Day 1 (Monday)- The King of Glory enters Imini Village

The team entered Imini with high praise.  The convoy was long led by an open pickup truck customized for the day filled with drummers and trumpeters.  The teams from Samonda conference centre, US, UK and other Liberty supporters merged into a united praise machine, a symphony orchestra bellowing out melodies to our Lord. The villagers turned out in their 100’s with amazement at the extravaganza.

Trumpeters, drummers, men and women filled with love and the power of the Holy Spirit had invaded their domain.  What was all this about they thought.

The school children in their check blue shirts and blue shorts or skirts lined the road leading to the Oba’s palace.  Some sat on the walls to have a glimpse at what was going on.  A few with their mouths agape watched in amazement.  The old, young, strong and fragile joined the procession of worship which was led by the Boys Brigade through the market square to the centre of the village.  The epicentre of the land absorbed the glory, power and praise of the Almighty God.  The mountains shook, the trees bowed and darkness fled at the presence of the Lord.  The village ceased all activities in worship of the King of Kings.  In front of the Olumini of Imini’s palace, the city dwellers and the villagers danced together to the glory of the Lord.

In the midst of this, Baba Adepoju “the tailor” was grinning, jumping up and down in gratitude to God for his healing.  He was eager to tell the whole world what the Lord had done for him.  He had met Mummy Kate on her last trip to Imini.  He could not walk.  His movement was restricted to crawling and moving from A to B on his backside.  He was prayer for and Jesus healed him.  He returned to report of his healing.  He could now walk and dance. He was eager to receive Jesus as his Lord and Saviour.  On the spot it happened.  He was later baptized in water on Thursday.

We proceeded from the Palace with praise and dancing down the main highways.  It was a dirt road trodden by villagers, children and spectators on okadas (motor bike) towards the outreach site.  Our entourage had multiplied in volume as a stream of people flowed towards Covenant Primary school in expectation of the next phase.  The praise intensified in power and volume as we got closer and closer.   Students, preachers, children, villagers, missionaries all blended together with a common purpose of lifting up the King of Kings.  The sound of praise resounded in the lips of all.

A boy in a Chelsea jersey was grinding pepper with a loud antiquated grinder but nobody could hear the sound of neither the generator nor machine turning out the paste.   The praise of the King was above all sound.   After the procession had passed some homes, people still stood arms akimbo on their veranda amazed at the Grace of God and puzzled at the invasion of their village by these strangers both white and black.

The camp site was within sight.  No walls, no boundaries or restrictions, the site opened to all with joy.  It was a familiar site to the children, it was their school.  To a few villagers it was their church building and to some, a source of clean and pure water from the borehole.  The music filtered the air like a sweet smelling savoury offered up to our Lord.  Joy was expressed through the moving of arms, legs and lips.   Hearts were pounding, hips swaying to the sweet music offered to our Lord.  He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords the drummers vibrated.  A joint celebration erupted to the sound of the song “You alone are worthy Lord, to receive glory and adore, You are faithful Lord”.  The children and adults alike raised their hands in praise.  It seems as if there was a coordinated movement of legs and arms synchronized by a conductor but it was all spontaneous praise.

The yellow and red canopy provided little protection from the sun and humidity. The heat was intense, men and women were dripping in sweat but nobody noticed.  You could see the tan lines form but who cared.  The praise continued in despite of the elements.   The rigour and expression of praise did not stop.  What could stop us from praising our Lord? Be it the sun, sweat, tiredness, thirst, hunger, dehydration?  Nothing would, nothing could.  Higher and higher our hands rose towards the heavens, lower and lower bodies went down in worship to the King of kings.  It was great being in the mist of the congregation praising and worshipping the Lord.

We congregated under the thick canopy singing and dancing. The Covenant kids joined the praise party. The children took over from the adults. It was like a relay race, one generation receiving the baton from the other.  A new generation of worshippers danced and sang with joy.  The day ended with the knowledge that the presence of God had descended over Imini.   The atmosphere had changed.

Lift up your heads, O you gates! And be lifted up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle.  Lift up your heads, O you gates! Lift up, you everlasting doors!  And the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts is the King of glory.

Imini Chronicles 2001: Day 2 (Tuesday) – Led by the Spirit

There was nothing scheduled for Tuesday on the main programme.  The published programme started on Wednesday so it was time to set up and plan. The team on ground – Covenant Women and Samonda Conference had set up camp.  What an excellent job they had done.  The chairs, canopies and extra tents were all in place in expectation of large crowd the next day.   The pineapple plantation had been cleared for extra space. Three malus (cows) were tied to a tree in preparation for a four day feast.  Everything was being prepared for the D –day.

People from the villages dotted around the perimeter of venue inquisitively.  The Liberty members from England and America surveyed the land where each department would operate from.  As they surveyed the land, the children came out from their classes.  We had a captive audience with whom we could start the work.  This was going to be a good test run. Instructions we also received from above that the medical team should also start consulting.  The pharmacy was not yet open neither was prescription pads brought along for this purpose.  We were not prepared but God had some work for us to do.  With God all things are possible.  Mummy Kate’s writing pad became the prescription pad while one of her note books became the register.   Pens were found and two classrooms were turned into a triage hall for the three nurses and a consulting room for the two doctors.  The shop was open for its customers.

The day became Children’s day. The sound of choruses vibrated through the school premises – “Send down fire, Holy Ghost fire, send down fire again, Holy Ghost fire”.  The children were thirsty not for water but for the word.   They wanted something different, something that would transform their lives.  The infilling of the Holy Ghost could only do the job.  The children’s department commenced work. They taught and preached to them.  Each word was listened to attentively. An alter call was made; nearly the whole school responded to the gospel.  God had plans for Tuesday which were not written in our programme.  He had plans for His loved ones whose names are inscribed on the palm of His hands.

The villagers who were scattered around the premises disinterested and disengaged in what was going on were invited to sit together.  About 30 of them sat under a small canopy.  Pastor Olowe “aka Head Master” preached the good news of the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The message was clear, sharp and short.  Receive Jesus today he said and be saved.  Nine men and eight women responded to the alter call.  The group was counselled and informed of the discipleship and water baptism class.  Interestingly, there were more men than women converts.  As we had fewer male counsellors, the men were counselled together while the women were counselled on a 1 to 1 basis.  One of the women received the baptism of the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues. What an amazing tale.

The programme for the day was flexible.  We made it up as we went along.  This was really as the Spirit leads!   The children had their lunch break and were back for a second session.  With their stomach full, they had an oral health talk by our dentist. Halleluyah, this is the 1st time we have a dentist on our team.  The children were informed about how to brush their teeth and the impact of eating food and having drinks with a high sugar contents.  All teeth need to be cleaned top, bottom, inside and outside particularly the gum and tongue, they were informed.

The food had digested a bit.  It was sports time. The American contingent was at hand to talk to them about fitness and healthy life styles.  (If only I had heard this talk a little while ago my figure would have been different but there is still hope).  The children were split into groups after much ado.  Each class was taught some stretching lessons and basket ball throwing techniques.  Olumide spotted some prospective NBA players.  Who knows what God has in store from them. The road to a healthy life style had started.   Proper diet with a regular exercise was required to maintain a healthy body.

Mrs Abigail Dauda came in with leg pain.  She was walking with the aid of a walking stick.  She had been suffering from arthritis for 4 -5 years.  She was prayed for and healed of this illness. She left the campsite walking without the aid of her walking stick. She was happy and grateful to God. Jesus is in the business of healing the sick.

The medical team started consulting after counselling.  Our initial group of disengaged villagers became the 1st set of patients.  By the afternoon the group had multiplied.  This was an indication of things to come.  The nurses registered 63 patients.  Their blood pressure and in some cases sugar level was taken.  58 people saw a doctor.  Five had to return the next day.  It was a very busy day for the 3 nurses and 2 doctors on ground.

Children’s day turned out to be the highlight of the Children’s department.  We could see God moving up and down touching the lives of these young ones.  It was observed that 9 out of 10 children had a Muslim name.  But we believe that God has touched their hearts and changed their names, lives and destiny.  They are the heritage of the Lord.  God’s property, God’s people, God’s beloved.  A new generation enlisted in God’s army. Halleluyah.

The Hall of faith in Hebrews 11 starts off with Noah, Abraham, and then mentions Sarah. Over the years, I have worked with some wonderful women. In  previous years we have had Mrs Adegun and Mrs Aladekomo. This year was not different. The gentle and calming spirit of the Covenant women president, Mrs Bola Asuni, was inspirational.  She was a leader of women and men.  Soft spoken; always with a smile.  People responded to her gentle spirit with selfless service.  I had to just sit beside her to observe and absorb some of her sweetness and strength. Our youngest member of the team was also a formidable grandmother, Mummy Oyefeso.  Lord, where did she get the strength from?  She prayed for the sick both within the team and on the field.  Also worked with a smile.  She even cracked jokes on bus to make us feel at ease.  A mother in Israel, indeed. Prof Baiyeroju, another woman of God, also with a permanent smile.  I am now convinced that God is attracted to smiling face.  A consultant Ophthalmologist, she was in and out of the operating theatre looking for more people to give sight.

The Bigz girls, the 1 am prayer team (oh yeah!), the silent workers, Eye clinic brethren – Dr Omisade, Sis Funmi and co all contributed to the joy of taking the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ to people they had never met.  Mummy Nylander and Sister Ibilola working around the clock to ensure Liberty’s operation in Nigeria ran smoothly. I cannot but mention my able assistant “senior management” who organized our lives and ensured everything went well.  Our young ladies- Catherine, Kemi and Toyin contributed their quotas.  It was a privilege working side by side them.  Mummy Kate, a beautiful woman of God with a large womb, held us all together, inspiring us to attempt the impossible and see what God would do.  Everyone received strength to conceive the seed God had placed in their hands.  There were also many women praying at home and abroad lifting the team up daily.  I salute you all.

Day 3 (Wednesday) – Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords

The Moniyan Trading Association felt the ground shaking, there was something going on a couple of kilometres down the road.  The Poly and UI student buses accompanied by New Covenant Church vehicles frequently plied the road.  A coaster stopped in front of a market stall and the female conductor beckoned the Omo Oni card towards the bus.   If only the man knew what he would encounter, he would have been better prepared for the experience.  MTN 1,000, Etisalat 500, Glo 2,000, another MTN 1,500.  Two Glo 500, 3 MTN 500.  He was confused. Who does he respond to first?  Bring change echoed through the doors.  Please scratch the card another requested.   He stood still perplexed. One at a time, someone advised.   We got there at the end.  He left a happy man.  It seems phone credit drains along with the mobile phone battery in Nigeria .  You need to daily recharge.  What a rip off.  Everyone needs a BB jooo.  Let’s all ping each other and smile.

Back to the more serious stuff, we entered Imini Village with a high level of expectation. We were expecting God to do something extraordinary.  We had a vision – 1000 new disciples and the King of Imini to profess Jesus as his Lord and Saviour.  Our strategy was to pray, praise, plan, prepare and participate.  Robert left London two week ahead of the team.  He spent 6 days and 5 nights in the village what a story he had to tell.  Drums heard beating in the forest at 3 am in the night.  Robert aka “Oluwarobotimi” was a great blessing to the teachers and children alike.  He was our John the Baptist who went ahead to prepare the way.  The ground had been ploughed ready for the seeds to be sown.  The hearts of the children had been prepared for the Tuesday experience.  35 from England, 4 from USA volunteers including an ophthalmologist with the eye clinic, 100’s from the host conference centre and a strong team from the Ife Conference who staffed the Eye Clinic.  There were also some Jason doctors who participated in the programme.  We were all expectant.

As we drove into the premises in the morning, I saw the Children’s tents filled with children.  A malu was missing by the tree.  Who let the cow out? I wondered.  Where had it gone to?  The main auditorium was also filled with people.  The doctors, nurses, opticians, ophthalmologists, dentist, cervical screening nurses had all set up.  By now the medical team had arrived in full force.  The counsellors, security and protocol personnel were slowly moving into position.  In the midst of this all, I could smell the aroma of jolloff rice and fried meat or was I just hungry at 10.00am.?

The programme commenced with high praise.  Pastor Soji, the event coordinator welcomed everyone to Imini.  This was followed by a ministration by a Bata dance troupe.  Their costumes were colourful and their steps quick.  It was a mixture of the Charleston,  jive and quick steps.  It was glorious.  They were professionals who danced as David danced.  10, 10, 10, 10 would have been on the scorecard if it was a Strictly Come dancing event.

Baba Ajao, preached a message from 2 Kings 5.  It was direct and to the point.  He went straight for the heart.  While the preacher spoke, the King listened attentively.  Each word was convicting by the power of the Holy Spirit.  The alter call was made. The king sprang to his feet and walked forward to profess Jesus as his Lord and Saviour.  Mummy Kate burst into tears. Mrs Asuni dropped to her knees while the woman beside her fell flat on her face.  The angels rejoiced in heaven.  The demons flee back to their abode in hell.  Another 500 people surged toward following their leader to accept Jesus.  The front was filled with a sea of people ready to start a new journey with Christ.  Oba, Ijoye, Iyalode, farmers, tailors, market traders from Imini and its surrounding villages all made the decision to follow Jesus.  The minister led them to Christ with their hands on their hearts as they welcomed Jesus into their lives.   Hands were placed on their head and other parts of their bodies as they prayed for healing and deliverance.  The King was quite fervent in his utterances.  He never missed a word.  With his head bowed down each word came with strength and power.   I’m sure he knew they were being recorded in heaven.

The king was offered a seat.  As he took his seat, he took off his hat to pay homage and honour to the greater king – The King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.  What a sight.  Baskets were provided for armlets and other charms to be deposited by the new converts.  The new journey had begun.  On his way out Bro Gbenga heard the King say “ You have delivered me”.  Yes, Jesus has delivered him out of darkness into His marvellous light. E ke halleluyah ooo.

The Children’s tents were jam packed with over 600 children.  Ages 7 – 8, 9 – 11 and 12 above classes had more than enough to fill a school.  The children’s department was well prepared for the task at hand.  This was the best organized children’s department to date.  The children were being taught new songs and lessons about Jesus.  The children learnt “Obedience is doing what I’m asked to do immediately, completely and willingly”.  The reference for the children’s lesson is 2 Kings 5:1-15.  The medical team went to speak to the children about personal hygiene.  All the children were given de-worming tablets which is quite important in this hemisphere.

The counselling department was stretched by the number of converts. What a good challenge to have. The harvest was plenty but the labourers were few.  The initial plan had to be abandoned and a new one designed as bottlenecks developed.  The counselled converts started to trickle through to the medical team for registration and consultation. 100s sat in rows waiting for the doctors.  The Optician clinic on the other side of the site was overwhelmed with patients.  85 patients were seen by the Ophthalmology clinic.  21 patients were prepared for cataract surgery for the next day. The two dentists saw 20 patients and undertook 10 extractions.  It was a wonderful, glorious, rewarding and fulfilling experience.

In the midst of our rejoicing the bug arrived in our mist.  It crept in without an invitation.  Did it come with something we ate or drank – the water, fruit salad or fresh salad?  Despite wiping our hands with simple wipes and anti bacteria liquid, the stomach pains, lack of appetite, fatigue the list goes on hit the team.  1st it was Robert, then Ian, Bro Funso, Sis Jackie, Mummy Kate, the list goes on.  It was unbelievable the number of people who were hit by this.  Fervent prayers were said and vows were made by those not affected to avoid stopping by the road side for the conveniences.  The team doctors had their hands full looking after the team.  We thank God we have overcome and are recovering.

Day 4 (Thursday) – The Love of a Father

We all trooped into the van with the faith that God would convey us safely back from Imini without a hitch.  The previous evening the van broke down. The fan belts were already giving signals that they were on their way out, as they squeeked whenever the driver throttled down or changed gear.  The bad bumpty road increased the strain, putting more tension on the belts as the engine shifted with every manuever in and out of the ditches.  On our way back, the inevitable happened, the belt snapped and bus started overheating.  The dials on the dash board indicated a pending disaster the gasket may blow if the engine did not cooled down immediately.

The van was stopped for some minutes to allowed it to cool down.  Mr Omolewa looked nervous knowing what had happened.  He gentlely opened the hatch to the engine resulting in a large cloud of steam filling the van.  Our airconditioned bus instantly turned into a sauna.  For the van to move on it needed water.  The engine became an associate member of the Liberty team which needed cold “pure water” to function properly.  If only the engine knew how precious the water was.  Thankfully we were driving through a town.  Help was at hand from a good samaritain who brought a large bowl of water which was poured into the engine.  The driver looked under the van only to see that the water was flowing almost entirely on the ground below.

We were informed that a mechanic was closeby.  So the van staggered 300 or so yards to his workshop.  Four poles and a couple of scrap metal pieces dangling from the crossbar was a welcome sight.  He brought out his tape measure, only to realise that he did not have a fan belt long enough to fit.  The decision was made to drive on and top up the water as when necessary.  Bro Peter became our mechanical engineer tasked to stabilise the engine’s temperature.  He did a good job.  Mr Omolewa was very experienced in handling the sitiuation, downhill he would turn off the power to allow gravity push the vehicle downhill.  Gradually, the coaster was coasting towards IITA.  We were carried on eagle’s wings.  We thank God we got back to base safely.

Ian Palmer is Robert’s dad.  I have grown fond of both father and son over the past couple of months.  This was the 1st time Ian would travel to Africa.  I am sure he had plans for what he wanted to do and high expectation of what God would do through him.  On Sunday at Ilupeju, Ian shared his testimony of salvation.  For 40 years, his mum and aunt had been praying for him to become a Christian.  They never gave up.  16 years ago he made the decision to follow Christ all the days of his life and never looked back.  I was encouraged.  On Monday, I saw Ian dance into Oba’s compound on Monday. He’s got the rhythm.   Later in the day, he was with the kids talking to them with other team members about Jesus.  I remember someone brought two young boys to him.  This was the first time they had seen a white man.  This was like a scene from the bible – Jesus with the little children.  Overnight, Robert fell ill.  On Tuesday morning, Ian abandoned all his plans to stay with his sick son.  Robert got back on his feet ready to return to Imini on Friday.  Then, Ian also fell ill.  God knew all that was going on; I believe He just wanted to show us the sacrificial love of a father for his son.  Remember when things are not going the way you planned it or your plans change mid stream – I am who I am is with you.  The episode made me think about my relationship with my family members but most importantly the relationship my Father in heaven has with me.  His love never ceases.  His banner over me is love.  He loves me so much that if I was the only man on earth He would still have sacrificed His only begotten Son for me.  I am forever grateful for His love.

I was very privileged to attend a meeting on Tuesday with Mummy Kate, Mummy Nylander, Pastor Gbenga and Pastor Isaiah (Pastor of the Imini Church) regarding the needs of the church.  The list was long, very long but we agreed the priorities for now would be supporting the building a church and the purchase of 8 Okadas (bikes) for the village pastors.  We visited the site for the proposed church building.  The foundation had been dug.  Blocks were required to raise the structure.  The story behind the piece of land was that it was donated by a villager who had recently died.  He had desired a church presence in the village.  Staring at the land, this scripture dropped into my heart. Deut 6:10 “So it shall be, when the LORD your God brings you into the land of which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you large and beautiful cities which you did not build, 11 houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, hewn-out wells which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant.  By Friday about £600 was raised by the team towards the building project.  What a wonderful and generous set of people we have.

On our way back to IITA our bus got stopped by an old man.  It was a friendly road block without a gun nor the need to grease his hands. His hands were blessed but he did not know it.  Someone had given his a five dollar note but he was unable to spend it.  He was perplexed and frustrated by his inability to spend the green note.  He cursed the money worthless “Owo buruku ti o se na” and gave it back to us in frustration.  His Tesco express had rejected it while his local corner shop refused to exchange it for food.  We told him it was worth around 750 naira.  750 naira he exclaimed.  He could not believe his luck.  Instantly, the expression on his faced changed, life came back to him.  I could not have imagined what a handsome man he was until he smiled.  He repeated it again; a whole 750 naira. Mo ti so rire (I am blessed) he started to dance.  He received the money and went home a happy man praying for the giver of the gift.

The experience itself was quite humbling for all of us in the van.  There were a couple of lessons to be learnt.  Knowledge is key.  He required knowledge about the value of what was in his hands.  He could have asked someone in the know rather than a market trader!  Secondly, life is about perceptions. It is what you perceive life to be, is what it would be.  He thought the gift was worthless and went about frustrated.  On the other hand, he could have gone about rejoicing that he had been given “money from the white man’s land”. Thirdly, our miracle is in our hands.  He had in his hands 750 naira which would have solved some of his problems.  We can make a difference with our gifts and talents in another person’s life.  Finally, God has given us the greatest gift – the complete gift in His Son Jesus Christ.  You could receive the gift or throw it away.  This gift includes peace, joy, healing, deliverance and most importantly eternal life.

I spent some quality time at the Eye Clinic for the 1st time.  The clinic had two sites – Opticians and Ophthalmology.  Due to the specialist nature of their work, the local primary health centre was renovated and turned into an operating theatre for the Ophthalmologists while the Opticians practiced from the main site.  Nearly half of the participants including volunteers wanted to access to both services.  The team did a marvellous job.  We really did not see much of the Ophthalmologists as they were in theatre.  Dr Soetan and Prof Baiyeroju popped out occasionally in search for more patients.  Dr Atinuke Omisade was in charge of the front house.  She undertook eye tests, organised the people, prayed with the patients and ensured everything was running smoothly.  It was a tiring but rewarding experience.  51 surgeries were carried out (42 cataract surgeries, 7 pterygium excision, 2 excisional biopsies of lumps) .  The blind were given sight.  Many Glaucoma patients were referred to UCH.  Further follow up and after care will continue until the patients are discharged in December.

The opticians were overwhelmed with patients.  I threaten to shut down the clinic as the queues became rowdy and uncontrollable.   The noise started to disturb the preacher in the main tent.   Everything came under control after a lot of negotiations. Dr Emeka and his colleague patiently dealt with the endless flow of patients.  Hundreds of free prescription reading glasses were given out.  I commenced the screening of cataracts!.  Cloudy retinas, grey rings around the eye lens, big grey blobs on the retina to be sincere anything that looked unusual was set aside.  Off to the Ophthalmologist I took them.  This became a regular event.  I heard of the story of a girl who had sight problems.  She had gone to a quack medicine man who had given her a local eyeliner and eye drop.  Tragically, she lost sight in one eye.  If only!

Olumide witnessed to a number of youths reflecting on the word of God shared by his father.  Pastor Gbenro told them the story of his salvation and how he witnessed the death of his friend gunned down by armed robbers the day after his friend had given his life to Christ. The youths stare with wide eyes and amazement as he described the way the driver’s brain was bulging out of his skull and the pain he felt for the loss of his friend.  The youths applaud and begin to give thanks to God as Pastor Gbenro described laying hands on the driver’s chest and the corpse began to move.   The youths began to give glory to God as they heard how the man was raised from the dead and taken to hospital.

The Liberty Youth team (Sis Catherine, Kemi, Adetutu and Bro Peter) and colleagues laid hands on the youths as they prayed for them individually.  The team prayed for the Holy Spirit to fill their lives that He may give them the boldness and power to serve Him.  The youth are warned that they may have to change their friends.  They understood the importance of also trying to win their friends to Christ both through lifestyle and through asking for God to reveal His purpose for their lives.

The youths are invited to pray for deliverance from all idols and evil covenants that they have entered into or been given to by their parents. They show a great deal of shyness and reluctance to admit to such activities.  This will need 1-1 counselling to be effective.

Both the young and old were baptised today.  Many of the youth under the supervision of Sis Adetutu were baptised.  At the end of the day over 50 were baptised.  It was amazing to see one of the young local Pastors baptised.

Day 5 (Friday) – Be Empowered

The day commenced with another session of high praise followed by a drama ministration.  Pastor Kunle preached and the response to the gospel was amazing.  One third of the congregation stood up to receive Jesus.  The counsellors surrounded them all.  They received Jesus and the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  The team was well briefed and equipped for the task at hand.  They were taken in groups to be counselled and directed to the different sections for aftercare.69 baptisms were undertaken later in the day.  It was amazing to see one of the young Pastors baptised.

The villagers who had previously been on site quickly assembled themselves in front of the medical block expectantly waiting for their medical consultation.  They sat in rows without any instructions, self policing the queue jumpers.  Kemi could not believe her eyes.  What a change.  On the previous two days, it took blood, sweat and to a lot of reassuring words to impose any similitude of order on the queues.  The security and protocol officers had their hands full.  Sister Bola, Mama Ajayi (both nurses) and her colleagues at the registration desk skilfully and tactically managed the flow of people.  After registration, off to the nurses – Mama Kemooo, Sisters Benny, Bolaji with other nurse colleagues based in Nigeria, for their blood pressure and sugar level to be checked.  The nurses filled the room.  At times 6 nurses were all working to prepare the patients for the doctors.  Doctors Faponle, Omololu, Ajetunmobi, Ajayi and others tirelessly saw patient after patient refereeing the complex cases to the University Teaching Hospital about 2 hours away.

Baba Ibeji was seen during one of the sessions.  He arrived on two crutches with his bandaged leg oozing with pulse.  His BP and blood sugar level readings both went through the roof.  He bandages were taken off to show that the major part of foot, angle and shin was an open sore.  This was a diabetics induced ulcer which he had since 1986.  He had gone around the houses to no avail.  During our conversation, he busted into tears relaying his experience.  The nurses washed the foot.  It was like a scene from John 13 where Jesus washed the feet of his disciples.  He was prayed for believing that God would heal his foot.  He came back on Friday for new dressings.  There was a visible improvement.  We believe God will complete what he has started.

Bisi, a 16 year old daughter of one of the local chiefs was seen by Dr Wole.In September, she had given birth to a baby girl who died as a result of sucking her mother’s contaminated breast milk from her infected breasts.  The mother had ulcerating lesions on both breasts with disfigured nipples.  After the death of the child, the infection spread.  I was told words are difficult to describe the sight.  The nurses managed to dress the wounds and counselled the lady.  After examination, she was referred immediately her to UCH.  The main concern was the possibility of breast cancer although rare at that age.   The next day Bisi came back, looking a lot better.  She was being treated for Septicaemia.  She handed over to Dr Omololu for follow up.

Sister Atinuke also met another woman who was three weeks overdue.  She had lost her husband just before her due date and had not gone into labour.  She was whisked off to hospital immediately.  The report came back that she had gone into labour that evening but the labour ceased.  We prayed that night for safe delivery.  She gave birth to a baby girl by caesarean section the next morning.  The Eye Clinic was overrun by patients.  Sisters Fola and Catherine joined the front house team to ease the pressure.  Sister Funmi narrated the testimony of a woman with bi-lateral cataracts.  This was one of five cases.  She had never seen her teenager grand daughter.  It was explained to her that she would be operated on Thursday and the next day she will have her sight back in one eye.  Before she left home on Friday, she spoke to her room “I am leaving you in darkness.  When I come back I will see light”.  She regained her sight and was jubilant.  She was the most excited person around.  She had her second surgery on Saturday and saw with both eyes on Sunday.

This year our medical team included two dentists, Dr Ibukun and her colleague; and many assistants.  They saw over 80 patients mainly children.  Sister Betty, Sister Toyin and Bro Peter became translator cum dental assistants.  I was too squeamish to wait around for too long.  Pulling out of teeth was an art.  Anaesthetic went into the gums and a couple of minutes later; pop the tooth came out.  A women saw the dentist and came out very grateful!.  She thanked God that she was no longer in pain.  She would be able to sleep and live without pain.  God does works in mysterious ways.

I cannot fail to mention the work of our fantastic group of pharmacists.  They dispensed a wide range of drugs donated by various Pharmaceutical companies.  They worked endlessly morning to evening meeting the needs of the villagers.  Beside pharmacy was the cervical screening operation.  Their clients were females aged 40 and above.  The women were taken into a secured room for tests.  I was not allowed entry.  Those who were tested positive where requested to return for treatment.  Many people benefitted from this early cancer detection screening.  The cervical nurses were busy.

Some of the underlying health issues in the village were back pains among the farmers, ringworm was rampant on the heads of the school children, alarming teeth wear among the general population and promiscuity among the teenagers.  Rural health educational sessions, health and hygiene talks, physiotherapy sessions for farmers, good lifting methods demonstrations need to be taught as well as sex education to prevent some of these issues reoccurring.  The medical team saw hundreds of patients each day.  The queues never ended.  Drs Faponle and Omololu did a wonderful job organising the medical team.

A Fire conference was held with the 13 pastors from Imini and the surrounding areas.  They were encouraged, empowered and enthused to carry on the work.  A pastor shared his testimony that he did not know how he got to Imini but he knew the Lord wants to send him to minister in Togo.  They were encouraged to fully participate in the Outreach programme as God could double, triple or quadruple their current congregations.

Friday had a different flavour to it.  Business empowerment seminars were held in Cake and bread baking, tailoring, bead making and traditional women head gear “Gele” tying.  The sessions started off with the Bread making master class by Mrs Oyelade. The group was informed that a good baker is hard working and very patient.  With care and tenderness the dough is prepared.  Some pre-prepared dough was shown to the class and the class commenced. The covenant women team from Akure were fantastic.  Sis Bolaji and her team were eager and enthusiastic to pass their knowledge to the new converts.  A brand new sewing machine was revealed and the mysteries of the fashion world started to unfold.  I was eager to see the end product but had to move on.  Not left out was our own budding entrepreneur Sister Betty, her inability to speak Yoruba did not deter her from explaining to the villagers the endless possibilities  and opportunities ahead of them in the business world.  The villagers were captivated by the inspirational message of hope.

Today the King of Imini was baptised in the Holy Spirit and began speaking in tongues.  He could not stop talking about what the Lord had done for him.  He admitted that in three short days his life has been completely changed.  Bro Adegun masterfully followed him up bringing along other Pastors with Palace ministry experience.  It was a great source of joy knowing that his Royal Highness had been transformed into the royal priesthood.

Sisters Bose, Lola, Yetunde, Shade, Lara, Jackie, Enitan, and Fola all held the fort praying for the sick and counselling new converts.  This was in addition to being Youth and Children teachers as well as working with the elderly.  Well, God gave women the ability to multitask.  I can only do one thing at a time!.  I cannot forget the work of the deliverance team. I have given you power to cast out demons.  Pastor Oladunjoye and his team were very busy taking authority over demons and casting out evil spirits.

The medical van was slightly delayed in leaving IITA in the morning but God had a plan for the passengers of that vehicle.  As they drove from Ibadan to Imini village they spotted a girl convulsing in the middle of the road.  Cars swerved past her but nobody stopped to help.  As the van got closer we saw the girl being dragged like a goat to the side of the road.  The van stopped and the people piled out to her  aid.  She had clearly suffered a head injury as a result of her epileptic fit and there was blood gushing from the wound. The team managed to find her mother and drove the girl to a nearby hospital where she received medical care.  The team took the family’s contact details and paid a deposit for her medical care.  The team promised to check on her  progress on their way back.  We visited the hospital in the evening and prayed for her. That was an experience on its own.  Sister Shade ministered to her mother who was a Muslim.

Day 6 (Saturday) – We are Grateful O Lord for all you have done

The people of Ibadan woke up to a new day.  It was environmental sanitation.  The movement was restricted to emergency services only.  The city was shut down for the people to clean their neighbourhood.  Between dawn and 9 am, neighbours brought out their buckets and spades to clear the blocked drains and gutters.  It was quite an important community service in light of the recent floods in the city.  Some of us used the time to have a lie in.  It was out last day of ministry at Imini, time to round up and say our good byes to our wonderful colleagues and friends.  We started our good byes at IITA, 7 our members left for Lagos.  Off went our team doctors.  Would our honorary doctors be able to help? We intensified our prayers! Group photographs were taken and off went the Eye Clinic staff in their coaster bus to Imini.

We arrived on site around 11 am to sounds of Praise and Worship.  The intention was to leave at 1 p.m that never happened.  The praise session was followed by a drama session.   The minister shared the gospel for the last time.  The people still listened attentively.  The alter call was made.  It was an amazing experience seeing so many people raise their hands once again. The counsellors took them in once again in groups sharing the next steps on their journey with Christ.   Another group of villagers, patiently waited for the medical centre to open.  It was quite heart breaking to tell them that they had closed shop.  But exhilarating to see the lives these men and women who had touched over the past four days by Jesus Christ and the skilful hands of the wonderful medics.

The women empowerment seminar moved up a gear on Saturday. The Akure contingent introduced a new business venture – Bead necklace making. It initially looked like a Blue Peter job but it was a serious money making business.  I never knew there was an art to tying knots until the delicate beads scattered to the floor as a result of an inadequate knot at the end of one of the necklaces.  The beads were beautiful.  I was captured by the  delicate arrangement of the colourful beads. The combination of the deep red and gold beads with an ornamental pendant wrapped elegantly around the neck of the model. Was a sight worth seeing.

The next seminar was the Gele tying.  The villagers were replaced by the eager volunteers who wanted to learn a trick or two.  As an observer, I was happy to watch from afar how a flat piece of cloth would become a 3 feet high head piece.  To be sincere, I thought of my wife and hoped I could acquire the skills.  30 minutes off dressing up time would be satisfying, I wish.  The audience was attentive. The beatification was instant.  After five minutes, they were all ready for ball.

The baptisms continued for the last time.  Beside the pool, a new generation of athletes were kitting up for a photo shoot.  The 1st group came out in their white jerseys. What a transformation, they looked the part.  The opposing team then joined them. A mixture of boys and girl ready for battle.  Their orange jerseys illuminated the field.  The jerseys were donated by a local football club in Essex.  It seemed as if they were reflecting the glory of God. Lord, I pray let these ones do mighty exploits for you.

Clothes distribution took place today.  All the suitcases were emptied.  Boys and girls, men and women were give clothes to wear.  In 2009, Sister Funmi fell in love with a little girl called Favour.  So she decided to buy her some clothes on this trip.  While she selected some items for her, she picked up a duplicate of a dress.  She noticed the mistake but had an urge to put that item through at the checkout.  Throughout the outreach, she carried the clothes in her bag hoping to find Favour’s mum.  On Thursday, asked the Lord, so who did you buy these clothes for? No answer.  She split the clothes into 3 packs.  On the Friday, she gave one pack to one of the Imini school teachers.  Come Saturday, she still had two sets left.  As she was working in the children’s section with Sisters Lola, Bose and Yetunde.  She spotted a lady feeding a little girl.  She just gave her a pack of clothes.  As she was walking away the woman called out “THEY ARE TWINS”.  TWINS! She asked.  What sex was the other baby. The mother responded a girl.  She was amazed how God had ordained the whole episode.  The clothes were brought for the Twins in Croydon.  It was fulfilling to see the smile on the mum and the grand mum’s face.  The whole experience blew her away.  The twins will be 2 years old on the 20th of August 2012.   Even the Village Pastors had some clothes set aside for them.  There were smiles and giggles as the clothes were given out.  It was particularly useful for those who had got wet during the water baptism.

We met with the head teacher and a cross section of the teachers. The key message was self development.  Sister Yetunde emphasised that it is only when the teachers develop themselves that the children will develop as you can only share knowledge that you have.  What you don’t know you can’t share. The teachers listened attentively and showed an enormous amount of gratitude for the advice.  It was agreed that development session will be arranged for teachers during the next Liberty.  Afterwards, the teachers stated that they require a laptop and digital camera for day to day use.  Both items were promised by the end of the year.

Brigadier Baiyeroju, the Samonda Conference Pastor, a gentle man of steel. He roved the site daily ensuring that everything was running smoothly.  It was hard to distinguish him from other volunteers as he mingled with the young and old.  He solved problems with speed and wisdom.  He held the fort both in prayer and strength. It was a privileged working with him.  I had visited Bro David his studio in London a couple of times to do a voice over for the Liberty Video.  Out of nothing came the last Liberty video.  He was exhausted each evening we returned to base.  Throughout the programme, he hauled his cameras and lens all over the place.  I admire his strengthen.  I have only been able to write about a few things.  He is the man who has recorded much more.

Finally, I looked around for the last time.  My eye caught some half burnt pieces of fire wood.  Who let the cow out? I had previous asked.  Well, they had fulfilled their purpose. Over 2000 people had been fed and watered daily. They were fed with the word and bread –  Jolloff rice, Amala, white rice and stew topped with either fish or meat.  I joined the eating crew in the afternoon.  I ate like a king yam porridge with stewed bean and dodo.  Garnished fish with spinach was consumed in adult portions washed down by a bottle of lacasera.  I can still savour the beautiful taste.  Well done food department. You did well.

Liberty 2011 has been an extraordinary experience. The people on the mission and those praying at home were amazing.   A 21 day fast had been organised by the Intercessors. Sisters Comfort, Lara, Hannah, Brothers Akin A, Akin L, Lekan and many others I will not be able to mention prayed. Everyone placed their hands on the plough to break the fallow ground.

My colleagues at work were amazed at the testimonies.  One said you see these things on television but Kayode you have experienced it first hand.  To be sincere, it is always a humbling experience to know that I or anyone else can be used by God in such a way.  One thing I have come to realise is that if you make yourself available God will use you.  The power to transform lives is placed in each and everyone of us. Jh 14:14  He that believes in me greater work will he do.

I sign off today saying thanking a big thank you for patiently reading this blog and a bigger thank you to God for doing exceeding abundantly more than we could think or imagine. I love you Jesus Christ.

Saint Kayode (Akowe Ominira Tuntun).