'Show me your friend and I will tell you who you are.'
Biola Odumeru, a SOON reader from Nigeria, remembers his grandmother telling him this saying. He writes his story.
I was very clever in my first years at school and was always the best pupil in my class. When I got to senior secondary school, I joined a bad group of pupils, thinking I was growing into a real man. I immediately started smoking weed which took a lot of my money.
Parties and money
In this peer group, I was the only person from a poor family. Each of the boys had a girlfriend and this was the reason I talked to a girl. She agreed to be my girlfriend, as long as I could provide her with all she wanted. I forgot I was from a poor home. I no longer had time for my studies because most of my time was spent at parties. In September the girl told me she wanted to celebrate her birthday. She asked me for 25,000 naira. That is a lot of Nigerian money, but I had no choice but to try to keep my promise to her. I told the other boys in the group. They had already been a great help to me by giving me some of the girl's requirements, but they could not help me this time. I told my parents lies — that I was owing money to the school — but they did not have any money to give me.
No way out
The day got closer when I was to give her the money. There seemed to be no way out, so my friends and I decided to rob a bank. We tried, but were caught and arrested. The police took us to a prison cell. Before long the news spread around the whole school and town and then to our parents. The other boys were bailed out of prison by their rich parents and I was left alone. When my case was taken to the court of law, someone came to visit me. He was a Christian whom my friends and I had met before. The last time we saw him, we hit him several times because he started to tell us about Jesus. This time I listened to him. He told me again about Jesus and gave me a Bible, the Christians' holy book. I began to read it and to talk to God. I asked him to forgive me for all the wrong I had done. Suddenly, my case was dropped and I was set free. I deserved to have the stigma for life, but God changed everything for me.
Biola's new friend helped him to find the best friend he could ever have, Jesus Christ (Isa Masih). Jesus came to this world and died to take the punishment and shame for all our wrong doing. Biola learned that he could ask God to forgive him for all his past wrongs. When he came out of the prison, he began a new life with his new friend Jesus, who helped him to make the right choices. As long as he followed Jesus' way, he would know he was doing right. This is the best peer pressure we can have.