KUMUYI AND HIS NEW BRIDE
Like a thief in the night, the news crept in on us. Holiness preacher and General Superintendent of the Deeper Life Bible Church, Pastor William Folorunsho Kumuyi, had got married again, 18 months after his wife of 29 years, Abiodun, passed away. The deed was done at a quiet ceremony in London, the United Kingdom. The news elicited different kinds of emotions in different people. Most members of the Deeper Life Church, we are told, welcomed it with rapturous joy. At 69 (the man's age had erroneously been given as 71 by the newspaper that first published the report) the G. S (as he's fondly called) sure deserves a companion, a helpmeet and confidant. Yes, she may not replace the late Abiodun whose shoes seem too large to step into, but at least she would fill a vacuum in the man's life and home.
But then, the rumour mill also went abuzz. And I read all sorts of things on the Internet, some silly, others laughable. Kumuyi had married a divorcee. No, she was a widow. No, no, she was Abiodun's closest friend. And why must the preacher marry his late wife's friend. Why must he even marry again? Can't he hold his body, and why must he marry just 18 months after the passage of his wife? It means he must have been eyeing the woman, even while Abiodun was here. Blah, blah, and more blahs. A lot of the comments bordered on what the Good Book calls 'speaking evil of dignities.'
To douse speculations and clear the air, the secretary of the Deeper Life Bible Church, Pastor L. P. Nnadozie, had to issue a press statement. Yes, on October 13, 2010, in London, Kumuyi had married Ms Esther Folashade Aduke Blaize, 65. She was the Administrator of the church in London, had never been married before, and had committed her life to the full service of the Lord. Guests were entertained after the event at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, London. A video recorded of the wedding was later shown to members of the church round the country.
First, to the cynics and sceptics. Why can't Kumuyi marry again, if he chooses to? What law of God, or of man, has he broken? How many men can truly operate maximally without their wives, even at prime age, not to talk of at 69? He needs to go on a preaching trip, as Kumuyi has been doing so much lately, and he is the one to pack the bag himself. Oh, where are the socks, the ties, the shirts, toothbrush, tooth paste? Where is the second leg of this shoe, where is the belt?
The man would be in such jumble from packing, and half the message would have disappeared from his mind by the time he gets onto the altar. Or he allows devout and devoted women in the church to assist with all the chores, and the rumour mills are agog again. What was pastor doing in the room with that woman who was helping him to pack? Why must she be the one to cook his meals all the time, now she even washes his clothes? Is she not spending too much time with our pastor? And the innocent man is either exposed to risks or baseless suspicions. Getting a new wife seemed the best bet.
Oh, he married his late wife's best friend. So, he should have married her enemy? At 69, he should be playing the Romeo, wooing young damsels, and attending intending couples class, when the field is already white, waiting for harvest?
Can't he hold his body? Why must he marry just 18 months after Abiodun died? It is better to marry than to burn with passion, says the Good Book. But do you think a man burning with passion will go for a 65-year-old? Would you? While not being a member of Deeper Life Church, I sincerely believe conjugal passion must have been one of the least considerations in this union. If that was the reason, there were ladies in their 30s or 40s, who would gladly say 'I do.' And those who think Kumuyi could not 'hold his body' do not seem to know this fervent, almost ascetic preacher, who burst on the gospel scene in 1973 with Bible study meetings organised at his University of Lagos home, where he was a lecturer.
Those who started with Kumuyi said the man never really intended to marry. And he said as much to his hearers. When he eventually married Abiodun in 1980, at a time he was already knocking hard at 40 (he was 39, actually) he had to do a lot of explaining to his flock. He articulated it this way in the book Deeper Life, written by Alan Isaacson:
'On the issue of marriage, all the things said about us were true. I read much of John Wesley who had a bad marital life. I also read Charles Finney, and a lot of others. So I would teach that marriage was acceptable, but that they would have difficulties, and it would limit their time. We wanted the evangelism to go on, and Jesus could return at any time. But even before I get married, we were piping down, because I saw that more adults were coming to the Bible study… things changed over the years, because of increasing maturity. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, but now that I am an adult…'
The press statement by the church secretary said members and leaders were the ones who led a delegation to Kumuyi, and prevailed on him to marry again. It was a good move, but I believe the final decision still rested with the preacher. And he took it. Those saying and writing those funny things, particularly on the Internet, do not seem to realise that the man has his right, even though he preaches self-abnegation with a passion.
To marry again or not was his decision to take, and he has taken it. Finito. No one is hurt, no law is broken, whether human or divine.
Madam Aduke Blaize has blazed into Kumuyi's life at 65. I'm sure she never in her wildest dreams gave marriage a thought again. As a teenager, yes. In her 20s, 30s, even up till her 40s. But at 65? 'At seventeen years many their fortunes seek, but at fourscore it is too late a week' (Shakespeare). The lesson is that with God, it is never over till it's over. At 65, Aduke is now a married woman. Can you beat that?
Another lesson. When we want something so passionately, and God does not seem to be moving at the pace we desire, we chart or own course, help God to do it by our own means, or we go completely away from Him. Not Aduke. Like Elizabeth and Zechariah of old, though without their own biological child, they continued serving the Lord faithfully, till God gave them a baby who became the forerunner of Jesus Christ. Even when what you desire seems to tarry, wait for it. (Am I sounding like a preacher? Please bear with me).
I may not need to say this to the new bride, who is really quite mature spiritually and physically. But let me say it all the same. Don't struggle with Abiodun Kumuyi's shadows. She was a larger than life woman. She finished her course, and has gone to her reward. Her footprints will always be there, so don't try to obliterate them, or compete unnecessarily. Former Information Minister, Sir (Chief) Alex Akinyele adored Yvonne, his first wife. In fact, he called her a god, whom he worshipped. Yvonne died, and Akinyele married the Indian, Lady Maria. And the latter began to compete with Yvonne's memory. It was one of the reasons the marriage did not work. I know Madam Aduke would know better than behave like Lady Maria.
A lesson the Deeper Life Bible Church must learn from all this. In information management, it is better to be proactive than to be reactive. All the rumours and petty gossips would have been avoided, if a press statement had been issued before the wedding, introducing the bride to the public. They wouldn't then have to do any damage control as we've seen. Walk the old path by all means (it's safe) but open up a bit, as this is the 21st century.
I know it's past the manner of women for the new bride. But it was also same for Sarah, who had Isaac at 90. Jerry and John, Kumuyi's sons by Abiodun, would really not mind a biological sister. Miracles still happen, or don't you think? We won't complain if God does it again.