With more than 10 publications to her credit, Dr (Mrs) Felicia Mayokun Oduntan, wife of Bishop of Ajayi Crowther Anglican Diocese, Iseyin, Oyo State, Right Reverend Olukemi Oduntan, speaks with Rita Okonoboh on the peculiarities of being married to a cleric, signs to look out for when choosing a life partner, and her recipe for preventing s3xual molestation in children and teenagers. Excerpts:
Brief about background
I’m from Ondo State. I grew up at Okitipupa in Ondo State. I had my primary education at the Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN) staff school, Ibadan – I was living with my sister at that time, then I attended St.Paul’s Primary School, Okitipupa. I had my seconday education at Okitipupa. I studied English Education for my first degree at Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Osun State, studied Early Childhood Education for my second degree at the University of Ibadan, then studied Educational Evaluation for my PhD, at the University of Ibadan. I worked at Olivet Baptist High School. Now, I’m the Director of Schools at Lord’s Kiddies of Lord’s Schools, at Idi-Igba, Ilora, in Afijio Local Government Area, Oyo State.
How did you meet your husband?
I was a student at OAU at the time, while he was a pastor at CRIN area. During that time, there was a strike action at OAU and I attended an Anglican church in the area. It was during a Bible study and later during that break, the relationship blossomed. He said God told him we should be together and I confirmed it through prayers before accepting his proposal. This was in 1993. We got married in 1994 during my service year. He was already an ordained priest.
Before you met your husband, did you know you would be married to a cleric?
Not at all. In fact, I didn’t pray to marry a pastor. I didn’t like the idea. There is this part of the Bible that states that those in the ministry would receive more strokes in judgment. As a Christian, I already knew what it was like to have such responsibility. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t really like to be very much in the limelight, however, when we met, I was 100 per cent convinced that he was my husband. In fact, I wouldn’t have married an Anglican priest but because I was convinced beyond reasonable doubt, I accepted his proposal.
You talked about being 100 per cent sure before choosing a life partner. What are some of the signs to look out for?
One needs to be doubly sure. You know our God knows the end from the beginning; He knows everything. One needs to pray hard, and even when it’s not your wish, you must trust God for conviction. When we started, he was a priest earning less than N1,500 and I was a corper. However, today, we thank God. This August, we’ll be 23 years in the journey and when we look back over the years, we know that it has been God all the way.
You are the director of a school and you studied Early Childhood Education, for your second degree. With the stories of s3xual molestation of children and teenagers, how would you advise parents and teachers on the signs to look out for?
The first thing is that parents should befriend their children. When parents are close to their children, if anything happens, no matter the threat by the perpetrator, the child will eventually report to the parents. Also, maturity matters. Parents need to desist from rushing children through education, especially higher institutions. We see children aged 14 in universities. Maturity is important. I’ve written books on how parents can be close to their children. Parents also need to instill the fear of God in their children.
What age would you recommend as the earliest to start s3x education?
I would recommend upper primary, and even at that, in age-appropriate terms. The practice of telling children everything, as available in some education curriculums, where children are told about s3xual positions and masturbation, is wrong and will encourage children to practise these things. Age appropriate s3x education is very important.
As the president of the women’s organisation of Ajayi Crowther Diocese, how would you rate the support of women in the diocese?
The women have been most supportive, not just financially but spiritually as well. There is mutual respect and we have been working together for the growth of the diocese.
Activities for the women conference
The conference has as its theme, Arise and Shine. We started on Friday and it will end today at Emmanuel Anglican Church, Okaka, Itesiwaju Local Government Area, Oyo State.
From your experience, how would you advise those considering marrying clerics, or women who have just started the journey?
I would advise them to persevere, endure, be patient and embrace hard work. They need to understand that God’s plan for each person is unique. They need to see the ministry as joint effort and give their husbands full support. They should also be prayerful.
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