•With Her New 402 Page Autobiography, BLOSSOMING
It is no longer new that Apostle Folorunso Alakija is 70. She turned 70 on the 15th of July, 2021. To mark her birthday she wrote a new book titled BLOSSOMING WITH THE HAND THAT GIVES THE ROSE. The proceeds from the sale of the 402-page book will go towards the welfare of widows and orphans in Nigeria, under the auspices of The Rose of Sharan Foundation.
The 5 page foreword to the book was written by Dr. Bill Winston, the Founder, Bill Winston Ministries. She says this is the 2nd part of her autobiography. Part 1 of the autobiography is titled Growing With The Hand That Gives The Rose.
It is the chronicle of her first 60 years. Part 2 of her autobiography is a compendium of the last 10 years of her life. Apostle Folorunso Alakija is a Businesswoman, a Philanthropist and a Public Speaker. She is also the prolific author of 15 other books.
In Section 6 of her new Autobiography titled BLOSSOMING With The Hand That Gives The Rose, there is an interview conducted by Ijeoma Onyeator PhD titled A Conversation With The Wordsmith, which reveals a lot about her new life @ 70. In it she reveals why she no longer wear wigs and jewellery anymore.
The story of Apostle Folorunso Alakija in the last decade is a frank account of a phase of her life that can be viewed through the lens of a unique bus ride. As a passenger on the bus of life, she has experienced many moments of triumph, sweetness and smooth riding. But she has also experienced some bumps in the road as well as a few close shaves. Anyone reading the book would then wonder how one so successful could have also experienced the other side of life. But hers is a tale of one who has been sustained by a God who has caused her to thrive even in the face of bitter-sweet experiences. To all those who watch from the sidelines, perhaps feeling that her success was instant, the book “Blossoming with the Hand that Gives the Rose” walks readers through the process of navigating the twists, turns and triumphs of the last ten years. I sat down with this wordsmith for about an hour and the resounding lesson from the book is that the blossoming is the reward of anyone who makes a firm commitment to hold on tight to God’s hands.
It was interesting reading about your journey to school about 60 years ago. You talked about your father having a Mercedes Benz at that time and it was something novel. But of course, with 52 children in the family, sometimes you took a commercial bus to boarding school. When you look at yourself today, you can take any form of luxury transportation of your choice. How does it feel coming from there to here?
Apostle Alakija: I know within me that I’m so pleased that I had that experience – that I had the opportunity to be able to talk about it, because if you got everything from start to finish and you didn’t taste the other side of life, how would you be able to talk about it now? How would you be able to compare both now? I’m glad that I was a passenger on those buses called ‘bolekaja, – which means: ‘get down and let’s fight it out’. There were always issues that cropped up in those buses. I can look back now and say, thank God that I’m no longer in that sector or category of people who don’t have a choice. I now have a choice. I think it’s a good balance.
While her story reveals one who is no longer waiting for a bus at a physical bus stop, her experience uncovers a woman quite familiar with waiting on God. Such was the wait for suitable technical business partners in the family oil business. It was a similar wait for the baptism of the holy spirit – that took 27 years! The more eager she was to receive it, the more the precious fruit of the Holy Spirit seemed to elude her. One thing that shines through from her waiting room experiences is the strength of her character. She had no stomach for pretence, and no desire to fake it either. That inner strength and ability to stay truthful even with the world watching is an attribute she possesses to this day. Take a look at how she puts it:
Is there any experience you have had in business that has not been so palatable – something that business people can learn from? For instance, have you ever been too trusting of those around you?
Apostle Alakija: I had always been too trusting and I remember that I did get my fingers burnt. There was someone who worked with me, and it wasn’t until after about twenty years that I realized that that person was definitely not the right person to work with me because it delayed what I would call blossoming now. Then, it delayed my growth both financially and spiritually at the time. But then God suddenly revealed it because I had been getting closer and closer to Him. Suddenly one day, God revealed that this person that you have relied on so much and that you love so much is working against you.
As leaders, we always have to look around us and test the waters. Don’t just assume that because a person is working for you and is doing very well to your mind that they’re not agents of darkness. You could have agents of darkness around you, and this person was an agent of darkness until God revealed that I had to do away with the person. We got a breakthrough with technical partners immediately after.
The nugget of wisdom here is that even though her trust was betrayed, the experience was a part of growing, developing and subsequent blossoming. Within the last decade, Apostle Alakija has increasingly been a covering for those in need, even though it took years for her to go public with information about some of the ways in which she has touched lives. One can only conclude that the world is changing, and people believe that you need to expose widely what you do for others. Notwithstanding, the smiles on the faces of the beneficiaries has always been sufficient for her. But from what she describes, being of assistance through philanthropic acts is a two-sided coin, bearing both a sweet face and a disagreeable one. She experienced the latter at times when her character has been maligned publicly and privately by people who are unable to extort money from her to fund their projects. Giving from her perspective is so spiritual that she needs to be led by Him in her heart before support and finance are thrown behind anyone or anything. It is not arbitrarily done. To my mind, however, there can never be enough of anyone to go round. Only God is the all-sufficient One. Still, here’s some counsel to readers who find themselves in a similar position:
You do business for profit but then, business for non-profit, is something that you’re known for – philanthropy. What is in it for you when you give back?
Apostle Alakija: Like the Bible says in Matthew 6:3, I strongly believe that your right hand should not be privy to whatever your left hand is doing. My philosophy has always been to practice what I preach, but it seems these days, it has become a sin to hide the good you do. In my journey through life, I have come across so many dire cases, so many people needing help, but it is not humanly possible to solve everyone’s problems. You can only attend to some, and only God knows why you are drawn to the ones you pick. While human beings may forget this and choose to dislike or even hate you for not being the answer to all their problems, I can assure you that the good one has done and the lives one has touched will prevent all the mud from sticking.
This all started from the small fellowship in your home which you called The Alakija Home fellowship. Now you’re filling stadiums, doing crusades and outreaches. Did you ever see it becoming what it is now?
Apostle Alakija: I wouldn’t have seen it if God had not shown it to me long ago. On my own, without God, I’d say, no. But God had spoken, and I saw snippets and visions of it many years ago and I know that He’s still at work. There’s still a lot to come. It’s a journey and God takes you from one level to another. Yes, it started with five people in January 2003. Here we are, 2021. Time has flown by so quickly. I was shocked when I remembered that it was that far back. We get testimonies here on a daily basis to the glory of God and we even have crusades. But we did not just decide to do crusades.
God had to say that I want you to begin to hold crusades and God has been faithful. He continues to bring His people to Christ through the crusades, to His glory.
A lot of fans and followers have noticed you don’t have jewellery on anymore. Also, you do not wear wigs anymore. So the question is, would you recommend this move for anyone else who wants to blossom spiritually, or is this individual to you?
Apostle Alakija: This decision to obey God is individual to me. It is about my God and I – God speaking to me, telling me to take action, and then ultimately it is about me getting what He’s saying. I am simply obeying what He told me. Now based on what He told me and what I experienced, I do not wear wigs and jewellery anymore. I’m not saying it’s the same for everyone because He didn’t tell me that. He told me what He required of me, and that’s what I’m doing. My point is that life isn’t always straightforward and simple. No.
Quite unlike fashion, not everything can be tied up in a pretty bow. Please see the outward changes in me as yet another aspect of my spiritual blossoming.
It would appear then that while outward beauty is desirable, there is a need to get priorities right in a world where the temptation to be swayed and distracted is so great.
You run your own race and you’re successful at it. So, what would you say to people who want to do the same?
Apostle Alakija: I would say that we always need to be ourselves. We shouldn’t be trying to be copycats. While there is a great benefit in learning from others – the things they do, their viewpoints, their stance on issues and perspectives- you must never lose sight of who you are. You have to know what works for you, because if you try to imbibe somebody else’s way of life, it may backfire.