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Kumuyi In Taraba: Reminiscing On Our Childhood Pastors



Kumuyi In Taraba: Reminiscing On Our Childhood Pastors

By Emmanuel Bello

The General Overseer of the Deeper Life church would be in Wukari, Taraba state, this week. For those of us who devoted a chunk of our childhood to this ministry, his advent also brings back memories of the pastors who shaped our lives. These were ordinary men who deposited extraordinary virtues and values in us. What they taught us through the Word and personal examples have remained with us to date. They were the first moulders of our character, even as our biological parents watched in horror the “radicalisation” of their wards. Though teenagers then, we were actually the moral compasses of our homes, often preaching to our parents and elders to repent or go to hell fire! Such was the zeal and fiery passion.

Parents and guardians were shocked at our boldness and revolutionary change in lifestyle. Imagine your 13 year old always quoting and preaching the Bible while reminding you that almost everything you did was a sin. Some of our parents were glad for the change of ways or our fanaticism. At least they won’t have to bother about us joining the wrong peer gangs. We were already the Jesus gang in town, and our ring leaders were the pastors dutifully who led us.

Today, we are proud product of those pastors’ resilience and affection. I therefore pay glowing tributes to pastors Dickson, Isaiah Njamashi, Francis Azubuike, and Pastor Mukailu Aru. Brother John Ige, who was a Corp member then, also impacted our lives in more ways than one. Ige is still in Wukari and raising great men and women through his schools. On his part, Francis Azubuike was the gentle Rabbi who drew us close as a family. His room was our sanctuary, where we would huddle together to pray, listen to good (Christian)music, and learn more about deep subjects like sanctification and restitution. Sanctification was such a big issue back then, and it confused our young minds. The doctrine stipulates you can reach a point where you don’t ever sin again. Complete Holiness was the target. Young and unbothered by the world, we all craved this experience called the Second Work of Grace after one had first been born again. The third level was being baptized in the Holy Spirit with evidence of speaking in tongues. Holiness, on its own, was to reflect in all you do: from the way you talked to the way you even walked. As kids, WF Kumuyi naturally became the symbol for those experiences. Consequently, some of us started talking and dressing like him. The simplicity has followed us to this day. Invariably, the pastors also became miniature Kumuyis.

Enter Pastor Mukailu! Pastor Mukailu Aru perhaps had the greatest impact on us. Fatherly, friendly and exemplary, he was a pastors pastor – the very model of what a shepherd should be like. An ex service man, Mukailu, entered Wukari with the might of a soldier and the skills of an orator. His sermons were fiery but balanced. He noticed my love for reading and allowed me to his book shelves with some great collections. The books of CH Spurgeon were fantastic. Spurgeon was called the Prince of Preachers because of his emphasis on hermeneutics. And if his JohnPlowmann Talk series doesn’t instill wisdom in you, nothing else would. Pastor Mukailu was a voracious scholar, too, and no wonder David his son took after him as a literature professor!

In Wukari, too, Brother Nuhu stood out as the paragon of the holiness doctrine. We were awed by his deep spiritual life that made him look like a monk. A man who hardly talks, his quiet demeanor added to his mystique. He will sometimes weep on the pulpit when speaking of the punishment of hell fire. He would be locked in his room for hours praying. His brother Daniel was a direct opposite of Nuhu. Boisterous and outspoken, Nuhu was the no-nonsense radical for Jesus. His flawless hausa and English made him the ultimate translator for sermons. He always added a comic bit to his craft, too. He came late, one Saturday, to our weekly workers meeting. Pastor Mukailu asked him why he was late, and Daniel matter of factly replied that he was watching football. Mukailu then angrily asked him to leave the meeting and concentrate on watching football. Daniel promptly complied almost with a glee while some of us secretly chuckled. More clashes between pastors and parishioners were to follow, with some even going all the way to Yola for the Regional Overseer Pastor Abraham Akinwusi to settle. And we kids were witnesses to it all as we watched spiritual dramas unfolding before us. Church politics came to us too early. And we learned the hard way.

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