Friday 31st December 1993 was the start of a journey that was to lead a young man from darkness into light. Heaven seemed to touch the earth as death was replaced for life, and the redemptive power of Jesus Christ, that amazing grace, came into force and pulled him off the path of death onto the way of life.
That young man is SAM OPECHE, and the remarkable event that ensued on that night was so indelible that his life has never been the same since.
In 1992, in a bid to try new frontiers, Sam moved over to Abuja – the new capital city of Nigeria – to join his parents, having just finished High School in Lagos. This was a calculated move because, at this time, Abuja was a fresh and upcoming city. It was virgin and fallow, and Sam felt that he would be in a pivot position to shine through in the music scene, through experiences gained from the more cosmopolitan city of Lagos, where he was born.
On arrival in Abuja, Sam quickly hooked up with a well-known promoter, and soon began performing at parties. His fame was growing, and his soulish baritone voice endeared him to local fun-seeking partygoers; he rapidly became well sought-after at gigs and other events. It was on one such night, on his way to what should have become his biggest show ever at the time – his first performance in a nightclub on New Year’s Eve, Friday 31st December 1993 – that the story changed and so did ‘the journey’.
Sam recalls that his dad did not approve of his razzmatazz lifestyle, and was determined to deter him from living that way. Sam was making little earnings from these gigs to keep body and soul together, which meant a lot to someone growing up in an environment of abject poverty. However, “My dad didn’t see it that way,” Sam said, “because he wanted me to stay on the straight and narrow.”
That night, as Sam prepared to leave the house for this much- anticipated gig, his father stood by the door preventing him from stepping out. “You are my first son and I cannot watch you waste your life like this. You should be going to church and not a nightclub. Why are you doing this to yourself?” but Sam was having none of that. Soon, a bout between father and son ensued, and Sam somehow found a way of escape from the clutches of his dad and stormed out of the house, determined to get to his destination and live up to the expectations of his growing fans.
Unbeknown to this very eager young man, this was not to be – God had other plans for his life.
About 800 metres from his father’s house, where the tussle had taken place almost 20 minutes earlier, Sam was standing by the road waiting for his transportation to arrive. He felt a strong force overwhelm him, and the next thing he knew was that he slumped to the ground groaning, and then suddenly slipped into a state of unconsciousness, totally unaware of his surroundings. His recollection of what followed that night was like something out of a movie.
In this movie, Sam saw people wailing and screaming as if in torment, and they were crying out for help. As this went on, he seemed to hear a voice say to him that he would end up like the people in the movie, if he did not change course. The movie, according to him, was unpleasant and scary. He knew right there and then that God was speaking to him, but he couldn’t comprehend the significance of this event until later in life, when he began using his singing abilities to glorify God.
When he got up from the spot where he had this encounter, at about 1.15 in the morning of New Year’s Day 1994, he knew that he couldn’t continue with his plan to be at the nightclub, but instead walked back to the same house he had stormed out of at 10pm the previous night.
Under the gaze of his surprised father, he picked up a Bible and headed for a church – not speaking to anyone. He was apprehensive and gravely disturbed by the experience he’d just had, that “any church would do, so long as I could spend what was left of the New Year’s celebration in the presence of God, and someone could pray for me and assure me that all is well,” Sam said.
Yes, you guessed right; Sam gave his life to Jesus and became a born-again Christian. He now sings for Jesus, and is a delight to the body of Christ – and the world at large – through his Spirit-led songwriting and singing abilities.
He is a worship leader at The Redeemed Christian Church of God, and has three albums and three singles under his belt. In 2011, his single, ‘Believe Again’, earned him the NCM (New Christian Music) Best Male Gospel Singer award. In 2013, his video, ‘I’ll Wait’, was nominated in the Best Video category in the first-ever UK Gospel Music Video Awards. He has also authored two books, ‘The G.A.T.E.S of Life’ and ‘Today Is Good’ – both available on Amazon.
Sam’s latest single, ‘O Jesus’, a singalong worship song in the contemporary/soft rock gospel genre, produced by Sam Opeche and ‘keyboard maestro’ Thimmy Abioye, is out now on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify and other online stores. The song is simple yet atmosphere changing, with a powerful testimony behind it.
Sam is happily married to Elizabeth, and they are blessed with three miraculous children.