Marriage and ministry – building a vision with someone who believes in it
Pastor Emmanuel Iren founded what is now known as Celebration Church International 9 years ago at the age of 22 and has been married to the love of his life and partner in purpose, Pastor Laju Iren for 7 years. Blessed with 3 daughters and an ever-expanding church family, the growth on the home front and as a local assembly is undeniable.
In this interview, Pastor Iren answers some questions on navigating family and ministry, starting at such a young age as he did and shares some insight into his perspective on same.
How has getting married as early as you did impacted your ministry over the years?
Well, based on feedback, I believe it has inspired many people to consider that at a young age it is possible to have a sense of direction and maturity. Your youth does not have to be marked by recklessness. It is possible to get it right and be established in every aspect of your life, marriage inclusive at a young age.
People say that the first few years of marriage are the hardest, how did you and your wife, Pastor Laju handle building a new home and a new church at the same time?
I guess people say that because that is the time the most adjustment is needed. Despite having sufficient dating time, living under the same roof with someone is a different ball game and you are bound to discover many interesting things you did not know before. However, it helped a great deal that I got married to someone who loves the Lord. Therefore, pursuing my call was not seen as a threat as she was particular about pursuing hers as well.
What are some of your favourite things about being able to do ministry alongside your wife?
I think my favourite thing has to be the personal faith she has in the ministry and not just because she is married to me. From day one, she believed that it was a vision from God and that has not changed to date. It is very encouraging to build a vision with someone who believes in it, trust me, it really is.
How do you manage being a full-time husband, father and minister?
I believe that a preacher who understands that succeeding at the home front is a precursor to being a Pastor will not see his role as a husband and father as being a great burden. Paul the apostle in 1 Timothy 3:5 says, “If a man cannot rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?” and that is resounding. Having this perspective will make family commitments be seen as ministry in itself and not something that has to be balanced alongside your ministry.
How do you handle the scrutiny of people, seeing as you are so young yet thriving in ministry while building a model Christian home?
To be honest, I just do my best to maintain a clear conscience before God. Everyone else will be fine. As a minister of the gospel, this must remain my utmost priority, not approvals. The approval of men does not translate to God’s approval and the disapproval of men does not translate to God’s disapproval either.
What other advice would you give to anyone starting young in ministry and marriage?
Hmmm, I could write a whole book to answer this question. However, one fundamental thing they must understand is that their commitment to the call of God in no way exonerates them from their normal duties in the family. They must ensure that the family is catered to financially and emotionally, not just as a matter of faith, but as a result of a well thought out and executed plan.