RECKONING WITH DEATH’S BECKONINGS
Even if the enemy seals my case for condemnation the zeal of the Covenant of Christ will always ensure my restoration, why then should I fear when evil days come? (see Psalm 49:5-6).
The Dream About Heaven
I have already told about the near death experiences I had in my earlier life—especially when I almost took my own life; when I almost drowned and when I dreamt that I was dead and due for burial and many others.
About a year after I got saved, I had a dream in which I was taken to heaven. This was the longest and most intelligible dream I have ever had this far. This dream began as a journey we were taking a long a very broad road. We were a big crowd. There were a number of college mates I could recognise. We came to appoint where there was a narrow road branching to the right. The highway was leading straight to a lake.
A person that I didn’t seem to know branched with me into the narrow road. It was the only two of us who branched into this road; the rest were waking straight towards the lake. I recognised three of my friends in the college walking along the broad road in the throng of multitude. I stopped walking, looking at them; they also turned and looked at me. One of them lamented: “Ogweno you people are so lucky, look at where we are headed!” This pained me to the bones because at this moment there was nothing I could do to help them. They were walking towards the lake unwillingly yet it was like there was a force that was pulling them and they had no power to withstand the pull. I lamentingly responded: “It is the choice you made; I pleaded with you to be saved but you declined”
I perceived the lake as a bad place indeed. Could it be the lake of fire? What I saw however was not fire but water. There were people swimming in the late. Instead of showing signs of people enjoying what they were doing, they acted terrified: they were screaming and wailing. Another thing that amazed me was that there were also children in that lake. I was ready to ask questions why children of all the people were also at the bad place. There was, however, no one to ask. I knew that the person with whom I was didn’t have the answer either.
Together with the unidentified fellow, we proceeded towards a gate I perceived as the gate of Heaven. We reached the unmanned gate. We entered. What met our sight was not the much talked about splendour of Heaven. Instead, there were tall grass which we called oboro in our local language. The fellow with whom we were couldn’t help but complain: “Is this the Heaven we were told was a magnificent place?” Although surprised myself, I answered him that God would only need to speak and in no time, the oboro would disappear and be replaced by unfathomable splendour. Immediately I answered the man, he disappeared. I couldn’t figure out where he went.
While I was gasping for breath and struggling, the puppy was at ease keeping the pace. It looked like if it so wished, it could effortlessly overtake me.
Before me was a path that was not well-beaten. This path would lead me into the “interior” of Heaven. I started walking alone along this extremely narrow path. As if this was not enough, the path was meandering and had stones interlocking along it. I had to completely concentrate to avoid dashing my foot against the stones.
After an hour or so of walking, I met an old man going the opposite direction. He asked me: “Do you realise that there is a puppy following behind you—the puppy is hindering you from entering heaven!” That was another puzzle. As far as I knew, I had entered heaven, how comes the puppy was hindering me when I was already in? I got real afraid. I didn’t want anything to block my way into Heaven—I’d do anything to make sure that I eliminated anything of that nature. I also wondered why the puppy would stop me yet I never brought it with me, I wasn’t even aware that it was following me.
I asked the old man to help me by picking up the brown puppy. He would then hold it as I proceed with my journey. He accepted and I was relieved. My relief was premature though. Immediately he picked the puppy, it became wild and strong, wriggling to get free and threatening to bite. The old man had to literally drop it before it could do him any harm.
Now what was I going to do? After a moment of thorough pondering, I came up with an option. I thought that because it was just but a small dog I would outrun it. I started running as fast as I could. But I was in for another surprise. While I was gasping for breath and struggling, the puppy was at ease keeping the pace. It looked like if it so wished, it could effortlessly overtake me. What do we do when what we are trying to run away from runs faster than us?
I ran my heart out. Gasping for breath, I bowed my head over; lowered my hands to support them on my knees. I turned to look at the puppy which I knew was behind me, full of stamina. I was relived to discover that the puppy was nowhere to be seen. Did it just disappear like the man we branched into the narrow path with? One thing I was sure about was that I didn’t outrun the puppy. It wasn’t by my efforts that it was no longer following me.
When it comes to pursuing a closer relationship with Christ, it takes an effort yes, but it is not our effort per se that makes us get closer to the Lord. The effort we make is only for showing our will and desire to live for Christ but it takes God to bolster our efforts by His grace. It is on His account that the gap is widened between us and the things that would want to keep us away from our heritage.
After a long journey into the “interior of Heaven”, I came to a building. I entered. There were two suit cases on a table. A hand that didn’t seem to be attached to a body appeared through the roof. The hand opened one of the suitcases. It was full of sealed envelopes. A voice asked: “Do you see the envelopes?” I perceived that the hand and the voice was Christ’s. I answered affirmatively. Then He said: “Those envelopes carry the most cherished secrets!” When I heard that, I scooped the envelopes into my hand. Though they were more than my hand could carry, I found them sticking together and because of that I was able to take all of them without bothering to get something to put them into. I had wanted to take the secrets with me back to the earth. But this was not to be. As soon as I had all the envelopes on my hand, the hand that opened the suitcase swept them back into the suitcase and closed it. He then opened the second suitcase. I looked inside and there were white tablets that looked familiar. He asked: “Do you see those medicines?” Again I answered yes. He then told me: “Those are the medicines that would cure AIDS”. He added something that baffled me: “They will not discover them!”
I want the reader to know that I am telling the dream the way I experienced it. There were many puzzles in this dream. In no way am I making any claim that the medicine that would cure AIDS will not be found. I personally earnestly pray that it be found. This dream may also not be taken word for word. In fact, I was exposed to more puzzles than I was enlightened. Consider the following puzzles and things that went against the conventions:
Children in the lake; the force that was pulling the people to the lake against their will; the gate that was unmanned, and yet nobody could branch from the highway and come and enter; Heaven that was overgrown with oboro (the tall grass) instead of exhibiting mansions and golden streets; why the man disappeared when he voiced what seemed to have been a genuine concern—something that even myself I would have sought explanation for; the puppy that was hindering me from entering heaven when I thought I had already entered; a hand that was not connected to a body; the medicines that looked familiar but which were not going to be discovered.
Like the envelopes, I took the medicines in my hand because I wanted to take them with me but they were also swept back into the suitcase. “You are not allowed to take them with you. Now go back to earth very quickly for you have an urgent assignment!” Interestingly I wasn’t given a specific message to carry back. When I was told that I had a mission, it was like I knew what I was. I never asked what mission it was. My understanding of the mission was however not that I was to come and tell mankind that AIDS medicine wouldn’t be found, or that there are secrets tacked away in envelopes and stashed into locked suitcase.
I have led an impressive life, but not for the conventional reasons that make people happy.
My mission was to tell mankind that there is indeed medicine for AIDS and they are in the hands of a compassionate Lord; my mission is to tell mankind that “the secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law” (Deut. 29:29 NIV).
I walked the long meandering narrow path back to the gate. I dropped back to the earth near a road where I was to cross and enter a house as my first place of mission. The command I received in heaven was so urgent that although there was a “VW beetle” that was coming, I couldn’t wait for it to drive past. I crossed and was almost knocked by the car. When I reached the house, I was in such a hurry that I didn’t go round the house to enter through the door; I entered through the window. I recognised Oguta Onyonyi, a neighbour and a step brother (same father) of the boy who interrupted my suicide attempt. I spoke to them an urgent message and walked out of the room.
Running Away From Sickness Only to End Up in the Hands of Death
In 2006 I managed to trace a Ghanaian friend of mine who had relocated to the US. We exchanged e-mails and in the process I informed him of the books I have published; that I have three kids, etc. He responded by expressing what he had perceived, namely, that I was living an impressive life. He was right. I have led an impressive life, but not for the conventional reasons that make people happy. Quite the opposite!
People that I have physical contact with tell me the same—they perceive that I am beaming, and they are right too. I have never tried to put up an act—I am a very poor actor. Even when I attempt to act, I come out real. At the middle of miseries, the Lord gave me an inner peace and hope that have neutralised what would typically make an average person’s life miserable—and so indeed.
I indicated above that I travelled to Kenya in 1997 to collect data for my Masters thesis. That was in January. My wife was also on the same mission. She joined me after a couple of months. She would also collect data for her Masters thesis. After staying in Kenya for six months, I travelled back to Norway, leaving my wife and my only son at the time in Kenya. She was still doing her research.
Sometime in July 1997, my wife and son fell sick simultaneously—they were still in Kenya. They went for treatment in a private hospital in Nairobi where she was injected twice (two consecutive days). My son only received one injection. She paid a good amount for the treatment they got.
This was happening at a time they were about to travel back to Norway. When they came, both of them had developed serious wounds on the spots where they were injected. We thought that it was just a sign of bad injection. My son’s wound, however, didn’t persist as the mother’s.
Before her wound could heal, we discovered that she was expecting our second born. She conceived while we were in Kenya but came to know about it when she came back to Norway.
After we discovered that she was pregnant, she went to see a gynaecologist. Usually they examine a range of things, and to do this they examine the blood, etc.
On the 18th September 1997, exactly two months after my wife’s 29th birthday, around 10.00 a.m., I was still sleeping after having been out distributing the newspapers. A telephone rang. This day the ringing telephone had a strange effect on me. I used to sleep so deep after the newspaper work that the phone in the sitting room rarely woke me up. On this day, however, the phone sensitised me, I jumped out of bed as if I had been subjected to an electric shock.
It was Kristina, the gynaecologist whom my wife had visited that was calling. She went straight to the purpose of her calling: “There is a problem with your blood we tested, can you please report here with your husband today at 1 pm?” Our sixth sense registered danger. We suspected the implication of blood having problem and even made a joke as we took breakfast: “Let us eat our fill so that we can be prepared to face the worst. It might be something that might suspend our appetite”.
Dear reader, it is not a good experience to sit down to hear that you have been sentenced to death, with a possibility of all your “seed” getting cleared—especially when, to the best of your knowledge, you haven’t committed any crime.
Can the reader now guess what I am talking about? I refer you to the injection in Nairobi and “problem with (or in) the blood”. My wife was injected with a contaminated needle. She had tested HIV positive and that was why I was also being called upon to be tested. Of course I also tested the same. We feared that our son was also infected but thank God, they tested him and found that he was okay. We felt like holding a party to celebrate this. We had named him Victor—the Victory of the Lord, that is. He became our first victory in the fight against uncertain bleak and black future.
We came to settle on the fact of a contaminated injection as the source of our woes after doing a lot of reading and deductions. I followed keenly on cases of HIV/AIDS. I read of cases where a nurse, for example, confessed that she had injected people with contaminated needles as an act of vengeance. She had only one man in her life. She was infected by this man. She then declared enmity to all women because according to her, her boyfriend got it from a woman. Our conclusion was also strengthened by the wound that was not healing following an injection. If this was not the source, then I must have been the one who had it but this must have been late 1988. I got saved in January 1989 and since that time, I never once went back to sexual sin despite desperate temptations I was put through as I have already indicated. My wife had never known a man until she married me. If I was the one through whom it came, then the problem would have been detected when my wife expected our first born. I had been saved close to nine years which I think was enough to have detected that something was wrong. I was not sickly in any way.
The good thing though was that it didn’t matter how we got the problem. We never quarrelled about who was responsible because my wife knew and could bet her life on it that I had never been unfaithful. If I got it, then it was when I was still living in darkness. In the same way, I trust my wife completely and I can bet my life to go with it that she has never been unfaithful. If she got it, it was not her choice.
God had given us a good footing to start our fight back, namely deciding not to quarrel about it. Another strategy that God had given us was that we also decided not to hold anything against anybody. If it was true that we got the problem through the injection, we would pray for the nurse and ask God to forgive her and open her eyes to the light of Christ. This was the same position I took about the policemen and the robbers that robbed me in Nairobi. We would not allow our heart to catch the mold of bitterness and unforgiveness, for if we allowed this, our heart would soon decay. Bitterness and unforgiveness are twin concoctions the mixture of which rots the heart.
A Period of Darkness and Disorientation
Many things run into somebody’s mind when such a thing happens. I must say that for a moment or two, we didn’t know where we were. I thought to myself, I am a man of dreams, I have even at one time dreamt that I was dead—now I was dreaming that I had been sentenced to death. If this was a dream it was not the worst because I was yet to die, in the other dream I was already dead.
If I was dreaming, well, it was another bad dream—bad enough to unsettle the dreamer. Now that I was saved, what could be the meaning of this dream? I couldn’t wait to wake up and sigh with relief that it was just a dream. I would soon wake up and tell my wife how I had had a bad dream, we would then pray together and refuse the spirit of death, etc. But why was it looking like it was real? No! It wasn't a dream this time—it was real.
After breaking the bad news to us, Kristina allowed us about a minute to come to terms with the new turn of events. We were all silent like people who were observing a moment of silence in memory of people/person who perished in a calamity.
Well, what next!
The enemy had pulled a number on us. He had messed us materially and we didn’t give a damn. Now like Job, he was reaching out to put his dirty hands on our health.
Within the one minute silence, I was amazed at how the brain can be fast in processing thoughts. The first thing that rang in my mind was: “So that was it; that is how life can cheat one!”
“Let us eat our fill so that we can be prepared to face the worst. It might be something that might suspend our appetite”.
I remembered how I struggled in life and how I struggled to go to school. God had lifted me and the future looked so bright—and then this! I thought about my poor background and my people who had hoped that I would bail them out of poverty. Did I give them a false hope? The latter thought made me remember a time in Moi University (Kenya) when we experienced the first student death. Omondi was a promising bright young man. He was doing Production Technology (Engineering). Upon finishing, a job would be guaranteed. This was not to be. Omondi died after short illness.
When we took his body back home in Ugenya, we found a poor home—desperately poor. Just before he was buried, one of his brothers testified. He called our attention to the home; to see how poor it was. He told us that Omondi was their only hope; that God had gifted him with brains. Amongst the rest in the home, there was no one who was bright enough to do well in school. When they realised that Omondi was bright, they all turned their attention on him. They did not only give him moral but also financial supports. He told us that they sold anything saleable to help pay Omondi’s school fees. Then there they were, burying their only hope. Though I was not close to him by any means, I remember crying inconsolably. The pains that people feel easily find their way into my heart.
Now it was my people’s turn to cry and say the kind of things Omondi’s brother said at his funeral. I remembered Okomo my cousin—a tormenter turned friend—advising me to work hard and hold myself near God. He would tell me this whenever I was leaving for school; I remembered him drawing my attention to the poverty in the home and telling me that I am their hope. I accepted the challenge and promised that if God helped me, I would do my best to lift the home. I would take upon myself to pay school fees to his children and my own brother’s.
Could God bring me that far; dangle a bright future on my face and then allow me to be snipped at the bud when I was beginning to blossom?
All this was happening when God had given me enough insight into His majesty that I vowed not to live a life of complaining regardless of the difficulties I might go through. I refreshed my covenant with Him and whispered at the end of the silence in the gynaecologist’s office: “It is well with my soul!” Whatever was going to happen, I was not going to complain.
After the one minute silence in front of the gynaecologist following the bad news, she quickly suggested that they could “help” us procure abortion. My wife straightly said “No!” She didn’t have to consult with me on this. We couldn’t and will never sacrifice our baby to the devil. He shall have achieved one of his ends. It wasn’t for us to decide the fate of a human being—even if it was still under conception.
Before the boy was born, I asked God to give me a special name for him. When the boy was finally born, we had a name for him: Jim-Jif. This is an acronym where JIM is as follows: “J” stands for ‘Jesus’; “I” stands for ‘Is’, “M” stands for ‘Merciful’. JIF is as follows: “J”, like in the first case, stands for ‘Jesus’; “I”, also like in the first case, stands for ‘Is’ and “F” stands for ‘Faithful’. The name in full is therefore: Jesus Is Merciful, Jesus Is Faithful.
The reason for advising us to abort was that chances were high that the baby would also be affected. She advised that we wouldn’t want to risk that. If we allowed the baby to be born, we may get so attached to it that losing him would add to our devastation. There was no reasoning in the whole wide universe that could sway us an inch. We made it clear that she was wasting her breath; we wouldn’t change our mind in the matter whatsoever.
I must say that God gave us a rare peace even at the pronouncement that we had been sentenced to death. My wife also surprised me; she took the bad news with grace. Despite the flashes of thoughts that crisscrossed in my mind, I realised that there was an inner peace. The doctor must have been surprised at our being calm and cool in front of her. Neither my wife nor I broke down. In fact after receiving that information we went to town shopping.
My wife bought some curtains for her dream house. I had promised that I was going to build her a dream house when we get back to Kenya. Though we had the peace of the Lord, we equally knew that the “reality” was that we were winding up. When my wife started buying curtains, I perceived that she was behaving strangely. I thought to myself, “What a fast-forgetter!” I almost reminded her, “What are you doing, don’t you know that we are soon exiting from this life?” Thank God! I didn’t speak. It would have been harsh, insensitive and faithless. I would have broken her. It would be like someone is trying to walk past the grave only for another person to point out the grave and ask the person to walk into it.
But I must confess that I failed to figure out what was going on in her mind. I followed her in the shop like a small child following the mother around. I had no taste of buying anything—I thought I was being “realistic”.
We went through a period of darkness—we knew that we had a short time to live. The thought of leaving our sons orphaned was traumatising. Our people were so poor that we couldn’t see how our children would make it, especially with school fees and the related. If anything, we had been paying fees for our cousins and nephews.
We found ourselves behaving ambivalently, that is, in mixed ways. At one time we would be behaving like we are soon out of here and in the next, we would behave as if we are in this life to stay. We at one time sat down to decide how to distribute the few things we had. This was because we had not sat back to consider “who” and “what” we actually are in Christ—our identity and heritage. The Bible says, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12).
Slowly but steadily God started ministering to us in very remarkable ways. By “coincidence” most of the Christian things that I laid my hands on to read were assuring me that there is hope in Christ. Anybody preaching would (unknowingly) assure us about the promises of God in Christ.
My second born son: Jim-Jif Okinyi
(Jim-Jif is an acronym: Jesus Is Merciful—Jesus Is Faithful).The smile of a miracle
Appeal Against the Sentence
Since the time we received the information about the enemy’s intention on our life, God has taught us many things that we wouldn’t claim to have grasped when things were just normal. It was like climbing on a mountain in order to see into the horizon. (1) Personally, when I was violently shaken by sexual temptations, I tightened my grip on the Lord. Now that trials had also come, I decided to tighten my grip even more. In other words, I have decided to be desperate for Christ. I have noted the need and fundamentality of taking God at His Word.
As long as we don’t allow the enemy to steal the Word of promise from us, we are safe. And that is what we have decided to do, to cling to the Word of promise and take God at His Word. John 10:10 says that the thief comes not but to steal, kill and destroy, but Christ came that we may have life and have it abundantly.
Now that we know our Lord is a healer, and that His death on the Cross was for us; that it was substitutional, that is, in this context, He didn’t suffer with but for us. We have refused to be stolen by the enemy and instead we are going to have an abundant life. God’s eyes had my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in His book before one of them came to be (Psalm 139:16). Therefore, why should I fear when evil days come? (Ps. 49:5).
The Bible says that people perish for lack of knowledge/understanding (Hosea 4:6,14; Isaiah 5:13). Now that we know and understand that our Lord is not only a Saviour from sin (for the spiritual man) but also a Healer (for the physical man), we are not waiting to perish both for our spirits and our bodies. In fact healing and salvation two sides of the same coin. The former is for the physical man while the latter is for the spiritual man. Praise God! I am not preaching, I am testifying.
God promises us in the book of Deuteronomy 7:15 and Exodus 15:26 that He will take away all sicknesses from us and that He will not allow (permit) on us the sicknesses He permitted on the Egyptians, the latter in this context is figurative for unbelievers. Furthermore, according to Deuteronomy 28:22, all ailments (including those that were not written in the book of the Law, verse 61) are a curse of the law. The ailments would be the penalty for ignoring or breaking the laws of God in the Old Testament. The Good News is that we have been redeemed in the New Testament where the dispensation is that of the grace. According to Galatians 3:13, Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, therefore we are equally redeemed from the penalty of the curse. We are not accursed people; we are instead a redeemed people. That is why “by His wounds we were healed” (1 Peter 2:24). There are so many scriptures that we have held unto. That we are not going to die before our God’s appointed time is going to be a testimony to the sceptics that our Lord is reliable and that there is nothing impossible with Him. He keeps His promises—where it looks to the eye of man like He has not kept His promise, it is because He has the bigger picture (2) and that the secret things belong to Him (Deut. 29:29). Our position now is that God has given us an opportunity to have a tangible experience with Him and He is giving us a testimony after a test and a ministry after a misery. Praise God!
We would not allow our heart to catch the mold of bitterness and unforgiveness, for if we allowed this, our heart would soon decay.
At the beginning, we were very careful who we told our plight to. I must confess that there are very close friends who, up to this moment I am writing this book, don’t know about this case. The friends and brethren whom, for one reason or the other, we divulged this information to, have been of immense support.
We came to appreciate the fact that we have an expert Lawyer; His name is Christ Jesus. This is how we petitioned our plight:
Jesus, we belong to the kingdom of God. We willingly submitted to God’s rule over us; His reign is legitimate and is with justice; He is our Father; He cares and watches over us—nothing happens to us behind His back; we are citizens of His Kingdom. Therefore, it is only His judgement that is legitimate and relevant to us. Satan’s jurisdiction doesn’t cover us. His sentence over us is not only illegitimate but also irrelevant. We are not citizens of his kingdom of darkness. He has neither authority nor mandate over us and no legal ground to sentence us. Yet we are not counting on anything meritocratic on our side but on the grace and mercy of God that prompted Him to give You—Jesus—away to die for us when we were still dead sinners.
I recently read about a Kenyan woman sentenced to death in one of the Asian countries. Her crime was drug trafficking. In Kenya, drug trafficking is illegal yes, but not punishable by death. The woman was sentenced to death because she was in “wrong jurisdiction”. This tells me that as long as we don’t stray into the devil’s territory, he has no right to effect his condemnation upon us.
No weapon formed against us shall prosper (Isaiah 54:17). As I have already indicated above, our first born is called Victor, a name we chose because it was covenanting with God that not only shall we (the parents) live a victorious life but also that the boy will live a life of victory. The name is also a testimony that we appreciate the victory the Lord had granted us. We named him Victor before we knew that we would have to face this kind of challenge.
We remind God about the covenant by pointing at our son—he is to us a memorial stone (Ex. 39:7). The devil is therefore defeated ahead of time because God honours the covenants and for the sake of the glory due His name and the integrity of His personality, He watches over His word to perform it (Jer. 1:12). That is why we are so happy and behave in total oblivion to the devil’s schemes.
For those who know us; who would come to know about this case through this book, don’t let it affect you to the extent that you look at us as people on the exit. We are not! And please don’t call to express sympathy—we don’t it, we need prayers instead; and prayers you can offer behind closed door at it will reach the throne.
I also don’t expect anyone to call in order to discuss the issue. If you meet me—in person—you can ask questions if there is something more you want to know. Don’t try to discuss it with my wife either for any reason.
In our neighbourhood, except for the very few that we have shared this with, no one can tell that we had at one time sat in front of a doctor who told us that our days were numbered. We are happy, confident, jovial, leading a normal life and trusting God, taking each day as it comes; living one day at a time. So far so good and so it will continue! Praise the Lord.
Continuation of Chapter 21