The 25th of August was my Wife’s birthday, however, my wife and I set the 28th of August aside to give two lectures on how we have managed 41 years of friendship and 36 years of marriage because the 25th was a working day.
One thing my wife and I have learnt to do is not to celebrate according to societal expectations.
We buried both my parents three weeks apart. I was about 32 years old. We even built a house just before their death. I was the Men’s Fellowship leader for Imo and Abia States of the Church of God Mission Int. Inc., then. My father was the oldest man in his quarter of Otokutu and I had rich family members, but I decided how I was going to bury my father. He is my father not your own. At the end of the day, I was not owing anybody and I was under no pressure.
When my mother-in-law died, we buried her according to what we felt was appropriate and reasonable, but we were not under pressure. We did it all with pleasure.
Managing our lives, our activities, and my family is our personal responsibility, my wife and I.
We don’t struggle to impress people, whoever, anybody.
We have no status to project or protect.
The dresses we wore today were the ones we wore for my 60th birthday celebration 2 years ago. So they have been used to celebrate 120 years of life. My wife insisted that she would not buy new dresses because she only wore that dress once for my 60th birthday 2 years back. So we did not buy new clothes.
The ram we ate is from my farm, so we did not buy meat.
The hall we used was our hall, and we decorated it with our decoration materials.
My wife had bought all the materials you will need for any ceremony from dishes, cutleries, tables, chairs etc. many years back.
We have a catering department that handled the cooking and service.
We have a full set of musical equipment in the school hall that we use for my conferences and seminars for our students.
I did not buy any big birthday present for my wife because she insisted that we should complete our next project which can buy her any, and the, latest model of the car she wants by January.
Celebrate with sense, not status.
Celebrate with pleasure, not pressure.
Note we don’t recommend our lifestyle to anybody.
We have the right to be different.
The subsequent lectures will reveal more about this unusual couple.
This is a long post, but please finish reading it before you like it or comment.
Please don’t comment on what you have not experienced or understand. I have been in very intensive and hectic ministry for close to 25 years, and I have been a doctor for 37 years. I have been a personal physician to pastors for many years. I am passing through the same stress too.
I have read a lot about preachers from, A. A. Allen, Jack Coe, Smith Wigglesworth, Peter Marshall, Kathryn Khulman, Robert Murray McCheyne, and several other ministers.
I have worked closely with many Pentecostal pastors within and outside Nigeria. I have also done a critical review of my personal life and I have come to realize that stress is the major killer of preachers and their wives.
You must have noticed that Pentecostal pastors lose their wives comparatively more than wives of Anglican, Baptist, Methodist and Presbyterian clergymen. The wives of Pentecostal pastors are under too much stress. They will breastfeed babies, do night vigils, go to work, run women’s fellowship meetings, take children to school, satisfy the sexual needs of their husbands, preach, stay like frozen statues in the altars with hundreds of eyes staring at them, and so on.
Pastors wives bear the burden of the financial pressures of their husbands. Forget those cars and the fine shoes and clothes most pastors wives are wearing; many of them are gifts, including the ones I wear. The one I wore in the pictures in this post is a gift from Mudiaga Onajomo, CEO of Mudi Africa, and the shoes are gifts from Chibueze Sj. God bless them.
Their husbands are also under tough financial pressures. In fact, the bigger the church, the more the financial challenges. If you know how much goes in to pay bills and maintenance of church buildings, generators, and workers salaries, you will pity many pastors and their wives, especially the very sincere ones.
There are times many of the big programs with big guest preachers leave big debts behind, and the General Overseer will be under great pressure. That’s why all gimmicks come into ministry from sales of handkerchiefs, anointing oil, stickers, almanacks, healing water, mantles, healing swimming pool fees, and different forms of fundraising.
We, as preachers or pastors, take on too many big projects at the same time. We are under too much comparative and competitive pressure. Not all have committed partners even when they have projects that are too gigantic, especially in Nigeria. You might not understand what I’m saying because pastors are amongst the most jealous and comparative people on earth. We, sometimes, are more interested in sizes, statistics, and status than even worldly people.
Even as branch pastors, your relevance in the headquarters is based on statistics and remittances, instead of service and sincerity to humanity and God. The struggle for relevance and recognition by other pastors, Government, and other people is mostly responsible for the stress.
Pastors like to copy each other as if it’s a business community. If one pastor buys a private jet, others will want to copy. They don’t know the cost of running a private jet, the cost of paying pilots, and the cabin crew. Parking fees and maintenance fees alone can kill a man with a weak heart unless you lease them out to make money. If one pastor starts doing 5 services, the neighbour or friend will also start five services. From my personal observation, a lot of the attendees would be the same; choristers, ushers, and same members, and only one pastor will preach in all the services. To evaluate the stress, check the amount of sweat that comes out of their bodies. If one pastor builds a thirty-thousand-capacity auditorium, his friends want to build forty-thousand- and sixty-thousand-capacity halls. All these put on pressure on them.
I do a radio broadcast on Quest F.M.; if not for my sponsor, I know how much stress it would have put me under, and then imagine what others go through running TV broadcasts on several stations. The cost of running a satellite station runs into millions of Naira.
Pastors hardly take vacations; they do too many long night vigils and fasting programs. How can you do 40-night vigils, and after that, you do another 30-days fast? A lot of these programs are to retain the members and, sometimes, to generate revenue.
Dry fasting without water destroys the kidneys. Another thing that destroys the kidneys is the retention of urine by the senior pastor. He is not expected to leave his seat to go to the restroom. The backward flow of urine up the ureters to the kidneys is harmful.
Sleep deprivation for people above 40 years increases the chances of hypertension, and then, the various back-to-back invitations, for people like me, build up stress hormones that affect all organs of the body. Every time you stand up to speak, especially if you are known for miracles, there is an enormous release of stress hormones that wear out the body.
I know many young ministers who have drips fixed on them because of exhaustion. I have seen the ones who still went to do church stuff from hospital beds. I am telling you about what I have seen.
Most of these sudden deaths are from cardiac arrests and the consequences of executive fatigue syndrome and burnout syndromes.
Tragically, pastors don’t seek medical attention early because it would be seen as a lack of faith because of our over-exaggeration of our anointing.
When I took the COVID vaccine, religious echoes of their pastors were questioning my anointing and faith in Jesus for taking vaccines. Most of them are so ignorant of medical history, especially the half-educated fanatics. They don’t know that from the time of the smallpox vaccine, those who resisted vaccines suffered dire consequences.
The stress of our over-packaging and the associated pressure of trying to prove that we have arrived makes the hollow in us cave in.
There was a day I was not feeling well, but I still went to preach because I did not want to disappoint the fellows. I became dizzy, and I had to hold the pulpit rail. They taught it was part of my style, but they did not know I was dying.
There was a time I travelled for missionary work in Cross River State, close to the border with Cameroon. I fell sick, but my guests did not know; I had to sit down to talk to them, and they were still ready to listen. Until you collapse, they will be ready to hear from you.
Because of our pride, we don’t share our weaknesses with others until we collapse and die. That’s why deaths during or after preaching are common. The body is a slave to the anointing; unless you use your brain to stop and rest, the joy of ministry can kill you. We need people who can help us to restrain ourselves. I told my lawyer I need one urgently.
Diabetes and other metabolic illnesses are common among pastors because if you are not careful, your members and your hosts would overfeed you with red meat, which is not healthy, and stuff you with a lot of fruit juices with additives and other high-energy food. To make matters worse, you might take energy drinks with caffeine and lots of calories to pep you up.
The Seventh Day Adventist church members live longer than other Christians in Canada and America because of their diet and the Sabbath rest.
Ministry can become a cage.
I am writing from personal experience and deep observation of pastors and their wives. I am reminding myself of the dangers we face as preachers.
*** For further reading look for the book titled ” A man called Peter Marshall”
Please remember to pray for our pastors and their wives.
HRM, King Johnson Duku II, the Orovworere of Effurun-Otor Kingdom, was there to do the groundbreaking ceremony, along with the executive arm of the kingdom.
Bishop Pius Onephronjire, presiding Bishop of Shalom Christian Mission and the first bishop of Effurun-Otor origin, was present to rededicate the land for the new purpose and establish a new ownership over the land. He prayed for Jehovah’s presence and blessings upon the land.
Olorogun Ojiyovwi Onephronjire responded on behalf of the community.
Bishop Ederhue Godwin of Bethesda Church and my good friend said the opening prayer and also made a brief speech.
Rev. Silvester Odemakpore also came with brother Omas Omerhi.
Rev Samson Bodjor, my dear brother, did a wonderful job as the master of ceremony.
I want to acknowledge your goodwill messages from different nations of the world, within and outside Nigeria.
I must not fail to acknowledge your material and financial contributions to the project and ceremony.
Rev Harvey Onephronjire, Rev Tari Ekiyor, and their members, were awesome.
I have had only two medical doctors come visiting at the farm fellowship.
The first was a US-based medical doctor, resident in Palm Beach, Florida, the medical director of Fine Care Diagnostics Ltd, Ugberikoko Road, Sapele, Dr. Ejoke Ughwanogho, who, out of love for his people, has established a very well-equipped, beautiful, and comprehensive diagnostic center at Sapele.
On the 6th of April, it was the turn of a neurosurgeon who came visiting. This is one of the specialties with the least number of consultants in Nigeria.
What fascinated me was his age. He was 4 years old when I left medical school.
He was such a blessing to me and a sign that there is hope for our nation.
I also had a call from Seoul, South Korea, from one of the followers of Farm Fellowship international. That was another great motivation, when I was thinking of taking a break from social media.
When you are feeling discouraged, remember that there are people you are making a meaning in their lives.
April 27th is my birthday. I will be 62 years old. I hope to celebrate it in the Farm Fellowship, international, and I’m preparing to lay the foundation of Petra Institute, Effurun-Otor that day.
Several Nigerians in Nigeria and in the Diaspora want to come visit me at the farm fellowship on appointment. I believe God that we will have a beautiful place where we can do training and have good fellowship and relaxation.
Many people did not know, then, what I was passing through even as a medical doctor, and later as a minister, even when we came to Ughelli.
There were Christmas days, years back, and all we could afford was 2 kg each of the necks, wings, and legs of chicken. My wife would cook some tomato stew on the 24th, and then the rice on 25th December. We used to leave Aba very early on Christmas day to give food to my parents, that were both paralysed, at Otokutu. If we did not do that, be sure they will have nothing to eat for Christmas.
When we started ministry, sometimes on Christmas day, we will be preaching in a church outside town. The children might be with my mother-in-law or with us in the hotel.
Nobody knew our state of affairs.
2. When money has insulted you, learn to respect money, but learn to worship Jehovah.
God has helped me to be frugal. I have always looked beyond the immediate. I have always seen far ahead. I love the results of my delayed gratification.
People call me a miser, and that I am not a giver. They don’t understand my philosophy of life.
I’m not extravagant. I don’t give to those who have an entitlement mentality. I don’t waste my resources on wasteful, extravagant, and lazy people. I don’t give by compulsion or competition. I don’t give to receive from God.
I give, out of a sense of responsibility, and I hate gambling. God is not a slot machine, or a betting administrator. I give to those who are in real need and are going to be productive.
3. I have managed the resources that were given to me by people and churches so effectively, that I can now employ people and give to people.
My dear son, Rev. Samson Bodjor, took me to a shopping mall this morning to buy a very fine pair of shoes for me.
I call him son because I’m old enough to be his father.
This means so much to me.
Lessons of Life
1. I remember the first day I met him; he was moderating a program very well, but one of his shoes had an open mouth like a fish gasping for air.
I gave him 100 Naira to stitch it.
That was about 20 years back.
2. Another time, I saw him at the DSC Roundabout, Warri, Delta State, and gave him a lift.
From there, our father/son relationship started.
He is part of my nuclear family.
3. He has spent more time with me than most people I have mentored.
4. I have also traveled with him to several places within and outside Nigeria, as far as Kenya and Madagascar.
I have also shared my contacts in life and ministry with him.
5. He drank from the fountain of my calling.
He would come with a diary and take notes, even when he would have no transport fare; I used to pay for him to get back home then. Today, he takes care of me.
6. He has become a great husband, father, and minister of the Gospel.
I usually tell churches, I recommend him to, that I have someone who will preach it better than I would do.
I’m so happy that my decision to invest in young people for more than 30 years back is yielding great results. I usually pray for them that they will become so great and successful that they will drive cars, as gifts, to my house, not too far from now.
Some years back, someone once told me that my ‘carton‘ was not attractive enough. He said that my wife and I do not dress well. At least, according to him, I was one of the “prominent” Urhobo preachers they had.
Don’t ever deceive yourself by people’s opinions. Their opinions don’t pay the bills of over decorated and overrated cartons. It’s your content that pays.
Cartons don’t last long; new designs always come and go.
2. Always know the stage you are in your developmental journey, and under divine guidance, know what to do, and how to get ‘there’.
By the time you reach the place called there, most of the CARTONS would look very obsolete and unattractive.
Spend more effort to develop generationally relevant content. That’s the way to sustain popularity.
Be like a flowing river of content; always come out with fresh supplies.
On my way to Port Harcourt to deliver a lecture.
3. Do a cost-benefit analysis of your cartons and your destination.
Always ask yourself, “At what cost?“
4. Don’t let popularity put your carton, this time, your body and person, under pressure.
Be relaxed; there is nothing to prove.
Never forget where God picked you from.
5. Be reasonable and adaptable.
In the video, I am taking public transport because the roads are terrible, the traffic is crazy, and I had told my host at Aba that I won’t raise funds, so I don’t need to put them under financial pressure.
6. On a last note, the Doctor who does not dress well, wears clothes gifted to him by people.
The dress and shoes I’m putting on for this trip are gifts, and there are more pastors that have asked for my measurements to send me clothing. One young man gave me 23 pieces of clothes some years back.
Just get there; popularity and value will then pay the bills through generationally relevant content and productivity.
I grew up in very difficult circumstances, but the image of my father daring to dream a big dream of training a medical doctor, in the similitude of the European doctor, then at the Warri general hospital where he went to collect refuse, is a permanent image in my head.
I remember that day, that spot, and the particular time of the evening and the stressful situation at home that day. That was in 1969. I was ten years old when my father told me I would become a medical doctor like Dr. Stevenson.
I worked hard and became that doctor and worked in that same hospital.
My father did the most menial jobs to feed us and pay my school fees. I later learnt that our village people used to make fun of him as a refuse collector, but he did not care. None of those who laughed at him can stand the legacy he laboured for.
That imagery of my father remains in my head.
I’m never ashamed to bend down and do hard or menial tasks to achieve my dreams. I don’t care what ever any person thinks about my status and what I am doing.
The picture of me pushing the wheelbarrow reminds me of my father. I never really knew I looked like him from behind. I am not a mean man by any standard. I bought the shorts at Adelaide in Australia, and the red T-shirt at Rue Indira Gandhi in Antananarivo in Madagascar. My last child and third son, Ese, took the pictures; I want to leave the same imagery of decent work in his mind.
I prefer this image in his mind than the image of being ridiculed in front of an investigative panel for corruption.
As a child, you never brought anything you do not own to our home. We did not own much, but we laboured for what we had. It has never left my mind.
We admired what others owned, but we were never intimidated by anybody. What we had might not be good enough, but we earned and owned them.
The other image in my mind is that of Dr. Tai Solarin of Mayflower School—his simplicity, frugality, and dressing; it has never left my mind. The concept with which he ran his school and his natural lifestyle influenced me greatly.
Another image in my head is that of President Jimmy Carter.
I remember that after he won his election to become President, he still went back to teach his Sunday School Class, and still teaches his Sunday School Class till date. Jimmy Carter is still involved physically in home construction in remote parts of the world. I love Jimmy Carter.
Quite recently, the picture of Melinda Gates with a bucket of water on her head in an African village made a lasting impression on my mind.
On a very funny note, a lady that hawks beef in my area saw me at the gate, and she called me and sent me to go call the headmistress, my headmistress. I obediently went and told the HM that ‘madam meat’ is calling you. Later, madam meat was in my office, and she knelt down to apologise for sending me on an errand to my worker, HM. I did not notice any offence; it did not mean anything to me. I’m still the son of a refuse collector, a gravedigger, and a gateman in a hotel.
These and some other images have never left my head. I treasure them.
If you forget where God took you from, you might not appreciate where He has taken you to so far.