For those who don’t know Tim Godfrey, he is the one my son Babajide describes as the “Davido of Nigerian Gospel music.”
It’s a Sunday morning. You are in the house, worshipping and serving a jealous God. Then cometh journalism like Satan to tempt you. Journalism is the only profession that can distract you in the House of God. There you are in church, yet your mind is on journalism—thinking what to write, thinking of the next column, absorbing all the images and impressions around you and trying to figure whether they are newsworthy or not.
Follow me to Lifepointe Church, 3 Remi Olowude Street, 2nd Lekki Roundabout, Lagos. Welcome to a truly new generation church for youths. Here, everyone dresses down in all degrees of dress. This is the jeans generation. You could find Jesus here dressed in jeans—if you have the spiritual eyes to sight Him. The jeans could be in tatters, raggy, ragged, with bullet holes. That is the current fashion. That is the way of the world today. Going to church dressed in torn jeans is acceptable.
This church reminds me of the churches I have attended in the UK: Hope Church in Ipswich. Life Church in Bradford which I attended with my young friend Demola Paseda. Lifepointe church in Lekki, is a youth church branch of the Elevation Church. Like the churches in the UK, you will think you are coming for a concert. The lights are out and the spotlight is on the stage where there is something like a rock concert with the electric guitar wailing as in a U2 Concert. Here, God is being worshipped in the language and the sound of modern rock music which I love very much. This is the church where my favourite Nigerian gospel music act Folabi Nuel worships and I hear is the music director. I was hoping that I would catch him on stage singing but it wasn’t to be.
Pastor Idris, casually dressed, walks on stage and tells the youthful congregation: “I have not come to preach a sermon this morning.” He has a surprise. To the joy of everyone he announces the guest artist Tim Godfrey who is coming to perform that Sunday. Not just perform. He is going to lead the praise and worship and deliver his sermon through songs. For those who don’t know Tim Godfrey, he is the one my son Babajide describes as the “Davido of Nigerian Gospel music.” The man whose song Nara Ekele, featuring the American Gospel act and guitarist Travis Greene has become an anthem of sorts, shooting Tim Godfrey from relative obscurity into world gospel music limelight with these words of faith: What shall I render to Jehovah? For he has done so very much for me. What shall I render to Jehovah? For he has done so very much for me…You have done so much for me. I cannot tell it all. Narekele mooo. If I had ten thousand tongues, it still won’t be enough. Narekele moooo…
Now, let’s welcome Tim Godfrey onstage. He comes with an island of purple tinted hair surrounded by his natural hair. He is followed by members of his band, including a heavily pregnant backup singer, all dressed in tattered jeans. Tim Godfrey introduces members of his band and singles out the pregnant singer by name Blessing. “She has worked with me for 16 years. I have told her to rest but she will not. She go born for stage o.”
From then on, it was singing and dancing all through in praise of Jehovah, the Almighty God. The audience who already knew his hit song Narekele joined in the singing. Tim Godfrey used the platform to tell his story. I might as well tell it all, for the millions of Nigerian youths who need to be inspired. Let’s hear it from the horse’s mouth:
“I am going to give you this testimony to encourage and challenge you. Before you complain, can’t you just thank God a bit more? I was born into a place where there was no electricity. Born into a place where our neighbours were pigs. Born into a place where couldn’t do more than just one square meal. Born into a place where throughout going to primary school, I went barefooted. We couldn’t afford sandals. The person you see standing here used to be a conductor and my father was the driver, driving around the streets of Kaduna.
“The person you are seeing right now was born into the kind of place where poor people called us poor. The person you see standing here, came to Lagos to continue my hustling. My first night in Lagos, I slept under the bridge in Oshodi. Before you start complaining, think of where God has brought you from. The fact that you are still living and standing, that you can open your mouth, you can raise your hands up, and you can walk around is a testimony, is a miracle. Every day you wake up, you can think, you can walk freely about, is a miracle. Every time you step out of your house is a miracle. In those hard times, we hawked all sorts of things: banana, groundnut, coconut, everything. We went round selling. We couldn’t afford anything. None of us could go to secondary school, not to talk of university.
“While I was struggling as a gospel musician and complaining that the times are hard for me, God said to me: Do you remember where you are coming from? One day, I was rehearsing for a concert, then God surprisingly gave me a song, which became a hit song all over the world. That’s how my God works. A miracle-working God. I heard from him and quickly I just took out my pen and paper and started writing these words: You’ve done so much for me, I cannot tell it all. Narekele mo….
“On that day, God reminded me of where He has been bringing me from. If you remember where God has brought you from, you will know that God has done so much for you. And this song became a big hit and changed my life.
“The same God who did it for me can do it for you. I want to challenge you this morning. Things may not look the way it is supposed to be. I know schooling is difficult. I know there is no job. Some of you go about for auditions, trying to get a role to play in a movie, but God is asking you to write your own script. God is asking you to develop your own story. You have been to different offices, they have turned you down, God is saying: ‘Why don’t you start your own business where you are right now?’ I challenge you to start something of your own. Everybody has failed at one thing or the other. But today, God is telling you that you will succeed where others have failed. In your success, your song will be: What shall I render to Jehovah? For He has done so much for me.
“The same God who did it for me, will do it for you. Three weeks ago, even though I just went to secondary school, I was given an honorary doctorate degree in the university in the city of Atlanta, Georgia. What I did not ask for I got. I decree and declare that the same God that made me acceptable all over the world, that made it possible for people I look up to, to be looking for me, everybody you look up to—whether in America, Asia, Europe or wherever, after today, they would be looking for you in Jesus name.”