In March 2013, as I entered the intimidating but inviting Cathedral of the United Evangelical Church, Surulere, Lagos, I went into memory lane, recalling the old building that stood there, where I had ministered for three times. Change! The true change! I praised God. That was during Elder [Trustee] Christian Robson Etang’s 70th birthday worship service.
October 22, was a Thanksgiving service in my church. I rationalized that it would serve me better to do that by identifying with Chris and Ekaette, his lovely wife, during their sendforth service in their church for their relocation to Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital. As I was entering the great and air-conditioned cathedral, the Boys Brigade members were at work, their commander’s voice was reverberating all over. The praise team soon took over, creating doubts if it was the same church, known all the ages to belong to Akwa Ibom and Ogoja people. Its old name, had its own bias too. Yes, it was reputed of a man, who saw the branch of its registered name, Qua Iboe Church, in one of the Western states, shouted mournfully, ‘Igbo people, everywhere’, thinking that it belonged to the Igbo. It is today a church of all tribes and their songs reflected it.
Special guests were introduced, which included Her Excellency, Deaconess Martha Udom Emmanuel, the wife of the Governor of Akwa Ibom State. The governor sent an apology. The message was delivered by Rev. D.E.D. Akwatang, the governor’s Special Adviser on Religious Matter. He reiterated how he had worked with Chris in the Church and the giant exploits made under his watch.
His message was on legacy, what someone will be remembered for. The delivery was of high quality and challenging. He told us about a son, who said nothing but, ‘No need’ during his father’s funeral because his dad left no legacy behind. May it not be your portion! Irked, perhaps, by that, a certain man would break the pots of women and children returning from the stream. When caught, his defence was that he was in search of legacy and that he would be remembered for that. legacy in notoriety! Not your portion!
Reviewing the legacies of four people in the Bible, the minister mentioned how Joseph refused to compromise his faith, when tempted by Potiphar’s amorous wife. In prison for an offence he did not commit, he left behind the legacy of love for his fellow prisoners. Pharaoh testified that no man in Egypt was like him, a man, who forgave his brethren for all their evil deeds. He mentioned the legacies of David to include music, which took him to King Saul’s palace. David also refused to kill Saul, who was hunting for his head. Barnabas, he said, sold his land and brought the proceeds for common use. He accepted Paul, when he repented newly and other believers were running away from him. For Dorcas, she had the legacy of help, causing the widows, the beneficiaries of her help, to refuse that she was dead. Their faith brought her back to life. The minister gave much tribute to Chris and Ekaette, a couple noted for their humility, punctuality to church programmes, etc. He told us how God used Chris in rescuing the Church during crisis that would have caused its death, but he refused its discussion in spite of much pressure.
The governor’s wife, who and husband, were raised from the church, stressed the unique attributes of the couple: sacrificial giving, humility, service, and the ‘dancing steps’ of Deaconess Ekaette. The various fellowship groups gave God the glory for the challenging lifestyle of the couple. To some, Chris has an exemplary character, humility in service, champion of faith, et cetera. It was when he was the church committee chairman that they conceived the idea of building the cathedral, which also they executed. For Ekaette, she was described as the ‘Greatest Evangelist’ and would be missed for the yearly devotionals, which she was freely giving out.
During the reception, which was hosted by the Chairman of the Church Committee, Elder [Barr.] A.E. Ukpanah, and his wife, Chris surprised everybody, when he said that the man, who led him to Christ in 1975, his mentor and the person praying for him, was around. He pointed at me. They appreciated me. I told them that it was God really and not me. What was amazing was his rapid growth, recalling the day a member of their church, not knowing that I knew Chris, told me about a powerful message delivered in their church. I asked curiously, who the person was, and he said, ‘Chris Etang’. I smiled and gave God the glory.
Yes, Chris surrendered absolutely to the Lord Jesus, culminating in my handing over to him the leadership of the Texaco Oversees Petroleum Oil Company Christian Fellowship, which I formed in 1980 and midwifed. Some of our staff members knew the Lord Jesus through it. He led us very well. The beauty of it all was that as the Lord was panel beating him in our office, so was He doing to Sister Ekaette in WAEC, Yaba, where she was working. It made their spiritual growth fast, being on the same page all the time.
It is possible to see highly committed believers without its reflection in their job. Not Chris. He was committed to his job, handling efficiently his responsibilities. He was in charge of the Treasury, a position in which some people enriched themselves. Not Chris! He was successful in the integrity test we had. Our company increased the car loan to only N50,000 when the cheapest car was costing N100,000. Our MD, Mr. Robison, who hated our Christian Fellowship with passion, one day demanded accountability of the loan. It was a bad season for those, who took the loan but did not buy any car. Chris was not involved. In fact, none of our brethren was found culpable. I guessed that our MD was disappointed!
The Etang’s house is always clean, even when you make unscheduled visit to them. Chris told me, how he could locate his eye glasses, wrist watch, etc, even in darkness. I constrained myself to learn it and I am doing well in it today. There is, however, something to avoid about this couple: Never visit them when you are fasting or the quality of food that comes out from their kitchen may compel you to break!
I have a formula of getting money any day. It is prudence that limits my application of it. This is by visiting the couple! I will go home richer. Ekaette will emerge with an envelope, which she will squeeze into my hand, as soon as we finished praying. May our Lord Jesus be giving envelopes to the couple, their children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, sons and daughters-in-law and indeed, everyone that bears the name Etang, known or unknown to them, in Jesus name.
For further comment, Please contact: Osondu Anyalechi: 0802 3002-471;[email protected],com