Pastor Helen Oritsejafor, apart from being the wife of the National President of both the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN, and the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, and the founder of Word of Life Bible Church, Warri, Delta State, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, holds several other port folios.

She is the chief executive officer of Eagle Flight Microfinance Bank, president general of Daughters of Sarah Fellowship, chief host of Family Tips on African Broadcasting Network, ABN. Mama Helen, as she is fondly called by her numerous admirers, who turned down a Commissionership appointment in her native Ekiti State to marry a Warri-based Pastor Oritsejafor, also oversees the Eagle Heights Group of Schools, Eagle Heights Clinic as well as an orphanage owned by the church.

She is a mother and together with her husband, they have been taking the gospel of salvation, deliverance and healing to the nations of the world. In this interview with SAM EYOBOKA, the fearless disciplinarian who together with her husband made valuable contributions towards the resolution of the Niger Delta Crisis, expressed grave concerns about insecurity in the country.

You have been descri-bed as amiable, dynam-ic, excellent and with several other adjectives. What do you describe yourself?

I’m just me, Helen. I’m Ekiti turned Deltan, a child of God who believ-es very strongly in peo-ple. That’s who I am, Helen Oritsejafor.

Please tell me how you have been combining your numerous roles with that of keeping this house as the mother of these children, a wife of a pastor. And coordina-ting the church in the ab-sence of Papa?

A lot of people always ask me this and the only thing I say to them is it’s just the grace of God and I’m also a woman of pas-sion. Don’t forget that I have a commitment to God from the beginning of this marriage that I’ll do my husband good and not evil for the rest of my life.

Deriving my strength from God and then having a wonderful husband who’s very sup-portive, who’s an encou-rager. He gives me the tonic. God spoke to me that I should go and help fulfill the vision. So, all I’m just giving to him is to try as much as possi-ble to help fulfill that vision.

I’m a very organ-ized person in terms of administrative skills, by the grace of God I think I’m endowed. But think-ing again, I think God endowed me with the ability to be able to know when to handle church, when to handle bank, when to handle school, when to handle ABN, when to handle the medical, when to handle the bookshop. It’s just God and the passion to fulfill-ing the mandate that I believe God has given to me based on the mand-ate that God has
given to His servant.
God’s Generals Speaks - Marrying A Pastor Is Quite Challenging Pastor Helen Oritsejafor Speaks!

In Maiduguri you not only preached to PFN Women North East, you also empowered some of them with sewing machines and such like. How do you feel when you see women in some form of distress?

To start with, I wish I had more than what I ha-ve because I don’t think I’d love to see any hu-man being on the street not doing well. That’s my life, that’s my nature. My heart breaks when I see anyone in anguish and someone who just needs someone to lend him or her a hand.

I like to be in that position to be able to do so because I believe very strongly that the life isn’t just about what you have but it’s about what you are able to use what you have for the betterment of others. It’s my absolute goal as a person. And God so did it that I happen to be married to a man who is also governed by that same philosophy.

It’s more or less like a free ticket to as many people as possible that we can impact. It gives me joy and fulfillment when I’m able to see smile and add to someone’s life. When I meet with people, the first thing I’m thinking of is what can I do? How can I help to offer a hand to this person? That’s what comes to my mind. And I try my best to see what I can do. That’s what gives me joy.

It is must be quite challenging marrying a pastor. Do you agree?

Extremely challenging!

How has it been with you?

To start with, I married a man who was once married and so it wasn’t as if I was coming into a ministry that we are just starting together. Getting into such an environment and a place where I wasn’t used to, Warri for that matter, and at a time of tribal war. It was quite challenging for me.

I had to condition my mind to saying that I would do everything necessary to make these people know that they were not losing him, ra-ther they gained me. That was the first challenge. Because then there were those insulting me. I guess there were those who felt it should have been them.

I picked it from the kind of responses I got from some; but I made up my mind that I was never going to be confrontational, even when they insult me, asking; who’s she? Where’s she coming from? Like Daddy would say, ‘you behave like God. Why is it that you are never offended by people’s actions and all that?’ I remember telling him that it’s my mum’s nature. I always forgive people ahead of time.

If I have a relationship with anybody, I already envisage the things that he/she might end up doing and I forgive in advance. Those were some of the challenges I faced. The population of the church then was also a challenge, gender wise. Of course, my husband isn’t just out to pastor men, he’s also to pastor women.

So I had to resolve in my mind to allow him fulfill his destiny by being very supportive. I encouraged the women to have a free access with him. I never blocked anybody becau-se I trust my husband. He’s a gentleman 100 per cent.

And suddenly, he became PFN national president and not too long after CAN national president. What would say were the new challenges?

Let’s start with the PFN one. I’ve always known my husband as a man who has never wanted a place of leadership. He keeps his distance. That has always been him. I was never expecting him to ever become anything other than just being a pastor and traveling all over the world ministering.

Because there had been occasions where people offered him positions and he’ll say no no; ‘I just want to serve God.’ That’s who he was until he went to Lagos for their usual bienial conference, only for him to call me late in the night saying, ‘I don’t know what has just happened to me now.’ I said what? Is anything the matter?

He said ‘I don’t know oh. Can you imagine? They just made me PFN president. I tried rejecting it but Pastor Enoch Adeboye insisted, and you know I have a lot of respect for him. How am I going to handle this now? Why would God do this to me?’

I told him if Pastor Adeboye, my fath-er, insists, maybe you should. Who knows what the Lord would want to do through you. That was how he accept-ed it. And, of course, that bothered me because this man is very passionate; whatever he puts his hand, he goes into it full blast.
God’s Generals Speaks - Marrying A Pastor Is Quite Challenging Pastor Helen Oritsejafor Speaks!
How would he be able to combine his church duties with this new assignment? I start-ed praying for him. And then of course he started traveling more and always on the move. I went down on my knees. Honestly, I just handed him over to God. It wasn’t easy.

Then it became worse when he became CAN president and he would just be back on Saturday, ministers on Sunday and after service, we’ve packed already for him and his entourage. The only thing, at least, we tried doing, which is very good, is the fact that any opportunity we had to be together, we maximize it because we know that any time he’ll be traveling again.

If I ever have him staying for one week—I will not forget one time when Papa stayed for one week—Pastor Adeboye congratulated me. With the children growing up; don’t forget, God just blessed us after waiting for years. But somehow, we’ve been able to handle it properly. I
think it also has to do with the understanding. This is what I signed for obviously, maybe that is why God has prepared me all these years.

With the high office comes the incessant knocks from different quarters. How do you respond to such attacks?

I’ve stopped reading. Initially it was too much for me. I could remember there was a time I had to go to God and I said You have to talk to me now because You never told me this man was going to be PFN and CAN president. At my age I cannot become a widow; so You have to assure me that no danger, knowing this man is a man of principle.

Honestly, I stopped reading because it was tearing me apart. I’m a human being. There were threats from different people. And I mean real threats! And he’s a man that you can’t shut up. So what do you do? He’s not going to stop. He’ll tell you well, obviously, this is what the Lord prepared me for, if I have to serve my people.

I’ll tell him, this aspect of it is too much for me. I don’t want to lose you and the children are still young to lose their father. The country is not an organized country. He’s a great man. He believes that Nigerian Christians should not play a second fiddle in their country. He’s very determined about it.

So what have you decided to do?

The only thing I do is prayer. I’m always on my knees, I’m always praying that God will see him through and that the Nigeria of his dream will emerge. Because these things have been going on for many years, and these guys have been having their way.

There has never been anyone ever standing up to say some of the things my husband says and he’s made a lot of enemies than ever before. I was used to my husband being celebrated across this country. He used to have lots of friends from the North. He has always been a very balanced person.

But now you see people bending the truth for whatever reason. It’s heartbreaking! How many people can he shelter? He’s having to take care of a lot of people in schools, paying school fees as a result of this Boko Haram terrorist attacks. Many he has to house and our finances are being stretched as a result.

How many Nigerians will buy into a cause like this? The fact remains that our president needs to be decisive. We are not saying he should now suddenly be behind Christians. We are just saying he should do the right thing as a president. For many years, we’ve been made to believe that everybody in the North is a Muslim, until we are beginning to know better now.

When you look at the demo-graphics, you’ll realize that there are major populat-ions in the North that are Christ-ians. They just gave us the impression that they are all Muslims and nobody has said anything because every other person who had come to CAN before now had accepted these misrepresentations. They were even using Christians against Christians.

There are Christians who believe that the insecurity in the North is not a religious crisis even when churches are being burnt and Christians killed….

Even when the Boko Haram leaders have come out to say it’s religious. So why would someone else give a different interpretation. Every time this man is interviewed, he comes out to say their intention is to destabilize and Islamise the country. The only thing is that my husband is covered, he’s protected. God is never known to fail. He will continue to sustain him in Jesus’ name.

African Broadcasting Net-work, ABN, is three, which has also coincided with your birthday. What is the success story of ABN?

Well, I think the success story began 40 years ago when God called the man. This man chose to follow the gospel even when it wasn’t exciting. The family members felt he had lost his mind, lost every-thing. So he didn’t quite enjoy total backing from them, sending himself to bible school after he had given his life to Christ and having to use bread as peanut, and from that same bread eat lunch, break-fast and dinner simply because God said take my word to the world.

He’s being able to cover the entire continent, no doubt, as a pastor and as an individual. But then God also said to him that as one man, it’d be impossible for you to do that, but by establishing Africa Broadcasting Network, ABN, you’ll be able to reach other ends and there will also be a platform where other ministers of the gospel will be able to reach even those you could not reach.
And that was how that vision came. But fortunately and unfortunately, for many years, it’s been African Broadcasting Network until God finally allowed it to be established three years ago. After I married him, I sat him down, I said talk to me, what are your dreams? What did God tell you?

And I picked up my jotter and started not-ing them one after the other. We were able to do them one after the other, and a time came and I said this African Broadcasting Network, at that time the ministry was 37 years. So I said no, something has to be done. And then I went to town and did my research. And came at a point and said we are ready now, we need your blessing. And that’s how it started.

So it’s fully here now, on ground in Warri?

Of course! ABN has been broadcasting for three years now. It’s a satellite station that covers the whole of Africa, part of Europe and part of the Middle East. I mean we’ve been having calls from the Middle East, of people want-ing to give their lives to Christ. Broadcasting from Warri, not Lagos, not Abuja, but from Warri.

It’s to tell you that the vision, though it’s hard, one day it’ll speak. God spoke to this man that from this Warri, He will get him to reach the entire world, and it happened. We’re having people coming from all over the world just to come and see the editing and to be able to say I came to Warri and I saw and I preach-ed in Word of Life Bible Church.

It’s unbelievable! This is a man that was once offered a better arrangement, come to America and we will give you a good church, a house, a car. And he said no, God told me Warri. And he has been able to prove to everyone that if God said it, it’s only a matter of time. You can imagine a vision that was given 40 years ago just started picking three years ago.
And we keep getting better. We have lots of great men on the station. We have the likes of Dr. Morris Cerullo, Joyce Myer, Myles Munroe, Mark Muddock, Bishop Mike Okonkwo, Felix Omobude and so many others on the station. And we have in-house programmes as well; for the youths, for business.

The beauty of ABN is that it’s not just a Christian station, it’s a station with a variety of everything—movies, contemporary issues. You can’t get bored watching it, because by the time you watch the preaching programmes, the next thing might be something interesting that deals with issues of life. Very encompassing.

What is your message to Nigerian women?

Women all over the world are marginalized. In developed countries, things are getting better, but not in Nigeria. What I will say to the Nigerian women is never to give up. Delay is not denial. They must put aside this competitive spirit that has made the menfolk to overwhelm them.

I think we need to copy from other developing countries. The second aspect is the economic situation of the Nigerian woman. I believe strongly that every woman is created for a purpose, not just to be a kitchen woman in her husband’s house. There are talents and abilities that need to be exploited not just only for the individual growth of the woman but also for the economy.

Because at the end of the day, if you check out the population of women in the country and look at the ratio in terms of those who are productive, it’s quite low. Which means they are losing the skills that would have been used to impact the economy.

They should contribute by making themselves industrious. If you need to go to school, go to school and brush your-self. Thirdly, those who carry guns will definitely be sons to one woman or the other, a brother, an uncle. God has made a woman a channel in many directions.

So, if we could use the influence that we have to propagate peace by telling our sons who carry guns or bombs to ask their sponsors to produce their own children to lead such ventures. They are probably schooling in America. So why waste your life for whatever meagre they will pay you?

God’s Generals Speaks - Marrying A Pastor Is Quite Challenging Pastor Helen Oritsejafor Speaks!
Even those Boko Haram operatives were born of women. After playing that motherly role, why would you donate that child to end up as a corpse by the roadside. We need to allow reasoning to come so that we can actually have peace. That’s my mess-age to the Nigerian women.