(BY NGOZI ADIGHIBE)
After 23 years of Episcopacy in the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion as the pioneer Bishop of the Diocese of Nnewi and recently, as Archbishop of the Province of the Niger, the Most Rev. Prof. Godwin Okpala presided over his last Synod before his retirement. The official opening of the 3rd Session of the 8th Synod which had the theme, “Steadfastness in God’s service,” was held at St. Thomas Anglican Church, Otolo, Nnewi in Anambra state, where the outgoing Bishop called on the people of the diocese to not allow anything or anyone puncture their enthusiasm for God and His agenda.
He said that just like Jesus, every serious Christian must work while it is day, giving themselves completely and passionately to the task before them. According to him, distractions come in diverse ways and is aimed at frustrating God’s agenda and therefore, steadfastness in God’s work can only be achieved through diligent study of the word of God, consistent prayer life and unwavering faith in God. Archbishop Okpala explained that the word of God is the manual on how to render steadfast services to God; adding that one must press to know Christ more if one is to develop spiritual stability.
The retiring Bishop pointed out that to avoid distraction from God’s work, Christians must be in constant connection with God through prayer and stay fixated on the finish line and the end goal, which is to fulfill the will of God on earth and to make heaven. He said that for every Christian, doing the work of God is not an option, but an obligation that must be carried out judiciously; explaining that God expects believers to discover their area of calling and use it to serve Him steadfastly in the Church and society.
The Archbishop observed that considering the corruption that is neck deep in the Nigerian society, rendering services to God and the nation is like a mirage to some persons. He however added, citing the example of Daniel in the Bible who served God diligently in dire circumstances, that being in a corrupt system is never an excuse to allow one’s light to diminish. The cleric stressed that service to God is not limited to Church circles, and therefore Christians must also be vanguards of healthy innovations in the nation.
The Diocesan Bishop gave a brief synopsis of all the Synod themes of the diocese for the past 23 years, stating that each of the topics were meant to shape their lives spiritually and give direction as they go through life on earth, in anticipation for eternity. He noted that the theme for this year was born out of a deep passion for the diocese and desire to see that their efforts in the diocese will not amount to futility, under negligence of any kind. He said that his heart’s desire is to see that the good works they have started is taken to greater heights. Hence, he charged the people of the diocese not to accommodate any lifestyle that will dampen their enthusiasm for God and never relent in supporting the new Bishop in his vision and projections.
The Most Rev. Prof. Godwin Okpala thanked everyone who supported him and his wife during their episcopacy and prayed that God will cause their commitment to Him to increase; because according to him, one’s work for God can never be in vain.