By Christy Anyanwu
The annual widows empowerment organized by Pastor Matthew and Yemisi Ashimolowo took another dimension this year. It recorded about 10,000 women who came for their New Year gifts of money, food and wrappers.
As early as 6.am on January 7, 2017, the premises of Kings University, Ode-Omu, Osun State, was filled with widows from the town and neighboring villages. Opelope Anointing Singers were on the bandstand rendering gospel songs.
Pastor Wole Oladiyun of Clam Church, Ikeja, Lagos, admonished the widows to focus their trust on God Almighty. The event also attracted other ministers of God, traditional rulers from Osun and Ekiti states, ace broadcaster Ruth Benameisia Opia and former first lady of Akwa Ibom State, Uduak Umundak. They all assisted the Ashimolowos in sharing the gifts to the widows.
Pastor Ashimolowo told Daily Sun: “This is the 11th year of this gathering. We started with just having 308 widows from Ode-Omu, my dad’s hometown. It rose to 850, 1,500 widows and it kept going. Five years ago, another town, Modakeke, joined. We shared these items to them.
“The word went out to the adjoining towns. Last year, we had some widows from Ikire and suddenly we just had all the representatives of about six towns coming to the university premises.
“This year, almost 10,000 widows turned up. Three thousand widows from Modakeke, 2,500 widows from the host town, (Ode-Omu), 2,000 from Ikire, 1,500 from Ile-Ife and almost 2,000 from Osogbo.”
About the funding: “It was our vision. Kingsway International Christian Church (KICC), has nothing to do with the funding.
“Even though KICC will use the video and put in my preaching, it is essentially my vision. This year’s event cost me N35million just to take care of the widows. It has nothing to do with any government, it has nothing to do with any church.”
He admitted that his friends donated 30 pieces of clothes and bags of rice to support the cause of putting smiles on the faces of the widows.
To ease the flow of the activity, he said four tickets were given to widows: “Ode Omu and Ikire had to come by 9.am. Modakeke is huge. They are 3,000. They are to come by 12 noon strictly. Osogbo and Ile-Ife had to come by 2.pm. We divided it because last year, we had 5,500 and it was rowdy and hectic and today it has doubled to almost 10,000.”
One of the widows, Mrs. Felicia Adenla from Ode-Omu, said: “We look forward to the program every year. This programme started in Matthew’s fathers house at Ile-Oloya, before they shifted to this place. We look forward to this event every year and they don’t disappoint us. God will bless him, his wife and children.”
Mrs. Janet Akinniyi from Ikire: “Every first Saturday of the year is our Christmas because we look forward to the widows gathering. Our prayer is that God will continue to bless this man of God and his wife. He will not die.”
Oba Joseph Adewole of Ijero-Ekiti, Ekiti State also commended Ashimolowo: “I come every year but this year, the crowd is unprecedented.
“That shows that the poor widows need help are around us. I want to recommend what he is doing to other wealthy people who have more than enough to remember people around us. The crowd is so much this year, this shows that people are really hungry and they are looking for help.”