Pride and God’s Grace
My name is Folawole. I’m an engineer by training but a budding recording artiste.
As a child, I didn’t like my name. I thought it was too long and wanted a simpler one. While I was in the university, I stumbled upon an article in a newspaper by a gentleman called Fola Adeola, the MD of Guaranty Trust Bank, at the time. I thought it would be cool to shorten my name to Fola. Most people who knew me from my childhood and even till now still call me Fola. As I grew older, I realized how unique my full name was. I got to understand that the meaning of my name is, ‘Enter with wealth’, so I reverted to my full name, Folawale.
I grew up in a Christian home and attended Sunday service but still lied, cheated and stole. I was addicted to video games in secondary school. It was so bad that I traded someone’s video game with someone else’s. I got into trouble and was involved in street fighting as well. At the age of fourteen, I got saved through my classmates in secondary school. I was in the same class with transfer students and loved them because they were real Christians. They talked a lot about heaven and hell. One day, I thought to myself that I wanted to make it to heaven, and so my Christian journey started. It wasn’t easy you know, as it was difficult to cut off from my friends and develop new friendships. My new friends were Christians and also the bright guys in school which helped me a lot. I was a bright student but never did my assignments. I only studied a day before exams. My association with these new guys rubbed off on me as I became focused in school. I did well and became one of the top students.
Along the way, I started listening to gospel songs and enjoyed them so much. I listened to songs by Integrity Music, Maranatha, Ron Kenoly, Bob Fitts and the like. Those songs blew my mind. I remember watching the video of the song, Sing Out. I saw the musical instruments, which sparked my desire to lead worship. I had never sung in my life and was never in the choir but I wanted to lead worship and lead people into God’s presence. I used my pocket money to buy music tapes. It gradually became part of me. Then a particular song by Don Meon, Trust in the Lord, was released. I sang the song throughout my SSCE and it changed my life.
After secondary school, I got filled with the Holy Spirit after I read ‘Good Morning Holy Spirit’ by Benny Hinn.
I wanted to further my studies in the United States of America. I wanted it so badly because all my friends were either in the United States of America or in the United Kingdom. I did all the foreign exams which I passed but my father insisted I that study in University of Lagos (Unilag), Nigeria. The admission process started and my name was not on the admission list even though I had a good grade. I was happy because I wanted to go to America. I still ended up in Unilag and thank God I did, because I met fantastic friends – Tosin Martins, Kachi and Dupe, who helped shape my music ministry. I joined my fellowship choir. People were interested in me because I was passionate about music. They helped me grow my career. We did concerts together. I remember the first time my fellowship pastor asked me to do a song. It was amazing singing that song. I got positive feedback afterwards. I began to work on myself and took voice training classes which made me better. I joined Laz Ekwueme’s choral group after school. I connected with a lady called Olufunmi, who took me as her son. I sang background vocals on her album. Even when she offered me money, I turned it down because I just wanted to serve and learn from her.
I graduated from Unilag with a second class upper degree. After my degree at Unilag, I resumed my American journey. I wrote GRE. The schools I wanted did not accept me. Funny enough, a school in the UK that I didn’t put effort into accepted me. It was one of the top engineering schools in the UK. I was reluctant to go but I’m glad I did in the end. It transformed my life and opened me up to opportunities. I did my Master’s and also got a job. Before I started working, I did a term in a voice class which helped me to gain confidence in music. I moved to Aberdeen afterwards where I became one of the soloists and worship leaders in my church.
Fast forward to 2008 and 2009. I started going for Israel Houghton’s conference in Houston. I pioneered the worship movement in the city of Aberdeen. I co-founded a talent showcase for young adults and teenagers. I did well. I got amazing reviews at work. I was making good money and I felt cool with myself. I rolled with Israel Houghton and gradually pride set in. Pride also affected my relationship. I didn’t manage the blessings well. At work, I was supposed to be promoted but my new boss halted my promotion and that wrecked me. It was so bad that my Pastor used me to preach in church because the lady I dated then was also in the choir. I stopped going to that parish and moved to the parish we had planted in Dundee just an hour away. I started leading worship in the parish. God humbled me. I came from a church where we had a full band but in Dundee, it was just me, one person backing me and one guy who couldn’t play a keyboard. I had to go back to ground zero, leading worship in a small room. God began to work on me. I began to realize again that it was not about the platform I was on or the musical instruments. It was about the heart of worship. I enrolled into a school of discipleship and in one of the classes, I heard ‘restore.’ I held on to it and prayed to God for restoration. Prior to that, I would lead worship and people would come back with testimonies, even about healing. God was using me greatly. But I failed and went from grace to nothing. I realized I needed to depend on God for ministry. It was about the grace of God and that made me conscious of asking God to use me before I led worship.
I failed but learnt my lessons. I will never go back to the place of pride. I understood that for my temperament – Melancholy Choleric, pride is one of my weaknesses. I learnt humility with the help of God.
To the glory of God, in 2014, I recorded and released a single which was well received in Nigeria, UK and US. It was played on television in the UK. God opened doors and connected me with producers I never thought I would ever work with. Life became easy after God worked on me.
Pride is one of the things God hates. I encourage you to be mindful and reflective. Share your weaknesses, confess to God and pray that God uses you.
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