MY WIFE WAS SHOWN HEAVEN BEFORE SHE DIED – REV IKE
•Rev Ike and wife Beatrice
Late Madam Beatrice Nkechinyere Ike until her death, was the wife of Rev. Rowland Ike of Christ for All Mission, Oke Afa, Isolo.
The death of this great personality meant a great loss not just to the family or his congregation, but to the Christian community.
Madam Rowland Ike was born on May 24, 1954 in Obiohia-Mbaise in Imo State. Bishop Ike met Mama Ike in 1969 as the Nigerian Civil War was coming to an end through his elder sister. He was not comfortable with the idea of marrying from the village and had planned to marry a 'Lagos girl'.
However, his siblings as well as his mother were very much against the choice of a Lagos girl he had and consequently he gave up the idea. But here was this beautiful, well-trained home girl who by all standards had all the qualities of a good wife. Unfortunately, it was quite difficult for him; a young captain of the Biafran army tying the nuptial knot with the choice he had.
He got the greatest shock of his life when his elder sister said to him 'Rowland, if you want to marry a woman, you can go ahead and pick one from Lagos. But if you want to marry a wife, this girl here is ideal for you'. He left grudgingly only to spend the next three days thinking about the weighty things he was told. He was later to go back and ask for the meaning of that statement. He was told that a wife is one who listens to instructions and stands by her man through thick and thin. On the other hand, a woman is one who could give you all the fleshly pleasures you require of a woman, but is incapable of standing by her man when needed most.
The result? He married her in 1970, and began a journey that was to last nearly 40 years of happy family life. It however, was not an entirely rosy affair as the reverend had exhibited a lot of youthful exuberance that he paid dearly for. Mrs Ike entered into matrimony with all the humility and love she grew with, but for every little mistake, she landed into trouble with her husband. Then, he drank, smoked and fought on the streets. Not long after, she was sent packing and told never to return.
She cried home and the young reverend went into ministry. For six years, God taught him how to serve Him, reproaching him for holding on to the vices that stood between him and a happy family, and of course a successful ministry. At the end, he realized he was not living up to the promises he made to God during the war, to serve Him wholly if he survived the war. He finally came to his senses and remorsefully returned to mama to beg for forgiveness. He said to her:
'My wife, please forgive me for the wrongs I've done to you and my children. Come back and be my wife'. The humble lady, surprised asked 'Wrongs? What did you do to me? Anyway, I hold nothing against you as I have been praying for God's divine wisdom to guide you'. And so they returned to build up the happy family of Reverend Rowland Ike and the ministry of Christ for All Mission.
The years abroad
Later in the 70s in the course of his ministry, Rev Ike got a scholarship to further his studies as a minister of God abroad. During those years in Canada,( six in all), mama Ike would carry on as if her husband was around. She nurtured the children, fed them and paid for their education. But above all, she held on to the ministry, even though the task was too much for her to bear. As a result, other ministers under her husband played the pranks that wrested the ministry from her hands.
Night after night, she would cry because of his absence from the house. She was alone, and telephone communication were not then as advanced as they are today. What it meant was that whenever she would talk to him, she must visit a call-centre at a specific time of the day and ring him up. Luckily, they were getting frequently paid from his scholarship grants so things were not too difficult. She catered the family as the hen does for her chicks.
Mama Ike was more than a mother. She took everybody in, including people from diverse backgrounds, tribes and nations. As a result, it was difficult to tell the difference between the children of the Ikes and others whom God gave them to care for, through the church. Reverend Ike has this to say about that: 'In fact, I think am going to take her cooking pot to the village during her burial. I want people to see how much she cared for everybody. She cooked soup with over N10, 000 and it lasted just for about three days. Everybody is a member of the family. She didn't discriminate'.
According to her loving husband, 'Her memory will forever be fresh within me. I remember when I took her on a tour to US, Canada, UK and other countries. While we were in the hotel one day, she just began to cry'. He asked her what the problem was and she responded that she was most grateful to him for that tour. She had never, in her wildest dreams thought she would travel around the world. But God had given her a most wonderful man to take her on the trips.
At another time she had called him one morning and asked what it was that changed him from a fighter, drunkerd and smoker into a complete gentleman. He laughed and said, 'Why do you want to know?' 'I know you, and I want to follow whoever made you who you are today'. He responded that it was Jesus and that he had actually noticed a very profound improvement in her devotion to God. Although a pastor who preaches to people daily to change, the visible change of his own wife due to his testimony was memorable to him.
Reverend Ike will also never forget her last words to him. He had just returned from a journey to Port Harcourt to meet her in the hospital. Then, he did not know that was her final journey. She had asked, 'Is there reincarnation?'
'But you know there is no such thing', he responded. She waited a moment then said, ' If there is, I will come back to your family to be your wife over and over again', . He had asked her not to talk in that manner, not knowing she had already foreseen her death.
'My joy is that she saw heaven even before she died', declared Rev Ike in an interview with Sunday Sun. 'They said that she had gone into a trance in the hospital and they had to wake her up after staying too long. But she was furious with them for waking her up'. She asked: 'Why in the name of God did you have to wake me up, to drag me away from heaven?' She had described a wonderful city where she was before she was woken up, and had refused to eat or do anything else. She kept expressing regret for being dragged out of that dream.
Mother Rowland Ike, who will be laid to rest on February 27, 2010 will forever live in the hearts of everyone she impacted, including her children, husband, grandchildren, members of Christ for All Mission, Oke Afa, Isolo , friends, relatives and well-wishers.
She is survived by her husband, seven children, grandchildren and relatives.