Growing up in the village was a beautiful thing and no one needed any direction to head to any other village as there was only one river that was flowing through our neighboring three villages. In case you got lost, you would always follow the river to your destination. The main road was only one also going through the three villages. Living as a community, everyone knew everyone. You could tell it was a visitor if you ever met a person you didn’t know. When building a house all we needed was just to let the villagers know that a construction was going to happen on a Sunday afternoon and prepare food for them. I think almost all constructions took place on Sundays because this was the day when people were available after the Sunday service. Sunday services were a part of life; no one bothered whether you were a born-again Christian or just a Christian. Most houses also looked similar as they were built by the same people; no plan was needed to come up with a house. Everyone in the village was certain with the living environment and they all looked happy. Cars at this time were very few; at least in my village there was only one person who owned a vehicle. This was my immediate neighbor, who was also a very good friend of mine as a small boy. When people got sick at night his vehicle was like the ambulance of the village. Villagers would knock at his place at any given time, even in the middle of the night. He was a very kind man as he never let the villagers down and his vehicle was always in good condition. I never felt uneasy to visit his place and stay as long as I could. It was a privilege to wash his vehicle, which I did every morning faithfully for more than eight years without failure. Children belonged to the community; any parent would punish you when in the wrong as they didn’t need your parents’ permission to do so. Life was beautiful. We lived a day at a time.
After some years, when I was in eighth grade, things had started changing in the village. People were becoming independent of one another and the community spirit was being lost slowly. The level of insecurity also increased, as unlike before, you could not tell a visitor anymore. Everyone was a visitor as the population increased. This called for our neighbor to build a more complicated structure for a house and a perimeter wall around his home. This was my first time to see an architectural drawing of a house, when our neighbor received two drawings to select which of the two would interest him. I kept on wondering why a grownup would draw a house instead of letting me do it, as we always did this in art and craft at school. To make it even worse, the person drawing this building was being paid. Why pay a person to draw a house while you can build without a drawing? I was not understanding the importance of the building plan. I had never heard of it; it never existed in my world of imagination. Apart from the four sides of the building there was a very detailed map or plan which indicated the size of every room in detail. In the drawing I learnt of a vocabulary term called the master bedroom. Why need a master bedroom when you are the owner of the house? The roof plan was also detailed. From the architectural drawing the whole house was complete on a paper, in the mind of the owner. The owner needed to follow every detail indicated on the paper to come up with the specific, exact building. Missing to follow this plan meant something would not come out as intended. In some scenarios it can even cost a life just because some details were omitted.
Unlike most magnificent buildings around us that we look at and admire, wondering how on earth an individual came up with such a structure, most of us don’t have any plan for our lives; we work hard every day, hoping to live up to our full potential. They say, “If you are going nowhere you can never get lost,” and since most of us may be going nowhere we never feel the urgency to have a plan or to know the plan that is already there for us. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”. The is one of the most popular verses in the Bible and if you went to Sunday school like me, you were meant to memorize this verse over and over again until it became part of you. I don’t know about you, but I memorized this verse to get a gift from my Sunday school teacher. But wait a minute, when I think about it now, God knows the plan He has for me and you. We can never know this plan if we are not connected to Him. As a manufacturer knows the purpose of a product more than the buyer, God knows our purpose, as He created us for a specific purpose which is so unique that we cannot copy it from someone else, no matter how excellent they seem to be in what they do. In his book “What on Earth Am I Here For?” Rick Warren says, “You want to know why you were placed on this planet, you must begin with God. You were born by His purpose and for His purpose”. The good news about this purpose is that it is a perfect plan for us, as it is not meant to be something that will harm us but something that will bring us prosperity, hope and a beautiful future. Like the most magnificent building that we have ever seen, there was a plan to be able to achieve such. God has our plan if we are to be significant in our life.
From my upbringing, a plan was never necessary to achieve anything. While Compassion tried to nurture this culture of having a plan for the future, aligning our dreams to God’s plan, I always did it to fulfill Compassion requirements. Compassion gave us this big book called “My Plan for Tomorrow”. After every three months we would write down our plans for every term. At the start of the year we would come up with a grand plan of the things we wanted to achieve that year, a short-term and a long-term goal. Most of the time my long-term goal was to be a doctor or a pilot, like any other boy my age. But this was not been reflected in my studies. This book to me was just a part of the Compassion program that I needed to fulfill so that I would remain in the program. It never occurred to me that there is power in claiming and writing down my vision. I didn’t know that a vision gives a person the focus and fortitude to achieve their goals in life.
They say when you don’t plan you plan to fail; that was what I was planning during most of my elementary school and in part of high school. I thought I never needed a plan, not knowing all this time I had a plan, which was to fail terribly. I never had any vision; nothing would move me to think about the future. I don’t even remember taking a book and reading, except when I was forced to read in class. I would not understand why an elementary student would take a book and spend some time reading. Why read while God has given us the ability to guess, especially in our education system, where we are given answers to select from? I never panicked because of exams as I had perfected the art of guessing. I would get to an exam room, and as I went through the questions, my answers were the things that sounded familiar. It is only mathematics that I used to work out as somehow I loved calculation. In my family no one ever talked about reading or even pushed me to read. It almost felt like I was in school to get old enough so as to be able to do casual labor.
In my family no one had ever been to high school. The closest one ever got was just qualifying for high school, but there were no funds to support him. Because of this I was never motivated to work hard. My uncle, who had lacked school fees to join high school, getting an admission letter to a provision school, lost touch with anything to do with school. He was my closest uncle. Whenever he talked about school he had a lot of bitterness; he was always negative and he didn’t see any need to work hard in school. When I got to eighth grade, we were asked to select the high schools that we would want to join after our finals. I remember copying school names from my desk mate as I had no idea what I wanted. I had asked my uncle which one to select, but he said any would do. In my heart I was convinced I would not join high school, and why struggle selecting some schools? At home no one talked about high school except my grandmother, who always had hope in me, but I would always disappoint her to the point that I think she got used to me being a failure.
When the results were out, I was never surprised by what I got, as anyway I never expected much, as I would never use the results anywhere in my life. My grandmother was not happy with these results but she would do nothing to force me back to school. I was sure that I was destined to be a casual vehicle mechanic or to make cooking ovens. I would vision myself driving a truck to drop the ovens and having to repair the best vehicles in the village, not thinking I can own the best in the village. I could not see beyond this; my human ability would only get me this far. I never knew the plan that God had for me, I never allowed Him to teach me His purpose in my life, and I blocked Him out of my life completely. Where I saw a car mechanic, God saw a professional accountant with Christian leadership. Where I thought of elementary school as my end, God destined several degrees for me. How I got to high school was just a miracle in itself, but I am sure God was never surprised. He had destined all this for me; He had the plan while I didn’t. In my mind I thought He hated me, but how can He hate the people He has created, how can He harm His children? No one ever told me this in a language I would understand. My teachers where busy teaching and my grandparents were busy trying to provide for me, but God, according to Psalm 139:16 (“All the days ordained for me were written in His book before one of them came to be”), He was busy making sure I had a hope and a future.
The high school I went to…………