Udo Aniefiok was eight years old when his dad died. Barely twenty-four hours before Nigeria's civil war ended in a cease-fire, his dad left the house with ten people and never returned. Two weeks later Udo tried to kill himself in the middle of the night, but a neighbor managed to stop him.
"I was so bitter," Udo says. "I would fight with anybody to retaliate. I kept a broken bottle in my pocket, and I did a lot of damage [to others]. I have a machete scar on my face, and I inflicted a few [on other people]. It was a very rough childhood."
His last fight occurred in a church a few days before Christmas in 1971. "Someone upset me and, holding my pocketknife in the midst of sixty to seventy kids, I said to the person, 'Either you kill me or I'll kill you.'" After a long struggle, Udo's uncle finally stopped him. "I handed him my knife and left. The pastor and church committee called me to mediate the situation, but I stopped attending," says Udo.
A few years later Udo became sick. A nurse in a doctor's office briefly shared the gospel with him and asked him to go back home and meet a Nigerian man who could tell him more about Jesus. That night Udo prayed to receive Christ as his Savior, and for the first time in a long time Udo experienced joy and freedom.
When Udo was making plans to attend college in the USSR, the man who led him to Christ (who had moved to Houston) applied to colleges in the States on Udo's behalf. Within two months Udo received a letter of acceptance from an agricultural school in Georgia, and he moved to the States in the spring of 1981 to start college. He later transferred to Arkansas Sate University where he earned a degree in Finance.
The next step? Flight school. From Arkansas Udo traveled to Daytona Beach, Florida, and completed an MBA in Aviation at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. But instead of a business tycoon set to enter the aviation industry, his peers kept calling him a preacher. "Most people around me kept calling me a 'pastor' or 'preacher' because I enjoy telling others about Christ," says Udo.
A few days after graduation, Udo headed to Clearwater, Florida, to visit a pastor friend. "While I was there, a man I didn't know dropped by. He said to me, 'You're from Nigeria? If God is calling you, I'll pay for the first year [of Bible college].' He was a stranger! Since then I've never laid eyes on him."
Udo couldn't erase the man's offer from his mind. When he finished visiting his friend, Udo stopped by the local Bible school just to check things out. "The only person I saw was the academic dean," he says. "When he met me, he said, 'Someone came this morning and said, "A Nigerian may be coming to your school." By the way, class starts on Monday.' That Sunday at 10:00 p.m. I packed my car, gave my roommate rent for the month, and drove all night from Daytona Beach to Clearwater."
That was the beginning of two years at Florida Beach Bible College. After graduation he returned to Nigeria, married, and taught at a Bible school. Two years later their first baby was due in January of 1990. But when his wife was in labor for thirty-six hours, she underwent an operation. The baby had long since died. "I buried the child that Sunday morning, and on the following Friday I buried my wife. And I told my mom I'd never marry again."
Several months later Udo flew to Tampa, Florida. He told his host that he wanted to go to seminary at DTS, but it was too late in the year to apply—or so he thought. A friend called the school on his behalf and helped him get all the forms faxed. A few days later—amazingly—he received a fax informing him that he'd been accepted.
Udo started at DTS in the fall of 1990. A year later he had a peace about marrying again. He told his prayer group, and they began praying for him. A few days later he met Judy and immediately started discussing marriage with her. A few weeks later they met with his pastor and started planning a wedding. "There is no one I could have married who is more fitting for me and the work we're doing," says Udo. "She changed her major from computer engineering to nursing so that we could go back and be of help to our people."
But when they had their first child, Udo thought he would have to suspend his educational plans because they didn't have childcare. "I thought I would have to drop out of Greek," he says. "But Dr. Dan Wallace, my professor, called me and said, 'You've been passing your tests. Do not drop out. Bring the boy to Greek review class.' So for the next two months I took my son to my Saturday Greek class. And I graduated in the spring of 1995."
Two years later Udo and his wife and family returned to Nigeria and eventually started Fellowship Bible Church and Africa Ministerial Fellowship (AMF), an organization for training and equipping hundreds of pastors through conference ministries and helping them form accountability relationships. He also founded a Bible college that now has fifty-six students.
Udo's journey has now come full circle. The angry boy who once terrified a town in Nigeria now spearheads evangelistic efforts to reach the kids of his community. "This summer a pastor friend that we met at DTS and his friend, also a DTS graduate, brought a team to help us teach hundreds of kids at VBS. The mayor of our town even came and led them in a message and singing. He said he would like to see our work with kids expand to include a multi-city effort. Today we operate on a 32-acre lot in the town where I terrorized people with my bullying."
From tormented adolescent to transformed adult, Udo's life is a testimony of the sovereignty and love of God who carefully watches over His children.
The mission of Dallas Theological Seminary is to
glorify God by equipping godly servant-leaders
for the proclamation of His Word and the
building up of the body of Christ worldwide.