christian testimony

Alex Owumi

Alex Owurni


Strong, talented and international, Alex Owurni had it all in his life as a journeyman basketball player Wandering Europe’s top leagues. Then he started playing for a team in Libya and things took a dramatic turn…

‘I was living in hell. My days were dark and they were getting darker. There was no light.”

Alex Owumi’s remarkable story reads a lot like Job’s in the Bible. From the lap of luxury travelling on a private jet plane week, to living off worms the next, he found himself in the eye of the storm at he heart of the Libyan civil war.

Born in Nigeria, Alex’s family moved to his mother’s homeland when he was 1 and we joined mum’s church there.

“My family is deep into the church! We support the church financially and giving our time and things like that. I still do that. That’s just a part of my life,” he laughs.

Though African by birth, Alex is most definitely a product of the American scholarship programme that funds skilled athletes through college.

“l played at the highest level, which is where most of the eventual professional basketball players in America play,” he says.

“There are opportunities to make money playing basketball all over the world. My dream was to play in the NBA, but God told me that wouldn’t happen. He had a different plan”.

Though the young Alex was crushed by the word he heard from God that the NBA wasn’t looking for him, looking back, he cn see that it spurred him on to work harder and make the most of his talent. It was developing his skill that took him to Libya in the first place, though.

I had a contract to play in Macedonia. I was there for two-and-a –half, maybe three months, but the playing conditions were terrible! I was racially abused at every away game, so I had to get out of there. I wanted to get out of that situation, so I talked to my agent.

“A couple of days later he told me a team in Libya wanted me to come and help them out, and I jumped at it right away. It was in Africa where I grew up, so I was not nervous about going back at all. I knew it was an opportunity.”

Alex arrived in Benghazi in December 2010 and the journeyman point guard found himself fin the lap of luxury. Flown to away games on a private jet, given bonuses for winning and able to eat — and shop — for free because he was the star of the Gaddafi family team, Alex had little idea what was in store.

“I didn’t know the Arab Spring was going to jump off! Nobody knew it was coming,” he recalls.

“But on February 17, 2011, at about 9:15am, I go on to the rooftop and see

200, maybe 300 protesters outside a police station across the street.

“A military convoy is coming closer and closer. Then, without warning, shots. People running, people falling. Dead bodies all over the ground. I’m praying, praying that this is a dream, that I will wake up sometime soon.”

It wasn’t a dream. To make matters worse, the hookworms that had infectedstill in his system.

Sick, alone and used to the high quality diet of a professional athlete, Alex found himself trapped in the luxurious flat his playing had earned him.

“It was very hard on me. I had no power and no water. The food I had left over was gone in a day or two. I rationed the little water I had for four or five days, then it was gone. When the hunger pains got really bad, I started eating cockroaches and worms that I picked out of the flower-pots on my windowsill.

“I’m blessed to be a Christian. But you start to question God. It’s hard for me to say, because this is something I never did in church, but you start to ask, ‘How could God put somebody through something like this?’ The kids I played soccer with on the street — they have turned into rebels now, with their own shotguns and machetes. Regular life is over – it’s every man for himself.”

But in among the questions, the agony of starvation, lack of water and disease, Alex found that God was there in the midst of the suffering. “I was nearly dying, but I would lie ofn the floor with bombs and guns going off all around thinking about all the blessings I’d had in my life and I would cry tears of joy.

“I was just grateful for my life. God put answers in front of me. I’m not going to say I figured it out while I was there. I figured it out when I was home much later. But God could have brought any 26-year-old and put them there, but he put me there. He knew I would make it through. I had to go there to figure out God’s plan. I’ve been to hell, and the devil had his hand on me, but at the end of the day God works overtime.”

Now, Alex lives with the legacy of that harrowing experience, but has written his story to inspire others. “Living every day, l call that the beautiful struggle,” he says. “l have to say my normal prayer and read the Bible. I wake up and I say, ‘You know what God? However the day goes, your plan is good’. When people read my book, I want them to feel like they’re taking a walk with god. It shows that no matter the obstacle, you can break it down. This is what God did for me, and if He did this for me, He can do it for you”.




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