Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Untold Story of God’s Uncommon Grace in my Life @ 70—Pastor Luke Okpuruka


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Pastor Luke Okpuruka to Asabeafrika....'We gave our kids a Christian education right from the cradle'
Pastor Luke Chukwumaeze Madukwem Okpuruka, a Port Harcourt, Rivers State (in Southern Nigeria) based Redeemed Christian Church of God Pastor turned 70 on Saturday April 16, 2016.  His children surprised him with a lavish birthday ceremony and a brand new Ford Explorer Jeep as birthday gift. A gesture which made the elder statesman to break down in tears; Pastor Okpuruka who now runs a Widow’s ministry called Widow Family Care Ministry with his wife, Lady Evangelist (Mrs.) Lovina Chile Okpuruka (Nee Ibe) in Port Harcourt started his life as a Biafran Soldier and later got a job at Government Coastal Agency (GCA) in Lagos after the war. He equally worked at Nigeria’s public telecommunications company, Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) among many other organizations until he retired in 2004.
While planning to start his own business a divine call from his creator halted his intention and the journey to the vineyard of the Lord began. Twelve years down the line, Pastor Okpuruka is happy to have yielded to God’s own instruction. In the early hour of Saturday April 16, your Africa’s number 1 Celebrity Encounter blog, Asabeafrika paid a visit to Pastor Luke Okpuruka’s Port Harcourt GRA residence. It was few hours to his birthday celebration and his Port Harcourt GRA home was busy with activities. It was few hours to his 70th birthday celebration. The great man of God and helper of the widows shared the story of his life with Asabeafrika in a two hours no-hold barred encounter. He spoke about his calling, his wife, his children and why many Christian leaders missed the purpose of Christ’s calling in today’s Christian world. Enjoy the excerpts
The Man, Pastor Luke Chukwumaeze Okpuruka @ 70
Who is Pastor Luke Chukwuma Opuruka?
Well, my name is Luke Chukwuma Okpuruka, born of poor peasant famers but God decided to lift me up to where I am now. I got married thirty nine years ago. The marriage has been successful with good children to show for it. My wife will soon join us in this interview.
Can you kindly tell us the circumstances of your birth, what were the issues that marked your coming to this world? Were you the only child of your parent?
My father is a polygamist which was the culture in vogue in his days. He had two wives, my mum being the first had only two of us, myself and my immediate younger brother who is over there (Pointed to an elderly man standing in a corner of the house) his name is Ezekiel Asinobi Okpuruka. I grew up sparingly in the village before I was brought to Port Harcourt where I schooled, starting from my first School Leaving Certificate at St. Andrews Primary School, Port Harcourt, that was in 1960. That was when I sat for my first school leaving certificate. Then, by God’s special grace I succeeded in getting admission into the secondary school. I was admitted into one of the first missionary schools in the then Eastern Nigeria, the name is Ife Grammar School at Mbise, Imo State. I schooled there for five years and by the special grace of God, I had my HSC there. Thereafter, because of the poor background behind me, I intended going further to higher school but it wasn’t easy until the war broke out, that was the Nigerian-Biafran war of 1967 to 1970.
A Portrait of Pa Luke Okpuruka @ 70
How I became a soldier…
So, how did the war affected you and how did you survived the vicissitude of war?
I think I am someone who hates to be told stories of events but will rather like to observe at a close range. So, I hard to join the Biaran Army, I joined the war on the Biafran side.
(Cuts in) You mean you joined the war?
Yes, I joined the Biafran Army and we fought for the number of years the war lasted and by the special grace of God I could survive it, after the war I stayed briefly in Aba. Things were not going easy and I had to move down to Lagos. My first port of call in Lagos was at Kingsway Stores. Kingsway Stores was to offer me employment as a commissioneer, they call it commissioneer, and I don’t know if that nomenclature is still being used today. That is those who stay by the gate to enjoin customers or induce customers to buy but when the man interviewing us saw my certificate, he said ‘No, you are above this grade, we don’t want to face the problem of NLC’ (Nigerian Labor Congress). He asked me to apply for clerical job, which I did. But eventually I was advised against taking up the appointment due to the nature of the job and emolument involved. So, a friend helped me and I visited the Labor House in Ikoyi and I discovered companies were asking the Labor officials for personnel in various grades and luckily I fitted into almost all of them; the man took my name and asked me and some of my colleagues to report at Government Coastal Agency (GCA) on Apapa Road, the next day. When we reported there we were all interviewed and I was employed. I got my first clerical job from the Government Coastal Agency, Apapa.
“Yes, Ojukwu wasn’t wrong to have asked his people to come out and fight for their human right. The law says all of us are Nigerians, so, why should people be discriminated against the other?” 
Pastor Luke and Lady Evangelist Lovina Okpuruka
Ojukwu was right to have fought a war…
Sir, you fought as a soldier in the 1967-70 secessionist war called Biafra war. With your knowledge of that war, would you say the late Dim Chukwuemeka Ojukwu was right to have called for secession?
Yes, the man was right. He was right. If I were in his shoes I would have done the same. Imagine where a human being will take a girl alive and cut her breast until she will scream to death. That is wickedness of the highest order. You got some people and screwed out their eyes while alive. All those things instigated the war. So, the man was not wrong to have called for the war.
You mean Ojukwu?
Yes, Ojukwu wasn’t wrong to have asked his people to come out and fight for their human right. The law says all of us are Nigerians, so, why should people be discriminated against the other? I think he was right.
Pastor Luke Okpuruka to Asabeafrika....'We gave our kids a Christian education right from the cradle'
Now, the indices that warranted the war, do you still see them in today’s Nigeria?
Oh! They are even more now. Those who claimed they are born to rule, you know the people I am referring to. They don’t give room for others to exercise their nature’s given rights, which is very bad. So, all those things are even more in number now than as it was before.
So, do you think Biafra Republic should stand now as some agitators are clamoring?
For now, Igbos may not need a separate country because by nature and by the act of amalgamation that was instituted by Lord Lugard, we have been integrated together. Go to some of the booming places in the north, they are made what they are now by the Igbos, by the ingenuity of the Igbos. There are places you go to, if you don’t get the presence of an Igbo man there, it looks like a primitive society. Yes, because I have lived in the north too. I lived there. There are some places you go there, they are very primitive but with the presence of an Igbo man, commerce begins to crop up in the society.
Pastor Luke Chukwumaeze Okpuruka looking stylish @ 70
“I lived in Lagos for over four years, the way I integrated with the Yorubas; in fact, it was so wonderful that when I now got my second job, people were telling me ‘why not change to be a Yoruba man?”
Like former Abia State Governor, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu once told me that, wherever there is no “Kedu? Odinma!” there is no life there. Do you agree?
(Laughter) Well, that is his (OUK) own adage. Nigerians need to fear God and accept one another so that we can grow together. We can live together and forge ahead.
As I am talking to you now in Port Harcourt, you just put on the Generator in your house here. Can you tell us how Nigeria looked in your growing days? What do you think is missing now?
Well, those who are ruling us should sit down; exercise the fear of God because without the fear of God, they can achieve nothing. When you have the fear of God in you, you begin to develop love for other human beings.  And it is the love for human being that will bring people together. I lived in Lagos for over four years, the way I integrated with the Yorubas; in fact, it was so wonderful that when I now got my second job, people were telling me ‘why not change to be a Yoruba man?’ (Heavy laughter) So, when there is love, you don’t put yourself to be bigger than another person or superior to another person, believe in the way that God has made everybody to be and you will see that things will play out fine. Love is superior to any other virtue.
Pastor Luke Okpuruka to Asabeafrika....'I married my wife, Lovina because of her love for Christ Jesus and her dilegence to the home'
How God called me in 2004…
Sir, how did you become a Pastor? Tell us the story of your divine call into the vineyard?
I worked with Nigeria’s External Telecommunications (NET) which later merged with P&T (Post and Telecoms) to become NITEL (Nigerian Telecommunications Limited). I worked there for some years. When I retired from NITEL, I wanted to go into business but at exactly March 2004, I heard a calling during my sleep ‘Go to the Bible College’, ‘Go to the Bible College, I want to use you’. When I woke up, I wrote it down and I showed my wife. I said ‘see the type of voice I heard o’, and the voice specifically mentioned the name of the Bible College which is Assemblies of God Bible College, that I should go. I didn’t see it as an emergency thing but as time went on, problems buffeted me here and there and it was obvious that God really wanted to use me for something in His vineyard.
Can you share some of the problems with us? 
I remembered that season now with heavy heart. There were so many problems but the day I decided to go, the problems went down. I enrolled at the Bible College and they gave me late entrance exam, I passed all the exams. That was the first sign. Then, I was enlisted in the school. I studied there for three years and acquired my diploma in Theology. After that, I went back to the church where I was worshiping before going to the Bible College because God didn’t call me to establish a church.
Pastor Luke Okpuruka to Asabeafrika...'Things that made Ojukwu to lead the people to war in 1967 are still very imminent in today's Nigeria'
Why I didn’t establish a church…
Was it that you thought it wasn’t good for you to start a church or you did not hear specifically that you should start one?
I did not get such an instruction. In fact, Jesus said ‘you can do nothing without me’. He didn’t tell me that, so, going into it, I will be going into it with flesh. So, I had to obey and be with those that were there before me. I obeyed them and moved further.
Were you equally attending the Assemblies of God Church since you attended their Bible College?
By then, I was with Abundant Life Evangel Mission but after my graduation, I had to change over to the Redeemed Christian Church of God where I am till this moment.
“When we read it in the Bible, we took our children right from the cradle to the house of God. We got them dedicated to God and ensured that they fear God. There is one law I used to practice, after church service, before you eat food from my wife’s pot on Sunday, you must rehearse your memory verse from your Sunday school Class”
Pastor Luke Okpuruka to Asabeafrika...'When God decided to use me in 2004, i had no option than to comply'
I am surprised you came out of the Bible School and you didn’t deem it fit to start your own church. Do you think many Pastors who established churches today simply did because they attended Bible School, didn’t get a divine call?
What I have noticed is that some church founders bring in people and promote them to the rank of Pastors. But some of us that went to the Bible College, some who taught that going to the Bible college is a license to opening a church; me think they have not read the Bible properly.
How do you mean, sir?
Good, for you to establish a church there must be a divine intuition for that so that it will go easy. Secondly, I have noticed that some people think to establish church is a commercial venture and that is what has led so many people to spiritual distress and impunity. They will establish church in every nook and crannies of the town with many parishes and annexes, before you walk from one kilometer to the other; you see church here and there. This one is church; the other one is church and what is the ultimate end? To make money and not to propagate the gospel of Jesus Christ.; that is the way I see it. 
Pastor Luke Okpuruka to Asabeafrika....'I married my wife, Lovina because of her love for Christ Jesus and her diligence to the home'
Many Pastors called themselves, God didn’t call them
Anytime you read in the paper that a Pastor rape a woman, dupe people or involve in Juju scandal, how do you feel as a man of God?
I feel ashamed that this people are taking the name of Chris to the mud, why? Because he did not initiate their being called pastors, I cannot remember the exact place in the book of Jeremiah; the Lord told his people that he will give them pastors from His heart not for man to give himself the title of Pastor. So, those who gave themselves such names, they are business men. Like I said earlier, church these days are like a commercial ventures and I personally have been praying, that God should be merciful, to forgive those of us that bear that name without having the power that is behind that name or the knowledge of being a pastor.
Pastor Luke Okpuruka's jewel of inestimable value, Lady Evangelist Lovina Chile Okpuruka
Sir, there is a growing opinion that churches today get monies from offerings and tithes to build large institutions only to make the school fees inaccessible to ordinary people, especially the masses of same churches. What is your opinion on that? 
What I have always told people, even in the church itself, I normally tell people ‘If you see a called man of God misbehaving, don’t judge him. Leave the judgment to He that called him. Don’t judge him. It is God that will judge him’. If any man takes the tight he collects from members of his church to do that which is not stated in the Bible, that the tithe should be used for, he has to give account to God, not to man.
There is a particular pastor in Nigeria who collects N1000 from his church members on every December 31st Cross Over Service, do you think salvation is for sale and what is your advice for such money conscious men of God?
Ok, my advice to such people is that they should go back to where they started. Were you called of God? Did God tell you to collect such things you are collecting? If not, such people will surely pay dearly for it. That is my advice. Let everybody that remembers the name of Christ; flee from iniquity, so says the Bible.
The Okpurukas poses with the GDA at their Port Harcourt residence
What is the real use of tithe, do you think it is for the Pastor to build structures or feed the Levites?
To be very frank, permit me to leave that question to church founders. There is what the Bible says tithe should be used for but let the church founders answer that question, please. Don’t be annoyed.
Why I call my wife Choice…
Let’s talk about your beautiful wife, how did you met and fall in love with her?
Like I told you earlier, we got wedded in the church like 39 years now. So, the marriage is 39 years (Going to 40)
I am sure you were a dandy young man in your good old days and a lot of women would have come across you, trying to marry such a tall handsome man, what made you think she was the right one for you?
Boy you are right o (Laughter) you are right, but do you know the name I call her? (Touching her affectionately)
No, sir, can you tell me?
Choice
The GDA meets Pastor Luke Okpuruka inside his Port Harcourt residence
What a name?
Yes, many of them were around me but I chose her because of her love for Christ and her beauty. But most importantly her love for Christ, followed by her beauty and sincerity. So, when I weight all these things, all the ladies flocking around me, I had to make them give way to my choice.
Choice is indeed a very rare name, what is the secret of 39 years of marriage?
The secret is just love and the fear of God; we wedded in the Anglican Church in those days and we knew the onions in worshipping God.  Fear of God; keep yourself to the tenets of the Bible. The principles of the Bible, the doctrine of Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ has doctrines written in the Bible and some churches have their own man made doctrines. So, that is just the entire secret of the marriage, the marriage is blessed with 5 lovely children, three girls and two boys. We give all glory to God Almighty.
The GDA poses with Pa Luke Okpuruka's portrait as Baba looks on with a proud smile hanging on his lips
How we raised our children…
Within my short stay in Port Harcourt I have seen how disciplined your children are. What is the secret of raising them up?
The Bible says ‘Train up a child and when the child grows, the child will not be able to depart from that way’. That is just the simple principles we used in raising our children. When we read it in the Bible, we took our children right from the cradle to the house of God. We got them dedicated to God and ensured that they fear God. There is one law I used to practice, after church service, before you eat food from my wife’s pot on Sunday, you must rehearse your memory verse from your Sunday School Class. You don’t get your memory verse, you don’t eat. So, my children had to take it seriously ‘Oh, Daddy will not allow me to eat if I don’t know this thing’ so, they had to make sure they know their memory verse if nothing else. And you know it is called “Memory Verse” so, it has to be stored in their memory and by extension stored in their hearts.
So, if any of your children can’t recite the memory verse, they won’t eat from mummy’s soup on Sunday?
You won’t eat that day ooo, until you recite the memory verse. That helped them to grow with the fear of God.
Tell us the full names of your wife and do you hail from same state?
We are from the same Local Government which is Obowo Local Government Area of Imo State. Her full names are Lovina Chile Opuruka (Nee Ibe)
You see children today wearing tattoos and sagging their trousers and all sorts of stupid behaviors? With 5 well trained children in 39 years of marriage, what is your advice for today’s parent?
My advice is that, people should fear God; then, commit everything about your life, about your family to God. He will take care of everything.
(Read Part 2 of Pastor Luke Okpuruka’s exclusive titled “Secret Meals my Wife gives me @70” on this blog shortly)

Gbenga Dan Asabe

Africa's Number One Celebrity Encounter Blog

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