What do you do when you find yourself in a situation, where there is no way out?
It was like a heartbreak, I was so devastated, the kind of pain I haven’t felt since the loss of my mother. The rug was yanked from underneath me. The life I had known for 11 years went up in smokes. It was a rude awakening, how was I going to come out of this? I never saw this coming. Everything was about to change forever, when these words were muttered: Where did you renew your passport? Already sweating my socks off, I had to answer the immigration official; Atlanta. I nervously responded. When did you graduate?
In 2014, I replied her.
And you renewed your passport in 2015, in Atlanta? Please step aside ma’am.
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"Oh Lord, please don’t let this happen," I prayed silently in my heart. I had lived in the United States for 11 years before my encounter with the immigration officer. My brother was getting married, and I wasn't going to miss that for anything. Everyone warned me not to take the risk. They wondered if I was ever going to make it back, due to the hostile climate against illegal immigrants that was brewing in the US. "I feel compelled to go", I always told them. "If I don’t go, I will regret it for the rest of my life." It was as if God was nudging me towards a journey I wasn’t ready physically or mentally to embark on. I was going to take the risk and renew my visa in Nigeria, even if there was a period of time I was out of status in the United States.
After all the partying and owambe all for the celebration of my brother's union, then reality set in! What if I don’t get a visa to return? My apartment in the US was still left intact. Who was going to pack everything up if things went awry? What of my car? "Oh well, Evi you have to have faith!" I often consoled myself. All things are possible for those that believe.
Has there been a time, where you were out of status in the United States? I stared at that question, and it stared right back at me. I gambled with the thought of telling the truth as a Christian and stand the risk of losing the life I was comfortable with, or telling a lie, and the possibility of protecting the life I so longed to go back to.
No, I clicked with nervousness; maybe God will somehow turn this lie around for my good and his glory. I got the visa and was so happy to return home. Laughing at the faces of all of those who said I wouldn’t make it back. Yeah! Even at the Delta official, who angrily told me, ‘they will never let you back into this country.’ I bought everything I needed for the trip, informed those close to me what time I would be arriving Houston, and was all set to surprise the remainder of the people, who didn't know when I was coming back.
"Pray for me!" I texted my friends with tears in my eyes.
"Let my pastors know what is going on. Cry out to God on my behalf. I honestly don’t have the strength to seek Him right now. I am in a bind, I don’t know if they would let me in."
This must be how Jesus felt, at that moment in Gethsemane, where He was crying out to God to take away the adversity that was in front of him. But the difference is that He was still asking for God’s will to be done in the end. Although I did not know what God’s will was, I just wanted to get in. Taking turns and going into the private bathroom to weep, all the while praying; ‘God, please make a way, let this cup pass over me, I can’t afford to be deported. Please intervene.’
Ma’am they will like to see you now, a customs officer pleasantly said to me. Then the interrogation started;
Why did you lie on a federal form?
I'm sorry....I tried getting a word in, before I got cut off again.
Don't you know that is a felony?
I know, I know...please have mercy!
If you had told the truth, then we would have pardoned you.
Darn it! Why! Why? Why did you lie? Wouldn’t it have been better for you never to have left Lagos, than to come all the way here to get humiliated?
WD her, said one official to another. Huh? What does that mean? I replied back.
Trust me it's okay, you just have to go back home and reapply, then come back, they said.
Who will give me another chance? Who will purchase another flight ticket for me? Please please, let me in! I have no criminal records; I am no threat to you guys. I just made a silly mistake which we all make and told a lie that is about to cost me everything.
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Okay, go into this room, and we will send for you. Then I stepped into what they were referring to as a room, and immediately exclaimed; What! A cell?
Is this what your life has been reduced to? I asked myself. This weeping is definitely going to endure more than a night. God please I need you! Help me! Touch their hearts! Do one of your great miracles. Like the one of Paul & Silas, or when you set Peter free from prison. Set me free from this anguish and I promise, I will never tell a lie in my life again. I then cried myself to sleep, and was woken up by this loud bang on the door, thinking it to all be a dream!
You can come out now ma’am. Whew! God is about to move! Everyone is about to know how great my God is. Things were dark, but God...ma’am! (I was rudely brought back into reality). The official who attended to you made a mistake, they continued. Yes! Yes! This is it! I thought, we are actually going to bar you for 5 years. Please sign here. You have to go back home.
Wait! What? I had heard this happen in the news recently and prayed that it was never going to be my reality. I blame God for not endowing my parents with enough wealth in the beginning so they could have me in the US. What am I going to tell people now? My family? Another failure? Another disappointment? God this is not the ‘Arise & Shine’ vision for my life that I thought I would experience when You spoke at the beginning of the year. What am I going to do with my life now? The events unfolding in my life, don’t look good at all.
You can come with us now ma’am. Grab your stuff and enter through these back doors. I made my way with them and secretly got on the flight back to Lagos, 48 hours after I had kissed everyone goodbye. Was this God’s plan? Was this my own doing? The more I prayed, the more the situation worsened. I had lost all hope in life and in God. I could not see how He would turn this around.
Have you found yourself in such a difficult situation before? how did you deal with it? leave your comments below and let's talk about it. Remember also to like, share and subscribe to never miss an update.
PS- Continue with Part 2 and Part 3.