Dr. Israel CN Oseafiana is 1986 graduate of Graphics and member of Advertising Practitioners of Nigeria. But his profile swells beyond that. Over the years he has earned several certificates and honorary degrees from a number of institutions across Africa and beyond. He is an alumnus of Banjul Bible Training College in Gambia. In that country he served the Body of Christ as the first National General Secretary of National Network of Churches and Ministries (NNCM) among several other assignments.
But presently he has a passion to see that many single Christian adults get solution to marital delay. With a bureau tagged, Getmarriednow, he undertakes the marriage burden of single adults that are keen about getting married. In this interview with CHURCH TIMES, he sheds light on this new assignment.
What is the essence of your marriage and counseling bureau?
Our main goal is to ensure that Christians who are mature psychologically, emotionally and financial settle down and marry. I have met a lot of ladies who have been sexually exploited and dumped. Many are confused. They don’t know who to marry while many are skeptical of those who propose to them because of previous hurt. So we come in as a link body to help them carry out adequate and independent research to ensure that they don’t fall into wrong hands. We are just a middle point between them and their would-be spouse.
In marriage the element of attraction is important. When Adam woke up and saw Eve, he exclaimed, this is the bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. When two people meet the first thing that makes them to want to come together is attraction and then other things follow.
How do you differentiate this from infatuation?
At this point it is not infatuation. Infatuation is the point where lust comes in. The element of maturity comes in when we talk about attraction that leads to marriage. The fact that we admire somebody does not mean I should start looking at the person lustfully. You can appreciate people. But when the attraction goes beyond the general aesthetic look to wanting to desire to have sex with the person then it is infatuation. But the attraction we are talking about here is that which makes you say, this will be my wife or this will be my husband and not, I want to have sex.
So if there is no attraction there is no marriage?
If there is no attraction it will be difficult for any marriage to work out. The first thing is attraction.
But there are cases of people who don’t like their spouse at the first meet and they later develop love for the person how do you explain this?
I may look at a beautiful lady that is well-dressed. You may be attracted to the dressing not to the face. So the element of attraction is subjective. The important thing is that there is something that must draw you to the person in the first place. That is the point I am making.
But are you saying love cannot be developed?
Likeness, love and attraction are interwoven but they are different. If I see something for the first time I may be attracted to it but when I go close to it I may not like it. So, Attraction is different from likeness and different from love. If you are not attracted you may not have the opportunity to look further to the point of desiring it. Somebody may give you a green orange and you say it is not ripe. And the person comes and says you will like it that this specie of orange is always green. If you peel it you will love it. But looking at it, it is difficult for you to like it. If you are dogmatic, you may not be willing to look at it. But sometimes you see an orange that is yellow which you like but it may have decayed inside and the taste does not look good. In this case you are disappointed. But the important thing is that something must draw you to something. We come in as counselors to guide. If you are that kind of person who wants the yellowish orange we can guide you to give the green a trial. And we can guide you to see the value in green and assure you that for a life time you may never go for yellowish orange.
So the work you do is to sometimes convince that man who is looking for yellow orange to try green?
Well if you say it that way. What we do in essence is to recommend based on our findings and prayerful consideration. Sometimes people don’t know how to find what they want. We find for them and counsel them to try. We have done so for a couple of people and it has worked.
How did you come about this?
I am ordained reverend. I have travelled across countries of the world. I have had relationship that failed in the past so I am talking from experience. I got married to my first wife. At the end of the day I found out that the person I got married to was not the person for me. During the marriage I got to know that the lady had somebody she was to marry which I did not know. The marriage broke eventually. I tried to save the marriage but it did not work. There was a time she took in but deliberately scuttled the pregnancy because she was determined not to have children in the relationship. Eventually we had to pack up the wedding. I mean the lady left me and went after another man. A lady once called and was weeping. She said married men were the people who were coming her way. The lady is a graduate nurse. She was tired of waiting. Now, she wants to take a risk of being the second wife in a marriage. There are a thousand and one problems in the area of marriage that needs to be addressed. I think God has set us up to be part of solution to these problems.
What is your perspective about marriage and divorce since you had experience something like that?
In first Corinthian 17, the Bible says the only condition for separation is infidelity. But then the Bible also enjoins us to forgive. If I have a quarrel with you and it is obvious you are the offender and I still go ahead and say I forgive but you refuse to forgive. In that case the Bible says if the unbeliever decides to go in that case the brother is not bound. The implication is that the separation can only come if one of the parties decides to go and remarry leaving the other person. In such case the man or woman is not bound they can remarry.
In your situation your first wife left you.
So you were not bound?
Yes. I tried to make it work but her people refused. She had already packed out and I made efforts to persuade his people to prevail on her. It did not work.
But there are teachings that no matter what the couple must hold to his wife and even if the wife or husbands goes they must remain unmarried?
But that is not Bible. If I did not make effort to make the marriage work that means I am also guilty. But if I made effort and the people of my wife say no and the wife herself says no, it means they can be regarded as unbeliever.
What about a situation where the wife is being hurt can the wife pull out?
A lot of things could still be done to make it work. There could be emotional reorientation. It is a broad range of stuff that could lead to that. There is need to seek counsel. It is not advisable to pull out of the relationship like that. In this case the person should seek counsel. Dogmatism has led us to make some very wrong decisions in life. The fact that people marry in the church does not mean God is there.
For how long have you been doing this?
For the past six years I have been doing match making. I got a call from a Nigerian based in Gambia to help with getting a spouse. I did and they are living happily now. There was also the case of a pastor in the US who told me he has a white lady in his church who desired to marry a black. God also used me to get a spouse for the lady. So we have been doing this for a number of people like that which I don’t want to go into now for want of time.
I have the integrity of getting the respect of people and that has been working for me. The GetMarriedNow Initiate is a platform to formalize what God has called me to do. We found out that many people are having challenge in the area of getting who to marry. Some, because of the nature of their work don’t even have opportunity to go to Church and mix with people because of the nature of their work. We can help out with match-making and getting them the right spouse. We know the Christian terrain and we do it alone for Christians.
But why do you think we have too many singles?
The reasons are many. The church leaders discourage many people from marrying outside their church. The economy is also bad. The delay in admission and graduation is a causative factor. There are cases of parents who want their children to train their younger ones so they discourage them from early marriage
What do you say in a situation where the parents don’t want their daughter or son to marry a particular person.
What should they do?
They can go ahead and marry if they have tried to convince them and they are not agreeing. But they may not and they should not. I cannot put a time frame to how long they can wait to convince their parents. If we are aware and they come to us, we have a structure in place that can mediate for such people. My own younger sister moved to a man’s house in defiance of my father’s wish. My father was an evangelist and did not agree to the relationship. But the two of them were naturally in love with each other. Eventually I intervened and my sister moved out of the house. Now, the man came around to marry my cousin and my sister is married to somebody else. Such cases are very tricky I must say.
What if the parents are adamant?
There is no person God has not provided an option A or B for. When a situation like that comes in and reasonable presentation has been made to the man let the sister go and pray and forget about the marriage especially when the parents have given valid reason. There are instances of couples who suffer lack of children because they defy their parents.
But there are cases of couples who got the blessing of their parents but still don’t have children?
Yes. Life is so complex. That somebody got married and don’t have children are things that one cannot really explain. But if it is clinical it can be solved. But when it is not clinical one begins to fight imaginary battles. I think that should be avoided. Everybody carries different grace. There are certain things you do, you must be sure of your conviction especially it has to do with God and with morality. There are people who have to fast and pray before they can build a house. There are those who don’t have to do all that. So everybody has his own peculiarity and level of grace.
How realistic and what are the Bible basis for what you are doing?
We have to realize that marriage is an earthly matter. Some people came to ask Jesus about who will be the husband of a woman in heaven if the woman had married several men on earth in succession because the men were dying. He said to them that there is nothing like marriage in heaven. It is an earthly matter. No marriage in heaven.
When you over-spiritualize marriage it becomes error. You do not go to heaven because you were married and you do not go to hell because you were not married. Marriage is just for our comfort here on earth. Apostle Paul said he wished people could be like him. He compared himself with Peter who had a wife. He could live like a single man and not defile himself. So we marry not as a ticket to heaven but because we want to make ourselves comfortable here on earth and of cause fulfill God’s purpose of fruitfulness. Marriage also goes a long way to help us fulfill vision and dreams.
So what is the Bible context of what you are doing?
Why did Abraham not release his son Isaac to go on his own looking for a wife? Isaac was not a baby yet his father gave instruction through his servant on how to secure a wife for him. Why was it necessary for him to send his servant with him? That is match making. Why did God create just one woman for Adam and left with him no option? That is God being the first match maker.
But the same Bible says he that finds a wife?
Yes the process of finding can include several people. If you have a mother she is still your mother no matter your age. No matter the situation you can help people to open their eyes. Haggai had a well by her side but she did not see it. The major work ministers are to do is to help others discover what exists that they did not know about. You may have people around you and may not see a wife material or husband material until attention is pointed to such people. People need guidance.
Let me come to the issue of matchmaking how do you handle the medical end?
We do all the checks medically, socially, culturally and spiritually. We have been doing this informally and it has been working. I think those people who have benefited from the relationship are the once who can testify. I believe that couples can agree to agree. In spite of knowing each other, they can live a good life. When there is an attraction the problem is half solved. We can arrange traditional marriage and get the marriage to the taste of the couple. We are trying to address the group of people who are gainfully employed who have no time. We can get people to attend your marriage. But that does not immune the marriage from challenges. From time to time we try to advise and guide them.
In your own case, you said before we began the interview that you met your current wife in August and married her in November of the same year. Was that not to short a period of courtship?
The day I met her I told her I was not looking for a girlfriend that I wanted a wife. And said if wishes were horses I wanted us to marry the following week because I was no longer young. I don’t believe courtship should take rather long. The fact that one has a long courtship or short has no implication for the relationship. There was the case of a couple who had lived as husband and wife for 35 years yet they divorced. I kept asking what could have gone wrong? So it is not the long courtship that keeps a marriage. It is agreeing to agree.
If two people are ready we tie them depending on our findings The couples may not even be around somebody will stand in for them. They may be abroad. Marriage can be done on phone. Sometimes you have your money and want to marry but churches give you IMF conditions. That is not fair. People who want to marry should not be discouraged especially when there are no known genuine reasons to stop them.
What makes your organisation different from the dating sites we see on the internet and read in the newspapers?
The dating sites you see are mostly about immorality. In our case we are not going to entertain those who are looking for flings. That is why we don’t post pictures and we don’t expose our clients until we are able to do our research from both ends and bring them together. Those who come to us can be guaranteed of secure data. When I met my wife I declared my manifesto. It is a risk. But medical checks came in eventually. You go to school and look for work but you don’t look for work and start going to school. We don’t deal with students or Casanovas. We are interested in people who want to marry. We do background checks to confirm available statistics about the couple and prayerfully bring them together. We would have gotten the adequate information that can help them to make decisions prayerfully.
Dr Israel Could be reached on +234-7031633398 www.getmarriednow.org