On April 21, 2018, we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Scripture Union, Lagos Area, and it was also the Supporters’ Forum. I reminded my brethren that there were only two Scripture Union Pilgrim Groups when I came to Lagos in 1974. These were the Agege and Mashalasi Pilgrim Groups. I was disappointed the days I was invited to minister in these groups because there were very few members, unlike Enugu, where I was coming from, where over 2000 members would gather for fellowship.
Lagos Area, surprisingly, had a strong Area Committee. Zones and Regions had not been created by then. In 1980, the Area Committee gave me the responsibility of establishing a pilgrims group. My committee chose Igbobi. We took off with great zest. Within a short time, God helped us to revive the Agege Group and also to establish many groups, except the FESTAC Group, which started as children’s club, before it transformed to a pilgrim group. By God’s leading, I introduced the Easter Party during the Easter retreat. Holding on Sunday evenings, it was attracting many people, especially, pastors and church leaders, who could not camp with us because of their church programmes. Secondly, I ran free camps all the years I was the group president, Area Pilgrims Coordinator and the Area Chairman. Money could no longer hinder anybody from attending our Easter camps.
I was the Area Pilgrims Coordinator, when Bro. Sola, our Area Chairman, decided to resign because of business issues he had with his partner, who was in the Scripture Union Council with him. He felt that it was wrong, under that circumstance, for them to be sitting in the Council. It is only a Scripture Union member that could do that! Three of us stood for the election for his replacement. One of us, Bro. Chibueze, voted for me instead of voting for himself. It is only a Scripture Union member that could do that! I won the election with his vote. Six years after, I completed my term. During the election to replace me, he voted for Rev. Chris Ibeawuchi, who was standing for the election with him. Rev. Ibeawuchi won the election because of his (Chibueze’s) vote. This can only happen in the Scripture Union!
When Prof. Francis Onofeghara, now late, was retiring as the National Chairman, two people tied – Prof. W. Mbipong and Dr. Mike Oye – during the election to replace him. Uncle Mike bowed out, telling us in the council that God told him that Prof. Mbipong would be the National Chairman. It is only a Scripture Union man that could say such a thing, denying himself the opportunity of holding that privileged position in the ministry! Whenever I refer to the Scripture Union in my church as a family, someone would ask me all the time, ‘And the church is what?’ I may not know the answer, but I know that the Scripture Union is a family. Being members of a family, it might explain why the leadership of Lagos Area of the Scripture Union has made various presentations to us, detailing what they had done, what they are doing and what they, with our support, intend to do, including the financial implication.
In 2 Kings 6:1-2, the students in a Bible College recognised their need to expand their hostel. They met their Rector, Prof. Elisha, for permission to go to Jordan to cut the wood. He obliged them. One of them urged him to go with them. Imagine! I suspect that he might be a Scripture Union member! They taught us to respect people but not to fear anybody. What people grumble behind, we declare before the individual. We are known for boldness, righteous boldness!
‘The Scripture Union, Lagos Area, in a similar way,’ I told them, ‘is inviting us, as their members, friends, Supporters, et cetera, to go to Jordan with them to cut the wood needed for the expansion of their work’. If there was anybody who had genuine reasons why he would not go with them, it was Prof. Elisha. How could he, their Rector, go to the bush with them? Prophet Elisha represents people who have genuine reasons, why they should not be part of the project the Scripture Union leadership has shown us. Imagine a man whose children were sent home from school because of school fees! Imagine a man, who is looking for money to pay his rent! Elisha said curiously that he would go with them. This means that all of us must be part of the project.
Our children may not understand how wood can be used for building instead of using blocks and cement. Do not blame them since they were born here, in Lagos, and not in the village like most of us. Secondly, there is no Jordan in Lagos. What do we do? Thank God that we live in a jet age. We have therefore, our refined ‘River Jordans’: First Bank, UBA, Union Bank, etc, where can go and bring the materials!
I was ministering in the convention of a church in Makurdi, when a pastor from another church testified how he suffered financially as a student in Bible college. He was so poor that he could not afford transport money home during their holidays and was compelled to be staying in the house of a pastor. One day, they lost their money. It pained him greatly when they asked him whether he was the thief! He said that the poorest people in any society are Bible College students, yet in our passage, all the students went to Jordan to cut the wood. This is what love of God signifies. During the Students Camp of our great Union in 1976, here in Lagos, Dr. Onofeghara then was the Camp Commandant. One day, the campers were sent out to fetch firewood for cooking. No student told him to go with them, yet, our brother went with them. It is only a Scripture Union man that could do that!
When I was the Lagos Area Chairman, the Scripture Union Council asked me, on two occasions, the secret of our funding, being the only Area that was overpaying our annual quota! My response was simple – loyalty of my brethren! Loyalty! May God bless you for your loyalty to me all the years I led you. That was how God used me in banning the use of firewood in cooking our food during camp meetings! One year, I challenged my brethren, asking them how we could be using firewood to cook our food in Lagos, the capital of Nigeria, then. Their reaction was prompt. They brought out money, big amount, and we bought gas cookers.
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