By Rev Ladi Thompson
Reflecting on the ministry of Taiwo Odukoya, as quite a number are doing in this season of his departure, many things welled up in my heart and I immediately grabbed my phone to call Bishop Mike Okonkwo and even before he could say shalom, I began to thank him profusely for everything he and his wife had meant to Taiwo Odukoya’s life and ministry.
His voice came back choked with mixed emotions and it was clear to me that my pastor’s pastor had never thought in his heart that his protégé would exit the stage before himself.
Many other ministers of note were used by God in the nurture of Taiwo Odukoya’s ministry but none could quite match the impact of Bishop Mike Okwonko’s consistency all through the journey and this would explain the unswerving faith, unquestioning loyalty & deep respect that Pastor Tee reserved for Bishop Mike.
Bimbo Odukoya used to quip that “hurt people hurt people!” The reverse however says that “loved people also love people!” and this was why Pastor Taiwo Odukoya’s eagle nest style of ministerial guidance to those of us he nurtured was soaked in agape love.
The explosive anointing of Bishop Mike working through the meek, firm, and gentle anointing of Pastor Taiwo to forge an audacious, insightful but unorthodox unction that has worked for me in the service of God and country. In the year 2,000, the Macedonian Initiative team returned from the killing fields in Northern Nigeria and hosted a meeting at the Sheraton Hotel to brief the leading ministers and warn about the bloodshed, terror, and persecution ahead. After presenting a mix of terror evidence pictures and scripture backup a hush fell on the well-attended briefing.
The mood however changed when a “father of the faith” leapt up and began to berate and chide me that the reports were chilling, terrifying, and unsuited for such an open audience. “You should have called a few of us into a private meeting” he shouted and stamped his feet with Pentecostal fervor to make a prophetic declaration that terrorism would never rise as long as men of his anointing were available in Nigeria.
Some others too got carried away and joined his bandwagon until Taiwo Odukoya noticing how demoralized I had become, called for the microphone to explain that he was born and bred in Kaduna where the trickles of crimson were slowly swelling into an under-reported flood tide of blood. His interjection calmed things a bit but Bishop Mike was having none of that! “Who is afraid of what?” his voice boomed in the hall.
Bishop Mike glared at the gathering of Pentecostal church leaders and turned the tables. “Instead of discussing an action plan to protect lives and stop the bloodshed as Christian leaders we are here quarreling over irrelevant issues!” Chikena!
My faith was instantly restored and I have retold this story to show how the synergy of love & respect that Bishop Mike passed to Pastor Tee inspired The Redeemed Evangelical Mission to midwife The Fountain of Life Church out of which flowed the Living Waters Unlimited Church and a Macedonian Initiative. Needless to say, there were times that pastor Tee would pick me up and haul me to private meetings with Bishop Mike over doctrinal issues, government policies, and matters of the kingdom of God in Nigeria.
Okokwo’s culture of love
I could fill books with the glorious Christian exploits that Bishop Mike’s care for Pastor Tee produced in my ministry and the church would be surprised how far and wide the reach of our influence spread in the service of God and country. I must seize this opportunity to confess publicly that I refused to inform Pastor Taiwo early when the Holy Spirit directed me to confront a false prophet who was attacking the foundations of faith in Nigeria with occultism and sorcery, instead, I went to Bishop Mike who saw no reason why not! Don’t worry I will tell Taiwo he said.
Much later on, I went over to see Pastor Tee whose concern for my safety earned me a gentle reprimand but since the deed was done already and the spiritual contention had become public knowledge, he swung into action, checking whether my full armor of God was in place.
So, please help me to console and thank Bishop Mike on behalf of the kingdom of God for the culture of love and mutual respect that he passed to Taiwo Odukoya in these dark days of roguish old prophets, money-grubbers, and foolish competition.
Also, tell him that I dared not mention that Jesus Christ died earlier than Peter who was older than him and God used the death of Jesus Christ to activate eternal life for us. That is just the way we roll in the kingdom of God as we look forward to the return of Jesus Christ the King of kings.
Rev Ladi Peter Thompson is the Overseer of Living Waters Unlimited and founder of Macedonia Initiative