Written by Ife-Grace
I joined the choir because I loved to sing. In fact, Singing is the only consistent thing I’ve done in my life. I sing in the bathroom, on my way to school, in the kitchen and many times in my dreams. When I’m sad, I sing. When I’m excited, you’ll hear my voice loud and clear. Forgive me, but I’m that lady who sings before sharing a testimony in church. I know it annoys some of you but I just cannot help it.
When I surrendered my life to Christ and began to grow spiritually, it was very clear that ministering through songs was God’s call upon my life. Soon, my gift began to blossom in ways that amazed me. I have lost count of the number of people who approached me, narrating in specific details how my ministrations gave them hope. The number of new members increased. I began to receive invitations to minister in different churches.
It wasn’t long before I made enemies in the choir. The envy and jealousy spread like wild fire. Some of my friends were avoiding me and at that time, I was having lots of proposals.
For weeks I cried because I felt abandoned. Several times I pleaded with God to take my voice away.
Couldn’t we be like the workers in the children department? I have never seen people bond so closely like the children church workers. They were like a family, always looking out for each other I was already thinking of moving to the children’s department when one morning, I received a call from a company I had applied to in Benin. I had passed the interview and was to resume work in two weeks.
My church has a branch in Benin. After submitting a testimonial to my new Pastor, I was introduced to the choirmaster.
Bro Daniel is tall and slender with very attractive features. I was greatly impressed by the way he handled the team. One minute he threw a joke and we laughed so hard that sometimes tears ran down our faces and the next minute, he frowned and scolded the soprano singers for taking a wrong tune.
I went with the flow and enjoyed staying out of public glare until one Wednesday evening during the rehearsals, Bro Daniel mentioned the title of the song for the next service. My heart jumped in excitement and the lyrics began to play in my mind on its own accord. It was one of my favourite songs.
‘Who knows this song very well?’
My hand went up. When I looked around and saw I was the only one raising my hand, I quickly put my hand down. But the choirmaster had already seen me.
‘That sister over there. Come out.’
I felt faint. All eyes were on me as I stood up. Why did I raise my hand? What if I messed up? As I walked to the front, the lyrics of the song disappeared. I was clearly nervous as I stood before the choirmaster who was holding a microphone.
‘What’s you name?’
He touched my shoulder slightly and smiled. ‘Breath in.’
I did as I was told.
I exhaled. But that didn’t stop my hands from trembling.
I sighed. The choirmaster picked up his guitar and motioned to the keyboardist to pick the right key. Slowly, I began to sing and then I increased my tempo, forgetting everyone around me. When I finished, I raised my head to find the members of the choir staring at me.
Bro Daniel’s mouth and eyes were wide opened. The choristers clapped and began to whisper among themselves. The choirmaster quickly gave out orders. He would take the first stanza, I’ll come in with the second stanza and we’ll both take the third stanza. By the end of the rehearsals, the choir room was charged. The members of the choir were standing up and jumping as they chanted the chorus. The rehearsals ended in some serious prayers.
I made quite a number of friends afterwards, but somewhere in my heart, I wondered how long before I became the object of envy. For that reason I tried not to get too close. On my way out of the church after one of the rehearsals, Bro Daniel blocked me at the entrance.
‘For God’s sake, who are you?’
I smiled. ‘I am God’s beloved child.’
‘Jesus! You are so good. I’ve never met someone with such powerful voice.’
‘All glory be to God sir.’
The praises showered on me by the members of the church got to me. Clips of my ministration were posted on social media and before I knew it, I began to receive calls from people I had never met.
When I saw how this was affecting me, I went on my knees again and reminded myself that the life I lived was no longer mine. Every Sunday morning after dressing up for church, I would recite this verse I had pinned to my heart from the living Bible.
I can do this only because Christ’s mighty energy is at work within me.
Six months after I joined the choir, something happened. An experience that opened my eyes to something new.
My mentor had fixed an appointment with me at her house and even though I had met her on Instagram about two years ago, It would be my first visit to her house. How did I get to steal the heart of this woman whose powerful songs are known across the globe? A woman whose name was on the lips of many Nigerian christians? I had stumbled on an old primary school friend who happened to be her cousin. Omo, I didn’t let her cousin rest o until I made him take a recording of a song I had written.
Few days later, I received a call. She loved my voice and was moved by my song and we exchanged numbers. I asked if she could mentor me. She agreed. We built a very strong relationship that has helped my music ministry so far. She taught me what it took to become a music minister beyond having a good voice. She showed me the ropes I needed to reach others for Christ.
I can’t forget a statement she made while we were chatting one evening..
‘Yewande, if you want to keep touching lives for Jesus, build roots downward so you can draw nourishment upward from a daily communion with Jesus .’
When I got to her house that day, the housekeeper led me to a beautiful bungalow behind the main building. It was a place that served as her studio.
I entered to find her husband strumming a guitar while she worked on a song. I was intrigued seeing my mentor and her husband work together. In my mind, this was a perfect union. That moment, I had a strong desire to get married and I wanted a man like my mentor’s husband. A picture flashed across my mind, drawing a sweet feeling of excitement.
At the next rehearsal, Bro Daniel played the piano this time instead of the guitar, I kept stealing glances at him. Smart brother! he noticed. He winked at me. All I could think about was how our ministry would flourish just like my mentor’s.
I was getting ready for bed when his call came in.
‘I just called to check up on you.’ He said, in a rather husky voice.
Desire flooded my heart as I sat on the bed. I didn’t want him to end the call even though I was tongue-tied. It was clear that we had strong feelings for each other.
‘Goodnight.’ I said, finally.
That night, I wrote out in my journal the things I saw us doing together, in the future. It was a plus that he knew how to play the guitar, piano and the trumpet. We would talk about songs in the morning, while we bath our kids, before we slept. Wasn’t I lucky?
Bubbling with excitement, I couldn’t sleep until 4a.m. Our dreams aligned. We were passionate about God. Our ministry would go to the ends of the world. Glory!
I had a dream that night. I was lying on the ground, famished. The place looked like a desert. There were no trees, only sand. Then I saw Bro Daniel come out of nowhere bare chested. He grabbed my hand and began to drag me. I was shouting, ‘please’ but he didn’t listen. I woke up, scared.
My phone beeped. It was a text message from Bro Daniel. I opened it.
…Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. Romans 6:6. God spoke to me through this scripture and I thought to share it with you. It reminds me of the finished works of Christ. Have a blessed day, dear.
I was confused for a moment. Could this dream be from the devil to scare me? I stood up and began to pray. The more I prayed, the stronger the dream stayed in my head.
Daniel began to call more often and by this time I was in love with him. We talked till past midnight and when his airtime finished, I called back and we talked until mine got exhausted. He finally opened up about his feelings. I still remember that evening when he pulled up at my gate and turned off the engine. Then he fixed his gaze on me.
‘I feel like I’ve known you for a long time. We connect so easily and I just cannot get you out of my head. I love you Yewande and I see a beautiful future with you.’ He paused. ‘I have always prayed for a woman like you. Gentiles will come to our light and kings to the brightness of our uprising. I know you care about me too. Will you marry me?’
My heart pumped fast. I wanted to say Yes. It was right there on my lips. ‘Give me some time. I’ll get back to you.’
He gazed into my eyes and smiled again. ‘I’m so crazy about you. I love you so much.’
And my body screamed, ‘Me too!’
When I told my mentor about the proposal. She looked at me as we sat in her living room and said,
‘Have you prayed about it?’
I frowned. ‘Yes.’ It wasn’t exactly a lie. I had thanked God for sending me a man committed to the same ministry as I was…or must I hear a voice? Isn’t this enough evidence that God is speaking? We were dedicated members of the choir. We were passionate about serving God together. We had the same vision. What else matters?
I didn’t understand why my mentor was indifferent about the whole thing. I left her house annoyed. When I got back to Benin, Daniel picked me up at the park and that day I accepted his proposal.
Guess what happened next when I said Yes. Tears welled up his eyes. His hands were trembling as he held mine. I’d never seen a man so emotional like that. It made me love him more.
‘Thank you so much, Yewande. I was so scared you would say No.’
It didn’t take a month into the relationship before I discovered I had made a wrong choice. We began to have some serious misunderstandings and I was becoming uncomfortable with him.
‘Yewande, you can’t be wasting your voice by singing only gospel songs. Look at the songs you wrote, they are mind blowing. If you want to hit it big with your kind of voice, you have to add something else to it.’
I was clearly pissed. ‘Something like what?’
He paused. ‘Your lyrics, you know. Add something that’ll motivate people to get crazy about your songs. Some little sexy words here and there. That’s what’s trending now. Let me tell you the truth, Christians are stingy. They want everything for free. If you continue like this, you’ll remain a pauper all your life. ’
I stared at him shocked.
‘I’m not making sense abi?’
I nodded. ‘Yes.’
As the months rolled by, Daniel brought up new ideas that went against every principle I believed in. The relationship was stressing me out, making me worried and grumpy. Attending rehearsals wasn’t as exciting as before. I began to spend more time watching movies to fill the emptiness that just would not go away.
One evening, I was reading Francine Rivers’ Atonement child when Daniel came to see me. His eyes danced in excitement as he settled beside me.
‘Yewande, guess what? I met these guys on Instagram. They listened to your recording and they loved it. They are Christians like us and they are willing to make a deal with us. If I mention the amount they are willing to pay, you will be shocked.’
When he mentioned their names, I shook my head. I knew who they were. True, they produced gospel songs but I was aware they had no integrity. My friend had signed a deal with them but the producer had insisted she had sex with him otherwise the deal would be cancelled. Desperate to see her passion come to limelight, she agreed. Six months later, she was dumped.
‘I’m not interested.’
He flew into a rage. He grabbed my hand and shook it violently. I had never seen him that way in my life.
‘What is wrong with you! How can you throw away a big contract that’ll change our lives forever? You are going to do as I say!’ he released my hand and sighed. ‘They are in town and want to meet with you tomorrow. You can wear the dress I got you for your last birthday. I’ll get a make-up artist. Just make sure you get ready before 10a.m. Call your boss and tell him you are sick. He’ll understand.’
I stared at him, the dream I had about him was beginning to make sense. He was going to milk me dry.
‘I’m not going.’
He stood up. ‘Is this what you are learning about submission? I am your husband-to-be.’
I shook my head. ‘Bro Daniel, this relationship was a mistake. It’s over. I can’t do this. I’m out.’
I stood up from the sofa and entered my room. I called my mentor and I asked if I could spend the weekend with her. She agreed.
For those days that I spent at her place, I couldn’t eat or do anything. This wasn’t what I envisioned for my first relationship. I wondered if I’ll ever find love again. Daniel had announced to the choir that we were courting, how do I face them now that the relationship is over?
My mentor entered the guest room as I arranged my belongings into a small travelling bag, ready to return to Benin. She hugged me and I almost started crying again.
‘Yewande, God’s ways are not your ways. Stop figuring the kind of man you want with your own understanding. That a person is in the same ministry as you are is no guarantee for a successful marriage. It doesn’t always work that way. Relax and let God lead you.’
That was what I did. I waited. A year later, I met my man. A small dark man. Uyi works with the technical unit in my church. No, he doesn’t have a good voice. He goes off key every time he attempts to sing.
We’ve been married for six years now. Six years of God’s faithfulness. Many times on my way out for a ministration, , Uyi would stand at the door, hold one of my kids and say, ‘I’ll be praying for you.’
Many of my fans do not understand that the success of my ministry is tied to what happens in the secret place, behind closed doors. That man prays for me more than I pray for myself. Right during our devotions and prayers together, the lyrics of my songs have taken shape. I’ve seen myself grow to become a better woman by his side and every time, I keep asking God to show me how to love him more.
I’m moving to another aspect of my divine purpose. A call to mentor upcoming gospel artistes and music ministers . When I shared the burden in my heart with Uyi, he smiled.
‘The day I proposed to you, God told me about it. Let me show you where I wrote it.’
He reached into his box for one of his notes and flipped through it. He stopped at a page and I stared at it for a long time.
If the only reason you are saying Yes to him is because his ministry matches yours, please check with God first.
If you feel she is the perfect choice because from the surface your vision seem to aligns with hers, Check with God first.
God knows the end from the beginning. He has the blueprint of your life. He knows who can handle all He has called you to be. He sees beyond the present and understands the length and breath of your call.
Besides, there are wolves claiming ministerial titles. Mere professors and not possessors of this new creation life. It is God who knows the wheats from the tares.
Dear christian singles, here is a word God is laying on our heart as we come face to face with decisions that’ll either impact or mar our lives.
‘Always check with me first. Even when you’ve checked, check again. I will instruct and show you the way you should go. I’ll guide you with my eyes.’
This scripture is a great comfort to our hearts. It is a proof that we are safe in His hands:
…Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him and he shall direct your path. Proverbs 3:5,6.