This is a story about death, loss, sorrow, pain, victory, comfort, peace and eternal life.
“Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?” — 1 Corinthians 15:55
On this day 3 years ago, my only brother (Adeola Olatunji Okungbaye) went to be with the Lord. His exit was so devastating to us because we were still recovering from the loss of our dear Mother in 2016. I come from a closely-knit family where the bond is so strong, so when this happened, it hit us strongly. It was even worse for my Dad who just lost his partner of over 30 years and 2.5 years later, his first child is also gone.
My brother’s death was such a bitter experience for me because he was the one I always looked up to, he was the male figure I wanted to be like and more. During my childhood, he was the example for me and he was my guide on many things. I attended Command Secondary School because my brother attended it, he convinced my Parents to ensure I went to Covenant University and literally did all the paperwork and registrations. Asides from my Parents, he was the most influential person in my life. From wearing his clothes, shoes, reading his books, to attending Christian programmes. My brother played a vital role in my faith journey, he was an exemplary Christian, his faith walk has inspired so many people.
I’ve always wanted to be a Medical Doctor (rolls eyes at Ben Carson) but I didn’t get the admission for Medicine but I got for Biochemistry (BCH). My plan was to finish this degree, then continue my journey to the promised land of a degree in Medicine & Surgery. However, in my final year as a BCH undergrad, I changed my mind. I just didn’t want to spend another God-knows how many years getting a degree in Medicine, so I decided to do something else after my BCH degree. I was already interested in photography because of some friends who were photographers in school, I told my brother and he got me tutorial videos which introduced me to photography.
A Shoulder To Cry & Lean On
Growing up, we had a joke in our family that my brother loved outsiders more than his own family because of how much he gave, supported and helped people who were not even his family members. He was a pleasant guy, the best guy, the encourager, the adviser, the shoulder to cry and lean on and the one with the jokes. Gosh! I adored this man, he was the most important male figure to me after my Dad. When he died, I created an online memorial diary for people to write and share the memories they had with him. The comments were so touching and they just showed me how he lived a life of impact. You can read the comments here.
Being the Teens Coordinator in church, he was always looking for ways to improve the lives of the teenagers around him. From paying fees to clothing them to feeding them to ensuring they had the emotional support and brotherly love they may not have at home. His house was always open to them, he had such a large heart and I am glad he loved well.
Loving Husband & Doting Father
My brother’s daughter was just about 5 months old when he died, he was such a loving husband and a doting Father. He had plans for his family, the church, the teenagers and his career.
My brother’s death taught me to live an impactful life. Give all you can, love God, love people, be supportive, be present, add value to everyone around you and die holding on to the Hope of your salvation.
Victory & Comfort In Death
Death is a mystery, it is difficult, it is sorrowful, it is tiring, it changes everything, yet, we’ve got to keep going. I tell people that death can do 2 things to a Christian, it can either make your faith walk stronger or it can make you change all your convictions about the Faith, making you abandon it. Some people think I am strong or that my family is so strong, despite all we’ve been through, we’re still standing and trusting God. I tell them that the strength is not from us because we have no reason to be strong. We lost our Mum and our brother in 3 years, 2 people who literally loved, trusted and served God faithfully. The Bible makes it clear that God loves us but why did He allow these things to happen to His beloved children? We had and probably still have questions but one thing is certain, we Trusted and still Trust God, through it all!
I tell people that I am not strong, I only derive my strength from the Word of God. If I wasn’t a Christian, I don’t know if I would have survived. The words of Jesus have been comforting and helping me.
I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. — John 16:33 (NLT)
Jesus helped me understand that we were not promised a problem-free world, in fact, He said we’d have many trials and sorrows but we should be of good cheer because He has overcome the world. This alone makes me know that not everything we’ll be rosy on earth, many good and unpleasant things will happen.
25 Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. 26 Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?” — John 11:25 & 26
This is mind-blowing! 🤯 You mean, if I believe in Jesus Christ, I will live forever? So this means Adeola will live forever, even though he is dead now? This is what comforts me! Nothing else comforts me than knowing there is a life after here where I will see my loved ones who died in the Lord. As Christians, we’re members of the #NeverDieGang!
This doesn’t mean I am not sad that they aren’t here physically again, my brother won’t see his daughter grow into a great woman, my mom won’t see me get married and all the memories they will miss. However, my joy is in the good news that they are with the Lord.
One of my friends shared my family’s story and how it has helped her faith on her IG stories and it was really refreshing to see how a person’s loss can inspire others.
The entire family misses him, especially his wife and lovely daughter who is growing into a smart woman. My sister-in-law has been so strong, it hasn’t been easy but I’m grateful to God for how He has comforted and strengthened her. She’s a wonderful woman and a great Mother and I’m so happy she’s in our lives. She has a blog where she writes about life, our pain, growth and comfort.
I am really grateful to God for helping and strengthening my Dad because we were all worried not knowing if he’d be to handle all of these but well, he is here and still trusting God.
The past 3 years have been really challenging but God has been faithful, He has been comforting and will keep comforting us! My brother taught us after our Mum’s death that ONLY GOOD IS GOD!
Death to the Christian is the funeral of all his sorrows and evils, and the resurrection, of all his joys. — James H. Aughey
Keep resting and enjoying the joys of the Lord, Adeola Olatunji Okungbaye. 🕊
PS: If you ever want to have a chat about Christianity and would love to join the faith, feel free to contact me.