By Sam Eyoboka
FOUNTAIN of Life Church Sunday, February 3 held its first Discovery for Women rally in 2019 with the theme, “New Possibilities” at the church headquarters in Ilupeju, Lagos where Associate Pastor and wife of the Senior Pastor, Pastor (Mrs.) Nomthi Odukoya, called on the Nigerian women not to be distracted but be focused on their future.
The event hosted by Pastor Taiwo and Nomthi Odukoya featured the music minister, Mercy Chinwo, 2012 Nigerian Idols Season 2 winner, who kept the audience on their toes, singing along Jesus You love me too much oo and O Meka Nnaya, amongst several others.
Mrs. Odukoya, an educationist, life coach and writer with passion for building wholesome and integrated family life with focus on raising Godly and socially responsible children, drawing inspiration from Ecclesiastes 3:1 emphasised that to everything there is a season.
Addressing a crowd of business women, politicians, entrepreneurs from all walks of life including the chairperson of First Bank Plc, Mrs. Ibukun Awosika, Managing Director of Eventful, Ms Yewande Zaccheaus, Pastor Tosin Sowemimo, Pastor Omowumi Olugbende of Chartered Christian Global Church among others, Pastor (Mrs.) Odukoya said: “Do not say why were the former days better than this days.” According to her, no matter how the former days were, God has another plan for them as women, encouraging them to always put behind them the former things no matter the circumstance of life.
“Remember Lot’s Wife,” she admonished them, stressing that when Lot’s wife remembered her oven and other things in her kitchen, she looked back, not knowing what God had designed for her in future.
“So as women, when we try to remember how our husbands have reacted to us in time past such recollections draw us back. Therefore remember it not, for God will do a new thing,” she said.
Speaking on the vision behind the programme in an interview, Senior Pastor Taiwo Odukoya said: “Basically what we do with Discovery for Women is to encourage women, reminding them of the reason for their creation. God said: ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion …’ Then when it came to the turn of the woman He said, ‘I will make for you a help meet.’ That is the one that would help you with all the tasks of your life.
“And so God made a woman. So what I usually ask myself is that why didn’t God tell the dog or goat to be a help meet to the man? Why did He have to go back and create a woman for the man? So a woman was created adequately to be the support that a man needs to have dominion here on earth.
So we discover that even the United States today realises that and they are now giving attention to women. If you want to change the society and stabilise the community, educate a woman because they would in turn educate the children. They would be the ones to stand and nurture the children and that is why we are giving a lot of attention to women and help them the best that they can be, supporting humanity and making humanity to do what God has called us to do on earth.
What is the focus of this year’s event?
This particular rally is tagged; “New Possibilities” because life is defined by ebbs and flows, and usually when you get to the ebbs, there is tendency for you to get stuck. You don’t have to get stuck. You can have a continuous flow in Jesus’ name. So we want to encourage people in setbacks, disappointments and things not measuring up as planned, usually truncate a lot of people’s dreams and drive for the future. We don’t want that happening to our women, so we can suffer some setbacks and then get up again to go. So we encourage and equip them adequately for all situations.
So at the end of this programme, what kind of women are you expecting to see?
We are expecting to see women that would be able to rise up above the challenges of the moment; women who not just rise up above the challenges but also carry the children and community along. I want to give an example of Rwanda. During the genocide in that country, it was the women that rallied round to say no: we are going to take our country back. And for the first time, we had a National Assembly that is dominated by women. And today, talk of development and progress in Africa; you want to point to Rwanda. That does not mean that they are better than men but that is what they are created for – filling in where there are gabs; help the man to realise his stand again and to go ahead and so the man goes fighting while the women help to stabilise him. So the woman is needed.
So what Nigeria has to do at the moment is to go back and educate our people and in the North particularly, the women otherwise the perilous times in the North will persist. So we have the problem of education and we need to educate our women.
For example, look at all the places that Boko Haram has been attacking, the men go to fight and they are dead and gone and then the women are left with the children and they are the ones that stay with them at the refugee camps.
So we want to preserve posterity. We want to project into the future; we want to develop an advanced mind in the woman. I am of the view that every woman should be educated and empowered. Every woman should be able to stand by herself and for herself before even getting married. So when she comes in, she comes in submitting to her husband—the two are one and then they have a formidable front and so you can imagine the future of their products and children. Unlike now in most parts of Nigeria, the women are just so silent and so you pack them as sardine and all they do is to make children. But when a woman is educated, she would know that she is not a baby machine. So you won’t tell a woman to go and give birth to 12 children. She has her life and her future. So these are the kind of things that we teach them.
Take hold of yours from the Bible point of view. I have examples I can give you from the Bible. Deborah: When the nation had lost direction completely, Deborah stood up and began to take hold of leadership. So we can see why God said that man needs a helper and man really needs a helper. And man really needs a woman that would stand by him always.
Do you have similar programmes for men?
Yes, we have Discovery for Men. Our first rally should be on March 17. So, we run the two side by side and we have been running these programmes for about 20 years. So we talk to the men as well. As a matter of fact we are taking the Discovery for Men in chapters. We have two rallies in the church and then we are taking it to the community to encourage our men who are already drenched to begin to rise up. Men need to be encouraged because men are easily discouraged even much more than women.
What should be the roles of women in nation building?
One, when your homes are stable, your nation would be stable; when your homes are not stable, then you are looking for trouble, and we would raise children who are vagabonds. God forbid! And then there is no future because our children are our future. So the women must be eq-uipped to raise them. Yes I’m interested in my children. I stay with them, I oversee what they do, but much more, my wife. I could remember when our children were growing up, some were trained here and some abroad. I’ll call them once a week, but my wife of blessed memory will call them every day; so, most of the things I don’t know about them she knew everything. So we must educate and empower the women because the woman who is not educated can only take a child as far as she has. So why don’t we educate the women.
First, it is an inspir-ation, and secondly, I saw the way my father handled my mother. They didn’t have much, they were not also highly edu-cated but they were able to complement each other. My mother was such a strong wo-man, she put her hand into everything that could bring about sustainability, while my father went to work. And I just thought what if their levels were better? What if the two were better educated? So I made up my mind that I will do my best to empower women. That is why if you could recall my late wife, not only was she empowered, she also empowered others, even my current wife, is doing similar things and my daughter. So we have quite a number of strong women in the church. I love to see strong women.
What role is the church playing in ensuring that government does what they need to do to empower women?
Well, we do our best in the sense that we advertise our programmes and we collaborate with government where it is possible. For example, we have the Pastor Bimbo Odukoya Foundation (PBOF), where we reach out to young girls that are battered and abused and we collaborate with the government and in fact they send most of the children to us from Alausa. The Court will send them here and apart from that we have Fountain Initiative, and the last programme we did was a training of women in business and quite a number of women came and even university lecturers. So we are doing as much as we can to collaborate with government.
And another thing we do; children under the bridge, men and women, we give them the opportunity to come to us and we clean them up, talk to them and they get to understand and we try to unite them with their homes and where we can’t, we put them in schools and a number of them are graduates today, amazingly. Even UNESCO comes in to work with us through the Lagos State Government. So we do the best we can and of course we go to the prisons. Both the men and women, providing advocacy and encouraging them to know that all hope is not lost being in prison and when they come out, some of them come back here and we put them through vocational training and get them back on their feet. So we collaborate with Government as much as possible.
What is your view about politics today?
Politics today is fine in the sense that, at least, we are getting more people interested, the youths and women are getting interested and they may not make marks now but the interest is building. So I believe we are in the positive direction by God’s grace. Another thing though is that we need to pray for our politicians and pray also that there would be unity in Nigeria; and it does not matter who gets there, the fear of God, number one, the love of the brethren should dwell in them. If we don’t see these two qualities in a man, then they are not qualified to rule us. And the parties are irrelevant.