By Sam Eyoboka
The passion of wife of the immediate past National President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Pastor Ayodele Oritsejafor for relationships and philanthropy is unequalled. Pastor Helen Oritsejafor also known by her numerous admirers as Mama Helen, the delectable mother of three spoke to Sam Eyoboka at the just concluded Jubilee Word Festival on the impact of her book, “Joyfully Together: Keys To Enjoying Your Relationship” signing missions to several nations of the world. She also spoke of sundry issues including the Word of Life Bible Church’s annual empowerment programme. Excerpts.
I hear the signing ceremony of Joyfully Together: Keys To Enjoying Your Relationship has taken you to several cities in Nigeria, two cities in Ghana and others. Please tell us the impact of this mission?
It has been incredible! You know we are all political animals; the only thing that is next to God in terms of power is the power of relationships. Relationship is sometimes even stronger than money because the relationship you have either with your spouse, with businessmen and women, with people that you meet can take you to the highest heights in life. Without relationship, we can’t have a president, we can’t have a vice president, we can’t even have you. Today it is relationship that has brought you closer.
So the importance of relationship is unbelievable, it is unprecedented. A lot of homes are hurting all over the world whether you believe it or not. A pastor’s wife just left me now, and a marriage of 17 years is about to hit the rock because the man feels intimidated by her success. I’ve made myself an apostle on relationships now.
When I see a long line of people that come to me for counselling about marital issues, I felt compelled to do something about it and that’s just what “Joyfully Together” is all about: bringing healing to homes, restoration and giving the younger generation hope. You see a pretty young lady who is doing very well career wise and other aspects, but she feels something is wrong with her because she’s not married yet. Just because you haven’t gotten married does not mean your life is over with. You can still be yourself until the man comes. You can still be who God has ordained for you to be on earth regardless of what.
And God will give you your own at the end of the day anyway but then you also need to be ready. There are girls, and there are ladies. You have to be a woman to be a wife. And whilst you are praying for Mr X that works in Shell or in a bank, are you making yourself suitable for him? Are you just going into his life to take or to add? Every marriage must have a vision.
Every place I’ve visited, it has been awesome. I started from Warri, then Port Harcourt, then Abuja. Now we’ve gone to Ghana; we were in Takoradi and Accra. Right now we are receiving calls from Lagos, Benin and Dubai. People are calling because they need healing. If we all have the basic principles about how God wants marriage and relationships: if a man knows it’s wrong for him to beat his wife and children and anyone around him, there won’t be any competition. If the woman understands her roles, everything will flow and flourish. There’s no competition in marriage. You are supposed to complement each other, encourage each other and push each other to a place of destiny. That understanding has to be there, and that’s what Joyfully Together has been able to produce. I know people have read a lot of books on relationships but to be honest you just need to read this and you will understand. Even I cannot believe this. I didn’t just make it churchy, it is something that cuts across.
Amazon picked it up and said they were going to have it on immediately. It’s on Amazon. Amazon even printed their own copy. They just asked me to send the contents. They printed and started selling, believing that marriage is supposed to be enjoyed, not endured. Sadly, not many married couples have the testimony of joyful homes.
We did something also in America, when I was in Atlanta Georgia. The US State of Georgia was actually giving me an award of Honorary Citizenship and an assembly commendation. It was when the state hosted me to a dinner, that they said they heard about “Joyfully Together” and they rolled out something from the book. But I still like to do more even in the state regardless of what was done on my award day. I just want it to go round the entire globe. People need this book everywhere. It will bring total transformation to them. I’ve had to read this book over and over again and I keep getting blessed by it though I wrote it.
The more people read well written publications like yours, the more Satan attacks the Church and the Marriage institution. What do you really think is wrong with us?
Two things! We have the enemy who is trying his best, and we can’t run away from that because marriage tends to represent what will happen later on; so it’s a slap on him to think that we are in a picture of end time of what is going to take place between us and God. He cannot stand it; so he drives his demons to try to fight homes. On the other hand is the aspect of understanding between the two people.
Lack of understanding in the sense of perception sometimes is stronger than facts. I might conclude on you and that conception might be false. So how do you mitigate that? Communication; there has to be a deep sense of communication between husband and wife. When there is communication, the woman can express the way she feels because generally women don’t even want to be right, they just want to be heard and most times men don’t even want to hear them because they feel whatever they are saying is jagons.
Just listen to her. Don’t solve the problem, just listen. You solve 80 per cent of the problem just by listening to how she feels. She has emotions too, she’s a human being. It cannot always be the man.
In Africa, the feeling of a woman is not so much considered. Everything has to be the man, so the woman is just dying in silence. That’s why so many people are developing high blood pressure because of moments they are burnt down mind wise. Understanding is key. To mitigate it is communication.
The other aspect, economics. You can’t rule out money. But I always say this, money should not be a problem if there’s a vision for that family. A woman ought to know that she is also supposed to contribute to the family. The man cannot do everything. He needs to be helped. These days you see some women who are earning and they still put a lot of pressure on their husbands. I’m not going to take out the fact that the man is supposed to provide for his home but it has to be within what he can do. Add value to your husband.
If there’s no money, there’s nobody that hasn’t gone through that, there are times that you can be cash strapped. Its natural. Its part of growth. Take it and see how you can both navigate yourselves out of it and never start talking down on your husband and make him look like he’s a fool because he’s unable to bring money to the table, that is extremely wrong.
The man must also appreciate the woman because if the woman is doing her very best to meet the needs, don’t now start reading meanings to every move she makes thinking that she’s now rubbishing you because she has the money but rather see it as a blessing and be complement her in the sense of appreciation. Let her know she’s appreciated for everything that she’s bringing in into the family. It will strengthen her the more and nothing will be able to come in between you.
Then we also have the third party factor which could come from the woman’s side or from the man’s side. Families could be a factor that want to come into the man’s life or the woman’s life. The Bible says what God has joined together let no man put asunder. The asunder aspect wouldn’t come to bear if everyone will understand their roles. We can’t kick out our families but families must know where to draw the line and allow couples to run their lives.
Friends too should not be a negative influence to them. I’ve had situations where women just party around and all that. When a man is trying his best to be nice to his wife, you’ll be amazed. Our society expects the husband to treat the wife shabilly and that’s what gives him the power of a man. Talk to her in a very degrading manner and then you will feel you are in charge of your home. You are not in charge, you just have puppets at home. That is not a relationship. By the time everyone gets opportunity to get out of their house they are excited because they don’t want to see you again.
I’ve seen women who lost their husbands in the living rooms crying their eyes out and later they take me into their rooms and say forget that, I’m glad he’s dead. The woman must be submissive, she must respect her husband. The man must not also see her as a slave but rather as a partner. Submission is not a lack of strength, it’s the ability to keep that strength under control. The man is the head and the woman plays the supportive role. There are so many things that can make homes very strong and that’s what I’m championing right now. I want to see homes healed. I want to see families blessed and healed so that people can live much longer.
What do you say to a couple who has been married for several years without children?
That’s another factor. It took me nine years. When a newly wedded couple, there’s a lot of hope. People are saying in another year we will be welcoming babies. That’s the expectation of everyone but unfortunately delay could set in. It set in during my time too. For nine years I was waiting. I had one that I lost in the process of it but God didn’t forget us. That’s why I’ll like to talk to couples out there who might be waiting right now and because of that the man feels he needs to go out or the woman feels same because sometimes too it might be the fault of the man, maybe it’s a low sperm count situation but in Africa, once there’s no child in a home, it’s the woman everybody seems to blame and the woman cannot talk because she wants to cover the husband and she goes through hell.
But that shouldn’t be. God is more than able. I’ve seen a woman at 50 giving birth to a child. It was after nine years of waiting that I had my triplets, two boys and a girl. At 50, God blessed her with twins, a boy and a girl. So I don’t know how long you’ve waited, be at peace, God will do it. That shouldn’t be a problem in the home.
The enemy should not use that to go after women and men and make their lives terrible for any reason. It should be a mindset of God will do it, and its only a matter of time, God will do it in Jesus name. That God who did it for me, who did it for the young lady I just testified about will also do yours too.
Is the church still having an empowerment programme this year?
Yes! In December. This year we are rolling in out again, mini buses, tricycles, grinding machines, we are giving them out. Life is not about what you have, it’s about how many people you can use it to lift. What gives me kick now is not about me anymore, it’s about how to put a smile on people’s faces. It gives me joy to be a blessing to someone.
What drives you?
I’m very people-oriented. And I love God. Its just to see somebody lifted. I can’t stand seeing people suffering. It’s a big burden to me. Unfortunately in Africa we have so many people suffering. In Nigeria it’s terrible. Where I live, its terrible. We just gave a huge sum of money for scholarships just for indigenes to go to school. You are not going to die with what you have. When we are going to be lowered down, even the cloth they are going to put on you will be eaten off. So why not use it to help others so they too can have life.
Life is not only cut out for a few, it’s for all of us. If there’s some level of comfort where people can eat three square meals. It’s painful when someone has to go to bed because they cannot afford food. I heard a story of a woman that was practically loading her children water to go to bed because she could not afford food for them. What kind of life is that? Some parents have resorted to stealing pots of soup and all sorts of things. People are dying. People cannot even afford to pay their children’s school fees anymore. It’s terrible.
Can you put a price tag on the empowerment programme that you’ve been doing for over the years?
Don’t even go there. It runs into hundreds of millions. But its worth it because maybe God has used me to change someone’s life. Maybe someone would have committed suicide and I’ve been able to buy that life back, to let them know that God has not forgotten them. It’s bigger than money.
In the face of current scarcity, what will you say to Nigerian women?
To all women out there who seem to have given up perhaps because of what our society has labelled you and you think you can never be anything again in life, I’m telling you today that you are the only one that can ever give someone permission to make you feel low or not. No one can make you feel low unless you permit them. How do you permit them?
By agreeing with them that you are nothing, that you can never be anything in life, that this world will just pass you by and you will never be counted. That all you can do is to join the crowd because you are just a woman. But I’m here to tell you that you are more than what you think you are. The world is just waiting for you to happen. It’s not about your background, it’s about what is within. Get up from where you are now and be counted. Be a woman indeed.