Break the Static 2012

I’m sitting here in tears. Why am I crying so much? I’ve never cried so much before over an event that happened in the past. And these tears came so suddenly, so out of nowhere. I don’t know what just happened. I’m still processing it really.

There are only a few things in my life that I would say have really changed my life and my course of direction. VERY few. And these instances stick with me for a while. They will stay in my memory and strong emotions will come from those incidents, almost as if I relive those moments again.

Well, this just happened to me.

I was reminiscing over the Forward Conferences that I’ve been to in the past. They were a huge thing for me and my sisters in the summertime of my high school years. That was the conference I looked forward to every year. But why? What made it so exciting and fun?

I reminisced over one particular Forward conference I attended, and that was the summer of my sophomore year, Forward conference 2012. I didn’t realize just how much that one conference stuck out to me until now. I was re-watching all of the forward conferences, and for some reason Forward Conference 2012 was the first result on google. So I clicked that one.

As I watched the recap, instantly longing to go back and relive that moment came back to me. I watched as amazing over amazing people showed up in the people back to back. I mean people who were leading the world of Christian music and evangelism.

I remember Chris Tomlin, my all-time favorite Christian artist came out. His performance was absolutely moving. The next day was Third Day, another favorite. And then the next day was Jeremy Camp (who had the most beautiful eyes that you could see from even far away), yet another favorite! Micah Massey, Adam Ranney, Israel Houghton! These were artists that I grew up with (besides Micah and Adam, but they were worship leaders at my home church, so basically yea).

And as I watched them kind of summarize their artists, I felt some tears come into my eyes. I remember how I felt broken after each of their performances, and I just felt so vulnerable and open. It was raw emotion. And every time, I was never afraid to cry out to God and have my hands held high.

I miss those times.

And then they got to the speakers, and oh my God, I remember all of them. Every single one changed me.

Gianna Jessen, I absolutely love this lady. She has one of the best personalities you will ever find on this planet. So uplifting, so genuine, so delightful, so carefree. She did not care at all about any ill words toward her or any thoughts about her. She was just her. Her laugh is so contagious and beautiful. Anytime she smiled, the whole auditorium smiled along with her.

I remember how she told the auditorium about how she is an abortion survivor. She was suppose to die before birth using a burning saline solution. But instead, she lived and her mother gave birth to her. Due to this, she does live with a few “gifts” as she likes to call them (which made me tear up at the time at how much this woman has had to go through because of her mother’s decision. She lives with cerebral palsy, which was somewhat clear with all the small mannerisms she had while she spoke. But it only added to her charm and her genuineness. She also talked about how she was put into the foster care system, and how initially the government didn’t believe she would amount to much. People doubted her time after time, but she kept proving them wrong time after time.

She easily became my favorite speaker of the conference.

Reggie Dabbs… Reggie Dabbs my God.. He is an amazing person. He absolutely loves every student, and he never fails to tell us time after time that we are loved by God and my him. He tells us so many amazing stories about his life and kids he has encountered, and once I hear about these amazing stories, I realize that my situation is probably very miniscule, which means that I know that God can do it and can take care of it. He told us about his own story, and about how he questioned why his parents didn’t want him (he was adopted). He talked about how he didn’t feel like he had a purpose, but then he came to God, and God called him to be a minister. And he has been doing it every since.

He comes to this conference every year, and every year I feel changed by what he has to say. I just feel love and hope and grace and passion come from him. It truly is amazing. Especially when he plays the saxophone, wow. The whole arena kind of looks at him in awe, it’s just amazing.

Steven Furtick is such a powerful speaker. He tells you how it is (He also has great looks 😉 ). He is such a young pastor, yes he’s talking to over thousands of people. It really is cool what he does. I love the part where he said, “The audition is cancelled, you got the part”. It really is powerful.

Matthew Barnett is amazing. My first thought while at the conference was, “Okay, I don’t know why they brought him here. He’ll probably be like any other southern pastor, and just tell that we’re all going to heaven. This will be so weak.” Boyyyy, was I so wrong. He basically told me about my life and everything that I was missing (I mean he wasn’t really talking to me but that’s just how powerful his message was). I learned so much from that sermon.

Jentezen Franklin, who was the pastor hosting the event, gave a powerful sermon.

Lincoln Brewster also performed.

The theme was Break the Static. It was so amazing, and I really do long to go back and attend a conference again. I feel like I would definitely appreciate it even more than I did ever before. Mainly because I really feel like I need it this time around.

 

Advertisements

Stories from the Past

Growing up, I really wish that I had spent more time asking my parents questions about their past. It’s something that had never come up in our conversations, and I wish it had.

Last week, I had mentioned how I had a paper about genocide, and it was a topic that I became super interested about.

I don’t think I have mentioned this in any of my past posts but… I’m Nigerian.

My whole family is Nigerian. I’m the first in my family to ever be born in America, which is exactly how it sounds: exciting yet daunting.

I’ve always asked my parents about how they met or how they came to America, but I never received much information about it. It seemed like something my parents just didn’t want to talk about.

But today, I had to call my dad about financial aid matters, and then, as usual, we diverged to other topics usually related to school. He would talk about his friend who has a daughter in Brown and she decided to pursue her Master’s after graduation. I talked about how I was still looking for summer storage and I was debating on whether I should stay this summer or stay at home.

Then it got to the topic about college and if I was on track. I reminded him that my birthday was in two weeks, and he was surprised at how fast time had flown. He talked about how he had finished school at a much later age. Then he really thought about and wondered why he had finished so late. I told him that maybe education was started much later in Nigeria. He said that that wasn’t it.

Then he said it was because of the civil war.

It was then that I had a lightbulb moment. I told myself that I would ask him about it, but I completely forgot until he mentioned it. Wow, would you look at that?

I had tried asking my mom about it a few weeks ago, but she was really tired and said that I should just try to ask my dad about it. But I forgot to ask him…

So for my genocide paper, I had wondered if Nigeria had ever experienced a genocide, and it turned out that they did have a civil war/genocide called the Biafran War between 1967 and 1970. about 2 million Igbos were killed during this time (and my family is from the Igbo tribe). I looked at the places that this had affected, and it affected the exact places of where my parents were from. I was super intrigued and wondered why my parents had not mentioned anything about it.

My dad was born in 1959 and my mom in 1964 so I was really wondering if this had affected them at all.

Apparently it did, much more than I would have ever imagined.

So I asked him if it was the Biafran war that he was talking about, and he said “Yesss”, as if a bunch of memories just flooded back into his memory.

There was a civil war brought about by religion in that Christian Igbos in southern Nigeria were trying to secede from the republic of Nigeria (which had been established on October 1st, 1960) which was majorly Muslim, and they were trying to make their own state called Biafra. The war was brought about my government officials (who were all Muslim) who didn’t support this event. As a result, the Biafran war began.

My father was about 8 when the war started and it didn’t end until he was 11 year old. He was still in school during this time, and he talked about how anytime there were bombings happening, they would all run into the bushes to hide.

The Head of State, who was an Igbo man, was killed, which is one of the events  that helped to start the war. He said how his family eventually relocated out of the area  (about 3 hours out) and into the village where trees would hide them. I asked him if he had witnessed or heard anything. He said that he could feel the bombs hitting the grounds, and he could hear the airplanes flying over and dropping bombs on public areas such as schools and churches. Then, after every bomb the military soldiers on the ground would come and catch and kill the people who would survive the blasts.

During this time, there were killings happening everywhere. He said how on trains there were fathers being killed while the mothers and their children were allowed to escape.

Bridges connecting the Igbo land to Yoruba and Hausa lands were blown up, and the ports on the southern region of Nigeria were closed off. The Igbo people were closed in, making the annihilation of its people easier.

He talked about how times were so hard while in hiding. He had to fetch water with the elder women from a stream that was 5 miles away at about 5 in the morning. Usually a girl would have done it, but his mother bore no daughters, only 7 sons. As a result, since he was one of the younger kids, he had to do it.

He talked about how he had plenty of brother- and father-inlaws who were drafted into the army to fight in the war, and he never heard from them again. The little kids weren’t drafted because of schooling.

He talked about how the whole year after the civil war was over, military men came to every door, searched the houses, and collected all guns and weapons from everyone. His father had a gun that he hid in the kitchen, but he had forgotten that there was a bullet somewhere in the house. When the military approached and searched their house, they found the bullet and interrogated his father about where he was hiding the gun. His father tried to lie and say that he may have sold the gun or something, but then the military men pulled out their gun and hit his father with it. That was when his father had to pull out the gun from its hiding place and hand it over to them.

I was completely shocked by this. My father had witnessed this along with his brothers and his mother. They had done this when everyone was home, and everyone had thought that the war was over. According to my dad, there were still plenty of killings going on and it was still unsafe to leave your house at night.

He said how during this time, no school was in session. Everyone was in hiding with their families. As a result, he didn’t attend school until the 3 years of war were over. Unfortunately, they also had to make students repeat grades, so he really didn’t finish all of his schooling until the age of 27.

He says how to this day, no Igbo men are allowed to be in office due to this event. The only ones allowed are Yoruba and Hausa.

He explained to me how Igbos were considered the minority during that time, and they were treated as such. They were not respected as people.

He says that this mindset led to Igbos being more industrial and stronger people. They started building industries, working with mine and oil, and created a stubborn mindset among the people.

My dad also says that this led to the reason why he wanted to leave Nigeria. It wasn’t a nice place at all. He wanted to come to America.

He says that everything he does today was shaped by that event, and he could never look at Nigeria the same because of it. Unfortunately, this event has also led to him and many other Nigerians not having very good thoughts about the Muslim faith.

I don’t think I would have ever thought to ask my dad more about this subject if it hadn’t been for the anthropology class. I wonder just how many stories my parents had and they were not telling my sisters and me. Don’t they know that this is how we preserve our culture? Do they know that these are the stories that need to be passed down generations? Without them, we lose our culture, and we lose everything that our ancestors worked so hard to establish.