A Review by the Ven. Prof Uche C. Isiugo-Abanihe
The book comprises the Biography and Memoirs of the Most Rev. Dr Caleb Maduoma, and is compiled and edited by their second daughter, Ngozi Onyinyechi Adighibe, a graduate of the University of Ibadan. It is published by EVERBRIGHTER Communications, a publishing company founded by the same Mrs Ngozi Adighibe.
The book has 346 pages, out of which 33 pages are pictures that tell myriads of animated stories about the man and his mission. The book is written in a lucid free-flowing absorbing style and makes a very fascinating reading. I spotted a few errors: on page 123 …started his bishopric in 1999 not 2009; on page 233… he is the first son of Ideato to be Archbishop, not Bishop.
The book has two distinct sections. Section I, pp. 3-139, is the Biography of the man Caleb. Section II, pp. 140-327, consists of recollections on the life of the Archbishop and his wife through the eyes of other people.
The aim of the book is to narrate the life and times of Archbishop Caleb Maduoma, and to underscore the hand of God in his life through which his records of hard work, struggles, perseverance, impact and achievements can be understood.
Let me first make some observations on the physical book and its title. The cover of the book adorns the picture of the Archbishop, smiling; and beside or behind him is his wife, Nnechinemere, Onyinyechi Maduoma, also smiling.
For me, this succinctly summarizes the content of the book: ‘Behind or Beside any successful man of God is a woman.’ However, it is God Who, in His infinite wisdom, identifies and matches the man and the woman and predestined them for greatness.
God said to Jeremiah “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations” Jeremiah 1:5.
In John 1:47 – When Philip brought Nathanael to Jesus, Jesus declared “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whim is no deceit.’ Nathanael wondered how Jesus knew about him when he had not met Him before. And Jesus replied in verse 48: ‘Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you’
This profound! Our God is sovereign and has perfect knowledge. He knew Caleb from birth and saw and followed him in all his wonderings as detailed in the book. He worked behind the scene to direct the footsteps, thoughts and actions of the man we celebrate today.
Hence Apostle Paul avers in Romans 8:28-30:
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son… Moreover, whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.’
To be sure, God foreknew the man Caleb and destined him for greatness, a willing instrument in His hand. He was well thought through by God; He was not an accident; God made him to specification; a unique person, a unique edition. God made the man Caleb for His glory!! Hence, the title of the book is apt.
Now let us go to the inside of the Book.
Part I of the book is the Biography of Archbishop Maduoma put together by the author through painstaking in-depth interviews, the in-depth interviewee being the Archbishop himself. She also collected supplementary information from significant others to fill some gaps and for consistency.
Chapter 1, on Archbishop Maduoma’s childhood, narrates his story from birth, and provides a lucid account of circumstances of his birth, his naming, family background, and his schooling in Enugu under the tutelage of his uncle Christopher, having lost his father early in his life. After his primary school in 1963, he enrolled in a Vocational School in 1964 and took advantage of the Police Regional Workshop within the school to acquire different skills. Even though vocational school was not his preference, he excelled in his training in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, carpentry and in the engine room and got his driving license at age 17.
Chapter 2 dwells on his near-death experiences during the Biafra War, 1967-1970. With multiple injuries from Ikang to Ikot Ekpene and to Abagana sectors of the war, he was miraculously healed. With each war injury, he renewed his vow to God that if he survived the war, and without any deformity, he would serve the Lord all his life. The rest is now history.
Chapter 3 is an expose on Caleb’s life after the war and the beginning of his Christian growth. His daring return to Enugu just two day after the end of the war saw his re-absorption at the Regional Police Workshop. Being very keen in things of God, he joined the Scripture Union (SU), became a member of the choir of Christ Anglican Church, Uwani in fulfillment of his promise to serve God if He preserved him throughout the war without any amputations.
In Chapter 4 we read the account of his resignation from the Police because he was denied participation in a Christmas concert at Christ Church, Uwani, and his subsequent decision to move to Lagos with one of his uncles. At Lagos, he joined St Stephen’s Church, Igbobi, where he worshiped and served from 1971-1977. He got a job with WAEC, and though favor with God and man, he prospered at WAEC and moved from being a Driver to a Clerical Officer on whom confidential documents were entrusted. Before that, he got a job as a Sales Rep, but had to quit in spite of its perquisites because of the corruption tendencies of the profession. Although he had a very exciting and fulfilled career at WAEC, perhaps the best thing that happened to him there was his encounter with a lady which proves that God works behind the scene to direct our ways and actions. The Lord used a lady who spotted JESUS SAVES on Caleb’s shirt to direct him to the Youth For Christ Fellowship where he blossomed as a Christian and eventually became the President of the Fellowship.
Chapter 5 is the account of Caleb’s Journey to Ministry. Caleb entered the Priesthood by public acclamation! He had not quite made up his mind to go into full-time ministry, but when an announcement was made at St Stephen’s Church, Igbobi, for a nomination to Immanuel College of Theology, Ibadan, the church erupted, ‘Send Caleb’. He indeed left an indelible mark in the minds of the congregation through his humble and selfless services as a chorister, Cross bearer and youth leader. His smooth sail through the pastoral selection processes and his outstanding studentship at Immanuel College prove that he had the favor and approval of God in entering full-time priesthood.
Chapter 6 is titled Relationship, Courtship and Marriage. A popular book we read in Secondary School opened with, ‘It is a truth universally acknowledged that a young man in possession of good fortune must be in want of a wife.’ This was true of Ordinand Caleb as he was about to complete his pastoral training at Immanuel College of Theology, and looking forward to ordination. It was more imperative for him because he had to carefully identify a woman who would be his help meet in full-time ministry as a Pastor in the Anglican Church. After two abortive attempts, the lot fell on the then Miss Onyinyechi Okoro in a rather mysterious manner. How else can one explain the scenario: Ordinand Caleb and other students of Immanuel College of Theology were travelling to Trinity College, Umuahia sometime in 1979 for the Theological Students Conference. The luxurious bus they were travelling in stopped over in Benin City to drop some passengers; Celeb innocuously sited a lady standing by the road side, ‘a very tiny girl, who looked fragile and frightened’; strangely someone excused herself to have a seat beside him; Lo and behold! It was the same girl he had sited outside!! God caused Onyinyechi to join the bus in Benin, and made her sit beside Caleb, who was looking for a wife. The conversation that ensured eventually led to the courtship that matured in their marriage on January 30, 1982.
Chapter 7 on Life in the Ministry is understandably the most detailed. He started his ministry at the war-beaten St Peter’s Anglican Church, Olodi, Apapa, which he pastored from1980-1982, and made tremendous impact there as a gifted pastor and manager of men and resources. His relationship with members of St Peter’s and his effectiveness as a pastor were such that when he was transferred to the Cathedral both the congregation and the pastor and his wife wept because of the fellowship and cordiality they had established there. From the Cathedral, 1982-1986, he was transferred to Bishop Tugwell Memorial Church where he served for three years, then to All Saints’ Church Surulere, where he ministered for ten years, and finally to St Stephen Church, Igbobi, where he spent about one year before he was elected Bishop. Incidentally, this was the same Church he joined when he first came to Lagos in 1971 and from where he went to the Seminary. In all these churches, he left behind an indelible impression in the minds of his congregation and greatly advanced the spiritual and physical wellbeing of the churches and their members. The congregations loved him, so much that some ‘mystery sponsors’ undertook to pay his tuition to the University of Ibadan from 1983 to 1987, courtesy of the goodly Provost, The Very Rev Sope Johnson who arranged it out of his love for the young and focused Pastor Caleb.
The Rev. Canon Caleb A. Maduoma held many appointments in Lagos Diocese. He was the Assistant Synod Secretary (1989-1997), Secretary Ebute-Metta Archdeaconry Board (1989-1999), Lecturer in Church History and New Testament at Lagos Anglican Diocesan Seminary (1993-1999), Provincial Clerical Synod Secretary for Church of Nigeria (1992-1996), and Head of Ecumenical and State Affairs Department in the Church of Nigeria, Secretariat, Lagos. For an Igbo man to be so decorated in Lagos was providential, as well as an eloquent testimony of the quality that was found in the man. Indeed, at every point in his ministry and assignments, God worked out His purpose in his life, and caused him to give credible account of his stewardship.
Chapter 8 delves into his Election and Consecration as a Bishop. The Hymn writer, William Cowper, wrote: ‘God moves in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform…’ His election as Bishop was unexpected, and happened at a time there was some misunderstanding in his ministry. It was also preordained that the first church he joined on his arrival in Lagos in 1971, the church where he served as a chorister, cross bearer and youth leader, was the last church he pastored, and from where he was elected Bishop. Little wonder the outpouring of goodwill, favor and giving at his Consecration at Enugu and Enthronement at Ezeoke Nsu, from the church and indeed all the other churches in Lagos that he pastored. Friends from some of these churches remained his benefactors at both Okigwe South and Ideato Dioceses. Once again, Christ Church, Uwani, where he was consecrated was the same church he was a Chorister in 1970. It was his denial of permission to perform at the Christmas Carol in this Church that made him resign from Police Training and subsequently migrated to Lagos.
His five years as the pioneer Bishop of the Diocese of Okigwe South was challenging but fulfilling in many ways. He brought his administrative prowess to bear by setting up structures and groups for the proper running of the Diocese. He completed and dedicated the Cathedral of St Paul Ezeoke and renovated the Bishops court to an acceptable standard. Pages 123-124 have the list of his achievements in Okigwe South.
Chapter 9 focused on the Bishop’s translation to the See of Ideato at the retirement of the pioneer Bishop, Rt. Rev Godson C. Echefu, and his ministry there over the past 16 years. At his enthronement service on August 7, 2004, he pledged “to encourage the faithful in the work of evangelism; to restore the lost and build up the body of Christ; to reconcile broken relationships and promote love, peace and unity; that when the Chief Shepherd shall appear we shall be found rapturable.” By the thrust of that mission statement, the Bishop hit the ground running, harnessing the enormous potentials he met on the ground and initiating new programmes. Above all, the spiritual deepening that took place in the Diocese during the period was remarkable, as evident in the large number of priests he ordained, preferred and sponsored for further studies; massive church expansion; reconciliation and re-composition of the Council of Knights; revamping of youth organizations, including EFAC, AYF and ACM; as well as Men’s and Women’s organizations. A long list of the Bishop’s achievements in the Diocese is provided in pages 124-129, not the least of which is the acquisition of vast acres of land in 2017 at Aro-Ndizuogu for the Diocesan Church Center, which is functional today.
Chapter 10 discusses the Bishop’s elevation to the post of Archbishop which happened on January 12, 2013 at the Cathedral Church of St Peter’s Asaba. By this landmark event, the Most Rev Caleb Maduoma became the second Archbishop of the Ecclesiastical Province of Owerri for almost 8 years, after the 10-year two-term tenure of the Most Rev Dr Bennett C. Okoro. As the Provincial Archbishop, he worked well with the other Bishops, most of whom saw a father figure in him. He effectively represented the Province and the Diocese within Church of Nigeria and maintained a good relationship with the Primate.
Chapter 11 is titled Treasured Achievement in Ministry, which is that more than 50 parishioners of his in the five churches he pastored in Lagos are now in the ordained ministry. Apart from the call of God on them, the exemplary mentorship they received from their Vicar then, his commitment in following-up his parishioners, and his transparency and integrity in mission work, provided both encouragement and inspiration to be like him. Indeed, this is the example of Apostle Paul who attracted a large followership of ‘fellow-workers’ who continued in the ministry after him.
Chapter 12 provides a long list of Landmark Achievements by the Most Rev Dr Caleb Maduoma and his wife Mrs Onyinyechi Maduoma both at Okigwe South and Ideato Dioceses. Sixty-nine items are listed but I am sure there are more because in the past month or so there has been a number of events in the Diocese which could not have been recorded in this book.
Chapters 13 and 14 contain Archbishop Maduoma’s final Charge as Bishop and Archbishop and the list of his Synod themes in the two Dioceses of his Bishopric. The synopsis of his final charge is for Christians or the Church to realize that Life is full of wars to be fought: spiritual, physical, psychological, economic, social, etc. There are obvious dangers and challenges which the man of God must confront boldly and face to face. They are planted by our adversary to frighten us and to scare the man of God away, or to militate against us to achieving the expected goal. But as Apostle Paul charged his son Timothy, the Archbishop charges us not to be distracted, but to remain steadfast and dogged in the face problems and challenges, and to Fight the good fight of faith… (I Tim 6:12). …looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith (Heb. 12:2). Needless to say, this is the secret of the success in life and ministry of our Bishop and Archbishop Caleb Alagbaoso Sunday Anaezionwuonyeogaegbu Maduoma.
Part II: I will now summarize Part II of the Book, which I simply title, the Man Caleb in the eyes of significant others. I will do this in a few words because virtually all the submissions eulogize the man in almost the same words and phrases. It therefore becomes boring taking the entries one after the other. I will briefly summarize the narratives in the groups they are presented.
The first group comprises his immediate family, led by his wife for 38 years, Mrs Onyinyechi Maduoma, followed by their 8 children. She describes her husband as a wonderful and loving man; accommodating, forgiving, broad-minded and a man with a large heart; who abhors division and divisiveness and who hates to see people suffer or shed tears.
The children see in him an exemplary and loving father; courageous, humble, kind, ever-punctual, God-fearing, hard-working; a rare breed, a gentle giant; a mentor per excellence, a father with sparkling qualities, who inculcated right values in the children; a loving disciplinarian!. In their view, he perfectly fits Paul’s specifications of a Bishop in I Tim 3:1-7 – ‘blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behaviour, hospitable, able to teach, not quarrelsome, not covetous, one who rules his own home well, having his children in submission with all reverence…’
His Extended family members – from the older to younger generations, all poured out their hearts on the kind of brother or Dee they are privileged to have. He is described as a highly respected man, who sought the good of all; a man of his word, who works tirelessly to actualize his ambitions, a man who does not discriminate, and considers everyone to be somebody; a servant of God, dedicated to the call; a faithful, humble, obedient and sacrificial labourer; a man full of wisdom and knowledge; who loves his work as a God’s servant and also commits his life, time and money to it.
His in-laws are blessed to have him and Mama Ideato as their in-laws. They made superlative statements about their relationships, and described them as the best parents-in-law to have! They made their in-laws comfortable, put no burdens on them, made sacrifices for their wellbeing, and always prayed for them and put them on the right tract in their walk with the Lord.
His Close friend, retired Bishop of Mbaise, the Rt. Rev Bright Ogu, described Archbishop Caleb A. Maduoma as ‘one of our dynamic inspirators with Christian virtues… He was highly endowed to achieve his divine potentials in academic, religion and societal relationship… At Immanuel College, he proved his worth in academics, spiritual character and learning. As a sportsman, he captained a winning House – Anderson House – to capture the Principal’s Trophy.’
Another close friend well back from All Saints Church Yaba, Ven Okoronkwo, described the Most Rev Maduoma as a man of his own words, who brings families together, a man of peace, who, during his tenure at All Saints’ Church, Surulere, made the Church a happy place because everyone did things together as a people, contrary to the divineness that prevailed before him.
His brother Bishops, including the former Primate, Most Rev Nicholas Okoh, poured encomium on him as the ultimate Bishop; fatherly, friendly, forthright, detribalized, mature and with enviable Christian principles, a quintessential personage in all ramifications. In the words of the Primate, ‘He is a man with conviction. Whatever he is convinced about, it is difficult to dissuade him… He would prefer to follow the leading of his spirit, the Spirit of God in him. In the East, he has been the stabilizing voice, because some of our Bishops there can be very tough. So, his voice appeared to be the balancing voice, present to douse tense situations and to give wise counsel. I think that the Church and the Church of Nigeria will miss him as he retires, as one of those mature voices in the House of Bishops.’
The Clergy, both Ideato and non-Ideato priests, paid profound commendations on the man who has been their Bishop, Archbishop and role model. But let me quote the words of one of them who knew him during the early years of his pastorate. ‘His life and achievements in the ministry corroborate the biblical statement in Proverbs 22:29: “Seest thou a man diligent in his business? He shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.” As an Igbo proverb says, Maduoma washed his hands well and therefore had to dine with great men. This is a lesson for our youth who think they become great just by their family connections, family wealth or through other worldly means. The young Maduoma knew early in life that he did not have any connection that would make him great. He realized that he had to work hard at whatever his hands found to do; he purposed in his heart that it was only in giving one’s life to God and serving Him with all diligence that one’s success in life depended. The outcome of this resolve is what you see today in his status and sparkling achievements. He was the first son of Ideato to be made Archbishop. When he translated from the Diocese of Okigwe-South to Ideato, there was overwhelming jubilation that the man who would change the fortunes of the Diocese, and give it more visibility, has come. His being made the Archbishop of the Ecclesiastical Province of Owerri is partly a fulfilment of this expectation, not to mention his being the Chairman of the Joint Council of Dioceses East of the Niger’, by virtue of which Arondizuogu became the Headquarters of all the 55 Dioceses East of the Niger. You cannot beat this!
The submissions by ten of his former parishioners in Lagos, four of whom by his tutelage and exemplary life, became priests, speak volume about the inspirational leader Bishop Maduoma is. His great work of revival, reconciliation, evangelism, selfless service and forthrightness endeared the Most Rev Maduoma in their heart. Their testimonies are consistent and portray a pastor who is spent for his congregation.
Diocesan Officials, the Chancellor, Sir M.O. Uzomah and Registrar, Sir Paul C. Umensofor, added their voice, attesting to the impeccable character and vibrancy of Most Rev Dr Maduoma and his wife, Mrs Onyinyechi Maduaoma and their indefatigable efforts in advancing the work of God under their charge. In the words of the Chancellor, under his leadership as Chairman of the Joint Council, Dioceses East of the Niger, the Superannuation Fund Committee started and completed, within twelve months, a multimillion-naira 100 room Hostel at the University of Port-Harcourt. His wife, Mrs Onyinyechi Maduoma, without a doubt, is known for action; under her leadership, the women of the Diocese of Ideato built a Hostel with 34 self-contained rooms at Imo Polytechnic, Umuagwo. She also led the women of the Ecclesiastical Province of Owerri to develop and dedicate another Hostel with 32 self-contained rooms at the same Umuagwo. The Registrar observed that the Episcopal tenure of the Most Rev. Maduoma gave vent to the mending of fences, exemplary leadership and restoration of lost glory in the church; he has laid an excellent Foundation in Ideato and has shown the way a Diocese should run and function.
The felicitations of 3 Church Workers, Mrs Obianuju Kevin, Mrs Ofoleta Ukamaka and Lady Comfort Kanu, concluded the book. Having worked closely with the Archbishop and his wife, they are full of praises and appreciation for their diligence, purposefulness, their noble character, benevolent spirits and heaven-mindedness.
Permit me now, Mr Chairman, to present this captivating book to readers everywhere. The book is a must-read for everybody: the clergy, the Knights, men, women, students and the youth. It will inspire you! It is historical, apostolic, theological and motivational. Read it and get wisdom and inspiration from the life and times of the man Caleb, the man of God, a man of faith, a man of vision, a man of integrity who dares to stand alone; a man with an excellent spirit; A quintessential Pastor; a Pastor of Pastors; a Bishop of Bishops; the first Archbishop of Ideato origin. As you retire, I have no illusions that all the eternal candles you have lit across the Christendom will continue to burn and carry your flame and impact to future generations. God will grant you the strength of the biblical Caleb, your name-sake and soul-mate, for the remaining mountains to conquer, and peace on very side.
And now, to the most blessed and only Potentate; the King of kings and Lord of lords; Who alone has immortality; dwelling in unapproachable light; Whom no man has seen or can see; be all honor, glory, praise and everlasting power. Amen!!