By SAM EYOBOKA
THIS year’s Valentine’s Day had come and gone. It’s memories will remain indelible. Valentine’s Day, also known as St. Valentine’s Day is a celebration observed on February 14 every year. The feast which began as a liturgical celebration of one or more early Christian saints named as Valentinus, is celebrated in many countries around the world, although it is not a public holiday in most of them.
A popular hagiographical account of St. Valentine states that he was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Empire.
It’s a celebration of Love! Eight days ago, the premises of the Word of Life Bible Church in Warri, Delta State played host to a massive crowd of people who had gathered to celebrate this year’s Valentine Day.
All available seats in the neatly arranged canopies in the expansive car park of the Word of Life Bible Church International Gospel Center (IGC) within the church premises for the colourful occasion had been taken long before the 10:00 a.m. when the programme was billed to start.
The enthusiasm among the participants, most of who were decked with some form of red/black/white colored attire was very high. The weather was very radiant and receptive.
The atmosphere was electric. It was an open-for-all party organized by the founder of Word of Life Bible Church and National President of the Chrustian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor to mark 2015 Valentine day.
Food and drinks were in good supply to satisfy the near 10,000 participants that had found their way into the Word of Life Bible Church for the occasion.
Special guest, Chioma Jesus and the church’s Milk and Honey Choir provided music to sooth the moment.
Sunday Worship later learnt that while February 14 is celebrated worldwide as Lovers’ Day, in Warri and its environs, the date has become synonymous with a special reach-out treatment by Papa Ayo to extend love to the masses in several ways.
This year’s February 14, was not an exception as Pastor Oritsejafor celebrated the day by organizing a large party for all segment of the society irrespective of gender, tribe or religion.
The idea was to keep people from corrupting themselves by the un-godly manner the world celebrates Valentine Day, by creating a Godly atmosphere where genuine love is expressed and practically demonstrated.
The ceremony began with an opening prayer, which was immediately followed by a session of praise/worship to God by the Milk and Honey Choir of Word of Life Bible Church.
That was followed by poetic renditions of love, talk show on the essence of Valentine celebration by some key leaders of the church.
Thereafter, the popular gospel singer, Chioma Jesus took the stage driving the participants to a spiritual and joyful frenzy.
The CAN president, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor who was dressed in a white flowing robe with a touch of red was accompanied by his wife, Pastor (Mrs.) Helen Oritsejafor who was similarly dressed.
He took the stage, doing some dance steps with the children which drew the attention of many church members to the dance floor. He gave a short exaltation where he opined that God made it possible for the celebration to hold this year.
Drawing inspiration from I Corinthians 13, Pastor Oritsejafor maintained that men have used words to deceive others in the name of Valentine, stressing that any gifting, endowment, acts of philanthropy, no matter how noble but lacking an underlying motive of love and compassion is empty and unprofitable.
He explained that God is love and love is God; “no expression of love is complete until God becomes the center of it, hence one must accept Jesus as Lord and Savior on a day like this. He enjoined Nigerians to embrace Jesus and love one another. Thereafter he made an altar call where many souls responded to the call and accepted Jesus as their Lord and personal Savior.
The crowd was served food and drinks including local delicacies to their satisfaction. They danced, rejoiced and thanked God for making Papa and Mama Oritsejafor such a blessing in their generation.
What a true way of celebrating Valentine Day reaching out to the less privileged. Pastor Oritsejafor thus demonstrated his large heartedness by reaching out to others and this has been a yearly experience for the past eight years, not to mention the poverty alleviation programmes organized every year on Boxing Day where several brand new cars, tricycles, grinding machines, sewing machines, washing machines are distributed to the less privileged in the society for the purpose of giving people a new start in life.
The highpoint of this year’s celebration was the award of scholarship to eight year old Jesuigbunu Aghoghokiriye of World Changer Teaching Center, Ughelli. The elated mother of the child along with the siblings danced and praised God exceedingly.