HOUSEHOLD of God’s Reverend Chris Okotie has walked out of his second marriage!
The ex-wonder boy of pop shocked his congregation on Sunday, June 24, 2012, many minutes to 2 p.m when he announced that his marriage to Stephanie Henshaw is now history.
Okotie, who masked his intentions with infectious smiles all through the service, broke the news after the traditional mass birthday for members born in the month of June.
Shocked to their bones, the congregation was mouth agape when their shepherd said he and his wife of almost four years would hence live apart settling for the status, separated.
Okotie even said the decision was final when a Householder politely asked if he was leaving a window for reconciliation.
Eye witnesses at the Oregun-Ikeja, Lagos church told ENCOMIUM Weekly that mum was the word there as nobody had inkling of the problem that shattered the marriage that has never suffered any crisis. At least, to the best of their knowledge.
“Pastor Chris Okotie and Stephanie’s marriage was what all of us adored and admired. We all prayed that God would bless us with a blissful marital union like theirs. And it’s only God who knows what has happened,” a staunch member of Okotie’s church bemoaned after his shocking announcement.
A couple of Household of God members, who were in the Sunday (June 24) service confirmed the sad news. “I was in church today when Pastor Okotie shocked us all with the disappointing and unexpected news of crisis rocking their marriage,” one said.
“I don’t want to talk about Pastor Okotie,” another active member in the music department responded when we asked him to tell us what actually happened. The visibly worried young man, who has a lot of respect for the couple, was the first to break the news to us that Sunday afternoon.
Rumoured to have been pregnant, Stephanie Okotie, who her hubby pampered with extreme love and care may have attended her last Sunday service on June 10, 2012.
ENCOMIUM Weekly had visited the church that day to ascertain if she was actually heavy as was being speculated. That was also the day a reliable Household of God’s source told us that the ravishingly beautiful woman has not been attending church services for almost a month, having travelled out of the country.
Rev. Christopher Okotie, who was 54 on Saturday, June 16, 2012, got married to Stephanie Henshaw (the traditional way) on Thursday, August 7, 2008. A court wedding (at Ikoyi Registry) to consummate and give their union legal backing took place the next day (August 8); while the Okoties and the Henshaws staged a moderate party at Household of God Church on Sunday, August 10, to mark the final leg of the three-day marital journey.
Stephanie Henshaw, a widow with three children was 38 when she graciously agreed to marry Okotie, who had also been married before.
Controversy had trailed Okotie’s decision to remarry when his first wife, Teena was still alive. His marriage to the lady who later relocated to the United States of America, lasted for 17 years. But there was no child between them.
With criticism trailing his decision to marry again, not a few Christian clerics punctured his argument stating categorically it was unbiblical for him to embark on a fresh marital journey. But Okotie insisted he had consulted God.
In fact, the day he introduced Stephanie as his wife-to-be, he said she was indeed a ‘virgin’ and a new bride since old things have passed away and everything have become new. Fiery cleric and a good friend of his, Pastor Tunde Bakare re-echoed Okotie’s spiritual footnote, declaring that Stephanie/Okotie’s marriage is a fresh beginning with nothing to do with the past.
“This is a brand new book. Anything in the past does not exist anymore.”
Chris Okotie had also told their amazing love story repeatedly. He said he began ‘walking close’ to Stephanie as far back as 1999, that’s a year after Teena dumped him. According to him, she was not keen in marrying him despite his several proposals.
“She was not particularly certain whether it was what God wanted for her. So, I had a situation where I had to get the Lord to persuade her that He is part of this agreement.”
At another forum, the founder of Household of God Church and three-time presidential candidate of Fresh Democratic Party claimed that God really packaged the Efik, Cross River lady for him. He also told a national daily that God told him clearly she is his ‘baby.’
Okotie equally told anybody that cared to listen that Stephanie would certainly bear him twins. A prophetic expectation that never came to pass till their marriage crumbled after about 46 months!
Despite their surprise separation, Okotie/Stephanie’s romance was fun-loaded while it lasted. From countless posh car gifts to endless pleasure trips abroad, everything was at her beck and call. Okotie, who designated her with extra pet names like Nwanyi oma (pretty woman), Angel, Dollie, treated her like a queen both at home and in church. In the church for instance, she had a special seat positioned at an elevated stage with security details watching over her. And to leave the church, a protocol cast in stone must be strictly observed or ignored at one’s own responsibility.
Stephanie did not enjoy the royal treatment alone. It was also partially extended to her family members. Her hubby once bought a 2009 model of BMW for her dad, who paid her an official visit after their wedding. Her mom, Mrs. Rosemary Henshaw was also well taken care of. As for Stephanie’s immediate elder sister, Cynthia, she was always at hand to help her kid sister adjust to her new status. Her children instantly became an integral part of the Household of God family.
And romantic to no end, Okotie took Stephanie in a love tryst to Europe, America and the United Arab Emirates for their honeymoon.
2009 and 2010 Valentine were also other occasions the singer-turned preacher of the gospel capitalized on to demonstrate his unflinching love and affection for her. But none of these could stop the forces that overwhelmed the marriage many thought was wonderfully and divinely consummated by God Himself.
- UCHE OLEHI
This story was first published in Encomium Weekly edition of Tuesday, June 26, 2012