Dr. Grace Sola Oludoyi, a Nigerian psychiatrist based in London is a qualified Christian counselor with special interest in helping people to live normal live. Also, as a pastor of The Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Royal Connections parish, London, Oludoyi shares her time with families facing difficulties of diverse kinds. Besides, Oludoyi is involved with the annual planning and organisation of Dinning With Christ (DWC), a unique event, which aims to minister to the soul in a peculiar way through music, dance and merrymaking which holds annually in London. Oludoyi was in the country recently to host the second edition of the Lagos DWC. She spoke with Mary Ekah on the significance of the programme
What informed the annual Dinning With Christ (DWC) event?
The aim of the DWC is to bring joy to the body, soul and spirit of women by creating a cheerful countenance in their hearts. In our hectic and busy world today, women hardly have any 'me-time'. We give and give and give at the expense or our self-care. So believing that there are many women out there who are overwhelmed with the busy life of work, career, family and church, that they barely have time to relax and chill out with friends, DWC was born to create the avenue for a total relaxation.
It is a vision aim to provide the opportunity for women to once in a year dress up and go out to chill out in an amicable atmosphere, dine and have a great time in the presence of God while they network with one another in an ambience of life gospel music. We laugh, we have fun - just a way to let go of our busy schedules, worries and issues that we may have and to just have what I call a "me time". A time for myself, just dress up and go out and socialize and get blessed at the end of it. We made the programme open to all women, both single and married. It is a nondenominational programme aimed to gather women from different walks of life, different age group and different religious background to come together and have fun.
How exactly did it start and why did you bring it to Nigeria?
DWC is culled from Proverbs 15:13, which says, "A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance. It is a vision that was birthed in 1998 from our local church in London where a group of women just decided that at the end of the year we should hang out together have party and just dine. That was how it all started. It has really grown; people come from different countries while on holiday and attend with their friends in UK. They keep saying we must bring it to Nigeria that we do not have this kind of thing in Nigeria. So last year, one of my daughters, Mrs. Adebisi Oladipo who relocated from England, I must bring DWC to Lagos.
She did all the background work; she called and said all is set for Nigeria's DWC. So on October 2, last year in Sheraton Hotel, Lagos we held the first edition of the DWC Lagos. The place was full, it was great, usually at the end of the programme, my husband, Pastor David Sola Oludoyi will come around to bless the women and prophesy into our lives. The programme is held first Saturday of every year in London. It is symbolic for us in London, its like we are saying, the first social outings in the year is with Christ. Last year, we had 400 women in attendance and it is a paid event. This is the second event in Nigeria.
Can you tell us what brought about your sojourn to London?
I am actually from Imo state and the second child of a family of six children, born to an average catholic family. In 1995, I got scholarship of the United Nation to study Medicine in the former Soviet Union for seven years. At that time also, I met my husband who also went on scholarship studying Medicine in the former Soviet Union. I graduated in 1992 and of course during the seven years that I lived there, I did not serve God because of the communism. I was just a nominal Christian, I never went to church, and rather we were learning about atheism and all that. When I graduated, I went back to England with my present husband in 1992 and ever since, we have lived in England where I worked as a psychiatrist in the National Health Service for nine years and later on went into full time ministry.
What was your experience like turning from Atheism to Christianity?
Two years after we came over to England, it was a landmark year for us, because that was the year I got married and also the year I gave birth to our first daughter and that was the year we got born again. In the month of April 1994, I was opportune to go to Nigeria; my sister invited me to worship in TREM, The Redeemed Christian Evangelical Mission, where I attended the service. There, Bishop Mike was preaching, he called an alter call and I gave my life to Christ. I came back to London with my husband where a friend invited us to a local Redeemed Church of God near our house.
Ever since then, we have been RCCG members and to God be the glory two years after that, my husband was called to go and pastor a church. We went over and that was how I found myself becoming a pastor's wife overnight. I didn't plan it. I was still a medical doctor, a young mother, it was too stressful, trying to juggle work which was extremely stressful, managing my baby, managing house work, living on my own, being a young wife and also managing being a good pastors wife. Somehow, God started promoting us, my husband and I in ministry and as of today we are pastoring RCCG, Royal Connection Church in East end of London and I'm the Executive Pastor of the church, while my husband is the Senior Pastor and he is also a Provincial Pastor which makes me a provincial mother. My husband is also the RCCG National Prayer Director in UK among other things he does. About nine years ago, I resigned from my medical work and became a full time minister of the gospel. Alongside, beginning of the year in London, we are hosting this annual dinner dance for women. By the grace of God on the 5th of January, we will be marking our anniversary of DWC.
Was it that easy making U-turn from Atheist to Christianity?
Not at all, in fact, there were times during those seven years; I almost choose to agree that there was no God. Even though we had to do atheism as a course, it was compulsory for any one studying whatever course in Russia. It is a compulsory cause that you spend one year studying. I almost believed there was no God. Sunday was just a usual day, I felt it is a day to just stay in bed and relax but when I had encounter in 1994, it was like 'Lord, you have a plan for me to have preserve me.' If there is one thing I regret in life is not having serve him those seven years.
I feel those years were wasted, although academically, I gained but spiritually it was like seven wasted years of my life. I used to say if there was God, why are there poor people, why are people dying, why are the good people dying and those that are wicked are prospering but looking back now, I know a lot better. But one thing that kept me going was that I had a godmother who each time I went to her, she made sure she took me to church, she would always pray for me, send me Christian tracts and I believe people were praying for me. Besides, I left Nigeria on scholarship at the age of 16 and right from time, I was from a strong catholic family. That was the solid foundation that helped me too to become what I am today. The values and norms I learnt while growing up.