March 22, 2016
by Dr. William Sillings
Dr. Frederick Babatunde Odutola is a friend and coworker of mine in Lagos, Nigeria. Fred is the Vice Chairman of the Governing Council for West Africa Theological Seminary. He is also an accomplished barrister and philanthropist. A long list of signal accomplishments and degrees festoon his résumé, including providing food and housing for underprivileged families and children. Reading the list of his accomplishments and awards is like reading the first entry in a “Who’s Who Among Important Nigerians.” One wonders how all those things can be accomplished by one man in one lifetime.
A few weeks ago, Dr. Odutola was given a “Lifetime Award” for his 30 years of service to the Bible Society of Nigeria. When a close friend spread the news to us who know and work with him, we naturally wrote to congratulate him on this very great award for his service.
Within a few days, Dr. Odutola responded with his thanks. In the course of his remarks he pushed attention in the direction of another of our coworkers in Nigeria. To conclude his remarks, Dr. Udotola said,
“The accolades? I don’t allow such to enter my head. I worked tirelessly with the help of God for 31 years and 2 months. The Lord blessed the work beyond my imagination. I was not working to be recognised (sic) with LIFETIME AWARD at their Golden Jubilee but they did; and that’s encouraging.
However, I learnt a lesson from the donkey that carried Jesus at His triumphant entry to Jerusalem. The donkey had never seen people put clothes and palm fronds on his pathway, so it knew that it was not about itself but about Jesus who it was carrying. So friends, it is not about this Muslim Boy, Boonyamin, who later became Fred and a Christian, but it is about Jesus who he carries.”
Therefore I borrow the posit of Apostle Paul: “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do , forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14, KJV).
Especially during Passion Week, we are powerfully reminded that this life we live is not about us, but about the Jesus we carry.