graduation I just happened not to have a kobo to my name. I was aware of this destitute situation and had requested that the children pray for me that I will find transportation for my graduation. In fact, I was hoping I will have enough resources to convey all of them – about 20 children in all. The weekend of the graduation arrived, and the money never came. I just took it that it was not God’s will for me to go for the graduation. I stayed at home. Later that evening, I heard a knock on the door of my house. When I came to the door, there were all my children. They had found money (their parents might have given them) and they all trooped to ABU campus to attend their teacher’s graduation. Lo and behold, I was not there. They were a little disappointed. I apologized to them but that incident still remained a lesson to me: when you tell children to pray that God should provide, God will provide. A few weeks after that incident, I got the opportunity to come and live in Ibadan. I said a hearty goodbye to my children and handed the Bible Club to another trainee at the CEM.
This morning, as I write this essay, I would be embarking on a nine-hour journey to Portharcourt, from my base here in Ibadan, to be ordained a pastor with the Christ’s Reformed Baptist Church, Rumoadara, PH, led by Pastor Aniekan Ekpo. It was while I was pastoring Yasmine Bible Club that I saw this scripture: “And say to Archippus, ‘Take heed to the ministry which you have received from the Lord, that you may fulfil it’”. At first what I saw was “…say to Deji, take heed to the ministry…” It was that day I knew that I would be serving Jesus Christ in pastoral ministry. Since those days in Zaria, I have sought to look after the souls that our Lord has committed to my hands and I have the wonderful privilege, this weekend, of being recognized by an organized church. My prayer every morning is that the Lord will help me to fulfill the ministry which he has committed to my hands. Part of that help is in the Lord sending Pastor Ani my way, to ordain me into the pastorate, and to help me to fulfill the ministry the Lord has given to me. While ordination is a mere ceremony and the title of a pastor is one men confer on you, the calling into the ministry is one that Christ alone does. It is however a wonderful thing when human beings can recognize God’s hands on us and then venture to be used by God to help actualize one’s calling.
Please pray that the Lord grant journey mercies to me as I go to Portharcourt; pray also that the ordination will sail through; and most importantly pray that Christ will help me to fulfill the ministry he has committed to my hands.
Thank you for reading.
Postscript: I arrived Portharcourt safely. I also found a picture I took with my kids at the Bible Club back then. In the attached photos, I am seated to the left, while Uncle Josiah, one of my CEM instructors, is to my left. The back of the photo lists the children from left to right: Simmone, David, Me, Charity, Uncle Josiah, Ruth, Genome, Dorcas, Morandi, Geyouk. Photo dated 6th August, 2005.