Through its community activities, the Anglican Diocese of Otan-Aiyegbaju appears to be ministering to its host community beyond the pulpit
For indigenes and residents of Otan-Aiyegbaju, Osun State, the coming of the North East Anglican Diocese headquarters to the community can be likened to that of the biblical Jacob to the household of Laban.
Jacob, according to the Biblical account, brought prosperity to Laban. In the same vein, the Anglican Church and its leaders, Bishop Humphrey Olumakaiye and his wife, Motunrayo have brought development, in addition to the message of the gospel they have come to preach, to the community in less than three years. From July 2009 when the Olumakaiyes were posted to Otan-Aiyegbaju to head Osun North East Dioceses of the Anglican Church, both the church and the community have been better off for it.
This was practically demonstrated with the recent completion of the diocesan headquarters of the church at Ogo-Oluwa, Otan-Aiyegbaju, which was just a fallow land when they arrived. Today, the bushy land has been transformed into the Osun North East Diocesan headquarters consisting of the Bishop’s Court residence, a library and resource centre, the chapel, a multi-purpose hall, and the office complex.
Besides planting 18 churches within the space of two years in Ila, Ora and Otan-Aiyegbaju, the Anglican Church has also helped establish two primary schools, a secondary and computer school. However, the sweet deal is that these schools, which deliver qualitative educational services, charge meagre fees from members of the community. But that’s not all. In a bid to empower indigenes that are not educationally inclined, a vocational centre was established where the locals could learn how to make confectionery. Listen to the bishop: “We also wanted to empower those who were not on the path of education so that they can make something meaningful out of their lives. We have also commenced plans to expand the curriculum to include basket and bead making and allied vocations.” Haunted by the spectre of increasing teenage pregnancy in the community, Motunrayo initiated a workshop on sex education, which tours schools within and outside Otan-Aiyegbaju. She says with delight that the scheme has rehabilitated six teenage mothers. “We were motivated to start this workshop when I met a girl who was barely 16 and had given birth twice. So far, God has helped us and we have seen improvements in the lives of the teenage girls” she says. She also initiated a mobile clinic scheme, which takes medical practitioners to interior villages and communities offering free medical services and health talks.
Ademola Olayemi, national president, Otan-Aiyegbaju Progressive Union, observes that the Anglican Diocese under the tenure of the Olumakaiyes has brought development to the community. “Since the completion of the diocesan
headquarters in a place which was, up to this time, considered a forest, other people have started building houses there,” he said.
Agreeing with Olayemi, Michael Popoola, a chartered accountant and the pioneer treasurer of the diocese says that the presence of the Anglican Church has brought joy and happiness to the town and its indigenes. “The diocese has provided schools, built a multi-purpose hall and a prayer city for the people,” he says. In the same vein, Femi Adetunji, a Catholic priest notes that the diocese has brought diversity to a town in which the Christians were predominately Catholics. “The presence of another cathedral is development for the town particularly for Christians,” he said.
While they work to better the lot of their host communities, the Olumakaiyes are also excelling in their personal endeavours. For instance, Motunrayo is excelling in her career as an academic, proving that excellence in spiritual and secular fields are not mutually exclusive. It is interesting to note that the highpoint of her career as a lecturer at the Department of Family Nutrition and Consumer Sciences, Faculty of Agriculture, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State came after she relocated to Otan-Aiyegbaju.
In 2010, her article on, Nutritional Assessment and Food Consumption among School Children and Adolescents, published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behaviour, an international journal based in the United States, was adjudged number one in the world from all articles in that field.
In 2011, she was one of the 70 African women out of 780 applicants selected for the African Women in Agricultural Research and Development, AWARD fellowship, a programme, which will terminate in 2013.
For these achievements and more, the Olumakaiyes and the Anglican Church they represent, have proven that they are not only in Otan-Aiyegbaju to preach the gospel on the podium but to do so more through their lifestyles.