- Oritsejafor, okotie bLAZE the trail
By SAM EYOBOKA
IT’S Christmas time again is a Christmas song by American vocal group Backstreet Boys. The song was written by Backstreet Boys members Nick Carter and Howie Dorough along with Mika Guillory and Morgan Taylor Reid in early October 2012.
Christmas is an annual commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ and a widely observed holiday, celebrated generally on December 25 by billions of people around the world.
A feast central to the Christian liturgical year, it closes the Advent season and initiates the 12 days of Christ-mastide, which ends after the 12th night. Christmas is a civil holiday in many of the world’s nations, is celebrated by an increasing number of non-Christians, and is an integral part of the Christmas and holiday season.
While the birth year of Jesus is estimated among modern historians to have been between 7 and 2 BC, the exact month and day of his birth are unknown. His birth is mentioned in two of the four canonical gospels. By the early-to-mid 4th century, the Western Christian Church had placed Christmas on December 25, a date later adopted in the East.
The date of Christmas may have initially been chosen to correspond with the day exactly nine months after early Christians believed Jesus to have been conceived, or with one or more ancient polytheistic festivals that occurred near southern solstice (i.e., the Roman winter solstice); a further solar connection has been suggested because of a biblical verse[a] identifying Jesus as the “Sun of righteousness”.
The celebratory customs associated in various countries with Christmas have a mix of pre-Christian, Christian, and secular themes and origins. Popular modern customs of the holiday include gift giving, Christmas music and caroling, an exchange of Christmas cards, church celebrations, and the display of various Christmas decorations, including Christmas trees, Christmas lights, nativity scenes, garlands, wreaths, mistletoe, and holly.
In addition, several closely related and often interchangeable figures, known as Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, and Christkind, are associated with bringing gifts to children during the Christmas season and have their own body of traditions and lore. Because gift-giving and many other aspects of the Christmas festival involve heightened economic activity among both Christians and non-Christians, the holiday has become a significant event and a key sales period for retailers and businesses. The economic impact of Christmas is a factor that has grown steadily over the past few centuries in many regions of the world.
In keeping with the reason for the season, the Household of God Ministries held its annual God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense, GRACE programme where the founder, Rev. Chris Okotie dolled out about N6 million.
Guided by the philosophy that ‘greatness does not consist in being great, but in the ability to make others great,” Okotie gave this year’s Karis Award to the first female Air Commodore in the Nigerian Air Force, first female parade commander and the first commandant in the Nigerian Air Force and founder of A’l-Saleh Development Foundation for the education and upliftment of the less privileged especially the girl-child; Air Commodore Habiba Ruth Garba (rtd). The Karis award, started in 1996 by Rev. Chris Okotie, is given to Nigerians who excelled in their respective fields. She got N1 million.
The occasion which was chaired by General Martin Luther Agwai (rtd) and Air Marshal Nsikak Eduuok as special guest also fearured a side attraction, Queen Esther Beauty and Costume Pageant and Competition which also carried a price of N1 million.
Charity organisations including The Pacelli School for the Blind and Partially Sighted, The Sunshine Foundation, The Spinal Cord Injuries Association of Nigeria and the Strong Tower Mission were given N1 million each.
Boxing Day is traditionally the day following Christmas Day, when servants and tradesmen would receive gifts from their bosses or employers, known as a “Christmas box”. Boxing Day is better known as a bank or public holiday that occurs on December 26, or the first or second weekday after Christmas Day, depending on national or regional laws.
War against poverty
Come December 26, the National President of Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN and founder of Word of Life Bible Church, Warri, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor will continue his war against poverty in parts of the country as he empowers several Nigerians through an annual poverty alleviation programme.
He has perfected plans to give out six brand new cars, 12 tricycles, 100 grinding machines among other poverty alleviation items.
Last month, during the just concluded 26th Word of Life Bible Church Jubilee Word Festival, Pastor Oritsejafor gave scholarship awards to 40 indigent students to study courses of their choice ranging from mechanical engineering, petroleum engineering, medical sciences to economics at different tertiary institutions of higher learning in the country and overseas.
The list included 36 fresh students in 100 level, three in 200 level while the remaining one is a 300 level student. One of the lucky students, Toritseweju Mene is admitted to read Economics at Memorial University in Canada.
For seven years Ajamimogha Road, Warri, had played host to unpre-cendented crowd of underprivileged who desire some lifeline. As early as 6.00 a.m. thousands of people are expected to converge on the street, waiting anxiously for the biggest yearly poverty alleviation programme in the country.
It is the 8th annual poverty alleviation programme of Eagle Flight Micro-Finance Bank, solely owned by Word of Life Bible Church.
The CAN National President, Pastor Oritsejafor sees such largese as his own way of giving back to the society, especially the less privileged; arguing that the essence of wealth was all about sharing with the needy.
He appealed to governments at all levels in the country as well as corporate organisations to be more proactive in coming up with similar empowerment programmes that could drastically reduce the poverty level in the country.