Strange sickness, strange healing…a Beninese account of two years of ill-health

 

By Gbenga Osinaike

For almost two years, James Tanko(not real name) was a walking corpse. What started as a slight discomfort blossomed to what took him to many hospitals, herbal homes and eventually churches. People took advantage of his situation, ripped him off and made him a guinea pig in many spiritual laboratories.

He told our correspondent that his life was literally shred into pieces. He saw the true nature of some pastors. “When the sickness started, I never knew it would take me another two years to recover. But worse still I did not know I would have to visit hospitals, herbal homes, churches and all kinds of people,” he reminisced.
The whole drama started when he wore a pair of slippers that had earlier been taken from him by a neighbour. “My slippers were missing. I now discovered that the slippers were taken by one of my neighbours who had come visiting. The slippers were returned afterwards. Just after I wore the slippers I began to feel uncomfortable and uneasy. That was the beginning of the two-year long health challenge. I began to see things that upset my system.”
Tanko said the situation made him to begin a journey to many hospitals. “My wife began to take me round hospitals. My uncle also stepped in and we visited all kinds of hospitals. I did all kinds of medical examinations. But the verdict was that nothing was wrong with me. I was taken to Cotonou, contacted some doctors who tried all they could to diagnose what was wrong with me but did not find anything medically wrong with me. It was a trying and horrible experience.” He said.

When the situation was becoming unbearable his uncle met a cardiologist who advised that they should seek help elsewhere that his case was beyond medicine. “That was when it dawned on me that I was in for a long haul” he said. “But I did not expect that I would meet all kinds of characters and people in the church who took advantage of my situation to rip me off”
He did not only seek for help in the church he also sought help in herbal homes when his faith could not sustain him “I could not resist any offer for help. I was willing to do anything, go anywhere just to get my healing. I normally felt great discomfort. There were days I would see my spirit move outside my body. I would see a replica of my body outside and would be wondering what could be going on. There were times I would be looking at just one person but four people would register in my brain. I could not sleep for days and could not eat.  I became so emaciated and I had thought the end had come for me.”
Gradually, money was being spent and things were taking a downward trend for his family. “I began a journey to churches. There were a lot of churches I visited search of help. But there were some that frontally asked money from me before I could see their pastors. I was shocked. One church around my area in Okokomaiko asked that I make a deposit of N30,000 before I could see the pastor. I paid that money because I was desperate but nothing came out of the encounter. I then moved to another big church seeking for healing. The day I got to the Church on Oregun road, Ikeja, Lagos the security people did not allow me to come in. I was told that the pastor was not around. I was laid helpless at the gate of the church and was fainting intermittently. I had to beckon on a taxi man who came to drop somebody in the church to take me to a friend’s house. It was that friend who took care of me and saw that I was returned home.”
After that experience I also visited another big church. The General Overseer was not around. But I was surprised when I got a text message from the church when I had travelled to Cotonou to come see the pastor for prayers. We had to travel to see the pastor almost immediately. This is a well-respected pastor. I was happy that finally the end had come for the sickness. This time around the G.O. who is well known in Nigeria did not collect anything from me. I met him one-on-one. He prayed for me. But the shocking thing was that the sickness became more intense after the prayers. I could not sleep the night he prayed for me and it was like hell was let loose on me. I groaned in pain and was gasping for breath. My situation became worse.”
Tanko said he suspected the demons were bent on taking his life than allow the prayer of the G.O. work on him. That however did not stop his quest for healing.
He was taken back to Cotonou. “By the time the church in Nigeria could not help, I succumbed to the request to get help from herbalists. That decision was the most horrible decision I ever took. In one of the herbal homes a goat was killed and I was told to sleep with the head of the goat so I could get my healing. So, I slept with the head of the goat but nothing happened. I was taken to a grave yard and the whole cemetery was lighted up. They invoked the spirit of the dead and did all kinds of things but the sickness did not abate. If somebody makes a call by my side for instance I would feel a discomfort in my body as if something is cutting through me.” he recalled.
The situation got worse when one of the herbalists requested that his mother’s life be swapped for his. “They told me the only way they could get me healed is for my mother to die in my place. They said they were prepared to do some rituals that would hasten the process. That was a dicey one. I would not succumb to such request because there was no way one could be sure that option would work. It would be double jeopardy.”
He recalled that a white garment church in Cotonou took him to a thick forest and tied him to a banana tree. He was being flogged with broom stick persistently with the intention of exorcising the demons troubling him. But all was to no avail
The Beninese who has had two children at the time of the ailment and a loving wife said he knew what it meant to have mental trouble. “I know what it means to be mad. I know how a mad man behaves. That is what that strange sickness did to me. When it was becoming obvious that I would die I just did not mind anything.”
He recalled that he experienced constant memory loss. He also recalled that there was a time he visited a herbal home where some demonic forces were calling his name. “Those forces called my name and told me that some witches had captured my spirit that I was like a wood infested with ants. The demon said it was just a matter of some days that I would die. But the herbalist could not help.”
While explaining that he could write a volume on his experience, he said help finally came his way when a nurse introduced him to a church in Apapa area where the pastor of the church took up the challenge. The church though not a conventional church has reputation for conducting deliverance for people and healing long standing sicknesses.
He said, “When we got to the church, the pastor ordered that we should celebrate first before the prayers would begin. He asked me to make available N15,000 to buy food for all the church members and celebrate the healing. His wife and my wife went to the market they bought rice and cooked for the children in the church. There was a mini kind of party celebrating my healing. But I was still sick.”
By the time the pastor began the prayers, he spent another one year in the church going through several phases of deliverance. “The first thing they did was to create a legal ground for my healing. Somebody in the church represented the kingdom of darkness while another represented the kingdom of God.  The person from the kingdom of God was using scriptures to counter the claim of the person in the kingdom of darkness. It was like a drama. But they were praying and making decree. After the prayer drama, I felt a big relief. For the first time in more than one year I could sleep very well. I slept in the church and I noticed that there was considerable change in my body.”
That was the beginning of the healing process. But he still had traces of the ailment as it was relapsing. The pastor was encouraged by the initial breakthrough and began another phase of praying and fasting to bring him out completely from the hold of the devil. “At a point the pastor asked my mother to buy a piece of cloth about four yards. He used that cloth to wrap me and he began to call my name out the way Jesus called the name of Lazarus out of the grave. I felt better afterwards. He rendered series of other deliverance prayers for me.”
The pastor later asked him to go get a separate room and asked him to have sex with his wife. “When I had sex with my wife he asked if I was able to perform very well in bed. I said yes. He was encouraged and said that God was working out something. But a few weeks after the sexual encounter with my wife, a prophet in the church prophesied and said my wife was pregnant and that my complete healing would only happen the day my wife is delivered of her baby. He said the baby in her womb is a boy and that it was the Holy Spirit that would name the baby. I was shocked that they could know that my wife was pregnant. We had not even gone to do any medical test to ascertain their claim.” He said.
As God would have it, his wife was truly pregnant and they were expecting the baby boy. “What shocked me was that true to the prophecy, it was the day my wife put to bed that I felt complete healing and deliverance. That was the day I was discharged from the church. It was big celebration.”
The now healthy man observed that the boy his wife gave birth about five years ago has been displaying some traits that tend towards the spiritual. He prays for us at home and gives prophecies even at his age. He is just five. But God has been doing wonders through him in the house.”

About Gbenga Osinaike

Gbenga Osinaike is a 1992 graduate of Dramatic Arts from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria. He specialised in Play-writing. He also holds a Master of Arts Degree from the University of Lagos. He was Assistant Editor in Punch Newspapers from where he resigned having worked for 13 years to start Church Times Nigeria in March 2007. He is currently the Nigeria representative of US based Institute of Global Church Studies and also the Publicity Secretary of the Lagos, Nigeria Chapter of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria. He is married and blessed with two children.

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