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‘I came to church to find faults but found home’ – Victor’s Story

Reading Time: 6 mins

7:30 a.m. Sunday, March 24, 2024 

My alarm goes off at 5:30 a.m. every day; this morning, it went off 120 minutes after schedule. There are many plausible explanations. The alarm’s AI algorithm sensed my exhaustion and permitted me to sleep some more. I may have also set the alarm to 7:30 a.m. the night before; but I prefer the first explanation. 

Sundays mean so much to me these days, and I am grateful for that. I like that I wake up excited to worship with a community of believers. 

It feels like such a far cry from a few years ago when I was neck-deep in my church skeptic phase. On those days, I would wake up on a Sunday morning energized and ready to throw criticisms at any church that annoys me.

But my story has changed.

7:58 a.m. Sunday, March 24, 2024 

I am more excited than usual about church today because it is Baptism Sunday! I always look forward to hearing people tell stories about how Jesus found them. I love listening to how God works in people’s lives. It’s like a puzzle – things might not make sense right away, but later we see the bigger picture.

8:38 a.m. Sunday, March 24, 2024 

My church, Sycamore, is right down UI-Samonda Road. You can’t miss it – it’s three buildings past the Mobil station. It’s approximately a 6-minute drive from Bodija where I live.

Usually, by this time, I would be on my way to church to meet the 8:00 a.m. service because I am a huge first-service fan! I love the cooler weather, fewer crowds, and the more relaxed atmosphere, in my opinion. But today’s different. The forum for volunteers is right after the second service which starts by 9:45 a.m. So I’ll be there.

9:53 a.m. Sunday, March 24, 2024

One of the things I love most about Sycamore is the warm welcome you get right when you walk in. 2021 was my first time in Sycamore. A complete stranger greeted me with a big smile, a friendly handshake, and pulled me in for a warm hug!

I do not remember his face, but I still remember how it made me feel—warm and fuzzy inside. The warmth disarmed me, leaving me with my guard down. I had come to church at the peak of my ‘I detest organised religion’ era, and God knows, I was there to find faults, not Jesus. 

But that day, I entered the building guard down, heart stirred, and disposition sufficiently mellowed. Now, I get to call Sycamore my Home, the place where I found Jesus.

It is a similar story this morning, as I am greeted ‘Welcome to Church’ by a young boy beaming with child-like enthusiasm, my favourite brand of enthusiasm. 

I stretch out my hand to him for a handshake, and he jovially responds, bumping his tiny palms into my outstretched hands. It feels warm, a welcome change from the grumpy bike man who tried to overcharge me by 200 NGN on a Sunday morning.

10:04 a.m. Sunday, March 24, 2024

Worship at Sycamore Church is pure bliss when I am familiar with the songs. It’s great that I’ve been getting the worship song list, in my inbox, a few days before Sunday for the past few months.

I find it thoughtful because it ensures that I have some time to get updated with the lyrics of songs that I do not know. To me, the flow is the most important thing. As for the lyrics, I can always look up at the screen and chew my mouth in between. 

Worship kicked off with a rendition of Elevation Worship, ‘No One’. It’s a song I am mostly familiar with—flow and lyrics. So all together, it is a great way to start. 

10:27 a.m. Sunday, March 24, 2024

After we’re done singing and praising, one of the church leaders gets up on stage to share some good news from everyone (praise reports) and then leads us in prayer for the things we need help with (prayer requests). Looking up at the screen now, I can see that someone is praying for clarity and direction. This resonates with me and in that moment, I feel like ‘someone’ is me. Divine Direction >> Google Maps. Hundred 💯.

Next up is the icebreaker moment. Today’s Question of The Day is, “What one thing can happen that will make this Easter season more for you?”

I am huddled up in a group of four: myself, a young man standing to my left, and a middle-aged couple in front of me who, judging from the width of their smiles, seem delighted to be in church together.

Responses to the question are unmemorable until we get to the husband. Without unnecessary ado, he answers, “Money!” The wife hears her husband’s response and slowly nods in agreement with a smile plastered on her face. This session is an interesting reminder that married people find almost everything funny.

10:37 a.m. Sunday, March 24, 2024

It’s time to sit down and catch up with the latest happenings in church. There’s a video on the screen courtesy of the Bible Engagement Video, “How to Study Your Bible” . Honestly, I pay little attention to this video, but I make a mental note to catch a replay.

Update: I caught the replay HERE. You can too. Timestamp is 29:13 – 30:28.

The video ends, and then the Sycamore Creatives Choir takes the stage with a rousing rendition of “Shoemaker” by 121Selah. It’s a great way to lead into the sermon and prepare my heart for Jesus’ message.

What I love most about Sundays at Sycamore is how every detail is planned with purpose, all to help me focus solely on Jesus. I’ve come to realize that when my worship centers around Him, nothing else matters. His character and story are so incredible, so extraordinary, that when I immerse myself in them, distractions melt away.

10:52 a.m. Sunday, March 24, 2024

I love listening to Pastor Tolulope Moody (Lead Pastor at Sycamore). He uses great analogies and tells jokes that I find relatable and funny.

‘The Jesus Effect’ is today’s sermon title. Pastor Moody’s opening story is about his young daughter who had a cold. After instructing her to avoid cold water, Pastor Moody found her holding a bottle of cold water from the fridge. When asked what she was doing, she said, “I am just checking if it’s cold so that if it’s cold, I will not drink it.”

The premise behind the analogy is that his daughter’s actions left him stunned. 

Everyone can relate to experiencing things that simply leave them…stunned. The main point is that when a Jesus thing happens to you, it should leave you feeling stunned. And that in itself is a privilege. We get to have a Jesus experience and we get to be loud about it.

Think about the Samaritan woman’s story in John chapter 4. She went to draw water from the well then had a conversation with Jesus. Next, we see her running off to her village and telling everyone, “Come see a Man who told me all the things that I ever did!” Her Jesus encounter left her stunned, and she was loud about it.

The sermon spoke to me. It reminded me that God’s love and acceptance are constant, even when I mess up. Sometimes, the world judges us based on our past. They might ask, “Who are you to have a Jesus story?” But that’s when we need to remind them, loudly, that the Jesus effect transforms us from the inside out. No one encounters Jesus and stays the same.  

Here’s a powerful quote I’ll be thinking about for a while: ‘Your faith should set you on fire so much that the world comes to watch you burn’ – D.L. Moody. 

12:17 p.m. Sunday, March 24, 2024

Service has come to an end and the sing out is “All my life” by Planetshakers. People are jumping in understandable excitement around me. But I am too exhausted for that. That said, I am not too exhausted to give sincere consideration to the lyrics:

“I’m not looking back to what once was, my vision ahead to where You are now,

I know You have greater things for me, so with every step I believe”

Every day, I am realising that my desire to live all my life for God grows stronger. I trust that He has greater things planned for me with each step I take. And I’m grateful for my church family and how they help me to stay focused on this Jesus-path, one faithful step at a time.

…….

If you loved this story, kindly share with everyone you know!

Written by Victor Anih

Edited by Tobi Ogunkeye and Samuel Ajayi

Victor, Tobi and Samuel volunteer with the Content Team at Sycamore Church. 

(Blogposts are creative expressions generously provided for Sycamore Church. The ideas and thoughts do not necessarily represent the position of Sycamore Church)

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