|PASTOR KRIS & EX-WIFE STEPHANIE|
Saturday, July 7, 2012
SOME CONGREGATIONS DO HAVE THEM- A WRITE UP OLUMIDE IYANDA OF THE DAILY INDEPENDENT
I was a few months into my employment as a correspondent with Saturday Punch in 2001 when Pastor Chris Okotie announced his separation from his first wife, Tina, after 15 years of marriage. The announcement was made during the week when all soft sell magazines had gone to bed. Given thatSaturday Punch was one of the very few newspapers with a strong bias for soft stories back then, I was sure of a scoop that would tickle our readers’ fancy.
There were no Facebook, Twitter, Blackberry and other forms of social media ‘scourge’, so I knew I was sitting on a story that would make soft sell journals curse their production schedule the week after. Soft sell journalists were actually the first set of people to learn about the divorce. Okotie actually called some of them and broke the news to them personally. That way, he was able to take some of the thunder out of their reports. I got my scoop back then from one of the reporters who attended the informal press parley he had to say he had kissed Tina goodbye.
My page had been passed for that week, but I felt it could be recalled to accommodate the latest from the Household of God. Excitedly, I walked to my editor with my exclusive story in one hand and pictures in the other.
My excitement soon disappeared when my editor told me that a divorce was not something to be excited about. I still can’t tell if he said that because he felt pity for the couple or didn’t want to disrupt our production schedule that week. All I remember him telling me was that when I get married I would understand how painful it is for two people who once loved each other to walk away. With that brief lecture, he sent me back to the newsroom and I watched in horror as celebrity journals feasted on the story the week after.
True to the words of my former editor, I now understand better the challenges that couples go through even with all the love and affection in the world. I also know that there are days when husband and wife question their union wondering how they got into this “mess” in the first place. I must also say that I never stopped thinking about Pastor Okotie’s marital scorecard.
The man who traded pop music for the pulpit when he found Christ in 1989 proved to be second time unlucky with marriage when he announced his separation from his wife of four years, Stephanie Henshaw, during the service at his church on Sunday, June 24. Unlike what happened with Tina nine years ago, the news immediately went viral as soon as the announcement was made. Members who were in church that day sent the messages to their friends and followers on new media platforms.
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Questions have been asked about the propriety of a professed man of the collar getting divorced, twice. It is generally argued that in Christianity the only ground for divorce is fornication or if an unbelieving partner chooses to leave. The ministry to which I was called is different, so I cannot speak with the authority of the Spirit on whether people who leave their partners for reasons outside fornication are allowed to be yoked with someone else.
But how does it feel for a man with two failed marriages to oversee the joining together of two people as man and wife? I have been to Okotie’s Household of God in the past and I know people go there to get married. What would he tell the next couple that comes before him for matrimonial blessing that he could not tell himself twice?
I am actually fascinated by Okotie for non-religious reasons. The Delta-born University of Nigeria, Nsukka law graduate was a key figure in the Nigerian pop music scene in the 80s. Other members of that movement were Felix Liberty, Dizzy K Falola and Jide Obi. For some reason, most of them later found God and became witnesses of Christ in different parts of the world. Setting out before others, Okotie founded his Household of God in Lagos and became as flashy on the pulpit as he was on the music stage. His congregation was drawn mostly from his fans, and it was sometimes difficult to tell if Householders were actually going for service or attending a concert by the way they dressed.
Given the character of the pastor and the atmosphere at his designer church auditorium, stories were told about his relationship with members of his congregation. Among the people he was said to have shepherded in a special way were Roli Adeniyi (now Mrs. Bode George), former Miss Nigeria, Vien Tetsola, and members of his House of Nigeria FRESH.
With so much to do in the house of the Lord, Okotie must have considered the word of Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians chapter seven verse one that “it is well for a man not to touch a woman.” But with his human nature and some of the salacious stories around him, he yielded to the advice in verse two that “because of prevalence of fornication, let each man have his own wife and each woman have her own husband.”
When he got married to Stephanie, his very good friend of many years in 2008 he actually told an adoring congregation that God chose her for him and they were bound to live together till death do them part. Now that they have separated due to irreconcilable differences, I wonder if they were mindful of verses three to six of that same chapter of Corinthians that “let the husband render to [his] wife her due; but let the wife also do likewise to [her] husband. The wife does not exercise authority over her own body, but her husband does; likewise, also, the husband does not exercise authority over his own body, but his wife does. Do not be depriving each other [of it], except by mutual consent for an appointed time, that YOU may devote time to prayer and may come together again, that Satan may not keep tempting YOU for YOUR lack of self-regulation.”
I have read statements credited to both parties especially the woman on why the marriage collapsed, but I will only believe what I hear from them directly. Something however tells me Okotie may end up with another member (or fan) from his Household as wife number three. And I can bet a tithe on that for the rest of my life.
CULLED FROM DAILY INDEPENDENT, WRITTEN BY OLUMIDE IYANDA