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Sunday, 23 June 2013

Archbishop Benson Idahosa-Weekend Interview

She is the widow of the founder, Church of God Mission, Archbishop Benson Idahosa, who died in March 1998. Margaret Idahosa, relives his memory

How did you pull through the last 15 years of widowhood?
I have learnt that people are bound to talk about us. My husband made me realise that as long as I am alive, people will talk about me and if I talk back to them, it means I am on the same level with them. God has not put me on the same level with them. Therefore, whenever they talk, I remind God that I did not put myself in this position but He put me there. When my husband died, I had my own agenda. I have four biological children and three that I have adopted into my family. Then, I decided that after the period of mourning, I would go and spend time with my four children abroad and maybe come to Nigeria once a year to see my mother. The ministry was not on my mind. When I was ordained to take over, I told God that I live in a man's world and I am timid. But God told me that if my faith said yes, He would not say no. He assured me that if He appointed me, He would give me the ability to perform.

Do you feel fulfilled?
I feel fulfilled. I am doing what God asked me to do and I am not copying anybody. My children are all in the ministry. My children did not discover God because of who I am or what their father was while he was on earth. They discovered God by themselves.

Did you see your husband's death as the will of God?
I did not say it was the will of God.

Did you entertain some suspicions that he must have been poisoned?
We both left Nigeria for a programme in the US and when we finished, he asked me to go and attend to the children's school fees and welfare. I
had already decided that I would not stay behind on that particular trip but he assured me that we would go back to Nigeria together. I could not say no. He eventually left me behind in the US. Two days after, I was called that he had died. I was shocked. I flew back home. Before this happened, he had told me in January, that he now lived for posterity not for prosperity. I told him that he must have stayed too long in the house, and that he needed to travel abroad. On February, the month marking his 40th ordination into the ministry, he called me aside and informed me that he may have finished everything God asked him to do. I
told him that God's work is never finished but he insisted that he had finished. He repeated the statement in late February and I told him he was making me worried with the statement. He was supposed to be celebrating his 60th birthday in September of that year. I told him he could not go
at 60 because God gives us old age.

You understood he was talking of death then?
Yes. But I did not want to believe it; I was discarding it from my mind. It was when he died that I understood what he had been saying all along. It is still painful but there is nothing I can do. I miss everything about him.

How did you meet him?
It is a long story, but we got married eight years after we met.

What was the attraction?
I was not attracted to him. I was an only child and quite rough. I fought on the streets and he was always there to defend me. He had nothing except for a bicycle and he lived in a rented room so there was nothing attractive. Over the years, I had come to regard him as my brother and I brought women for him to choose one of them as his wife. When he told me he wanted to marry me, I protested because he knew me too much.

What do understand as style?
I believe since we carry the God of heaven and earth inside us, everything we put on is to the glory of the father. But if we wear something that is not appropriate, the spirit of God in us would alert us. As a woman of God, I should look good and presentable. I should not borrow clothes. But I can't remember the last time I went out to buy clothes, people bring clothes to me. I wear them and realise that they fit me and I look good in them.

How does it feel to be 70?
I feel the same, there is no difference. I may not be as strong as when I was younger. Now, I can't jog, I dance or move as I used to do. God has blessed me so much and I give all the praise and glory to Him. It is not by my power or might but by the spirit of the living God. One thing I know is that I don't hold grudges against anybody. Forgiveness is not a loss of memory, it is memory without vengeance and that is what I have on the inside of me. I am preparing myself for heaven. I have passed through too much to go to hell. Many people have offended me and I have forgiven them all. I am focused on what I am doing. If you hold people in your mind, you are not harming them, you are harming yourself because the moment you see them, your mind becomes disturbed. That is giving the person too much chance to hold you to ransom. Why should I be angry, full of unforgiveness on the inside of me when I would have used that time to do better things? There are widows like me out there who have become shadows of themselves because their husbands are no more.

How have you been reaching out to widows?
There is an organisation called Christian Women Fellowship International. We gather them and create small businesses for them and help them with rents. Imagine a woman who lived in a three- bedroom flat with her husband and children, when
he dies, she is thrown into the streets. I remember that I would have been like them but God prevented it.

Culled from Sunday Punch

Love Always


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