By Sam Eyoboka
THE Christian Bible describes pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father as; “To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”
At least three Pentecostal leaders who were Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital last February for the 12th biennial conference of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN, extolled the virtues of the outgoing national president, describing him as a man divinely anointed for a crucial assignment at a critical period of the nation, Nigeria. National president, Dr. Felix Omobude who articulated the thoughts of Pentecostal leaders at the Uyo Township Stadium described Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor as a Lion and a man sent by God for a specific assignment at a specific period in a nation like Nigeria.
Indeed, Pastor Oritsejafor must be a Lion, a man from an obscure corner of the nation, to be so passionate about a deliberate plot to annihilate a generation of Christians who have refused to be Islamised and are daily being persecuted. Long before he became CAN president, he was a lone voice in the wilderness drawing world attention to the multi-dimensional war against Northern Christians who are not given C of O to build churches, not considered for political appointments, and all manner of discriminations in their own land.
It was also in the same spirit that he, on a number of occasions, took relief materials to various parts of the North after the numerous militant attacks in Maiduguri, Bauchi, Jos, and other parts of the North. The Northern Christian leaders testified then, that he was the first Southern Christian leader to do so. Beyond rehabilitating some of the victims of the Boko Haram violence, he vehemently spoke against the danger of a full scale sectarian war which he acknowledged then, was crucial to the corporate existence of the country.
Poverty and under development have been identified as a twin serious socio-economic challenge facing the Nigerian government in the last couple of years. On a number of occasions, these two socio-economic elements have brought the giant of Africa to her knees and dehumanized the national psyche. There is a scripture that says “the poor you will always have in your midst”, and the security of a nation is often threatened as the number of the poor increases and the nation’s leaders do nothing to stop the trend.
Taking a cue from the inter-tribal crises in Warri, and recognizing that it takes men with Godly hearts to rewrite the destiny of a failing nation, the national president of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, and the founder of Word of Life Bible Church, Warri, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor have taken the gauntlet to lead a crusade aimed at empowering the teeming youths and the active poor in the Nigerian society.
In the last 13 years, he and his wife, Pastor (Mrs.) Helen Oritsejafor fondly called Papa and Mama within the Christian circle in Nigeria have been consistently involved in one form of empowerment programme for church members and members of the public. As far back as 1998, Mama Oritsejafor incorporated a trade fair/exhibition programme into the annual Women convention known as Daughters of Sarah international convention.
It was aimed to bring people from different fields of human endeavor to display goods and services, thereby encouraging enterpreneural spirit in church people and act as a catalyst for economic growth. Since then also, she has been empowering women with small grants to help start small and medium scale businesses. In fact, the Daughters of Sarah fellowship has started empowering women long before the FEAP loan scheme was inaugurated at the national level.
Born in Ekiti and married to a Delta State man, Mrs. Oritsejafor overcame initial tribal barriers and has set an economic empowerment platform for women in the Niger Delta to key into and rise above all primordial sentiments against womanhood. In less than two years, over 200 women had been empowered via the Word of Life Bible Church annual empowerment programme to start different trades. The Daughters of Sarah international trade had expanded to over 200 stands.
In 2000, Pastor Oritsejafor initiated a university scholarship scheme for undergraduates as well as indigent students wishing to study in Polytechnics and college of education. Every year, he gave out 10 scholarships and recently, one international education scholarship for a young man to study in Cyprus, Greece. In a bid to overcome poverty, he set up the Eagle Flight Micro Finance Bank in 2005, which has tremendously changed the fortunes of the active poor in Warri and its environs.
The micro finance bank services over 500 co-operative groups with micro credits that enable co-operators expand and build new businesses. The Word of Life Bible Church in conjunction with the Eagle Flight Micro Finance Bank holds a poverty alleviation programme on December 26 every year. At inception of the programme, one brand new car to be used as a taxi in Warri and several motorcycles, grinding machines and sewing machines were given out to free irrespective of your tribe, religion or denomination, just to help the poor have a source of living.
Recognizing the negative impact of motorcycles, the philanthropists par excellence decided for tricycles instead. So far, the programme has given out 350 motorcycles, 70 tricycles, 800 grinding machines, 15 brand new cars and 600 sewing machines.
In line with his philanthropic vision and the need to strive to rid the nation of scoundrels, the CAN president also established the Eagle Hand International Foundation which takes care of the elderly and orphans, vulnerable young men and women in Warri and its environ. The Eagle Hand Orphanage as at today has over 16 orphans, while several have been adopted through a government agency in charge of orphanages.
Pastor Oritsejafor has consistently helped to resettle Christian families and churches in the North who have lost their loved ones and property to the Boko Haram menace in recent time. The Word of Life Bible Church which played a significant role in resolving the Warri crises and the militancy in the Niger Delta region, has become a safe haven for Northern Christians, as Mama Helen has often taken the gospel of empowerment to the North East. She had started many of them with trades such as catering, hair dressing, fashion design and mobile phone business.
In ensuring poverty is reduced to the barest minimum, Pastor Oritsejafor takes corporate social responsibility very seriously, by donating several boreholes to various primary and secondary schools, markets across Delta State. He also donated two boreholes, a new generator and refurbished the Warri Prisons Black Maria vehicles for conveyance of prison inmates to courts.
To support the education standard in the country, the couple has also established an international standard, nursery, primary and secondary school. In just three years, the school has won an outstanding award. He also proposes to establish a university in the nearest future to help build educational system.
Every year, he holds a love feast on February 14 to share love with all sundry in Warri and its environs where he gives out bags of rice and cash, to poor families as a way of showing them the agape love of God. In 2012, he gave out 1,000 bags of rice, and N1,000 to each family, to prepare the rice and enjoy the celebration. His humanitarian work is all over the place in Delta state and its environs, which he has extended to other communities in the state.