Reminiscent of the Biblical story of Nebuchadnezzar’s humiliation, a professor extraordinaire and top employee at one of the world’s leading software development company suddenly sinks into joblessness. His wife, a senior diplomat with an international organisation, is also dispossessed of her appointment. Like a fish thrown out of water, he hunts desperately for a means of livelihood and is forced to take up an ego-deflating position. Touched, however, by the “Mighty Right Hand” of God, as Prophet T. B. Joshua prayed, his ‘honour and brightness’ miraculously returns.
ERNEST Ketcha Ngassam clicked on the computer mouse. A new email opened. It was from the vice president of the company. “Urgent Meeting,” it screamed. He was used to it. Yet, he had a different feeling about this. As his eyes mopped up the last lines, he smiled. The moment had finally come. He struggled to contain a surge of excitement. The signs had been on the wall: he held a key position in the unit. The company was re-positioning its structure. His skills and expertise were tools the firm had benefited from and still needed, even at higher capacity.
The air-conditioner spewed winter winds from its vent. Ernest was closest to the machine. He pulled out a handkerchief. A defiant trickle of sweat had begun a cascade from his forehead. Its salty stream would have upset his eyes had the piece of cloth not moved at the nick of time. At the end of the conference table sat the vice president. Like a surgeon, slowly and carefully, he dissected the company’s demanding situation and exposed the pointlessness of Ernest’s expectation. He had hoped to hear: “Congratulations! You have been promoted head of the innovation business unit!” What fell on his ears was the sweat-precipitating: “The unit will be closed with immediate effect!”
The first blow his family suffered had been quite unsettling. The punch, however, stopped short of a total knock out. At the South Africa-based international organisation where his wife worked as a senior diplomat, trouble came calling in the year 2012. Things started becoming “complicated”. She fled to the Synagogue, Church Of All Nations (SCOAN) in January 2013. When she returned, she was greeted happily by her husband – and sadly by a dismissal letter at short notice. Ernest knew he was up for the fight of his life. Following her sack, he had assumed full charge of family responsibilities with his “well paid job”, eyeing a promotion that could soften the shock. But now…
In the beginning: “My family and I had a pretty good life prospect. I was convinced that I could succeed without necessarily having a vibrant relationship with Jesus, provided I continued to do what I believed was good. I always took care of members of my extended family and helped the needy,” said Ernest. Following the death of his father and “moral compass” in 2011, he “fully embraced Emmanuel TV and the SCOAN”. As he watched, the channel, he became conscious he needed a “personal relationship with the Lord.” Life’s storms, however, respect no one, much less baby Christians. He was jobless. His wife was jobless. Ketcha Ngassam began to panic.
“At the time of retrenchment, we were offered six months’ salary, while we scouted for new opportunities. I was convinced that with my skills, I would find another job before the period – and the money expired. I began to respond to job adverts matching my expertise.”
The dreaded countdown had started.
Many applications returned negative. One leading telecommunication company in Africa, however, organised an interview, boosting Ernest’s confidence that his search could be drawing to a close. He performed “very well”. And to seal the matter, as it were, he called the prayer line of the SCOAN where “the Evangelist claimed victory over the interview, and I answered, ‘Amen!’”
“Several months after the interview,” Ernest remained stuck at a spot. There was no feedback. After several despairing attempts to speak with the hiring manager, his call went through.
“Good day, sir.”
“Good day. And how may I help you?” the manager asked.
“Yes…this is Professor Ernest Ketcha Ngassam. I took the last interview. And thanks for…”
“Ernest…Ernest…Ernest…let me see…” There was a moment’s silence. The manager came alive. “Ernest! Okay! Yes, so what can we really do for you?”
“I haven’t received any feedback on the interview. Thought I it might be good to give a call and…”
“Yes, that’s okay. That’s okay,” the manager chipped in. We have reviewed your application, and performance at the interview. Quite impressive, I must say. Regrettably, we think you are over qualified for the position.”
There was no point pressing any argument. The manager hastily congratulated him for his “expression of interest.” It was apparent he considered the matter closed.
“I was becoming agitated. The money I received from my former employer was drying up. I was not able to take care of the family anymore. The situation was getting darker. The children panicked. My wife became confused. I began to blame God. I told Him that by allowing us, His children, to pass through such circumstance, He simply had satan laughing.”
In a rare demonstration of faith and courage, Ernest nevertheless dipped his hand into his retirement purse to “contribute to the ‘Martyrs of Faith’ fund” at the SCOAN, admitting he was “happy to do so”. He also testified: “During the travail, I received, through dreams, many comforting messages and promises from God.”
SUICIDE held the promise of a way out of all troubles for the woman. Her marriage had been at a nosedive. The fatal crash was, however, prevented by the timely intervention of Ernest and his wife. “We managed to convince her to do otherwise through our prayers and ‘baby faith’,” he said. Past danger, and a year after, “This lady contacted me online. (I once helped her to get a job in a leading banking organisation.) She wanted me to assist her with a range of resources needed in the banking sector.” Could this be a ray at the end of the tunnel?
“I took a bold step. I told her that I was jobless. She asked me to send to her my curriculum vitae. After a few days, she informed me that a telecommunication company urgently needed a contractor in Project Management. The position was very low for me. She, however, advised me to take it up, while I continue to search for a better deal. I gave my rate to the hiring manager, after he agreed to employ me. Many weeks passed without any feedback. Money was almost finished in the family. One day, the manager called me. She said my rate was very high, and that the company wanted someone who could accept only half the amount. My son advised me to take the offer. I did.”
“All right,” said the manager. “I will get back to you in minutes.”
“Thanks. I will be expecting your call,” said Ernest, feelings mixed, yet relieved he’d soon be earning a pay at month’s end.
But the phone never rang.
August 2015 was ticking away. “I panicked,” said Ernest. “The family panicked too. Everything was in shambles; I didn’t know where to turn. In a month’s time, there would be no money to meet the family’s financial obligations.” Desperation set in. “All my job hunting efforts and options were almost exhausted. I couldn’t even get a simple position as Project Manager. I was deeply confused.” Ernest decided it was time he drove to his “final bus stop” – GOD!
“I called a travel agency and booked the next available flight. Hop! And I was at the SCOAN August 20, 2015. I had tears and sorrow in my heart. I was privileged to be part of the congregation, and Sunday mass prayer August 23. I was also at the prayer mountain, and partook of the Altar Fruit.
AUGUST 24, 2015. A professor waited in anticipation. It was the highpoint of his visit to the SCOAN. Prophet T. B. Joshua had begun praying for the people at the end of the line. Every step he took, every move of his hand, generated a ripple of spirited activity. The academic watched as people, who moments earlier had been standing, were swept off their feet by the power of the Holy Ghost. He saw others being set free in the name of Jesus, open their mouths, as forces that had held them bound confessed atrocities. It was a matter of time: soon, a prophet would see eye to eye with professor extraordinaire, Ernest Ketcha Ngassam.
There was a swift incursion of authority. “I was touched by the Mighty Right Hand of the Lord through the Man of God, Prophet T. B. Joshua,” he declared. “Although, I did not fall as others did, the river of tears flowing in my heart dried up instantly!”
The following day, Ernest received the first sign he had been divinely placed on the road to recovery. “I dreamt a company called me and offered me a job,” he said. More signs followed. “The day after that, many recruitment and HR departments in South Africa began to call me on the phone. Interviews started flowing after I left the SCOAN August 27.”
Soon, the hiring manager called Ernest: “You application for the position of project manager has been approved by management. Please, contact human resources for further briefing.” With no money to care for the family, Ernest “immediately accepted the offer.” Lacking ample experience for the job, he braced up for challenges.
“It was a nightmare,” he said, describing the transformative chapter. “After being a senior manager for a long time, taking the position of a project manager was humiliating. Besides, I was new to telecom. I took the situation in good faith, although I cried often. I also ministered the Morning Water whenever I arrived at my workplace. I decided to learn all I could about telecom. By God’s grace, all the projects allocated to me were delivered in good time, with an acceptable budget and a high degree of quality.
“Sometimes, I felt ashamed that as a professor of Computer Science, I was taking orders from people with a low degree in work ethics and knowledge. I was particularly disturbed by the fact that at some meetings, I had to take minutes; a thing I never liked because in the past I had assistants and administrators who did this for me.
“I often had to move from door to door, begging for the signatures of senior managers, so that a document could be disseminated. I endured undue blame, shouting, swearing and micromanagement; things that were never a part of my past work experience. I never knew I would get so low in my professional life.”
Ernest wished for an opportunity to return full time to the university. It never came. There were days, dark moments, when he’d return from work and sit down with his wife. He would pour out his anguish to her, and together they would cry. At his wit’s end, he confessed: “I simply left all things in the hands of the Lord, the King of Kings, the Son of David, Jesus Christ of Nazareth.”
Yet, always grateful to God for His grace, Ernest discharged his lowly duties with excellence. “I interacted with people with a high degree of ethics and did my work humbly, with remarkable motivation, passion and hard work,” he said. There were “countless” days also when, “without any compensation whatsoever,” he passed the night at the office, in order to finish a project successfully.
One day, the phone rang.
“I received a call from the leading telecommunication company in Africa,” said Ernest. “They asked me to come for an interview.” It was the same company of which “the Evangelist at the SCOAN claimed victory, and I answered, ‘Amen!’” He attended two rounds of interviews, then took a range of psychometric tests.
FINALLY, the phone rang.
The date was January 24, 2017. Ernest recollects excitedly: “That leading company called me and offered me the position of General Manager: Information Security Architecture and Technical Excellence for the entire firm, overseeing 35 counties in Africa, parts of Europe and the Middle East!”
Restored?! …You can say that again!
Now triumphant, Ernest has one “simple” advice: “Be steadfast to Jesus! Be steadfast to the Word!”