“Please, Lord Jesus,” I prayed. “Only your love can get me on this plane.”
When Bolaji Ogundimu became my Secretary, she immediately applied for a housing loan. Unfortunately for her, there were others already on the queue. But then two Good Samaritans came to see me. They insisted Bolaji should be given a loan right away. “The problem,” they said, “is that her condition is desperate. We have seen where she lives, and feel something needs to be done for her urgently.”
“How would you feel,” I asked them, “if you were one of those who applied before her.” I put my foot down. “We must be fair and be seen to be fair. Bolaji will only be given a loan when it is her turn.”
I was on a trip to New York, when the Lord revisited the issue. He suddenly asked me out of the blue: “Femi, do you love me?” “Of course, I love you,” I replied. But then he insisted: “You don’t love me.” When I protested, he had another question: “So how come you did not give Bolaji a housing loan?” “But Bolaji is not qualified for it,” I argued. “There are many others on the queue before her.” “What would qualify Bolaji for the housing loan?” the Lord wanted to know.
He pointed out that he had sent two people to impress on me the deplorable state of Bolaji’s housing condition. Nevertheless, I still failed to respond out of adherence to my so-called principles of fairness. Then he came up with another bombshell. He said: “You have to make up your mind whether you are going to follow your principles or follow me.”
I cried non-stop for the next two days. I promptly phoned Bolaji to apologise for my insensitivity. I told her to take the money for her rent from my office safe. “It is not a loan,” I said. “It is a gift from me.” That way, the procedure of the housing loan scheme was not violated, and nobody could accuse me of discrimination.
I thought I was in the clear until the day I was leaving New York. First I wasted time haggling with the taxi driver over the fare. Then when I finally got to the Swiss Air check-in counter, there was a computer malfunction. I waited patiently for over thirty minutes while they tried to fix it. Imagine my surprise when suddenly a man came to announce that there would be no more check-ins.
When I protested, the man spoke directly to me. He said: “According to the principles of Swiss Air, this terminal closes at six o’clock. Once it is six o’clock, no more passengers are taken on board the plane.” The man was not one to argue, he simply walked away.
I went into a panic. I had only one hundred dollars left on me. I couldn’t afford to stay any longer in New York. I just had to get on that plane.
And then I heard that still small voice of the Holy Spirit. “So Femi,” he asked, “how do you intend to get on the plane? They have principles too at Swiss Air.”
Just then it dawned on me that I had been set up. The Lord had brought about a reversal of fortunes. With the housing loan scheme, I was the one with the prerogative of mercy. But with Swiss Air, I was the one in need of mercy. It was time to plea-bargain.
I told the Lord: “I thought you’ve forgiven me concerning Bolaji.” I pointed out that I had not waited until I got back to Lagos to make restitution for my heartlessness. I had phoned Bolaji and given her the money. “Please, Lord Jesus,” I prayed. “Only your love can get me on this plane. Please get me on this plane for your name’s sake.”
Just then a gentleman wearing a Swiss Air uniform tapped me on the shoulder. “What seems to be the problem?” he asked. When I explained my predicament, he told me not to worry but to follow him. This Good Samaritan took me to the boarding gate, got me a boarding pass and literally put my luggage on the plane.
“Where are you from?” he asked me. When I told him I was from Nigeria, he smiled and said he was from Kenya. I would not have guessed it because he was white. He said to me: “The only thing I don’t like about Nigerians is that they always beat us at football.” He then shook hands with me and went away.