“The LORD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” – Exodus 14:14
On July 7, 23, Charismatic Signs was in Imo State in search of Mrs. Caroline Chukwuekezie of Awo-Idemili Parish of the Watchman Catholic Charismatic Renewal Movement (Orlu Diocese), whose two grandchildren had been abducted by a criminal couple who had pretended to be nice neighbours to them. These children were sold to some strangers in different Nigerian cities who changed their names and kept them in their custody for several months. We wanted to hear the story directly from Mrs. Chukwuekezie and see and interact with the lovely children (a boy and a girl) who by then had been rescued and brought home through God’s special intervention. The boy, Goodluck Chinaemerem, was two years and five months old while his sister, Promise was four months old when they were stolen. They were taken away on September 16, 2012 and rescued on May 25, 2013 – for nine months!
So, in Orlu on that bright Saturday, after interacting with the little children, Charismatic Signs sat down with Mrs. Chukwuekezie and placed a tape recorder before her to let her say how it all happened. As she talked, the children played around and intermittently interrupted as they tried to joke with her – they appear very fond of their grandmother. It is impossible not to be moved by the joy and vivacity of these two lovely children as they ran around, as if the dizzying story of how they had just passed through the valley of the shadow of death (or as some would put it, how they returned from the land of the dead), had happened in a long forgotten dream. Here now is Mrs. Chukwuekezie’s testimony:
“SOMETIME ago, a couple came to our community and became tenants in our house. Soon they began to show undue friendliness towards my son’s family and to get close to them. But I was not very comfortable with that and I demanded to know who they were and where they came from. My daughter-in-law told me that they were from the Owerri area. Something about them continued to make me uneasy. I always felt very uncomfortable each time I saw them carrying the children and calling them by some nicknames they had given them.
One day, after I had finished praying and was about to go out, I had a ministration to go and preach the gospel to this couple. When I got to their apartment, I told them that God said that they should not allow themselves to be deceived. I also added that I did not know why God had asked me to come and speak to them. I then told them that if they were involved in any form of evil, that they should quit from it. When they asked to know if there were some evils I had in mind, I just mentioned to them about the widespread cases of kidnapping and selling of human beings, ritual killings and several other sins like drunkenness, immorality, murder and the rest. The kind of horrible evils we are seeing these days, I told them, were very rare in times past; it shows that we are close to the end of time. As I left, I told them that as a child of God, I had obeyed Him by coming to preach to them as I was commanded.
Because of a revelation I had in which I saw that something evil happened to one of the children, I told my daughter in-law before I left the house that day to be very watchful over the children and not allow anyone to take them out. I also told her to ensure that they were taken to the fasting and prayers programme organized for the children at the church so they could participate. I also told them to ensure that they attended fellowship since I did not know when I would be coming back. I kept having the feeling that the devil wanted to take away somebody from us, but it was not clear to me how it was going to happen.
One day, while at a burial ceremony, I kept hearing the question in my heart: where did they go with the children? So, I became uncomfortable as the question persisted. I hurriedly left the place and rushed back home. When I got home and asked about the children, I was told that Ojiugo, the partner to the man living in our house had taken them with her to attend a birthday party. I could not believe my ears. Then I asked them: who is Ojiugo? We don’t know these people; we don’t know where they came from, and why did you allow them to take the children away to a birthday party?
I did not know what to do immediately. I called my son on the phone, and he started crying when I told him what had happened. I called my daughter whose husband is a policeman. When the husband was contacted, he said that he would come when he returned in the evening. I began to pray and to wait. When eventually the children did not return, we knew that something had happened. That strange couple had stolen the children! Now, where would we look for them? My daughter in-law said the woman hailed from Ihiala, but when we went to Ihiala and enquired about her, we were informed that she was from Obosi in Anambra State. We later went to Obosi and traced her family. But we were told that before any arrests could be made, we must go to the state police headquarters in Awka, the state capital. So we took some policemen to Awka, made the necessary reports and returned. At Obosi, the police arrested members of her family – her father, mother and brother. That was when we got the truth that the woman’s name is Adaobi. So, Adaobi had assumed another name for her criminal activities. Her mother began to weep. When I asked her whether she was aware of what her daughter was doing, she said no. They said that the man came and married her.
Then they searched for their pictures and couldn’t get any. Later, her brother brought her picture which he took with his mobile phone and it was printed. By this time, it had already taken three weeks, and we had not seen them. There was also a number we got. But each time we called the number, some voices at the other end of the line would just be laughing and would tell us it was a wrong number. We continued to pray. Later, some pictures they had taken with their friends were also obtained and printed. That was when we knew that the man’s name was Anyaehie, and that he is from the Owerri area. So, I told my son that since his wife is from that area, that he should go and make inquiries about the man. So, he went with the picture and stopped at Orodo junction (in Mbaitolu LGA, Imo State) and enquired about him. The commercial motorcycle operators said that they knew such a person and took him and the people with him to the man’s place. They didn’t know their mission because they had told them they came to contract a marriage union. So, the policeman that came with them arrested some members of the man’s family and took them and the woman’s relatives to Owerri. In the course of interactions, one of the man’s relatives opened up and said that his brother (the suspect) had married a woman before who had two children for him before she left, and he also went into another marriage that lasted three years. He came later and kidnapped one of his children who was later discovered in the bush where he had been abandoned. And since then, he ran away from the village and no one had set eyes on him. He only heard from him again when he called on the phone to say that he had seen a woman he wanted to marry and that he should forgive him for his past actions.
Later, he came and the family borrowed money, hired a vehicle and went with other people to accompany him to his new in-laws. He didn’t even bring any money. What the family didn’t know, however, was that he was entering into this new marriage with the intention of using it as a tool for the criminal business of kidnapping. So, some of the man’s relatives were detained. But, soon, we were informed that they had been released. When I asked why, they said that it was not the parents of the couple that committed the crime. So we resorted to prayers when we saw that the people had been released.
We made our own arrangements to search for the couple. We paid the first group and later engaged another, but all their efforts yielded no results. We now resorted to prayer. Our prayer warriors took up the matter and began to pray fervently about it. I know that God has called me into the ministry of prayer. As the prayers continued, God was giving me directions, and encouraging me to continue praying and not to be afraid. He reminded me that I had obeyed Him by going to preach the gospel to that couple as He instructed me. He said that if I did not preach to the people, it would have been a different case, but since I ministered to them, that He will show them that He is God because they had challenged Him by their actions. So we continued praying and receiving revelations. I continued to believe God, although my son was afraid and doubtful each time he returned to the house and I told him that God was at work. It was difficult for him to believe since the children were yet to be found.
When some people advised them to go somewhere for solution, I was against it, but they still went. And there they told them that the children have been pounded in a mortar. When he came home with the story and weeping, I immediately rejected the saying of those false prophets. I continued to pray and to believe God. During one particular vigil we had, there was a prophetic utterance that God had favoured me. When this happened, I decided that there was no way God would say such a thing about me and still allow me to be disappointed. I now resolved to believe God’s Word more. I refused to accept that the children will not be found. During this time, if anyone came to sympathise with me, instead of listening to the person, I would engage the person with the Word of God. I refused to accept pity from people. I am serving a living God who never sleeps.
One day during this time, I was in a dream and saw myself sharing biscuits to people. There was great joy and a kind of celebration going on. Then I woke up. That day was Saturday. So, on Sunday, I bought some biscuits and went to church with them. I gave the biscuits to some children and asked them to pray for my missing children, Goodluck and Promise. I know the God that I am serving and I was persuaded that He would make a name for Himself. I knew that He would not fail me, that if I endured, I would be rewarded.
One Sunday, I had a ministration that I should start giving offerings on behalf of my grandchildren because their names are on His list. When I heard this, I said God thank you and stood up from where I was. So I would always give offerings on behalf of these children first before my own.
After sometime, I took the picture of the couple that stole them and handed it over to one of our kinsmen who in turn contacted another man from Isieke living in Lagos. With the picture, they began to look for them. And the man was close to the police. Meanwhile, the couple had packed out from where they had once been sited. But God assured me that He is like the wind, that no one can hinder Him. Meanwhile, the couple had gone to another area of Lagos to kidnap another person’s child. They bought something from a woman and told her that they did not come out with money. They then asked the woman to allow her child to accompany them to their house so they can give the child the money to bring to her mother. The unsuspecting woman agreed, and that was how they made away with the woman’s child, eventually sold her and escaped to Calabar. But the child’s parents vowed to find her. In Calabar they were caught and as God would have it, they were brought back to Lagos.
When the story spread, I told the man I gave the couple’s picture to go and check if they were the people we were looking for. It was the Ajangbadi Police Station that was in-charge of their case. So when the man went there, he discovered that they were the people we had been looking for. When they were interrogated, they began to deny that they knew anywhere called Awo-Idemili – that they have never lived there. When they continued to deny, the man brought out their pictures, they became weak. They didn’t know what to do again. They eventually agreed that they took the children. The girl was 4 months and this one (the boy) was 2 years and 5months when they kidnapped them. So, we went to Owerri Police Command and reported the new development. I called my brother and told him that God had answered our prayers. When they were interrogated, it was learnt that they had sold the children at Asaba. Later, the Asaba buyer allegedly resold the girl to another person in Obosi.
But because he was not able to also resell the boy, he went and gave him to a motherless babies’ home. Now, when the one that bought the girl learnt that the Asaba person had been arrested, he quickly bathed her and took her to a church and called the seller to go to the place and collect her. But before he could leave the place, the police had closed in on him. On seeing the policemen, he began to run. The policemen pursued him and he ran into a crowd and vanished. The policemen took his car and went to the church and brought my child. So, they contacted us on phone that the children had been recovered. So, I called my son and he was happy but doubtful, asking me if I was sure. I assured him that God has done it because He is a great Warrior. They were stolen on September 16 and recovered on May 25 the following year. I promised God that if He recovered these children, that I would give them to Him and dedicate them to His service. These children will follow me in this heavenly race and work of God. So God did it as I said. They were brought back on Saturday and on Sunday I went to the church to dedicate them. I only said: God, see, they are now Your children, since you did for me as I asked you! I will prepare and give a proper Thanksgiving to God. I won’t rush it. So, for me, it is a thing of great joy. That particular day, people were very reluctant to go home after the fellowship, and even the pastor. It was a thing of great rejoicing for all the brethren. There are people who have been looking for their own missing children for years and they are yet to see them. But God showed me favour, a poor widow like me, and answered my prayers. Everywhere I go, I keep sharing the testimony asking people to help me thank the Lord. God is not dead. He lives forever. Some people don’t know that. He is God of all gods. God did it for me and it is a thing of joy.
Praise the Lord!”