In the beginning, it was foolishness…
But first, I need to tell you something. I don’t know what you believe or if you will believe me. I don’t know what your thoughts, training, doctrine, or belief is. I don’t know what you will think. Nevertheless, what I am about to share is a true story. Keep an open mind.
The year was 2013 and the month was August. I was about to find out for sure, whether I was crazy or not for following what I felt was divine inspiration—the dreams, visions, and the still small voice. The day was August 3rd. I was driving back to school for a new semester as a junior in college. I had no means of paying for my college tuition. The sum was $8900 and all I had in my bank account was about $700 from helping around with “dirty jobs.” Even if I had to use this, it would suffice for books and personal needs. But, to put the fuss about my tuition into perspective, let me give you the context.
I came to America, from Africa, as an international student. Laws are especially strict on international students, restricting what they can and cannot do. I came to the United States of America primarily because this still small voice, the voice of the divine, suggested taking the trip. This was part of the invitation, the proposition to go wherever He told me to go. “It will be an adventure,” He had told me years before. Yes, people come to America to find greener pastures. But, that was not the case for me. In my home country, Cameroon (West Africa), I was doing well. I had just passed several accounting exams, was a Certified Accounting Technician affiliate, a skilled level Chartered Accountant, and was ready to take professional courses and then intern to obtain a professional international accounting license. This was college for me and I had already spent three years on the program. It was a big deal.
I had been offered the opportunity to teach young professional accounting students. For a nineteen-year-old, I was doing extremely well in a country stigmatized with unemployment and discrimination. Plus, my mother had just bought a car and turned it over to me. She was a successful entrepreneur and investor, a woman revered among her peers and in her hometown. I was naturally beginning to follow in her footsteps.
But, just when I was five courses from finishing my professional training, that’s when the experiment took a new turn. And the following was my marching order: prepare to leave the country. Leave everything as it is and take an exciting trip that would change my life. My mother thought it would be a great way to grow, to see the world, to prosper. Unknown to her was that this new project had divine fingerprints all over it. So she became a sponsor of this trip.
I applied for college abroad and was accepted. I did make it to my university in Arkansas. To my surprise, it was impossible for me to transfer credits from my professional training and I had to start college like a freshman. In essence, I lost three years of hard work. Hello America! That was a painful surprise. On top of that, my mother could only pay for my first year of college. And she had already done that. The rest was up to me. Now, this brings us to August 3, 2013, on my way to school with no clear way out. Now, you may be thinking about student loans. Unfortunately, that does not apply to international students.
As an international student, I was not allowed to engage in employment. I was also expected to take a full course load. If I failed to cover tuition expenses for a single semester, I would eventually be restricted from eating at the school cafeteria. Worse, all my classes would dropped and I would be shipped back to Africa with no certificate of completion or a dollar to my name. If this happened, it would mean shame and disgrace for me and my mother. I would have wasted time, resources, and two years of my life on a whim, a delusional divinely inspired adventure. As I pondered these things in the absence of an A/C in the car, His soft whispers left me with this note in my spirit, “Don’t worry about it. Just go to school and trust me.” That’s how I found myself on the road to school unsure of myself, my needs, and my tuition. How had I survived my sophomore year? That is another story. But it all came together in this story.
As I drove the van that carried my stuff, I occasionally forgot about my companions in the car. I was daydreaming, wondering, shivering on the inside. After settling down in my room that first night, I had a dream and in this dream, I discerned a still small voice say, “If you work hard, I will reward you.” Then in another dream, I heard that same still small voice say, “Trust me and excel in your studies.” But, I questioned, “Yes you will reward me, but how about my tuition?” There was no answer. Time passed and I asked for divine intervention. Nothing happened. If I could do something about my situation, I would have done it. But, what could I do?
Then, I began receiving notices for payment due as classes began. Then there were late fees. Gradually, $8900 began to increase $50 a week. I wondered how $8900 would materialize? What was I supposed to do? It would take nothing short of a miracle. But, where could I go to find one? During night hours, I would fast and pray harder for divine intervention. One night, I prayed, asking if I should call uncles and other people for help but He said, “Don’t call either of them. They will not help you.” Well, I did call them and they didn’t help. Then I asked in prayer, “Have you changed your mind about the timing of this tuition issue? Should I go to financial aid? What I’m I supposed to do? I am terrified.” To which the reply was, “No. It’s all taken care of.”
Then my mother called weeks later, encouraging me to just believe and see what can happen when we trust in God even in impossible looking situations. I thought, she was nuts. Obviously, she did not understand my predicament. But it was encouraging to hear her voice. It reminded me of the “deal” I had made not with the devil, but the Author of Life and Possibilities. I carried on life with belief in the promise—it was all taken care off. I remained patient. At least, I had handled the pressure before. Regularly, I would fret and in doubt question myself. What was I thinking hanging on the words of a voice with no face? Stuff for a nut job, I thought.
Then September came and with it, more notices. In my tax class, I would tear up and pray silently, “God. I need directions. Help me.” In one such classes, I discerned the soft whisper say, “Give $50 to this…and another $50 to that…, and then pay $500 as part of your contribution to your tuition and as a sign of faith.” I thought it was the craziest request ever. Why make it more painful? $500 would not make a difference. And why would I be giving $100 to someone who needed it? What about me? I needed it. My room was void of any snacks. It would be nice to have some money for Sabbath donuts. But, we had a deal. So, I did. If this was going to be a successful adventure, it would be wise to keep following these unconventional directions. After all, my life was already finished.
After complying, I proudly submitted my results in prayers. This time, I heard the soft whisper say, “Ok. Your tuition is all taken care of.” So, I prayed again, asking if He was sure of what He said. I said, “Listen God. I know you keep saying it’s all taken care of, but what should I do and where should I get the money from?” The next day, I decided to make a more persuasive argument. I printed out the receipt for the tuition due, brought it back to my room, lifted it up and offered the following prayer,
So, maybe math is not your strong point God, because you keep telling me it’s all taken care of but this here—my receipt—shows that I now owe $6,014.35 after my contribution, two small scholarships, and late fees. Clearly, I still owe money. So, where is the money coming from?
The response was the same—it’s all taken care of. What did that mean anyway? Still, I had a drop of hope. I could hold on a little longer. Often, doubts resurfaced. What was I doing with my life and what was I doing, thinking the “voice” and “dreams” meant something? But since it was too late to turn back and no way out of the tuition dilemma, the best thing to do was to see it through. So, I held on a bit longer.
Then, October came and I was under fire. Pay or be dropped from class and shipped back. Oh, the horror! My resources were diminished and there was no place for me to go. The walls seemed to be closing in around me. So, I decided to take out my frustration on the One who didn’t seem to be worried. It didn’t look like He was doing his part. So, I prayed, lashing out:
Goddddd….! You brought me to this country for an adventure and you said you will take care of me. You said to excel and trust you. You said in your word that I am a lender and not a borrower and now I owe money. How can you say that? Are you going to pay this money or not? If you didn’t bring me to this country for your purpose, tell me right now and make it clear and I will start doing things my way or go home. Look Father, its either you keep your promises or you don’t: its either you are God or not. It’s either I believe you or not. Clearly, I am here, ain’t I? If you do not take care of my tuition, know that I have the right to and I will call you a LIAR! You keep your word!
Ohhh…if His majesty was not slow to anger, only the not so kosher mouse in my room knows what would have happened to me. That night, I had a dream and in it, I heard a terrifying voice say, “Didn’t I say tribute is coming? Didn’t I say it’s all taken off? God is good and will not fail you.” But not long after that, around mid-October, I was refused entry into the cafeteria because my account was past overdue. I could no longer eat and students with account balances due such as myself had to prepare for the worst. Following this incident, I found a quiet room to cry in. There, I asked one last time for help. And while I prayed, a comforting whisper said, “What are you doing here!?”
Shocked, like an oblivious child, I waived my new receipt with included additional fees and replied, “I am here praying for you to take care of this $$$ that I owe.” The voice replied, “Haven’t I told you to go talk to Mr. Scott and go see the good doctor?” I remembered a dream I had a week earlier in which I was asked to go see Mr. Scott, the Director of Student Accounts. So, I asked the obvious question, “When I go to see him, what should I tell him?” To which the reply was, “Tell him, your Father says it’s all taken care.”
So, I asked, “When you say Father, who do you mean?” To which the reply was, “If he (Mr. Scott) asks who your Father is, tell him the God of Elisha.” To me, in the absence of my father, I have always seen the Almighty as my father. So, with some expressions, I said, “Let me get this straight. You want me to go to Mr. Scott’s office and tell him my Father said my tuition is all taken care of and if he asks who my Father is, I should tell him the God of Elisha. Do you know how dumb that sounds?” To which I discerned the reply, “Yes, I know and that’s why I am sending you.”
What choice did I have? I could say no, but if I wanted to find out if this was for real and if I wanted to stay in school, I had to follow through. It was the final step, the narrow path. So, I left that room with the game table that sheltered my teary attitude and set out for the Business office, heading into the office of the Director of Student Accounts. “Mr. Scott!” I said, “About my tuition, my father says it’s all taken care of. So, you can allow me to eat now.” He replied, “Oh really? So, should I be expecting the money this week or so?” I just said, “Well…. yeah.”
Then, Mr. Scott looked up to demand the name of my father. After muttering a few, “I uh…. I uh…uhmmm…my dad’s name is uhhh…the Gggggg-o-ooo….uhhhmmm…it’s all taken care,” I ran out of the office and took a deep breath outside. As I was panting out anxiety, in my heart, I discerned a voice say with excitement, “Wasn’t that fun?” To which I replied, “It’s easy for you to say. I am the one down here doing this, not you.” Then, I was told, “Go and see the good doctor and talk to him.” I rode my broken bike with a flat tire to go find the Good Doctor as the still small voice said. After about an hour of waiting for him, I was led into the office of the Good Doctor, a Southern Baptist man. Our conversation went like this.
Conversation with the Good Doctor
Me: Sir, I know you helped me last time and I am thankful. But now, I need help and I came to ask you if you can help me with this problem of tuition. A few dollars can go a long way. Hope you don’t mind me coming to ask you.
Good Doctor: (laughs and chuckles…) So, how much do you owe?
Me: About $6014 with late fees and here is the receipt.
He takes the receipt, looks at it and writes a number down. Then hands it over and says
Good Doctor: It’s all taken care of.
Me: …!!! That’s it? That’s all? You didn’t ask me any questions. That’s it?
Good Doctor: Hahaha…yes, that’s it.
Me: Sir…I will shine your shoes, mow your lawn, clean your dishes…need any help around the house—call Ish. I am right here. I mean I don’t get it. It surprises me how you just wrote something down and you are taking care of it. Why!?
Good doctor is laughing at my reaction.
Then I begin to leave his office in shock and then he speaks up…
Good Doctor: When do you graduate? You will need money for next semester, right? How much is it?
Me: (Stunned)…well, it’s like $8900 and scholarships cover say $1500?
Good Doctor: Ok…I’ll get a couple of guys and we’ll take care of that too.
Now I am laughing and smiling
Good Doctor: You know what, your job is to get the grades. I will take care of the money. By the way is there anything else you need? Food, groceries?
Me: …!!! Uhhh….no…no I think I’m fine.
Good Doctor: Good. Let me know if there is anything else you need. We’ve got you covered.
Me: …! Ok. Thank you….
~Le fin/The end~
We’ve got you covered? That sounded familiar. Where did I hear that from? By the way, who was WE?
I walked out of the office stunned. I wondered if this was real. I planned on skipping class for the rest of the day to relax and think through what really happened. This still small voice I had been discerning in and around me, was it real? Was it God? Was this actually happening? I was not sure if I was hallucinating. As I reflected upon being the beneficiary of a miracle, the voice interrupted my thoughts and said this,
“I told you it was taken care of. I gave you a cow: you milk the cow. I put the good doctor in your life for a reason. I told you years ago before you took on this adventure that I had touched certain people and a certain for you on this adventure. He is here to take care of you this way, to get you ready for the reason you are here. I have put your blessings in people and it is up to you to go get it. It is already out there. If you would only step out of your room and go get what has already been given to you. The Kingdom of God suffers violence, it is the violent of faith who take it by force. It is up to you to go get your blessing. Like I said, it’s all taken care of. It was up to you to take this lonely road, believe, have faith, and go get it. Hence, I have given you the cow: it’s up to you to milk it.”
Feeling happy, I said apologetically, “Thank you. Thank you so much. You know Father in heaven, I feel stupid now because of the way I spoke to you. I am so sorry. I was rude and arrogant.” And with whispers He replied “It’s ok. You are blessed and you are my son. Go back to school, your class is about to start.” Apparently, someone knew I was going to skip class.
I received about $10,800 from the good doctor the following semester which covered my tuition and left extra cash for needs. And received more the following semester. He paid my way through college. The good doctor came to my school and paid the tuition all at once the first time, I think in cash. Yep, I was debt free the minute I went to school thanks to His Majesty. The good doctor eventually became one of the main donors to the establishment. He was also instrumental in contributing in part to my 2012 tuition, but I didn’t really notice. It’s ironic because he was a department head in another college. By December 2014 when I graduated, guess who showed up taking lots of pictures and screaming my name? The good doctor.
Guess who bought me resources for study and sharing? The good doctor. Guess who led college groups and offered young men and women counsel? The good doctor. Guess who inspired him? The Good Lord, who else! If not for some people, were would some of us be?
But, before graduation day, I went to visit some friends and the good doctor joined us. He told me and my friends his side of the story. He said he was praying one day, wondering what to do with some extra cash he received from a very lucrative investment. Like never before, he received a clear and strange answer. The Good Doctor said he felt like God spoke and told him that a student with a specific amount would come to him and when this young fellow came, he (the good doctor) would know exactly what to do. Weeks later, there I was in his office with an invoice in my hand with very specific figures. Seeing me, he said he knew exactly what he was supposed to do next.
What is faith then?
From the above adventure, this is what I came up. To pioneer, develop your dreams, visions, ideas, and enterprise, you need faith. To travel on a road you have never traveled before, you need faith. But faith begins with risks. At some point, your faith needs legs to walk. Faith begins with risk. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11). Sometimes it can be confusing to explain. I would like to suggest to you a definition that captures the essence. It’s the way I understood it from this miracle.
So what is faith? Well, let’s just leave that discussion for another time. What does it look like when implementing the counsel of the Lord and developing your destiny as He leads? Well, let’s just leave that as a discussion for next week.
For now, let’s just lift up our hands and give thanks to God for He is good and his steadfast love and faithfulness endures forever. Since that day, my life has never been the same. My walk with the Lord and fellowship with his Spirit has blessed me. I have experienced the grace of Jesus like never before, in good times and in bad times. He truly is who he says He is. Even when I have made terrible mistakes, he still loves, forgives, lifts, and empowers me. I am truly a happy man.
I hope this blesses you.
~by Ishmael Asaba