I had always wanted to be a lawyer, since the age of ten. I don’t understand the mechanics of how children are stirred in a vocational direction, but for me the inspiration was a legal drama series on TV. It was called The Main Chance. The lead character, David Main made me want to study law. He was played by John Stride. He was absolutely brilliant in and out of court. David Main had certain qualities that appealed to my sense of self, even as a kid – he was erudite, confident and urbane. Such brilliance! And he had a beautiful girlfriend. I did all I could to achieve that dream and eleven years later I was holding my law certificate in my hand. Strategic objective accomplished. Now, for the rest of my life.
In Nigeria it’s mandatory for graduates to do a one-year stint of national service. For this I was posted to a state in northern Nigeria called Bauchi. It’s 1,142.5km by road from Lagos, my home base. Those who participate in the one-year compulsory programme are called “corpers.” The full name of the programme is National Youth Service Corp. (NYSC). Bauchi is quite an interesting climatic case study. In some parts of the state the weather is so erratic it could be diagnosed as schizophrenic. The mystery of the weather was compounded for me by the names of certain local government areas where the weather was interesting. Some of these areas had multi-syllabic names with percussionist resonance – places like Tangale-Waja (now in Gombe state). Billiri (also now in Gombe state) was particularly atmospherically temperamental. One minute it’s raining – a fake rain I might add, and the next there’s a haze of harmattan, quickly followed by the blight of the sun’s anger. The weather could never make up her mind about her climatic alignment – whether to the desert to the north, or to the cold Jos plateau to the south. Jos has a European weather. It was favoured by the colonialists. When it’s cold in Jos you wear winter jacket. There’s ice rain in Jos. But Bauchi the capital of Bauchi State can be cold too. And it can also be hot, very hot. Corpers were known to bring out their mattresses, pour a bucket of water and then lay to sleep, at midnight hour. The saga I’m about to share with you began on a cold “winter” morning in Bauchi.
I had gone to bed the night before, like any other corper. I shared a flat with my friends as we tried to sort out our posting. I desired a law firm. I woke up that morning with a funny lack of sensation on my face. I couldn’t really feel my face. It seemed half my face was frozen. Somewhere in my head I deduced I must have placed that part of my face for too long on the bed and the Bauchi weather working in partnership with the moisture trapped in my mattress had frozen my face. I remember calling out to my flatmates to tell them my face was frozen. Bauchi weather was a permanent topic of discussion among us. What Trump is to CNN, Bauchi weather was to us. We all laughed at my observation. I picked up a mirror and began to rub the frozen side of my face, the left side. After about ten minutes of rubbing there was no thaw as I expected and I became worried. I took a cab to the general hospital to see a doctor. It was she who diagnosed my ailment. I had Bell’s palsy. There is no known cause of Bell’s palsy and there’s no known cure. The best she could do was give me steroids. If within 24hrs there was no improvement to my face I had a major problem. Some people recover in that period she said. Bottom line, I had facial paralysis. And after 24hrs there was no recovery. I was in trouble.
Let me tell you how bad it was. You could plot Pythagorean Theorem on my face when I sought to speak. My mouth formed an uncanny triangle, the hypotenuse stretching to the good side of my face. That was because half of my face could open to talk but the other half held tight, thereby creating a forced triangulation. Because of that my speech was gabbled. I spoke in some form of advanced tongues, my speech close to that of R2D2 in Star Wars. Right before my eyes my dream evaporated. Which advocate can’t make a speech in court? That’s a horrible realisation for a 21yr old.
I transferred my service to Lagos in order to avail myself of better medical attention. I needed facial therapy. Without it my muscles would atrophy. I also needed electrical stimulation for my facial nerve. Turned out one tiny nerve which swung above her weight was dead. Unfortunately the nerve controlled a lot of muscles on my face. That nerve in effect controlled my ability to smile, ability to laugh, ability to express myself, and even my ability to look normal. One tiny nerve! It was hoped electrical stimulation would bring it back to life. Think of a nerve version of defibrillator for heart attacks. It was this illness that gave me an inkling into the complex mechanism of a simple smile. My left eyelid was also affected. To sleep at night I had to manually pull down my lid the way morticians shut the eyes of the dead. Death was all around me – death of my nerve, death of my smile, death of my dreams. It is hard to imagine the agony of my parents at this time. My dad soon began to crack. I saw my father cry. He became open to any offer for help. There was no shortage of offers to help – from spiritual charlatans, spiritist speculators, to midnight patronisers of juju and Ifa priests. The disease was deemed a “spiritual attack.” A lot of pressure was mounted on me to acquiesce to those offers of spiritual consultancy but I resisted. I told my dad that if the Jesus that I serve couldn’t deliver me so be it. I wasn’t going to countenance extracurricular spiritual resources outside my Christian faith.
I had medical student friends in Lagos. My best friend was a doctor in training. That gave me access to medical books. I took it upon myself to study the disease from those books. What I read was not the least encouraging. I had missed the window of recovery. The only resort I had was my faith therefore. But that presented a major challenge. No twenty-one year old envisages facial paralysis. How do you raise a dead nerve?
My physical therapy duly began but over time the electrical stimulation became painful. The currents were stinging. It seemed my face had exhausted her patience with being tortured. But I had one or two Christian resources. There was a faith preacher in the US called Kenneth Hagin Snr. He’s gone to be with the Lord now, but I wrote him about my predicament. Kenneth Hagin Snr. wrote back and greatly encouraged me to stand on the word of God. And he sent me a 4in by 3in white prayer cloth he had prayed over to use as a “point of contact” for my faith. That white cloth was reminiscent of the handkerchiefs laid on Paul’s body which were then laid on the sick. The sick were cured. Acts 19:11-12. I also wrote Oral Roberts. He was a healing evangelist. He replied my mail, gave me scriptures to meditate on. Sent me one or two books. The central pillar of Kenneth Hagin’s teaching was Mark 11:23-24 – ‘Jesus said to them, “Have faith in God. I tell you the truth, if someone says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. For this reason I tell you, whatever you pray and ask for, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11:22-24 NET.
I saw the possibilities of faith in that passage. I was reminded by both preachers of the immortal words of Prophet Isaiah – that Jesus bore our infirmities and by the stripes produced by the whip lashes of the Roman soldiers we are healed. Isaiah 53:5. Apostle Peter would echo same sentiments. He affirmed the analytical observation of Isaiah in the past tense. We WERE healed, he said. 1 Peter 2:24. Which meant my healing was accomplished 2,000yrs ago. Faith can create correspondence between the past and the present.
I began to study healing from the Bible. As I studied I came across a most interesting piece of scripture: “And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four.” Mark 2:3 KJV. Jesus healed the guy. Well, my disease was Bell’s palsy. To my mind Jesus was experienced with palsy. It didn’t matter if it was Bell’s palsy or any other palsy. Palsy is palsy. Since Jesus is unchanging in essence and character I figured he could take care of my palsy as well, just as he did for that man 2,000 years ago. He is the same yesterday, today and forever isn’t he? Hebrews 13:8.
But what really blew it open for me was another verse of scripture. Remember I needed a solution to that dead nerve. I came across these wonderful words by that inimitable troublemaker, Apostle Paul: “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” Romans 8:11 KJV. Well, since the Spirit of God dwelt in me he had to wake up that dead nerve, simple!
But one month of believing and confessing the word of God, nothing happened. Nothing changed. Two months nothing changed. Three, four, five months, nothing changed. Some began to taunt my faith. BUT IN THE SIXTH MONTH I began to feel a twitch on my face, like tiny pulses. Think of a tiny worm trying to dance disco. My dead nerve was coming alive! My facial muscles soon began to mimic those twitches. There were spasms from tiny tremors. The spasms grew, spreading from under my left ear to my jaw, and then upwards, like it was burrowing under my skin. A few weeks after I recovered feelings to my eyelid. I no longer needed to manually shut my eyelids at night. And soon after speech came. At first it sounded poor but it gradually improved. I am eloquent now. And my healing continues. My face is a living diary.
This whole experience is significant on three levels. One, faith works. Two, the Bible is true. Three, Jesus heals. Sometimes we struggle with faith. Sometimes we have doubt, even about the very existence of God. The rationalist of course seeks to adduce logic God is a figment of man’s imagination. He says the Bible is a myth. But the rationalist can’t argue with my experience. That will be presumptuous and contemptuous of him. I have my healing as proof. And I have so many episodes of God’s intervention in the interesting journey called my life. For me to deny the existence of God I would have to radically edit my history.
Perhaps you have an ailment that defies medical logic. Who knows if my story will inspire your faith. What do you lose by believing God’s word?
If you’ll like to receive Jesus as Saviour, please pray this prayer: “Father I acknowledge that I am a sinner, that Jesus died for me, that you raised him from the dead. Father please forgive me. I accept Jesus today as my Lord and my Saviour. Amen.”
© Leke Alder | firstname.lastname@example.org.