Many intercontinental travelers know that it is impossible to be tolerated at embassies when one does not have an appointment. In my case, it was different.
Two weeks before I had to travel to Sweden for an exchange program, I realized that getting a positive decision for my student residence permit application was not enough. I had to go to Nigeria to get my fingerprints and photo taken for my residence permit card so that I would be able to travel. This process was going to take at least three weeks, which was not good news at all. Kajsa, a Swedish lecturer at Ashesi University inquired for me if there was an alternative way and she learned that I could apply for a D-visa, which would come out as quickly as possible. It was on a Tuesday then, only left with nine days to travel.
Worried about how I was going to get to Nigeria, I walked out of Kajsa`s office. I sent an email to Araba, the Director of Admissions and Financial Aid at Ashesi, international student coordinators at my school and Mälardalen University, my exchange school, informing them about the new course of the process. Soon after sending the email, I saw Araba standing at the entrance of the reception talking to a student. As soon as she saw me she greeted me and asked me when I was leaving for Sweden. Since she is a MasterCard Scholars’ mother, I had notified her about my new opportunity as soon as I got my acceptance letter.
We got into her office and I told her my worry. Her response was, “Finances are not an issue. My worry is how long it will take for your Nigerian visa to come out. Since you are not West African you require a visa to go to Nigeria.” Thankfully, the MasterCard team had started an Opportunity Fund the very same semester to financially back scholars who get great opportunities but still have to cover some costs on their own. Araba`s calmness and willingness to help just melted my heart. I could not believe that she postponed one of her meetings so that she could contact people within her network to get the paperwork ready overnight for my Nigerian visa application.
I submitted my application on Thursday and I was told to come and collect my passport and visa after a week. I did not have a week to wait. My time was running out. I needed to be in Nigeria by Sunday. When all these challenges were coming my way, I remembered what God had said to me through Auntie Debbie during one Friday all-night prayer session. He said that I will go to Sweden. That statement reassured me that all would be well. Knowing that God is not a man that he should lie (Numbers 23:19), I knew he would find ways to fulfil his promise. And surely, he made a way. On Friday, a day after submitting my Nigerian visa application, I got a call to come and collect my visa.
After jubilating that I had gotten the Nigerian visa, I realized that my appointment with the Swedish embassy had not been confirmed yet. Despite that, Araba got my air ticket activated so that I would travel to Nigeria on Sunday. Any non-believer would question our sanity for paying a two-way ticket to go for a visa interview which I had no appointment for. All this was done in faith. For the Lord alone tells us to commit our ways unto him and trust in him for he shall bring everything to pass (Psalm 37:5).
Early Sunday morning, my host father, David accompanied me to the airport. Before we left the house, he led a prayer to commit the journey in God’s hands. Araba had sent me a message telling me that she was with me in prayers and Gumiso had been praying with me since I started applying. The Lord in Joshua 1:9 says “Do not be frightened nor dismayed, for I the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” The Lord had me covered, he even brought people in my life to stand with me in prayer. I did not tell my relatives, neither did I tell my family about all the challenges I was facing. Because as I was drawing close to the finishing line, the hurdles were becoming a lot. The situation was going to be difficult to understand for someone who was afar. I wanted to spare them the disappointments and break only good news to them.
I got to Nigeria at noon. Shade, a lady in Araba’s network had a driver waiting to pick me to the apartment she had organized for me. She warmly welcomed me and took care of my basic needs during my three-day stay. Surely, only God can define this act of love for a stranger. She was not obliged to do anything for me, but she got out of her way to help me.
The following day, I woke up early in the morning so that I could get to the Swedish embassy just before it opened. The place had tight security and surrounded by a very tall durawall. At the gate was a security office where the security officers verified whether one had an appointment or not. That simply meant that whoever was going to be served was the one with an appointment. The security men asked me if I had an appointment and my response was that it was indefinite. They told me to wait outside. After a while, they called me to come into the premises. The interviewer took my documents and went out of the office to inquire about my visa request. When he came back he told me that I did not qualify for the D-visa application. I speechlessly stared at him and after a moment of silence he said, “But, you must have prayed hard before you came here, I will give you the visa.”
Certainly, I had prayed the previous night. I pray the other nights, but that night I prayed more. A month before, I had discovered a YouTube channel by Sid Roth where people who have supernatural gifts tell people about the greatness of God. That very night I had watched a show about a man who has a gift to see angels and how they work to fulfil God`s purpose. Having seen how powerful God is on Sid Roth’s show, I prayed and asked God to send angels to book my appointment and make his way to get me the visa on the same day. God created everything on earth, so he has the power to control anything that transpires. With that in mind, I trusted him to take care of my situation on the day.
As if that was not enough, after the interviewer realized that I had to change my money to Naira before going to the bank to pay the visa fee, he offered to take me to the forex changers during lunch. Being a foreigner, worse off a Southern African in possession of United States dollars was going to make me an easy robbery target. Unfortunately, there were no forex bureaus around. Life seemed very fast there at the money changers’, and surely I was not going to be safe. Straight from the foreign currency changes, I went to the bank to deposit the money and brought the receipt to the embassy. The interviewer worried if I had eaten since I spent the whole day waiting, he gave me directions to a place where I would get decent food. Honestly, I had no time to focus on my hunger. Apart from that, he had been very kind to me, way more than what I had heard about embassy workers. All I wanted was just to get the visa. One and a half hours later, I was called to come for my passport. My visa was ready and I managed to travel on Friday, the planned day.
I am astounded by the mighty power of God. Throughout the immigration processes, I had people help me expecting nothing in return. People I did not even know and some I have not met up to date. At the bench outside the gate, I had heard people tell their previous experiences at embassies. Most of them, bad experiences, but my story is a good one. God answered my prayer and even provided me with first-class treatment to show me that he is capable of doing even bigger things in my life. No system is complicated for him, all I have to do is just to trust and obey him, for he is perfect in all of his ways.