I met Dr. Sylvanus Owen Ukafia twenty three years ago when he came to preach at Victory Chapel; our campus protestant chapel in University of Uyo. I remember the day so clearly. I was giving a testimony of how, on a visit over the weekend, I arrived eleme Junction by 12 midnight due to a horrible traffic on Aba Road. As we waited at the junction and others arrived, some people began to panic and I simply declared to all of them that we cannot be stranded, that God will send us an empty bus when we were many enough. Truly thats what happened, as soon as we were sizable in number a 1414 bus (if you remember) pulled over and picked all of us free to Eleme community, our final destination. When Pastor Ukafia came up to preach he started out by saying, “That young man just said my favourite declaration that I cannot be stranded”. I didn’t understand this statement fully until he became my Pastor the next year when i Joined Insight Bible Church.
I have so much to say concerning how God’s servant has affected my life and that of my family. I recalled, after my university education, when he counseled me to return home and go with my family to the Roman Catholic Church until I had a job and had my own place. I had gotten born again as I was entering the university and this brought a friction in my relationship with my Dad in my graduating year. I thought his advice was a strange one as most pastors then won’t give such counsel to their people. I couldn’t believe my ears when he told me that. I was already warming up to face my own “christian persecution” that, by the benefit of hindsight, would have been self inflicted. When I asked him why, he simply said that I will need my family in future thus I ought to follow peace in these matters. I must say this advice paid off as I watched my own Dad give his life to Christ in the local branch I pastored twenty years after I was given this advice by Pastor Ukafia.
I have been with Dr. Ukafia in very happy moments and I have also been with him in some very trying times and in all, I am amazed at how he holds on to God’s word. In one of those times, we were in what was going to become a financially embarrassing situation. I was so bothered at the thought of how we were going to come out. One of those days, what seemed like the last glimmer of hope was being dashed and he simply said well “lets trust God to show up for us”. I had to ask him later what kept him in such peace, he simply told me he believes what the bible says that we will not be put to shame and truly I watched God show up miraculously for us. There was no embarrassment. I could go on and on but i’ll just hold it here.
On this wonderful day, Sarah, Dawn, Zarah and I will love to say a big thank you to you, Pastor, for your positive influence over our lives. Happy Birthday to you, Sir. May God keep you and grow your influence worldwide, both in the body of Christ and beyond. Congratulations!!!