…Says, It Can Only Be God
Some of life’s experiences, whether fine or good, can be very difficult to erase from memory. Perhaps, if man had been handmade, like the computer, it would only take the click of a bottom, and the memory would be obliterated from the system! But because man is flesh and blood and had control of his thought processes, certain experiences are not easily removed from the mind.
This state of affairs aptly tells the story of the Publisher of National Network newspaper, Pastor Jerry Needam, whose escape from assassins on Tuesday, December 22, 2015, has refused to leave his memory, just as many of his friends, relations and close associates still develop goose pimples recalling the ugly episode.
As a servant in the Lord’s vine yard, it is obvious that one of Pastor Jerry’s favourite scriptures is 1 Samuel 2:6 which says, “The Lord brings death and makes alive, he brings down to the grave and raises up” (NIV).
Indeed, God proved the efficacy of his word as the Publisher found himself in the jaws of death, and managed to escape by the whiskers. Face to face with assassins, he escaped in miraculous fashion, alive to tell his story.
Pastor Jerry, Resident Pastor at the Kono Parish of St Luke’s Christ Army Church, Nigeria (CACN), in Khana Local Government Area, nostalgically recalled events that played up a few hours to that calamitous appointment which culminated in the killing of three police officers who responded to distress call, by those agents of darkness.
He had concluded a meeting with the management and staff at his newspaper office on the Monday afternoon of December 21, 2015 which was a pre-production day of National Network newspaper.
He had ended the meeting with the intention of coming to the office the next day (Tuesday) to approve payment of salaries and Christmas bonus for workers and close down for the year so members of staff could go on Christmas and New Year break. He had no premonition of what was waiting at home!
He said he was suddenly overwhelmed by an intuition. He had a strong feeling not to delay the payment of salaries and Christmas bonus for workers but to pay the staff there and then! And that was how the staff smiled home with their salaries and Christmas bonuses, not after complementing one another with the seasonal felicitations and goodbyes.
“I never knew what was waiting for me at home. I recalled that armed bandits had on the previous day (wee hours of Monday, December 21, 2015) made a futile attempt to assassinate me, as they could not break into the room where my family and I ran into.
“As fate would have it, I had returned home that evening to meet all my family members intact – my wife, five children, sister and two other close relatives. As is customary, at about 10.30 p.m., we said our family night prayer and everyone departed for sleep”, he recalled.
He said he was awakened by a sudden bang of sporadic gunshots with bullets hitting and piercing at all directions of the house.
“I managed to assemble everyone into my room where we all stood praying while I made a distress call to the police. With swift precision, the police arrived because I heard the blaring of sirens and a fierce gun duel shortly after”, he narrated
Pastor Jerry said the attempt on his life which drew the flak of populace, politicians and civil society groups in the State, evoked a nightmarish experience.
He said the incident was most unfortunate as three gallant police officers, including an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) lost their lives while two other police officers and his security guard who suffered serious gun shots received treatment at a private hospital in Port Harcourt.
He expresses his gratitude to the Almighty God whose saving grace protected his eleven family members, including all friends and well-wishers who on hearing the news of the condemnable incidence, called to show concern and to wish him God’s protection.
“Most of all, I thank my boss, Bro. Felix Obuah who on hearing of the incidence, promptly relocated me, my wife and the children to a safer place”, he said, adding that 7 years after the unfortunate attempt on his life, he is yet to set his foot on that his personal house where he escaped death by the whisker.
This brings to mind, the experience of one of Nigeria’s finest columnists and currently the Managing Director of Nigerian Xpress Newspapers, Mr. Steve Nwosu who in one of his articles titled ‘The Day I Died’ declared that he actually ‘died’ on the day armed robbers, at close range, pointed a gun at his head and opened fire. But he cheated death by a whisker. According to Steve, he had no reason to remain alive after the incident.
It was nothing but Grace at work! Steve had always insisted that for him, that ugly incidence ‘ended’ his journey on earth. Every other day he lived was nothing but bonus (jara). God was gifting him with extra years!
For Pastor Jerry, his own life also ‘ended’ on December 22, 2015! His life today, seven years after that incident, is jara, courtesy of the saving grace of the Almighty. He declares that aside his birthday and possibly, his wedding anniversary, December22, 2015 is one day he would not forget in a hurry. A remarkably indelible date. Each time he is posed with the question of ‘how did it happen?’, his response had always been ‘grace, grace and grace. It can only be God’
It is on this premise that December 22, 2015 must be remembered. The day stood out for us all – friends, relatives, admirers, associates and those of us who work with him and for him. Sadly as that incident was, the survival of Jerry Needam served to bolster our faith in God who holds all lives in his hand. The power of life and death is in God’s hands.
The date also serves as sad reminder of the politics of bitterness, desperation, intimidation and proclivity to eliminate perceived political opponents. But, to whom God has blessed, no man can curse.