Nothing comes before family. No matter what, family comes first. Right? Most of us had those words or similar phrases drummed into our heads quite early. Which is why deciding to leave the family church can sometimes feel like a betrayal of everything held sacred and true at home. Sure it’s still the same God, the same Jesus, but the decision to express faith in a different way can lead to some dramatic reactions.
My guests today is a young lady who’s walked this road and here’s her story on finding the courage and wisdom to deviate from the norm and how that decision has played out to date. Enjoy!
Grow360 : May we meet you, please?
Efe: My name Ehichioya Efe. I am the first of four children.
Tell us, if you will, about your childhood and teen years. What was it like growing up in your home?
Efe: My childhood was a good one. I grew up with my parents in Lagos but never had some level of freedom like going for some school programs and going to see friends around the neighbourhood though in some ways, it helped to keep me in check.
What role did church/religion play in those early days. Can you remember?
Efe: I feel the church did not really play any role because I never knew why I went to church except that it was a regular thing to go to church on sundays.
How seriously did your parents take/enforce church attendance and adherence to church doctrines and practices?
Efe: Very serious. He (my dad) made it compulsory for us to go to church on sundays but was lenient with the doctrines. For instance, we never fasted, went for vigils or attended a class that would make us qualified to start taking the communion.
Growing up, did they (your parents) take the time to explain their faith to you, or was it naturally assumed that you’d fall in line with what you were told?
Efe: It was assumed I would fall in line until I ‘rebelled’. No they did not.
*cuts in* Did you ask?
Efe: I did not ask until I wanted to change church because I did not understand why they would not let me serve God where I find peace.
Share with us, if you will, the first moments you noticed a shift in your heart. When did you first start considering leaving your parents’ church? What fueled this internal shift?
Efe: In 2005, I went to spend some time with my aunt in Ibadan. The first sunday of my visit, we went to church. The whole experience was new to me; right from the opening prayer to the praise and worship, the word and the testimony.
I had never seen people dance so freely in church because in my parents’ church, they don’t dance at all let alone sing praise and worship on sunday service (until years later). I felt this inner joy and a sense of belonging. At the end of the service, I just knew within me that church was where I wanted to be.
Interesting. I can imagine your excitement. But how did this affect your response to religious activities in your parents’ place of worship?
Efe: I was no longer interested in anything. Everything became boring.
So when and how did you ‘come out of the closet’ about your decision?
Efe: In 2006; I had just gained admission into the university. On the first holiday we had I just told my parents I wanted to start attending another church but that was after much shivering and prayer.
Can you recall how they took it? How did it go?
Efe: When I first told my dad, he was provoked. ‘As long as you are under this roof even if you are 30, you will attend my church! You can start attending any church you want to attend in your husband’s house.’ That was my father’s response. Gradually, he became soft in his response until he finally consented.
That’s your dad. What about your mum, how did she handle it?
For my mum, initially she was on my dad’s side but gradually began to fight for me.
A mother’s heart I guess. So far, how have you handled the situation? What exactly have you done?
Efe: I was persistent until August 2009 (recall that I first mentioned this in 2006) when he finally agreed. But that was after prayers and my not going to church on Sundays.
Hmmm. Pretty bold move. Talk to parents out there who may have children going through this experience at the moment. What should they do?
Efe: Let the children attend a church where they are free and at peace to serve God. That is of course if they have come to an age where they can make sound decisions for themselves.
And to the young person out there who’s feeling dissatisfied with where they are in their spiritual journey right now and are thinking about a switch. What should they do?
Efe: First, take it to God in prayer because He alone can turn their hearts in your favour. Keep praying, be persistent in your asking till you see God’s hand at work. But practice patience. They will eventually heed to your request.
Thank you Efe for sharing your story with us. We believe it will inspire someone out there on their own spiritual journey. Thank you.
Efe: You’re welcome. And thanks for having me here.
What’s your reaction to Efe’s true life story? Now it’s your turn to share. The comments section is just below.
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