Pastor Taiwo Odukoya, the senior pastor of the Fountain of Life Church, has said that his late wife, Nomthi, got the best of both healthcare and spiritual support in the course of her two years battle with cancer.
The popular pastor recalls that Mrs. Odukoya, who was also a serving minister in the Ilupeju, Lagos-based church, died on Tuesday after a two-year battle with cancer.
The South-African mother of two married Pastor Taiwo in January 2010, five years after the petroleum engineer-turned-cleric lost his first wife, Bimbo, in the ill-fated 2005 Sosoliso Airlines flight that crashed in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
Making his first public appearance during the church’s Sunday service which The Star’s reporter attended, Pastor Odukoya told the congregation that he attended the service for two reasons – to worship God and to explain to the church about the demise of his 47-year-old wife.
Full of adoration and worship to God during the service, Pastor Taiwo said the unfortunate incident was an attack from the devil, stating that despite being upset by the occurrence of certain events, he has the peace of God over the departure of his wife.
Explaining why they returned her to Nigeria some two weeks ago after a series of treatments in the United States and the United Kingdom, he said: “We went to countries and we got the best of treatment. In the U.S., they told us that at the level at which we are treating this case, less than 1 per cent of Americans go this far. We got the best.
“But then, it got to a stage that they said we are out of options and they meant it. But each time they say that, I reply that except for a miracle. At that point, I realized that I just have to continue to believe God.
“So, we boarded the plane and we came back. She came with me two weeks ago. We had the best paramedics from the U.S. and they followed us home. Reddington [Hospital] created virtual ICU in our home; they gave us four to five doctors, supported by their nurses.”
In an emotionally laden voice, the TFOLC senior pastor said: “Some people said Pastor don’t go to church today, you want to rest. Amazingly, I have rest by the grace of God. I have the peace of God. Yes, I’m upset about the occurrence of certain events but I have peace.
“I am here because the church deserves an explanation. The first reason is that I come to glorify the name of the Lord. We are here to worship and let the devil knows that he came too late.”
Explaining timelines of her treatments, he said: “Last year’s Mother’s Day, she was receiving treatment in the UK, she preached from a very difficult position. She started receiving treatment January last year.
“Was it an attack? Everything that the Lord didn’t put on you is an attack of the devil. Yes, it was an attack. But did the devil win? No, he didn’t. I don’t understand the mystery myself. Did the devil win when Judas betrayed and sold Jesus? So, the devil cannot win over us, it is the counsel of God that will come to pass. Why do bad things happen to good people? It is because God is God. So, we really cannot question God over all those things.
“Did we pray? Some people even asked why we didn’t tell them. But you will rather hear of testimonies, that is the way it is structured so that your faith can be deepened. But there were people who were praying every night and day for the past two years. I am not talking of two or three people, but groups of people.”
On whether they fought the battle too late, he said: “Some might say Pastor Taiwo, you didn’t see it coming and you didn’t fight it – who told you? We did the best we could do; it wasn’t the want of prayers. When it got to a stage, I involved the Apostolic fathers. Honestly, the ones I could reach, they went beyond the call of duty.
“They gave us their time, they call us almost twice a week. The Bishop Mike and Rev Peace, the Baba and Mama Adeboye; you will think they gave birth to us. They prayed and they gave. I couldn’t reach Bishop Oyedepo and he told me when he came that ‘O so fun mi’ (You didn’t tell me).
But I told him that ‘Ko kin se testimony sir, mo try lati reach yin (It’s not a testimony sir and I tried reaching you as well). So, they did their best. At night, you see Bishop Mike at our gate. Six in the morning, you will see Baba Adeboye at our gate. So, it wasn’t want of prayers.
“Is it that you didn’t catch it on time? Some doctors here will tell you that if it is about catching it on time, we caught it on time. It started like flu but we did all we could do.”
Pastor Odukoya further noted said his late wife fulfilled her time, adding that: “We walked the journey all through together, even when she was abroad. You know we are five hours ahead of them, we call and chat together. So, why she would be going to bed at 11p.m., I will be going to bed by 4a.m. because of the time zone. We had good times together.
“I saw a woman who was incredibly awesome. When Pastor Ashimolowo called me and started talking about Nomthi, I couldn’t believe my ears. She connected unusually and she was simple and quiet about it.
“In terms of treatment, we got the best. Treatment in the UK, we found favour all the way. At a time, she had to do a major surgery. She was on the pulpit sometimes, ministering in so much pain and she will not be able to lift her arm but you didn’t know.
“We got through that only through surgery because the illness was trying to paralyze her but we made sure that never happened by the grace of God. She went through surgery in January this year and by the time she got through surgery, her arms came back. It was a major surgery; she went in at 10a.m. and came out at about 6p.m. She came back continuing ministry and receiving treatment until we had to go somewhere else,” he said.
Born Rosemary Simangele but fondly called Pastor Nomthi, the educationist, life coach, cleric and writer was a South African by birth.
She had her primary education in South Africa; she was a student of Natal College of Education between 1996 and 1999. She also holds a master’s degree from the University of Liverpool.
The late Nomthi is largely credited for writing several children’s books that address topical issues like bullying, gender equality, and life lessons.
The church announced last Friday that the late Pastor’s wife funeral events would be held on the 29th and 30th of November, 2021.