He had just finished speaking to an enthusiastic crowd in England and many lined up to buy his books and have them autographed by the author. An elderly man with hoary hair and frail body queued up with the rest, clutching Myles Munroe’s books waiting to get the books autographed. He got the books signed but won’t step aside to let other people behind him take their turn. He tried to get Myles’ attention but the latter was too busy trying to attend to other autograph seekers, but the old man refused to give way or budge to let others behind him get the autograph.
The elderly man’s persistence paid off, and Myles had to oblige him and in a few minutes the crowd watched an unrehearsed melodrama unfold before them. Mr. Robinson introduced himself as Myles Munroe’s former high school teacher who had derogatorily called Myles a “monkey with no brains” way back in Bahamas. He never thought anything good will ever come out of this black boy who’s got a ‘block head’ because he was black and the son of colonized black man!
The two men embraced each other and tears streaked down the wrinkled cheeks of Mr. Robinson who had hitherto misjudged Myles Munroe based on his skin colour and circumstances of birth. The imposed tag on young Myles Munroe had made him feel so inferior and it punctured his self-esteem. He almost accepted his fate as pronounced by Mr. Robinson, his school teacher. But that stirred something in him and he resolved to prove that God created no black boy without brains!
Being born into a condition of abject poverty, penury and obscurity may come with the most harrowing of experiences as a child. Deprivation is no friend to a child with dreams, and such a child can either grow up angry and rebellious towards society or become too despaired to take on life and the inevitable challenges it thrusts at the living. Yet there are small minorities of kids that are born into poverty who get so uncomfortable with their condition that they rebel and break free from the stranglehold of poverty. But this comes with a prize!
Mr. Robinson didn’t know that his taunting and derogatory remarks would wake up the sleeping intellectual giant and wise man locked away in Myles Munroe’s young mind. The little boy began to ask questions directed at his parents and significant others. ‘Why are we so poor yet we serve a good God?” “Why am I called a monkey since I don’t look like one?” “Did God create me a monkey?” “Is it true that black people have no brains?”
That self introspection made him determine to prove to Mr. Robinson and others of his ilk that black people have brains like his white teachers and their kids. One book that transformed his paradigm is an ancient text; the Bible which he voraciously read as a young man. He began to see the purpose and meaning in the writings of the Bible. And one day while reading the Bible, he came across a verse that brought him to the place of watershed; ‘Now unto Him that is able to do exceedingly and above all that we ever ask or imagine (think), according to the power that works in us…”
He began to see the limitlessness of his abilities in God and knowing he could accomplish anything he can think or imagine, he faced his studies with renewed zeal. And by the time he was graduating from High School, the hitherto tagged ‘block head” came out as the best graduating student and to prove a point, he collected his plaque of academic excellence and handed it over to Mr. Robinson for keeps!
Not resting on his oars, he dug deeper into himself to discover and develop his natural gifts and talents. Through hard work, he horned and developed his musical talents till he became proficient as a pianist and multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, composer and singer. And as a teenager, he released an album which topped the music charts in his native country, Bahamas, launching him to national limelight yet the son of a poor Baptist preacher and missionary mother!
To explore his leadership potential, he started a Youth Movement that had membership spread across Bahamas that soon made the politicians become jittery. The Prime Minister invited him over for a private dinner with his family in the State House. The Prime Minister’s children who were familiar with Myles Monroe’s songs were too pleased to dine with a star and young celebrity. But the Prime Minister had an ‘ulterior motive’ for extending the invite for he was afraid that his political opponents might hijack the Youth Movement to undermine his government, so he had to act proactively to win the heart of the young revolutionary leader.
But Myles Munroe, not minding that he was before the Prime Minister declined to grant his nation’s leader the request to attend the Youth Movement’s rallies saying , “Politicians are not invited, Sir!” to foreclose any influence by the most powerful man in Bahamas. Trust the Prime Minister, he came with his entourage to the youth event, and was so captivated by the words of young Myles Munroe.
And by the time Myles Munroe made an altar call, the Prime Minister and his Aides stepped to the front of the podium to commit their lives to the God Myles Munroe had talked about. The relationship with the Prime Minister with time developed to the point he became a Special Adviser to the PM on matters of the state making him own Diplomatic passport of the Kingdom of Bahamas though he is not a fulltime staff of the Government of Bahamas!
To further his studies, he chose to study fine arts in the university so he can develop his skills in fine arts and painting. He would make extra money as a student selling his paintings, and his belief is that in choosing a course, one only need to enroll for focus that will develop their latent talents and skills. Concerned about the development and deploying of human potential, he took up additional degrees in business administration, education, and theology to broaden his knowledge base about the human situation.
He worked with Oral Roberts, the founder of his alma mater, Oral Roberts University for a while but his eyes were still on relocating back to Bahamas. So he had to decline a lucrative offer from Oral Roberts saying; “Sir, I have to go back home, for my calling is to the third world countries.”Back in Bahamas he started his teaching ministry where he began to teach his small congregation the principles of talents, gifts, destiny, potential, purpose and God’s desire for every man on earth to have dominion over his environment. Few people outside Bahamas heard or knew much about him then, for he was as obscure as anyone outside spot light.
In the early 1990s, the late Bishop Benson Idahosa (founder of Church of God Mission in Benin City) was invited to speak at an international convention in USA alongside other mainstream Christian preachers. Due to unforeseen circumstances, he could not travel out of Nigeria so the organizers had to get a replacement. Somehow the name of Myles Munroe came up, but little was known about him then. One of the organizers convinced him to accept the invite though the credentials of the preachers already invited looked intimidating, and many had been people Myles Munroe looked up to as mentors while he studied in USA.
He resolved to teach nothing highfalutin other than the heartfelt message about, destiny, purpose, potential he had taught his congregation in Bahamas for about a decade. By a stroke of destiny, his session of teaching was beamed live by a Cable TV Network to over 70 countries across the world. And by the time he was through with his teaching, the TV network’s telephone lines were jammed by enthusiastic viewers across the world who wanted to know ‘where that guy got all that wisdom”. That singular event launched him into the international scene and after that conference, invites came in hordes from several countries where people wanted to hear him teach about purpose, dominion and related themes.
Each year tourists flood the beaches of Bahamas to lounge and have fun, but there are several other v
isitors to Bahamas who enter with tourists’ visas whose primary destination is not the beautiful beaches of Bahamas. Rather than fun seeking beach loungers, they are wisdom-seekers, who find their way to the imposing conference facilities of Bahamas Faith Ministries International-the operational base of Dr. Myles Monroe- to drink from the well of wisdom dug out by this 21st century Renaissance Man.
For a man whose clientele range from Heads of States and top officials of Governments of several countries, Fortune 500 companies, top business leaders and influential political leaders, little did he know that someday, the world will literally stand at his feet. For a man who addresses the UN General Assembly, yet not known to have been elected as a Prime Minister or President of any known country, little did he know that someday, the decision to break free as a young man from the limitations of his birth, skin colour and background will someday make him fly into Nigeria to talk to knowledge-hungry people for a few days, only to fly out with his private jet to the Amazon to speak to thousands of Brazilians, eager to drink from his well of wisdom.
In all my life, I have literally not met a man who is described as an archetype of ‘divine wisdom incarnated’ in human flesh within the bounds of exaggeration that words can express without people protesting. A man who is comfortable to discuss theology, philosophy, business, arts, politics, human capacity development, personal effectiveness, destiny and purpose and much more, without a struggle or signs of inadequacy and incompetence.
My first encounter with Dr. Myles Munroe was in Benin City in 1999 as a post-graduate student of the University of Benin. The Church of God Mission had invited him over for the first anniversary of the death of the legendary Bishop Benson Idahosa who had died in 1998. For Myles Munroe, it was an opportunity to pay homage to a man who had given him the first opportunity to dine with kings and nobles. Idahosa was already respected internationally as Nigeria’s foremost preacher and pioneer of the Charismatic movement in Nigeria and was a mentor to several Pentecostal leaders in the 1990s.
It was on that merit that he was invited to speak at the conference in USA, but his inability to attend made it possible for the world to hear Myles Munroe the very first time. And like everyone who hears him for the first time, the world got hooked and he’s been travelling the world teaching and stirring people to THINK and ACT. Listening to Myles Munroe is an experience in itself such that when he’s through speaking, you will either exclaim in awe, “Where did this man get all this knowledge and wisdom from.?” That was my reaction the very first time I heard him speak at the memorial service of Bishop Idahosa in Benin City!
Little wonder the Tibetan spiritual and political leader, the Dalai Lama had to ask after listening to Myles Munroe speak at an interfaith meeting in Mexico, ‘Where did you get all this wisdom from.?” The Imam of New York’s Central Mosque was too impressed by the wisdom displayed by Myles Munroe that he extended an invite to teach at his mosque which Myles honored; only a few Christian preachers will have the courage to that!
That night in Benin City, he walked into the open arena while the choir was singing a song. Oblivious of any protocols, he jumped up the stage, grabbed a microphone from the stands and began to rap along to the delight of the crowd who erupted in excitement. When everyone was settled, he sat behind the piano and his fingers struck the keys dexterously to produce soft notes and chords as he sang a song he had composed and earlier premiered at a UN General Assembly.
Then he began to speak, and by the time he was through, we all stood in awe of him. One question in everybody’s mind was ‘How did this man know all this.?” and the Bishops and Professors in our midst had their heads lowered in humility; knowing they have so much to know as intellectual and religious leaders. But Dr. Myles Munroe had told us then a little secret about his attitude to the acquisition of knowledge and wisdom. Then in 1999, he had read through the Bible cover-to-cover about thirty (30) times and read four (4) international magazines/journals weekly, and used to read up to four (4) new books every month.
Recently he had the opportunity of speaking to the top management of Sony Corporation in South East Asia on personal and business development among other themes. The top management were too impressed that they obliged him to stay for an extra four days so they could listen to him and were too willing to pay him $5,000/hour and at the end; each top management bought about 30 books written by Myles Munroe. They had seen him as the ‘Wisest Black Man” on earth!
But who would ever have imagined that this hawker of wisdom had a slim chance of surviving save for his elder sister who nursed him whenever he choked and turned blue as an asthmatic child. Born in a poor family of 11kids, the mom had too much in her hands so it was his elder sister that took him into the open air during each asthmatic attack. But little did she know that her little brother whom she shared the wooden floors of a dilapidated and cockroach-infested house with, will someday employ her as a Special Assistant and also pay her children’s school fees. She had nursed and carried her own boss in her arms!
To Dr. Myles Munroe, the tendency by Christians to delineate the spiritual and secular is such an unwise and self-limiting mindset. And in Myles Munroe, the balance of the secular and spiritual is easily seen as his messages are relevant in the church and at the marketplace, among Christians and non-Christians alike! If Jesus Christ was comfortable hanging out with sinners; drunkards, prostitutes, con guys, without being influenced negatively, he sees no reason why the Christian should not positively influence his society for good. But the secret is in doing it with wisdom and tact, and it was the wisdom and power displayed by Jesus Christ that drew all and sundry to him.
Myles Munroe in my opinion has once again proven the ancient text to be true: “Get wisdom! Get understanding! Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you; Love her and she will keep you. Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding. Exalt her, and she will promote you; She will bring you honour, when you embrace her. She will place on your head an ornament of grace; a crown of glory she will deliver to you.”
Today, he is completely free from debts and poverty has become history in his life. He lives 10 minutes drive away from one of Bahamas’ beautiful beaches and drives the best of automobiles and has given out cars and jets as gifts to others; not ostensibly to display his wealth, but to prove that one can break free from poverty by understanding, discovering and maximizing his/her potentials.