By Shola Oshunkeye
The previous night, I went to bed hopeful that you will make it. You had been in ICU for three agonising three weeks, under life support, battling COVID-19. Our hopes kept flunctuating as the reports from your doctors in Essex.
‘Oh, Pastor Michael is a great fighter. He will make it’, a team would tell your darling wife. And she would automatically relay the good news to me. In another breath, another team would threw a dampener to our weary spirit. ‘Pastor Mike is critically ill but stable,’ they would say, leaving us more confused.
April 23, 2020, we went to bed praying harder than we ever did, sweating and weeping; hoping God would hear our language of tears and show mercy, return you to us in perfect health.
I cannot say whether God heard those prayers and I cannot ask Him ‘why?’ Rather, the darkest night broke into a dreadful dawn. And no news from Essex. Very unusual.
At exactly 1p.m., Nigerian time, your wife called and dropped the most devasting words I ever heard. “Pastor Mike has passed.” And the phone went dead.
Something in me died that instant. I wept a bucket. My wife did same. Same with our siblings.
As if you had appeared to our 87-year-old mother, Mama kept asking me why you hadn’t called for three consecutive Sundays. You normally called her after service every Sunday.
‘Pastor Mike is fine. He went on an evangelical tour of Spain and got caught in the lockdown. And there is total lockdown in UK too.’
That was the standard lie I fed our Mum for the three weeks following your demise.
Finally, my District Overseer, Rev David Ibidun accompanied by his wife and two other senior Pastors, came to my house to break the horrible news no parent would ever pray for to our aged mother.
I cannot describe the torturing scenario that followed. I’m sure you saw it wherever you were at the time. But God took control through the men of God and my personal physician, Dr. Niyi Adesida, who.ministered to her spiritually and medically.
Rev. Mabayoje Michael Oshunkeye, my darling brother, our tears have not dried since. But we are comforted by the assurance we have in God that you are in a better place, totally free from the pains and drudgery of this wicked world.
Mabayoje, we all miss you sorely. You are irreplaceable. You were a gem no family should lose. But as the Bible commands, we must praise and bless God still. Now, we know only in part but God has the total picture. At the fullness of time he will the hidden truths.
For now, we are comforted by the fact that you are in a place of unending joy. A place of eternal bliss. And we are confident that we shall meet on resurrection day.
Continue to enjoy your rest in the Lord’s bosom, aburo mi owon, Ojo akiti kori ona ofun ko gb’eegun eja….
You must have reunited with Ajayi, your younger brother. Ajayi ogidi Olu, Onikanga a ji pon. O b’omi osuuru w’eda. Eni Ajayi gba, gba, gba ti ko lee gba tan…igunnugun ni ngba oluwa re.
Like you did, Ajayi too left us on January 10, 2021. Like you, he succumbed to COVID-19 after battling the monster for about two weeks. He was just 55. You left us at 60, going 61.
Another painful aspect to Ajayi’s case was that I was even too sick and too weak at the time to offer any help. Greet Ajayi for me. Greet our father too. Abiyamo nitooto…
And, please, pray for us; all of you, pray for us, for the times are still evil. The storm of COVID-19 is still raging despite the hope that vaccines now in use across the globe offer. Mankind is at its most vulnerable ebb.
Mabayoje, continue your heavenly fellowship with the Lord. Till we meet to part no more.
Emi ni egbon re nitooto,
-Mr. Shola Oshunkeye is the publisher of TheCrest