I indeed have had some touching, very memorable encounters with Dr. Sylvanus Ukafia, whom I knew about 2000/2001 – not physically though, but through a religious television program – after which God connected me with him through church.
In 2010- 2011. I was seriously involved in the Governorship aspiration of distinguished Sen. J. J. Akpan-Udoedehe. I was the Administrative Secretary of the Campaign Organization.
I did not discuss my involvement in this with Pastor. Since I was not a popular church member, I thought that could escape the knowledge of the leadership.
However, on Tuesday, March 22, 2011, the campaign team went to Ikot Ekpene for a campaign, not knowing that war was awaiting us.
We entered Ikot Ekpene about 2pm in the company of my brother Mr. Sam Efiok. Before we got to the venue of the Campaign, there was serious violence, shooting and burning of vehicles, etc. to the extent that the Police in Ikot Ekpene division rolled out their armored tank.
My phone rang. It was Dr. Ukafia. At this time I had left Mr. Sam Efiok and joined the Campaign Chairman.
He asked, Aniefiok, where are you? I answered sir, Ikot Ekpene. Where in Ikot Ekpene? I told him. Are you Okay? I couldn’t answer yes sir, because I was really afraid because of what I saw being at the forefront. My Pastor prayed for me on the phone and assured me of my safety.
Dr. Sylvanus Ukafia kept calling me almost every ten minutes, monitoring my movement to know where I was, as if he was the one who sent me to Ikot Ekpene. I did not even inform him of my involvement or my movement to Ikot Ekpene. He kept calling till I finally arrived Uyo at about 7pm.
When I arrived Uyo, in his usual way of getting to know the details, he asked, where in Uyo are you? I couldn’t answer straight because I needed to see a journalist to see what they can do about the story the next day. This of course was part of my beat.
Pastor said, how long does it take you to reach your house? I didn’t immediately capture what he was up to, and I told him. Then he said, from where you are, find your way to your house and let me speak with your wife. Then my eyes opened.
After that incident, for a while I was afraid of going too close to Pastor, especially when he was alone. I thought he would scold me and all that.
One day, we met and he asked me what happened. I gave him the gist of the event but couldn’t ask him how he knew that I was in danger.
That incident made me know that I was not alone in Insight Bible Church. That incident made me know that truly, I did not make a mistake in choosing Dr. Sylvanus Ukafia as my spiritual leader and father, besides him being my pastor.
I have a few more stories about how I became a pastor under him and so on. Space may not allow me. I hope that someday, I’ll again share with you the heart of my pastor, leader, and father.
Happy 60th birthday to a model in selfless leadership. I congratulate you sir.
Aniefiok Essien (Pst)
Insight Bible Church