Chukwukaodinaka Oragu, clergy and author never knew his father. Two months after his birth, his father embarked on a journey and never returned. The story of his father’s personality remains faint to him. He missed the fatherly role every child had expected from a doting father.
He didn’t live with his mother either. The challenge of leaving home barely a year and six months old to live with a relation in another town threw him into another world.
To young Oragu, life is a challenge that has to be weathered through. He is one of those that believe that if life throws lemons at you, you have every opportunity to make lemonade out of it.
Narrative of the harsh realities of life he encountered growing up has changed to that of a Reverend with the Anglican Communion and prolific writer. He has 20 books to his credit.
The latest being ‘Faith that Heals’ which is scheduled to be launched this Saturday at De Geogold Hotels and Suites, Awka. Rev Oragu writes on Christian related issues.
His new book, he said, touches every aspect of human life and it encourages you to move on in spite of the hurdles to scale.
“I was coming out of the office today and someone called me on the phone and said she saw the title of my book “Faith that Heals” on the invitation card of my book launch and called me on the number on the invitation card, saying that she wants to share a testimony with me.
She spoke with me for more than 30 minutes on the phone on how faith actually healed her of a sickness that would have taken her life. She said she must come to the book launch.
“The book speaks to your situation as a person. What that means is that with faith in God, anyone can surmount any obstacle. The word faith and its application ensure holistic healing. There is nothing faith cannot do for you. Anyone that digests this book will defeat any enemy and become what God has ordained for such a person.”
The Unubi, Nnewi South Local Government Area born author’s tortuous climb to the top started with a primary school education at Ekwulunmili Community School. He attended Noble Secondary School, Amawbia, for his secondary education and finished at Igwebuike Grammar School, Awka.
After his secondary school, he relocated to Owerri, Imo State, as an apprentice to a cousin who operates a supermarket. He served as an apprentice for eight years.
Rev Oragu, who now arms himself with a Bachelors Degree in Early Childhood Education, Masters in Education and a PhD in International Relations, as an apprentice, never dreamt of becoming a priest or writer.
He was busy tending his cousin’s business, hoping to start his own someday. He left after the eight years agreed without his cousin settling him. Somewhere along the line, he was able to raise money; thanks to another cousin of his, Sir Harrison Egwuagwu. “When he learnt that I wasn’t settled, he made it possible that I start something. I opened a supermarket and later on, I went into plastic business. It was so lucrative that I opened another branch of it.”
“As the business thrived, I got the call to go into ministry. I was a youth leader at the Archdeaconry of Aladinma, in Imo State when this happened. It was at the youth convention that I went for that I heard the call to go into ministry. God told me in clear terms that He has called me into ministry.”
Before the call, the flair for writing has captured him. “I had the manuscript of my first book ‘Disciples Indeed’ with me before I went into ministry. The inspiration of that book came before I battled whether to go into ministry or not.
I published the book in 2001, while I went into ministry in 2003. As an author, each time I’m writing, I’m conscious of the fact that it’s something that will touch people’s lives.”
The prolific writer draws inspiration from God for his works. Inspiration can come at any point so he is always on the go with his writing materials. “When the inspiration comes, I just pick my pen and put it down. It may not be up to a page.
It may not be up to a chapter or book but that lays the foundation or gives me the guide for the book. Like my latest book, ‘Faith that Heals,’ the Holy Spirit ministered it to me. I believe that books are wheels to take the gospel to those places that I may not be able to get in person.”
He described his 15th book ‘Beyond the Church Gate’, published in 2014, among his books that made the most impact on him. He couldn’t have imagined what God did through that book in the lives of others. All the copies were sold out.
“That was the only book that I would say once published among my books, people rushed it that no single copy was left. Somebody read it in Sapele, Delta State, and came to Awka, demanding some copies of the book to give to others.
That book actually focused on telling people what they do when they leave the church and what is expected of those who go to church. When you leave the church gate, what happens, even as a clergy? Many things happen when we leave the church gate, meaning church premises. That book was an eye opener”
As a writer, Rev Oragu has self-published all his books, describing the reason behind that as the best for him. He detests the battles that many writers have with publishers who often feed them with stories on sales of their books.
“Major reason why I market my books myself is that I don’t want stories. “When I go for evangelism or programs, I go with some copies of my books. So instead of going to dump them in a publishing house or bookstores, I go with them for evangelism and after ministrations, I give to people.”
In his literary work, he looks up to Chinua Achebe. “He has challenged and inspired me as a writer. I actually learnt from him. The way he channeled his books towards impacting peoples’ lives is something I look up to, especially his first book, Things Fall Apart.”
Rev Oragu credits Ven Emmanuel Nwangwu who mentored him into ministry as the greatest influence in his life. “It happened in Owerri when I had the passion to go into ministry. I made an attempt in Owerri, Imo State, but the powers that be will not let me. Ven Nwangwu, while here in Anambra, he heard about my passion and made a way for me in Awka Diocese. Then I was still in Owerri; still doing business.”
“Nobody picked interest me in except him. First degree was the least educational qualification, but I didn’t have it, except the passion burning in me. You know I’m from Anambra, and the indigenous issue was used against me, I knew Ven Nwangwu in Owerri before he relocated to Anambra.
He invited me over to Anambra, when he saw the burning desires in me to join the clergymen. He told me if they won’t accept me in Imo State that I should come to Anambra, where I will be accepted. At that time, my O’Level papers weren’t complete.”
He described Ven Nwangwu as a humble and easygoing person, passionate about people’s problems. “He is one man that I will say thank God for making me who I am today. He believes in living and letting others live.
He is someone that believes that God has blessed him and he should be a blessing to others. Even if you are ahead of him, no problem. What is important to him is that somebody is living because of him.”
How does he combine his priestly work with writing? Rev Oragu serves as non-stipendiary priest but started out as a full time priest.
The two roles, he said, encourages him to do more both as a writer and as a servant of the Most High God. He discovered somewhere along the line that he was not born to minister in a place, meaning he was more of an evangelical priest. “In the Anglican Communion, you have the right to decide if you want to be in the church or non-stipendiary.”
“As non-stipendiary minister, the church doesn’t pay you as a priest but you have the opportunity to engage in other vocations at whatever level you decide. I applied and my bishop gave me the permission.
This role offers me the opportunity for literary works and other ministerial works. Currently, I serve at St Paul’s Anglican Church, Agbaragwu, Isialangwa, Abia State. My family lives in Awka. Occasionally, I come to Awka and while in Awka, I worship at St. Stephen’s Anglican Church, Umubele, Awka”
Rev Oragu encourages aspiring writers to imbibe discipline and not let the vision die because the world will not be complete if they die not adding their voice. “The finances or resources to publish any book could be a challenge but just as it has been with me, God has always been there. Trust God; be focused and discipline yourself, you will get there.”
Lazy life puts Rev Oragu off. People, he said, get into vices or commit crime not because the opportunity was not there but rather laziness. “I detest laziness with passion. I believe that when someone gets himself or herself to do something, he or she must achieve it if the determination is there. I never knew my father. That didn’t give me the excuse to start lazing around. I made up my mind that I must survive and be a success story. I am where I am today because I was determined to succeed. I work hard to occupy my present height because I made up my mind that I mustn’t be a failure.”
“Life is not a bed of roses but with determination in God, one will always succeed. I see life as something you do not boast about; something you do not grab in your hand and say life, I hold you. you can’t hold in your hand. Life is something you see and in the next moment it is gone. God is the one in charge of life. I see life as something I must learn from. So i must make an impact in life. So, my general philosophy in life is to impact the world and leave the world better than I met.
Rev Oragu speaks of his wife as the best thing that ever happened to him. The major trait that drew him to his wife was that she has the fear of God. “Anyone that wants to marry should look for a woman that has the fear of God. To be beautiful is all right but that is secondary, inner beauty is best. My wife is humble and kind hearted” He is married to Nneora Nwanneka Oragu with two children.”
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