Ibadan – A foundation to empower widows and other indigent persons was on Saturday in Ibadan inaugurated in honour of the renowned cleric and retired Superintendent of the Apostolic Church, Pastor Israel Ayeni.
Inaugurating the foundation at a reception for the cleric who also clocked 81 years, Prof. Iyiwunmi Falaye, the Chairman of the occasion, described the celebrator as a devoted cleric and public spirited personality committed to uplifting the living conditions of widows and the less privileged.
Falaye, who is of Fisheries and Wild Life Department of the University of the Ibadan, urged other well to do Nigerians to emulate the founders of the Pastor Israel and Deaconess Beatrice Ayeni Foundation.
The son of the celebrator, Solomon, said the inauguration of the foundation was in fulfilment of the children’s desire to honour their parents who had devoted their lives to serving humanity.
Recalling that his father had spent over six decades in both the civil service and as a cleric in the Apostolic Church, the younger Ayeni said the foundation would continue to promote the virtues for which their parents were known.
“ One of the virtues which the holy scriptures preaches is to take care of the widows and the needy in society.
“ We will not just give fish in our empowerment initiatives which would now be annual, we will ensure that we teach people how to fish.
“ This is the basis for the empowerment tools which are to enable the beneficiaries to fend for themselves and their families,’’ he said.
No fewer than 12 widows went home with empowerment tools and cash in the first phase of the programme.
Also a thanksgiving service was earlier held for Ayeni at the Nalende Assembly of the Apostolic Church in Ibadan where Pastor C. A. Adeleye urged members of the congregation to emulate the celebrator by ensuring diligence in career and ministry.
“ The celebration of Pastor Israel Ayeni today can be attributed to his faithfulness and obedience to God’s injunctions. We are celebrating him today because like Noah in the bible, Pastor Ayeni is a man of successful ministry.
In his remarks, Ayeni described his six decades in the civil service and evangelism as eventful, attributing his success to the leading of God.
To succeed in preaching the gospel, he said God warned him against unbridled love for money, promiscuity and fetish practices.
“ I would like to capture my journey through life in one phrase: we went, we saw, we conquered,’’ he added.
Born in Ilesa, Osun, on March 25, 1937, Ayeni completed his First School Leaving Certificate at the Apostolic Central School in 1954. He was to sit for his GCE London and passed the three papers at one sitting.
He, however, did not pursue higher education at the University of Cardiff which offered him admission and rather concentrated on his pastoral work.
The cleric was to obtain the Associate Certificate in Education of the University of Ibadan in 1980.
Ayeni worked at the Ibadan Municipal Government School from 1970 to 1989 before retiring to focus on his pastoral work at the Apostolic Church where he ended his career as Superintendent of Ado-Ekiti Area. (NAN)