Michael Fabian is an ex-inmate who was incarcerated on murder charges. Though he was innocent of the crime, he was remanded in prison for 3 years. It was in the cause of his stay in confinement that he found the Lord through Alpha. The following is his story.
I am Michael Fabian. I am from Akwa Ibom State but I grew up in Ikorodu, Lagos. I love dancing, so after my secondary school, I started learning how to dance and soon enough I joined a group of guys and formed a dancing group.
HOW I ENDED UP IN PRISON
The incident that brought me to prison happened in the year 2012, at that time, I was living in the Ojota areas of Lagos and I was very popular in the area at that time.
There was a bakery in my neighborhood and the manager became quite fond of me. So friendly he was that sometimes he would give me bread free of charge. However, some of his workers became very disgruntled and unfriendly with me; I guess it was out of sheer envy at my popularity in the area and closeness with their boss. Therefore, they always sought every occasion to fight with me.
On this fateful day, I was going home with my friends at the close of day when the bakery guys cornered us and began hurling insults at us. I did not react until they dared me to fight them. I immediately lost my cool and honored the invitation to rumble. My friends also joined in the free for all fistfight. It so happened that in the midst of the brawl, one of theirs was stabbed. He later succumbed to the injuries and died. I, however, didn’t stab anyone nor do I know who stabbed him. In any case, since I was in the scene of the fight and indeed the main target for the fight, I was arrested along with everyone else.
When the bakery workers were asked to point out who stabbed the boy, they all pointed at me; apparently to vent their detest for me and finally put the nail on my coffin. This was the beginning of my Travails. I was then arrested and ended in prison awaiting trials for almost six years.
HOW I CAME ON ALPHA IN PRISON
The same week I entered the prison I started hearing about Alpha. Around that time, a cellmate of mine died in prison because of the poor hygiene and the inhumane sufferings meted on us. This got me worried about my life and future. I intently prayed to God that if he would get me out of prison, I would serve him with all my heart.
Initially, I was skeptical about what Alpha was about. However, I felt a nudge to try it out the next week to check it out.
The first day I attended, I entered and sat down just to have a clue of what was actually going on. I heard the teachings which were so deep and incisive; I had a chance to talk and open up to listening ears who cared, and the rest was history. We always looked forward to the next Thursday for another Alpha experience
Now, in retrospect and many Alpha sessions later, there was nothing else that felt so warm and welcoming; it was like a family bonding time amongst brothers and sisters; A stark contrast to the harshness that was all around us. It was exciting to meet people from outside of the prison who did not fear for their safety or protection, live their usual lives to serve commoners like us. Who were these people who will have time for common prisoners, to fellowship, eat and most importantly have discussions with them? This perplexity kept me coming over and over again. Not to even mention the quality of food and bottled (Clean ) water, they brought to us weekly! It was amazing I must say I was indeed impressed
“It felt so warm and welcoming. It was really exciting to meet people from outside of the prison who didn’t fear for their safety or protection coming to serve as our facilitators. Who were these people who will have time for common prisoners, to fellowship, eat and most importantly discuss with them? ”
MY EXPECTATION WAS MET
My expectation was that God should touch me. I prayed earnestly that I want such a touch from God that would enable me to share a testimony. Every week, they shed better light on who Jesus was. Previously, I didn’t know Jesus like I was coming to know him on Alpha. To be honest, before my Imprisonment I was just a religious Christian that followed my Dad to Church without conviction. All I looked forward to, was for the preacher to finish what he was saying so that the service could close on time. But on Alpha, I was really interested in knowing who this Jesus is.
Alpha provided a platform for me not just to listen but to actually say my mind out. A lot of questions I had internalized was finally giving a chance to be aired. I think generally my greatest testimony on Alpha was getting to know who Jesus is and the change it brought to my life.
EXPERIENCE AT THE HOLY SPIRIT DAY AWAY
On the Holy Spirit Day Away, we were asked to write on a slip of paper any sin we were presently dealing with that would hinder the Holy Spirit from filling us and I did. The papers were torn and burnt. So, I burnt my past life, my gangster past, stubbornness and all the things I didn’t like in my life.
And as we were praying I just found out that I was speaking in an unknown language. So, I was filled with the Holy Spirit, washed clean from my past and speaking in tongues! I felt I was totally transformed. I had such an awesome experience on Alpha that I was looking forward to what next after Alpha. I didn’t want it to end! I wanted to relive the experience again and again.
I had found in prison what I didn’t find outside. I found joy and peace.
When I was told I could join the team as a Helper for the next Alpha, I was overjoyed. So After my Alpha, I became an Alpha Helper and then a Host and later an Assistant Coordinator for Ikoyi Prison.
The change I was going through became very obvious in my attitude and lifestyle that they started calling me ‘Pastor’. I felt worthy to serve the Lord because of my new found relationship with him through Jesus. I even joined the Prison Chapel band and started singing about Jesus. I also started telling people about God and inviting them to Alpha to be changed as well.
If I had known about God as I do now, I wouldn’t have allowed myself to be dragged into that fight. I would have totally ignored the temptation which got into prison in the first place.
DISCHARGED AND ACQUITTED
I learnt my judgement day was near. So I called the Alpha team headed by Nice Nike and told them what was about to happen. They all prayed with me and assured me that I will be released. I held on to that assurance and I told God that if he indeed released me I would serve the Lord all my life. I assured God that I was changed and asked him to work on my release for his glory.
To cut the long story short, the court case which was set up for my condemnation turned around for my release against all odds! The prison officers were so sure of a condemnation that they had already brought in the jailer who would handcuff me and lead me into incarceration to serve my sentence. However, the Judge released me with these words “Go and sin no more” because the evidence available could not prove that I was near the guy when he was stabbed. I was set free and led out of the prison walls.
LIFE AFTER PRISON – THE GOLDEN STEPPERS
Now I am out of prison fully pursuing my dancing career. I started a dance group with three friends. We usually attend programs and events to entertain guests for a living. However, I felt dance could be much more relevant than three people trying to make a living off it; dance could actually become a tool through which many youths can be transformed through dance skill, and whose Characters can be affected positively through influence and mentorship. From a three-person squad, we have presently grown into a 19-man dance squad called the Golden Steppers. We are open three times a week to train and inspire people through art of dancing.
We made it our policy to dance mainly to gospel pop mix and refrain from sexually provocative steps. I use my story to inspire and motivate them to be better in their lifestyle and character. We also have time for meaningful conversations about life, faith and God. I also make it a point of duty to pray before and after our routine training. We now use Alpha as a tool to help our aspiring dancers to grow in their faith!
I am still growing in my faith and aspiring to be better. I have learnt how to forgive my detractors and false accusers whose accusations got me incarcerated. Though my changed life cannot afford to hang out with the same old gang, doing the same old things, and living a life of compromise, I still reach out to them with an arm of friendship to see if they might come to realize the true meaning of life as I have. My greatest temptation is to join the flow and just be the old me that everybody loved. Now alone in my resolve not to go back to the pit I was picked from, I am slowly but steadily influencing them into the right path; the path of Purpose; the path of life.