BY CAMI EZENWA
Many in the audience had expected a grace to grace story. Or the usual slant of being born with a silver spoon, because that was what his entire outlook suggested. But by the time, well-built and fair complexioned Lanre Ayoola began to speak, the shock was thick you could almost reach out and touch it.
It was plainly opening a spectre of life filled with twists and turns, such that would make you shriek and moan. But then, every line of his long narration, had an underlying message, something to draw morals from.
Occasion was the last camp meeting of the Christian Men’s Fellowship (CMS) of the Redeemed Evangelical Mission (TREM), and the first shocker was that the finely attired man, who sits atop a range of outfits controlling about 300 staff manning different aspects of his business, had once contemplated suicide.
It was for this and more that his presentation originally schemed to last perhaps a quarter of an hour, lasted almost twice that.
Though billed to speak for about 45 minutes, at over one and a half hours, he was still speaking, and dozens of pairs of eyes resting on him. He takes it up from here:
“Somebody had once told me, you have a good talking voice, but you shouldn’t sing”, he began, trying to draw attention, and then barged into the song: “The steadfast love of the Lord never changes…”
And in narrating that outlooks could be deceptive, he admonished his audience to note that everybody in life faces challenges, including those who look outwardly pleasant and seemingly enjoying life. Then, he brought the focus down to himself, declaring:
“In 2005, i had also contemplated suicide. I considered my situation hopeless and i wanted to commit suicide. But i remembered the Lord even though I was not worshiping in any church. And I said, God, have mercy on me, and kill me. Yes, i begged to be taken away. But then, I said, if you will have mercy on me, and bring me out of this pit I find myself, I will serve you with all my heart.
Within a few hours, phone calls started coming of different folks forgiving me my debts
Calls did not stop for two days, including from those I had never spoken with for long.
People now advised me to find a church to attend. Before then, I had never attended a church except for Sunday…”
Then, a classmate of his led him to a church within Obanikoro area of Lagos, and that was where he found his peace. “ I did not know what kind of church then, but the truth was that i found peace. And that was how i was saved”.
Stressing thepoint that outward appearance is not an indication of a good and happy life, Ayoola said: “People see other people and conclude that all is well with them may be because of the way they look or because they are smiling. Some are smiling because they had concluded on suicide believing that teh problem would end that day. But they end up leaving problems for their children and families’.
For him, the thought of his family was one of the restraining factors he did commit suicide.
“Taking your life is a curse upon your family and children that they will carry for the rest of their lives. If you know God, you won’t contemplate it because that would be the greatest insult to our God who gave us all.
“A year after i gave my life to God, my eyes opened to realise the beauty that was surrounding me. I came to know that I had a lot of friends, and of the many people that love me.
Whenever one day closes, i laugh. Before, i would say, ‘what kind of rubbish is this. But now, it is different. If i don’t see any door, i remain patient. One hundred per cent of the time, there is a good reason why that door closed”.