"Dela, Dela, wake up", Esther Lawer, my beloved mum will call as she attempts to wake me up from a cozy sleep. Getting up from bed seemed drudgery sometimes but mum will ensure that I am up from bed. She will wake my other siblings up and demand that we join her at the dinning hall for our morning devotion. This was usually around 5 am and so some of us will struggle to keep our eyes open as the devotion went on. My mum will lead us in prayer and through a brief moment of worship, and would read a portion of Scripture to us. She would sometimes make us read in turns specific passages of Scripture. Mama Esther would also read from the devotional - 'Light for our path', taking her time to expatiate. While she did so, she would ask us questions based on the Biblical text and commentary from the devotional. Our morning devotions always ended with a prayer. This was how a typical day in our home begun while a kid. This was even before I joined Scripture Union (SU) and also attended many youth camps under the auspices of SU where I developed the habit of having a personal quiet time with the Lord in prayer and in the Word every single morning.
When I look back at those early years of my life where my mum ensured that I participate in morning devotions, every single morning, I wonder how she did it. She was such a busy woman; she was a banker and held leadership roles in our home church and in Women`s Aglow International among others. She will leave for work in the morning and return at night almost every working day. This was so because once she closed from work at the Bank, she would make her way to a church related programme such as Women`s Fellowship meetings and Women`s Aglow meetings. She would check on us kids when she returned home and would usually go to bed late, and exhausted. This notwithstanding, she would be up from bed early enough to ensure that we read the Scriptures and prayed. Such was her commitment to a daily devotional life.
Sunday church attendance, and of cause Sunday school was a must for every one in our home. My mum would ensure that my kid sister and I and other members of the family got ready early enough for Sunday worship service at the Unity Congregation of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, Tamale. Mama Esther will give us money while on our way to church and instruct us to give it out during offertory time. For the most part I complied; on a few occasions I squandered the money but mum never knew. However, I learnt to be faithful by the time I turned twelve.
Occasionally, I feigned sickness so as not to be required to go to church. And on this particular Sunday morning, I escaped from home with my bicycle. I did not want to go to church that day. Well, no one knew my where about but they went to church all the same. They somehow knew I had deliberately bolted and that I would certainly come home later in the day. Later that day I learnt the lesson of my life. Mum operated by the Bible imperative, "spare the rod, spoil the child". She literally lashed the foolishness out of me. I never again skipped church under mum`s watch. Many years down the line, I am glad mum "taught me a lesson".
At Age 12 my mum bought me my first full Bible (It was a "Good News Bible."), hitherto I was content with having a Gideon`s KJV New Testament. She also bought me my first copy of the daily devotional, "Daily Power." She was instrumental in my becoming a member of the Scripture Union town fellowship and also ensured that I never missed any of the youth camps ("Junior Youth Camp) organized by Scripture Union. My life was impacted greatly as a result. I gave my life to Christ and was deeply involved in church-related activities right from when I was twelve; my heart-felt desire at age 12 was to be like the boy Jesus; the story of Jesus` engagement with the teachers of the law and his parents interested me so much. Thanks to my mum.
Mum was a prayerful Christian woman. I would hear her pray passionately at dawn all by herself. The more I heard her pray, the more my prayer vocabulary was impacted. As a matter of fact, as a teenager, the structure of my prayer life and the style/content was for the most part fashioned along the lines of that of my mum. She has no clue this was happening. Mama Esther would spend a long time, an hour or more praying for people and about many situations. I was inspired to pray the same way because of my mum`s example. Even as a young adult, I still find traces of the contents of my mum`s prayers in my prayer language. Mum will also occasionally organize a fast for the family and require that every one gets involved.
I fell in love with books as a kid, once I overcame the hurdle of learning how to read. I read lots of bedtime stories, ladybird stories and several other children`s books. The good news for me was that mum had a huge stock of Christian literature. And so I would read one book after the other. Growing up as a teenager and into my twenties, I feasted on these books. My Biblical knowledge grew by limps and bounds. My hunger for God and the things of God grew stronger.
I remember after my compulsory national service and two years voluntary service, my mum backed me up when I decided to pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theology. She encouraged and supported throughout my theological education.
At age 70 and while not too well health-wise, my mum is still a praying and believing woman. On occasion, she prays with me and during challenging times, she encourages me, and assures me she is praying for me. I couldn`t have asked for a better mum. When I think of my mum and her immeasurable influence on my life, I am reminded of what the apostle Paul said to Timothy, "I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also" (2 Timothy 1:5).