My name is Silvia Lia Leigh. I was born in Romania more than sixty years ago. At that time Romania was a communist country. Religion was forbidden. We were thought in school that God does not exist; that religion is for the poor illiterate people. I believed that! I grew up in a loving family of four. My parents were teachers in the school which I attended with my younger sister; Adica. My father was also the principal of the school. My parents thought us by example to be kind, respectful, humble and hard working. We did not believe in God and did not attend church.
“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:19)
Many years ago someone pointed out to me that this verse does not say that God will bless us ‘out of’ His riches of glory in Christ Jesus. It says that He will bless us ‘according to’ the riches of His glory in Christ. This is the meaning of the words ‘according to’: as stated, reported, or recorded by (someone or something); in a way that is based on (something); In proportion or relation to something! The words ‘in proportion’ mean this: According to a particular relationship in size, amount, or degree; In the correct or appropriate relation to the size, shape, or position of other things!
In other words, God will bless us in proportion to the riches of His glory and grace. Can you measure those riches? Heaven knows no lack! There is no unemployment in heaven! All angels and saints over there worship God ‘day and night’. They eat from Tree of Life and drink from the River of Life. In the presence of God there is total freedom and unspeakable joy! Your imagination is too small to dream about God’s riches of His glory!
In other words, God will answer your prayers in a way that will embarrass you. Grace is like a holy ‘tsunami’! God will provide for you in a way fit for a King! He will bestow His goodness upon you and meet all (not some) of your needs (present and future) in a way that will shock you! Jehovah Jireh is the God of more than enough! Do not limit God by your doubts, fears and your ‘poverty mentality’! God knows His job! Trust God! Take the good risk to trust God! Men may mock you for your faith in an invisible Almighty Caring God! But He will never allow you to be put to shame for your trust in Him! The more your enemies laugh at you, the more God will bless you! His overflow of grace and supply is your holy vindication! Child of God, give your Father a chance! This is the Word of God and not of man: God “will meet ALL your needs ACCORDING to the riches of his GLORY IN CHRIST JESUS!!! Shout Hallelujah!
Today, in the U.S. people celebrate ‘Thanksgiving day’. I have so many reasons to rejoice… This is just one testimony: Six years ago today, our youngest daughter Jemine Leigh Oakes got married to her wonderful husband Matthew Oakes, here in our house in Warri, Nigeria. This is a picture of their traditional marriage called ‘temoshi’. Jesus!!!!! “I go de hail… day be day… all the way”
To God alone be all the glory!
“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them–yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me” (1Cor 15:10)
Recently I remembered a 20 years old story about our youngest daughter, Jemine. She is the only one of our children who was born in Nigeria. She grew up in Warri, Nigeria. She loves Nigerian food, Nigerian jokes and Nigerian Pidging English. She now lives with her husband and two sons in Houston, Tx. She was 15 when, as a family, we went to the U.S. We stayed there for a year and a half, not knowing at that time what the future will bring. During that time the Holy Spirit commanded us to go back to Warri and start a church called Father’s House. We obeyed. But God’s call was not easy. We left our daughters (Alina and Jemine) behind and alone… My husband and I wept as we went back to Nigeria. Our church was born with tears but now we rejoice at the great harvest of joy…
Jemine did her last year of high school in Houston, Tx. She had to adjust to a new culture, new class-mates, new teachers and a new English accent. Knowing that her father and I will soon go back to Nigeria, and my time with Jemine was so short (you know, mother feelings…), I cherished every day as her mother… so much more than in the past. Each day as I prepared lunch, I thank God for the privilege to cook for my child… I wanted to go to Nigeria with a free heart… I knew that ministry over there will demand all my energy… So for now, I could be just a wife and a mother…Because my feelings were so sensitive and alert, that is why I remember so clearly these things, little details from that period…
One day Jemine came from school looking sad. She said: ‘Malia, I want to change my name…’ I asked her ‘why?’… She said ‘Malia, in teh whole school, I am the only one with this name, Jemine… I don’t like it…I feel lonely…’ Some girls laughed at me today… many others cannot pronounce it… many forget my name… some others call me ‘Jem’ and they add ‘bread and jam’… She looked so sad… With pain in my heart I asked her: ‘What name do you want to have?’ she said: ‘Maybe Heather or Jessica…’ Why, I asked… she said ‘because there are three Heathers and two Jessicas in my class…’ (If you are reading this letter and your name is Heather or Jessica, I am sorry. These are nice names too…) Jemine said to me that if she has the same name like them, she will not be lonely, she will not be so different… She will feel that she belongs to America…
I quickly prayed in my spirit for the right words to say. Slowly, lovingly and patiently (Oh, mother’s work is not easy…) I tried to explain to my 15 years daughter the beauty and the power of being herself. I told her that God created her unique and special. She does not have to be like anybody. She does not have to join the choir when she can be the soloist… I told her that together we shall pray for her to discover her true identity, not as an American, or as a Nigerian, or as a Romanian, but as a child of God!!! I told her that the grace of God is upon her. The unmerited favor of the Almighty God will reveal to her who she truly is. The Holy Spirit will open her eyes to see how God, her Creator, sees her. She does not have to change anything about her looks, the type of hair she has, the color of her skin or the size of her hips…She does not have to be ‘white, black, mixed or anything…She just have to be herself! I said: ‘Jemine, I love you! Me, your mother for life I say that you are very beautiful, kind, intelligent and wonderful and that I love you!!!! Hide these words in your heart! Never throw them away. I love you, daughter…’
I told her: a new, fancy, more American acceptable name, will not help her find peace with herself and others. Only God is able to give her true confidence and security. I told her that this identity is found in Christ alone. Money cannot buy it, men cannot give it and thieves cannot steal it. I said: ‘Now say: ‘My name is Jemine. I am a child of God!’ Say it daily! Say it often! Say it loudly! Say it when I am in Nigeria and you are here alone! Say it until you believe it!’
To the glory of God, she listened well. She relaxed and accepted the word. The grace of God upon her produced spiritual fruits! She is now a woman of God, a worship leader, a happy wife to Matthew and a wonderful mother to Oliver Sisan Oakes (yes, Sisan is a Nigerian name, my husband’s middle name) and baby Emory David Oakes. She has a good job and she is a blessing to many! Glory to God!!!
Dear Reader, take Jemine’s struggles with identity as a point of contact for yourself. Pray and ask God to reveal to you, who are you? Why are you born in this world? Why are you still alive? What is your identity and destiny as decreed by God? It does not matter what people say, especially if they say negative words! What is important is God’s opinion about you! That is the truth! God created you and knows you the best! God never makes mistakes! God loves you! Accept that! May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be upon you!
(in the picture, Jemine and me on her wedding day)
Emory David Oakes, our youngest grandson, is 10 days old. Is he not cute? God’s grace radiates on him!
Nepotelul nostru are 10 zile (Romanian)
Building our sanctuary, Father’s Hose Bible Church, Effurun…
Four years ago, me and some brethren took pictures at the site… we were painting the church, laying tiles on the floors and working very hard.. (not me really… I was there to encourage them… the wonderful brethren, men and women ‘of valor’ as we called them…)… This is a little reminder that it is so sweet to serve God! “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” (Ps 133:1)
“When you run you will not stumble…but the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble” (PV 4:12,19)
Great lessons from the battle between David and Goliath:
• If you look at the giant, you will stumble!
• If you look at Jesus, the giant will stumble!
May the giant of fear, of confusion, of religion, of sickness, of bareness, of division, of divorce, of waste… may he stumble and fall and die, in the name of Jesus!
In Christ I declare:
I am not afraid of the battle; for God is with me! I look above my trial and my pain… higher than the hills of waiting… I look unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of my faith! The obstacle shall fall! The pain shall fail! The slander shall become a blessing and the debt shall become a ministry of helps! I am more than an over-comer! In Jesus’ name, Amen!
By faith, receive God’s promise! The God of the Bible says to us, the people who live in Warri- Effurun and environs:
“I will make a covenant of peace with them, and cause wild beasts to cease from the land; and they will dwell safely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods. I will make them and the places all around My hill a blessing; and I will cause showers to come down in their season; there shall be showers of blessing. Then the trees of the field shall yield their fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase. They shall be safe in their land; and they shall know that I am the Lord, when I have broken the bands of their yoke and delivered them from the hand of those who enslaved them. And they shall no longer be a prey for the nations, nor shall beasts of the land devour them; but they shall dwell safely, and no one shall make them afraid. I will raise up for them a garden of renown, and they shall no longer be consumed with hunger in the land, nor bear the shame of the Gentiles anymore. Thus they shall know that I, the Lord their God, am with them, and they, the house of Israel (Warri- Effurun), are My people,” says the Lord God.’ (Ez 34:25-30)
Praise the Lord!!!!
Amelia Mimi Atiyota, our first granddaughter is 17 today. She is a very sweet girl. She is shy. She is special! She is gentle. She is humble. She is very hard working. She loves to do her chores in the house without any pressure from her mum. Her siblings love sports but she loves to stay at home. She is always quiet and very respectful. She is a blessing. She is a woman of God! She is beautiful inside and out! Like any teenager, she sometimes battles with inferiority complexes concerning her looks. Please pray for her that she will be more confident of herself! That she will become stronger, spiritually and emotionally! Wish her ‘happy birthday’ please.. I appreciate your kind words and prayers! God bless you all!
“In the same way Your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost” (Matt 18:14)
If you try to ‘save’ one thousand people in the same time, you may end up frustrated, tired, and depressed. If you remain focused, looking unto Jesus, doing only what you see Him do, then you will be able to save one ‘little’ soul at a time. Ministry is a source of discouragement for the proud but a source of great encouragement for the humble. What a wonderful Savior! Humble King! My Lord Jesus Christ!
In Christ I declare:
I am lead by the Spirit! I will seek and find a needy soul and bring peace to him! I do not discriminate anyone, for Christ does not discriminate! I shall seek God and the interests of His kingdom! I shall not seek success for success sake! I leave my ideas of success at the altar! I shall not despise the day of little beginnings and little encounters! I shall be grateful for everything, every day!
In Jesus’ name,
(in the picture: Oliver, very happy meeting his little brother Emory David Oakes… these are our beautiful grandchildren)