‘We count ourselves lucky to be where we are among God’s people’
Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Most Rev. Henry Ndukuba, last week, clocked one year in office, as Primate of the church. In this interview with Advent Cable Network Nigeria (ACNN TV), the Primate shares his experience.
How has one year in office been?
I WANT to greet all of us, God’s people, and appreciate God’s faithfulness and His mercy upon each one of us, upon our families, and upon the church of God. More importantly, we appreciate God’s mercy in preserving and keeping us through the year’s challenges. The year 2020 was quite an issue in the life and history of the World, and we want to thank God for how He has been with us, kept us through it, and brought us into 2021. Time flies, and no one can hardly imagine that one year is already over. We look back with great gratitude from the depth of our hearts unto God, the God of gods, the One Who is our hope, our refuge, and Who has stood with us. I have come through this one year to see clearly, that whatever God says, He will always do and He is faithful.
So, all honour, all glory, all adoration, and thanksgiving belong to Him. He is always there to guide. His guidance and presence are real. Every day is always a new day, and He takes you from one step to the other. For every person that walks into the office or I encounter, He has a way of directing and guiding. The Holy Spirit is wonderful because He gives you the word you need when you need it. This one year has been a very wonderful experience of depending on Him and He has been guiding me from one step to another. It is a road we had never passed through. So, it is so obvious that we need to listen to the Lord, pray, and depend on Him.
So, we thank God, it has been a wonderful time of learning, of guiding, of teaching, of listening, and of help from God. We also thank God for the Bishops and Archbishops, the people of God, the clergy, and the lay, for praying for us and standing with us. We feel the prayers of God’s people. We count ourselves lucky to be where we are among God’s people.
One thing comes out clear: the higher you go, the hotter it becomes. This position is not for a man who has a young family, because it takes all your time, your attention, and demands that you be ready to move at the shortest possible time and are always prepared because there must be a word from God. There must be a direction, and you cannot afford to just while it away. It has been a very wonderful time for us — my wife, my children, and I. We have become strengthened in prayer, studying of the Word, as you dare not play with it because that is the source of our strength.
What is your experience like, especially regarding the time between your election and inauguration?
Well, our coming to this position was something we didn’t anticipate or campaign for. If we were looking for it, we would have known what to expect. But it was like a bolt out of the blues. When the election was done, it was so amazing that the Bishops all came together to say, “Henry lead us, this is what we believe God wants of us.” It was like a dream. And I want to thank God for all who have stood around us: my predecessors, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh and Baba Akinola, all were there to support and encourage us.
After the election, we continued as the Bishop of Gombe and Archbishop of Jos Province. It was good that our church fathers arranged it in such a way that you have some time to prepare yourself and tune your mind to what you’re going into. So, that transition period gave us the opportunity to organise ourselves, and we didn’t leave any stone unturned with regards to our responsibilities.
We carried through to the end, and by the grace of God, handed over to those the Lord raised to succeed us and moved to Abuja, after more than 20 years in Gombe as Bishop. I don’t know how I would describe it because I had already shown my wife where I would like to be buried. My intention was that we would spend the whole of our life and ministry in Gombe, and I’ve made it as a covenant with God that I want to see Him from wherever He sent me to labour. I’d already said nobody should take my corpse home. I wanted to be buried in the place where God called me. So, for us to be moved out of Gombe, in fact, it was like uprooting a fully-grown tree. Even up till now, I still feel somewhat connected to Gombe, because, for us, that was home, that was the place of our calling. We love the Lord, we love God’s people, and we love the people of Gombe. So, coming to Abuja was like coming to a totally new route.
One thing with church leadership is that there is no classroom where you are taught that, this is what you’ll be doing as a Bishop, or this is how you would act as an Archbishop or this is what you would do as a Primate. It all comes from the One Who calls us. One thing that we have realised within that period is that we need to learn. We need to open our ears to hear, take instructions, ask questions, and we thank God that Archbishop Okoh was there for us. He has been with us from the very beginning with Mama Nkasiobi. And they mentored us, ministered to us, and prayed with us. We visited churches together. They showed us everything we needed to know. It was such an encouragement. The Bishops and Archbishops also gave their support.
So, that transition period was a time of learning, a time of looking at what God was actually bringing us into. And the fact that we came in and were mentored also gave us the opportunity to clarify our vision and the direction, and asked the Lord what He wanted us to do. For every session, I believe that God has His purpose. It is for us to discover God’s purpose in bringing us to the new place and key into that vision and that mission. It was good we had that period to learn and inquire from the Lord, and to get direction. So, when the load finally dropped, we were prepared to carry it through, because this is not for us. It is not by our making. It is not by our effort. It is of God. And whatever it will take to follow Him, we are willing to go all the way.
No comments yet