I had a date with destiny and an extraordinary encounter that changed my life, perceptions and outlooks.
I was studying African history at the University of Ghana and decided to go watch a volleyball game.
Sitting on ground, in the crowd behind me, I noticed a man with a group of people and asked, “Where are you from?”
That’s when I met Ralph Cooley, staff member with Faculty Commons, Cru’s ministry to college professors. He was on a mission trip to Ghana.
Little did I know he had just prayed minutes before that the Lord would help him begin a spiritual conversation.
Ninety minutes later, Ralph and I were still talking. During our conversation, I mocked God, the Bible and Christians. Ralph was taken back by my words.
He asked, “If you were to die tonight, where would you spend eternity?”
I denounced the idea of heaven and the validity of the Bible. I was arrogant, insisting I lived a good life. I said, “I love God.” Ralph replied, “If you love God, why do you call Him a liar?”
Ralph opened his Bible and read 1 John 5:10, “… the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the witness that God has borne concerning His son.”
After hearing those words, I quieted. Ralph told me I needed to repent. He told me I needed to go to pure, not polluted water for life. He told me the Word of God is pure, living water.
He read me John chapter 1 and I began writing down scripture references.
I told him, “You don’t know who you’re talking to.”
I am a Prince, the son of the King of a Nigerian tribe of over 100,000 people. The day before, I had decided to lead Nigeria and all of Africa back to our former tribal religions. I told Ralph the people need revival and I had been chosen to lead. I’d met with my professor of African Culture and made these decisions.
Ralph told me, “Christ alone gives life and He brought me all the way from Idaho to speak truth to you about His Son.”
I listened intently because I had been the one to initiate a conversation with Ralph. I didn’t believe in coincidence. I believed Ralph had been sent to me to tell me this.
He had disturbed my thinking.
Ralph challenged me to read John 1 and suggested we meet the next day. We chose a time and said goodbye.
The next day, Ralph and one of his teammates, Peter, met me on the steps of the university library. I’d read John 1 and was captured that Jesus is both light and life. I wanted to know more.
For over an hour Ralph explained more Scriptures, defining sin, forgiveness and the free gift of salvation.
I didn’t know then, but at one point Peter prayed silently, "Jesus save Maxwell now."
Moments later I said, "I need Jesus, I have sinned so much and I need His forgiveness."
I had a hole in my life that I’d been longing to fill. I was looking for my purpose in life and understood that purpose comes from knowing Christ.
Then, Ralph asked, “Maxwell, do you want to put your trust in Jesus as your Savior and Lord?"
“Yes I do,” I replied.
Ralph suggested we pray. I lowered to my knees, Ralph and Peter followed. Turning to I John 5, Ralph affirmed me in my new relationship with Christ and eternal life.
At the bottom of the Bible page, I wrote, “At 2:40 p.m. June 10, 2010, Maxwell committed his life to Christ.”
We were in tears.
I didn’t know at the time, but Ralph had emailed hundreds of people the day before, asking them to pray for our meeting. I was shocked. Hundreds of people had been praying for me! They were bringing my name before God. Tears filled my eyes and I kept repeating, “I have eternal life, I have eternal life.”
Ralph gave me a Knowing God Personally booklet that explains how to begin a relationship with Jesus outlined by Bible verses in 4 steps.
I asked for another copy to give to my friend who had a hard heart like I did before I knew Jesus.
A few days later Ralph and I met again to talk more about my new relationship in Christ. I brought a friend, Stella, who was visiting from University of Cape Coast. I wanted Ralph to tell her what he explained to me about God and the Bible.
We ate lunch together and told the story of Jesus and His love to Stella. She put her trust in Christ that afternoon.
My relationship with God continued to grow. I read the four Gospels and was doing online research.
The things I am learning about God and the Bible are not just for me. They are for my Tribe and people in Nigeria. I don’t think the people in my village know these truths.
For the remainder of his trip, Ralph met with me daily, walking me through the first lesson and disciplines of what it means to have a relationship with Jesus. Now I meet with a Cru staff member at the University in Ghana. I hope to return to my village in Nigeria to tell them how Jesus changed my life.
I pray that many souls through the testimony of my life would come to the full knowledge of the Son of God.
Bio: Maxwell is attending church in Accra. He is also connected with the Campus Crusade director at University of Ghana. There may be an opportunity for Ralph to go back with Maxwell and travel to his tribe in Nigeria. The men continue their friendship via email and phone. They talk almost every week.
If you are reading this and for some reason you hate God, and you feel alone, know that He is constantly loving you. He will turn the situation around. Therefore, choose God as He chooses you.
It could be said that I grew up in the church, however, my heart was not entirely in it.
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