On Tuesday, November 9, 2021, Pastor Nomthi Odukoya passed on following a battle with cancer.
Her death, at 47, has continued to attract tributes and condolences from far and near. The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar were among the first set of high-profile personalities to commiserate with the Odukoyas and Fountaineers over Pastor Nomthi’s death.
Clerics from the country and beyond have equally consoled the Odukoyas over the sad incident that shocked the Nigerian Christian community.
The Early Years
Born on May 30, 1974, Pastor Nom, as many fondly called her, hailed from South Africa and attended the Natal College of Education between 1996 and 1999. She later went on to bag an MSc degree at the University of Liverpool.
Love In London
Pastor Nomthi first met Pastor Taiwo in London when the latter went to minister at the Triumphant Church International. That meeting started a love story spanning 11 years with two boys – Timilehin and Jomiloju.
Pastors Taiwo and Nomthi Odukoya exchanged vows in January 2010 at the Civic Centre in Lagos State, an event that was graced by prominent men of God, including the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor E. A. Adeboye; Bishop Mike Okonkwo of The Redeemed Evangelical Ministries (TREM); Bishop David Oyedepo of the Living Faith Church (Winners Chapel); Pastor Paul Adefarasin of the House on the Rock, among many others.
Pastor Nomthi did not only capture the heart of Pastor Taiwo Odukoya, his children, Pastor Tolu Odukoya-Ijogun, Pastor Jimi Odukoya, and Tobi Enuha also enjoyed a close relationship with her; and while her stepdaughters were part of her bridal train during the 2010 wedding, Pastor Jimi was the best man at the epoch event, a move that further symbolized her warm acceptance in the family.
Although Pastor Nomthi was coming from another country into a new church, she not only settled in quickly into Pastor Taiwo’s family but also into The Fountain of Life Church as well. Her unique storytelling skill, smiling face, and ever-cheerful countenance endeared her to many members of the church who always looked forward to her ministration.
Pastor Nomthi’s ingenuity in using real-life stories to deliver the Promise of the Week – a segment of the Sunday service where the Bible passage for the new week is shared – became a much-anticipated part of the service. Her easy-to-relate and straightforward stories drove the Bible verse(s) home, often to a hooked audience.
During the Mother’s Day service earlier in the year, an excited Pastor Nomthi was full of praise for Fountaineers, whom she said accepted her from the first day she stepped into the church.
“I am so grateful that The Fountain of Life has welcomed me and accepted me day in and day out,” She enthused during the Sunday service. “You did not only accept me when I came, but you keep accepting me.”
Enjoy Your Life Ambassador
Storytelling was just one of the many things Pastor Nomthi excelled at whenever she was called on to minister. Fountaineers and regulars at the church cannot easily forget her signature greeting. She would, for a start, ask the congregation: “Good day Honourable Fountaineers. How are you doing today?” to which the audience would chorus, “We are enjoying our lives.” Then she would then respond: “I am enjoying mine too!”
A staunch believer in the supremacy of Christ over life’s battles, the late mother of two was also known for her dancing skills. Pastor Nomthi knew how to “put a praise” on every situation life threw her way.
Images of her singing and dancing to Freke Umoh’s “Hallelujah No Go Finish” – her go-to song whenever she was about to leave the pulpit on Sundays – will remain fresh in the minds of thousands of Fountaineers.
An Author & Children’s Advocate
Away from her duties as Associate Senior Pastor of The Fountain of Life Church, the life coach was a vocal advocate for children and she authored several books to address children-related issues. One of such is “Don’t Touch me There,” a book that beams the searchlight on child abuse.
Published in 2016, the book which equally advocates early education for children on how they can protect themselves against abuses has become a rallying point for many educationists, parents, and other stakeholders.
Through the Funda Wazi Foundation, she campaigned for a child-friendly environment that will aid ‘learning, promote educational development and provides relevant resources that will assist children and adults to learn and know how to address social challenges affecting children.’ The Foundation also seeks to channel its ‘efforts on prevention and mitigating children from abuse, neglect and other forms of violence in schools, homes and the community.’
Other books she authored also addressed bullying and gender equality, among other salient issues affecting children and youths.
Pastor Nomthi Odukoya was, without a doubt, a Christian who walked her talk. She was an embodiment of faith, love, and joy. A woman of praise and prayer, she left her indelible footprints in the sands of time and made a significant impact in The Fountain of Life Church and Christendom as a whole.
A ForeverMissed web page has been opened for tributes from members of the public in honour of Pastor Nomthi.
Written by Emmanuel Egobiambu.