A woman of many parts-lawyer, philantropist, relationship counsellor-she has over the years championed the cause of the downtrodden. Through her foundation, the Vessels of Hope Foundation, she had fed, clothed and educated children of the less privileged in Europe, Asia and Africa. In this interview with Saturday Independent, Ruckey Peniel talks about her charity, relationships and the need for Nigerians irrespective of faith to genuinely seek God. Excerpts
You have just finished two outreach programmes for the needy in Nigeria and India. We will find out details of these programmes; but first of all, we’d like our readers to know you. Who is Ruckey Peniel?
Ruckey Peniel is an author of four books and counting. I am a woman who wears different caps. A wife, mother, lawyer, a graduate of City Law School, University of London, a life and relationship coach and pastoral counselor. I BRING Hope to Hopelessness. I was BORN IN Nigeria, trained in Nigeria, UK and Switzerland. I speak four languages- English,Yoruba, German and Swiss German and hope to learn more.
So, let’s get to the point. You have been involved in philanthropic activities for many years now in Africa, Europe and Asia; how did it all begin and what keeps you going?
I came from a humble background where after education, feeding seemed to be the priority of my parents. As a child I saw the careful thoughts and effort they put in to feed their 5 kids and a couple of family members living with us. As the First daughter and oldest in the house, my older brother lived somewhere else for sometime, I was entrusted with meal planning and care of my younger ones. I knew what budgeting and planning meals meant from about age seven. I promised my parents as a child, to study hard and ensure feeding won’t be a concern to us anymore. I observed kids on the streets of Lagos struggling to sell on the major roads to feed themselves and support their family. As a young adult and single mum, on a particular day I looked to heaven and said God if you would bless me and enlarge my coast I will feed as many poor kids as I can! So here we are. God answered that prayer and I am grateful to be able to feed kid’s and their family by the grace of God. I and the incredible Hooe Now Team are committed to this mission. Not only do we provide meals, we have been able to sponsor a couple of kids up to college education.
You are also into relationship counseling through your HOPE NOW TV; relationships today are buffeted on all sides by a myriad of challenges with many collapsing under the weight of these challenges; what message do you preach to such people?
My advise is to let people know thay WE ARE AS SUCCESSFUL AS OUR RELATIONSHIPS. Success in Relationships demands a high commitment to continous self growth. The message of Knowledge acquisition, Love, and Forgiveness is key to prodictive and empowering relationships. This is my preffered definition of love : Love is a decision made based on the knowledge you have of another person. Love is not a feeling. For example, if I hear the news of a child in need and through compassion/love, I decide to facilitate assistance for that child, that is love. Love seeks to be always in the corner of its object, no matter what. The kind of love that sustains any relationship, especially marital, is a decision one makes to cherish , support and care for the object of love. Genuine Love must first be decisional. It is transformational and not transactional. Again, I advise acquisition of knowledge regarding relationships before going into them. Seek to know yourself, your visions, strenghts, weaknesses etc. By that you are able to choose a relationship partner more suitable for your life’s journey.
You also been organizing the HOPE NOW Conference every where. What is the conference about generally? The last two editions held virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic; any plans to hold the conference this year?
Hope Now is a platform where issues facing relationships are discussed in an open and non-judgmental manner thereby providing hope and healing for our times. These conferences hold in Europe, USA, UK, Asia and very soon in Nigeria.
Yes. Due to COVID-19 we had virtual versions for two years(2020 and 2022). We actually had Hope Now Los Angeles actual conference last September. We expect to resume a hybrid of actual and virtual conferences this year. We are currently planning Hope Now Conference in the DMV area of USA in June, God willing.
Hope Now is not just a conference. It is a global movement of people willing to learn and apply principles of prosperous relationships in a non- judgmental family atmosphere.
Let’s return to the outreach programmes you run through your Vessels of Hope Foundation; you held two such events simultaneously in Nigeria and India recently, how do you fund these programmes and what informs your choice of location?
We fund our outreaches from donations of our partners who are usually private persons. In order to extend our outreaches both in Nigeria and other regions in the world, we need the support of organisations and private individuals. Our main focus has been Nigeria, India. In the past we supported outreaches in Uganda.
One of our criteria of the choice of beneficiaries is the authenticity of the beneficiaries. We work with proven agents in the regions we serve to ensure that beneficiaries get the financial support they need. As we get more support from kind hearted,socially responsible corporations and individuals, we will be able to reach even more regions that need our support.
You are also a minister of the gospel; what’s your take on the proliferation of church denominations in Nigeria amid increasing acts of criminality and some would say, godlessness?
I always say there are fakes because there is the genuine. It is heartbreaking to hear of the atrocities committed by so-called servants of God, churches and Christians and of courotse, her religions. If it is not righteousness, peace and joy, IT IS NOT OF CHRIST. Greed, selfish ambition are at the heart of those atrocities. The antidote is humble surrender to the rule of love.
Nigeria has challenges of intolerance and bigotry in recent times; what’s your advice for Nigerians especially the youths who seem to have been caught up in it all?
There is a universal law of Love made popular by Jesus christ Himself, LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOUR AS YOURSELF. The wealthy and advanced countries on earth developed on this law. It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, Muslim or Christian, Hindu or Atheist, LOVE IS THE ULTIMATE This love is not emotional. It is a decision we must make in order to heal and advance the human race. As a minister of the gospel, I am convinced of this truth-LOVE CONQUERS ALL. Again, this points us back to the previous discussions above.
Genuine faith and religion according to James 1:27 is to care for the needy and vulnerable people in the society.
Fighting, killing, stealing or manipulative structures in the name of religion defeats the very purpose of a personal relationship and reverence of our almighty creator whose fruit is equity, justice and progress.
The Almighty God is more than capable of defending Himself. Fighting for God connotes He is too weak to fight for Himself. The youths must arise in truth, disciplined lifestyles and humbly pursue a desired future for their country!
The golden rule is the ultimate solution to bigotry, religious wars,
marital wars, political wars etc.
This interview was originally published in Saturday Independent Newspaper(https://independent.ng/nigerian-youths-must-arise-in-truth-pursue-desired-future-for-their-country-peniel/)