By Frank Tietie
My heart bled as I read the report of two more suicides in the space of two days after I called on faith leaders and social workers to take seriously the issue of suicides among young Nigerians.
One of the reported cases of the suicides involved a gospel minister. That certainly should defy reasoning but when the poltergeist of suicide stays too close, without the reaffirmation of the embodied love and power of God manifested through others, anyone could cave in and quit.I have been there!
I was naturally gifted from a young age with a sound mind that is able to grasp and express ideas fluently to the admiration of my teachers and peers. I stood out in class as a teenager, always coming tops and ultimately graduated from Government College Ughelli as probably the best student in 1990.
The year 1992 when I gained admission to University of Benin to study law was preceded by a cataclysmic experience that turned my life up side down. It was the ‘born again’ experience. It was indeed a dangerous experience because I meant it.
Prior to my being born again. I inherited and imbibed so many things from so many people including rock music which had express and subliminal messages that encouraged suicides and alternative life styles. I religiously played songs by Black Sabbath, Bad Company, The Police, David Bowie and the rest of them.
My born again experience was antithetical to everything that I was yet I carried on with those Pentecostals as if nothing else mattered in this world. I was gradually losing everything and at a point was convinced to quit my law studies to become a missionary and so many other things. In fact, I did quit despite holding prospects of being one of the best in my law class at that time.
With reckless and misguided zeal, I finally lost who I was. The childhood pride of being the Headmistress’ special child that was admired by everyone to being the brilliant secondary school teenager who excelled in athletics and academics, I inexplicably ended up a big failure who couldn’t go through university. I lost my friends and admirers, the born again craze perplexed too many, including myself.
At that point, came the invisible forces. They taunted me in my brain. They spoke through neighbors, family members, friends and classmates. They told me how useless and messed up that I was. That my early rising in life had come to end so soon in failure and I was using the born again experience as an excuse. I finally agreed with those voices and anger set in. When I considered the harm I could do to others, the only thing that becomes acceptable to me was to kill myself. Little did I know that I had come to the end of myself and that the grace of God has been at work.
The best thing that can happen to any human being is the experience of regeneration whereby a person’s old nature of corruption dies and a new nature that is renewed in the image of God emerges.
Quoting the Master: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, еxcept a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.”
– _The Book of John, Chapter12, Verse 24_
The born again experience strips you of who you are and makes you a new person set on a path to become who you were meant to be. It is typified by life that comes from death and loss.
When a seed of corn is sown, it actually dies by decomposition, only for it to be renewed by the power of life that brings forth many more seeds from the original seed that decomposed.
The supernatural dimension of this mysterious but foundational principle of life and increase was demonstrated by the Master himself who chose against His human nature to die, be buried, decomposed indeed and was by the spiritual breath of God was brought back to life. Though being one man who died and was sown in corruption, he arose in life and today has replicated Himself into millions of men and women who have dedicated their lives here on earth to Him.
When you think you are down, you are merely going through an emptying and a dying process. It is temporary. When you think you are nothing and death is the only thing fitting for you, thank God for you have come to an end point which is the point of grace from where life indeed is to begin.
When you are down in life and death seems so near and appealing, don’t take the suicide path for that is when life is about to begin. Let go and let God take control. Do nothing but indeed let God take control.
God, on His own gave you life in the first place. You didn’t give yourself life. He couldn’t have made a mistake by creating your life. Everything He created was good and meant to serve a specific purpose. You cannot handle the life He gave you better than He can. Just don’t give up! Don’t even give in! Just wait and let God usher you into the next dimension of life here on earth.
Even at the end of your sojourn here on earth, it is still the same principle that applies. Let go and let God take control even when on the death bed. Let His angels bear you to that place of eternal rest in the presence of the God of love, when your mission here on earth is over.
So I thought I got to the end of my life and suicide was the only option. That was when God saved me. That was when His love lifted me from those boisterous waves of physical and spiritual taunts of suicides.
I found resolve to defy every shame and I went back to the same University of Benin and graduated six years after I should have graduated. It took me 13 years instead of six years to become a lawyer from the time when I entered university at the age of 17.
So the original Frank Tietie that was ashamed, afraid and lived in fragile cocoons had died. Before then, I felt the ground should open up and swallow me than to experience failure among my mates but the new Frank Tietie was indeed renewed and didn’t care about anything but focus on the life he was meant to live after redemption from the cold hands of suicidal death, a work of the enemy.
I came to a point when I truly realized that the life I lived wasn’t mine and the One who truly had my life was the One who gave it and saved it. Therefore, He is also capable of keeping it safe. That is why I do the things I do. I owe it all to Him.
I once thought I lost something by my born again experience. That was a lie! The other day I was on a live interactive on AIT News Hour, analysing human rights law. When I left the studio that night, on my way home, in the car, I received a call from an original class mate of mine back in Benin. He asked me, “Frank Tietie, weren’t you the one that failed miserably back in school? How come you are now teaching us human rights law on national television? How come?”. I laughed. “Instead of your former shame you will have a double portion”
-The Book of Isaiah, Chapter 61, Verse 7
Everything I thought lost, I gained even much more. For the shame of failure, He gave me so much fame beyond my imagination. Consider the staggering number of times I have been on national radio and television taking informed and independent positions on human rights issues and other matters of national interest.
It had even got to a point that I was getting paid to air my opinions. I giggle like a child, alone in my car each of those times when I am given honoraria by the Mandate Studios of Radio Nigeria and Voice of Nigeria for airing my opinions. Some persons who appreciate my views on other media platforms have had cause to come and support me and my human rights work financially. I never had the faintest idea that God would give me so much honour after my struggles with suicidal thoughts.
Just live. Don’t give up! Don’t give in! Let go and Let God take control!
The one that recently made me laugh the hardest was when the Federal Government of Nigeria recently appointed me into the UPR Committee on Human Rights. I travelled to the United Nations twice, sitting at the UN Human Rights Council sessions. That was a dream that once flashed through my 12 year old pristine mind and it did come to pass. I had discussions with top diplomats and went on a tour of four European nations exploring human rights.
But wait a minute! This was Frank Tietie who once thought suicide was the only solution. That was what Judas Priest and Ozzy Osbourne, both formerly of Black Sabbath, the outlandish rock band once preached and the thoughts barraged me at those low moments of mine but TD Jake’s on the other hand sang a song of grace, that:
“…. Just hold on
The test is your storm
And it won’t be long
Go through it
Just hold on…
Ask me if I have arrived and I will answer you, No! In fact, I struggle much more than ever before. I see those sights that dazzle me and kindle my appetites. Indeed, those tempting sounds, I still hear but with the realisation that He is in control, I am not laid back but I take solace and strength from the declaration that:
“being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
-The Book of Philippians, Chapter 1, Verse 6.
I get deeply saddened these days upon the realization that fundamental Bible teaching is no longer popular. Whereas, fundamental or orthodox Christian teaching may appear old fashioned, it holds much of the means to unlocking the mysterious truths that will save the soul in times of trials such as suicidal thoughts.
Only love will make me bare my heart and call out with the loudest voice to that one person who is able to hear me and say that the suicide solution is not a solution.
When the push to commit suicide is highest, know therefore, my beloved struggling brother or sister that indeed, new life is about to begin.
Just hold on. Don’t give up! Don’t give in. Let go and let God take control.
The Apostle Paul said:
“Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”
I pray that the mercy and grace of God will keep us continually.
▪Tietie, Lawyer & Human Rights Defender writes from Abuja.