Once upon a time, there was a church that met in a secondary school. Three God-fearing and faithful elders, all working men, ran the church. The Church and the three elders prayed that God would send them a pastor. While waiting for God to answer this prayer, the blessed elders did all within their power to keep the church together. If ever a church needed a pastor, it was that church that met three times a week in a windowless classroom in Uyo High School.
God located the pastor 147.2 kilometers from Uyo. That blessed day, he drove all the way from Owerri and made it just on time for the service. The Church and the elders rejoiced to finally have a pastor. Not only did God send the church a pastor, He sent a pastor that exceeded the imagination of the church. God does not give us what we ask Him for, He always gives above our expectation. (Ephesians 3:20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.)
Dr Sylvanus Owen Ukafia left his medical practice to answer God’s call. I do not know whether he bargained for what he saw. However, he threw his mind and soul into the work. The Church gathered momentum. He made every one count. He was approachable and caring.
Dr Ukafia is one man who points everyone to Calvary’s Cross. He does not only build institutions, but he also builds people. Shortly after his advent, many of us saw the light and heard the voice of Jesus calling us to ministry. Pastor Dennis Inyang, Pastor George Umana, Pastor Joe Akpan, yours truly… and a host of others. His faith is infectious. His actions are compelling. The parable of the Good Samaritan illustrates three ways of dealing with people. You can beat them up as the robbers did. Or pass them up (ignore them) as the Pharisees did. Or you can lift them up as the Good Samaritan did. Dr. Ukafia never passes an opportunity to lift someone up. The only time he looks down on you is to pick you up.
The Church moved from the Secondary School to a three-story complex under him. The church, also, became a vessel of honor unto the Lord in the city. He was moved to the headquarters in Calabar and worked with the same zeal for the Lord characteristic of him. Then his work was done in the Church, and God moved him to start Insight Bible Church.
At Insight Bible Church, the Holy Spirit has used him to meet all kinds of spiritual and physical needs. Where else can you have the presiding pastor pay for a television programme for a junior pastor? Where else can you have the presiding pastor present in the church and a junior pastor would be preaching? Where else can you have a pastor who makes your headache his headache and your pain his pain? Where else can you have a pastor help a pastor who has left his ministry set up his own ministry and even place him on allowance? Where else can you have a pastor support missionaries all over the globe, without wanting anything in return?
Dr. Ukafia is not just a pastor; he is an epistle to the Church on what a Christian should be. Many have read this epistle and testify. My friend, Otu, claims that though he is not a member of IBC, Dr. Ukafia is his pastor. Such talk is a popular refrain in conversations in Uyo. His ministry transcends IBC. He is the people’s pastor. He is a global pastor. As he marks his birthday today, let us take time to read this living epistle, and keep him in our thoughts and prayers. Let us thank God for all that He is using him to do and all that God will still use him to do in the days ahead.
Happy birthday to a pastor like no other.