Pastor (Mrs) Mayowa Ikuforiji is the wife of the speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji. She is a pastor while her husband is a Muslim and they have been together for 30 years. In this interview, she speaks on how their marriage has survived through the decades.
As a Pastor who has been married to a Muslim for 30 years, what would you say is the secret of your harmonious union?
It is the grace of God and I think we basically worship the same God. Iâ€™m a pastor and very serious about my religion; he is a Muslim and heâ€™s also very serious about Islam.
We love and understand each other and there was a sort of agreement that he would allow me practice my religion. There arenâ€™t any problems regarding religion. In fact, at times he prays with me; he is very conversant with the Bible. He can quote from Genesis to Revelation. So, it is easier for him to tolerate my religion. If he had been a Muslim who doesnâ€™t know much about the Bible, it could have been difficult. But he understands the Bible very well.
He doesnâ€™t joke with prayer and he allows me to practice mine. Sometimes he would take me to church and come back to pick me. So, religion has never been an issue in our home. We got married at Saint Paul Anglican Church and had a court wedding too.
Was there opposition to your union from either of your families?
When we met he had just come from abroad and he believes if you love someone, regardless of their religion, you are bound to understand each other. I thought his people might complain but they were very friendly, warm and they did not mind that he was bringing a Christian lady home.
In fact, it was my father that had some reservations. He said, â€œmy daughter, for three generations no one in our family has married a Muslim; do you really want to marry a Muslim? I give you six months to think about it and come back and tell me your mind.â€
After six months, I went back to him and told him that I still wanted to marry my husband and he gave his approval.
What were those qualities that attracted you to him?
I first met him during my graduation ceremony. He came with my friendâ€™s fiancÃ©. I really didnâ€™t notice him then until we met again at my friendâ€™s wedding. I was the chief bridesmaid and I noticed he was all over the place making sure that the whole ceremony went well. He was very popular, jovial and willing to assist.
He drove all of us from Oyo to Ire because the wedding took place in Ire. Also, I forgot the dress I was supposed to wear to church for thanksgiving the day after the wedding. So, he helped wash the top of the wrapper I wore at the reception at night so it would get dry before Sunday morning. Most men at that time wouldnâ€™t do that.
I saw that he was very caring and wants you to be happy. If he sees someone sad, he tries as much as possible to make them happy and he believes he can solve everyoneâ€™s problem. He also has the fear of God in him. There are certain things he will never do. We have been married for 30 years now and he has never touched alcohol, not even wine.
Â Was there any hint he would eventually go into politics when you first met?
None at all. He was working in a bank then. I just wanted to be with him and he wanted to be with me too. We were both too young anyway to start projecting about the future; it was just God that made it work out fine. We are just two people in love with each other and we felt we could make it work. Never thought he was going to be a speaker.
Were you apprehensive when he eventually ventured into politics?
You know people believe that politicians donâ€™t have integrity and that they are there to make money for themselves. So, I told him that â€œIf you go into politics, youâ€™ll be given a new name that isnâ€™t yours.â€
He said his life had always been that of service and he believes that when he is into politics, he would be able to touch more lives. I believe that when you commit any journey into the hands of God there wonâ€™t be any problems. I told him that he had my support. God has been there for him too.
What religion do your kids practice?
My son is inclined to Islam. The first time he was in Saudi Arabia, he went with some prayer requests and he said if God answers him, heâ€™d keep going with his father. To my amazement, he said all his prayer requests were answered. He has been a Muslim since then.
For the girls, maybe because they are close to me, they are more into Christianity, though they donâ€™t go to my church. They are all grown up and we allow them to make up their own minds.
When did you get the revelation to become a pastor?
You donâ€™t get a revelation to become a pastor; it is your work in the Lordâ€™s vineyard that determines that. Before you can be ordained, there are certain things that God would have revealed to you and are confirmed by others. Those things would show you are qualified to be a pastor. The work you do for God is important as well as how close you are to God; these come into play before you are considered to be a pastor. I became a pastor five years ago.
How do you balance home and church activities?
There is no conflict at all. I know that I have to be in church by 7:30 in the morning for ministerâ€™s conference. I have to be in church midweek for Bible Study, Miracle Hour, etc. I donâ€™t let anything disturb me from the work of God but I also take care of my home; I take care of my husband.
Â You have four grown-up kids but you donâ€™t look it at all. What is the secret?
I think it is the grace of God. I also make sure that I donâ€™t just put anything in my mouth. I purposely learnt about nutrition. Also, fasting is second nature to me. I see fasting like a sort of detoxification. I also know the things I am supposed to eat and those to avoid. It takes a lot of discipline, but once you get used to it, it becomes very easy. I also exercise a lot; I drink a lot of water too. Some people would exercise and right after youâ€™ll see a bowl of eba in their front. When I turned 50, I also cut down on certain things and do more exercise. I turned 51 in October this year.
Culled from LEADERSHIP Weekend