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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Elewechi Ngozi Okike is an award-winning author, a motivational speaker, life coach, mentor, wife, mother and grandmother, who has been married for over 41 years. She is an experienced counsellor, who has spent almost four decades in the higher education sector and has supported and mentored hundreds of young adults. Her counsel and guidance have restored positive mental health to students, saved numerous marriages and provided hope in situations that many considered irredeemable.
To find out more, visit www.ngoziokike.com.
We can learn valuable lessons about life from everyday occurrences and from the things and people around us – including animals. This book presents us with some of those lessons, especially the ones that can be learned from a most unusual and uncelebrated animal, a donkey. As a matter of fact, a donkey is so debased that in the Bible, it was not considered worthy to be used as part of the offerings to be offered to God. It had to be substituted with a lamb, or have its head broken[i]. Yet, as we shall see from this book, there is so much we can learn from this animal that would challenge and empower us.
More importantly, this book is a dedication to, and a celebration of, a very special young lady that some may not have heard about. Her name is Leah Sharibu, one of the 110 schoolgirls abducted from Government Girls Science and Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State, North East, Nigeria, by the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), a faction of Boko Haram. Leah was the only Christian girl amongst the 110 abducted girls. Whilst five of the girls died on the truck that was taking them on their long journey to the Lake Chad region, 104 of the remaining girls were released a month later because they were Muslims. Leah was asked to convert to Islam and be released with the other girls, but she refused to denounce her faith. Her school mates put pressure on her to denounce her faith and be released with them, but she was not willing to succumb to the lure of compromise. What must it feel like for Leah to watch her schoolmates being returned to their families and she remained the only girl amongst the 105 girls that were abducted? The feeling must be unimaginable.
Leah was only 14 years old when she was abducted on the 19th of February 2018. Through her action, she demonstrated extraordinary courage and bravery in the face of intimidation and/or death. In spite of her young age, Leah understands the importance and the significance of her faith. As far as she was concerned, she has a faith worth living for, and dying for, if need be. She has challenged many Christians to stand up and be counted.
Leah had written a letter[ii] to her mother through one of her schoolmates who was released saying “My mother you should not be disturbed. I know it is not easy missing me, but I want to assure you that I am fine where I am…I am confident that one day I shall see your face again. If not here, then there at the bosom of our Lord Jesus Christ”. What a courageous piece to be written by a young teenager! In spite of their pain and anguish of what has befallen their daughter, Leah’s parents are truly proud of her, that she did not deny Jesus Christ
This is what it says in the Bible, ‘Then He (Jesus) said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels’[iii].
I am not a politician, and I do not get involved with political issues. This book is neither political, nor partisan. It is a book about life, the things that we learn from the experiences of others, whether man or beast. I do not know Leah in person, and I do not need to know her in person to celebrate the special person that she is. I am a mother and grandmother, and as a matter of fact, she is the same age as our granddaughter whom I love. I feel the pain of her parents and share in their grief. Moreover, I understand what abduction looks like, having narrowly escaped one myself. I also know what it’s like to be surrounded by gun-wielding fearful looking men in uniform. My own story is covered in my book The Greatest Debtor to His Love and a Trophy of His Grace[iv].
I hope that anyone reading this book will find strength and inspiration, not only from the story of Leah, but also from the donkey, that is the focus of this book. The book is invaluable to people of all ages, colours or beliefs.
Elewechi Ngozi Okike
This book is dedicated to Leah Sharibu, the modern day heroine of the Christian faith. Her resolve to stand for the truth she believes in, teaches us some valuable lessons about life.
Leah, like many others, I have never met you, but your courage and bravery in the face of the most extreme case of intimidation and the threat of death has earned the admiration of many of us across the globe. At just the tender age of 14 years, you were prepared to go on a long and lonely journey, which you had no idea of where it would lead and when the journey will end.
You have proved to the world that no matter how old you are, we all have some values built into our human nature – bravery, endurance, courage, resilience, a sense of pride.
You have chosen to tread on the similar path that the Late Nelson Mandela treaded, when he was presented with a choice to compromise and go free, whilst his people remained in bondage, or remain in prison until his people were set free completely. He chose the latter.
Leah, I am even more amazed to discover that one of the reasons you fell into the trap of the militants was because you were caring for a sick roommate and you refused to leave her, when the other Christians in your school beckoned on you to run away. You were running but could not run fast because you were carrying your sick roommate. She eventually ran towards the staff quarters and was safe, whilst you ran into the hands of the insurgents.
Your parents are so proud of you because you did not denounce Christ. Your mum describes you as an obedient and respectful person, who puts others before yourself. These attributes were evident in your refusal to abandon a sick roommate, even when your own life was at risk.
Leah, you might not know this but you symbolise the state of the church today in Nigeria, and perhaps in some other parts of the world, and through your singular action, you have issued a ‘wake-up call’ to the Body of Christ to take a stand and be ready to defend what it believes.
It is not just your parents that are proud of you, the church universal is as well. Most importantly, Jesus Himself, whom you did not deny, is very proud of you. He has stated that, as you did not deny Him before men, He too will not deny you “when he comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels”. You can also be rest assured that not one hair on your head will fall to the ground without the knowledge of God. It is evident from your refusal to denounce your faith in the face of death, that you rightly understand the biblical injunction, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell”.
Leah, the global church is praying for you. And, if the Bible was to be rewritten, your name will occupy pride of place amongst the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11. We celebrate and congratulate you for your noteworthy and exemplary display of Christian character and fortitude.
“After reading this book, my only regret was that I didn’t read it fifty years ago. Perhaps, I could have been spared the many scars on my personal journey of learning the tough ‘lessons of life’ that we all have to learn! Nonetheless, I’m truly delighted to have read it now as it is an inspiring and enabling book.
In an age when we are all constantly rushing around, endeavouring to experience a lot but apparently learning so little, I would recommend that we all [– no matter how young or old, or whatever our cultural background or working environment] browse through or, better still, read this book from cover to cover – and, then, re–read it!
Personally, I am looking forward to passing on the wisdom of these twelve life lessons, that Professor Elewechi Okike weaves into every page in her engaging style, to all my friends and clients, in the many different countries, cultures and communities that I work.
Thankfully, the twelve lessons of life are globally applicable. They will inspire every one of us to meet life’s challenges and, also, enable us to make the most of every opportunity life presents us with.
This is a must–read. Well done, Elewechi, and thank you sincerely.“
Reverend Dr Peter Adegbie MICC Chapel of Light Sunderland
“This is one of the few philosophical books that one should find extremely easy to read. The use of a donkey as the main character will endear it to readers of all ages.
Without doubt, the most powerful elements of the book for me were the life lessons embedded in every page. Occasionally in life, we come across a book that speaks directly to us and helps us reflect positively on our past and prepare for our future. This is such a book. The lessons resonated with my personal experiences and made it a compelling read. It is indeed a thought-provoking guide for those navigating the many complex challenges of daily life.“
Charles Uwakaneme Business and Life Mentor
“This book is dedicated to Leah Sharibu, and rightly so. Leah is a spiritual giant, who cared and, in her virtue, came to the limelight, in spite of her tender age of 14 years. The author is a spiritual giant, too, who has had to deal with life’s challenges like Job, Esther, Daniel and his friends.
The twelve life lessons presented in this book are golden virtues that each reader should desire to possess …
If a donkey can cooperate and get out of trouble, you too can cooperate with the Counsellor to make a glorious eternal life.
The other publications of the author are worth having in the family library.“
Professor Joseph Amupitan Professor of Organic Chemistry Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria