Omorebokhae Onomoase David, a trained journalist, is Director of Advocacy and Communication, Christian Health Association of Nigeria (CHAN). A Pastor with the Redeemed Christian Church of God, he and his wife, Efe Debi Omorebokhae, Director of Administration, Fellowship of Christian Students (FCS), have been married for 25 years. In fact, their marriage clocked 25 on October 19, 2021. In this interview with GYANG BERE, the couple shared their marital experiences where they revealed some of the good and bad moments they had together in marriage. They also gave intending couples some pieces of advice on matrimonial challenges, drawing inspirations from their own experiences
Tell us how you met
Pastor David: We met many years ago, precisely in 1993. Then I was working with The Forum newspaper, owned by the former Governor of Delta State, and former National Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC) Chief John Odigie Oyegun. In the newsroom, they used to pair us. I was paired with a lady who had a friend, Efe (that is the woman who is now my wife). She came to visit that lady one day in the office. Usually, the newsroom is a lousy place. When she visited, I jokingly announced in the newsroom that the lady was my wife. My partner and everybody were shocked. They thought it was a joke taken too far, and said so. At the end, we left things to continue the way they were at that point. But the truth is that although that was my first time of seeing her, I discovered that I was looking out for her.
Madam Debi: There was this day that the female colleague that he is talking about came to visit. She said we should go out. When I came out, it turned out that he was the one driving. I was very angry. All the same, we managed to go out and eat that day. On our way back, he dropped my friend first, leaving only two of us in the car. In my mind, I knew what was going to happen, and I was not happy. He used the opportunity to ask me out. I refused. I called my friend the following day to express my feelings at what I felt she was trying to do. The truth is, I was not just interested in the relationship. After that, we met once and didn’t see again for a long time. We parted ways. But in 1993, I gave my life to Christ and became born again. On his birthday, which is 30th May 1996, he came to my house and proposed marriage to me. That was three years after we parted company. I was like ‘this boy, did you know what you were doing?” I shared with him my testimony of salvation with the mind of putting him off, without knowing that he came to confirm if I was a born-again Christian. After his proposal, we all went back to pray and the Lord gave me a scripture, Psalm 56:7: “Be still and know that I am God”. I was still, and prayed about it until it was confirmed that he was my husband-to-be.
Did you feel embarrassed when she rejected your proposal, at the first instance?
Pastor David: No, but I don’t think I had said that to any other lady before that time. I was convinced. My only fear then was: is she born again? Let me say that the lady that I was paired with wasn’t born again either; it was just office work that brought us together. But after we had lost contact for about three years, one day the lady who had, by then become a sister in the Lord, came to our office from Child Evangelism Ministry to make a radio request for greetings to loved ones. At that time I was working with Edo Broadcasting Service. I asked them to buy a request card and write out the names of people they wanted to greet. While helping them to fill the card, they brought Efe’s name. I asked whether she was a member of the ministry. They said yes. That was why I went to her house: to confirm. She didn’t know why I came before she started sharing with me the testimony of her salvation experience. She thought that she would put me off, but that was what I was looking for. From that time, I didn’t waste time anymore. I just did the needful.
How did you propose to her? What did you tell her?
Pastor David: The truth is that she did not take me seriously when I proposed. I just told her that I love her and would want to marry her.
What did he say, and what was your response?
Madam Debi: He said he wanted to marry me. I told him the story of my salvation, of how I met the Lord, and how I got born again. After listening to me, he did not say anything. He just left. I went on praying about his proposal based on the scriptures that God gave me: to be still. The major prayer request for me was for God to confirm to me if he was my husband-to-be. He was not in the Redeemed Christian Church of God then. I said if the prayer ended without him coming, on a particular day, it means he is not my husband. Incidentally, that day turned out to be February 14, which is Valentine’s Day or Lovers’ Day. But as I went to my room to end the prayer on that 14 February, some few minutes to 6 pm, a little girl came in to tell me that “Uncle” was in the sitting room waiting to see me. I looked at the time and it was 10 minutes to 6. I said: ‘God, You are awesome.’ I came out to the sitting room, and he proposed to me again that he wanted to marry me. I accepted. The following day he followed it up with an engagement ring. I was so excited when he came into the room, and asked me to bring my hand. I did and he put on my finger the ring and said: “I want you to help me to make heaven.”
Why did you go for her when there were many other young girls?
Pastor David: There are some things that you cannot explain because as at that time, a lady packed her things to come to stay in my house. I abandoned her there because I knew she was not my wife. Afterward, I had to pursue the one that I felt was my wife. I saw spirituality in her. There was something in her that attracted me because I don’t believe in love at first sight. But that was what happened to me. When I saw her I said, this is my wife.
What qualities did you see in him as to make you fall for him when there were other suitors?
Madam Debi: I wanted a man that fears the Lord, a man that has the Spirit of God. When he proposed to me, I went to the Lord in prayers and He told me that this is the man that I have kept for you. My father was a loving man, and my aunty would tell me that I can’t get a man that is as good as my dad. I said no, I would get a man that is better than my father. In my heart, I was looking for a man who would love me more than my father. I wanted someone who would love me as Christ loved the church. I realised that he was a man who is ready to sacrifice his life for me as Christ sacrificed His for the church. I have not been disappointed so far.
Was there opposition from any quarters?
Pastor David: Yes, there was. In those days, my father married a Bini woman and it didn’t go well with my family. Because of that, they said nobody should marry Bini again. My tribe is Ora and her tribe is Edo, Bini. They said in my family we don’t marry Edo but that was not an issue for me. I remember going to tell one of my elder brothers working then with The Observer newspaper that I wanted to get married, and he asked me where the lady was from. I said Benin, and he quietly walked away. But at the end, I had favour because most of my people already knew her mother who turned out to be from my tribe.
What do you remember about your wedding?
Madam Debi: The wedding took place in October. I prayed that there would be no rain that day. But to my surprise, a few hours before the wedding, it started raining cats and dogs. Everybody became worried. I went into prayer with my friends and as we were thanking God, the rain just stopped and we had fun all through the day.
Pastor David: I made an arrangement with a friend to use his good and very big BMW car for my wedding. He gave it to me with a driver. I came to show the driver my house. He said he would need to pick his dress, with the car. We were asked to be at the church by 9.45 am as the wedding was set to start at 10 a.m. But by 9:39 am, the driver was nowhere to be found. There was no handset at that time for me to call and know where he was. As an alternative, my best man came in an unpainted taxi. We jumped into it and it took us to the church. For me, it was fun that I entered a taxi to my wedding. Immediately after the wedding, I told my wife to come to my house with me. But what I did not know was that there was still another ceremony to be performed. She needed to go to her house where the family would pack her clothes and other things to my house.
Madam Debi (cuts in): That’s how we conduct weddings in my place. After the wedding, they would take you to your house as a girl. You would go and dress up again and your family would take you to your husband’s house in the evening, with dances and all that. But after the church wedding, he was telling me ‘let’s go home,’ I said: ‘go where?’
What do you like about your spouse?
Pastor David: Her smile makes me feel happy. She smiles and laughs a lot. She is a powerful prayer warrior.
Madam Debi: My husband is humble, playful, and he always assists me. There is nothing good that he does not do for me. We do things together. We’ve not had roles for males and females since we got married. There are times he cooks for me.
What’s your advice for young men who are preparing to get married?
Pastor David: Before I got married, I was working at Edo Broadcasting Service and in the newsroom, there were young men there; we were up to ten who were not married. I was the first to break the jinx. One of them asked me what I did to marry. He said to do some of the things we did would take him years. I sat him down and told him how we did it. I told him that we started saving gradually and small towards it. With that information, my friend started planning too and he got married. Others followed. My advice to intending couples is: don’t compare yourself with anybody. Plan according to what you have. Don’t borrow money to do the wedding. Sew your coat according to your cloth.
How will you advise young girls who are getting married?
Madam Debi: Not to compare their husbands with the rich. They should ensure that the person who is going to marry them loves and cares for them so that when they get married, he doesn’t start beating and fighting them every day. They should also be patient and pray. If you are convinced, go for the marriage.
What will you want young couples to learn from your marriage?
Pastor David: I want them to fear God in all they do. For us, wherever we go we are always seen as good examples of couples, either to the younger or older couples. We were walking on the street in Washington DC, one day, and two white ladies tapped us on the back. They asked: are you getting married? We’ve had instances like that. Even in the environment we now live in, we discover that we are different: we are always together. Always be together with your wife.
What were some of the challenges you faced after the wedding?
Madam Debi: Five days after our wedding, we got a wonderful ‘gift’ from the Edo State Government: retrenchment. It affected staff who had been working for five years and below. Both of us were affected. I was lecturing at the College of Education, and he was working in Edo Broadcasting Service. I just had five months to make it five years but we all lost our jobs. It was very challenging. During that period, I got pregnant and there was nothing to eat. I could have gone to my father to beg but we refused to do so. Rather, we decided to wait on God.
How did you surmount that situation?
Pastor David: Since I am a journalist, I started freelancing for some newspaper organisations and television stations. My wife got a job after one year, and some months. God provided jobs for us thereafter.