If you wanted to tell a story about what was good that happened to Issele-Uku in 1922, it would be the establishment of Pilgrim Baptist Mission. Rev. Dr. S. W. Martin, Mr. Thomas Ozoma Of Ishiekpe, Mr. Ituwe Of Ogbeowele and other founding fathers of the Mission wanted to build a society steep in education or in which education and health care were foundations good for all its citizenry. In 1965, the opening ceremony of the hospital gave an account of what a united effort of the people could mean to the welfare of our people and we all were very proud to see that day come.
We probably remember when Premier Dennis C. Osadebe, of the Midwestern Government graced us with his presence at the initial opening of the hospital with other dignitaries and he donated the Osadebe Ward to the hospital.
Governor Samuel Osaigbovo Ogbemudia with many of the political luminaries of that day came the following year, 1966 to Pilgrim Baptist Hospital for the dedication of the Ogbemudia Hall and the donation of beds to the hospital from the Midwestern government.
We were very proud of Pilgrim Baptist Hospital because of the people who worked tirelessly to bring it about and made possible the quality of care to be excellent because its principles and values reflected the very best of how we want to live. The health service was to meet the needs of everyone at Issele-Ukwu and the surrounding towns, to cost very little at the point of delivery; to be based on clinical needs and not the ability to pay through the nose.
We have many reasons to give thanks to God for Pilgrim Baptist Hospital because of the ways the hospital served Issele-Uku community before that great antinomian, the ethically challenged contrarian came in and destroyed all the good Rev. Martin had done for Issele-Uku community.
We all have our own stories to tell about the hospital to be impressive and to break new grounds medically in the coming years.
So here again we have another son of Delta State, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa coming to grace us with his presence at the reopening ceremony of Pilgrim Baptist Hospital on February 22, 2020. Without the generosity of Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, the reopening of this hospital would not have been possible. What could anyone say about the man God raised up among his brethren, in the person of Prince Ibe Ozoma to champion many causes at Issele-Uku at a short moment’s notice. He was at the beck and call of all Issei citizens. He is a gift to Issele-Uku, a man whose magnanimity of spirit is unheard of. He is generous in temperament; he has shown more devotion and unselfishness more than any in his generation. He never puts himself first but always was willing to give his time and money in any cause that would benefit Issele-Uku. This is a cry of welcome to the vanished relics of generosity of old I saw in our grandfathers. May God preserve his life for long that he may continue to be a blessing.
I also thank the man of God, Rev. Moses Okolie Mokwunye for his tenacity and the great alacrity and devotion he had shown in seeing to the refurbishment of the hospital. He is the apotheosis of godliness that epitomizes the very best of Christian character and faithfulness.
We give thanks again for Pilgrim Baptist Hospital health services and for its great presence in our society throughout the 1960s and 1970s as well as in all the other ways in which the health of our people was cared for in the greater Issele-Uku community.
Reopening Pilgrim Baptist Hospital is a way of reminding people about what God had done in our midst in the past by healing us and by also turning our people away from dangerous juju medicine and supernatural darkness of superstition to holistic healing through prayer and modern medicine.
Looking back over the last 55years we know there is much to be thankful but a thanksgiving service is not just for the retrospective. The life of this present hospital is built around an act of remembrance in such a way that gives new life and a future hope. In this act of remembering there is continuing truth of God’s intervention in the affairs of men and that the Holy Spirit is able to breathe renewed energy and the power of creative love among His people.
On this Act of remembrance, I once again give thanks to God for late Rev. Dr. S.W. Martin, Brigadier General Ogbemudia, Mr. Thomas Ozoma, Charles Azu MD and all the founding fathers of Pilgrim Baptist Mission which I cannot name at this moment but who worked indefatigably to make the hospital a reality.
My thanks go to the present Governor of Delta State, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, Prince Ibe Ozoma, Rev. Moses Okolie Mokwunye, Pastor E.O. Nwofude, His Royal Highness Obi Nduka, my brother Kingsley Azuh and a host of the members of the rehabilitation committee whose labour of love and without whose contributions the reopening ceremony of the hospital would not be possible.
Rev. Dominic Nwadiei, Ph.D, Master of Divinity, is a renowned Baptist Minister based in the United States of America