ABOUT seven years since the death of Rev. Gabriel Oduyemi, founder of Bethel Ministries, Lagos, his wife, Rev. (Mrs.) Roselyn Oduyemi still speaks glowingly of her husband, insisting she has moved on and faced the future. Presently, she is steering the ship of the ministry her husband left behind and according to her, the church is doing well. The church’s forthcoming programme, 40 Days of Purpose is being talked about now around town and the clergy stated it’s a transformational event meant to raise men and women who will change the world while signs and wonders still happen in the church. Rev. (Mrs.) Oduyemi spoke about this and more.
Seven years now since the death of your husband, how is life without him?
New, different. Different, challenging but exciting because I found myself doing so many things and sometimes I wonder if he were to see me now, he would be proud of me.
What is the vacuum his demise has caused and how do you deal with that?
First, you were living with someone who loved you and you loved him and he is not there anymore. Of course, you will feel that vacuum, but as time goes on, you learn to deal with it. With prayers, committing everything in God’s care and if you realize there is just so much more for you to do, you will just move on and I decided that I will never be an object of pity. I knew that my life has changed. I knew God has so much for me. In fact, God spoke to me saying, ‘He has opened up the door of destiny for me and I have a choice to walk into the door with boldness and confidence or sit and lament, and I think I made the right decision. I have to re-invent myself.
What were the challenges of carrying on with his vision?
I believe each person has his destiny, assignment. So, he did his and left. I needed to find out what God wants me to do and start moving in that direction. I get bored easily. I just can’t handle certain routines and I knew there is more. I was longing for that more and He has been faithful.
What has been the support?
God. He says He is the help in times of trouble. He says He will never leave nor forsake me. And again, He surrounded me with good people, supporting pastors, men and women who believe in me.
How have you been able to keep the home front alive?
Daddy is gone, so I decided to just trust God. Of course, you know it’s not easy but with God all things are possible. At a point, I travelled and when I came back my children had uprooted all the plants in my garden and I love plants a lot. So, for two years, I didn’t have any in my garden. One day, I just got up and started planting. I knew what I wanted and God helped me to create it. Coping, I said to myself our bedroom becomes my own bedroom, it is now the way I like it. I am not that kind of person who wants to immortalize people who have gone. I think it is sinful, it’s part of idolatry. I refused to live in the past. So, we are here today what do we need to do today, what do we do with this season, how do we go about this journey? That was my mindset.
What is your vision for the ministry?
Right now, we are raising children champions, we are going into a spiritual boot camp where we will raise men and women who will go out and make a change. We are in the stage of building people to stand. These are the oak of righteousness who become the planting of the Lord. They go about to restore the waste places of generations. That’s where we are. In the main time, healing will take place, deliverance will take place but the focus is on building people who will be repairers of things that have been spoilt in the past.
How spiritually prepared are you for this journey?
I was married to a man who didn’t put me behind. We did the work together. So, it wasn’t strange, we went out, we ministered together. There were times we went to international conferences and he’s invited as the speaker and he introduced me and gave me his slot to speak. How many men can do that?
How will you describe your experience as a female minister of God?
Because we ministered together even the men knew me as a minister of God and it has been the same. I think again it’s the grace of God. I don’t want to be like anybody, I just take it little by little, one step after the other.
What do you still miss most about your late husband?
He was a loving husband, loving father, wonderful man, precious. He was there for me and the kids.
What fondest memories of him do you still cherish?
They are too many, because I had a fantastic marriage. They are just too many.
Are there more congregation now than before and why are there no Bethel branches all around?
Not yet, there are levels of preparations. I am not looking for anything, I just want to do what God says I should do, that is why I always seek His face to guide, lead and counsel me. If God said today that we should start branches, we would start, it’s as simple as that. But I don’t want to do things because people are doing them. It’s better to have a church of 50 people going to heaven than to have a church of a thousand people who are not going anywhere. It’s that serious. For me, I am not on any ego trip and I am not trying to compete with my husband. Problem arises when people are pressured to do certain things.
What is your opinion about pastors being flamboyant, riding exotic cars and flying private jets?
You need to see my garage. What does the Bible say, Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all other things shall be added unto you. The Bible also says God takes pleasure in the prosperity of His people. Now, I judge no man, people know what they did to get those things. My husband was a businessman. The most important thing is that each one of us will stand before God to give an account of what we have done. There is nothing wrong as long as those things don’t drive you because one day you will die and face God. A man’s life does not consist of what he possesses. When we had our jet, it’s for soul winning but somebody else may have a jet for something else. If God gives a man of God the grace to have 10 private jets, why not? If unbelievers have private jets and carry girlfriends up and down, why can’t men of God have? Why can’t they live well? The world wants to see men of God walk wretched. I pray more men of God have private jets.
Why did you give out your husband’s private jet? Was it because of the high cost of maintenance?
What do I need a private jet for? I don’t need it, not yet. When the time comes, God will provide another one.
What’s your view about women empowerment?
I advocate we have a bank for the widow. When women are not empowered they become slaves.
You look glamorous as a woman of God, can you balance the two?
What you are seeing is the glory of God and then of course, there are certain people I have to reach. I will not have to reach them looking like a pauper because really, I am not a pauper. There are people you see and vow not to be a Christian.
You have books around you, which is the last book you read?
I read different things, sometimes I read six books at the same time. I love books. Education is the most important thing in life after Christ. If your mind is not cultivated, you are like an animal. What helped the Western world is education. It opens up your mind, it broadens your thinking. People won’t be able to manipulate you.
What about these artworks?
We love beautiful things, I have a gallery. So, it’s our idea. Your life as a Christian must be exciting, it must not be boring.
So many things have been written about you, your children, your ministry, when you read all these things, will you say the media have not been fair to you?
No, they haven’t. I realized that people like negative stories, sensational stories. When there is something negative, people enjoy reading it. They will read it, buy it, but the Bible tells us whose report should we believe. We believe the report of the Lord. Initially, I used to be hurt but no more.
You are a minister of God, if that firebrand man walks up to you and asks for your hand in marriage, what would you do?
That guy has to be some guy. God has to fashion him and put him together. He has got to be a sane guy.
Haven’t you gotten advances from men of that fashion?
Do you know a lot of men are insecure, women like myself terrify them. They just look at me and say, okay I can’t meet up, that’s the truth.
Where do you see Bethel in five years?
The heavens is our stepping stone. In five years, God would have blown us up.
Don’t you have any low moment because you are always happy?
I do a lot of things, I design my own clothes. So, when Satan the devil wants to bring any low moment, I use the word of God and send him off. I am a busy woman, I go to bed at 3 p.m, my high moment supersedes my low moments by far.
- FOLUSO SAMUEL
This story was first published in Encomium Weekly edition of Tuesday, June 26, 2012