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BOOK REVIEW :

GATEWAY TO KINGDOM LIFE

TITLE The Kingdom Heritage
AUTHOR: Ubongabasi Inyang
PUBLISHERS: Precious Fountain Resources
NO. OF PAGES: 93
REVIEWER: Martin Akpan
PRICE: Not stated


A book-reviewer or critic, like a judge in the Law Court, is imbued with invincible confidence. This confidence, flows from the sweeping powers, which the very nature of his responsibility confers on him and which can only be modulated by the burden of thoroughness, objectivity and disinterestedness.

Thus when he sets out on his mission, he does so with uncommon audacity, flaunting a larger-than-life image with self-imposed infallibility of the 15th Century Monk. He can, with one stroke of his pen or nuance of language reduce the cherished work of an author into a miasma of trash and sentence the author himself to virtual irrelevance and obscurity. No wonder Benedict Nightingale, himself a drama critic and reviewer for the New York Times, likened reviewers, albeit exaggeratedly, to bats, witches and vampires that are clearly up to no good.

I have had the singular opportunity of reviewing a good number of creative works and acquitting myself creditably with airs and graces. But none, I must confess, has been as challenging as this one. Already, it has generated an entropy of butterflies in my stomach. My concerns are these: Firstly, the author as the beloved son of a distinguished jurist; secondly, the chairman of the occasion as a distinguished jurist himself and lastly, the audience made up largely of legal luminaries drawn from the Nigerian bar and bench. Now the question is: Who’s standing trial, if I may ask? Who else, if not “yours truly” confined to this witness box called a podium.

Ladies and gentlemen, this explains why I am nervous. And unless I’m convinced otherwise, I would not cease to see this event as the “Trial of Martin Akpan” Be that as it may, I have restrained myself from the temptation to cry out: “Father into thy hands I commend my spirit “(Luke 23:46) since I do not possess the self-resurrecting power of Jesus in the event of a rehash of the Calvary experience. Rather I am “looking unto him (Jesus), the author and finisher of our faith” (Heb 12:2) as my advocate, to secure for me a not-guilty-as-charged verdict from this grand jury. So help me God!

In 1998, Ken Got of Sunderland, United Kingdom, was asked to comment on a new book titled THE GOD CHASERS written by his long-time friend, Tommy Tenny. And he stunned his audience, when he said rather sarcastically: ‘This book (The God Chasers) has the potential to kill everyone who reads it. It is not for the faint-hearted but for those, who in pursuit of God, are willing to die in the process”.

I do not know Ken in person, but I find it difficult if not impossible not to align myself with his position in X-raying Ubong Inyang’s book, The Kingdom Heritage. This is because Ubong has delved into realms that even “angels would fear to tread” (please permit the cliché) and come out with a book that only true God Chasers would appreciate. For according to him “the more you lay down your life for the kingdom, the more you become a hero of faith”.

Compact and trim, and exquisitely packaged in concept, design, quality, layout and print, The Kingdom Heritage is an instant delight to the reader. The cover has a predominance of sky blue colour with a sprinkling of white and golden yellow, splashed over the skyline of a mythical cosmos, to paint a nostalgic picture of celestial glory and splendour. The title of the book fills the upper third of the cover with a seeming reflection on the lower third which bears the author’s name. The word ‘kingdom’ in the title is highlighted in red, possibly to underscore the pre-eminent place of the blood (red) of Jesus in kingdom life.

The back cover has essentially two items, namely:
About the book: The blurb i.e. a short description of the book and
About the author: Which discreetly reveals very little about the author.

Numbering 93 pages, the book is divided into 6 chapters, each of them a balanced literary meal complete with an appetizer (an operative scripture displayed conspicuously in a box), the main course (the body of discourse) and a dessert (a witticism or quotable remark). The book is dedicated to the Godhead and to the author’s mentor: “My dad: an epitome of humility and faithful service”. It has a foreword written by Pastor Steve Agada.

Setting the tone of discourse in chapter 1, the author whets his reader’s appetite by introducing him to the Kingdom Divine with boundless territories, unlimited shores, bottomless depths and unfathomable heights. With the skill of a gifted teacher and using demonstrative symbols and persuasive language, he lays bare before the reader, the priceless treasures of the expansive kingdom and challenges him to “quit complaining; enjoy your father’s boundless heritage”.

Ubong is not the kind of person that would take you to the storehouse of treasure and hold back the keys from you. Thus in chapter 2, he readily hands you the keys with generous tutorials on how to use them to unlock your heritage. But not before introducing you to the man (Jesus) with whom you must partner to become joint-heirs of the kingdom. The keys, according to this young teacher-author include: The new birth experience (being born again), the wilderness experience, faith, purposeful discipleship, adoption and tenacity.

In chapter 3 of the book, the author gives a clear insight into the Divine Kingdom Heritage by spotlighting the rights and privileges of the Christian pilgrim. Quoting relevant scriptures, he emphasizes the need for Christians to develop kingdom mindset and lifestyle. This, according to him, is achieved by devoting quality time to word study and prayer, coupled with a lifestyle of humility and obedience, stressing, “the high point of prayer is when you confirm your pronouncement and actions with a step of faith”.

Kingdom Representation forms the meat of discourse in chapter 4. In it, the author, using Jesus Christ as our “diplomatic example”, reminds us that we are not citizens of this world but ambassadors of the Kingdom of heaven with a clear mandate to “supply Christ to the ? Church (world). Ubong is sorely displeased with most Christian ambassadors in Christendom today, who perform below the benchmark of effective representation. “Lets’ quit ‘playing church’ and running bills on activities”, he admonishes as he guides the offending ambassadors to the pathway to effective delivery through a barrage of soul-searching questions. (page 64).
It is a well known fact that an ambassador even of a poor nation, is forbidden
from flirting with a beggarly mentality. Little wonder, therefore, that Ubong views as an abomination, a situation in which we (heaven’s ambassadors) continue to operate the world economic system which is limited instead of the Kingdom Economic System which does not recognize lack or limitation. He declares: “The world understands the principle of demand and supply but heaven understands the principle of command and supply” (page 65).

Chapter 4 ends with a clarion call on us to remember that as ambassadors, one day we shall be recalled to base through a joyful transition (rapture) if we did well or to damnation, if we performed below expectation. As he puts it, “every ambassador on assignment has a specific duration of service after which he is called back home” (page 71)

In chapter 5, the author reverberates with stridency about the reality of heaven and hell. Examining KINGDOM ETERNAL, he alludes to a reward system in which the words we speak, the choices we make, the places we go, and the things we do NOW dovetail into a set of criteria for our evaluation and reward ultimately. In other words, the Christian pilgrim is the key player, if not the only player in the determination of his destiny.

Lastly, the author in chapter 6 prescribes self-evaluation for us in our day-to-day walk with God using 27 yardsticks, which origin he does not elaborate. For instance: “How much of Adam have you lost and how much of Christ have you gained?” he probes. He concluded with an ‘altar call’ for those still living in the backwaters of salvation to embrace Jesus as the only connector to Kingdom heritage.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the foregoing is the abridged portrait of The Kingdom Heritage, written by Ubongabasi Inyang. However, I would not be seen to have done justice to it if I do not comment on some of its unique features and draw informed inferences.

The Author’s Persona:
The kingdom Heritage is indisputably Ubong’s first published work. Yet unlike a typical first-timer in this enterprise who would devote a large chunk of the back cover to his personal history: his family background, educational qualifications, titles and personal attainments etc, usually with his recent portrait conspicuously displayed at one corner, information about this particular author remains surprisingly scanty. Curiously, the entire life-time attainment of this young, prodigious graduate of Anatomy from the cradle of Ibibio Nation is reduced to a mere three lines of euphemistic whispering. From my deep knowledge of the family of the author, this is deliberate and truly in consonant with their humble disposition and philosophy of decreasing so that Christ may increase (John 3:30).

Language of the book:
Ubong is a great communicator. His language is simple and his diction superbly quintessential and devoid of any obscurantist tendencies. He uses snug and up-to-date stylistic and aesthetic devices and with a sense of urgency, confers fervency and immortality on his thoughts and beliefs. Sometimes, he veers into the domain of philosophy and comes out unscathed. Hear this: “The shell of the flesh must be broken to reveal the beauty of the fruit implanted in us” Similarly, he takes occasional dives into the high current of legal waters and is safely berthed most probably because of his close and virtual inseparable association with guardians of the Law.

Thematic Preoccupation
Ubong’s preoccupation with and exposition of Kingdom life reveals a young man with a clear vision and direction. The topicality of his subject-matter and his concomitant commitment to it, portrays him as an addicted, unrepentant God Chaser who is in a hurry to fulfill the Great Commission. With his youthful energy and donning the gear of militancy, he digs into unfathomable depths of knowledge, wading through a labyrinth of complex kingdom issues to come up with amazing revelations far heavier than the scale of his youthful age. This, we must admit, is youthful exuberance positively expressed. It is salutary militancy, worthy of emulation by the teeming population of Nigerian youths who are daily dissipating their energies in fomenting trouble, especially in the Niger Delta, instead of pursuing creative and transformational agenda that would benefit mankind.

All in all, Ubong writes with the skill and profundity of one who has a deep knowledge of his subject as well as an unquenchable passion for his cause. The book ends with a two-word incomplete statement – GET RECONNECTED- which is left to hang precariously on eight dotted lines. To my mind, what the author is simply saying to us is: ‘I’m not through with you yet. This is just the beginning. Get set to reconnect with me again and again as I invite you to more book presentations in the future’. I need not remind you ladies and gentlemen, that the number 8(dotted lines) signifies a new beginning.
Errors:
The kingdom Heritage has all the makings of a great book. However, there are a few errors that must be pointed out and earmarked for correction in subsequent editions. These include: Forward (foreword) page iii, v; god (God) page v; burrowed (borrowed) page x; articulacy (articulation) page 14; Fatherone (Father one) page 18; been (being) page 28; natal (natural) page 33; It’s grand (it is great) page 46; affected (effected) page 53; reguires (require) page 64; returns (returned) page 79; and but (unnecessary) page 81.

Conclusion
Ladies and Gentlemen, in conclusion, I wish to re-echo my shared thought with Ken Gott which I earlier shared with you: Ubongabasi Inyang’s book, The Kingdom Heritage is not for those who want to know about God; It is for those who want to know God i.e true God Chasers who are assuredly strong and exploits-bound. It is also not meant for the faint-hearted; so if you don’t posses the heart of a lion, don’t touch it let alone read it. For, it is only lions that can effectively hobnob with the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the celebrated character in this book. And if I may ask: Is there any faint-hearted among us?

If what I heard was a vehement chorus of NAY, then this book is for all of us. It is a vade mecum of spiritually-edifying, life-transforming, character-moulding and God-approving menu. Acquire it. Devour it. Savour it. Assimilate it. And stay eternally blessed.

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