Working for God sometimes comes with its challenges which at the end culminate in victory. Ajisafe Kunle Emmanuel was a promising young man, a gospel singer who had ministered in various states in Nigeria. He was also a footballer with Santos Football Club, Ilorin. He later left all to serve as a missionary teacher with a mission outfit called The Kingdom Project (TKP). The missionary who holds a degree in Geography, in the course of mission work had an accident where he lost a limb. In this interview with DAYO EMMANUEL, Ajisafe relayed his missionary experience in Okutala village in Moro Local Government Area of Kwara State. Now on an artificial leg, he has refused to quit the field but wants assistance on getting a modern limb to ease his operation in the rural village. Excerpts:
How has your study of Geography influenced your career as a missionary?
Geography is the study of the earth as the home of man. It makes us to know the culture of people, the terrain. The knowledge of Geography by the grace of God has been a blessing to me and it is facilitating the work on the mission field.
When did you become a missionary?
I didn’t just wake up one day to say I want to be a missionary teacher. I joined The Kingdom Project (TKP) in the year 2008 based after I heard about the group was looking for missionary teachers. With time, I was deployed to this place called Okutala. I love research and at the same time I have a kind of passion for the work of God. Coming here and seeing the state of things and the harvest on the field as a teacher and at the same time as a minister is beyond being a teacher. I would say this is my entry point at TKP.
What is TKP all about?
Evangelist Olusola Adebayo began the ministry. He is the International Director. The ministry was 20 years old in November 2016.
How many fields does the TKP have?
Presently the organisation is working in about nine foreign fields mostly in African countries and about six within Nigeria. These are interior villages in Kwara, Ogun , Oyo states.
What has been your personal experience working with TKP?
By God’s grace I got to know more about mission through TKP. I will call the organisation a rescue organisation. Anywhere TKP is operating by God’s grace, they carry out rescue operation. We are the light of the world. The master wants us to be the light of the world. Anywhere we are, we are solving problems and helping the physical needs of people as well in terms of education and medical services. We have a hospital in a village called Elebu, we have qualified medical personnel. We have doctors doing fine.
How is the mission funded?
We are funded through partners and individuals who do support. As missionaries, we also give to missions as well.
What can you call your challenges in this kind of rural environment of Okutala?
Honestly before now if somebody asks me this question we’ll be talking about money but now I have come to realise one of the main challenges of Christ’s missions is the non-challant attitude of Christ’s believers. Not even the Muslims around here. The Muslims here are looking up to the Christians. When we talk to people about Christ, the response we get is ‘so if I become a Christian I would be like so and so person who calls himself a Christian?’ Some Christians are far from what we call Christianity. They are far from what Christ is and that is the very negative examples the unbelievers see and that has formed a negative imagination. These are the so called Christians they can easily point to; people involved in ocultic activities, drunkenness, immorality etc. so they are not seeing that light and that has hindered the expansion of the way of Christ here. They are ready to come to Christ but the imagination they have needs to be cast down. But once someone is a missionary and can lead by example, then the people can point to a Christian living like Christ they then can see good examples. It won’t take long the negative imagination they have would be pulled down. That is what we are facing here.
When you don’t have a church base how do you disciple your converts?
Based on the pattern of TKP, we don’t establish churches. If we are in an environment where there is no church we can set up a church. But where there are churches and the church is functioning there is no need setting up another church. We were trained to have disciple meetings when someone gets a convert so that the person can grow. We disciple the person for three months and then we point the fellow to a church in the environment.
You run a school. How many pupils are in the school?
Presently there are close to 300 pupils from primary one to five. There is a plan to start a secondary school only that the community declined. They don’t want it.
Didn’t you tell them the importance of a secondary school?
They know the importance but they are afraid that our school, which is called Ambassador School would overshadow the community secondary school. The Okutala village is a central village with over 20 other communities surrounding it. They come here for secondary and primary school education. From the experience of the Ambassador primary school, the mission came here in 2006 to meet a public primary school and a private Islamic/koranic school which were flourishing that period. But when we came the villagers fell in love with what we are doing. Now every household desires that at least one of their children should attend our school.
So what has been the response from the parents?
No clear cut response yet apart from the fact they want their children to benefit from the service we offer because our fees are negligible. We charge N2000 per term. Someday the children would look back because the Bible says teach a child the way he should go and when he is grown up he would not depart from it.
How did you come about using artificial limb?
I told you this school was set up in 2006 and I came on board in 2008. I started working here and I found fulfillment, enjoying it and not enduring it. In 2008 I had a fatal accident that claimed my left leg. I was on one of my mission trips I was having a mission bike, a motorcycle I got that same year but did not put to use for six months when I had the accident. It happened between Oke Oyi and Ilorin. It happened just about two poles from the Polytechnic. I was going to Ilorin for missions. My left leg from kneel downward was cut off immediately in the accident not that it was amputated. The doctor called it traumatic amputation. I have never heard such term before. The people in the vicinity of the accident could not render any assistance. A drunk driver ran into bike I was riding and the leg was cut off in the accident. Initially I was in coma. When I gained consciousness I carried the leg. I didn’t feel any pain. The bike was still on motion after my leg had been cut off. I just looked back I saw my leg, then I fell down. The first thing that came to my mind was: “God I have a destiny that I am yet to fulfill my destiny”. I recalled those gifts and talents God gave me and began to wonder what would happen to me without a leg. I was rushed to the hospital by some strangers. They carried me in the same van that hit and cut my leg. The drunk driver was the man who still had to take me to the hospital. He was applying break anyhow and indication that he was still not himself. By the time we got to the hospital we were told they were on strike. We they then rushed me to a specialist hospital at Alagbado. They called it specialist hospital but there were no doctors on ground. The nurses did what they could do. I was still the one making the phone calls. People wondered at my courage and ability to bear pain.
What exactly were you going for at Ilorin then when it happened?
It happened that a friend was in the university that period he was having an exam and the portal was about to close. The person was my disciple by the grace of God. I used to go there and teach him, our director was in the church. I was thinking I would see him too. I was to assist to give the brother some money then see the director and come back to the field. It was a Sunday. I was told that the ball and socket joint of my leg were affected by the accident. But I was the one telling them nothing happened to it. I could still move the little stump remaining. By that time I didn’t know anything called artificial limb. They wanted to cut the remaining leg. But I refused. Had it been they removed the ball and socket joint I would have not been able to walk again the way I’m walking but God helped me. To cut the story short, after one and half month God used a woman to buy the artificial limb for =N=120,000. It was that same year that I was running a degree program. I was in 400 Level then and I was to have my last exam just like one and half months interval. Satan just planned it like that. I used the artificial limb though I could not walk with it without support. I was using two crutches with it by the time I did my exam. Sometimes before I finish a paper in during the exam it would have been filled with blood. The doctors advised that I should not write the exams. But I still did.
Was it after the accident you bought the vehicle you now use?
The mission prayed and God provided it. The car came by a miracle. The donor never saw my picture. We have never seen each other till today. I have never known the man after two years of using the car. The incident was published in our newsletter. Initially I got discouraged and left the mission field until God spoke to me to come back to the field.
I just finished doing my morning devotion and God said you are going back, I said your will be done o Lord. My mission director was shocked when I told him I was coming back to the field. He believed God spoke to me. Within 10 days arrangements were made and I was brought back to the field.
Were you married then?
I was single that time. Some people were pitying me and wondering if any woman would ever agree to marry me. By then I didn’t have a fiancée. Then 2013 by God’s grace God connected me to a sister who later became my wife.
Then how did the car come?
The car came in 2014 after a man from Lagos responded to the newsletter. He was the one who bought the car.
What assistance do you need now to get a better limb?
The Yorubas used to have an adage that one does not value what he has until it is lost. Sometimes with two legs you don’t even know how to thank God for it. You see it as a normal thing. I thank God for what happened to me. I thank God for the one leg remaining. I thank God for the artificial one and those that God gave the wisdom to produce the artificial leg. Today I can still move around, follow up my disciples. I’m still being able to follow up mama Rufia, baba Biliki and talk to them about Christ. Some don’t want to come to the mission centre but you have to go to them. The one I’m using now I have been using it since 2012, there has been a lot of wear and tear I need a better one and recently someone is working on getting me a better one from Canada. The process is on.
Was there any time you had the temptation or urge to quit?
Thank God for our director, he is still alive, he is someone that can verify this story. There was a time I used to have a particular dream. I would see myself in military uniform and in rescue operations. I would see myself recuing people. I used to have this dream almost on a monthly basis. So I interpreted it personally that may be God wanted me to join the army. I went to meet my Mission Director. I told him I wanted to leave Okutala. He said we have trusted you so much why are you leaving? He recalled that I was having a lot of assignment. I am the PRO of the African Christian Teachers in the whole of Africa. He discouraged me from leaving. But I continued to see visions of being a soldier. I grew up around the Oloje barracks it is the air force barracks in Ilorin. I was born there, my dad built a house there. As I was talking with him my letter of resignation was with me. He was preaching to me, I told him I have written my resignation letter. He put it on the table, he shouted, “Kunle who taught you all these? Are you fighting with someone?” He put the letter aside and promised to pray for me. It wasn’t up to two weeks when I came back that I wasn’t going again. Thank God for the gift to hear God.
If I had become a soldier and then had the accident that would have been the end of my career in the military. I would have been dumped but in God’s work, even in our disability we are still functioning for God. So someone may have this as an encouragement. My dad’s elder brother was a very good officer at the NDA so it would have been easy for me to enroll and I may have lost my life to disobedience.”