Olanrewaju Adenekan known as Pastor Lanre Adenekan has been ministering for 37 years. His deep faith in the word of God was tested when he lost his only son. It was a huge loss which left him in pains but he was able to find solace and pull through in the end. Find out how as he shares his story:
I had four children – three girls and a boy, but the boy (the last born) passed on. He died in 2020 and was 23 years old.
My son had been in the hospital for about five/six days. I was traveling back to Sagamu that day with my driver when I got a call that we have lost him. I didn’t know what to do at that point. The mother was back in Lagos with him in the hospital. I was torn between going home or returning to the hospital. We eventually turned back to Lagos.
Losing him was massively painful. While I was in the hospital, I was somehow convinced that my son was going to make it in spite of how bleak it looked. But my pain began when they would not allow me donate my blood because of my age. I was in a situation where…I’m sorry I get emotional when it gets to this…I was in a situation where I was ready to die to make him live. So, when they declined to collect my blood because of my age, I was quite distraught. I was upset. I did not know that he would pass on the same day. When I heard about his death, the thought of their refusal to take my blood resurfaced. If they had given him my blood and he still passed, I would have felt better. We headed back, and I met the mum. She was distraught and refused to leave the ward. It was painful.
(Pastor Lanre paused, then continued)
His elder sister (that’s my second child) who was around seemed to be able to pull herself together for the sake of her parents. She tried to manage the situation for myself and her mother. I will be eternally grateful to her for that.
His immediate elder sister (my third child) was very close to him. They were one year apart age-wise, so you can imagine the pain. The eldest sister (my first child) who was out of the country, was like a second mum to them, so, the pain was beyond words, really.
We left for a hotel in Lagos, where my siblings and friends had booked for us. When I got to the hotel, the spirit of God had spoken to me and I had a little bit of comfort.
Nevertheless, I thought about my son as a baby, his struggles, his schooling, the plans…everything. They brought tears. I video-called my children that day to comfort them as best as I could. They looked broken.
We later had a therapy session, and I remember I cried during some of the sessions. All that crying had its effects. It’s good to allow people to cry and express themselves. In those ways, I was a bit comforted. The Spirit of God spoke to me, but I was still distraught. Even if I felt better, I was not sure about his mother or the stage of grief she was in. The siblings too, I wasn’t sure. I was concerned about everyone.
We soon returned home to Ogun State, where we all lived. I saw his bedroom, pictures, clothes, etc, and they brought up a lot of emotions. It was a difficult time for me and my wife. When we came back home, his sister came down with COVID-19. We faced the possibility of losing another child within the space of two weeks but the Lord was kind to us; She overcame. So, there was grief, fear & anxiety.
I can’t identify my stages of grief very well because of that complication. A lot of people were coming to visit me as a pastor, and as someone who people perceive as a senior man of God, I had to comport myself well and keep up a good face. So, it is difficult to state whether I went through the typical stages of grief people usually go through.
I wouldn’t really say that my position as a Pastor curtailed my grieving phase. The arrangement of the church was brilliant. They created visiting hours and private hours daily. So, we had a lot of ‘alone’ hours.
The loss of my son didn’t alter my faith; It did quite the opposite. I happen to be a pastor who stands very strongly on the standards of the Bible no matter what. I saw it as a manifestation of Satan’s overboiled anger. I believe Satan tried to get me, and when he couldn’t, he went for my son. Just the week before he passed on, I fell really ill. After his death, I was more determined to preach the gospel in terms of standard and propriety, and preaching the gospel in an uncompromising way. I was altogether more determined, more fired up. Whatever Satan wanted to achieve through that loss, he did not get it at all.
The Spirit of God said some things to me. The things He said to me, and the things I read in the Bible around that time helped me. The Bible talks about a cloud of witnesses, and it was comforting to know that I now have somebody among them. I have my own contribution to the cloud of witnesses before I go to join them. In that way, I smile. The Bible says we should always remember we have them and therefore conduct ourselves properly. It made me move on. I think that where we are now, we have moved on in a way that we talk about him and laugh at some memories. It may not be totally, but everybody has moved on. I must confess that once in a while, I remember when I could not donate my blood. It still does something to me.
The word that the Spirit of God gave to me in my season of grief is the same one I have for a grieving parent. When you go through pain, it looks extreme. It looks unbearable. Nevertheless, the good God we know, who sees the bigger picture, who has the bird’s view of everything, has allowed you to go through this pain because he needed to allow that to happen, to prevent a bigger pain in the future.
People can believe that and know that God will never allow us go through pain unnecessarily. Rest in that comfort.
When asked about how he felt about the fact that his son, who would have carried on his family name, was no longer alive to do that, Pastor Lanre responded, “That ‘carry on my name’ stuff has never been my thing. What name?”