Beloved children and dear brethren, it is Malia again. Since my beloved husband Richmond Sisan Leigh, who is also your father in the Lord, has suddenly gone to heaven, many things have changed for me. But I testify that the presence of God is unchanged. God is still with me! Emmanuel! Like I said to you in the past, in the natural, my life is simpler (I cook less, I worry less). But in the spiritual, I see my spirit going deeper in the ocean of His grace. For that, I am grateful to God! I am training my spiritual eyes to gaze only on the Lord Jesus Christ, ‘who for the joy set before Him, He despised the Cross, sorning its shame’ (Hebrews 12:2). I am tapping from that ‘joy ahead’ that kept Jesus faithful, focused, and strong. I have the assurance of heaven! This is my stabilizing strength and my drawing anchor. Halleluiah!
The truth is that my past was wonderful. I became saved in 1986. I was happily married to your father in the Lord for 47 years. We have three adult children, grandchildren, and many spiritual sons and daughters. We started this great church called Father’s House in Warri/ Effurun, serving God here as senior pastors. By any standards, these are great achievements and sanctified memories, to the glory of God. But even then, I refuse to look behind. I look straight ahead and upwards. I see my Savior’s wonderful face. It is clearer and clearer. By faith, I also see my husband in the cloud of witnesses, encouraging me to be strong and faithful to God to the end. I have no excuse to be weak. I must be strong until the finishing line. In Christ, I am a champion, and even ‘more than an overcomer’! It is my honor to serve the Lord Jesus Christ by preaching His Gospel and by shepherding His flock, for whom He shed His precious Blood. I could have preferred that my husband was here with me on earth. But I refuse to complain. I give thanks to God for my life, trusting Jesus to keep me strong and healthy, until I see Him face to face! I see that it is my destiny to be the Senior Pastor of Father’s House. God will help me fulfill my destiny in Christ. I trust Him, now and forever! God is faithful! God is good! Amen!
I recently read this scripture: “There is also a difference in attitude between a wife and a virgin. An unmarried woman is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married has concerns about the things of this world–how she may please her husband… Now I am telling you this for your own benefit; not to place a snare in your way, but to show you what is suitable, so that you may be devoted to the Lord without distraction” (1 Corinthians 7:34, 35). It is interesting how for so many years I focused only on the advice given to the wife. I ignored the part of the ‘virgin’, of the single or unmarried woman. I just decided ‘that is not my portion’. I read here that the wife is ‘distracted’ from her worshipping God by the cares of this world; by taking care of her husband and children. Paul said that it is ‘good not to be married’ because marriage brings a lot of stress and troubles connected with this world (1 Corinthians 7:25-28). I ignored this advice too because for me it was ‘too late’. I was already married to my husband for life. I just could not imagine myself un-married to him. I tried my best to combine my spirituality, with my work as a wife and a mother. By any standards, I was a successful woman of God, wife, and mother. My husband said so and many people said the same. That made me so happy!
Then the unbelievable happened… suddenly, after a mild sickness, my husband quietly went to be home with the Lord. My world crashed. My hope vanished. My dream died. As you well know, the Holy Spirit took over my life and gave me the strength to stand alone and continue to serve God. I am grateful for His love, peace, wisdom, compassion, and supernatural comfort. In this my pain, I have re-discovered that God’s grace is truly enough for every situation in this life. When things are good, you cannot imagine how others feel in their times of trial because you cannot assess the grace released to them. The truth is that the Holy Spirit genuinely surprised me! First, by not preparing my mind in advance for my husband’ quick departure to heaven. Secondly, by holding me tight when I lost it; by carrying me in His everlasting arms, to make progress, even during my pain. I fear God more!
I never knew how great God is until now! My life was sheltered from the storms of life by God and by my husband. From time to time, the wind of life problems was blowing, but it was always outside. It was not inside my home, where I felt covered, at peace with God, with my husband, children, and with myself. “Fervent, deep, genuine Love covers and protects” (1 Peter 4:8). Looking back, my beloved husband loved me deeply with the sacrificial, never-failing love of Christ. With him around I felt safe. I could tell him anything, good or bad. We talked a lot. I appreciated his love, patience, and wisdom. Long ago I prayed that when I look at my husband’s face, I will see Christ. When I hear my husband’s voice, I will hear God’s. My husband’s hands brought peace and healing to my body and to my soul. This is truly my marriage testimony and my life’s treasure. My husband is now in heaven. I am happy for him because I know that he loved Jesus more than he loved me. He is where he always wanted to be. He read, preached, and dreamed about heaven until he finally arrived there. He is with Jesus now! God says: “The end of a matter is better than its beginning” (Ecclesiastes 7:8). Heaven is the end of the Christian race. Therefore, it is ‘better’ to be there. One day, when my work on earth is done, I too will go to the same heaven, to see Jesus Christ, my Lord, face to face. I will also see God’s son, Richmond (Tali), my wonderful husband on earth, dressed in his glorious garments of imputed righteousness, Christ’ gift to him. What a reunion that will be! For now, I will make him proud by serving God to the end! Amen!
The other day I found a bible my husband bought for me and gave it me on the 24th of February. 1987. At that time, I was a baby Christian and I was madly in love with Jesus. My crisis conversion rocked the boat of our happy marriage. My husband tried to understand my new religious passion but often, he could not. One day, I told him that from now on, ‘Jesus is my senior husband’. That he should be happy with the second position in my heart. Looking back, I know that the way I said it, it was too harsh. Like any baby Christian, I was making mistakes by putting too much pressure on him to give his life to Christ. Of course, he resented my approach. Because of that we had many arguments. One day, trying to make peace, he gave me a Bible as a gift. He knew that I would appreciate such a (prophetic) gift. I opened the first page of the Bible. I read these words: “Lia, From your Junior husband, with love, Richmond”. So many years have passed, but the words are still clear in black ink. I somehow forgot about this gift. Recently, I remembered it. I read these words again, trying not to weep, with worship in my heart. Oh, Jesus… My husband was truly a man of God! Prophetically, he released me to the Lord, even before himself got reconciled with Jesus. Glory to God! I bow before You, my heavenly Bridegroom, my Jesus, my Lord!
I am grateful to my husband for being such a wonderful prophetic teacher and communicator. We used to talk a lot, about everything. His words are written in my mind and sealed by the Holy Spirit. They are part of me. I cannot forget them. They fuel my ministry. For example, he said: “Lia, there is no retirement with worshipping God. Even in our old age, we must serve Him to the end. His holy calling to us as pastors does not have a retirement program. God will give us more grace and more wisdom, as we get older and our bodies get weaker. Lia, fear not old age or the future. We are in God’s hands forever!” It is because we discussed these things, it was easier for me to decide to continue the work of ministry. Now, I cannot be my husband’s wife on this earth, but my work to serve God continues, until that day. This is how my husband talked and advised me. This is how he went to glory. His words and a practical testimony to me. He has made it easier for me to follow Jesus. I am grateful, my God!
Another gift my husband left behind for me is this: Ministry Encouragement! He always encouraged me to have ‘a life, a ministry, and an anointing of my own’. As close as we were, even as co-laborers in the ministry, we encourage each other to stay faithful to the Lord first, before sharing revelations and experiences with each other. In the church, my husband gave me the privilege to be the pastor of the women and to lead the ‘Saturday class’ prophetic prayer meeting. He allowed me to be free to prepare my sermons and to preach as the Holy Spirit empowered me. He not only ‘allowed’ me this freedom, but he encouraged me to be strong and pursue the Lord by myself. He did not allow me to lean too much on himself. When I tried that ‘feminine style’, he will rebuke me. He told me to seek God for myself, not to ‘borrow’ anointing. He never flattered me. He always spoke the truth in love. Once, he told me: “Lia, I hope you know the reason why I do not attend Saturday Class prayer meeting. This is for two reasons: first, I need to prepare my own sermon for Sunday, and I cannot be distracted. Secondly, it is for your good, that you learn to minister alone, without me. I hope you know that it is for your benefit that I am not there all the time with you. My presence will limit your freedom. I do not want that! Be bold for Jesus! I pray for you to become a strong woman of God. Learn to stand alone with Jesus by your side. He is more than enough for you!” These words, painful and somewhat mysterious at the time, have brought much prophetic comfort to me recently. He may not have known, but the Holy Spirit was using him to prepare me for this time when I am ‘alone with Jesus’. To be strong even when his physical presence with me is missing. He was right! The presence of Jesus and His grace is more than enough for me! For anyone!
Finally, my life is now totally dedicated to the Lord Jesus Christ, without any interruptions or worldly distractions. If I were a Roman Catholic, I could have become a nun, in a monastery. I now understand their commitment to Jesus. My dear children, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might! May God perfect the good thing He started in you. May you fulfill destiny! In Jesus’ name! And now, what can I say? To God be all the glory!
Love in Christ alone,