At 96 years old, many still believed that Pastor Edet Eyo Okon , the first National President of The Apostolic Church, Nigeria, deserved to live and continue with the good work of building a lasting and united Apostolic Church. But that was not to be as the news of his death started like a rumour, with text messages and phone calls criss crossing. It spread like wild fire and eventually, it was announced that Pastor E. E. Okon has slept in the Lord.

 

Akamba Ete (Great Papa), as the late amiable servant of God was fondly called, informed his immediate family members that there were five significant meetings he would conduct, insisting that he should be prepared for those meetings. Little did they know that those were not meetings for mere mortals.

 

This was followed by his subsequent refusal to attend to visitors so that nothing will distract him from the meetings. By Friday, 24 September, 2010 the clergyman showed signs of weakness. And on Tuesday 28 September, the Almighty God answered his long-awaited prayers. It is not on record that he was sick nor admitted in any hospital.

 

Talking about his long-awaited prayer, it is worth mentioning that Pastor Okon, fervently prayed to God to call him to glory as those that he started the ministry with had all gone. He was often reported to have asked God to take him away in place of other younger ministers.

 

The deceased was born a Presbyterian but he later fellowshiped with The Apostolic Church, TAC following the advent of the church in Creek Town. He received permission from God to join the new church. He formed part of the pioneering elders of TAC to receive Evangelist Babalola who brought TAC Glorious Vision to Creek Town, Calabar with Pastor C. E. O. Mfon and later with the pioneer European Missionary, Pastor Idris John Vaughan.

 

Okon’s father, we were told provided the land for T.A.C. permanent site in Creek Town.

 

In his life time, Pastor Okon travelled widely in the course of his ministerial assignments. He was at Jerusalem for The Apostolic World Convention in 1983. He made other trips to Italy, Denmark, Germany and the USA between 1983 and 2002.

 

As an accomplished clergyman of repute, the late Humble Apostle was widely honoured by various international organisations as Distinguished Pastor, Counselor, Teacher and Philantropist.

 

From a humble birth in Creek Town on 10 June, 1914 to the family of late Elder (Obong) Edet Okon Itam a.k.a. Edet Hogan Ambo, of Antigha Essien Family, Ekpe Oku Royal House in Mbarakom, Creek Town, Odukpani L.G.A., Cross River State, the 5th son and 9th of his father’s 14 children knew his life would be different from others. His mother was Aya Okon Itam of Efiat Inua Abasi near James Town.

 

At age 5, Akamba Ete was enroled at the Church of Scotland Mission School, Creek Town in 1919 and obtained his Standard Six Certificate in 1929. He followed the footsteps of Essien Edet Okon, the renowned Hope Waddell Mathematics teacher (his elder brother), popularly called Okon Geometery. He began training for the teaching profession and in 1930 he obtained the basic qualification for enrolment in the teaching profession as it was then.

 

But his undying zeal and passion for the Vine Yard of the Lord surpassed every other dream. He began to follow the divine vision and received fundamental trainings in ministerial art and mission work from the Apostolic European Missionaries in Creek Town, Calabar.

 

He later studied Theology at The Apostolic Church Bible College, Penygroes, Great Britain in the 1950s. This was followed by a Diploma in Theology from The Apostolic Bible College, Obot Idim, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, in 1962. His search for godly knowledge led him to attend other international biblical trainings in the United States of America, U.S.A., Denmark and Britain.

 

With church work gradually over-shadowing his teaching career with the Church of Scotland Mission School, Creek Town, he put in his resignation. This was followed by great intensity in his involvement with the Apostolic European Missionaries in Evangelism and Mission Development from 1933 with unparalleled zeal.

 

Then in 1935, Pastor Okon, was confirmed and ordained an Elder and Evangelist in the Apostolic Church. In December 1936, he was called into full time ministry in Calabar Area. His ordination as an Apostle, the highest priestly office in TAC came in 22 August, 1952 at Atabong Eket. Pastor D. C. Hopkins, the then resident European Calabar Area Superintendent will eternally be remembered for ordaining this great General of Christ for the work of soul saving and the expansion of God’s kingdom on earth.

 

The deceased served in various capacities and cities including Bodo City, Ogoniland, Port Harcourt, Mbawsi, Ifiayong; Itu; Ikot Ekpene between 1954-1959. He assumed the office of Superintendent of Calabar in 1965 comprising the entire South Eastern Area of Nigeria and Cameroun. He led the evangelical team for the planting of the Apostolic Church in Cameroun in the 1950s and chaired the church in Cameroun as a component of Calabar Area until the Cameroun church received autonomy.

 

He also chaired the Akwa Ibom State Field at several times and nurtured its component fields including; Uyo, Ikot Ekpene, Eket and recently Oron.

 

In 1981, following the dissolution of the National Advisory Council of The Apostolic Church Nigeria, and the subsequent inauguration of the National Executive Council of the Apostolic Church, he was inducted and became the First National President of The Apostolic Church, Nigeria. He held this position until his call to glory.

 

As the National President of TAC, he superintended over Lagos and Western Northern Area, LAWNA Territory and all missionary fields in Benin Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Togo and the United States of America; Cross River State Fields, Calabar, Ikom, Creek Town and Akpabuyo; Akwa Ibom State Fields, Maritime field, Ngo sub-field and Igbo Field.

 

Though his death came as a surprise to many Apostolics, Okon fought a good fight, kept his faith and has obtained the crown of glory meant for the victorious one.

 

The LAWNA Chairman and Vice President, TAC in his condolence letter wrote: “His 96 years sojourn on this earth was an exemplary life of humility and simplicity that attracted many lives to the kingdom of God.

 

“Our late father preached and lived a life of holiness. He was an embodiment of peace, love, humility, patience, kidness, empathy, gentlemess and decorum. Like all mortals, he has gone the way of all the earth.”

 

Yes, he has gone the way of all men! We pray that peace and growth continue in the Glorious Vision of The Apostolic Church which extensively laboured for.

 

He was married to late Deaconess Nyong Okpo Mfon of Abasi Oku Royal House, Creek Town in 1937. The solomnisation was done by Pastor R. M. Kay. On 7 March, 1985, Mama slept in the Lord. Akamba Ete remained a widower until his death.

 

He is survived by two sisters, nieces, nephew, relatives and TAC members.

 

Happy stay in heaven till we meet to part no more

 

•Compiled by Ufforth Shalom & Umoh Ofofon, they both worship with The Apostolic Church, Oguntade Assembly, Shasha District, Maboju Area, LAWNA Territory, Nigeria. ufshallom@yahoo.com