A Personal Tribute to Joshua Adah – a friend, boss, brother, mentor and hero.
By David Ogunshola.
I started writing this piece the morning I heard of Joshua’s death. It’s interestingly strange that I could not complete it. Somewhere along the line I began telling myself “this cannot be true”. Now that I know it is really true. I tell my heart – it is well! Sleep on sir!
I was in my third year in the university when I first met Joshua. It was the year 2008. He had come to teach a lesson for the Perspectives Study Programme (PSP) which was holding in Mubi Nigeria. I still remember the morning he taught. It was a busy day, I had forfeited a computer programming class that morning and made my way quickly through the dusty and sandy roads to the church where the class was holding. It was the second day I guess. His opening sentences still ring on my mind. “Thy Kingdom Come”, that was the lesson he taught. The contents of the lesson did not stand out to me as much as the stories he told and his gestures, mixed with sincerity and passion as he spoke.
Joshua walked up to me after the class and said “it seems we have met somewhere”. I knew we had not met before, but he was so full of life and grace that anybody will just want to be around him. I still remember his joke that afternoon when he said “maybe we have met in the spirit”. That sounded like a regular and popular Christian joke, but years later, I would come to discover that it probably had more to it than the joke, because from that very moment, it was like something about the both of us just seemed to connect. Months later, I will invite Joshua to my campus as the lead resource person for an evangelistic NIFES programme, and he will use that platform to make indelible eternal marks on the hearts of people across the strata of the campus. I remember those nights as we prepared for the meetings, his second daughter Success (Nasara) was born. Amazingly, he stayed back. I remember him saying words like “there is a great harvest of souls on this campus.” His passion endeared me to him. I had found the kind of man I wanted to be like, he was to me the true definition of a model.
Every other contact, visit, phone call or meeting at events was a platform for me to glean a lot from Joshua. It will be hard for me to use very few words to describe who Josh was and the influence he has had on my life. Whenever I contemplate making a crazy decision about my life, I pick up my phone and give him a call. Of course you know the response – he always gave me marching orders. We met severally at events across the country, and he always related to me like a brother, even though I saw him as a more senior boss.
My first visit to Murkuni village where Joshua ran his ministry rocked my world. It’s something you cannot explain. You can only help someone else have the experience so they can understand. That first night while we chatted over dinner, he told me “David we need young crazy boys like you who will go and open up the gateway to Northern Africa. If you feel God is calling you to Chad as a missionary, what are you waiting for? We have been praying for that for a long time, so why are you wasting more time?” Boy, I could not sleep. The next morning during assembly, he called me out before his over 300 children and announced to them that I was now a missionary to Chad. My fate was sealed. My decision was made, and to Chad I went. That is the kind of influence he had on my life. I still have the pair of jeans he gave me. He said I should wear it the day I was traveling to Chad. That’s how ‘crazy’ he was.
The morning after my wedding, the first call that woke me up was from Uncle Josh. I won’t tell you what he said, but that just suggests to you the kind of person he is and how he does things that just endears him to you. He was very fond of his two beautiful daughters. He would usually tease me and ask that I should have a girl first, in my own interest. Amazingly or by chance, I do have a girl first. He loved everybody he met. He saw potential in almost everything. He was honest.
Less than a year ago, a team from my Church in Uyo visited Murkuni village again. Everybody became a fan of Joshua. You can’t just help it. Only a few days visit, but it has become a major reference point in the life of almost everyone on that team. What did we not see in that village? Leadership at it’s best. Discipleship at the core. Sacrifice was the defining factor of their lives. Faith was raw there. I think before anybody preaches faith again, he needs to take a trip to Murkuni. There was a long term plan. There was structure. I cannot forget how his boys mesmerized us in the football field on our last evening. I remember one of us asking – “how did you train these boys?” Upon return to Uyo, we began the process of nominating him as a CNN Hero. I feel so sad that we never got to complete that process. The night before we left was their wedding anniversary. We threw a small surprise party. It was so much fun, and I remember him saying that was the first wedding anniversary that was being organized for them and celebrated by friends. Little did we know it was going to be the last.
Joshua Adah, you were an epitome of excellence. You were a true visionary. The kids in Murkuni didn’t need to imagine how Jesus would have lived, they saw you live it out. You have no idea the extent to which your influence has gone. When I heard of your death, I smiled and cried. I smiled because I know heaven was on its feet to receive you. But I cried because my mind rushed back to Aunty Ngozi and those two beautiful girls. As I write this, I still have not called her. What will I tell her? How will I start? I am still honestly battling with the fact that this is real. But I want to make you one promise: the fire you kindled will never run out. Never! I am challenged all the more to desire a very short but relevant life, just like yours. Before I exit in grand style like you did, I promise to transfer the flames to many other people around me.
You left us a legacy. You left us footprints to follow. You raised the bar. You showed us that nothing is impossible in our generation. We won’t immortalize you with statues, but you will be proud at how many of us will end up doing greater things simply because at some point in our lives, we met you. After your death, your images have taken over the social media. In the heat of political campaigns, you became the center of attraction and discussion. I smile again, because in your death, you accomplished much more than you did in your lifetime. You watered the ground of Taraba for the greatest kingdom harvest it has ever experienced. Your killers will surely be found in heaven. They have no choice, they must be saved, because I know you prayed for them as they killed you. My heart silently bleeds. There is a void there that I pray God raises someone else to fill. Although I know you are in heaven, I will personally miss you. You were more than a brother, more than a friend, and more than a mentor. You were a hero. My hero. Rest on with the Lord General Joshua Adah.
– Your boy, friend and brother. David Ogunshola