By JOSEPHINE IGBINOVIA
For seven years while studying in the then Soviet Union on scholarship, she was staunchly practicing Atheism and doubted therefore the existence of God. Now a London-based Pastor, Dr. Grace Sola-Oludoyi did not hesitate when she had to resign her job as a Psychiatrist to be a full-time Pastor.
She is the Executive Pastor and wife of the Senior Pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Royal Connections, London. Dr.David Sola Oludoyi, her husband, is the Prayer Director and Provincial Pastor, RCCG UK. She is the organiser of Dining with Christ, a non-denominational event that has gathered together hundreds of women in London for close to 15 years. The event was brought to Nigeria last year for the first time, and recently, the second edition held in Lagos. Vista Woman encountered Dr.Grace during her brief stay in Nigeria.
I was born into an average Imo Catholic family, and in 1985, I got scholarship to study Medicine in the former Soviet Union, Russia. I was there for seven years and during those years, we were learning Atheism due to the communist system, and I was thus a nominal Christian. I did not serve God throughout.
After graduation, I moved to England where I worked in the national service as a Psychiatrist. Two years after I got to England, I got married and during one of our visits to Nigeria, my husband and I gave our lives to Christ. We grew in our journey with Christ, and two years after that, my husband was called to pastor a church in London.
That was how I became a pastor’s wife. It was so stressful trying to juggle work, home and church, but God was faithful. Consequently, the need for a time to chill-out informed the programme ‘Dining with Christ’, about fifteen years ago.
Dining with Christ
The vision is to gather women once a year in an unintimidating environment to dine and let go of busy schedules. It’s a non-denominational programme. It’s a women-only programme, but towards the end of each programme, my husband comes to seal it with some words of prophecy for participants.
Life as a Pastor and former Atheist
I believe I’m a living testimony. There were times during those seven years when I almost cease to believe that there was God. I wondered how all the terrible things happening in this life would happen if truly there was a God. Fortunately, I had a Christian godmother who was always there to boost me spiritually each time I went to London on holiday.
If there was something I think I regret in life, it’s the fact that I did not serve God during those seven years. Academically, they were fruitful years, but spiritually, I would call them ‘seven wasted years’. I was a teenager and that makes it more painful because I could have done more for God with my time. I left Nigeria for the Soviet Union at the age of sixteen! All thanks to my godmother and my Catholic background which however helped to restore me after I had moved to London.
Working as a Psychiatrist
Psychiatry is an interesting profession because as a Psychiatrist, you’re working with people that are not just medically ill but sometimes spiritually ill. It could be risky and unpredictable because you have patients with different behaviours. One incident I remember was about nine years ago when a nurse reported to me that a patient refused to take her medication.
The patient looked harmless and I went to her to inquire why she refused taking her medication, but the next thing I got was a big blow which landed me on the floor! That day, I went home very sick! In all, it was an exciting experience and I’m glad I majored in Psychiatry because it has helped me a lot in ministry and in my Christian journey.
I have just finished a degree in Theology & Counseling from the London School of Theology, and all these have really helped to sharpen my work as a minister.
I’m a mother of three and like I said, I’m married to Dr.David Sola-Oludoyi. Despite my schedules, I always try to balance life as a mother because I believe my family is a crucial part of my life.
Unrest in Nigeria
As long as there is life, there would always be challenges. Also, there are many things that are not in the control of human beings. Notwithstanding, it is left for us to look for ways to make the best out of every situation. I believe that women are very influential beings.
We are peacemakers and lovers who want the best for ourselves, our children and society. Women actually determine the atmosphere of the home, and that’s why lots of things suffer when a mother is not at peace with herself. All these things in turn reflect in the atmosphere of the society.
This is one of the issues Dining with Christ seeks to address. A woman whose soul is ministered to and who feels refreshed will always radiate joy in her home and society afterwards. This is our own way of restoring societal peace because a happy joyous woman will bred happy children and build a happy society.
I was a fun-loving domesticated but shy girl. I wasn’t the going out-going type and that makes people who knew me then wonder how I became a public person. I was a book-warm! My studious life however earned me the scholarship which took me to the former Soviet Union where I did Medicine. I also graduated with a distinction from the university. I love studying and I thank God it paid off.
Meeting my husband
He also studied in former Soviet Union; we were classmates. We left Nigeria in the same year and were probably in the same flight, but we didn’t know each other until we became house-mates. We began dating at a point, and after school, we thought it wasn’t going to work out since he is Yoruba while I’m Ibo. After six months of separation, we reunited again in England and got married afterwards.