As the London 2012 Olymics were drawing to a close Folli Olokose returned to Lyon Anglican Church with further news of a marathon of a different kind. His lengthy journey towards ordination in the Church of England, a marathon has proved far more difficult than most Olympic events as it calls not only for physical prowess but also for emotional and spiritual strength.
Born and bred in Nigeria, he arrived in France 11 years ago as a refugee without a word of French. He cleared the various hurdles of the famous French bureaucracy and managed to obtain the coveted “carte de séjour” allowing him to stay in France. During this “transit period”, he met his wife, Patricia, and they are now blessed with a lovely daughter (Emma).
Before leaving Nigeria, he had been aware of a call to ordination. In 2006, he set out to negotiate the numerous hurdles and tests of the discernment process and was eventually sponsored for training at Trinity College Bristol in 2011. He has now finished the first year of his two-year course.
When asked if he thought his life so far resembled a commando training course, Folli said "No, it has been much more difficult than that! As a commando you are the one who decides to go for the course. In my life there have been times when I have wondered what I have done to deserve all that has happened to me, both good and bad. But, especially when I have I felt weak, I have felt Jesus' hands lifting me up.”
And so he is trusting Christ to carry him over the next hurdle - that of finding the right curacy which will allow him to not only learn more about the Church of England but also give him the opportunity to contribute more to the ministry and development of the Church.
Information provided by Keith Burrell, Reader in Lyon Anglican Church