In May 2023, some members of the Tema congregation visited retired District Elder Tulashie to commiserate with him on the passing of his wife, Sister Vivian Mamaga Tulashie. Following a moment of deep reflection, the retired minister’s solemn words about his departed wife, Sister Vivian, was touching: “If the New Apostolic Church ordained women ministers in those days, I have no doubt she would have been ordained an Apostle.”
Sister Vivian was the epitome of perseverance and resilience in the Church. Despite her advanced years and weakening frame, she was always present in Church. Walk into the Tema congregation chapel on any Sunday, Wednesday or church holiday, be it in the old building, the temporary structure or new building, you would find her seated on the right edge of the last pew, bordering the middle aisle of the auditorium. She was always present.
She was the Deacon’s friend. Having been part of the start of the Tema congregation in the 1970s, she was in the thick of affairs helping to spread the gospel and establish congregations in the Western part of Ghana as her husband worked those rural areas. She observed a lot, and she learnt a lot about pastoral and soul care. Because of her widened view at divine services from the back, she would observe happenings and quickly but quietly draw the attention of Deacons to concerns that may have elapsed their attention.
She knew a lot, but she understood her position as a member and would accord Deacons their due respect whenever she interacted with them. She would also encourage young ministers at every opportunity. “I could see you were tensed but you spoke as you were led by the Spirit. God is with you my son. We will keep praying for you so do not worry about anything. Everything will be fine”, she would say.
Sister Vivian was a mother figure to all. During the hard times of food shortage in Ghana, in 1983, Sister Vivian showed her motherliness and lovingkindness as well as experience as a professional baker. Our brothers and sisters in Germany had sent down some flour to bake bread for members. As a baker, she would naturally be involved in this special vineyard work. But she saw beyond just members of the Church. She saw an opportunity to share this love and blessing with the neighbourhood. She would go on to manage her consignment of flour so well she baked enough for members and share loaves of bread to children and struggling families in the neighbourhood. This she did every Sunday for almost a year freely and wholeheartedly; a kind act that would attract and grow members for the Tema congregation.
For the youth in Tema, Sister Vivian, together with her husband retired District Elder Tulashie, was a shining example of dedication and commitment to the Lord’s work. Through the life threatening and scary periods of the 1982 coup in Ghana, exacerbated by the ensuing food shortages and commodity prices hikes which made life very difficult in those days, she stood by her husband’s ministry. She would travel to remote areas with him and spend nights in their vehicle in dark places.
Even in ill health, she would follow her husband to the Western Region to perform his missionary duties in 1987. As fondly remembered by District Elder Tulashie, she would not stay home, she would rather be by his side, just so he would not have to worry about her health, but rather have an undistracted mind to concentrate fully on the Lord’s work. Such was her selflessness. During the preparations for the visit of one District Apostle to Ghana, she took it upon herself to cater for the national choristers with success. It was not surprising that at her burial service, there were delegations from all over Ghana to celebrate her life.
Sister Vivian was the modern-day Ruth, taking on and serving the Lord and God of her husband with heart and soul. We will miss her presence, we will miss her smile. But we know we shall see her again.
May our Heavenly Father bless and keep her soul.