The clanging of the two heavy metals at the far end of our room sent a surge of adrenaline down my spine. Spontaneously, all heads jerked up. It didn’t have to be announced… it was time to move! In a few couple of minutes, a procession of hundreds of us silently made our way through the thicket, to nowhere in particular, just as far as our legs would carry us, at 2.47a.m. No one uttered a word. No one dared… Only the commander.

I sat on the heap of dirt and looked around. It had been two years since the war began, but it seemed like the only life I had known. Calm… peace… stillness… quiet… that was too expensive a luxury to dream of. A few meters from me, emaciated soldiers nursed their wounds, bereaved mothers cursed, malnourished infants sucked on sunken breasts.

Although we still ran for our lives, somehow, the rhythm of rained firearms had become a music of sort.

I don’t know why I did it, but I reached into my back pocket and pulled out this book, with tiny print. My grandmother had given it to me for my sixth birthday. I hadn’t read it in about three years; however, I ensured it was part of the little possession I had left. It was tattered, and a number of leaves were missing. I studied its rugged appearance for a moment, and then opened it. I turned the pages a long while, unsure where to begin. Very slowly though, I began to stream each word into unfamiliar sentences.

Daily, I read. Many times, not understanding. A number of times, confused. Still, I read.

… In me you will have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation: But be of good cheer: I have overcome the world (John 16: 33).

I liked this. So I read it as many times possible in a day as I could. I could not save myself. I didn’t have the powers; but Jesus said He could, and He had! I believed. This old-time message had long been forgotten. Now, it was as oil upon troubled waters.

I couldn’t remember the last time I did this, but I smiled. It felt strange to smile in the midst of such sorrow, but my heart was overwhelmed with so much joy. I tried explaining to some others this transformation; I didn’t know for sure if they understood, because they stared back at me with this blank expression on their faces that made me hugely embarrassed.

The day I most dreaded drew nigh. I was enlisted into the army although I was still only a minor. As I marched forth to the war front two days later, I was shocked my heart didn’t fret. The days went by, the death toll increased, I wasn’t afraid for the terror by night, nor for the grenades that flew by day.

As we soldiers laid our backs on the ground that night, I arose and for an hour spoke to hope-deprived men of peace in time of war, thirsting for God in a dry and weary land, rejoicing in God when the fig tree failed to blossom. Yes! God was the message. I couldn’t be surer how silly I sounded, but I was convinced my colleagues needed what I had. I announced for an altar call that night, and so greatly touched was I to see that every one of my colleagues raised an arm in surrender to God.

Before the break of dawn, we gathered, and for the first time, in one voice, uttered a prayer to the Only-True God in Jesus’ name. As we battled an army that grossly outweighed us, a call ran through for us to make a silent retreat to our camp.

I turned, I ran. The pain seared through. I crashed onto the ground, and was consoled it would last only a moment. I knew where I was going next. I was experiencing the peace that passes all human understanding… The peace that comes only through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Chinazar Okoro©2010