Everyone who knows Dr Felix Ilaweagbon Omobude, the President of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria and General Superintendent of Gospel Light International Ministries will agree that he is a man of deep wisdom and insight. He is a man routinely acknowledged for his integrity and who never leaves you in doubt about what he stands for.
Birthdays are major milestones in the life of humans and for this reason these dates are marked and celebrated. Dr Felix Omobude is not open to celebrating his birthdays, but as he clocks three scores and ten years on 14th day of March 2016 it is essential that we reflect on a worthy life and pay tribute to an inspiring and true Man of God.
In the foreword to one of Dr Omobude’s books, Flaming Fire (1993), Dr Mike Okonkwo, the Bishop of TREM said this of him: “At this time when there is a quest for reality rather than the shadow, when showmanship in Ministry is fast crumbling, Dr Felix Omobude is a proven man of God and a voice to our generation.” That was true over two decades ago and we can say without doubt that it is even more so today.
I was drawn to Dr Omobude by his preaching on television in the early 1990s. Till date, the incisive biblical teachings presented in current socio-political contexts, and the rich mix of subjects that emerge from his preaching remain very inspiring. Indeed, at times after hearing him preach one feels like it is time to fashion whips and overturn the tables of the money changers in the houses of God and in political offices. Besides the clear Bible-based substance of his preaching, Dr Omobude is a psalmist who has composed many worship songs. He is also a poet, with his poetry emerging from his choice of words and by the iterative presentation of core concepts in his messages. Needless to say that after more than two decades of sitting to learn at his feet, one craves for more!
From his book, Flaming Fire, we learn that Dr Omobude’s passion for evangelism and missions took root in him from his early days as a Christian and under the pastoral oversight of the late Archbishop Benson Idahosa, then head of Church of God Mission International. Hear him: “I immediately began to work in the church first as an usher and later as the leader of the young people on evangelism and street meetings. Thereafter I had the privilege of attending the church’s local Bible School for 9 weeks. From then I started going as an advance team to wherever my pastor wanted to hold a crusade. In 1973 I went in the company of two military personnel who were also Christians. We had spent days praying and fasting for this meeting. God moved in that crusade with signs and miracles. We came back from that crusade giving thanks to God. My association with those two other soldiers gave birth to the Soldiers of Christ Evangelistic group in the Church of God Mission then. I led this group for many years.”
IN THE BUSH FOR THE LEPERS
Troubled by the dehumanising situation of lepers begging on the Benin – Lagos and Benin – Sapele highways in early 1997, Dr Omobude set up the Life Lift International as the humanitarian arm of Gospel Light International Ministries.
Since its establishment, the Life Lift International has remained active in supporting the needy and has made an indelible mark on the lives of the target people as well as on the wider society. Life Lift worked to encourage the lepers and ex-lepers to either return home to be reintegrated into their families or to return to the camps provided for them by the government at various locations in the country. With Ossiomo specialist hospital/leprosarium being the nearest to Benin City, that has received regular attention from Life Lift, including by provision of scholarships and through the renovation of a block of living quarters for four families, construction of Kitchen blocks and sanitary facilities as well as the reconstruction and upgrading of a Chest Ward building recently completed with the support of T. Y. Danjuma Foundation.
In its relief efforts, Life Lift has responded to disasters within and outside Nigeria. Help was sent to victims of fire outbreak at Aviara 1 Community in Edo State where over 100 houses were gutted and the Jesse pipeline fire of 1998 that killed about 1000 persons and left many others injured. Life Lift also sent relief to Odi Community in Bayelsa State after their town was levelled by the military in November 1999 with over 2800 casualties. Dr Omobude personally visited these disaster zones, giving hope, offering comfort and praying for the wounded and the bereaved. Life Lift also sent relief to earthquake victims in Haiti (2010) as well as contributing relief in the case of the Fukushima tsunami/nuclear accident in Japan in March 2011.
As already noted, Dr Omobude is passionate about missions and this can also be seen in his academic pursuits. Although he has an electrical engineering background, his doctoral dissertation at the San Antonio Theological Seminary, United States of America, was on the subject, Mission to the Third World. Dr Omobude believes strongly that education is the major key for the emancipation of man. Little wonder that the Gospel Light International Ministries, besides the church arm, New Covenant Gospel Church, runs educational institutions ranging from the kindergarten to the tertiary institution, the Lighthouse Polytechnic
As we reflect on Dr Omobude’s 70th birthday anniversary, the words of Dr Carl Conely, President, LifeLink International and of Faith Community Churches International, USA, in the foreword to Dr Omobude’s book, Whose Son Are You (2007), says it all: “Dr Omobude is the perfect example of a faithful son and a loving, nurturing father. Multitudes of ministers in Nigeria and around the world look to him as a father and are quick to obey his loving direction. He gives himself wholeheartedly to the success of his children. I know of no other man who more fully models spiritual fatherhood.”
By Nnimmo Bassey