I watched the young man in unfeigned admiration. He looked suave, in his carefully trimmed hair and well tailored suit and spoke so passionately about the upcoming Camp Meeting, that I became curious. He spoke with conviction as if indeed he heard from God, otherwise why would someone be making such a daring promise that anyone who attended, would be touched by God and would not remain the same? My curiosity heightened on hearing he was a student. They referred to him as Pastor and I couldn’t help wondering how a student would be a Pastor at the same time. He was a direct contrast of the uncomplimentary image I had of Pastors; diffident, uncultured and badly dressed.
That was how I canceled my Easter plans and bought a ticket to Lagos for the Camp Meeting. My parents would later understand that my plans had changed. I was meant to spend the Easter holidays with them but my curiosity had driven me to follow these happy go lucky fellows to Lagos.
The trip was an adventure in itself. It was my first time of traveling by night bus and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Some of my classmates, who were members of the Christian Fellowship were ecstatic at my decision to join them and were on hand to make sure I had fun. It was in a real carnival mood that we set out from Awka in a convoy of three buses in that cold April night. The excited students sang in joy and unbridled expectation. The dangerous voyage across the notorious road was smooth and eventful, with the dramatic antics of the conductor of the bus I was in, worthy of note. I watched with awe as the energetic boy directed the show all night; he would convey coded signal to the driver with some unique raps on the body of the bus and when he gives the all clear for the driver to overtake other vehicles, his hoarse chants of “ahead, ahead” would echo through the still night.
We arrived Lagos early Friday morning and continued to the Ascon Complex in Topo, Badagry, venue of the Camp Meeting. I was taken aback by the sheer size of the gathering, students from schools all over the Country and beyond thronged to this remote village for a spiritual experience. Topo’s serene and picturesque environs was a departure from the usual hustle and bustle of mainstream Lagos. The community was however, in those few days, overrun by the campers and the opportunistic traders who flooded the community to sell their wares. It was interesting watching an advertising coup play out, with the coining of the slogan, “if it is not breeze, it is not pure”. The masterclass propaganda was effectively utilised by the Organisers to swing demand for sachet water to their preferred breeze brand, at the consternation of the traders.
Amidst all the events and tales, the camp meeting left an indelible mark in the lives of many that I know. It was an Easter to remember. The sessions were filled with inspiring messages, workshops, worship sessions and great music. I was astounded by the presentations of different choirs from the various campuses and had a new song for every day of the meeting. My life was changed and that of a couple of my friends too, who went to the meeting purely out of curiosity but came back with a message and a song on their lips.
As I cast my mind back to the young Pastor’s daring promise, I am convinced it wasn’t just a careless declaration. He spoke out of a personal conviction, born of the knowledge of the efficacy of the Word of God and he worked assiduously to get as many people from his catchment to experience the love of Christ. As we celebrate the risen Christ this Easter, His enduring message of love remains the only hope for a world in crisis: “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:12-13 KJV
Let the love of Christ shine through you. Happy Easter!