The wind was blowing as I was bringing in my boat, and there I saw him. I know all the people on Pawley’s Island but never saw him before. He was tall dark and handsome. He was dressed in a long shirt with pants to match and had papers in his hand. I thought to myself, “Not Jehova’s Witnesses again.” One thing you can say about them is they are persistent. He started approaching me and asked me did I know Jesus. I told him that I went to the cute little Methodist Church across the bay. I told him that we have all kinds of programs, something for everyone. This young man had a very strong accent and hard to understand. He also had a hard time with my Southern draw. He said,” Ma, do you know Jesus.? Anyone can go to church and not know Jesus.” Wow, that was an intense question. What did he mean? Was there more? This gives me something to ponder on. I must have been looking at him strangely so I asked him,” Why did you call me ma?” He said” In Nigeria, we call women ma. It is a respect thing.” I just nodded and smiled.
Then he went on to tell me he was here to evangelize America.”Good luck with that job!” I said to him. “Would you like to talk more as to why going to church doesn’t make you saved? I would like to invite you to our meetings in Charleston.”His face looked so serious and confident in what he believed, so I agreed to come to see what he thought was the truth. What was so special about him? Would he be a screaming preacher or one always wanting money? I just know there was something about him that was different and pleasant.
He told me his wife and kids were back in Charleston getting ready for meetings. Then I looked up and noticed people were staring at me. I live in a retirement community on the beach. There were only retirees in that part of Pawley’s Island. He noticed they were staring at him, so he went over and introduced himself. Everyone seemed to take to this tall dark stranger. He invited them all to the meetings and gave out maps with info about the ministry.
Later on, about six of us went to the meeting. We all piled into Robert and Anne’s van to see this tall dark stranger. I know if he preaches wrong Robert will know. It was different from what I was used to. The music was lively and they were all raising their hands in worship. Then he preached like no one I ever heard. He preached that I could have a relationship with the Lord. All I needed to do is repent and ask Jesus to come into my heart. Then read the word and apply it to my everyday life. Your mind would renew to the word of God; as you read it. It would increase your faith in God.
The next day, Femi was in the park and saw me trying to get my groceries out. He came over to the van and started helping me. What a breath of fresh air it was to have him around. He was so full of kindness and manners. I wondered had his mom brought him up to be so thoughtful. I asked him did he want a cup of tea. He nodded and I went and put the kettle on. We sat at the table and I fixed his tea. He wanted 2 sugars and some cream and I found some biscuits that I had. We had a wonderful talk about Nigeria and his family. We also talked about South Carolina.
He started coming every day and our friendship grew into a mother-son relationship. He started telling me about his experiences in Nigeria. He would go out to the poor sections of Nigeria and minister the word of God. He would end up sleeping on a park bench because there were no funds for hotel. But he was determined to fulfill his calling. He got malaria several times and horrible skin rashes. He was finally able to get a car and used it to sleep in. He would run into witch doctors who would try to put spells on him. Other preachers would ridicule him but he kept on street preaching. Day by day he didn’t know how he would eat but God always came through. Then one night God told him to go to America. So he did and met wonderful friends that helped his family meet their needs.
After a few weeks, Femi and his family had to go home. We kept in touch daily and talked about life in general. He told me his wife was going to have a baby. I was so happy for him. Seems like in no time she had that baby. He held a baby girl in his arms. He called me and was so happy that he was finally a dad. His wife was so loving and kind also. She told me she wanted me to be Godmother and she was naming her Isabella after me. Tears flooded my face as she told me this. What a wonderful family I have adopted.
Then I heard that war broke out in Nigeria. The rebels were mad over the presidency. There was fighting in the streets. Christians were being killed and tortured. I was so worried about my family. I tried to call them and no answer. For the first time, I got on my knees and started praying. I started calling my friends to start a prayer group. There were all kinds of people on social media who started praying for Femi and Nigeria. So many people were disappearing with no clue as to where they were. We prayed for a month and kept each other lifted up. It was a very big test of faith.
I was sitting outside on the deck looking at the beautiful beach. Reflecting on how lucky I was and how some are not. I wanted to do something to help others. And as I was sitting there I heard” Mum” I looked up and there was my little Nigerian family. I was breathless. I was so overwhelmed with happiness. They were barely able to get out of Nigeria and then they met, A Muslim family who smuggled them out on a ship. Took them 10 days to reach America. They had just enough money to get a bus to the island from Charleston.
As soon as Femi got settled, he was offered a church in Charleston with a house. So now, this on-fire evangelist was going to stay, and evangelize America like the Lord wanted him to do in the first place. I finally know what it is like to know Jesus and not just know of him. I also found my calling and started a homeless shelter. Femi would come and preach every Wednesday there and many were being helped.
So that was the story of our tall dark stranger coming into our small island.