I do most of my wife’s shopping – Bishop Humphrey Olumakaiye

The recently-appointed Bishop of Lagos Diocese of the Anglican Communion, Bishop Humphrey Olumakaiye, speaks with KORE OGIDAN on his life in ministry, marriage and other issues

You’re currently the Bishop of the Lagos State Diocese of the Anglican Communion. Did you ever imagine you would get to this position when you entered the ministry at the age of 18?

I’m grateful to God for my current position because I never imagined I’d be where I am today. However, I am also a man who have always had big dreams and hopes for a bright future. I had great dreams for the Anglican community and using my positions in the church at any point in time, I wanted to make a great impact and leave an indelible mark in my service. I believe my journey and even my current position have all been God’s plan for me. I consider myself very fortunate because even as a kid, I was a moralist and very disciplined. God just tailored me and planned everything concerning me for the purpose of where He’s taking me to. Asides from God’s own hand, I believe that people, who are called, must deny themselves of things of the world. I believe I’ve lived a godly life and turned my back on the things of the world. These helped me develop myself to walk in the path that God had carved out for me. To get to such a position as this, there are many essential things to be taken into consideration, including competence, character, calling and confidence; these aid your journey to getting to great heights.

How did you identify your calling?

There’s usually an instinct in you that lets you know you’ve been chosen to do something. My dad had seen some of the traits of my calling in me; I liked serving God, praying at every given opportunity and even my friends at school nicknamed me ‘pastor’, which I didn’t like at the time, because pastors were perceived to be academically unsound. It wasn’t until later that I realised that those who are called for the ministerial work are actually geniuses and people of very sound minds. I topped the list of the students who were taken to join the University of Ilorin at the time when I applied to study Political Science there, but my dad, seeing my potential and traits, urged me to enrol at the Emmanuel College of Theology, Ibadan, instead. Even before then, God had been speaking to me in my quiet time, telling me the path I was to follow but I gently ignored it. It wasn’t until my dad said it out that it had such a big impression on my heart that that was what I was meant to do. So, I put aside the admission to the University of Ilorin and went to Ibadan to attend the Emmanuel College of Theology, where I was actually the youngest in the class, about 18-year-old. I got two diplomas in Religious Studies and in Theology. Following that, I went to the University of Ibadan where I obtained my Bachelors of Art and Masters of Art degrees and went back for a degree in Church History and Ecclesiastical Matters.

What kind of kid were you?

Most of my friends were living lives different from mine. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy their company as friends. However, I didn’t allow them to convert me to play pranks with them. I was very quiet and gentle as a young boy. They (my friends) already knew my stand on the issues of right and wrong, and knew the things I’d partake in and things I wouldn’t. Because of my disposition, I never felt left out; in fact, many times, I loved being by myself.

Do you think this character stemmed from your parents being clerics?

I wouldn’t say so. In most cases, children of ministers are actually the ones who stand outside of the faith; they don’t like following the footsteps of their parents. It is so because the gospel isn’t new to them and they believe that they are familiar with the faith already. Except one has a personal encounter with the Lord, it can have an adverse effect on the person. Even for me, I have a son who just finished his Bachelor’s degree and will soon be going for his Master in Biotechnology. He is currently completely out of the ministry but no one knows tomorrow. He’s also very disciplined, calm and intelligent. Most importantly, he’s God-fearing and is an instrumentalist. He plays the keyboard and talking drum.

Has there been any seemingly impossible thing God told you that eventually came to pass?

There have been many things but I’ll give one example. Many years ago, shortly after my ordination, I saw myself in an Episcopal robe and I couldn’t believe it. It seemed unreal for someone who had just been ordained as a priest to be wearing purple. I couldn’t even say it out. But when it came, I was very shocked and full of gratitude to God. This was because I was elected a Bishop at the young age of 40 in 2009. That’s quite unprecedented in the Anglican Communion; where there are many more well-qualified priests who are older. At the age of 31, I became an archdeacon and it was very rare to see a 31-year-old archdeacon. It was the former Bishop of Lagos State, Most Reverend Adebola Ademowo, who ordained me and made me a priest. He also ordained me preferred canon and archbishop. For him to have done that, there must have been something he saw in me that he must have considered unique and substantial. Archbishop Ademowo and his wife, I have to say, have been my biggest spiritual influences. It was this couple that trained me. When he was still the bishop of Ilesha diocese, he ordained me; been where I was posted to after my ministerial training. He has been a very disciplined, meticulous and spiritual leader, and his wife has always been a prayer warrior. I’ve been following their footsteps and they’ve been great mentors.

How eager were you to take over from your mentor?

I never dreamt of taking over from him. I was just doing my work quietly and passionately, using what God has given to me. It was just God’s grace and divine mandate that it happened this way. It never occurred to me that I would take the position of the person who ordained me; going by the age and experience gap. He’s the most experienced bishop in the Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion.

What plans have you put in place to ensure you make a difference while you are in office?

I was ordained bishop of Lagos State on July 30, 2018, and I have a five-fold ministry, which are: priestly, pastoral, prophetic, prayer and praise. We have started approaching this headlong. It’s our aim to ensure that all the priests in the diocese, over 170 of us, perform our priestly functions, raising up the prayers of the people to God. The pastoral ministry entails counselling, praying for the sick and many other things. We have something called the S.H.E (Spirituality, Health and Education) ministry which is open to both believers and non-believers. We will collaborate with the government in different ways to help the people and aid their development.

From a spiritual angle, why do you think Nigeria has been unable to grow and stabilise?

The problem we have in this country is that we’ve left God and until we go back to Him, nothing can be done. God is real and He has given us the manual to live by, which is the Bible. The Bible is complete for guiding and leading nations. Our leaders have deserted God and unfortunately, the church and religious leaders aren’t helping matters. Messages from the pulpit have shifted from heavenly goals to things of the world. Most of the messages we hear today play on the emotions of unsuspecting members; preaching uncommon grace, uncommon favour and so on. Until we go back to the ancient path of true obedience to God, dignity of labour, righteousness and love, we’ll continue to have problems. For our nation to progress, we must all come together and seek the face of God, so that He can heal our land.

Nigeria practised traditional worship before the missionaries introduced Christianity. At what point then were we close to God before leaving Him?

I’m saying that our relationship with God has become worse. Back in the day, schools were under the control of missionaries and churches. The school was more like an annex of the church – having morning devotions and the students being taught hymns. We even knew the Ten Commandments offhand. But how many of our kids know that today? The kids aren’t taught such anymore. Until we go back to the time when the church will have its influence on the upbringing of the young generations, we will be where we are. Also, a lot of parents have left their duties. Many parents don’t even see their kids for days yet they live in the same house. Because when they’re coming in, their children are already asleep and they probably leave home before their children are awake. These children are mostly under the care of the maids at home. That can’t help us. I believe that we have to go back to the drawing board and take it from there. Growing up, my mum was a teacher and she devoted her time to us. Similarly, we are doing the same for our son. He grew up having devotion with us, his parents, as a family. That’s how to raise children.

Money isn’t everything but sadly, that’s what’s most people are after. Greed is killing the nation today. Most people want to make quick money. Sadly, again, the churches aren’t helping, especially the new generation prosperity churches. There are principles and processes to divine blessings. We ought to teach them the right thing that you must work hard, then, God will bless the work of your hands. You have to climb the ladder step-by-step to get to the top.

What’s been your experience within your short stay in office thus far?

It’s been wonderful and the diocese is very well structured. Thank God for the immediate past Archbishop Ademowo, the fellowship is very strong. Also, the diocese is fertile for evangelism; we just came in and had the ease of keying into it and we have started seeing fantastic and beautiful results.

Tell us about your background.

I was born in Okene on January 28, 1969. Okene used to be in Kwara State but is now in Kogi State and that’s where I spent the first two to three years of my primary education which was at St. Andrew’s Primary School. Then, we moved to Lokoja when my father became an archdeacon. I also attended Emmanuel Anglican Primary School, Lokoja, and completed my primary education at St. Michael’s Primary School, Esie, in Kwara State. Then, we moved to Ilorin, where I began my secondary education at Government Secondary School, Omu-Aran.  My dad was a priest in the Anglican Communion and he rose to become a provost in the Cathedral of Saint Barnabas, Ilorin. That made us traversed the length and breadth of the churches in the country. For me, the travelling was quite interesting. We got to make new friends and live in new environments; so it embedded a sense of adventure in us. Interestingly, I’m still in touch with some of my old friends. Also, as children, we had no say in the matter of moving around; all we did was follow our dad wherever he went.

Although I was the quiet one in the family, I had different ways of entertaining the family. Ours was a loving family and we were very comfortable. I’m the fifth child of seven children (four girls and three boys). My elder brother was something else; he was nicknamed King Bato but he has given his life to the Lord now. My other brother is currently an Oba in Ondo State; the Olu of Ofoshu. The eldest of us is in Atlanta and the last is in Houston, USA. The sixth child is a civil servant in Akure and the second child is a law librarian in LASU and is the wife of the Vice-Chancellor of Ajayi Crowther University, Oyo. We lived in a full house as we had a lot of extended family members living with us at the time. Sometimes, we’d be about 15 in the house and of course, you can tell that there was a lot of fun.

How did you meet your wife?

To the Glory of God, I spotted her in church in Ondo during a crusade. Back then, we used to go on college missions and I was posted to All Saints Anglican Church, Ondo, alongside my friends. Getting there, I saw the beautiful young lady. I was 20 and she was 17-year-old. She had just finished from secondary school and was gearing up to go to the Obafemi Awolowo University to study Nutrition. As soon as I saw her, I was blown away by how pretty she was; even men of God like good things. Projecting on where I’d be in future, I knew I needed someone who would complement me perfectly in the ministry. I met her and told her I’d like to see her after the crusade that day but she ran away; she didn’t wait. That was on Saturday. On Sunday, during the service, I saw her file in with the choir and started looking for an opportunity to speak with her. Luckily, I had some fliers that I needed to distribute. I went up to her again and asked her to help me distribute them to the other church members. I didn’t end there; I told her to give me feedback from the distribution after she was done. That was how we became friends and I got her address. When she resumed at the university, because there were no cell phones at the time, she wrote a letter to me and the friendship started fully.

About four years after, I proposed to her after being very sure that she was the right person. Initially, she refused but eventually, she agreed to the relationship because she was in a Pentecostal church at the time and I was in the ministry of what she considered “for old people”. She came to me later on and said she didn’t want to continue with her relationship with me. She wanted me to get something else to do; given my education but I refused and told her I’d rather let her go than let go of my calling. We parted that evening. It was hard for me but about a week later, she wrote me and told me how she’d wept and how she’d come to think that if I’d rather stick to my calling and let her go, no matter how painful it must have been for me, she was ready to stay with me because she could see the genuineness of my faith and calling.

How did you propose to her?

It was quite easy. We’d been talking for a while and one day, I just told her how good it’d be for us to take our relationship to the next level. She asked what level and I immediately told her marriage. Right from the beginning, I knew our relationship would end in marriage. Because we were young when we met, we still wanted to face our studies squarely but the instinctive voice in me told me she was my future wife. Meeting her, I must confess, was divine. Funnily enough, during the week, we broke up. I started to think that I must have been carried away and infatuated by her; so, I decided to brush it off my mind and I have to say that it wasn’t easy. Luckily, shortly after, I got her letter, and since then, it’s been so wonderful. She’s a professor of Human Nutrition and Consumer Sciences at the Obafemi Awolowo University. I was 28-year-old when we eventually got married in 1997.

How was the experience of kissing your wife on your wedding day, being your first kiss?

Did I even kiss her that day? Looking back, that wasn’t actually part of our programme. What we did was just exchange of cake and fruit wine.

How was your honeymoon after your wedding?

I didn’t have a honeymoon. I went straight to the vicarage the following day to start the work of the ministry. I led a crusade the next day. However, we got a vacation period a while after.

Since it was your first time, did you have any awkward moment on your first night together, consummating your marriage?

Naturally, you’ll get it done. God has embedded it in us. Even if you’re blind, you’ll get it done. It’s already an instinct programmed in us.

You have a glow when you talk about your marriage. What are the things responsible for failed marriages today?

Marriage is a life-long contract and it isn’t something one just rushes into. People don’t often take the time to know and understand each other before committing themselves to marriage. These are two people who are coming from two different backgrounds and they don’t take the time to know if they can cope with their differences. Unfortunately, the present day youths aren’t patient enough and that’s what is destroying many marriages. Above all, you must play the game according to the rules of the Kingdom. God instituted marriage and gave the manual – the Bible – for it to be followed. Submission from both parties is key to sustaining the marriage. Also, marriage isn’t just between two lovers; it’s between two forgiving partners because you are bound to offend each other. There must also be transparency between the two partners; you must tell each other the truth and nothing should be hidden from both parties. You must keep humour alive in the home. You must crack jokes and make each other happy. You must also study the mood of your partner.

What does your wife like and how do you spoil her?

Firstly, I call her Tuns and whenever I call her that, she knows I’m happy with her, but whenever I call her Motunrayo, she knows she has to adjust because she’s doing something I don’t like. My wife likes dressing well and I commend her every time she looks good. I do most of her shopping, especially when we travel out of the country. I help her choose her clothes, shoes, hats and other items. I was the one who selected the beautiful dress she wore during my enthronement. Even when I travel alone, I love doing all her shopping because there’d be no conflicting voice; it’s solely my idea of what I buy for her.

Do you have special skills or talent?

I can sing quite beautifully and beat drums. I love singing mostly contemporary songs. In regards to sports, I’m very good in badminton. In my former diocese in Otan-Ayegbaju, Osun State, I built a badminton court for my recreation and exercise.

What was your childhood ambition?

Whenever I was asked, as a kid, what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always said I wanted to drive caterpillars. I had seen it as a huge machine that was controlled by an individual that was so tiny in comparison to it.

How do you like to relax?

I like to read Christian novels and watch television. When my wife is with me, we enjoy watching comedies.

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