Emmanuel was a thug. Almost daily he would steal and then and sell those items to support his growing drug habit. He told us of the time that he met a woman in a taxi, and decided he would rob her. With a knife hidden by his massive forearm, he left the taxi, crept up behind her, and threw her up against the wall. Seeing the knife was enough for the terrified woman to surrender her purse and valuables to him.
Emmanuel remembers that his parents divorced when he was six years old, and sent him to live with his grandmother in Monrovia, Liberia. But the 1990’s were a time of civil war in the country. Fearing for their lives, grandma and the grandchildren she was raising, they fled from the city. In the process, Emmanuel was separated from his grandmother. At age ten or eleven, he learned that his grandmother had been killed by rebels. He was never able to reconnect with his mother or father again, and turned to the streets to survive.
At first he hung out with rebel soldiers who had befriended him and taught him to do many illegal activities. He often carried their guns for them in exchange for food. By age eighteen, Emmanuel was living in a drug induced haze. “Throughout my teenage years,” he said, “I engaged in all kinds of illegal and immoral activities. Drugs, sex with prostitutes, crime, even homosexuality were common in my life.”
Emmanuel took us to a cemetery filled with broken graves and even some exposed corpses. He often came there to sleep especially when the police came looking for him. In many ways the cemetery became a metaphor for Emmanuel’s life. He was dead on the inside with no hope and no future. One day while playing soccer with some friends, Emmanuel saw the steel girders and stage going up for the Christ for all Nations Gospel Campaign. He had seen the signs advertising that crusade, but in his mind he had only one thought: “I will not be going to that place.” He had no interest in God.
The next day he was playing soccer there again, when he stopped. In his mind, there were words forming. He said he heard them almost as if someone had spoken aloud to him: “You are lost. You don’t know your creator. You don’t know who you are.” So Emmanuel came to the Gospel crusade. On the first night, and even the second night he said nothing happened. Then on the third night the power of God touched his life. “Immediately a feeling came upon me,” he said. “I had chills like electricity going over my entire body, from the crown of my head to the souls of my feet.” That night, Emmanuel prayed to receive Jesus as his Savior and everything began to change for him.
“I felt great. I felt great. I had been carrying what felt like 50 tons of weight on my head…but the moment I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, it felt like someone just came and took that load from me. “I felt LIGHT” he declared with a great smile. Soon after that night at the crusade, Emmanuel experienced something supernatural. He was walking down the street, and a small voice in his head told him to “look to the left.” When he did, he saw a young woman who LOOKED EXACTLY LIKE HIM! He was astounded. Working up his courage, he stopped the girl and asked her name. Moments later he discovered that he had just met HIS SISTER! He asked if his mother was still alive, and learned that she was living far away in the country. Together with his sister, he went to see his mother for the first time since he was six. They embraced, and laughed and cried together, and Emmanuel spent the next week with her.
It has been 17 years since that night in 1998 when Emmanuel came to the CfaN Campaign, and Emmanuel is still excited about what God did for him. He said, “God gave me forgiveness. I was dying with sin, I was stained with sin and God washed away everything! I felt clean.”
That weekend, in February of 2012, was special for Emmanuel, as he has come to a new Christ for all Nations Gospel Campaign, which had come back to Liberia after 14 years. Emmanuel told us of his great love for the ministry, and was thankful for what God has done in his life since that night in the field so many years before. “I think God is using [Christ for all Nations] to do a lot of great things in my country, and in my own life! I would greatly encourage people to support the ministry of [Christ for all Nations]. They are changing people’s lives, they are turning things around. God is working through them!” he said.
Throughout that amazing week in December of 1998, we saw 600,000 people attend the crusade with 180,000 that made a decision for Christ! When we returned there in February of 2012 there were another 660,000 people that attended the crusade with 540,400 filling out decision cards and being ushered into the local churches. Jesus is still changing lives, like Emmanuel’s, all these years later.
Take a look at the full story by watching Emmanuel’s story below and don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel by clicking right here!