Okonkwo, Enoch

1922-2007
Christ Holy Church International
Nigeria

Enoch Nwamadu Okonkwo was born in 1922 to Alonta and Mary Okonkwo, who were peasant farmers at Enugu-Ukwu in Njikoka Local Government Area of Anambra State. Though his parents were adherents of a traditional religion, he was converted to Anglicanism in 1935 when he became the house boy of a man who was an Anglican. Because of poverty he dropped out of school when he was in Standard One.

He suffered from tuberculosis for many years without a cure, despite the fact that he had visited many Western hospitals. At a certain point his father invited a native doctor to live in their home so as to effect an uninterrupted healing. Even though the native doctor initially boasted that if he were not able to heal Okonkwo no human being could cure the disease, he later advised him to seek prayers from somewhere else when it became apparent that Okonkwo’s condition was deteriorating. In 1952 someone directed him to prophetess Agnes Okoh, who healed him after praying and blessing water for him to drink and to bathe with. The inability of the native doctor to heal him in contrast to the divine healing he received at the prayer ministry increased his belief in faith healing. He consequently became a member of the prayer ministry of prophetess Agnes Okoh.

In 1956 the prophetess, after praying for Enoch Okonkwo and David O. U. Nwaizuzu at a church service, told them that God had elevated them to the ministry. They were appointed “as catechists without formal training or orientation. The Holy Spirit was the orientation teacher.” [1]

Evangelist

Enoch Okonkwo was the first person to be promoted field evangelist in 1958. He was commissioned to plant churches, and was ordained in 1961. During the civil war he took the risk of supervising some churches; he “was trekking to Arondizougu on a weekly basis across the war fronts to supply the needs of the general prophetess [Agnes Okoh] and the church.” [2] After the war he led a team of evangelists to plant many churches in what was then called Bendel State. He was promoted to the rank of a superintendent in 1972. He was appointed chairman of the board of superintendents in 1980, a position he held until his retirement in 1982. [3]

Healer

Enoch Okonkwo’s gift of healing overwhelmed many observers. He is noted to have healed many people who were sick from various diseases. According to Rev. Pastor Emmanuel Aniago:

During his [Okonkwo’s] active days he was marvelously used by God. After preaching he would pause and tell his audience “It is now time for your problems to be solved. Everything depends on you. If you are blind and want to see, why don’t you open your eyes and see? If you are a cripple, why don’t you make an attempt to stand? Stand up!” People would begin to shout in excitement. [4]

Even after being retired from active ministry he still used his gift of healing to heal many. He is said to have healed two lunatics who are now pastors of the church. One of his many healings that made him very popular was the healing of two lame sisters. He recounts the healing:

It happened that I went to pray for some people at Abagana and saw a young lady, and she was lame. I persuaded her helper to bring her to me and after three days, she started walking. The lady hailed from Umunya and her immediate elder sister was also lame. She went to her village to inform her sister of the salvation of Christ. Her sister was brought and she was healed and started walking. [5]

Okonkwo, affectionately called Agu (Lion), was an itinerant evangelist who visited many congregations and led many outdoor revivals. Many of his healing miracles happened at such outdoor evangelistic revival meetings.

As an octogenarian, Okonkwo attributed his healing prowess to his faith in the Lord. He claimed that he had not taken any form of medicine (when sick) for over half a century, i.e., since he had become a member of Christ Holy Church in 1952. “The promises of Jesus in the Bible,” according to Okonkwo, “are not just sayings to make people feel happy; they have some potency in them.” [6]

Contributions

On his major contributions to the church, Okonkwo believed that he instilled in most pastors of the church faith in Jesus Christ. He remembered telling them that Peter, the apostle, was an ordinary person like any other person, yet when he placed his trust in Jesus he saw extraordinary results. He claimed that the prophetess prophesied that God would increase the finances of the church through his ministries. This prophecy, to him, has been fulfilled in view of the vast number of people who joined the church through his outdoor revivals which were characterized with many healing miracles. Many people in the church have memories of his unflinching faith in the omnipotence of the Triune God, particularly as regards healing. His love for spreading the Gospel (with many miracles following) is said to be one of his greatest contributions to the church. Though not highly educated, he relished recording what God had done so that posterity would not lose faith in God.

He took to farming when he retired from active ministry. Enoch Okonkwo was called to eternal rest on December 30, 2007. In a tribute, the church described him as “a man of peace, a man with proper accountability, patience, tolerance, and integrity…His great work, truth, obedience, and proper accountability is a footprint ministers and congregations should emulate.” [7]

Thomas Oduro


Notes

  1. E. I. Alamanjo, “Rev. E. N. Okonkwo (Ret.)” Glad News, 1. no. 2, (n.d.) 28. Alamanjo states that Okonkwo and Nwaizuzu were appointed catechists in 1954. However, when writing the life history of Nwaizuzu, he states that Nwaizuzu was appointed catechist in 1956, cf. Glad News, 1. no. 2, (n.d.) 30. The fact that the two men were appointed on the same day is incontrovertible. At a joint interview by the author on July 31, 2003 at Onitsha, Anambra State, Okonkwo and Nwaizuzu affirmed that they were both elevated to the position of catechists on a Friday in 1956.

  2. Ibid., 29.

  3. Ibid.

  4. Aniago, Emmanuel. Interview by author, July 31, 2003, Onitsha, Anambra State, Good News Theological College and Seminary, Accra. Tape recording.

  5. Enoch Okonkwo, interview by Samuel Ozomah, n.d. Glad News, 1, no. 2, (n.d.) 10. The healing of the two lame sisters occurred in 1963.

  6. Okonkwo, Enoch. Interview by author, July 30, 2003.

  7. “Biography of Late Former Superintendent Rev. E. N. Okonkwo,” in Programme for the Funeral Service of Reverend Enoch Nwamadu Okonkwo, p.3.


This story, received in 2012, was written by Rev. Thomas Oduro, Ph.D. Rev. Dr. Oduro is the principal of Good News Theological College and Seminary, Accra, Ghana and DACB liaison coordinator.