She’s the wife of The Right Reverend Ayo Awosoga, Bishop of Ijebu Anglican Diocese and President, Ijebu Diocesan Women’s Organisation. Mrs Florence Awosoga, in this interview by TOLUWANI OLAMITOKE, speaks on her activities, marriage and the role of the church in upholding moral values, both at home and the society at large.
Can you tell us what you have in common with your husband?
My late father was an Anglican cleric. In our home, everyone was taught and nurtured in the way of the Lord. We were taught to know, serve, please and live for God.
It’s said that behind every successful man is a woman. In what ways have you been helping your husband in carrying out his duties well?
Our marriage is a second one. I lost my husband who was also a clergyman in 2002 while my husband was also a widower. God brought us together in 2006 and we got married in 2007.
How did this happen?
God ministered to me that He was going to bring us together as husband and wife, but I didn’t like it.
My late husband was very loving and I didn’t want to be maltreated by any man because many men are not caring.
How did you get convinced at the end of the day?
I set a fleece before God like Gideon did in the Bible. I told Him if it was Him, He should make the proposal come within a week. And He did. My husband proposed to me within that time limit. That gave me the conviction God was into it. From that point on, I saw my marriage as ordained by God and a call to serve Him.
Didn’t God speak to him also?
He also spoke to him about it. In fact he didn’t make the proposal by words. God woke Him up in the middle of a particular night and told him what to write. He wrote all these down and sent it to me.
How would you describe your relationship in the early years of your marriage?
It was very rough. He was 57 while I was 53. We were two old people freely formed. What kept us together was that we were convinced that God meant us for each other and to carry on His work. I knew I wasn’t the only widow around when God chose me for him. I knew God had a purpose for our lives. As we got to know each other we let go some things and now we are friends.
What has changed about you since you got married?
I have learnt to be more patient.
How easy has it been carrying out your duties both at home and in the church?
I will say it has not been easy. As a born again Christian and leader in the body of Christ you are exposed to attack. And if you are not standing well in Christ, your family and all that pertain to you can be attacked. So I stand in the gap always for my husband, our family, his work, the diocese, among others so that the work of God will not suffer a setback. I also ensure that his mind is at rest at home so that he can always receive the word of God expressly and deliver this correctly to the congregation.
What are those things you have stopped doing?
I have reduced my going to the market.
Do you still cook?
I either prepare or supervise my husband’s meal. If I’m not cooking, I ensure whatever is made is satisfactory to him.
Is there something you miss doing?
Not really. I love to sing and I was a member of the choir but due to my tight schedule now it has been impossible to minister in songs.
Can you tell us one of those things you like about him?
He’s very humourous. He has a way of bringing humour into a situation or condition that is tense. You can’t have a dull moment with him.
In what ways have his ways rubbed off on you?
My husband has a large heart. He can give his last penny to support the needy, especially in the area of education. There is a relative of his who didn’t support his educational pursuit, even though he had the opportunity of doing so then. My husband overlooked all this and paid his son’s school fees. Again, people fetch water in our house as early as 5:00 am and as late as 11:00 pm. Since we have no gate I told my husband it was not safe having people fetching water that late. He replied, If it were to be Jesus,would He have stopped them from fetching?’ Among those who had been coming to fetch water was a boy who was in the tertiary institution. He was in need of money to pay his fees for the session. God gave us the grace to help him out.
It is observed that mothers no longer play the role of role models in the home and even in the church. What do you think is wrong and what is the church doing to address this?
We have brought the world into the church and the world is now dictating the pace. When a woman insists she can’t be under her husband’s authority, then there will be crisis in the home. A submissive woman will always gain her husband’s attention. He will also not fail to encourage and support her aspirations in attaining heights in her endeavours. The Mothers Union, a body in the Anglican Church is focused on maintaining stability in the home. Many programmes are organised and run by the church to encourage mothers to be virtuous and serve as role models, both in their homes and the society at large. We also have the ladies and girls’ guild where female youths are nurtured and molded in God’s ways to become godly wives and mothers. As a born-again Christian, it’s mandatory to obey and please God.
The youths are mostly victims of the infiltration of the church by the things of the world,what are you doing to help this group?
Some of the problems faced by the youths are created by some mothers. For example, if a mother exposes some parts of her body which are meant to be covered, what then do we expect of her children? About two or three years ago we introduced in the diocese ‘War Against Nakedness.’ This was meant to curb the act of indecent dressing among Christians. The trend now on the fashion scene is to see brides in wedding gowns called tube. This leaves the shoulders and upper part of the body bare while the busts are also exposed. In other to guard against such embarrassing scene, we decided to inspect wedding gowns before the wedding day. The church also has plain materials which are given to brides to cover up themselves as they enter the church when they refuse to comply with the rule to dress decently. If mothers are really concerned about the kind of person their children turn out to be, they will daily strive to inculcate in them the right values.
This is essential because these children are leaders of tomorrow and it is expected that their lives should influence the world around them positively. Unfortunately in some homes once a child becomes a graduate he or she is seen as a little god who can’t be corrected. While we were growing up, our parents corrected not only their children, but others around them. Again, the word of God is scarce in some homes. The book of Psalms chapter 119 verse 11 says ‘Thy words have I hid in my heart so that I may not sin against thee.’ When you learn, study and meditate on the word of God, you learn not to displease him. Quiet time, that is personal fellowship with God, should be emphasised on in the home. We have different programmes where youths are brought together. We share our experiences with them and take time to listen to them and counsel them. We also have different groups like the Anglican Youth Fellowship and Girls Guild. The Scripture Union is also very embracing. The Mothers Union cater for the girls. All these focus on the spiritual growth of the youths and other aspects of life.
How fashionable are you?
I don’t know, but I dress to please God. I believe you can dress nicely and not be in debt. According to the scriptures, your beauty should be from the inside and not outside, but that is not to say you should appear shabby in your looks.
How do you unwind?
We try to travel out of the country once a year.
You mentioned early on that you love to sing, do you have a favourite song?
‘Great is thy faithfulness, oh Lord my Father….’ That’s the testimony of my life. The world came literally to an end when I lost my first husband. But God came in and turned my life around and gave me a new song.