First, to answer the question, “where and how do you know him”; I want to begin by saying that my personal encounter with him spanned through the period while I was serving as the Public Relations Officers (PRO) of the Anglican Children Ministry (ACM), BENDEL ECCLESIASTICAL PROVINCE OF THE CHURCH OF NIGERIA ANGLICAN COMMUNION and also at several AYF Conferences while he was serving as the Bishop Coordinator of the Anglican Youth Fellowship (AYF) Nigeria.
BISHOP JOLLY OYEKPEN AS I KNOW HIM
1). A CHILD OF GOD: BISHOP JOLLY OYEKPEN was a true child of God, who replicate the nature and character of Jesus Christ in his life and ministry. I don’t know much about his family, but my recent encounter with one of his daughters shows that he not only loves and cares for his family, but he also trained his children in the fear and knowledge of God.
2). A PREACHER of THE GOSPEL: BISHOP JOLLY OYEKPEN is a preacher of the Gospel par excellence. By the power of the Holy Spirit, he knows the urgency of the Gospel, discerns accurately the time, and preaches the Gospel with all boldness and enthusiasm. His sermon at one of the ASF National conferences transformed many lives, and today many are yet to recover from that wonderful encounter with the Lord.
3). CHRISTLIKE: BISHOP JOLLY OYEKPEN is Christlike. Like someone rightly said, “it is hard to differentiate Jesus among his disciples, for he was so close to us.” He lived his life after Christ; hence, he encourages a Christlike attitude among his clergymen and parishioners. He was a living epistle of Christ to all who come around him. He is Christ-centered in his policies and programs.
4). A GOOD MODEL: If there is any Bishop, I know who models his clergymen like himself in service to God and humanity, humility, and spirituality, it is BISHOP JOLLY OYEKPEN. In one of our conferences where he was our host and resource person to handle a Talk, the clergyman he sent to represent him in his absence was mightily used of the Lord like himself when he ministers in conferences. There’s a similitude of BISHOP JOLLY OYEKPEN in every priest in his diocese we had encountered; the same humility, simplicity, service, and spirituality.
5). Godliness and Contentment: The life and ministry of BISHOP JOLLY OYEKPEN is a perfect example of 1 Timothy 6:6. As a Bishop he has zero tolerance for worldly concerns (materialism). This always reflects in his messages and behavior to “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness…” He is not so much concerned about building gigantic Cathedral (structures), but building and impacting lives that will in turn become a gallant soldier of Christ, like himself. His greater concern was the Kingdom of God and its advancement. Hence, he was is contented with the progress he made in his missionary diocese by God’s grace where the spiritual lives of the people and their wellbeing are paramount. They don’t have the millions of Naira like other dioceses, but he and his clergymen are always contented. The house the Cathedral Priests live in then can be compared to where some Church teachers and Sexton lived in some dioceses. And the Priests are happy and doing their work in such an apartment. He is a Kingdom burden-bearer!
6). HUMILITY PERSONIFIED: When a man imitates or patterned his life after Christ, s/he will always have the humility of Jesus Christ rub off on him. Without mincing words, BISHOP JOLLY OYEKPEN is humility personified. Except he wore his clerical shirts (vestments), you’ll never know that he is a Bishop. Baba is so nice and down to heart, a complete youthful-minded inside out. A father and a friend to all who come in contact with him. Even as a Bishop, he is seen as associated with the rank and file both young and old. Bishop Jolly Oyekpen is humble to the core!
7) SIMPLICITY AND FORTHRIGHTNESS: Despite his simplicity, he is a disciplinarian and straightforward in all his ways. He is a champion of truth. He does not compromise standards for anything or anyone else. He upholds and strengthens the legacies of the founding fathers of the Anglican Youth Fellowship Nigeria. This is why the youths trust and respect him so much. He is a man of his word; hence, his integrity speaks volumes.
8) A PRAYER WARRIOR: The man BISHOP JOLLY OYEKPEN is a terror in the camp of the enemy as a result of his unprecedented victory and success in spiritual warfare. He has been tempted and tried many times but the enemy never succeeded. Every attack from the pit of hell concerning his life, family, and ministry has always been frustrating and defeated by the LORD of Host. He is a prayer machine and is often seen praying in the spirit. Prayer was his lifestyle and breathing. His life and ministry record great successes because of the breathings of the Holy Spirit upon his life. For the Anglican Youth Fellowship (AYF) Nigeria, the house of BISHOPS and Clergymen in the Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion, BISHOP JOLLY OYEKPEN was a colossus! The LORD used him mightily to impact lives through his teachings and ministrations. The youths love him so much and always yearn for him to handle Power Night and Faith Clinic. I’ve been greatly blessed and empowered by the Lord through his ministrations.
His memory lives on in our hearts.
Adieu, Great Soldier of Christ!
We love you, but God your Maker and Lord love you most!
Oyibokure Smith Oghenetejiri
Anglican Diocese of Ughelli