Jerry Eze, the coordinator of the New Season Prophetic Prayers and the main pastor of Streams of Joy International, speaks with ADELANI ADEPEGBA and GIFT HABIB about his life, ministry, and other problems.
What compelled you to leave your lucrative career with the UN to become a pastor?
I realized that there could be no higher calling than God’s call on one’s life. So I realized that mission would always outweigh human satisfaction at any time. It was tremendously motivating to fulfill God’s will for my life. When I weighed what I desired versus what God intended me to do, I realized that destiny was far more essential than self-interest. I quit my secular employment to do God’s work. Meanwhile, there was nothing fascinating about it (the job) at the time. I knew I had a responsibility to fulfill for a generation that was eager to hear my voice.
How did you know it was time to make the change?
Everything about it hinted that the time had come. I was truly dissatisfied with where I was, thus the satisfaction had vanished. My mother had a significant influence on who I am now. It was a time when my mother’s voice rang out loud and clear in my head. She died not long after that. She insisted that the job I was performing was not God’s will for my life. Of course, I’d always disagreed with her. But, as soon as she died, it dawned on me that she had been correct all along.
Your ministry is fast expanding. What is the key?
The secret is that I only do what God commands. There has been no planned strategy to get me here. God is my secret. I know it sounds simple, but that is exactly what it is. I’ve made no effort to declare that this is where I want to be. Everything that has transpired in my life has been about me simply obeying God. Between last year and now, there has been a lot of attention focused on me. Something seems to happen every month. People are wondering, “How did he get here?” ‘How did I get here?’ I’m also asking. There is no plan. Sometimes I worry I’m too ‘unstrategic’ for my own good. I sometimes feel compelled to do more, but I remind myself that I did not bring myself here. In fact, everyone around me is aware that if they ask me to do something for them, no matter how admirable, I will tell them that I need to pray about it and hear from God. That is my mantra. No matter how exciting it is, I must pray and seek God’s guidance. I’ve had a number of ‘blissful’ offers in the past, and I always assured them that I would do whatever God said to me.
What if you need to make a rapid decision and the voice or direction does not come at the right time? What are you going to do?
God never leaves anyone who loves him in the dark. When it comes to hearing from God, He sometimes speaks to you vocally, and other times you feel a strong conviction in your spirit. In some circumstances, He keeps His word. God cannot abandon a person without guidance. According to the Bible, people who are guided by the spirit of God are God’s sons. The Bible does not state that ‘as many as sometimes obtain direction’. It is a continuous leading, and it is what distinguishes my existence.
Do you believe churches should follow your’strategy’ of not planning for growth?
I didn’t say I didn’t make plans. I plan, but I want to hear from God no matter what happens. According to the Bible, a man’s heart contains many devices, but only the counsel of the Lord will stand. Every plan, purpose, and ambition is always balanced against what God is saying to me. I discard anything that does not fit with what God is saying. It loses significance in my life. I only apply what is consistent with what God is saying.
My advise to everyone who loves God is to have plans, desires, and purposes, but to align them with the counsel of the Lord. Some things may appear to be very appealing, and one may wish to dive into them; nevertheless, if one looks closely, it may not be God’s will, and one must let it go.
What is the most difficult aspect of operating a rapidly expanding ministry like yours?
I don’t want to call it a challenge, but it is demanding a lot of discipleship from us right now. I approach things in an old-fashioned manner. I don’t celebrate numbers as much as I do Christ-followers. Every day, a flood of people who are captivated by one’s gifting enter the fold. Some of them are not Christians, while others have not attended church in over ten years. However, they enjoy the present and attend church as a result. I don’t want to end my relationship with them because “Oh, this is what you want.” Accept the gift.” I think I was gifted in order to create disciples for Jesus, not just people who are drawn to my gifting or to me personally. I was asked to raise men for Christ.
Do you believe the church is facing a global challenge?
I don’t want to call it a global problem, but many Christians and men of God are pressing hard for discipleship. I was telling my people a few days ago that the lines are completely blurred. It is difficult to distinguish who has been born again and who has not. Christians aren’t merely wonderful individuals; they’ve had an encounter with Christ that has resulted in a shift in behavior. It is not only about speaking in tongues, but about being Christ-like in all aspects of our lives.
God is requesting that people raise men for Him. It is not only those who support our mission that are true disciples of Jesus.
How have you managed to stick to that directive?
That is our primary focus, whether online or offline. Because we are tearing it down, we have even demarcated into different demographics. We are discipling youngsters and teenagers. We are advocating for everything related to the Lord’s methods, the transformation of the spirit man, and the fruits of the spirit. We’ll keep doing it because we recognize it’s not something that happens with the snap of a finger. We shall continue to do so until men reach the fullness of the Lord.
What factors in your past influenced the way you conduct things now?
I grew raised in a small town church. It was a place where everything revolved around God, the Holy Spirit, and what God was saying. I literally saw God as a child. Some of those with the gift of the Holy Spirit were able to see God. It gave me an apparent awareness, and it also opened my eyes to the possibility of God dwelling among men. I have core raw supernatural encounters. Before my mother died, I witnessed her manifest God in a ‘raw’ way. It gave me a different appetite than the rest of my generation. I witnessed the healing of persons who were blind or mentally impaired.
With your busy schedule, how do you balance religion, business, and family?
Everything must be in order. My ministry is no different than my personal existence. My church, marriage, and business all coexist. They are inextricably linked in my mind. What I’m doing is a calling, not a vocation. My marriage is a service to God. Raising my children is a kind of worship to God. Living the way God wants me to is a form of worship. However, if you’re talking about pulpit labor, that’s a different story. I can’t say that right now since I’m finished with ministry and returning to my marriage. That marriage I’m returning to is a ministry because it must reflect God’s standards.
When it comes to timing (and scheduling), if one is led by God, one will realize that God assists one in doing what has to be done at the correct moment. There are aspects of parenting in which God allows one to speak into the lives of one’s children or shapes things in the lives of one’s children through His instructions that regular parenting cannot achieve. One understanding is given by God. He tells you what to do, and if you do it, you will see results. According to the Bible, children will be educated about the Lord. I am a firm believer in supernatural parenting. It aids in self-organization and speaking the correct words into the lives of one’s children. All I’m saying is that God has led me in the right direction. My job requires a lot of effort from me, yet God has been assisting me. I enjoy praying, but what good is service if one’s family is failing? That would be a complete failure.
Do you believe that some pastors who commit more time to God’s mission do not balance work and family?
That is why I stated that even one’s family can be a ministry. One cannot excel in the pulpit while failing in the home. Such pastors must grasp what ministry entails. When I teach people from the pulpit, I must also make time to teach my own family. If I can pray for people to be healed, I should be able to pray for my family as well. One should not focus solely on one aspect of ministry and neglect the other. The myth that some pastors devote more time to ministry and abandon their families is flawed. Every aspect of one’s life as a priest must bring God praise.
Have you ever been in the ‘wilderness’?
I cannot claim to have had a significant wilderness experience. But, like any expanding ministry, we have had moments of scarcity, when things were not so nice. I’ve been through seasons where loved ones have died. There are also those that one expected to be with one in ministry for a long time but are no longer there.
Growing up, I struggled with my mother since we didn’t have enough money. We were frequently unable to feed properly.
However, in ministry, I have not had many difficulties. Having visions but lacking the resources to realize them is a ‘wilderness experience,’ and it happens to everyone. I haven’t had any agonizing wilderness experiences.
If I had to describe a time as a “wilderness experience,” it would be the difficult days of my marriage. My wife has even written a book on it.
How did you prepare your mind to absorb whatever God says to you?
One would not want to be a visitor in God’s presence. According to the Bible, “he who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” ‘Dwelling’ is the essential term here. One must always be attentive and aware of God’s presence. I may be praying, speaking in tongues, and setting the stage for God to speak to me as I conduct this interview. One should zealously guard one’s mind to prevent negative thoughts from settling there.
You previously reported that you have been tempted by several enticing offers. Could you please share some of these with us?
I don’t mean someone tempting me when I say tempting offers. I’ve had several offers that didn’t appear to have the hands of God in them.
Many people are interested in me, including presidents. It sounds fantastic, but they are following in the footsteps of my impact and what God is doing in my life. However, I literally hear God tell me to sit down because it is not yet time.
One such occurrence occurred lately. It was something I desperately desired. It felt like an honor, which seemed significant to me. My team had already begun the negotiations, but God told me that was not what He desired from me. I have a burden with my task, but it is not for the spotlight. I would be grateful if there was a way to remove the aspect of people seeing me every day while yet having an impact on their life.
I was ecstatic when NSSPD first began. But now I’m bored of not having a life. I can’t go out like a normal person anymore. I am truly exhausted. I have no time for myself. Every day, I pray all night long in order to be able to minister in the morning.
The ministry is primarily conducted through social media, which allows people to say whatever they want. I wish they could be where I am and experience what I am experiencing. I’m doing it for the people. My life has essentially vanished because I want to help others be the best they can be in their own lives.
Aside from the lack of privacy, what other things has fame deprived you?
The main issue is a loss of privacy. People come to one when they have problems, regardless of where they are. They could meet one at the airport and beg them to say a prayer for them.
Meanwhile, other folks genuinely love one but have decided to avoid one because one is too busy. But I’m not going to complain. I appreciate the knowledge that my life matters. Even if I died tonight, I’d be able to tell the world, “I touched my generation.”
Would you continue remain a pastor if you had a choice, especially given the difficulties you mentioned earlier?
I honestly have no idea. One of the most significant milestones in ministry is making an impression on everyone who is called. Anyone who is not used by God is ineffective.
What challenges did you confront while establishing churches in other countries?
My ministry is in a good season. I haven’t been there since those branches were planted. Nonetheless, the figures continue to rise.
Wherever they are, I am raising an army that looks like me. It is the same Holy Spirit gift and divine power. It is not a single man’s domain. They, too, are racing with it, and God is working miracles through them.
There have been reports of pastors seizing control of church branches they were overseeing. How do you know this won’t happen to your international branches?
That doesn’t concern me. The church’s structure forbids anyone from doing so. I take great care not only to raise pastors, but also to raise Christians for Christ. Such incidents may occur when pastors are not real children of God.
My desire is to raise individuals for the glory of God. It is not about perfection, but about having a relationship with God. I don’t expect them to be flawless. They are capable of stumbling and failing. I do everything I can to raise a God-fearing generation. We educate them that there are no laws in place that make ministry harder. People are more likely to leave a church when ministering becomes tough. We make our people fall in love with and enjoy ministry.
How have you avoided the issues and scandals that come with being in the public eye?
When you have too much free time, you end up in a situation where scandals are generated around you. That narrative, though, is evolving. There are some things over which we have no control. We have no influence over how others see us, but we do have control over what we do. People can wake up and interpret things in different ways, but that doesn’t concern me.
What God has asked me to do is significant. What other people think of me is unimportant. I don’t strive to avoid scandals on purpose. It’s exhausting to live like that. I live my life for Jesus. I am making certain that I adore God and that I am doing what He desires of me. It is a natural refuge from all that is not of God. When one’s eyes are fixed on Jesus and one is doing what He desires, one cannot become embroiled in controversies.
Regardless of one’s past mistakes, one should simply focus and accomplish what God wants. Our mission is sufficient to keep us busy and keep us from committing evil. When God was considering what to offer a man, he gave him a purpose. When one is pursuing a goal, there is no time for distractions. If a man is distracted, it is likely that he is not focused on his goal.
Are you concerned that, despite the rise of Christianity in Nigeria, the country is still viewed as extremely corrupt?
And who says we (pastors) don’t contribute? The fact that Nigeria is corrupt does not imply that the church is failing to do its duty. The truth is that individuals should stop making broad remarks and instead go to churches to hear fantastic lessons. What people don’t realize is that some things will come to a halt when people have ideas about how other things work. Take a look at what’s going on. The church has accomplished a great deal. It is not always possible to sit back and say, “That’s why some things don’t work.” God is using the church, and the church is accomplishing a great deal. I’d like to be exempted from the narrative that the church isn’t doing enough in Nigeria because of corruption.
Everyone has a role to play, whether the church is removed or the mosque is added. Show me a country where there are no crimes. Things continue to go wrong there. We will continue to push. An army is forming. Things aren’t the same as they used to be. God is rising up wonderful men all around the world. Nigeria has reason to be optimistic. There is reason to believe in what we are doing. But I’d like to point out that we’re only able to achieve what we’re doing because of those who came before us. Their voices assured us that it was possible. What they accomplished demonstrated that it was possible, which is why we chose to proceed. I honestly believe we are attempting and pushing. I’m here because certain folks believed in me, validated me, and paved the way for me.
Who are your mentors, and what have you learned from them that has really helped you?
I have several role models. Matthew Ashimolowo is one such example. He is a personification of wisdom. He exudes so much knowledge. He is very kind and wants everyone to succeed. He is always willing to offer a forum for it to happen. There are amazing men doing tremendous work all across the world. I also have those who are not well-known yet are excellent.
What do you like to do for fun?
Assume I have to think about what I do for fun. I’m not sure what I do for fun. I enjoy making people laugh. I am a really dull person. I don’t have time for all of that, but I enjoy telling stories. I adore small children’s smiles. It makes me extremely pleased. I admire the Nigerian people’s fortitude. I enjoy seeing folks who are breaking through and accomplishing more than they were before. It makes me happy. I admire people who care about others. I enjoy seeing how things function. I work out at the gym and enjoy sports. It brings me joy.
What is the one flaw you allow yourself?
I’m hoping to find it because the question fascinates me. I don’t yet have one. That’s why I said I’m dull. As I previously stated, I enjoy being surrounded by wonderful people who have great hearts, are forgiving, and dislike strife. To answer your question, I don’t really have one because after this interview, I’ll go back to work and meetings. That is something I intend to learn.
Do you go on vacation, and where is your favorite place to visit?
What touches me is larger than I am. I’m attempting to figure out how He works. I’m literally in the thick of a revival, trying to figure out and understand His dynamics. The holiday will undoubtedly arrive. I’m merely in the position where I’m shining the light so that everyone can see and comprehend what the mandate is. I haven’t taken a vacation in a long time. I travel, but not on vacation.
Has your wife ever complained that you don’t spend enough time with her?
Absolutely not. I don’t have a large family, therefore it’s pretty simple for us. I have two children: a son and a daughter. My daughter attends high school, while my son attends primary school. We’re OK and doing great. My wife usually has ministrations as well. My wife should not go on vacation if I do not. It’s something we’re doing on purpose. We take great care of our home.
Aside from spreading the word of God and empowering people, do you have any personal goals?
My greatest ambition is to raise a memorial for my mother. Another thing I’d like to accomplish is build a home where children may attend to school for free and be raised to a high standard, as my mother taught me.
What is the status of the school you are constructing for low-income students?
It is still ongoing. We’re looking into it. I’d love for folks to see it. It’s something I keep to myself, but we’re working on it.
What do you believe young people should do differently to empower other young people?
I don’t believe Nigerian youth are asking for too much. I am delighted that young people are highly creative, and all they want is an enabling environment in which to develop their skills and abilities. They are not claiming that they will be completely reliant on the government. They simply want a conducive environment in which to develop. The government may do more to foster an enabling climate in several areas. The government can also place the appropriate people in the appropriate positions. To be honest, the government has fantastic ideas, but due to the wrong personnel, they lose some of their spirit during the execution process.
Do you think things would improve if there are more young people in government?
Things may change if we have more transformed kids, because for many adolescents, the only role models they have seen are those in positions of leadership. That’s why they say things like “let me get in there first,” which is a ticking time bomb. What are we doing with these young people, and how are we communicating to them the importance of transformation? The church is investing much in reforming the adolescents, giving them a sense of ownership, and assuring them that no one will ‘japa’ anywhere. Let us work together to make our world a better place. In recent years, more young people have taken action without holding the government hostage.
Young individuals quit their employment to work for companies in which they have faith. More reformed kids in government will help a lot.
There has been a lot of conjecture regarding your net worth on social media. What exactly are you worth?
I am worth whatever God says I am. However, I must say that this net worth nonsense is exaggerated. Of course, the fact that they did not accuse me of stealing makes me quite happy. But, once again, whatever I say or do is a sacrifice to the Lord. So it’s either that or people are exaggerating it. It is not about the numbers, but about the impact. Anyway, whatever they claim about my net worth, I don’t bother looking into it. What God is doing is the most essential thing.
Is there anything about the hype that makes you uneasy?
I don’t react to anything. When I arrived, I realized I had to be prepared for this. People tell lies about one another. I realized that giving a lie a voice transforms it into a power. I realized that those hypes are part of the territory.
Have you experienced a spiritual attack ?
Before someone strikes someone, they must first examine the individual. I spend a lot of time praying. I don’t let the devil get away with anything. I am aware that I am at war. I can’t sleep while riding my bike. ‘Can’t you rest?’ people may sometimes ask. However, this is real fighting. If you take it lightly, you will become a casualty. I have had no attacks. Those who are not sensitive are the ones who will be assaulted.
How do you look after your health?
I attempt to sleep whenever possible. I am extremely deliberate. I make an effort to drink as much water as possible. I strive to eat healthily and exercise regularly. I try to be cheerful. I am an extremely happy person. I enjoy the upbeat environment. I can’t recall the last time I got sick. In me, the supernatural is at work. I consume a lot of water. Because pride is a disease, I am as straightforward as they come.
Aside from prayer, what is one item you cannot live without during the day?
Drinking water, perhaps. But there’s nothing I can genuinely claim I can’t live without.