Meet Bishop Dr. Sunday N. Onuoha
Founder and President of Vision Africa
The first child of Onuoha Ndukwo and Hanna Onuoha, Sunday Ndukwo Onuoha was born on Sunday, March 22, 1964, in Item, Abia State, Nigeria. His English name, Sunday, was very common in Nigeria to first generation Christian families.
In 1967, a civil war broke out in Nigeria that lasted for three years and cost about one million lives. Sunday and many other Nigerian children from the Igbo tribe in Eastern Nigeria (Biafra) suffered hunger, nakedness and homelessness during the three years that the Igbo people fought against Nigeria. The pain and struggle that Sunday experienced as a young boy made it difficult for him to comprehend the goodness of God in the midst of such hardship. But these difficulties began to shape the leader that he would become. Many tried to justify the suffering, but their answers didn’t satisfy Sunday, who continued to wonder about the suffering of his people.
The war was over in 1970, but the consequences of war lingered as people went for many years without the basic necessities of life.
On May 25, 1978, Sunday was part of an evangelical group attending a camp meeting where the story of God in the person of Jesus Christ was told once again. On that day, Sunday saw in Jesus a God who cried on the cross. In the midst of the cries of Jesus, God did not leave him alone. Right then, at age 14, Sunday decided to spend his life sharing that same love with others.
Sunday’s family and others on Igbo land suffered economic hardship, and Sunday was unable to attend high school. Instead, he moved to the city of Aba, became a tailor, and began independent study for the equivalent of a high school exam for college admission in Nigeria.
In 1983, God’s grace found Sunday and he was accepted to go into the ministry of the Methodist Church in Nigeria. He attended the Methodist Theological Institute Sagamu, Immanuel College of Theology, Ibadan and earned his B.A. from the University of Ibadan, all in Nigeria. He served as a pastor to several churches, taught at seminaries, and was involved in mission and outreach in Nigeria. He was also the first Chairman of the Youths for the Abia State government, Nigeria.
Sunday moved to the United States in 1995, where he completed his Masters and earned a Doctorate from Perkins School of Theology at SMU in Dallas, Texas. Sunday’s Doctoral thesis bore the title: Vision Africa. In it, he carefully developed a method through which Americans and Africans can be in partnership to bring hope to the African people. And since then and continuing today, he is living out (implementing) his thesis.
Sunday Onuoha’s passion for his people gave birth to Vision Africa, a new organization that could change the way Americans and Africans approach international aid. Founded in 1997, Vision Africa activates networks of faith communities to provide and share God’s love and bring vital services to the people of Nigeria. Empowering the grassroots, Vision Africa builds Nigeria’s indigenous capacity to solve problems and cure society’s ills from the inside out. Sunday is supported almost entirely by individuals who believe that this model for international aid will lead to sustainable change. He is looking forward to expanding on this ministry’s opportunities. As a fair-minded leader, Sunday’s emergence in Nigeria was further strengthened in 2003 with his appointment as Special Assistant on Privatization in the Presidential Cabinet of Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo. His status as an emerging religious leader was solidified with his consecration as Bishop in the Nigerian Methodist Church in 2006. For six years he served as the Bishop in-charge of Evangelism, the first in the history of the Methodist Church Nigeria. During those 6 years, Bishop Sunday developed a strategy that enabled the church to plant over 600 new churches (126 of which were planted by Vision Africa). In 2012, Bishop Sunday was appointed the Regional Secretary of the World Methodist Evangelism for all of West Africa.
In 2009, Sunday was chosen to lead the Nigerian Inter-Faith Action Association (NIFAA), which is the largest Christian-Muslim collaboration in history. Nigeria’s most prominent religious leaders – the Sultan of Sokoto and the Archbishop of the Catholic Church – personally selected Sunday for this role because he carries such a unique position of trust within the wide range of faith communities in Nigeria. NIFAA provides an unprecedented platform for inter-religious collaboration to curtail malaria in Nigeria, and has been cited by U.S. President Barack Obama as a leading example of cooperative efforts to solve common problems. In 2011 Bishop Sunday’s picture was unveiled in the lobby of the United Nations, along with President George Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair and others, as a World Champion in the fight against malaria. In 2013 Bishop Sunday received the Global Peace Interfaith Leadership Award from the Global Peace Foundation for his efforts in advancing interfaith medical collaboration, humanitarian service and peace through Vision Africa and NIFAA. Bishop Sunday is regularly asked to speak at, moderate and serve on panels of organizations or programs promoting world peace, including
- Bishop Sunday recently attended the annual meeting of the Global Peace Foundation where he was awarded the Global Peace Interfaith Leadership Award for his efforts in advancing interfaith medical collaboration, humanitarian service and peace through Vision Africa and our sister organization, the Nigerian Inter-Faith Action Association
- Bishop Sunday recently spoke at and participated in a meeting of UNICEF, USAID and World Vision in Washington D.C. on how faith communities can effectively bring attention to the health needs of the people of the world
- Bishop Sunday attended and spoke at the most recent Global Peace Leadership Forum in Belfast Ireland, the purpose of which was to look at how cross-community engagement and the role of faith leaders in conflict resolution can bring about Peace in Nigeria
- Most recently, Bishop Sunday has been asked to moderate and speak at the World Bank co-hosted conference with USAID, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith & Local Communities on “Religion and Sustainable Development: Building Partnerships to End Extreme Poverty” in Washington D.C. on July 7-9, 2015
Sunday recently became a naturalized American citizen and holds dual citizenship and dual residence in Nigeria and the United States. In 1992, Sunday married Ugonna Osoka of Item, who also holds a Masters of Christian Education degree from the Perkins School of Theology at SMU in Dallas, Texas and serves as a chaplain at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas. Ugonna and Sunday have three children, Agnes, Jane and Isaac.
Sunday’s passion is sharing God’s love.