Archbishop Kwashi Bows Out 

Archbishop Kwashi Bows Out 

Milestone 

Omoleye Olabode

The Most Rev. Benjamin Argak Kwashi was for many checkered years the Bishop of the Diocese of Jos and the Archbishop Emeritus of the Ecclesiastical Province of Jos Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion. Born in a village called Amper in Plateau State to a Christian family, Bishop Kwashi retires after an accomplished, humanitarian, and colourful life as a cleric. This writeup about the life of the humanist and cleric

In the early hours of Friday morning of 23rd September 1955 Pa and Mrs Kwashi, a CMS teacher were blessed with a son at what became the first hospital in Northern Nigeria. Doctor Fox set it up, and died; but it continued for some years after his death, between 1916 and 1921. And like every other parent, their joy knew no bounds and the son was christened Benjamin Argak Kwasi. 

The baby boy grew up like any other little boy of that era. He met his father in the days when he had a government Land Rover attached to him. In about 1960, he realised that the young Kwashi needed an education, so he was sent to the village by his grandmother and grandfather and was there for about two years before he started primary school.

Those two years became the most remarkable years that he would live to remember in all life. One could say that priesthood runs in the family as his grandfather on my mother’s side was also a priest and the first Anglican Catechist in 1919, in Kabuye. 

In one of his numerous interviews, Archbishop Kwashi spoke about his growing up. He said, “While at the village, I towed the bell, because Angers people were like the current Fulani people. We had cows, sheep, and goats so, I had to go shepherding with other kids. It was an experience because I came to the village with my canvas shoes, clothes, and so on but my grandma didn’t accept my dress because everyone else walked around naked. So, the first few weeks were war, but eventually, I had to be like other kids who ran after cows, drank milk from the goats, and ate whatever was available. No sensible lizard came around our path, because that was our lunch. We ate only after we had come back in the evening with the animals. 

“Then, my dad came to take me back from my grandparents’ house to put me in primary school and I finally finished St. Luke’s Primary School in Jos in 1969, after which I went to Military School in 1970 and was in the set of 1970-1974. Then, I joined the Army and when I got the call from God, I applied for a discharge and I was discharged from Supply and Transport in Ojo Barracks, Lagos. After Bishop Ogboyemi examined me, he sent me for training in TCNN; then, my life began as a rural evangelist, which was my original call, and by 1982, I was ordained. 

“In 1991, I was made a Canon and an Archdeacon and in 1992 I was made a Bishop in Jos. My life has continued since then and here I am today.”

This may be a double coincidence for Kwashi, as he marks his 67th birthday and retirement as a Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Jos after 31 years of Episcopal service in the Lord’s vineyard in Jos and the Christian community in Nigeria. Even though in serving God, there is no retirement. It is for Episcopal retreat to take the seat and play the role of a spiritual leader. It is a great privilege, and honour to know you right from when I was a child as a Bishop and Archbishop in the Anglican communion.

I may not have dislocated and separated my worship in the different churches and Dioceses in the past 40 years. The charismatic and assertive messages I have learned as a Christian have come from your pulpit as well, Others have confirmed it in your diocese, or our denomination has excelled, followed, and practiced Christianity the way it should be even convincing and winning souls of non-Christians amongst us to follow the way of true love as exemplified by Christ and practiced by you.

I also remember during my confirmation at St. Luke’s Cathedral, I left with a song that is always dear to me, ‘O Jesus I have promised to serve thee to the end. Be thou forever near me my master and my friend.’

Your knowledge-driven contributions to constituted authorities in your Episcopal years to date are very frank, assertive, and essential. Assertively, today, there is no perfect being on earth even strongest your critics have accepted their faith because fate played its part. Your continuous insistence on things being done right in all spheres of life and service to God vis a vis success has changed many lives.

More so, your contribution to the growth of many churches, Archdeaconry, Dioceses, Bishops, and the many children you and your supportive wife Gloria adopted cannot be forgotten easily.

As you retire as an Emeritus Arch Bishop leaving behind a Diocese, Arch Dioceses, you have grown to be known internationally with your messages and influence over the years. 

There is no way today you can talk about the Nigerian Anglican communion without mentioning this great servant of God including other denominations. We do not doubt that you are leaving a big shoe behind for someone who must spend another 31 years to fill because in every centenary there are special people God naturally bestowed grace upon. 

From 2008 till your retirement, having been consecrated by the former Primate of the Anglican communion Arch Bishop Abiodun Adetiloye in 1992, you have indeed served faithfully to the admiration of peace-loving Nigerians. 

However, we must also thank God for His protection over you and your family from different attempts on your life. For the Olabode’s as a family, we are happy and proud of you. We continue to pray for more grace, good health, and longevity. In your episcopal years. 

You have covered Plateau with your messages of love, tolerance, and forgiveness even when provoked. Again, with the creation of new Dioceses, we were praying for you to be a Primate of the Anglican Communion Nigeria, but as God will have it, it wasn’t possible.

I am however convinced that your intellectual contributions over the years have been effective in the communion. I am also convinced that the Anglican Communion, Plateau State, Nigeria, Africa, and the world are proud to have one of the most powerful preachers of the word of God in the Most Revd. Kwashi.

Interestingly, your son is also a priest and learning the ropes, while your younger brother Jacob Kwashi is the Bishop of Zonkwa, we pray that you continue to guide and encourage them to keep the family line of Christianity waxing stronger.

More so, with many children who are so special to you and Mama Gloria, living with your family in Jos and being adequately taken care of, God will continue to guide and protect you as you age gracefully.

Kwashi was the General Secretary of GAFCON in 2019. He became the third Bishop of the newly created Anglican Diocese of Jos in 1992, and in 2008, he was consecrated Archbishop of Jos Province in the Church of Nigeria.

He is the author of several books such as Evangelism and Mission: Biblical and Strategic Insights for the Church Today. He is married to Gloria and they have six biological children, one of whom is also a priest. They have over 50 other children (orphans) adopted and living with the family in Jos, and another 470 at their school. He is stepping aside after 31 years of meritorious service. 

Kwasi was also a Rector of the Theological College and a Vicariate in 1987 when his church was completely burned during the Muslim riots but rose to become the first Anglican Bishop of Jos Diocese in 1992 and conferred with the national honor as an Officer of the Order of the Niger and enthroned Archbishop of Jos Province in 2008 and reelected for a second term on the 19th January 2013, equally leading the Anglican realignment of GAFCON which started in Nairobi Kenya on the 21st of October 2013.

As the General Secretary of GAFCON since 2019, this is another plus that will keep him busy having published several books in Evangelism and Mission and Neither Bomb nor Bullet amongst others.

Olabode writes from Abuja

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