I once hated public life — Funke Felix-Adejumo

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A much-admired evangelist, Rev. Funke Felix-Adejumo, is the author of over 50 inspiring Christian literature. Her accurate and deep understanding of God’s word has endeared her to millions of people. Together with her husband, Bishop Felix Adejumo, she presides over a large congregation at Agape Christian Ministries, which is headquartered in Akure, Ondo State. Her lively personality and wealth of experience spring forth as she speaks about her humble beginnings.

“I hated public life and I never imagined I would become a pastor or a pastor’s wife in my lifetime. When we wedded, I never visualised that my husband would become a pastor. That was why when he said God had called him, I said it was impossible.

“I felt he couldn’t choose people like us because we didn’t have anything. After I had an encounter with the Lord, I agreed to follow my husband to Akure. Today, I don’t want to live in any other place aside from Akure,” she recalls.

For the English graduate of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, recollecting memories of her upbringing evokes memories of a poverty-stricken childhood

“When I was born, people cried for my father because they expected that my mother would  be delivered of a boy having welcomed two girls earlier. When it was time to send me to school, they told my father not to bother to waste his money because I would become pregnant. Afterwards, my brother became sick. For six years, my dad suffered a lot; he sold most of his belongings until my brother died and we became very poor,” she recalls.

Determined to salvage the situation, a young Felix-Adejumo dreamt big and looked beyond the penury.

“I can’t remember what my mother didn’t sell in her lifetime and it ranged from oranges, maize to pounded yam. I hawked so much that I still have a scar at the centre of my head to show for it. When my brother was ill, we sold all the plates in the house. So, my mother would pound cocoyam and put it in my palms (where I fed from). The reason why today I hate mushrooms (my mum plucked them from a neighbouring farm) is because we couldn’t afford meat or fish.

“We remained like that for many years but I always had it at the back of my mind that I would become great one day. I didn’t know how I would achieve it, but I knew I would be the one to help my family. I thank God that He heard my cry and that was why my father told me that I was better than seven sons,” she notes.

But, those trying times were just a phase, as she would later know.

“At 14, I gave my life to Jesus and that was when my life witnessed a turnaround and it has been getting better and better. I got born again in 1978 and in 1982, I met my husband. On September 8, 1982, I accepted to marry him and we became man and wife on September 8, 1984.”

Also the President of Funke Felix-Adejumo Foundation, she owes her drive and success in life to her late father’s prodding.

“My dad was my hero. When he died three years ago, my husband said, ‘Oh, my competitor is gone.’ I spoke with him every day on the phone and he was such a religious man. When my husband proposed to marry me, I told him that I didn’t think I could ever love another man like I loved my father. My father was extremely proud of me and up until when he died, he prayed for me every morning,’’ she says.

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Agape Christian Ministries held its first service in August 7, 1988, with two families in attendance. The church currently boasts of millions of worshippers in over 20 branches in Nigeria. For Felix-Adejumo, that is indeed overwhelming.

She says, “We are grateful that the Lord could trust us with so much in terms of touching lives. After paying the school fees of some children and seeing their mothers roll on the floor as a show of gratitude, I shed tears.This is because I remember when I couldn’t go to school for two weeks because my parents couldn’t afford to pay my tuition which was N18.

“When I see widows go home with food, my husband and I are thankful to God. We recently commissioned a home for abused and battered women because I am tired of women being killed.”

During the course of the chat, the proud mother and grandmother, spared some thoughts on the marriage institution. “Our society only prepares the girls for marriage and leave out the boys.We live in a society where the male gender is believed to be superior and that is why they cried when I was born. Our society has magnified the concept of marriage so much that people feel if you are not married, you are not fulfilled.

“Marriage doesn’t complete an individual. If you are an incomplete bachelor or spinster, you will have an incomplete marriage. It’s a lot more important to be the right person than finding the right person or marriage. Marriage is not a means to an end but one of the means to an end. When you are happily married, it’s supposed to enhance your destiny,” she notes.

Despite her busy schedule, Felix-Adejumo tries to get her work-life balance right. She says, “When our kids were young, Thursdays were our family night.They were free to ask us any questions. I didn’t accept any speaking engagement because I believe that a prepared childhood is better than a repaired adulthood.”

Happily married for over three decades, she reveals her secret recipe. “The grace of God and the fear of God has kept us going.My husband is my best friend and I am his.We both run our marriage based on transparency and honesty. We never go to bed bearing grudges and sometimes, we go to bed at 4am trying to iron out issues.

“My husband and I do not work on Mondays. We don’t joke with our vacation, so sometimes we make out time to visit Ghana, Dubai or check into a hotel in Akure just to be together so that nothing will tamper with our marriage, friendship and bodies.”

At 53, Felix-Adejumo is blessed with a youthful appearance and a glowing skin. She says, “It’s the grace of God, I don’t eat junk food, I rarely eat unhealthy food. I exercise every morning and I jump a minimum of 100 times before I have my bath. I lead a very busy life so I must be healthy. I don’t like the gym but I have to keep fit.”

Not one to go overboard with fashion, she says, “I don’t sleep with my make-up on. At the same time, I know you are addressed the way you dress. I can’t afford to spend a fortune on fashion because I pay the school fees of many children.”

Well-travelled and an avid reader, she defines marriage in her own words. “As a married woman, you are under the authority of your husband. You are not a slave, but make sure you honour, befriend him and perform your marital roles so there won’t be any crisis.

“You must understand that no matter where you go, as a married woman, you will always come back home. So, if you soil your home on your way out, you will meet it the same way you left it when you return. You have no right to export your Christianity to the outside world if you don’t put your home in order,” she concludes.

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