By Lamela Umaru Lakorok
There are three key benefits of missionary activities in Nigeria from over 100 years ago. Christianity, which enlightened the paths of those walking in darkness and advocated for love over hate of the neighbor. Education, which elevated our understanding of life and its complexities and how to improve our quality of life. Modern healthcare system, which saved lives and increased our awareness of the intricate nature of our bodies and how to take care of them. If you look around your neighborhood in Tangale land, you will see things that we could not imagine their existence 100 years ago. These benefits were not brought to Tangale and Nigeria by the British colonialists or any other foreigners but Christian missionaries. They provided these services to all without regard to tribe or religion.
It is in that vein that we pay tribute to the late Rev. Onesimus Simon Maikenti, a man whose life was transformed by the gospel brought by missionaries to the Tangale hills. While this is not meant to be a biography of the man, a look at some of his accomplishments reveals how much his life has changed the course and destiny of many people through his preaching, teaching, counseling, mentoring, and leadership in the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA). The gospel message he carried is that God so loved humanity that He intervened in our frailties by sending Jesus Christ, the Messiah to die on our behalf so we can have eternal fellowship with God (John 3:16). Baba now tells those behind that he has finished the race, he has fought the good fight, he has kept the faith. Now he awaits our reunion and his crown of righteousness on the last day (2 Tim 4:7-8).
This Saturday, the church in Tangale will commit his body to the ground and say farewell to a man who is well- known beyond its borders. No doubt, at his funeral will be people from many tribes of Nigeria and people of all faiths and religious affiliations. There will be people with altruistic motives and those with less than commendable interests at the funeral. There will be politicians who elevate themselves as some benefactors of the society. The same politicians who have targeted the peace and wellbeing of the Tangale people, a people for whom the late Baba dedicated his life to saving and serving. We are aware of their strategies and tactics. This caution is necessary because we know that devious politicians have been making efforts to provoke our people and will not hesitate to find more reasons to arrest our youth. We simply ask that this funeral be about the late Rev. Maikenti and his family.
We call on the Tangale people of all creeds to reject anyone who seeks to take advantage of this solemn, religious event to speak about their personal political interests. The funeral of the late Rev. O.S Maikenti should never be anything but a sacred, religious event where his message to Tangale people and humanity is restated and made clear to those in attendance. We are thankful for the ECWA and Tangale DCC leadership who focus on proclaiming the gospel truth. We give our profound condolences to the Maikenti family and ask that God comforts them by His Spirit.
The Holy Scriptures assure us that those who die in the Lord will experience His eternal presence forever. “But those who die in the LORD will live; their bodies will rise again! Those who sleep in the earth will rise up and sing for joy! For your life-giving light will fall like dew on your people in the place of the dead!” (Isaiah 26:9, NLT). Rest in Peace, baba!
Lamela Umaru is the General Secretary of Tangale Community Overseas (TCO)