Beloved children and dear brethren, it is me again, Malia. Day and night, I remember you in my prayers. I want to encourage you afresh, in the royal way of the Cross. Since my beloved husband and your father in the Lord, Pastor Richmond Sisan Leigh has gone to heaven, the Word of God and prayer is my daily bread. I observed that for as long as I keep my eyes on Jesus and I focus on His lovely face, I have total peace in my heart. Each time I look around or I look at myself, my ‘peace level drops’. In the past, I was too busy to observe this delicate spiritual balance. But now, I am much more sensitive to the rhythm of the Holy Spirit who is working mightily in me. Often, I feel like Mary of Bethany who sat at the feet of Jesus. That was her favorite spot. Sometimes, her older sister Martha, calls her to help in the kitchen. Mary did not want to refuse her sister, but she was happier at the feet of the Master, to listen to His Word. These days, I do not have to go to the kitchen as often as in the past. As my beloved husband went to heaven, I do not have to cook Nigerian dishes like in the past. Over the years, I became ‘a specialist’ in cooking Banga soup, Ocro soup, Ocro- pepper soup, Owo soup, Vegetable soup and other Nigerian delicacies. There is a way my husband liked his eba or the boiled yam. For example, the plantain slices were to be cut at a special angle to be fried as dodo. He was very particular not only about the taste of the food but the presentation at the table. These days, I do not need to bother about cooking Nigerian food. My expertise in that field is needed not more. For me, a snack is enough. In heaven, my husband and all the worshippers eat the fruit of the tree of life and drink from the river of life. Over there, there is no need for diet. There is no sickness, no sorrow, no tears and, can you imagine that? No old age! To me, just the thought of it, brings me joy, that my husband is there, free from the ills common to men, free from all fears and worries. I am happy for him! Truly happy! One day, when my work is done on earth, I will join the choir in heaven! As you can see, my future is better than my past! This is the destiny for every child of God! Halleluiah!
My husband used to say that he is not a Nigerian, that he is a Citizen of Heaven. He was right! Since he got saved, he had the visa in his passport called ‘salvation’. I am a witness to this. With the eyes of my spirit I saw God’s holy seal on his forehead. He is indeed a child of God, with a harvest of fruits proving his heavenly status. In many ways, as it is with any believer, he belonged to heaven more than to the earth. When I think of it, for me, the greatest joy of all is that in heaven we worship Jesus forever. Also, there is no more devil. Over here, we always have to remember the need for spiritual warfare. Temptations come in different forms. But in heaven, there is peace, victory, and eternal rejoicing. The worship never stops! You see, for me heaven is so much near. Just in case you think that I am going crazy (in Nigeria we say that I am getting ‘kolo’), I can say that my mind is stronger than ever. I am now heavenly minded. That is the best! To have the mind of Christ! No more fears, no more doubts! Jesus is my Savior! Death has lost its sting! Tell me, you who fear the future, is it not heaven that we all desire to go to? Some of the children of God who have gone ahead of us, they ‘made it’! We need to rejoice, to thank God for sustaining them strong and faithful on their race, to their last breath on earth. Give God the glory!
My beloved husband and pastor was, is, and will always be to me a wonderful example of how a man should live and die for Jesus! I am so proud of him. As you can see, most of the time I am talking about him using the present tense. I cannot call him ‘late’. This word does not ‘fit’ him. His body is in a grave in Warri, but he is much alive in heaven and he lives in my heart. As I speak, I speak for both of us. He laid a great foundation for the ministry. Father’s House Bible Church is our ‘baby’, prophesied by the Holy Spirit. I am now building on the foundation we laid, which is Christ crucified and resurrected! I am not building another church. It is the same church. I am raising the walls on the same foundation he took so much love and care to lay down. My husband lived on earth 71 and half years. But the things that he has accomplished as a man, many others cannot accomplish in 710 years. As a medical doctor he was successful. Both of us founded Lily Clinic in Warri. We worked as doctors for twenty years. After that, we sold the practice to three younger medical colleagues. Lily Hospital, Warri, was and it still is, one of the best hospitals in this town. Then my husband entered politics. He rose to high levels in national politics, in the party called NRC. Then we both became saved. Our journey from grace to grace continued …
In 1998 we went to the US not knowing what God wants us to do over there. We started preparing to pass the medical exams so that we can stay and work there as doctors. We bought the forms, and we paid the fees for the tests. We bought the recommended medical textbooks and started reading every day, to pass the exams. ‘Our future in America looked bright’, many said. But God had other plans for us. After reading for some months, one morning, the Holy Spirit told me: ‘I did not bring both of you to America to work here as doctors. I want you to go back to Warri, sell your clinic and start a church called ‘Father’s House Bible Church’. I will give you more details later when you are in Warri’. This is what the Holy Spirit ‘whispered’ to me. The voice was not audible; it was in my spirit. But it came with great clarity and authority. I knew that it was God talking to me. I looked across the table and I saw my husband reading and concentrating over his medical book. I quickly ‘whispered’ back to God: ‘Father, I know that you are talking to me. I am sorry… I cannot tell my husband what You are telling me. He will think that I am mad. To go back to Warri? Me? What for? Please, Father God, You tell him Yourself, exactly what You are telling me. Then he will believe. Please God help me talk to my husband… Thank You Father…’ I imagined myself as Mary and my husband as Joseph. How can you tell a man that you are pregnant by the Holy Spirit? Anyway, I kept the matter secret in my heart. After few days, one morning, as both of us were at the table reading our medical books, suddenly my husband said: ‘Lia, did God speak to you?’ I kept quiet, pretending that I do not understand his question. He continued: ‘God told me that He did not call us to America to work as doctors. That He brought us here, away from our routine work so that we can hear Him better. God said that we should go back to Warri, sell our clinic, and start a church in our building. Lia, did God tell you anything like this?’ Then I had the courage to say: ‘yes’. I told him the whole story. Immediately he heard what God told me, he suddenly took the medical textbooks from the table and threw them to the ground. He trampled on them with his feet. He called the books ‘temptation’. He said to me: ‘Lia, God has spoken to both of us. We cannot pretend we did not hear. Let us forget about medical practice. Let us obey God’s Word. Let us prepare to go back to Nigeria and start the church. I don’t know how we are able to do that, but we must obey God’. Later, we called our children and told them everything. They started crying because they thought we can now settle as a family in the US. They could not imagine we are going back to Warri… What is there in Warri? (No need to remind them that ‘Warri no de carry last’. They were too upset with our decision). Later, after praying, they decided to accept God’s will for our lives. They had to learn thru pain that their parents are not ordinary parents. That was a good lesson for them, for the future!
We used all our money to buy loudspeakers and musical instruments. We had no money left to ship them. That day, a family friend just came to ‘greet us’. He said that he came to buy an equipment to send to Nigeria. That his container is almost empty. He said that we can put all our stuff there and he will carry everything free of charge. Three months later we went to Port Hacourt and collected our things to start church. In November 1999, we came back to Warri. People were surprised. We did not tell anybody about the plan to start a church. We decided no to attend any church in Warri, waiting for the open door promised of God. On the 20th of March 2000, we started our first church service at the waiting room of our former Lily Clinic. We were about 20 people there, mostly family friends. Tali was shaking as he preached his first sermon. But the Holy Spirit was there, and He is all that matters. We reminded him to say ‘the grace’ at the end. We used a plastic basin to collect the offering (Tali said that he forgot there is an offering).
This is a reminder of the humble beginnings of Father’s House Bible Church, Warri/ Effurun, Nigeria! I will never again despise the day of little beginnings! Twenty years later, we are now an established church. As you can see, Father’s House is not ‘a break away’ from any other church or denomination. The church started by the express prophetic Word of God. As you know, both Tali and I we did not attend a regular ‘Bible school’. But the Bible became our Textbook and Constitution of life for all these years. Bishop Lewis (of the College of Bishops in the US) prophetically confirmed both of us as Bishops. But both Tali and I did not use these titles. For most of the people that knew us, for the brethren, for our children, natural and spiritual, we simply remained “Tali and Malia”.
As I remember this story, how God sent us back from the US to Nigeria to start Father’s House, I worship Him with my whole heart. God is great and greatly to be praised! Also, I am still impressed by my husband’s immediate response of obedience. This is how he was! Once he heard God’s command, he just obeyed. He did not even consider our personal inconveniences. That was his lifestyle. For him, once God speaks, there is no other answer than to obey. Whatever the cost, we must obey. He was always like that! Being his wife for 47 years, this attitude of immediate obedience has robbed on me too. Once God speaks, we say Amen! It will be later that we think about the details and the logistics. And God is faithful! He always made a way even if there was no way. Thru it all we learned to trust God’s plan for our lives even when we did not understand it. We learned to appreciate the presence of God in our lives individually and in our marriage. We learned to host the Holy Spirit during each service. God was all we had. God was all we needed. He still is!
Going back to Warri was not our plan. It was God’s plan. We choose to obey God. Thank God for the grace to obey Him. We never had any regrets. God is faithful. He took care of our children who stayed alone in the US. They are all married now, with children of their own. As for me, I can say that God is so good to me. He put a special supernatural love in my heart for the Nigerian people, especially for the brethren in Father’s House. This love is strong and true. For many years, I was a mother of three children. I am now a mother of many, a mother in Zion. As you can see from the pictures, all my children are ‘black’, like their father, Tali. I smile as I write these words. When I came to Nigeria in March 1980, a shy woman, an unbeliever, a young wife with two little children, not speaking a word of English, I did not know the mighty destiny God has prepared for me. According to God’s Word, my election and calling were from the foundation of the world. This alone explains my life. As my beloved husband went to heaven, I am now the senior pastor on Father’s House. The responsibility is great, and the mantle is heavy. Oh, but the grace of God is more than enough for any challenge I may face now or in the future. The Holy Spirit carries me on His wings. I feel Him! My heart is still in pain as I miss my dear husband. But when my flesh may fail, God is the strength of my heart, now and forever! I bow before the Almighty. My body is a living sacrifice, the temple of His Holy Spirit. Fear and doubt are my enemies. They are not allowed inside. I reject them! I am free to live and worship Jesus, now and forever! ‘My Maker is now my Husband! He is the God of all the earth!’ (Is 54:5). My spirit cries ‘Holy! Holy! Holy! The whole earth is full of His glory!’ I am weak but He is strong! Let the angels hear! Let the people bow! God loves Nigeria! This is my story, this is my song! It is well with my soul! Rejoice, all you people! Jesus is Lord!
“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand. (The seven lamps represent the eyes of the LORD that search all around the world.)” (Zech 4:10)
Pastor (Mrs) Silvia Lia Leigh/ 28-08-2020