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Dec22TueAs a teenager, I looked for trouble. But God was looking for me. December 22, 2015 by Valéry Nabi
I was born in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, in West Africa—one of the poorest countries in the world. My parents were of modest means, but we always had something to eat and a roof over our heads. I was the second of three boys, and the one that always caused trouble.
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During my teen years, I had a great deal of anger in me and loved to fight. I got into mischief with a bunch of friends from my neighbourhood. Once, when some kids threatened us, I was so angry that I went home to fetch a kitchen knife to fight them. I took some pleasure in that lifestyle, but when I found myself alone in my bedroom, I felt uneasy and empty. I was afraid of many things, especially of dying.
I was born into a Christian family and we went to church every Sunday, but for me it was a place to meet friends and spend time outside the home. Still, I thought following the religious rules protected me, that I was saved.
My father registered me in a group of young Christians whose mandate was to make disciples and act as witnesses. I agreed to join the group because I knew some of the members, and especially because the group was making mission trips and I was interested in travelling.
A few months later, one of my uncles signed me up for a youth camp, without my consent. I was furious, but God was waiting for me like Saul on the road to Damascus. One evening, during a discussion about death and eternity, I was convicted by the thought that if I were to die that day, I would not be with God. I repented, confessed my sins and put my faith in the accomplished work of Christ.
The Holy Spirit filled my heart and I went home a changed person. My family and friends noticed a difference in my life at all levels. I even stopped abusing people verbally, which had almost become my trademark. I gave up violence and started to have compassion for people. You can't meet Christ and remain the same.
Since my rebirth, I have experienced two extraordinary things: the power of prayer and God's direction. When I returned from the youth camp, all I wanted to do was pray and talk to God, my Father. I learned that the prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective, and if we do not receive, it is because we did not ask. And I started to see my prayers being answered, in all aspects of my life.
When my wife was pregnant with our second child, a test revealed that one of the baby's kidneys was larger than the other one. The doctor said we wouldn't know the extent of the situation until week 32 of the pregnancy. We have a family history of kidney problems, so we began to pray. We persevered until an ultrasound showed that the kidney was normal. God answers prayer.
In 2001, I experienced God's direction when I came to Canada to pursue my education. I didn't know what program to take, but God guided me toward accounting sciences. After working for another non-profit organization, God opened the door to The Salvation Army. This was not just a job, but a way to minister.
Today, I am the director of community and family services in Montreal, and, as I like to say, accounting is my profession but the Army is my vocation.