Obanure: The Passing Away of a Christ’s Ambassador

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 By Sufuyan Ojeifo

I t was through Pastor Idris Umar’s poetic ventilation of his deep-seated, innermost emotion on the sudden passing away of one-time Provincial Pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) in Abuja and, at the time of his death, Assistant General Overseer (Establishment), Pastor David Olu Obanure, in one of the social media platforms, that I confirmed what I initially considered to be a piece of rumour doing the rounds in early May, this year.

Obanure, 63, passed away on May 2, 2017 in Lagos at the wedding engagement of the daughter of a colleague of his, another Assistant General Overseer.  He was, according to a report made available to me, actually billed to chair the wedding reception the following day.  In his highly fecund elegy, Umar described and/or dramatised how it happened: sudden, short and sharp like an Angel’s visit.

Umar scorned “the vanity of life”; showered plaudits on the late Obanure for touching many lives for good through his apostolic zeal; created a mental picture of how the lover of God went down while dancing and smiling on the occasion; harped on the necessity of preparedness for eternity; and offered a prayer unto God to bless the soul of the departed.

Read Umar in part:  “…The sudden disappearance of Pastor Obanure is a proof one more time that we control nothing!  Pastor David Olu Obanure; he was a man that touched many lives for good. He had a heart large enough to accommodate everybody – weak or strong, big or small, rich or poor, learned or unlettered.

“Pastor Obanure; you could not escape his smiles.  But like a mango fruit, Obanure was plucked on Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017, by death… It was sudden! I was there. In one brief moment I sighted him at a distance, dancing and beaming with his characteristic smile.  And the next moment, he was down, helpless.  It was like a dream….”

After reading Umar’s elegy, it dawned on me that a Christ’s ambassador, had ended his luminous voyage here, having fought, like Paul said of himself, the good fight, having finished his course and kept the faith.  Whereas eternity with God is the desire of the believer in Christ; given the human nature, eternal departure from here creates a deep sense of physical loss that we have found painfully difficult to reconcile or relate with.

Not even the fluid and placatory tone of the elegiac rendition by Umar, one of the pastors who served under Obanure in Abuja, could, therefore, mitigate the utmost sense of loss that I felt and continue to feel with his (Obanure’s) death.  I feel physically diminished, despite the blessed assurance that he has gone home to be with the Lord and to relish eternity with his creator whom he served with uncommon love and great diligence.

Obanure was a father, indeed, to all of us who had the privilege of being shepherded by him in the Christian journey.  The master’s degree holder in Communication Arts from the University of Ibadan preached the undiluted word, deploying to use his characteristic refined grammar and unparalleled communicative skill.  He would, in his soft voice, without caring whose ox was gored, dish out the word of God raw-raw because he believed in God and in his word.

He was a preacher of holiness.  He was certainly instructed by Hebrew 12:14: “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.”  Indeed, Onabure paid little or no attention to physical prosperity; otherwise, as the pioneer pastor who planted the RCCG in Abuja, he would have used his position to solicit for and get material and financial benefits from many in positions of authority who would gladly take steps to attend to his physical desires or needs.   One thing that I noticed about Obanure was that he was always reluctant to talk of money or financial contributions by members on the pulpit.  If there was any such church need, he would not be the one to make the announcement.

In 1995, the RCCG was still meeting in the auditorium of the Women Development Centre. Under his humble, purposeful and inspiring leadership, the church moved to its permanent structure in Wuse 2 and was aptly christened the Central Parish, which, like a mustard seed, was instrumental to the birth of many other parishes and the spread of the church in Region 10 and beyond.

All through his stay at the headship of the church in Abuja, Obanure was never conceited.  He was an incredible personification of humility.  I remember, when in 1997 or thereabouts, shortly after the launch of Lekki 1999 by Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye, held at Nicon Noga Hilton Hotel, now Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, on March 20, 1997, he suggested to the Information and Publicity department to which I belonged that we should begin the publication of a monthly magazine to be called the Strong Tower Digest (STD) to complement the weekly Central Parish bulletin.

And by the time the department, under the headship of Pastor Yinka Oduwole (Ph.D), decided to roll out the maiden edition with an Obanure interview as the proposed cover story, I was saddled with the responsibility of conducting it.  I had thought I was going to have a tough time tracking him down because of his busy schedules.  But when I told him about my assignment, surprisingly, he simplified it for me.  Luckily for me, it was during one of the night programmes.  He held me by the hand and pulled me to a convenient spot, which was a stone’s throw to the church such that the praise and worship would not affect the quality of my tape recording and he told me he was ready for the interview.  I could not believe it. It was so easy, thanks to his simplicity.

If Obanure met you once, rest assured that the next time, no matter how long, he saw you, he would call you by your first name.  And, once he perceived that you wanted to see him, he would beckon to you to come to him; and because, he had height, he would even bend down so he could hear you out.  That was Obanure for you.  He actually belonged to everybody.

When I introduced my fiancée to him, he, together with his assistant then, Pastor Ezekiel Afolayan, took special interest in us; he handed us over to Pastor Afolayan, who took us through some sessions of marriage counseling.  He also followed up on the wedding preparations.  When I told him how God surprised us in terms of provisions during the wedding, he was full of praises to Jehovah Jireh.  When we were blessed with a baby boy, I had the privilege of having him in my house to christen him.

Even after many years of leaving Abuja, he would always send greetings to me and my wife through anyone who claimed to know us.  Our hearts- my wife’s and mine- go to mommy Obanure, their children and the entire RCCG on the passing away of a great man of God who performed great exploits in the Lord’s vineyard while here. As his bodies are interred on Friday, June 30, 2017, I pray for eternal bliss with the Lord for Pastor David Olu Obanure.

–Mr Ojeifo contributed this piece from Abuja via ojwonderngr@yahoo.com