SUNDAY, OCTOBER 17, 2010.
THANKSGIVING SERVICE OF THE PRIMATE, MOST. REV. NICHOLAS D. OKOH AND FAMILY:
A REFLECTION BY VEN. BARR. ERNEST ONUOHA
RECTOR, IBRU CENTRE
We may call it “God’s incidence” the thanksgiving service of Most. Rev. Nicholas Okoh and family that fell on a date that occurs every one thousand years: 10/10/2010. On that historic date, Archbishops, Bishops, Priests, top Government functionaries both from Delta State and Imo State including, His Excellency, Chief Sir Ikedi and his wife Barr Chioma Ohakim of Imo State, the Deputy Governor of Delta State, Prof. Amos Utuama, the speaker Delta State house of Assembly, Hon. (Barr.) Martin Okonta, Ambassador Godson Echiegile among others graced the occasion.
The early showers were defied by the crowd as they started arriving Owa-Alero Ancient Kingdom, the birth place of the Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria, Most. Rev. Nicholas Okoh. Owa-Alero is in Ika North East L.G.A of Delta State. The service was that of thanksgiving for God’s faithfulness to the Primate, his family and by extension to the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion.
The Host. Bishop, Rt. Rev. Dr. Peter Onekpe (JP) led in the uplifting service while the Archbishop of Bendel Province and the Bishop of Esan Diocese, Most. Rev. Friday J. Imaekhai preached a powerful sermon.
Most. Rev. Imaekhai drew his inspirational text from, I Chronicles 17 V 16, it says:
“Then King David went in and
sat before the Lord, and he
said, “Who am I, O Lord God,
and what is my family, that
you have brought me this far”.
In a graphic picture, the preacher made the worshippers to know the quantum of God’s faithfulness and graces to the Primate, from his childhood till date. He said, “this great man of God rose from the ranks in the Church: Lay Reader, Catechist, Deacon, Priest, Canon, Archdeacon, Bishop, Archbishop and now the Primate. A man denied ordination shortly after attending Vining Theological College, Akure, on the grounds of young age. He remained undaunted and later attended the famous Immanuel Theological College, Ibadan. He was made a Deacon by the then Bishop of Asaba, Rt. Rev. R.N.C Nwosu (now late). A Soldier per excellent, who headed many military chaplaincies scattered all over the country. It was this man with humble beginning born in 1952 that God chose to lead his people as Primate on 15th September, 2009, at St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Umuahia during Church of Nigeria Standing Committee held there. Indeed, God blessed his ministry and gave him a good wife, Barr. Mrs. Nkasi Okoh, Mama Nigeria. We join him earnestly to thank our faithful and merciful God”.
During the altar thanksgiving, the Dean Designate of the Church of Nigeria, His Grace, Most. Rev. Ephraim, Ademola Ademowo called upon God to make the tenure of the Primate: fruitful, peaceful, loving and evangelical. The thunderous chorus of Amen from the congregation that followed was an indication that God immediately heard the humble prayers rendered by his servant, Most. Rev. Ephraim Ademowo.
Therefore, from this all important thanksgiving service by Most. Rev. Nicholas Okoh and family, we have an avalanche of lessons.
Firstly, the crowd in attendance across the states of the federation was an eloquent testimony of the level of acceptance of the primacy of Most. Rev. Okoh. Owa-Alero is a little far removed from the state capital Asaba, yet people found their way and remained all through, during the service and at the reception ground in a primary school near the church.
Secondly, the enthusiasm with which the Diocese of Ika, Owa-Alero Ancient Kingdom took the thanksgiving service was a further demonstration of love and reversal of the saying that “a prophet is without honour except in his town”. Diocese of Ika and Owa-Alero “spoilt” their kind a little, by many uniforms they adorned themselves with and gifts they splashed on this their great son, Most. Rev. Nicholas, Okoh.
Thirdly, at the pinnacle of his ministry, the Primate rekindled in the minds of worshippers the need to thank God always for the little mercies we daily receive from Him. Truly, it is painful to have a thankless child. The psalmist would frequently urge us: “O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his mercy endureth forever”. No matter our level in life, God is still worthy of our thanksgiving.
Fourthly, the presence of retired Primate, Most. Rev. Peter Jasper Akinola, (whose house was burgled three days earlier), was a testimony of solidarity and the biblical fulfillment of: “rejoice with those who rejoice”. This underscores the importance of “genuine relationships” in-and-out of service. How I wish, Ministers of Religion, Government functionaries will internalize the import of this message. After all, if the former Primate had stayed away, he should have been justified; his house was burgled, he was retired, yet he buffeted them and attended.
Fifthly, the age long saying “can any good thing come out of Nazereth (Owa-Alero)?. The service of thanksgiving was a justification that no matter how obscure, God still remembers His people.
These and more put together, the Primate in his vote of thanks said he lacked words to properly thank all persons present in the service, but prayed God to appropriately reward all. And so, to this great man of God, a gift to humanity, I sincerely wish him and his family good health, a most peaceful and result oriented PRIMACY.
For further details see Sunday October 24, 2010 Guardian Newspapers