Like the Saul of Tarsus, ex Kalakuta, junkie and robber, Keji Hamilton concludes his testimony today. GBUBEMI GOD’S COVENANT SNR reports with additional report from JOY EKEKE.
While he was still alarmed at the realisation that his body was suddenly throwing out cocaine with blood, something stranger than fiction happened. Even though it was decades ago, his voice lowered to a whisper as he told Daily Timesin pidgin: ‘My brother, fear catch me’. His story:
“I was still alarmed when something like a television screen appeared before me and I saw scenes of my life from the day I left home till the moment I was sitting in that hotel room with my vomit still all over me.
“When the screen disappeared, I realised I have been crying all the time the screen was showing me my life. I was weeping, catarrh filled my nostrils, and one question kept ringing in my head saying: ‘Keji, is this how you will live, marry, settle down and train your children?’ and the answer was, ‘Ah,Keji, you’ve missed it.’
“But I have always been a Muslim and don’t know how to pray the Christian way. Isummoned up courage and prayed this prayer:
‘You voice that has spoken to me, if you can deliver me from drugs, I will serve you all the days of my life.’ “After that prayer, I can’t say I knew what happened; but let me tell you: before that night, if I had not smoked to stupor, I cannot sleep; but that night, I knew that I didn’t smoke; I couldn’t smoke or drink even if I wanted to, but when I slept, I didn’t open my eyes until about 8.30 the next day. For the first time in the years before I became a bad boy, I slept like a baby.”
But the voice was not done with Keji yet. “As I woke up, I heard the voice say, ‘You think you can stop this drug habit yourself ?’ Then he said, ‘You have stopped.’ And he said again, ‘Try and eat now.’ “You know that junkies don’t eat well, but when I heard that voice say ‘go and eat now’, I rushed downstairs, bought food and I finished it all. Normally if I don’t smoke heavily, I cannot eat, and after I force a little food down, my stomach would be aching, and it is so with all junkies. But now, I ate all that food and I felt no pain.” Without knowing why, Keji walked down to Texas, the drug joint, and another revelation hit him.
“As I got there, I saw the joint like I was seeing it for the first time. The dirty gutter, the stinking odour and all the guys there smoking and looking funny revolted me and I turned back. “As I was walking away, one guy who was smoking called me, ‘Keji, come take smoke now?’ I turned back and told him: ‘that thing you’re smoking, I will never touch it again until I die’ and I walked away. That was how I quit the joints and drugs and marijuana forever.”
For a junkie of that degree, Keji boasts of the power that healed him: “My deliverance from cocaine and heroin, marijuana, alcohol and cigarettes was instant. It happened that moment,and it was Jesus who did it. Nobody; no powerand no force anywhere that could have done it.”
Journey into the ministry “So now I got born again, the Lord told me I should devote my life to Him and divorce myself from all my past and I did. Everything I had before, I destroyed them. I escaped with only one jean trouser, one navy blue shirt and one night canvass and since I didn’t have money, and with my level, I could notgo begging anybody for anything, so I just entered into fasting that lasted for 237 days. I was squatting with someone somewhere all this time because I had left the brothel where I got my encounter.
The drug rehabilitation centre owned by Province 16 of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) took off in 2009.It is a 45 bed-capacity three-storey building in a residential neighbourhood at 16, Ikpoh Street, off Olatilewa Street, Ikate, Lawanson in Surulere, Lagos. Kejiis the ministering priest and coordinator of the centre. He told Daily Times how it all started. “I was invited to minister in one of their parishes and as I was preaching, I told them some people are suffering out there, while they (the church) are enjoying in air-conditioned rooms. It was my vision and the excellent spirit of the RCCG that brought about the rehab centre.”
How do you get the junkies?
“I go to drug joints and minister to them and I go with packets of foods so after preaching, I share foodsgive them from getting those on the streets and drug joints, parents and children who have drugs problem also call personally. The treatment Drugs are highly spiritual even though some people don’t want to agree, but I know this because I’ve been a victim. So when they come, wetake them through six months discipleship training. It is a drugless processthat flushes out all the drugs in their system and we achieve that in six months.
After admission, we take them through sessions of deliverance and casting out different demons from them. But the deliverance doesn’t make them completely healed. We have to transform their minds as Romans 12 v. 2 says:
“Do not be conformed to the things of this world, but be ye transformed by the renewal of your mind.” You know some of them have been smoking for most of their lives, so they already have a mindset that needs to be readjusted. We have lecturers who take them on 38 subjects that include integrity, humility, endurance, patience, fear of God, marriage and child upbringing. After that, we conduct examination and grade them. They also go through Baptismal classes after which we get them baptised. The last segment is when they learn some songs and drama in preparation for their graduation. How much does the centre charge per patient?
The rehab is a drug free, faith healing centre. We don’t use drugs. Then I assure you that patients in this rehab don’t pay one kobo. It’s all free. Keji asked: Where will they get money from? People we pick from gutter, dustbins and drug joints: where would they get money to pay? Is there any other organisation that funds the centre outside the Redeemed Church? No, is it’s just the Province 16 arm of RCCG known as Apapa Family, and some personal donations. There’s already a structure set down whereby people give, which is the essence of Christianity anyway.
More addicts admitted to the rehab The 7thsession of interviews and admission of new sets of drug addicts recovered from joints, streets and some brought in by relations took place on Saturday February 21st in Lagos. The joyous occasion took place at the Tabernacle Parish, Metro cinema, Onipan, along Ikorodu Road, Lagos. In an exclusive interview with Daily Times during the programme, coordinator and boss of the rehab, Pastor Keji Hamilton threw some light on the success rate of the centre. “When 10 drug addicts are brought out and reformed, the success ratio is 65 to 70 percent, and this is about the highest anywhere in the world.”
How is he able to manage drug addicts with so much ease? Keji analysed his formula of dealing with them. One way out of drug is to put them in confinement where they have no access to drugs. Then during the period of in-house reformation, they have no access to drug because they are in a confined area. Every morning, we have a minister who takes them through morning devotion, then we feed their souls with the Word of God by searching the Scriptures together before breakfast. Then they are given three balanced meals each day while they undergo many other training programmes. How do drugs affect children in and out of school and the society at large? Peer group, drugs addiction can happen from the school. Even right now as we speak, the drugs students are using are not even cocaine or heroin: they use prescription drugs, and pain killers like Bicolyn that they are supposed to be taking one spoon at a time, but they will take the full bottle and even add iced cubes.
Then the effect of drug is terrorism, militancy among other dangerous, spontaneous actions. No armed robber goes to rob without taking drug. Students now put drugs into their foods and drinks, and after a short while, they become addicted. The results are many, including lack of interest in education, they fail to attend classes, and eventually become school drop outs. All social vices are the result of drugs. And I discovered that people, especially parents do not know what drugs look like; not the colour, or smell nor and how they are obtained.
Keji’s parting word to government and parents. Government of every state should rise up to the fight against drugs in the society. Parents also should join in the fight by scrutinising their children; observe their lifestyles, the friends they keep and their behaviours. Most children are involved in drugs; some mothers know they show up at the centre for counsel, but their husbands don’t have any idea. Parents should educate their children about the dangers of drugs and alcohol and the Church should do the same because this is what is eating deep into our society. It is through teaching and awareness that young ones can be saved from drugs.
Invite teachers from this centre to teach the young ones at home, schools and Churches because we know what drugs are and what they can do. When a child is aware of the street names of drugs, the colours and is warned of the dangers, they will not be easily lured into drugs and alcohol. Drug abuse is more damaging than corruption and insurgency. It is everybody’s responsibility; if we rise to the challenge, our tomorrow will be peaceful because our children are going to be the leaders of tomorrow. Scorecard The centre has rehabilitated over 140 drug addicts since 2009. The total intake so far, at 45 bedcapacity per admission comes to 270 patients because we have admitted six sets. This new set takes us to the 315 mark. But the ones that are saved, delivered, returned to their families and working etc, are 140 persons both male and female, and many of them are married also.
That is why I am always quick to mention the sponsors of this rehab because there are other churches that are not interested in this vision. Also, there is need for government to support us in this course because it involves a great deal of money. Don’t pocket God’s money, and don’t pocket government money: use it for the betterment of humanity to the glory of God. That is the whole essence of living.