52 ways cover stripDeacon Alex, the chief usher in the church, invited us to the opening of his business center. I was dazzled when I entered the place. There was a lobby, the front office and the manager’s office. Two rest rooms for male and female faced the front office. The floor had black and white ceramic tiles.

Fully air-conditioned, the machines in the shop included five computers, two black and white photocopiers, one colour photocopier, two colour DeskJet printers, and one LaserJet printer, two scanners, a binding machine, a laminating machine, a cutting machine and two heavy generators. Everything, up to the wall clock, was new.

After the prayer of dedication, Deacon Alex gave a testimony of how the place came to be. He said:

“As you all know, my wife and I are civil servants. We have four beautiful children and a host of family responsibilities from both sides. In order to add to faith, works,” everyone laughed, “we had a business dream. The first one failed, the second also. Those are stories for another day.

“Then I got this idea about opening a business center. I believed the risks were less. We had tried buying and selling previously and ended up with bad debts. But the set up capital for a business center was enormous. We were yet to recover from a smaller loan and our savings was nothing to write home about.

“Anyway, we decided to start small. We bought one computer and one printer. We started marketing a little and got one or two jobs. A friend who already had a business center encouraged us by bringing a project or two, once in a while. But since we couldn’t afford to get an office space, we operated from our house and that slowed the business down. We were so discouraged but still we believed God to increase us.” He looked at all our faces and smiled.

“Then on Sunday, pastor preached about the woman with the jar of oil and raised sacrificial pledges. I remember he said, ‘the Christian race is one long, bloody sacrificial race.’ My wife and I got home and we had no peace. The message was loud and clear. God had asked us to sell all our machines and bring to church. We were not to drop the machines for the church to sell. We had to look for the buyers ourselves.

“It was so painful we wept ourselves to sleep that night. How Abraham must have felt when God asked for Isaac. The following morning, resigned to what we had accepted as a third failure in business, we packed the machines, I called my friend and told him I wanted to sell off. He thought I was tired about the business and tried to encourage me but when I persisted, he made an offer.

“Within the week, he paid the full amount. I really understood the temptation of Ananias and Sapphira then.” Everyone laughed again. “It was hard. We took the whole amount in obedience to the church. Nothing happened for eight months. We were practically feeding from hand to mouth, with little savings and mounting financial responsibilities, we made ourselves keep strictly to what came in as remuneration at the end of the month.

“House rent became due and our first daughter gained admission into the university. We had to empty our savings account totally. It was as though God had forsaken us. Then my wife saw an NGO’s advert in the newspaper. It was for employment. Instead of sending her application letter to them, she sent a proposal for a business center. It was foolish, but harmless, she told me. To our surprise, they replied her.

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“Even though she had sent in a proposal and they had never assisted an entrepreneur before, they called us for an interview.” People cheered. “At the interview, the director confessed that being a UN affiliate, they had helped hundreds of small businesses all over the world but they had never done anything like ours. They approved our proposal, and, here we are! Praise the Lord!”

“HALLELUYAH!” Came the thunderous response.

“That single sacrifice, done in obedience about eighteen months ago is bearing fruit today. This is our dream come true. Amen.”

Published as 52 Ways to Provoke God. Get your copy here