Bishop Peace Okonkwo, wife of the founding pastor of The Redeemed Evangelical Mission (TREM), Bishop Mike Okonkwo, has shared some of her life experience with PUNCH Newspaper as she turns 65. She revealed what prompted her to marry her husband and lots more that will inspire unmarried women.
She stated that her husband was to shy to propose to her, he had to
send his elder sister to do it for him. Bishop Peace Okonkwo also said
she did not allow her husband financial situation then to discourage her
from marrying him.
She further advised ladies to choose a
man that they would grow up with and not someone that is already made. ‘If
he is made, he would dictate how to live your life but if you both
worked hard for your wealth, you would both enjoy it together’.
the number. I am still going on and kicking on by his grace, so I do
not feel different. I just thank God for the number of years that I have
spent on earth.
in particular except that I have the grace of God on me. Everyone says
that I don’t look my age and I remember when I turned 60, a deacon in
our church jokingly told me to ask my mother my real date of birth. I
make sure I eat healthy, exercise and drink a lot of water.
travelling and evangelising. I come out of one plane and the next minute
I am in another. But in my case, if I have 30 minutes to rest, I make
the most of it. There is something I call power nap; that is what I
subscribe to and by the time I get up, I am very refreshed and I feel
fit. It has been the grace of God.
mine, being a doctor or a lawyer did not come up; who would train you to
become one? My father died when we were very young but one thing my
mother did was to train us in the way of the Lord. She would say that
God can do what your father who is no longer alive cannot do. We started
serving God very early in life. My mother is about 87 years old and she
is still healthy.
decide on who to get married to. A lot of people came but as I pondered
it in my heart, I said it was better to marry a servant of God because
all those years, I had been following God. So I decided that it would be
Bishop Mike or no one else because he was into the ministry of God.
Even his people used to ask me if I was crazy for choosing to marry
their uncle whom they felt was going crazy because he chose to be a
pastor. To make matters worse, he decided to be a Pentecostal pastor at a
time when it was not in vogue. If you wanted to become a pastor, you
had to go to the seminary to become a priest. I just knew that I wanted
to marry him and that was the turning point in my life.
ladies are after what they can see. I did not care about what he had
because I knew that it was God that raised us. We are about six in my
family and even though I don’t know how we managed to complete our
education, we are all graduates. My mother had only two clothes; she
wore one on Sundays and the other during the week but God saw her
through and made all her children to go to school. Having nothing did
not move me at all because I knew that the God I served was one that
would give me everything that I needed. My aunty was abroad, so she told
my mother that one of us should come and stay with her and they chose
me. When I travelled abroad and people were trying to persuade me
against marrying Bishop Mike, I told them that I had made up my mind. He
was not giving me anything. I remember that when I was based abroad, I
came home about two times but my husband could not give me a penny
because he did not have but I did not mind. I just knew that he was what
I wanted and I knew that somehow God would make it good.
is, there is nothing he has that he cannot give me because I have been
there when he did not have anything. So the young ladies of nowadays
should take their eyes off material things but we are trying to train
them. I remember when my daughter was about to get married, I told her
that God instructed me to inform her that she should not look at money.
She should not let money be her focus and she heeded my advice.
truthful and sincere. The world is so wonderful that people do not mind
to become second or third wives; what are they looking for? I saw one in
the newspaper where a 23-year-old lady married an elderly man as a
second or third wife, I cried for her. I asked why her family left her
to ruin her life. It is all about money. I think we have a lot of work
on our hands. Choose a man that you would grow up with and not someone
that is already made. If he is made, he would dictate how to live your
life but if you both worked hard for your wealth, you would both enjoy
not talk to me. After the Civil War, everybody started to go to church
because there was nothing to look forward to; he could not propose to
me. It was his elder sister that walked up to me on his behalf. The lady
just liked me, she is a pastor now. He told his sister that he liked me
and she promised to talk to me on his behalf. The first time she spoke
to me on his behalf, I shrugged it off and told her that we fought every
day in church because I felt that he was arrogant. He drove his
father’s car while we always trekked and whenever he got to church, he
always wanted his voice to be heard but that was his nature. When you
look at him at first glance, you would think he is a proud person but on
the contrary, he is very down to earth and simple.
that I would think about it but I had to go to school first because my
aunty was planning for me to join her abroad. I knew his parents and all
his family members so that made things easy; here we are today.
something to eat, you would thank God for it and the day there was no
food, you also thanked God. You would go to school, they drove you out
because of school fees, then your mother would go to school to beg. She
would tell the headmistress that she would pay in instalments because my
mother was a fish seller. Growing up was very tough, I cannot tell you
otherwise. It was not even easy to pay the house rent but I had an aunty
who helped us a lot. At a time, she relocated to England with her
family, so she was the one that took me to England.
when we were very small. The story they told us was that they poisoned
him. I cannot really say what killed him.
was a professor who was from my town, he got married to a white woman
and when he came back to Nigeria, I went to see him and told him what we
were going through. He said that he could put me in a company to work
as a receptionist; I was doing the evening shift. He was true to his
words so I was combining my education with work. It was tough combining
both but I had to cope. Even when I was in England, I also worked as I
schooled. I went to nursing homes where they housed abandoned babies and
I took care of those children.
abandoned children and eventually built a home for them because there
were so many children that were abandoned and it made me wonder how a
woman would abandon her child.
time. I was born again during the days of Scripture Union. That was
after the war. I am from Obosi in Anambra and during the war, we ran to
Oba to the home of one of my friends. I love singing so there was this
church very close to our house. I would go there to sing and that is
how I started, I got born again in SU.
your faith would be tested. There are times you would pray fervently for
something but it would look as if the answer is not coming and it would
make you ask yourself if you are doing the right thing. But by his
grace, I have seen how God has taken care of my mother and that has
things in one nylon bag at all times. I had a friend from school that
we ran to their house at Oba. She and her parents are dead now but they
were very nice people and they accommodated all of us.
stayed with Bishop’s elder sister for a while when I got back to Lagos.
I was the secretary to a white director in Ikeja. At that time, her
brother had already made up his mind that he wanted to marry me and he
had told his family, so we were just waiting to tie the knot.
when I came to Lagos, I attended Lagos City College for about two years
before I travelled to England. I was in Liverpool and I did my A-level
and was admitted into London College of Administration for secretariat
a lot and my aunty and I could sit down at the court the whole day
watching the matches; that’s how I picked interest in it. I even taught
some people how to count the scores. I still play in the house because
we have a court; I play with my husband till date. I love sports
generally. I love tennis and football. I support Chelsea Football Club.
of TREM, when we were praying to God to give us a name for the
ministry. While we were praying to God, one day he told us to name it
The Redeemed Evangelical Ministry. It was during the early hours of the
day. We took the name and we started. In this ministry, I have been an
usher, I sang in the choir and there is no department that I do not know
about. I have worked in every ministry of the church. When the women
came to clean the church for service, I was always the first to be
When I left work back then, I would go to the market, then I would start
to cook. Sometimes I would finish cooking by 12 midnight and the next
day, I would have to go to work. I remember getting into molue one day
and there was a child who also entered the bus but it was filled up so I
asked him to sit on my lap. I did not know the child was looking for my
purse; he succeeded in stealing it anyway. There were days we drank
gari without sugar, groundnut, or even salt. I remember one pastor came
to our house and when he saw what my husband was eating, he told us that
he would go back to his house and instruct his wife not to give him
more than a piece of meat. There are days of small beginnings but today,
it is not the same. I do not eat much because I don’t want to get too
big but I can afford it.
credit to myself but God. Every day we put ourselves in the mirror of
the world and pray to God not to make us proud. He should not let us
think that what we are doing is because of our effort. We pray to still
remain humble. You pray about it and still watch yourself. At times the
enemy word want you to feel big but we ask God to help us and he has
been doing that.
that I had done but did not do. Life is full of ups and downs. I had my
first child but she went to be with the Lord. I could have given up
hope but I just told God that he knows what I don’t know.
in my life. God blessed one woman through me during that period because
after we went to bury her and we got back home, I told them that we
should go to church. A woman later told me that the day she lost her
cousin who she was training as her child, she remembered what I did and
it helped her through that period. I did not know that God used that
particular incident to encourage her. It was tough because she was the
only one and I did not have any other child but I looked on to Jesus and
he gave me another child.
thing and I thank God. My daughter is a peculiar and a restoration
child. When she was studying for her first degree and master’s
programme, I refused to dictate to her what to study. I prayed about it
on her behalf and asked God to direct her because it is not always good
to dictate to children what to become in life. Today, she is working in
the ministry. She had a job at the Bank of Industry, a very lucrative
job but every day, she got back home she always complained that she was
not fulfilled. She said that it was not about the money. When I was
seeking God’s face for a child after I lost the first one, I told God
that if he gave me a child, I would bring her back to him. God held his
own end of his bargain and was watching me but today, I have fulfilled
my part as well.