Author: Jenn Azu
On a bright Saturday afternoon at Abuja campus, many students can be seen in several classrooms reading. The medical students especially have the habit of spending the early hours of the weekend in classrooms studying.
Mary, Sandra and Ayodele are first year medical students of this prestigious university. They had come to school at different times that morning but had met up and left the classroom together. They bantered as they walked down the hallway on their way to students’ lodge. Previously, they have gone from studying to discussing how tough their courses were. Sandra, a 23 year-old, is a repeat student because she had failed to meet some course requirements to move to the next class. Mary and Ayo are first time medical students. They had been overjoyed on admission to medical school, but their joy soon turned to caution when they realized the hurdle medical school is. Ayo, a dark skinned and slim lady with a pretty face, is only twenty years old. A year younger than Mary. She has the wisdom of an older person and is often reflective. Her biggest motivation, however, is the fear of failure. She bugged Sandra with questions on her experience from last year; her concern was to know the mistakes Sandra made and avoid them.
“This course is tough o!” Ayo exclaimed in a typical local manner and turned to Sandra. “Sandy, how did you manage last year?” Trying as much as possible to be sensitive.
“What do you mean how did she manage?” Mary queried, herself not being a fan of such questions but Sandra interjected. She is a willing informant.
She dove into stories of woe and comfort, regret and hope and in the process made a comment that shocked both of her listeners.
“During my first year last year, I served God fervently,” Sandra explained “but as it turned out, I failed. God failed me.”
At that point, Ayo did not ask any more questions. She turned to herself in thoughts. How could God fail someone who is dedicated to his service? She pondered. They all were Christians from different denominations. Mary is a staunch catholic while Ayo belonged to the protestant denomination and is well involved in her campus fellowship activities.
As soon as they walked through the main entrance of the building, they exchanged goodbyes and Ayo headed straight for her lodge. Before she got to the motor park, the previous encounter has been overcome by other concerns but the conversation she just had would linger for a long time.
It is Wednesday evening and time for fellowship at Digging Deep Campus Fellowship (DDCF). The weather had been so hot all afternoon that it was a relief when light showers started later. By nightfall, the rain had stopped but the ground was damp and the weather cool. By this time, the massive number of students seen on campus has reduced to a trickle as a few more made their way home or to nighttime class.
The campus fellowship usually set up a temporary tent for fellowship. The tent was put up before fellowship and also dismantled and taken to storage at the end of each worship service; it requires much work but it keeps the worshippers from being drenched or scorched by the elements. That evening, it was well into prayer sessions when Ayodele arrived and quietly snuck into the last row seats to join the prayer. Peter’s voice boomed over the microphone in fervent prayer. The atmosphere was tense as he prayed.
“Let it release you now! Release you now, yesss…yesss!” Peter prayed and commanded silence, “The captives must be set free…must be set free, must be set free! Oh yes!” He went on.
In the congregation, there was much concentration on the prayers. Some people had their hands in the air with their eyes closed. Others made inaudible but intense praying sounds. Usually, at the end of this kind of atmosphere, testimonies abound. Certain illnesses are healed and financial breakthroughs or meaningful revelations came. Thus, the like of Bro Peter, as he is fondly called, is always a favored guest to DDCF’s prayer meetings.
Peter started out as a bible study coordinator 6 years ago in DDCF. Then, he was a second year student of Biochemistry and was passionate about his position among the brethren (a term used to describe a collective body of Christians). Peter can expound on the scriptures like none other that it was difficult to replace him the following year, so he served as a bible study coordinator for two years.
However, Peter was not an excellent student at school. In fact, he struggled more than the average student. His problem was that he found it difficult to keep concentration on his studies. After class period and whenever Peter settled down to study, he just cannot concentrate long enough to read more than two pages of his notebook. Sometimes he fell asleep or got carried away in his thoughts. Peter knew he lacked motivation to study his courses, and that it spelled trouble for his grades as a consequence. Unfortunately, the university does not provide resources to support their students in that situation and Peter was also too lazy to take any initiative and think outside the box. He assumed he did not have motivation because he disliked his major. Peter, therefore, found himself hating study blocks and would welcome any distraction instead of reading. Playing the avoidance game, he would volunteer extra time at fellowship, lingering around at the end of worship to do extra activities like counseling and dismantling the tent when other students are hurrying back to their study lounge. Naturally, Peter lit up when he talks to people or manipulate objects, so when he has a hard time understanding his books he channeled his energy to the things that make him happy.
By Peter’s fifth year, it was clear he would be having an extra year. An extra year in a science department is a way of preventing students who failed certain courses from graduating until they have satisfied all requirements. Having an extra year carries strong connotation for nonchalance and incompetence. Thus it is shameful to have one, so extra year students usually move away from campus at the same time as actual graduates to give the-unsuspecting the impression that they are graduating too only to secretly return to complete their courses. After his fifth year, Peter moved away from campus and fellowship.
Peter re-took courses in his extra year, but did not pass them still and had to return again the following year. It was during a preparation to take exams on an extra year course that the present campus fellowship President ran into Peter and coerced him to come lead a revival session at their fellowship.
Besides the President and vice President of the fellowship, very few knew about the academic background of Bro Peter because the majority of the present congregation of students at DDCF fellowship and those present for that Wednesday worship service when Peter ministered, are newer to the fellowship. Ayo did not know much about Bro Peter either until the tale dripping lips of Kelechi let loose, thanks to his infatuation for Ayo. Kelechi is the vice president of the fellowship. He thinks he likes Ayo but is too cowardly to say so. However, he seizes any opportunity to say something to her, and that evening he found one as they walked back to students’ lodge together. To keep Ayo’s attention, he abandoned all discretion in talking about that night’s guest minister until he has said all he knew about Peter.
“So he has not been employed for two years?” Ayo asked wide eyed.
Kelechi shook his head, “I don’t think so. He has no degree.”
Ayo kept silence as she plunged into deep thoughts. It is the kind of silence that makes Kelechi uncomfortable. He raved his head for something to say but it is obvious Ayo is distracted by her thoughts. They reached the entrance to the male quarters and Kelechi said his difficult goodbye to Ayo.
Ayo returned to her thoughts, as she walked alone, and kept turning over all that Kelechi just said in her head when it suddenly hit her. Sandra, her classmate, likely shared the same story as Peter,
working zealously for God without wisdom. She had probably spent a good amount of time rendering service to her church but not as much time studying to acquire the knowledge that is needful towards a medical career. How is she supposed to know her anatomy if she does not study or how does she expect to be entrusted with a human life if she does not know how to take care of it? It is not just about the grades, it is about the knowledge. Who would want to be operated on by a doctor who does not know where the appendix is located?
“Surely, God did not fail Sandra, foolishness did,” Ayo whispered to herself, “God is the God of all flesh and there is nothing too hard for him to do. He probably wants Sandra to understand that she will have delicate responsibilities as a doctor and needs to be better equipped. Besides, her service as a competent doctor will only bring Him glory.” Ayo concluded and counseled herself “Ayo! The daughter of Dele the fourth of Ile-Ife, you better read to know like you don’t have a God and serve your God like an you know nothing else.” Balance is the key!