Saviour: Shining her light for the poor to see
Ijeoma Nwokede became a widow during the Nigerian civil war. And though she couldn’t recollect the actual year, she remembered vividly that her husband died before the war ended. Left with two children, she told The Guardian that the idea of remarrying never crossed her mind, as her society frowns at such. Nonetheless, Mrs. Nwokede, who is in her late 70s, did a good job on her two children (a male and a female), whom she said are all grown up now and doing well.
Airin Chukwejebe also lost her husband before the war ended and was left with four children (two male and two female children). Remarrying wasn’t an option for her also.
Ifeoma Nwokola is in the same boat with Nwokede and Chukwejebe, although she only recently became a widow in 2010. And despite the fact that her husband left six children behind, her society would not permit her to marry another man.
In the eastern part of Nigeria, the list of widows of marriageable age, but who don’t remarry is endless. It is not as if it is a taboo for a widow in this part to remarry after the death of their better halves, but due to the attachment to their children, a widow is reluctant to leave her late husband’s house and move in with another man. Her parents will not encourage her to remarry, even if she had only one child for her late husband.
A widow’s children don’t help matters either, as they usually regard their mother a traitor, who abandoned them for another man after their father’s death. With all these constraints, the woman is left no choice, but to weather the storm alone. Thus, she is left to raise her children in her late husband’s house, as a mark of respect and loyalty.
However, the Angelic Women Ministry is taking it upon itself to intervene and bring succour to this category of women, by providing them with household items, food, as well as empowerment programme for self-sustenance and reliance. It is not all about widows though, as the ministry also caters for orphans, the destitute the poor.
With branches in Umuahia, Abuja, Oba, Ghana, Togo and South Africa, the ministry, which started in 2005 in Lagos, is still growing and spreading its tentacles, wherever it could touch lives of the indigent with its meagre resources.
The woman behind the vision is Evangelist Vivian Saviour, who explained to The Guardian at an intervention meeting with widows, orphans and the less privileged at Oba, her country home, that she has always had compassion for the less privileged in the society.
A mother, grand-mother and preacher of the gospel, Saviour attributed her compassionate heart to God’s grace and the fact that she was raised by a mother, who is more than willing to give out anything to the poor.
She said: “My mother would cook and invite schoolchildren to come and eat. And even at 83, mama is still concerned about others’ welfare. Our house was and is still always a beehive of activities in the village. So, I was not afraid to launch out, when the instruction came from the Lord to reach out to the poor. You know He will never give you an assignment that is too big for you. And of course, when you have the love of the Lord, doing things for others will not be difficult. No one came to this world with anything and none will return with anything.’’
It has not been easy running her ministry though, as funding poses a big challenge. However, she said she has been able to cope so far, as women of faith, who are also members of the Angelic Women Ministry, surround her. They pull resources together whenever the ministry has to embark on projects such as the monthly visitations to hospitals, prisons and orphanages among others. Her siblings, who all share in her dream, have also been of support. Her home church in the US has been contributing its quota, as it helps raise fund for her ministry’s work.
Fortunately, her husband, Captain John Savior (rtd) has also bought into the vision, as he has never for once discouraged her from pursuing her mission.
“My husband knows it is a call from the Lord and has never objected to my moves, even when I had to bring in a girl, who got pregnant and was living on the street of Lagos. We were staying in a duplex then and anytime he arrived home and people were everywhere in the living room, he would just make his way upstairs. With that kind of man, I wasn’t afraid to do the leadings of the Lord,’’ she said.
Her elder sister, Mrs. Ngozi Okoye, a retired magistrate, said it takes the grace of God for anyone to engage in what her sister is doing. She said she has been supportive to the cause, knowing well that anyone who gives to the poor lends to God.
“I have marvelled at the wonders of the Lord and what He is using her to do in the lives of the less privileged. It’s been wonderful and I thank God for picking her as an evangelist and using her this way,” she said.
She advised government at all levels to do more towards uplifting the less privileged and giving them a sense of belonging.