Cambridge university dictionary defines feminism as the belief that women should be allowed the same rights, power, and opportunities as men and be treated in the same way.
In the Bible in Numbers 27; the story of the daughters of Zelophehad who made a case for their having the right to inherit land just as the male children did (unheard of then) to God through Moses is told.
If Moses had not believed in those women and their cause, he probably wouldn’t have presented their case to God. Moses could then be said to be the first male feminist.
This was God’s response to Moses’s enquiry: “The daughters of Zelophehad are right. You shall give them possession of an inheritance among their father’s brothers and transfer the inheritance of their father to them…. And it shall be for the people of Israel a statute and rule, as the Lord commanded Moses.’
Read also: The legacy of Pastor Taiwo Daniel Odukoya
The Fountain of Life church was led by Pastor Taiwo Odukoya who took the case of Christian women to God and was chosen to let the women know that God loves them and that they too have an equal inheritance with men in the body of Christ and must achieve their purpose in life.
Starting with his wife, Pastor Bimbo, he quietly and unobtrusively encouraged her to walk in her calling as an evangelist, and advocate for balanced Christ-centered marriages where physical and emotional abuse were not swept under the carpet of Christianly obedience. It was rather uncommon then but the message was needed.
He encouraged female members of the church to find their voices and not just to be worship leaders but powerful preachers as well. I believe that Fountain has an equal proportion of male and female pastors.
The laity was no different. He encouraged them, both men and women, to be all that God called them to be.
Regular female church members were encouraged to start female- only non- denominational fellowship groups where the word of God is ministered in the intimate surrounding of homes, where women could support each other spiritually and socially. I know of at least five of such active and thriving fellowships.
When the pandemic seemed to want to stop the fellowships, the ladies went online. It was easy for them because the church was very forward-looking and had been transmitting church services online for at least 15 years pre-Covid! (Pastor Taiwo an Engineer by training was also a technophile)
The annual Discovery for Women programme was where Pastor Taiwo would hone the need for women to step out of their comfort zone and be all that God wants them to be. He said that women are God’s “joker “whom he uses when the world becomes confused. The stories of the female judges like Deborah and of Jochebed, Moses’s mother along with other women of the Bible were told by him in a way that made women realise that they have a purpose which they should rise up to it.
There was also the quarterly non denominational women’s meeting; The Woman Leader where Christian women who held positions of authority in business and the public service would meet, pray, share experience and be blessed by encouraging words from Pastor Taiwo. A group of women were encouraged to start the programme by Pastor Taiwo. I know that Pastor Ibukun Awosika, Yewande Zaccheaus and Ambassador Folake Marcus-Bello were active in that space.
Pastor Taiwo would later encourage Pastor Nomthi whom he married after the passing on to glory of Pastor Bimbo, to explore her interests especially with prevention of sexual abuse in children. Her series of books for young children has helped prevent a lot of young children from being abused. One such book is aptly titled “Don’t touch me there.”
Personally, I was encouraged by Pastor Taiwo to step into public service. He admonished me to see it as a chance for the light of Christ to shine in the political terrain. He was emphatic that Christians could also be politicians and as a result, several of the church members are active politicians.
As we remember this fast-talking, cerebral yet humble pastor who taught us how to worship God in spirit and in truth, we must remember that we also lost a strong advocate for women.
Rest well, Pastor Taiwo. Thank you for giving to the Lord.
Adedayo, former Special Adviser to the Governor of Oyo State.