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I Still Remember the Unusual People….

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Love brought me to the TEAP Family mid-2001 and love kept me there. 

My husband, Andrew had relocated to Abuja and was worshipping at RCCG – The Everlasting Arms Parish (TEAP), then meeting at Pastors Chinedu and Oby Ezekwesili’s home in Maitama. They were from the ‘Apapa Family’ in Lagos where we also had our ‘roots’, so it seemed logical that I accompany my guy there. The genuine, ‘undiluted - everyone matters - we are one - your pain is mine - your joy is mine – this is home’ love of Pastor Chinedu and Oby Ezekwesili kept me.

I still remember the ‘upper room’, fellowship of snacks and drinks after the actual service on Sundays during which we got to know one another and share our joys or challenges and give help where needed. This became a TEAP culture, we are family, we watch out for each other.

I still remember that the search for a permanent place of worship took us through several locations over a period of six years (Dec. 2000 – 2006): From residence to Savannah Suites in Garki to Hotel Sofitel in Central Area to Hebron House in Area 11 and finally to the current and permanent site at TEAP School hall, Damaturu Crescent in Garki where we met under ‘open heavens’ as we built, God kept us! There were challenges but the love and enthusiasm of the leadership was infectious! I remember our first wedding under ‘open heavens’ – the Onwukas, they inspired me. Another TEAP Family culture was born: Church is not in the name, location or building – it is about the people and the family they have become. 

I still remember my Sister, Dupe Aladesanmi and the pre-marital Counseling Classes for couples intending to marry. She was the rock behind the early days’ premarital classes. At a point it was just the two of us conducting the classes…. but together we expanded it into a ‘faculty’ meeting three ‘diets’ a year because God kept expanding us at TEAP!  And couples benefitted from the wealth of knowledge of Pastor Bola Olanubi, The Azodohs, The Aladesanmis, The Onyeanakwes, The Ipoades, The Alaye-Ogans, The Onidarafunmis, Sis. Florence Egopija, Pastor James Komolafe and Pastor Chinedu Ezekwesili were the first faculty of counselors! Then more expansion, the Counselors and counselees increased. 

This is another family secret and TEAP culture…everyone who went through that premarital classes became a family member whether at TEAP or in diaspora, we never lose touch! I stopped counting about 2010 when we got close to a hundred. Some of the counselees are now themselves counselors, glory hallelujah!

I still remember…. how can I forget? How Pastors Chinedu and Oby Ezekwesili empowered and challenged every worker to be the best they can be. Pastor Eva and Ngozi Azodoh continued that legacy. I remember those early morning workers meeting! My goodness You were inspired to work for God! I still remember the first time Sister Oby said to Sis. Dupe Aladesanmi and I that we were going to establish a school…hahaha! I thought to myself finally we just took on too much! No, we didn’t. It came to pass. Sis. Aladesanmi leading the school initiative and Dr. Aladesanmi leading the clinic initiative…I still remember. Again, this is why TEAP is a Family not a parish. It is a family with a culture of investing in the community, the community became family members, ‘we move’, ‘we grow’.

I still remember TEAP ‘Sisters’: Oby called us D.A.R.E. (Deborah, Abigail, Ruth and Esther Women) a.k.a. Sisters for life who ‘dared’ to accomplish so much by the grace of God. We were always there for each other. Accomplished a whole lot together in Voices & Drama; Teaching & Speaking Series; the Book Club; Project DARE; Vineyard Dressers; Evangelistas; birthed the Microcredit Scheme (Nov. 2010) to empower women and fueled the Tabitha Tent a free marketplace (Dec. 2007) etc. Above all, I remember the love, singing, fun and lots of laughter practicing for Women programs, cooking for programs with Mummy Cecilia Ujubuonu (RIP) at Pastors Chinedu & Oby’s residence. Back then another culture was born, yesterday, today and forever…if a woman tells you she is from the TEAP Family, better take her serious!

Oh, I remember the birth of TEAP Trumpet in 2005! 

The TEAP Newsletter. All pastors of TEAP had a knack of having a quick conversation with you and leaving you to run with the vision - their suggestion/dream/directive/instruction. Whether it was Pastors Chinedu/Oby Ezekwesili or Pastors Eva/Ngozi Azodoh. I recall a quick discussion with Pastor Chinedu, and I stayed up all night looking for a word to rhyme with TEAP and a vision to go with it…until TEAP Trumpet was born. It was fun and it was a joy putting articles together those early days working with: Brothers Titus Olayiwola (RIP); Funso Adenuga-Ajayi; Sesan Adeniyi (who after a message by Pastor Chinedu helped birth the Unusual People sticker – it became our identity!); Timothy Ukuta, Sister Oyinda Kolapo-Adedokun and Sister Gloria Matthews who continued to run with the vision from 2010. I still remember that TEAP Family culture, excellence and professionalism in all we do, or we simply don’t! 

I remember that The CARE (Care And Relate Everyone) was follow up mechanism that soon became the house fellowship – ‘church’ that met in homes. They grew into huge families within the TEAP Family! The ‘church’ that met at Birnin Kebbi House fellowship, led by Bro. Timothy Ukuta and Sis. Chioma Nwosu grew beyond thirty families at some point! It became the ‘International House fellowship’ and the love then still binds us together today in line with the TEAP culture, family is forever!

During this twenty year journey many saints contributed their share in the TEAP Family then went home to be with the Lord. How can I forget? They are so many, but I still remember today: Bro. Titus Olayiwola (TEAP Trumpet), Bro. Olushina Olukareh (Football Team), Sis. Eniola Onafuye (DARE Hospitality), Mr & Mrs Okoronkwo (Elders Forum), Sis. Mfon Offiong (Microcredit Project) and Mummy Cecilia Ujubuonu (Women mentor and Hospitality), may they and others continue to rest in peace in the bosom of our Lord. They served God with enthusiasm and put smiles on faces, a TEAP family culture, long after you are gone your legacy lives on!

TEAP Family is a church without borders. There were more than twenty churches that came out of TEAP and probably continues to grow but the lines are blurred because we often see the family not the location. I know we each remember yesterday, today or forever. It is a tapestry of memories that can only be complete when all others share their memories…. because the TEAP Family story is a story of very unusual people that cannot be told by one. Happy 20th Anniversary TEAP Family! “The eternal God is your refuge, and his everlasting arms are under you.” (Deut. 33:27) 

 

• A/P (Mrs.) Kate Onyeanakwe is now with RCCG, The Everlasting King Zone

 

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