I’ve Never Asked For Tithe, Offering in my Church – Iloh | Independent Newspapers Limited
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I’ve Never Asked For Tithe, Offering in my Church – Iloh

Posted: May 3, 2015 at 12:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Reverend Moses Iloh and his wife, Edith have been married for 50 years. However, the 85 year old clergy took his wife down the aisle again when the couple tied the nuptial knot penultimate Sunday at the Soul Winning Chapel, Ebute Metta, Yaba. In this chat with ARAMIDE OIKELOME, the couple shared the story of their lives and the secret of their successful marriage, the essence of paying tithe and offering, among other issues. Excerpts:

The Ilohs

The Ilohs

Coming into your office today, I read your mission statement. What brought about this and how have you been able to abide by it?

That is my mission statement and by God’s grace, I have lived by it. The Lord gave it to me and it says, “Living by His grace; Living for His people; Making small things great; Making seemingly great things small” I have a small church where we are trying to raise disciples. I never stand there in church to say, ‘This is offering time. Never!” My belief is, “If you don’t want to give tithe or offering, it is okay. And if you want to give it, it is between you and your God.” Hardly does anybody come through this door and bring me gift but everybody who comes wants something. I won’t get angry about that:  I live by His grace. Sometimes people come to me saying they need a loan and I give them but the moment they leave my door, I say “You don’t owe me.” If I die now, nobody owes me and I owe nobody. I make small things great. People who are in trouble are my own. If you come here and you look arrogant, I look at you that you are nothing. What did you bring to the world? I make great things small. That is my philosophy of life. It is a very difficult life. That is why I thank God for my children. Without them, I don’t think I can maintain this lifestyle?  Where do I run to? People may come to lie to me that they have problem. I am not God, I can’t know. So what do I do? I give them and afterwards, I hear that they lied. At times, you are so angry that when the next person comes you will not give him, whereas, it may be that his own story is true. Then what do you do? You just have to depend on the Holy Spirit to guide you. But I advise you; ‘Don’t try to live by my vision.’ God gave it to me.  It is very difficult but God gave it to me; maybe because of my children. I have five of them; three girls and two boys. My first daughter is my twin sister. Then the second daughter is my mother, my first son is my brother, my second son is my friend then my youngest daughter is my daughter. That means I have only one daughter.

You are from a humble but noble background. No doubt you must have encountered a lot of women as a successful young man. How were you able to manage them? Was mummy your first wife?

Yes, she is my only wife, the only person in my life and my last. What happened was that as a young boy,  I was a footballer. I was one of the first that had the first silver and bronze medals in Nigeria. I was also a good boxer. So, I had no time for women. I was a trade unionist coordinating about 40,000 workers. When I came back after my education; my family had a tradition with a mining company in Jos. My father was an engineer and my elder brother was the confidential secretary of the company, so to get a job was not a problem. I joined them as a statistical officer and that was okay for me. My father taught us to take care of the poor. My father was a good man. He took care of the poor and needy. My mother was a midwife; she also helped to deliver women in labour. She never took a dime from them; in fact, the only thing we knew she ever took from someone was a bar of soap to bath the newly born baby. They taught us to value life more than money. So, we grew up with little or no attachment to material things.  And when I said I was going to get married, my parents were afraid.  Their concern was “How would he cope? This was because they knew me to be a very tough person.  When I did get married, I told my parents, “Any day you come to my house and you hear that there is a quarrel between me and my wife, tackle me, it must be my fault, don’t ever ask my wife what happened.  Instead, jump on me.”  Also, when I got married, I begged my wife never to be afraid to tell me the truth. I told her, “Whenever I do or say something I should not do or say, don’t be afraid of me; tell me to my face that this thing you did or said is not good. It took her one year to two years before she was able to do it. And to the glory of God, we have never held ourselves by the shirt in heated argument or fight; not one day of quarrel that lingered till the next day. Staying together these 50 years is not because I am clever. It has been by God’s grace and that because God gave her to me. It has been 50 years; that is half a century you know! Nobody counseled us. My testimony is that it is God and that is why I chose to celebrate this victory.

You can’t say all has been rosy, what can you say was the most difficult moment in your relationship?

What I would say was the most difficult time was that it took me about three to four years to get her parents to allow me marry her. Besides that, I didn’t have any difficult moment.

Why did they refuse you to marry her?

Number one they didn’t know who I was. If you are working for the Red Cross, you are supposed to be a poor man. You must be going about, begging for money. So, when they heard that you have money, then they think you must be up to something. They didn’t know my background. Number two, they had a tradition that since her father was a chief, his daughter must not marry from outside the state. I am from Imo State while she is from Anambra State. Again, when I was going for the first introduction, I made a very grave mistake because I didn’t know the tradition, I never grew in Igbo land, it is the men that accompany a suitor to his would-be wife’s family.  There was this Mrs. Ogunmuyiwa who went with me on my first visit to her family. When she got there and talked about me, they were very angry and asked, “How can you bring a woman to marry a woman? What tradition is that? That was the only problem I had with them.

Have you ever left her when you traveled?

Oh yes, whenever I left home, I am always rushing back home. I used to have a business; I was a contractor for oil companies. My office was at Oba Akran, Ikeja then. One day I went with my big friends, we sat and talked for a while and later, they said it was time for us to go to town, to go to the island and enjoy ourselves. I said ‘no way, I’m going home, that it was about 7pm in the evening. They said ‘what is the problem with you? It appears you are tough here but when you get to your wife, you are too soft. Are you afraid of her? I replied “if I am not afraid of my wife, is it you I will be afraid of? If my home is not good, I am in a mess. It is my life we are talking of here and I have the right to protect my home and secure my happiness. So, whenever I travel, I’m running home, no matter how fine the programme is, once it is over, I would run home to meet my wife.  She is my wife, my mother, my sister, my everything.

No doubt, there are some of your friends who have two or more wives. Have you ever been tempted to have a concubine?

The thing is that as a man, if you have a wife and then you have a concubine, then you are a beast. You don’t know what is decent. Secondly, this is my understanding of marriage. The moment you are married, you only have a head, your wife’s head is removed, your wife’s body joins you. So what you have is not Mr. and Mrs. Iloh or anything, it is a new head on a new body. God created you differently. You are the Oga, the head but you can never be happy if the body is sick; with all your money and your intelligence you cannot be okay until your head tells you to go to the hospital, bring out money and get treated. So, if as a man you have two or three bodies, then you are a beast. You can’t run a home that way. So, if you are already joined to two or three wives, God help you.

How do you settle squabbles?

I told you that I told my parents that if they ever come to our house and there is a problem or quarrel, they should hold me responsible. When I get back from work and something happens and I shout, maybe because food is not ready, I go back to her later but I don’t talk about the mistake she made. I apologize for shouting at her. So, I take the fault as mine, I don’t talk about the fact that my food wasn’t ready but that I shouted at her. Then I hold her up and hug her. Your family is the way you handle it, if you want to be the master and she the slave, then God help you.

How did you cope with your finances while working?

Well, she worked once or twice but I swore in my spirit never to ask her how much she is paid or how much she has. It is my duty to provide whatever she wants. I didn’t marry her for her money; if she wants to work then she works, if she doesn’t want to work that is my business and my responsibility. If I travel it is my business to buy her nice things, dress, perfumes etc., but her money is not my business. Couples should remember that money is a good servant but not a good boss. Work hard to get money but don’t let it control you, control it. The Bible says the love of money is the root of all evil. Work hard, get money but don’t let it control you.

You are 11 years older than her, how do you manage her?

When you marry a wife, what is age there again? She is my wife; I married her to love her, to blend her into myself.  I didn’t marry her for another person but for myself. When you hear about what we both went through before we got married, we swore that we would not let anyone say to us “but we warned you”.  Your marriage is what you want it to be. Two errors you can make in your life are “Getting a wrong husband or a wrong wife. Once you make that mistake, it is irreparable.”

Nowadays, a wife sometimes earns more than her husband. What should such a man do?

What you should do is to love your wife. One day you could come back home and see new furniture; learn to appreciate that. As long as she is yours, you should not humiliate her. When you go out and you see things you can afford and she likes, get it for her. When she sees you are not humiliating her, she will honour and appreciate you. Give her a special gift on her birthday. She will love you for it. As husband and wife, you are one body. If the head is sick, the body is sick and the body is sick the head is sick; that is what marriage is. It is not a master servant relationship.

What would you advise if a husband is threatened by the wife’s achievement?

That is complex. You see that some women marry husbands they can control because she is a permanent secretary or a boss somewhere, so she regards her husband as her staff. You don’t marry such a woman, I don’t believe in divorce but for such marriage, you divorce, you cut it off. The Bible says if your right hand will make you to go to hell, you cut it off. I went to the Redemption Camp the other day and they had a meeting for ministers. A pastor said he asked his wife to attend the conference, he even pleaded that she give him transport fare but she refused. What is that? There are some marriages that should not be there at all.

Any regrets?

There are things I’m yet to achieve 85. I want to be able to see that corruption should stop in this country. That is why I voted for Buhari; I campaigned for him. I want fellow Christians to pray for him that God should bless and use him. My greatest desire in life is that wherever I show my Nigerian passport, they will respect it. There are times I take my cyclists out and other people are there from other countries as well. But when they release other people to go, they would ask Nigerians to wait, they would remove their shoes, remove their bicycles and subject them to thorough search; just because we are Nigerians. I don’t want that to continue. As for material things, I don’t want anything. I’m very contented. Not that I have everything but the Lord told me He didn’t promise to make me a billionaire or a multi-millionaire. He promised me one thing; He said ‘I will give you your daily bread.’ If God gives you your daily bread, you can give it to someone else but my desire is to see this country fight corruption to a standstill. At my age what else do I want? what I am I looking for? Am I in politics because I want to be a minister or something? I’m very happy.