From Noah Ebije
After over 20 years of hawking and distributing newspapers and newsmagazines on the streets of Kaduna, capital of Kaduna State, Mr. Marcel Aluka Ogana, popularly known among his colleagues as Mr. Eyo, decided to enrol into a school of theology, where he trained as a pastor.
However, his desire to work in God’s vineyard all his life was cut short following visual problems he developed soon after he had gone into pastoral duty.
Ogana, 54, who hails from Yala Local Government Area of Cross River State, resident in Kaduna, told Daily Sun in an interview that he started having eye problems when he was posted to Danja Local Government Area of Katsina State to minister in a church in the area.
One fateful morning, he said his eyes became reddish and from that moment, he began to move from one eye hospital to another across the country to seek remedy, but to no avail.
At a point, he added, the medical experts concluded that it was too late to cure him of the eye infection because, “the glaucoma had gone worst to withstand surgery.”
He said despite his eye problems, there was no going back in doing God’s work, adding that all he needed was mentorship that would provide him Braille education and lift him into evangelism.
However, Ogana’s wife, Maria, while speaking to our correspondent on how she was coping with the condition of her husband, said she gave all glory to God, since He was the maker of life, He would always see the family through difficulties.
Asked if she had contemplated divorcing her husband because of his present condition, she said such thoughts would never cross her mind because she married for better and for worse, in accordance with Christian marital vows.
Maria said she married her husband because he was God-fearing from the beginning of their marital union.
Interestingly, Ogana, who calls his wife Queen, said they had never quarrelled in their 11 years of marriage, blessed with three female children.
Ogana told the story of his life thus: “I got married on July 15, 2011. But as a struggling young man, I never had eye problems before. The problem just cropped up in 2009. But before then, I could remember vividly that, in 2006, when I looked at electric bulb, it appeared to me like a rainbow. But I was not having any pain, until in 2009, and it became conspicuous. I used to read with candlelight, lantern light and electric lights. I never had eye challenges before.
“In 1991, when I left newspapers-selling business, which I did for many years, I got admission to Kaduna Polytechnic, where I got advance certificate in English Language. And, by 1994, I gained admission to Plateau State Polytechnic, Jos, where I read Public Administration. I finished the programme in 1997. Newspapers business was the source of my income for all my academic programmes. I never had financial help from anybody; I never went to anybody to help me pay my school fees. Newspapers business was my source of income for all my academic programmes. From hawking of newspapers, I became a distributor of all the national dailies and all the international magazines in Kaduna.
And by 1998, I went back to Kaduna to sell newspapers again and by this time I was converted as a born again Christian. God had started talking to me to go into full-time ministry for evangelism. God told me about Pastors Kumuyi and Adeboye, saying, do I know what made their ministries special? And that it was because they accepted the call of God. So, this message changed my orientation and I started receiving counselling here and there. I have passion for God’s ministry. So, when the certificate programme in Theology was introduced in my church, I went for it at Western African College for Christian Mission, between 2009 and 2011, in Kaduna, but affiliated to Lagos State University now.
“My eye problem actually started in 2009 when I finished a certificate programme in theology in my church. I was then posted to Danja Local Government Area of Katsina State. On a Monday morning, I woke up and I discovered that my eyes had turned reddish. I did not know exactly what happened to my eyes. I went to my district pastor, he looked at my eyes and asked what happened to me. I told him that I woke that morning and discovered there was problem in my eyes. He tried to discourage me from going for ministerial attachment that lasted for one month. But I insisted that I must go for the ministerial assignment despite the trouble with my eyes because it is better for me to die in the house of God as a missionary than to die at home as a coward. However, I went to National Eye Centre, where they administered some drugs on me. And after that I attended the programme and finished successfully. By 2010, when I came back to Kaduna, I had to go back to the National Eye Centre, and they discovered that it was glaucoma. This was discovered after several appointments with the hospital. Sometimes, I would stay there from 7am to 6pm before being attended to. At a point, I felt frustrated and discouraged to go there again. But by 2012, I started going to another specialist hospital along Kachia Road in Kaduna, but they discovered that my condition had gone worse, it could not be operated again. That is how I have been battling with this condition.
“I am 54 years of age, and I am doing nothing now because of my eye problem. But I want to go into ministry. I have a strong passion to go into God’s ministry and all of a sudden this problem came in between. The devil thinks it can stop me, but I will go into God’s ministry because I want to evangelise in Nigeria, Africa and the world. I can tell you that, despite my challenge, I move from street to street, preaching every morning within my locality with the help of a brother in Kaduna. I preach in English and my brother interprets in Hausa language. I am full of joy when I am doing the work of God. I want to evangelise the world. I have been a member of the Deeper Life Church right from when I was 22 years of age. The church has been of great help to me, especially when I was schooling in Jos.
The pastor of the church has been of a great help to me. The church is aware of my eyes problem and they are praying for me. I am getting counseling from them about my plan of going into Braille reading. I want to read and write with Braille and I know it will help me the more of my desire to still evangelise the world.
“All the places that I have gone to solve the eyes problem was a negative response that the eyes cannot be operated upon again. But my faith has not shrunk nor dwindled. I still hold unto my God because He is a God of miracle and that is the assurance that He has given me that I will receive my sight one day. But I don’t to be idle, I want to evangelise the world while I wait on God to restore my sight. I don’t have the financial estimate of how much I have spent on my eyes problem, but I have been to several specialist hospitals. For now I am missing a lot, I have several Bible versions which I supposed to meditate, I also have books which I spent over N200,000.00 to buy but I cannot read them again. And even rats have eaten some of the books. And my children when they were growing up tore some of the books. I still want to read some of the books. So, going to Braille reading will help me. I am therefore appealing for a mentorship or sponsorship for Braille education.
“There is no more word left for me to describe my wife over this my challenge. She has been the pillar of the house, it takes a woman who fears God to stand by you in times of difficulty. She has combined my duty as a husband with her own work as a wife. She has helped the family to grow. We never had fracas, we never quarrelled at all. My wife is now the breadwinner of the family. My parents are all late. I lost my father and mother in the early 2000. I don’t want to go back to the village because I don’t want to be a liability to anybody even though my siblings suggested that I should relocate to the village.
“I have a beloved brother in the church who serves as my guide whenever I want to visit one or two places. I call on the Federal Government to look into the plights of physically challenged persons in the country, especially visually impaired persons like me to ameliorate their plights.”
Maria said: “We are now into 11 years of marriage. We have three children so far from the marriage. However, when I was about to marry him, one of my sisters kicked against the marriage, saying that this was not the type of man I should marry. She said that she had plan to sponsor me to higher institution of learning. But I insisted that I must marry the man because he is a God-fearing man, always ready to serve God with all his heart. And thank God, my people, including my sister, later supported the marriage. I was 29 years old when I got married to him.
“One of the qualities I found him when he proposed marriage to me was that he is a God-fearing person, and he went ahead to convince me that he was attending a pastoral course, hoping to be a full time pastor.
“However, few years into our marriage, he became blind. So, a lot of challenges began to stare us in the face: no money to train our children, I could no longer actualise my plan of furthering my education. He became blind after the second child. So catering for family needs became a problem. But it is said that in all situations, either bad or good, we should give thanks to God because He is the maker of life.
“I am a child of God, so divorcing him has never one day crossed my mind because in marriage there shouldn’t be divorce no matter the challenges husband and wife are passing through. The only idea that came to my mind when our situation was going from bad to worse was that I should go and stay with my parents and he too should go and stay with his own parents until the situation improved. But the spirit of God guided us that marriage is for the better, and for the worse situation. The Bible says that God always make a way where there is no way. But at a point I insisted on going back to my parents. I started receiving counseling and God revealed to me that going back to my parents was not the way forward. So, I decidedto stay by him. And I know that God will not let me down.
“I am very sad of divorce cases in the society today. It takes the maturity of mind and the grace of God to remain in marriage when you are faced with certain difficult challenges because even for the better and for the worse that we are saying we may not really know the dimension of the words until you come across a hopeless situation. But we should always look unto God who created marriage institution for every solution when we are in difficulty because He will never let us down. Whoever is going into marriage should know that marriage is not a bed of roses. Marriage is a world of its own.”