A FALLEN COMRADE
by Olugbenga Ojuroye
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I never knew him as a friend. We never spoke on a serious note and neither did we chat. To tell the truth, he was one of those men that I loathed. Always correcting, always chastising. Every word that I ever heard from his mouth was in a forceful baritone that made one cringe with fear. At that time I couldn’t be sure whom I feared when listening to his sermons: himself or the Lord. But I guess I understand why we were never friends and why we never spoke or chatted in any way, it was not his strictness but the fact that I was very young and he was very old.
But now I have come to realise something in this life as I have grown older. A lot of the things I have learned in the church today are a result of the strict seeds that he sowed into me when I was a kid. Seeds he sowed right from the top to the Sunday school teachers and then to me. I wouldn’t claim to be perfect, for I still have my failings and weaknesses that I battle day-in-day-out, but I live with a realisation of what is right and what is wrong and I try continually to align myself with the former and not the later. And now I also have this strange feeling that if I had known him as a child or spoken to him as I grew older may be a lot of my failings would have been successes and may be, just may be my strengths would have overcome my weaknesses. I do not know this to be certain but I am sure things would have changed considerably compared to how things are presently.
I never knew him so well and I would not claim to do so. But from what I saw and heard about him, clearly he was a man of consuming fire, not so much one who consumed others than one who was consumed by the fire himself. He never took a break and never was one to take a leave, for you never take a break and neither do you take a leave from who you are. He was never one to starve also, he was never one to hold his breath, stop walking or shut his mouth, and altogether, he was never one to stop living. I say this because he ate the Word, breathed the Word, walked the Word, spoke the Word and, altogether, lived the Word. He was like the cedars of Lebanon, an iroko tree that never wavered when the storm came and never bent when there was a flood. For if the shepherd was slain what will the sheep do? If the trunk of the tree snapped or the tree were uprooted, what would happen to the branches? What would happen to the leaves? But I thank the Lord that His grace was ever present, that His grace was sufficient. I thank God that we have been strengthened; I thank God that he never fell.
I would repeat again that I never knew him so well. Due to this limitation I wouldn’t be able to describe him as kind but as a man with an iron fist, a very strong one at that. He was a disciplinarian, quick to lash you before you got out of hand, sort of ‘a stitch in time saves nine’ mentality. But in all earnestness, I have known men who were strict but with a very compassionate heart. So I would say, despite the fact that I never knew him so well, that he was very compassionate. Only a compassionate person would care enough about your future that he would discipline you now so that in the future you wouldn’t live a life of regrets. In this regard I say he was a very, very kind man, dishing out discipline in abundant proportions.
Truly he was a great man, a man that would be remembered for good. It is unfortunate that he is gone, the church is shaken but it shall not be moved. This is because in as much as he was a pillar, he is not the pillar. Neither was he the foundation but he planted us on the foundation where we draw our strength and comfort which is needed now more than ever as a result of his passing. He was great and even the mere thought of him inspires greatness. He was a very stubborn man and even his stubbornness birthed his greatness. He reminds me of Apostle Paul. It was said of the Reverend that there was a time he took a leave only for people to travel and come back home with numerous letters filled with instructions on what each person was to do in his area of responsibility. Truly that was a purely physical leave, for his spirit never rested from the work he was assigned to do. Even as I write, I am very uncertain as to whether it was even a physical leave, for, as I said earlier, he was never one to take a leave, maybe it was a leave on paper, but in reality, no, that was as different from a typical leave as white is from black.
Leukaemia, leukaemia, you came along and took his body but his spirit is with the Lord and his memories can never be wiped away from my heart. I will always remember that there was a man that changed the twentieth century. I will always remember that there was a man who set a pace and a standard for the twenty-first century. He will always be remembered and even if he may be forgotten as time passes, the lessons that God as taught through him will always be remembered and passed on to the next generation and the generation after that, for all that he has taught have become the very fibre of our being, we cannot but choose to live that which we have been taught.
In just one day, I heard of the death of two people, the Reverend and Dapo Adenuga, a member of the teenage class; one so old and the other so young. I began to think about life and how long I have left in this life and I came to a conclusion that I usually come to anytime I think about death: no matter how much you pray against it, every day you live is a day closer to that day. For all you know, it may be around the corner. Many times we find ourselves praying that death should not come instead of praying that we should live the life we have been called to live while death has not yet come. And so we see a lot of people around who have lived a very long life but even then, the wrong life. I have learnt a lot from the Reverend in life, but if there is one thing I have learnt from him in his death, it is this: live the right life no matter how long it may last. This is what I intend to do from now henceforth, God willing. As long as His grace is available, I will live the life I have been called to live, serving Him in the way I have been called to serve for only then will I be happy, only then will I have been fulfilled.
I want to live a sort of life that will have no regrets. I thought about death and I noticed something about the graveside: everyone wants to hear something good about the person and so, in most cases, good things are said about the person whether he was good or bad. In this life the only two persons that know everything about you are you and God. So I think to myself that if I were called to my graveside to speak about me on my funeral, what would I say? Would I say I was good? Or, would I say I was bad? For me to be able to speak ‘good’ at my funeral, shouldn’t I start to live good from today? The truth about life is that every decision you make is another word added to your obituary. You spend your lifetime writing what would be said of you on the last day. You spend your lifetime writing your obituary. I pray God gives me the grace to write the best words available.
My dear brethren, a comrade has fallen today, not to sin and iniquity, but to death. I wonder if fallen is the right word. He has passed on into eternity, for Christ has died and has risen so death has lost its sting and the grave its victory. Death is only an archway that all Christians must pass through to get to eternity with Christ our lovely bridegroom that awaits us. So fallen is the wrong word for only the defeated fall. A comrade did not fall. A comrade has risen today, for the risen is the victor. The risen is victorious.
Farewell Venerable & Professor Olaitan. Good bye our great leader. Your memory lives on. You truly are a comrade victorious.
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