There are many memories I have of my dad- the sum of them all are his love for Jesus and His church, dad’s sacrificial lifestyle for all, his love and his practice of the word of God. Maybe because I am closest to him, but I do not know of anyone on earth who possesses degrees of those said qualities higher than my late dad.
I have memories of his love for God’s word. He read it first thing during the day, when no one was watching, when everyone or someone was watching. He read it so much that when it was time for me to imitate my dad as a child, I wore his pair of reading glasses and pretended to be reading the bible.
Dad enjoyed passing things to the next person- the next person such things would bless, the next generation such things will be useful for. Far be it to see selfishness in him. This is why I thought he was a great pastor. He sacrificed so much of his possessions and ensured others can benefit from his gains. He modelled the words of Jesus – freely you have received, freely give. He reiterated to us that we were just caretakers for the seeming things we possess. We learnt from dad, the true joy from passing-things-on as caretakers where God owns it all. Like most parents, dad wanted his children to be more successful than him in every way. He and mom worked tirelessly to make this happen while still prioritizing their ministerial calling. Dad gave his damnedest best to the ministry. He gave his money, time, possessions, love, authenticity- he was an epitome of sacrifice.
Some years ago, I first arrived in The United States for college. Dad worked very hard (with mom’s support) in ensuring my school fees were paid out of their pockets. I was an international student also, who had one of the fattest bills amongst my classmates. Dad sacrificed his time, asserted his dignity as a loving father to ensure my fees were paid. He worked tirelessly, even having to work several jobs to ensure we had enough. While I was in college and mom was still in Nigeria, Dad cooked the meals for the house as the present parent. I never heard him complain that we as his children should be the ones cooking. He bought the food stuffs, he cooked the egusi, vegetable (efo riro) that we ate for the week on Saturdays, similar to how mom cooked for the week in Nigeria. How can I forget the memorable thanksgiving traditions dad established while mom was still in Nigeria. He joyfully bought the food stuff, prepared the turkey and cooked his iconic fried rice since that was our favorite.I still have memories of taking frozen food cooked by dad back to school.In spite of Dad’s sacrifices, he did not ask anything selfish in return. He asked for us to faithfully love God, and take better decisions in life from his perspective. Dad always reminded us of how much he loves us. He was always happy to provide counsel and rebuke in love.
Dad was hard sometimes and he was soft most times. To know him closely is to love him because you soon realize he’s that one person on earth that manifests authenticity around you. A major trait I loved about dad was his awareness of his weaknesses. He never sulked but made every effort with God’s grace to assert his best effort even in areas he wasn’t so strong at. You have to admire a man of grit like my dad- indeed he did all things through Christ’s strength, he had told me Christ was his only source and that was why he gave himself so much to prayer. Dad wasn’t such that acted then prayed. He prayed prevailingly then acted.
Dad was a father to many and much more. He was faithful like no other- I saw this in his pastoral ministry. Whether he was dealing with only 1 or 100 or a crowd, he prepared, he prayed, he gave, he encouraged. The impact of dad’s life is a marvelous legacy and an inheritance better than silver or gold. Above all, we are grateful for a dad who sowed in us his children, the essence of excellence & delivering value to whichever community we belong. He encouraged us to be the problem solvers, and put our best solution forward. He encouraged us not to compare with others, that only fools compare themselves to others. He gave us very fundamental values that I trace to foundations of any strand of excellence that God allows to be expressed through me today.
Dad, we are confident that you finished well, so we do not mourn. We rejoice in Jesus that you fought well, and finished well. We miss you every day, some days are harder than others, but every memory we have of you is a blessing from God to us. You are truly irreplaceable, but God remains faithful. These words from CT Studd rings ever true, “Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last”. Thank God for the grace he gave you to know Him, and it’s for this reason that our memory of you is sweet.
Love you Dad
Gertrude & Bolutife Olatuyi.