My Tomas Rosicky

Christianity is Life but Football is like a religion to me. There are many gods that have graced the sport even to the extent that they are worshipped. One of such gods is Tomas Rosicky – who retired in December 2018.

Last year I had a fellowship with the Gooners at the Emirates when Brighton and Hove Albion visited. It was the sole reason I took a 12 hours road trip from the North crossing through Glasgow and Manchester to have that feeling of the Emirates.

While I sat beside another Gooner who came from Nottingham (Lord Bendtner’s villa), I wished I was watching Tomas Rosicky playing. Although I spent most of my free thoughts making the unfair comparison with the league in Nigeria, I was in awe with the atmosphere at the stadium.

I started watching Arsenal week in and out in higher school and that was when Tomas Rosicky came into my life. A wonderful goal at the 2006 World Cup and those goals against Liverpool started the love.

Although I love jersey #8, I had respect for his jersey #7. Inherited from Robert Pires, seeing that number on the team sheet signifies that there is hope that something electric will happen.

People idolize Messi, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Henry et al but Rosicky is my choice. A professional and a proper football, blessed with pace and wise at feet. Nimble footed, he was an accelerator and could turn everything around in seconds.

While it is sad that he was cut short by injury, his 10+ years at Arsenal ended with 2 FA Cup trophies for his worries.

The way he runs and how his hair bounces on his head was a beauty. His outside foot shot was his trademark and was used against Spurs more than once.

With a smile always, he was influential in the dressing room and was solely missed when he was injured for about 2 years. I want to smile like him even when the storm is on. His sliding tackles were lovely and I enjoy doing that to issues that come my way.

I had hoped to travel to see him play for his boyhood club but I will make do with a handshake with him. Roger Federer and Arsene Wenger are two others I would love to get such treatment. When will I meet all three? Add Nicklas B to make them four. Chuckles.

This is not a sports blog but this shows how much Tomas Rosicky means to me. I will make a big poster of him and my kids will know about the Little Mozart. Can anyone replace him in my heart?

Happy Retirement Tomas Rosicky. Remain in the sport and inspire a generation.

With love.

I have wanted to write this since December 2018.

Advertisements

Tales From FEGO: Rub and Shine

There comes a time in every academic session when the weather is so cold in the morning that your skin loathes the idea of having any contact with water – especially cold ones. This is usually in November, with peaks in December, the Harmattan season. It runs parallel with the Owu Period.

Your fingertips were the thermometer and the conductor that sends messages to the brain about the condition of the water. The brain uses the information to make a judgement as to whether to shower or Rub and Shine. It could be as a result of laziness or scarcity.

While Rub and Shine was optional, the urge was heightened by the strategic unavailability of water. The water table becomes low, the Twelve “borehole” Taps becomes dry and water becomes gold. The reservoirs that used to be filled up at least once in a day could only be serviced once in a week – Saturday mornings. Red Tank was the option like an oasis in the Sahara – but it was far and risky.

Walking down from classes on that dusty uneven red road parallel to the girl’s hostel, my eyes were looking afar towards the borehole, hoping to have an indication of water availability. At this hour, the borehole used to be filled with students especially girls with a lot of buckets like they were never going to fetch water again in their remaining stay in FEGO. But on this day, it was void of any living thing, except the dragon flies trying to do much with the nothingness at the Twelve Taps and Baba Tanker no where to be found.

This period was burdened with scarcity of everything – including Garrium Sulphate. But the scarcity of water was the height. You could do little with no water. Water was gold, only second to freedom from being sent by a senior to do anything. This water scarcity gave a lot of students – especially the junior boys – the opportunity to Rub and Shine. It was the makeshift way to have a bath in order to look alright for the day.

The Rub and Shine “kit” included:

  • Water – quantity varying from two hand scoops to “one bailer“. Anything more than that could be considered a bath. It was essential to clean off dust that comes with the season.
  • Vaseline – very important for the shine. It was the anti-whitening agent required for the Harmattan season. It was worth everything. Legend had it that some students just rubbed Vaseline on their body for the shine without the need to rub or have a proper bath. Woe betide you (in Mr. Balo’s voice) if you fail to rub Vaseline after your bath, you shall look like a ghost passing by, painted in white with skin dry as stale bread.

A quick rub on the visible part of the body – the arm, leg and face – and you are good to go. Your armpit is deprived of the baptism, just like the back and chest. While your odour cannot be vouched for, you can fool a good number of persons that you’ve had a proper bath.

Those exempted from the Rub and Shine were those who were not bothered by water temperature, had alliance with the kitchen women to fetch warm/hot water, had Element or boiling rings to heat up water if there is power, or were excellent in hoarding and storing water fetched from the Red Tank. You remember Red Tank in Abuja?

With Rub and Shine, you know you are incomplete and a trip to the Red Tank was needed to wash your sins away and refresh your soul. Although not encouraged, Rub and Shine  were the only options for some and they survived.

Share your Rub and Shine  story in the comment section.

AmosCP

The Return

*dusting cobwebs*

I walked into the hall and nothing much had changed. The congregation was somewhat the same but they were a good number of spoken and unspoken hellos and his. It was like a mini-reunion. I had not seen a lot of the folks for over 2 months. I have been touring the world in agreement to a contract I signed over 4 years ago.

The reunion was short. I had hoped for a longer one but my return was to be for a little while. Home calls were like bells signing the beginning of the orthodox service. Home I went and she was there – my first.

Two months lost and surely she was excited. Excited and the reunion, stamped by the traditional hug and kisses. How much it feels to be back to the origin and inhale the air of rejuvenation. Little to discuss, plenty smiles to share, the reunion was spent. The return had hope. It beamed from her face.

While input has been reduced to the barest minimum, the love remains unshaken. Family storms continue to be weathered as we sail across the waves of life, irrespective of minor challenges that hit the boat.

The weight is much but the burden has been replaced by His yoke, which is easy. While we toil, he toils, she toils and we win. He takes the glory.

Miss that activity, mum. Thank you, dad. Thank you fam.

Oh September!!!

Tired. That is how I feel after a 13 hours trip from the Granite City down south to the capital via some popular cities. It marked the end of my favourite month of the year – September.

While the trip provided me with an opportunity to strike off one of the items on my bucket list, September had its highs and lows. One of such low took me by surprise and ranks among the greatest surprises I have experienced. Now, I am usually not taken by surprise but I won’t bore you with the details.

Rather, I would share few lessons learnt from the last 30 days.

  • Be positive and work it out. There were times that the odds were against a positive result. By faith, I pulled through with my colleague on that project. The recommendations was a soothing relief to the work done.
  • Flee negativity. Don’t spend your time and consciousness about negativity. Just leave a negative conversation if you can’t turn it around. Don’t be baptised to it.
  • Respect All. Sometimes we look down on some persons either because we believe that we are more knowledgeable or wealthier or wiser or have better jobs than them. Don’t look down on anyone – even the garbage collector.
  • Flesh and blood will disappoint. Times come when our dependency on fellow beings fail woefully and the need to trust in the Lord is emphasized. Anyone can disappoint you but Jesus Christ won’t. When it happens, be cool.
  • Forgive. If we can’t forgive, we shouldn’t expect forgiveness from our father. Just let it go. Vengeance is of the Lord.
  • Apologize. A soft response turns away anger. An apology doesn’t necessary mean one is wrong or right. It is a first step to reconciliation. It opens up opportunities for further dialogue and proper understanding. Don’t cower in the “I can’t apologize for what I didn’t do wrong”. You never can tell.

There are so many others – be patient with people, avoid hasty conclusions, seek to hear people out completely, dialogue, be considerate, be happy, wear a smile, worry less, be selfless, make sacrifices, switch off. Yes, switch off. Go off the grid and catch your breathe.

Ok. That is enough for September. Hello October.

Three Ways to Empower the Next Generation – Part 3

Link to Part 2

3. Teach

1 Kings 12:25-14:20

Unless we learn the lessons of history and ‘teach… the next generation’ (Psalm 78:5–6) they will repeat the mistakes of the past. The book of Kings records the history of the people of God so that the following generations may learn from them. Sadly, the lessons we can learn from this passage are mainly negative – the account of Jeroboam is a terrifying one. He passed on a terrible legacy to the next generation. ‘After seeking advice, the king made two golden calves’ (1 Kings 12:28). It is not enough to ‘seek advice’ if we consult the wrong people! These chapters contain the account of the sin of the house of Jeroboam that ‘led to its downfall and to its destruction from the face of the earth’ (13:34).

Jeroboam’s key sin was that he made up a form of religion and worship to suit himself. He encouraged idol worship rather than the worship of God (12:28). Jeroboam’s religion is a made-up religion, created to suit his own desires and needs. We may not worship golden calves, but the same danger is just as evident today. As Pope Francis has said, ‘The most dangerous idol is our own selves when we want to occupy the place of God.’ This was Jeroboam’s sin, and it affected the next generation. His son Abijah became ill and died (chapter 14). He ignored the good example of the earlier generation of David who had lived with an undivided heart, pleasing God. Instead he had ‘set a new record in works of evil’ (14:9, MSG).

Jeroboam may have had many military, commercial and political achievements (see v.19), and yet it seems these successes are fairly irrelevant. As Jesus said, ‘What good is it for you to gain the whole world, yet forfeit your soul?’ (Mark 8:36). What matters most is a close relationship with the living God.

Lord, I pray that you will raise up leaders in industry, politics, creative arts, media and every sector of society, who will honour you and pass on your message and your standards to the next generation.

Pippa Adds

Psalm 78:4–6: ‘We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done… so that the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born.’
It is a challenge to pass on our faith to the next generation. I am so grateful to the children and youth workers at HTB. They have poured out their love on our children and the children of hundreds of others. Every year at Focus (our church holiday away), we have seen our children’s lives and many others transformed during the week. I am excited by what God is doing in the next generation. And the potential for ‘the children yet to be born’ is vast – I feel inspired to pray for them.

culled from Day 175 from my Bible In a Year App 2017

Photocredit: ClipArtPanda.com

Three Ways to Empower the Next Generation – Part 2

We’ve shared Part 1.

2. Train: Acts 16:1-15

Paul recognised he had a responsibility to train up others. He found Timothy – ‘a fine young man’ (vv.1–2, MSG). Timothy was discipled, trained and taught by Paul. Paul was a mentor to Timothy. They are a great example of what we all should be doing. Find a Paul from whom you can learn and find a Timothy to whom you can pass it on.

Bill Hybels has said that every major strategic step or decision he has made was inspired and encouraged by someone three feet away from him and not when he was in a crowd of a thousand people. While preaching can make a big impact, preachers often overestimate the amount of truth that is assimilated between the pulpit and the pew.

In his life, ‘Truth applied across a table’ has been a key to his own personal growth. This seems to have been the key for Timothy. It was through Paul that Timothy had become a Christian and they became very close friends. Paul was older than Timothy and he described their friendship as being like that of a father and son (Philippians 2:22).

Paul described Timothy as ‘my son whom I love’ (1 Corinthians 4:17). They went through a great deal together. ‘They travelled from town to town’ (Acts 16:4). They even spent time in prison together. During all this Timothy would have been watching Paul, and being trained up as his successor.

It is not enough to hope that the ‘Timothys’ are watching us. We must strategically position younger disciples to have significant opportunities to lead. Paul bestowed on Timothy real responsibility. He could trust him because he knew him so well. Paul involved Timothy in the work right from the start. They took decisions together (v.4). Through their ministry together, ‘Day after day the congregations became stronger in faith and larger in size’ (v.5, MSG).

Timothy learnt about the guidance of the Holy Spirit. When they tried to enter Bithynia, the Holy Spirit ‘blocked that route. So they went to Mysia and tried to go north to Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus wouldn’t let them go there either’ (vv.6–7, MSG). This is an important lesson in life. I can think of at least five occasions in my life where I have felt that I should go in a particular direction ‘but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow’ (v.7) the plan to succeed.

As I look back now, I am so thankful the Spirit stopped plans which, in hindsight, were clearly not the right ones. God then led Timothy and Paul in a new direction: ‘During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us”’ (v.9). Not surprisingly Paul took this as clear guidance that they were to go to Macedonia: ‘All the pieces had come together. We knew now for sure that God had called us to preach the good news to the Europeans’ (v.10, MSG).

In Philippi, Timothy would have watched Paul on the first Saturday that he was there, going down to the river where there were a group of women praying (v.13). As Paul spoke about Jesus, Lydia, a rich merchant woman, was converted. She invited Paul and those with him to come and stay in her home. It must have been an extraordinary and wonderful experience for them both to see how the ‘Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message’ (v.14).

The final letter attributed to Paul is 2 Timothy. To the very end of his life, Paul’s priority was encouraging and releasing the next generation. Let’s make it ours too!

Lord, help every ‘Paul’ to find ‘Timothys’ who they can train up. Help every ‘Timothy’ to find a mentor like Paul who will pass on all their experience to them.

…to be continued.

culled from Day 175 from my Bible In a Year App 2017.

Photocredit: TrainingITPG

Three Ways to Empower the Next Generation – Part 1

I am so grateful to Jonathan Fletcher. When I first encountered Jesus in 1974, Jonathan met with me for three hours every week for a year, and regularly thereafter until I left university. He became a great friend. He taught me the Christian faith. He explained to me how to read the Bible and how to pray. He recommended Christian books and answered my questions. Even though I had only just encountered Jesus myself, he encouraged me to lead others to faith in Jesus and to straight away pass on what I was learning.

After I left university, Sandy Millar did the same as Jonathan had done, in a different way. He showed me a model of how to live the Christian life, to which I still aspire. Ever since, there have always been people in my life from whom I am learning and others to whom I am trying to pass it on. As in a relay race, we have a responsibility to pass on the baton.

Psalm 78:1-8 1. Tell

You have a story to tell. Every family has stories. Every church has its own stories of what God has done. Every Christian has a story – a testimony. All of us have access to the great story of what God has done in Christ. We have to ‘tell the stories’ (v.6, MSG).

This psalm gives us a sketch of Hebrew history leading up to King David, and stresses the importance of passing it on to the next generation. We see a contrast between the sins of Israel and the goodness of God. Jesus himself quoted this psalm (Matthew 13:35). The psalmist says, ‘We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done… to teach their children, so that the next generation would know them… and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God’ (Psalm 78:4–7).

Juan Carlos Ortiz tells the story of meeting an old lady in his native Argentina who introduced him to a young girl, who was one of her great grandchildren. She went on to tell that she had six children and thirty-six grandchildren. Her family was impressive in number and among her grandchildren were many well-educated and professional people.

Carlos asked her, ‘How did you manage to produce such a large, well fed, well dressed, well educated, extended family?’ She replied, ‘I didn’t. I just took care of the six. And each of them took care of their six.’

Each generation has a responsibility to tell the next one about the goodness of God and to warn them of the mess that we make of our lives when we turn away from God’s goodness. Lord, thank you for those who told us about ‘the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done’ (v.4). Help us to pass it on to the next generation so that they would put their trust in you.

…to be continued.

culled from Day 175 from my Bible In a Year App 2017.