While in the kingdom of darkness Salisu Tijani walked tall and terrorized people in Kogi State and some other parts of the country. He was a gang leader, a tool in the hands of politicians who was used to eliminate people and a sadist.
But Jesus came to his rescue and delivered him from the gripping demonic world. Tijani who is currently undergoing discipleship training shares his testimony on how he came to know Jesus at a conference of Practicing Evangelist, which held in Offa, Kwara State recently.
Addressing a bewildered audience, he said, “I was increasing in my evil deeds. I was a terror and I hated Christians with a passion. I am not fit to live again. There was a time I went to a Christian lady and intentionally slapped her because I had been told the Bible Christians read tells them to turn the other cheek when they are slapped. I slapped her and surprisingly she did not react, I slapped her again and she did not lift a finger. I was satisfied and took my leave.”
But that is just a bit of his crimes. He confessed that he was used as a tool in the hands of politicians to eliminate people. “We worked with politicians and they used my gang to kill and maim their opponents. There were several times we exchanged gun fire with policemen. I used to enjoy killing. Politicians paid us money to kill. I never knew God can forgive my sins. I give God thanks.” He said with a note of regret.
Continuing his testimony, Salisu said, “I used to collect Bibles from people and stop them from going to vigil. There was a day I stood in front of a church and was terrorizing people that were going to vigil. I scared some of them and drove them back home.”
But in the midst of this seeming ungodly lifestyle, Salisu had a check in his spirit. “It got to a point in my life that I used to wonder why children from Christian homes were different. I used to ask myself why they don’t drink, smoke or acquire wives as I have been exposed to.”
It was in the midst of this raging thought that he met a man who preached to him in Lagos. “The man came to me and preached the gospel. He simply said to me that if I don’t have Jesus I will not have peace. Those were the words the Holy Spirit used to convict me. The word kept coming back to me. I began to think. I began to reflect on life. I began to see a need for change. In the course of this, I found myself praying in the name of Jesus.”
He took another step and went to a pastor around his area so he could be shown the way to Christ.. “When I went to this pastor he was scared to even talk to me because he knew I was a gang leader, and a criminal in the neighbourhood. He thought I was trying to set him up so he kept avoiding me. When my heart was continually being troubled, I went to him and tried to persuade him making him realize that I was serious about my decision
“I kept going to him and he would ask me to come back. There was a time I went back to see him and I met his door locked but he was inside. I had to plead with him. I believe if I had a relationship with Jesus something will happen in my life. I knelt down and asked him to pray for me. He was really scared of the environment and of being persecuted by Islamic fundamentalists.
“Eventually I told him I would be a secret disciple of Jesus because I wasn’t sure how my parents would react to my new found faith. He later called one pastor Abdulahi who has been praying secretly with Rev Mohammadu Alli that God would touch us. They know we used to terrorise everywhere. It was pastor Abdullahi who God later used to lead me to Christ.”
Salisu however had to face some challenges at home. His wife was confused and would not understand why her husband, a staunch Muslim would start talking about Jesus. “There was a time my wife told me I was mad by praying in Jesus name. Then my faith was not strong enough. Whenever she meets me praying in the name of Jesus I would tell her that I was just playing.
“During the initial days of my conversion I found myself calling Jesus unconsciously. Among my family members I never heard a rumour that somebody ever became a Christian. So that is why it was really strange to people around that I had become a Christian.
My father called me and said to that I was mad. He said, “May God let it be that what he was hearing about me was not true. He said he had been hearing information that I had become a Christian and that he was ready to cut the rope that joined me and him. But when he discovered that I was gentle and I did not drink again he started having a change of mind about me.
“But my wife was still not comfortable with my decision to follow Christ. She carried the Bible I was reading and hid it. She said if she sees me going to church she would pack her things and leave me. In those early days I packed all the charms I had in the house to my pastor and he burnt them. I came back and was thinking of what I would tell my wife. My first born is twin. I promised her that I would not marry another woman which is unlike a typical Muslim.
“I thought that will make her appreciate my new experience but she did not budge. She said over her dead would she be a Christian. But as God would have it she began to reason along with me. One day I went out and I met her reading the Bible by the time I came back. She began to realize that a relationship with Christ was worth a trial. I asked her to meet my pastor. She was so surprise that I did not smoke again and did not drink.”
But Tijani’s salvation soon brought trouble to the pastor God used for him. His colleagues in the dark world kidnapped the pastor and threatened to kill him. “My friends captured the pastor and wanted to kill the pastor and I went to their den trying to see how I could plead with them to release the pastor.
“When I got there one of the boys I used to train threatened to kill me if I moved near them. I had to remind him of how I once saved his younger sister. At that point I was tempted by the devil to return to my old ways just to release this pastor. I went and got a gun but the Holy Spirit cautioned me that I had become a new creature. I dropped the gun and I had to keep appealing to the boys. After a long talk they collected a ransom of N80, 000.”
Shortly after that incident a fight broke out between two political factions and all the members of the group I left behind died in the fracas. We were 42 in the group and they all died one after the other. “I’m the only person that is still alive because of my conversion. I don’t know how to thank my God for how he has saved me. My God is so wonderful. I will continue to love him. I surrender myself to him to use me for his glory. I just want to serve him.” He concluded
Rev. Alli who was also at the event corroborated Salisu’s testimony pointing out that what he said was just a summary of how he terrorized people. “In Ibiraland he was a terror. They engaged police in serious combats, burnt down their vehicles and do all sorts of things. But God decided in His mercy to save him.” Said Alli. Joseph Mohammed Alli
What we were and what we are now. If you become a Christian and you lose nothing you are not and if you become a Chrsitian and you gained nothing you are not. I grew up in Okene in Kogi State. Left the town at the age of 17. I had learnt all the tricks in the place. Born in a Muslim home. I was attending quaranic school. By the time I was 12 years I had perfected all forms of rascality the average Christian could get into it. Mischief which developed to something else. In the middle part of the Ramadan we have a play call kura. We get a cow horn and tie it on your head. Every neighbourhood had it. Middle of the Ramadan is a bright mood. We play around to get money. That developed into a neighbourhood street clashes. It could develop into perpetual fighting. It was from their the rascality grew from. It graduated from stick to knife and then the gun.
I left forLagos. I’m the only child of my mother. Grew up with my mother and my grandmother. Because of the issue of rascality my mother could not take care of me. The total time I spent with my father was just about 7 years. Moved from uncle to uncle. I finished primary school at the age of. I perfected rascality inLagos. I had to increase the measure of my rascality to survive inLagos. That is the irony about Islam. I was still committed Muslim. U can be rascally. It doesn’t stop you from going to the mosque. We did not think it was anything to throw a stone at the crusade. They won’t condemn you they will not. Majority of radical muslims are happy about what Boko Haram is doing. They have respected him until he talked. He never had an outright condemnation of what Boko Haram was doing. As soon as he did it he was attacked. You don’t know why but Jesus is the last thing anything could talk to me about. On that ground it becomes an offence to preach me. There was a young man who sings all the time. He had no job but to sing and pray. And francis will always want to talk about Jesus. I had a big motorcycle then and he called me and said he wanted to talk about Jesus. He made a mistake to drop a tract in my room and I told him not to try it again. He saw that I did not like it. He did it again and I said next time he tried it I will stab him. I said im a muslim and nobody should come and tell me about Christianity. I said to him I have told you shut up your mouth and don’t tell me anything again. He said he would pray for me. One day something happened I was in the office. I was working in NRC and sat in the office of a person in the office a table and my hands were stretched and my hand went on top of a book, a red book. I thought it was a mao book. I took the book and opened it. I saw it was about new testament. I had not opened a Bible by then. I decided to read it. As a ladan (shouts for prayer) I was suppose to be defending Islam. My hand went to the book again. I went out with the book from there I put the book in my pocket. I discovered that the book was following me around. I went home with the book. In the evening
Along side with islam I also smoked Indian helm and sell it. As I started reading the book I did not get the supply for my Indian. It is hard for an average Christian to believe that jesus could be killed. As I began to read and I was encountering it in the Bible. Ignorance is another problem with Islam. I kept reading the Bible. You Jew men. I said it was the New testament. He said it was the Bible. He said in all the Bible he said the aspects of the Bible he likes is the Psalm. I became interested because in Islam there is an aspect of Charm and Incantation. And if you hit somebody it will be like a rock hitting something. The strange. He invades a fanatic quietly. He would have put his rope round you before you escape. Its like I was hearing a voice. I read the Bible under the influence of Indian helm and I thought It was the Indian hemp disturbing me. I took enough garri and I thought I maybe I did not call the prayers. I went to look for a mosque but a voice kept coming to me. I started reading the Bible secretly. “if you don’t turn to me I will tear you to pieces.” I am the way the truth, I heard a voice that there is no way outside Jesus. I never had such a thought. It was a king James Bible that I read. There was a supernatural understanding that God gave me. An average Fulani are very occultic.
As I was reading the Bible God was giving me understanding I started asking questions. Suppose Jesus is the way. There is no cloud over them. Thoughts coming to me. Mamman Bello who became Christian. This thing changed people. He became gentle nice and calm and something will say to me don’t go there. I discover that there was a strong thought coming to me not to take it away. He said it is the Bible and there was no name written on it. I was reading it. After two weeks I had finished reading the Bible. I was loaded with the Bible. I could tell everything about the Bible. I was between going to the mosque (remember ye that forget God or I tear you to pieces.)
One day I called Francis and said to him I had no peace and he started dancing. He prayed that I should not have peace until I know God. He said that was the prayer I needed. I asked him to ask Jesus to reveal himself to me. I woke up in the night and I knelt down and I said to myself Oh God, if Islam is the way to u do not allow me to ever consider becoming a Christain and if not make the way known to me. I heard a voice I am the way the truth. I started telling people jesus is the way the truth and the life. I was still not going t church. I was still a Muslim but I was talking about the Bible.
Finally I went to Mamman Bello. I went to question him about the father son and holy spirit. I went to ask about trinity. He said Jesus is the son of God and He is God. At that time I wanted to be sure of where I was going. He tried to explain to me. Finally he said I should come to church with him. He said to church I said Sudan Interior Movement. SIM. He said he will pick me up for church. I was confused. I thought told me go and see. I was overwhelm by the reality of reality of Jesus. I was in Church. The preacher talked for 30 minutes. I was there and looking at what they were doing. They collected money and sang. When he stands up I would stand up and when he sits down I would sit down. Uncle Wilmont prayed. He said shall we pray while all heads bow and all heads closed, he said, if you have not had any encounter with Christ, he asked I should raise my . A voice came to me and said he is talking to you. He said he I would wait and he asked me to wait behind. M.A Bello said we should meet them at the vestry. Joseph. He said Mr. Aliu u are welcome to Jesus. He told us that we were taking a decision for a life time and encouraged me to have a Bible. Read the Bible, study it and meditate on it. Pray God all about your life, Attend a living a church, obey what God asked you do to do and tell others. I wrote it down at the Back of the Bible. I went home I began to practice what he told me. When I left the church everything changed. I started preaching and a lady laughed hysterically and wondered that I must have taken Indian helm. Everybody discovered that I had become a Christian.
My room mate said I was keferi. I left him Somebody owed me 10 shillings and I went to collect the man. the man could me. I left there and the spirit of God said to me are you my child, I could not carry knife. I went to tell him I loved him and I told him I will never attack him again. Before I know it I was all over the streets of Lagos. I used to have a box of charm and I set fire on it I flung it open. I had to protect myself. By the time I was one month I was following Christians around. Any book on Christianity I bought and read. Nobody told me how to evangelise. I would order tracts and telling people about Jesus. After a year, I was preaching all over the place. I was the first 35 people to start Bible study. I did not have denominational confusion. The traditions of ECWA did not click to me. I had always known I would be a preacher. I was moving from one youth fellowship to another. Nobody ever sat me down to disciple me. I became trained as a historical theologian in an American university.