‘Built to Last’
Christian women have been urged to be at peace in their hearts regardless of circumstances or trials. This call was made Sunday, May 27, by Mrs Rolayo Ogbonnaya, women’s ministry leader and wife of the Lead Evangelist of the International Church of Christ, Nigeria.
Mrs Ogbonnaya was speaking at the closing ceremony of the ICOC Women’s retreat held at The Administrative Staff College of Nigeria
Ascon, Badagry. In her sermon titled, ‘Built to Last‘, Mrs Ogbonnaya explained that women should rest securely in God allowing contentment, trust, faith and peace in God to be their watchword, adding that “if we are not building in God then we cannot be at peace.”
Other points touched in her message include building smart. Under this point, she stressed that disciple women needed to resist the temptation to embarrass themselves in a bid to compete with other Christian couples thereby living above their means.
Retraining, she added, was necessary if women were to build their lives in a smart way. Citing an older sister Pat Djaho, who had braved the odds and returned to school in her 50s. Quoting Philippians 4: 13, encouraged the sisters to “believe in yourselves,” and to ‘set a goal you can meet – start a little at a time.”
Her first point “Build Balance” dwelt on consideration for others. During this time, the women present had a hearty discussion on the issue of women wearing trousers or not. Mrs. Ogbonnaya said women should be conscious of the sensibilities of visitors to the church and dress modestly and decently at all times.
The Retreat began on Friday with the registration of delegates from the different Nigerian Churches and Bamenda Cameroon. Delegates arrived in Badagry from Ilorin, Kaduna, Abuja, Jos, Abeokuta, Ibadan and Ijebu Ode. Others came in from Calabar, Warri, Asaba and Lagos. Even though there were some hitches along the line, women took the opportunity to reach out to one another. The evening ended with a dinner and a movie.
Dawn showers heralded the second day but participants awoke early to participate in aerobics. A quick breakfast set the tone for the brisk business of the second day of the Retreat. After a brief praise and worship session, the women went into prayers before the classes began.
The opening entertainment anchored by the women of the south west churches, took the form of a play with the lesson that women should raise their daughters with the right values and raise them in the fear and worship of the Lord.
Next, the first set of classes, Budgeting and Income Generation followed. Speaking on the need to budget, Miss Tutu Sangonuga of the Island Region of the Lagos Church, offered the participants several tips on budgeting. She asked women to reduce impulse buying, and change their ‘debt habits’, shop wisely and live within their means. She also suggested that women do an audit of their expenses and compare this to their incomes.
Mrs. Sade Femi-Shofu taught a class on Income Generation. Sharing from her personal experiences, she urged women to think about additional ways to generate an income. Explaining that multiple streams of income were essential at this time, she said women needed to support family finances in troubled times and asked them to look out for, hobbies and natural interests that they can develop.
After another bit of entertainment, another play by the Ogba -Agege sisters…., the next set of classes came up.
These were classes on “Preparing for the Unexpected”. Facilitated by three sisters, Mrs. Tina Okonkwo, Dr. Funmi Aina and Mrs. Titi George, these classes were very “heavy’ emotionally as women shared their experiences and the practicals and attitudes that helped them survive.
Mrs. Okonkwo who set the ball rolling lost her job in the bank early this year when her bank was acquired. She also suffered a loss of separation income, as the bank did not recognize 8 out of the 13 years she had served.
With teary eyes, she narrated her experience and then shared how she had prepared for this event after witnessing friends go through it several years earlier.
She asked women in similar situations to face the facts early. After facing facts, they needed to Humble themselves before God, and ask to be led to a skill or talent they could develop. She concluded by asking them to ask for direction through prayer, and take action on the path God has directed.
Dr. Aina, widowed after 24 years of marriage awed the audience as she told her story, saying, “We prepare for the worst but hope for the best.”
In her class, she asked women, to Invest in themselves by becoming industrious. Quoting from James 4:13 – 15; Proverbs 31: 10 -31, she asked women to acquire skills that cannot be taken away even if a job is lost. She also urged them to consider multiple streams of income.
Other factors that could help any woman survive the unexpected, she said, included Investing in Relationships beside the biological and Church family. Sharing her experience at the time of her husband’s death and even to date, she said a flourishing relationship with In-laws was absolutely necessary, as well as friends outside the church.
The women were also encouraged to Invest in a Relationship with God: “We must connect to God through His Word and through faith to survive a disaster or unexpected occurrences.”
In conclusion, she explained that women needed to Guard their Hearts. “Don’t depend on people,” cautioned Dr. Aina, “Or you will get critical or bitter. It is God who will see us through if anything catastrophic occurs.” She concluded.
Closing this section, Mrs. Titi George, a women’s Ministry leader, and a lawyer by training, took the audience through a list of legal documents and attitudes that each women should have in preparing for the unexpected. She said every woman married according to the Act, should have a Marriage Certificate. Every woman she added should ensure that her children had birth certificates. She motivated the women to take an active interest in their husbands’ business and in the executive hierarchy of such businesses. Wills she said, needed to be made by each woman, rich or poor, while investments should be done in both partners’ names. Because health is an important issue, she asked women to invest in health insurance.
After lunch, classes resumed with another emotive class, Marrying within God’s Plan. This class anchored by Mrs. Margaret Obaje, women’s ministry leader of the Warri Church was explosive as it dwelt on an issue that has rocked the single’s ministry for a while: Marriage and the actions of some sisters who have left the church to get married.
While dealing with the issue, Mrs Obaje, also spoke to married women about the need to encourage single sisters to wait on God and also set an example by being submissive and respectful in their own marriages.
Quoting scriptures from the Old Testament, particularly Deuteronomy and Genesis, she called the single sisters to imitate Abraham who trusted God implicitly, in spite of his physical limitations.
Following on her heels was Mrs. Ann Undie Adie of Lagos Church’s Island region, who shared her life story and explained to sisters how difficult marriage to a non-Christian man can be because the same values are not shared. She helped them to see how marriage outside of God’s plan will put the large burden of raising a godly family on the woman’s shoulders.