WHEN FRONTLINE GENERALS BOW
William Shakespeare said: “Death, a necessary end, will come when it will come.” Was he bravely waving away the fear of possible death, a termination of human existence on earth? Mortal men fear death. Gallant soldiers of God welcome it as a chariot to partake in the Gloria in excelsis Deo orchestra.
The news of the passing of three generals in God’s army within a month: Archbishop Elijah Akpan Mboho, Archbishop-Elect Moswill Umoh and Dr. Sunday Coffie Mbang, Prelate Emeritus, Methodist Church Nigeria, shook the building to its roofs. First on the file was the lion himself, the admirable Archbishop Elijah Akpan Mboho. He quietly slipped into the rapturous arms of heaven. He is the progenitor of raw evangelism in the Southeastern states of Nigeria. He traversed with the gospel the length and breadth of Cross River State before the creation of Akwa Ibom State.
Mboho would trek a dozen of miles in those early days of ministry just to hold crusades or tarry night. A brave evangelist, he would defy idols, witchcraft covens and occult processions at night, while heading from Calabar to Akwa Ibom to hold crusades.
Raised by an avid idol priest father, Elijah Akpan Mboho grew to see idols and wizardry as nothing. He gave his life to Christ in his prime after reading a tract handed him by a loved one.
His evangelistic voice was roaring across rural communities with the gospel. He later founded the popular Gospel Village, Abak. The Gospel Village is a pilgrimage ground; thousands of believers throughout Nigeria and overseas attend the monthly Pa Mboho’s popular tarry night at the Gospel Village. A man of compassion and love for the children, Pa Mboho’s Gospel Village expanded into the valleys and hills and built a world-class home for abandoned children, orphans, widows and the sick.
Government officials, businessmen, local and international donors compete to identify with the Gospel Village package of divine goodness of man to fellow man.
The Gospel Village also added schools for the children; today we have training institutions in the Gospel Village. Thousands of children from nursery to tertiary levels have benefitted from the magnanimity of Papa Mboho.
Now that Papa has joined the realms of glory; what will orphans, widows, the sick and poor people, needing solace do?
Another general, a celebrated TV evangelist Bishop Moswill Umoh has joined the saints in glory. He was an agile preacher who turned the forest to a city. Bishop Moswill Umoh, an archbishop elect, was a pacesetter who explored his gifts of courage, vision and eloquence in preaching the gospel, especially in rural areas, to bring uncountable souls to God.
He met Christ as a teenager and almost immediately started preaching around Onna – Eket. Moswill Umoh was unique; he knew where God called him to focus in the gospel world – the rural areas and stayed there winning souls till his last breath. It is to his credit that school evangelism, rural evangelism, media evangelism thrive in Akwa Ibom State.
A widely travelled evangelist, Umoh took his mission for souls overseas and partnered like-minded people in the gospel world who supported the widows, orphans and the poor rural people. The Rapture Trust Ministry’s flag will continue to fly at full blast, as the children his messages touched and changed will carry on with his courageous approach to gospel work.
Ukanafun, his local government area he nicknamed UK of Nigeria, has witnessed light and development because of the contributions of Bishop Moswill Umoh. As a frontline educationist, his educational investment runs across all strata – from nursery to tertiary institutions – the Good Shepherd educational institutions are an enduring legacy of the giant strides of Bishop Umoh.
Gifted in oratory and mobilization of people for a cause, Bishop Moswill Umoh was not also behind in the political development of Akwa Ibom State. He was the Vice President, Fathers In Faith for Good Governance in charge of Ikot Ekpene Senatorial district and worked tirelessly for the success of PDP in the March 18 gubernatorial election that Pastor Umo Eno won. He will be greatly missed! How will his love for the liberation and development of rural people find a replacement? Who will reach-out to secondary school students and ransom them from the entangling influence of cultism?
Just as the church was mourning the departure of Mboho and Umoh, a field marshal himself said it was time to sing his popular hymns with the heavenly band. His transition to glory shook not only Akwa Ibom, but the globe. Dr. Sunday Coffie Mbang CON, the prelate emeritus of Methodist Church Nigeria was an institution himself. He was a man of multiple parts that you don’t even know where to begin from. Is it about his days as the tormentor-in-chief of the military junta of the days of IBB, Abacha and Abdulsalam Abubakar, when he as the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) denounced the military’s incursion into politics? Mbang fought against totalitarianism, religious bigotry and oppression of the masses and stood by the masses who were eagerly yearning for the return of democratic rule at the time.
Pa Mbang lived a colourful and inspiring life. Starting from his small village in Idua, Eket, Akwa Ibom State to the grandstands of Methodism and World Council of Churches, you cannot measure his impact. He will be remembered as a strategist and peace ambassador who brokered peace and brought Methodist Church under one strong united force in Nigeria. He will be remembered as a selfless leader who never took a penny from anyone, who never desired worldly wealth – even though the high and mighty came at his beckons. He will be remembered as a self-abnegating leader who was in the midst of riches and opulence but chose none as he preferred to return to his home state and help in rechristening Christianity in Akwa Ibom State.
In his home state, Akwa Ibom, he wants to see the Church leaders forge better unity. As Chairman of the Akwa Ibom State Spiritual Fathers of Faith Forum, he has rallied the Christian community towards sustenance of peace and prosperity through good governance.
Prelate Mbang has accomplished a lot for the kingdom. He fought to ensure that President Obansanjo build and complete the Nigerian Christian Centre, Abuja. Through his leadership acumen and foresight on how to reduce inter religious conflict, Mbang founded and co-chaired the Nigerian Inter-Religious Council with the Sultan of Sokoto for 8yrs. He singlehandedly led Methodist Bishops in South Korea to visit the President of South Korea.
Among world leaders that Mbang has influenced through personal visitation are, late Queen Elizabeth at her palace in London, he was at Vatican and hosted by two Popes (Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict). He missed preaching at late President Nelson Mandela’s burial due to a brief illness and was replaced by Methodist Bishop of Kenya (Mandela was a committed Methodist). He has been hosted by over 50 Presidents of countries in the world. During the military era, Mbang stood up for the church and fought against smuggling Nigeria into membership of Organization of Islamic Conference, OIC.
Mbang holds the record as only African to head the World Methodist Church with membership strength of 300 million around the world. He was the longest serving Patriarch and Prelate of Methodist Church Nigeria.
Meanwhile, members of the Fathers of Faith Forum and Fathers In Faith for Good Governance have paid condolence visit to the families of the three fallen generals.