By Gbenga Osinaike
It was an appreciation service for past leaders of the Lagos Chapter of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria. It was also the 30th anniversary of the national body of the PFN. But it turned out to be a time to heal old wounds and chart a new course.
Venue was the RCCG Christ Church, Gbagada and time was 11 a.m. on October 28, 2015. The large hall was filled with notable church leaders who had come to rejoice with the past executives of the body and also to appreciate them for their labour of love and sacrifices.
Bishop Olusola Ore, Chairman Lagos Chapter of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, was quick to announce in his opening remark at the event that the intention of the celebration was to bring to remembrance how the past leaders have been a blessing to the fellowship. He however added that it is important to remain “forever grateful to those who have been kind to build a platform for others to rise in life.”
Describing the honorees as worthy ambassadors, he said, “You represent the PFN at its very best, and your impressive records of service merit our highest praise. You can be counted on. For the past 30 years, this institution has excelled under your capable hands.”
With that opening remark the stage was set to honour past leaders of the body. One by one they stepped out and got honoured amidst thunderous the applauses. Some could not be at the event for official reasons but it is interesting to note that the first Chairman of the PFN in Lagos was Rev Isaac Mpamaugo.
He is a top pastor in the Assemblies of God. He is a septuagenarian who is still active on the mission field. He could not grace the ceremony because he had gone on a mission trip outside Lagos. When our correspondent called to speak with him on phone he described his time as the pioneering phase for the organization noting that things have taken interesting turns ever since he served his term.
Closely following his tenure was that of Pastor Wilson Badejo which lasted only for two years before Badejo went for pastoral training in the Foursquare Church. That development brought in his deputy Rev. Kola Ogunbola as the president. Ogunbola also manned the saddle for three years from 1992 to 1995 before he handed over to Pastor Paul Akapo who stayed in the office for just one year. Following Akapo was Bishop Lawrence Osagie.
By the time Osagie came on board, the Lagos PFN had begun to garner some kind of momentum and had attracted national attention. His tenure was closely followed by that of Bishop Olanrewaju Obembe who also brought some impetus to the body. His tenure was marked by notable achievements which centred on welfare and training of pastors in Lagos. The negative media image that followed the Benny Hinn crusade, which he labored for however cast a slur on that tenure.
Though he was later vindicated as the picture of his role in organizing the crusade became clearer, Obembe told our correspondent that he had to take responsibility for what transpired during his tenure “I am glad that I have been vindicated at last. There were three probe panels that were set up to investigate the crusade and all the panels came out to say I was not culpable of any financial crime. The Bishop Wale Oke panel however said Benny Hinn complained that I personalized the crusade. But even at that I have had to apologize to all the concerned parties because the church of God has to move on.”
Shortly after his term was that of Pastor Wale Adefarasin who took the PFN to yet another level. By this time the body had become a strong voice and was like a bride for politicians who saw it as a veritable platform to score political points. And then Apostle Alexander Bamgbola who likes to go with the acronym: WSSG, meaning, Was Sinner Saved by Grace. An international Investment Banker, Bamgbola’s tenure saw the steady growth of the PFN and the consolidation on its past achievements.
All the past chairmen of the body were duly honored at the event with other members of the Executive. Notable among them was Rev Mrs. Edith Iloh, wife of Rev Moses Iloh. She could not attend the event, but her husband gladly chose to represent her. Pa Iloh graciously walked to the podium to receive the award on behalf of his wife.
It was great to see Pa Iloh, an octogenarian marching to the podium to collect the award on behalf of his wife. His wife was the first General Secretary of the body, then later the vice president and ultimately the PFN National Welfare Officer. She was noted to have played significant role in the formation of the women wing of the PFN with a record of touching many lives.
Other honorees included: Pastor J Danguduro Elder Peter Ewenla, Pastor J Olatunji, Pastor Peter Againpuye, Pastor Ola Samuel, Bishop Walter Mbamara and Prof N. E Ozore. A posthumous award was given to Bishop Kola Onaolapo while Rev Michael Michael Adewusi, Rev Muyiwa Maku, Bishop Abraham Olaleye, Rev Isoza Ize Iyamu, Apostle Friday Idawor and Rev Femi Asiwaju were variously honoured.
Also on the list of those who got the PFN awards were Pastor Ebun Adegboruwa, a lawyer who had served the PFN as province chairman of Island Eti-Osa Province and Rev Emmanuel Aleyakpo who was also chairman of Eti-Osa Province.
The honour continued with awards given to Rev Samuel Judah, Apostle Praise Ntoimo, Rev Ayo Oduntan, Rev David Amosun and Rev Gbenga Oshokoya.
Responding on behalf of the awardees, Pastor Adeferasin described the honour accorded them as a great gesture by the PFN assuring that the awardees will remain good ambassadors of the fellowship. He used the opportunity to charge the PFN to deploy modern technology in the publishing of its programmes as it remains a leading light in the country.
Earlier before the award ceremony Pastor Lanre Adenekan of Victory Cathedral, Shagamu delivered a brief sermon in his capacity as representative of Bishop Reuben Oke, the PFN National Vice President, South West Zone at the event. Adenekan’s message touched a raw chord as he advocated the need for the church to appreciate its members that are not seen. He observed that the unseen part of the body of a man seems most valuable. Making allusion to one’s private part, he said, “We are quick to protect it from attack because we know how valuable it is. So the church should protect its unseen members. The church should protect those who are in the background and honour them.”
While noting that the decision to honour the past leaders of the Lagos PFN was a noble decision, he decried a situation where the church haunts its own.