He set out in the afternoon to visit a friend who had “been on his neck” since he returned to Nigeria. It was indeed a long awaited visit. He arrived the house after an hour journey and she warmly received him, together with her husband (Mr. and Mrs. Raymond – not their real name). They shared many experiences, among which was his vocation (his decision to be a priest amidst the challenges of the modern society and the opportunities it offers). In the end, they both prayed for him and promised to be present as his ordination (God willing). However, at that time, some “believers” were singing in procession along the street with megaphones, and entering some houses to share the Word of God.
When it was time to leave, Chinaka stood up and the family saw him off to the gate of the compound. Immediately the gate was opened, they (three members of the evangelizing team) stepped into the compound and requested to share the Word of God with the family. Being a Catholic family and for fear that the preachers may end up attacking their faith, they (husband and wife) made signs to Chinaka to stay back and join in the conversation. Immediately they settled, a young (mean-looking) man from the evangelizing team looked straight at Chinaka and asked: “Young man, are you saved? Have you accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Saviour?” At this time, the expression on Mrs. Raymond’s face was like “it seems you don’t know who you’re asking this question, right”. Chinaka calmly responded:
“Salvation is a lifelong journey, not a one-time acceptance of Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Saviour…” Immediately, the preacher interrupted: “How do you mean, young man?” Chinaka responded: “I am in the process of being saved. I was saved by grace, which I received at Baptism when the Holy Spirit came upon me. When I was confirmed, I received the Holy Spirit again – and that was grace. I also receive sanctifying grace every time I confess my sins at the confessional and receive Jesus Christ Himself in the Eucharist. Salvation is a lifelong journey, not a one-time acceptance of “Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Saviour” in my past (remember, that phrase is NOT in the Bible)”. While they were looking at him in astonishment, and wondering the kind of person he is, Chinaka continued: “Jesus himself says in Mark 13:13 that IF WE ENDURE TO THE END, we WILL BE SAVED (future tense, not past). Paul says we WILL be saved (future tense, not past) by fire on the day of our judgment in 1 Corinthians 3:15.” At these words, the preacher got up and made signs to the other two, saying: “We shall be back”, and they left.
With this, Mrs. Raymond said: Chinaka, see, you would have to move into our house o – this one they said they would be back, hope they won’t go and fetch their general overseer to argue with us in your absence…” Smiling, and looking at his wrist-watch, Chinaka bade them farewell and promised to check on them another time…
Dear friends, “Be ready at all times to answer anyone who asks you to explain the hope you have in you, but do this with gentleness and respect…” (1Peter 3:15)