God moves in a mysterious way…

This is not a sermon or preaching of any sort. I leave that to those who are trained to do it. It is only an expression of amazement at the way the choice of a new bishop for Owerri pleasantly turned out against all expectations. It is indeed mystery that the dark horse is our new bishop in Owerri. The election is signed and sealed. It is unchallengeable.
When the news broke, everybody was happy but asking, who is he, from where, how come? It was beyond everybody’s comprehension. The news was by no means a shock. It rather came like a soothing breeze among people of the Diocese. I felt that way, and all the people I discussed the development with did too.
I said to myself, pray, can’t our next governor in Imo come the same way? Let the governor be the most unlikely person, a dark horse as it were who can of course do the job.
The hand of God must be in this one. People of the Diocese waited with bated breath since June to hear who it would be. Speculations were rife that it would surely be one of the big shots among the priests. But God disposed the matter in a way nobody could have imagined. Chukwuma Opara emerged.
Bishop-elect Chukwuma Opara comes from Amankuta-Mbieri, one of the smallest villages in Mbieri. His birth as bishop was in a manger. Not that those who failed to make it were not or less qualified, but because the new bishop had to be lifted from the lowliest, and it had to be a most un-assuming candidate nobody knew. I don’t know how it happened and even how it was possible in these man-know-man or nothing days. In his first reaction to his election, Opara was quoted as saying, “I did not expect it,” which means he did not campaign or lobby for it. I believe it.
A brief reference to the bible on how God moves in a mysterious way in things like this: When Jesus was born, King Herod gave an existing order to kill all the children born to Jewish families. Where he was born in the manger among cattle was the most porous place for his security and communicable diseases. The place was dirty and dangerous to his life in all respects. But the Ruler of heaven and earth would rather provide safety for his Son in a place where there was absolutely none. When Jesus and his mother were refugees in Egypt, the child was protected in what we all can regard as dangerous circumstances and environment. But God could have put him in a palatial environment barricaded with live barbwire and burglary proof and surrounded by fierce-looking soldiers from heaven. God protected him within easy reach of those who had openly vowed to kill him. There, where he was very unsafe in the ordinary eyes of people, he was perfectly safe.
Moses was born in the same circumstance when there was a law to kill all males born to Jewish families. The order was most fearfully effective then. Moses’ mother, a most vulnerable and weak person, resolutely decided to save the baby. Her own life was at risk.
All through his life Moses was protected in the bosom of danger by God. Imagine a baby at the bank of the river, exposed to cold, mosquitoes, insect bites, snakes, crocodiles, man-eating fishes and animals, drowning.  He was to be handed over to the king’s daughter when she came to have her bath. Why was that idea thought of at all? No sane human being would have contemplated that for her child born in hard labor.  Yet God planned to preserve him in Pharaoh’s own house, the very man who gave the order to have all Jewish male children slaughtered at birth.
What’s the big idea? The evil man had the Divine duty to raise the son of God that he decreed to be killed. His daughter would be the foster mother, the mother figure in his life. Pharaoh himself, the bitterest enemy and murderer would be the father figure.
In his subsequent leader-role, Moses would have been the last to be considered, coming as an adopted child from the household of the enemy-king that supervised the decimation and enslavement of the Jews. Who knew the indoctrination he must have received there and who he would be working for? He could have received the orientation to be a spy for Pharaoh. The Israelis had reason not to trust him to be their leader. Against all expected obstacles, and being an unknown quantity and likely a security risk, Moses still emerged and was used.
In like manner, nobody will dispute that bishop-elect Chukwuma Opara was obscure, maybe inexperienced.
The places where he worked were obscure. Situations and circumstances that would have highlighted him did not exist.  If Alvan had become a university, it would have helped in that regard. Was he deliberately suppressed all this time? He was picked from a remote-lying church at Ogwa by people who did not apparently know him in far away Minna where the election was held.
I wonder who it was his lot to have nominated him. Such a person could have been an instrument of God for that purpose. It would be interesting to know how his name came up in the list; how he was nominated.  The election seemed easy in coming. It took everybody unawares. It defied all impediments that could have been in Chukwuma’s way to becoming a bishop. Were his capacity, energy, competence and stamina all questioned, and he scaled through all? Amazing!
It appears he suffered the fate of exceptional talents and stars of Nigeria that Nigeria does not star. They are discouraged and sidelined by those in charge who feel threatened in their presence. He carried himself in quiet dignity for years until God lifted him up, like the first bishop of the Diocese, late Archbishop Benjamin Nwankiti.
Mrs. Chidiebere, the new bishop’s wife does not look any less humble and modest. She serves quietly in also remote-lying PolyNekede, a non-church institution. It was remarkable as reported in Christian Voice that she served as Vice President in the Women’s Ministries. The new bishop’s wife, was in no position to have influenced anything leading to her husband’s extraordinary elevation. She could never have been. This makes the thing all the more mysterious.
The emergence of the new bishop is a great lesson in the way God intervenes in the affairs of men. As Bishop Chukwuma gets ready to land his prodigious steps on the apex of leadership in the Diocese of Owerri, his amazing modest and humble disposition will be a powerful message which teaches that it pays to adopt those virtues. This is more so among the priests whose boss he will be in the next two decades.
1. God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform,
He plants his footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm
3. Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread,
Are so big with mercy and shall break –
In blessings on your head
4. Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust him for his grace,
Behind a frowning providence,
He hides a smiling face.
……….William Cowper in Hymn A & M 181

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