‘Not everybody will be a Prophet or a deliverance minister’
Bishop John Oyedeji Seton Benhotons is the Province Chairman of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), Badagry Province. He is married with five children. He is Bishop, International Network of Covenant Ministers, an international ministerial network of churches and ministries; the International President of Word Impact Network with functioning base in Nigeria and Ghana, and the founding Pastor of Reigning Word Fountain Church in Badagry. In this interview with CHRIS IREKAMBA, the Bishop spoke about his 39 years experience in ministry; role of Rev. Tunde Joda in his life; why men of God should maintain their divine role and not be copycats, and his admonition that not everybody is ordained to be a prophet or deliverance minister, among other issues.
You have been in the ministry for a while, when were you called?
I was born in Badagry, precisely September 26, 1960, into a C & S Church family, but I was christened and baptised initially in the Anglican Church. History has it that three months into my pregnancy, my parents got the prophecy that my mother was carrying a baby boy. Remember, there was no scan then. The prophecy went further that I would be born in the afternoon and that I would be a servant of God with some other details. All these came through as prophesied, but I never heard of all these until when I was called into the ministry.
I had my primary school education at Salvation Army School, Surulere, Lagos, and my secondary school at Badagry Grammar School. I attended the Nigeria College of Administration, where I studied accounting and finance. Also, I did a business administration course with the Almeda University under their Distance Learning Programme and bagged a Bachelor of Arts. I was born again in 1984 at the Christ Chapel International Churches (CCIC), Surulere, Lagos, under the leadership of Rev. Tunde Joda.
I was actually invited to attend church alongside other students by one of my fellow students with a promise of jollof rice after service for anyone that would go with him. He further promised to be giving me rice and coke every Sunday that I will attend church with him. But on particular Sunday, the story changed and that became the beginning of my Christian journey. I was surprised to see a lot of vibrant youth in the church; so, I was engulfed in the worship of God. I even became ashamed of myself that I was enticed to church with a plate of rice and a bottle of coke. I gave my life that day to Christ with a broken heart and amid tears. I realised that the plate of rice and a bottle of coca cola were not worth it.
I denounced my membership of the Palm Wine Drinkers Club to the amazement of most members and my spiritual life began. I had a speedy spiritual growth; it was as if I had so much to recover.
My dramatic encounter happened on April 5, 1987 and I got into full time ministry in 1988 December. That is 35 years in full time ministry this year. I started out in ministry on mission outreach for one year in Abeokuta before getting into church work again in Lagos. Ministry has not been a smooth ride. I have gone through what Apostle Paul stated in 2 Corinthians 11:26-27 saying, “In journeying often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watching often, in hunger and thirst, in fasting often, in cold and nakedness. But through them all, I triumph. Glory be to God for His mercy over me.” For me, as a person, I believe that one of the glorious things that can happen to a man is to be in ministry. It is a high calling and an honourable profession.
I was called into ministry in what I consider a dramatic encounter because it happened when I was reading my Bible. On this wonderful day, I was reading Jeremiah Chapter One, I was precisely on verse 5 that says: “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” As I read it, it was like the word jumped out of print and hit my heart. I became scared and I closed my Bible. I did not continue reading till the next day because that word kept echoing in heart.
The following week, I experienced another encounter, as I picked my Bible to read Isaiah 7:9, which says: “And the head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is Remaliah’s son. If ye will not believe, surely you shall not be established.” The last sentence came to me so strikingly, as if it jumped out of the Bible like a bullet into my heart. I broke down in tears and wept like a baby. I began to plead to the Lord, saying: “Lord, I do not know anything. I do not have any power to go out there. I am a young man and a young believer. I plead, Lord, there are others you can call in this large congregation.” At that time, I was a member of Christ Chapel. It had over 5,000 worshippers every Sunday. Then, the Lord quickened me again in Jeremiah 1:4-10. I had this struggle because I thought ministry was not for me. I was actually the complete picture of Jeremiah struggling with God’s mandate.
I wanted to advance on my accountancy ambition, get into business and return to England because I came from there at that time. I was living in London before my salvation encounter. So, you can see the picture of my journey in brief: I came from England that I had struggled to raise fund to enter; I returned to Nigeria to sort out some scholarship things and I got stranded. I did not want to waste the time, so I got into school and while in school I was invited to church and eventually became born again and was called into ministry. This call into ministry was not easily embraced by my parents, especially my father. It was at this point when my mum had a conviction of my call that she had to relay the prophetic encounter she had when I was in her womb.
My ministry mandate in simple statement is: “Go preach and teach my word without compromise to the body. I am sending you in company of men across nations and tribes to expound my word to the simple understanding of my people. You will perfect the saints and revive leadership as you go across nations. ” This is the call and so ministry outreach is the mandate.
Presently, I have left church work for total ministry outreach across nations, though the church still stands with capable personnel over it. The outreach is planned from the church alongside the ministry volunteers that come from other churches. The mandate is to build the body, perfect the workforce, revive and encourage the leaders. I operate majorly on ministry dimension to the body. These are what we have been doing over the years. For over 10 years, we have consistently held church workers and leadership conference in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state; in Badagry town, Lagos; and in Ghana at various locations in collaboration with a number of churches and pastors. We have held capacity-building programmmes for churches in Ghana and modules Bible School Programmes in Ghana and Nigeria. We have been holding women conference tagged, Women Of Worth in Uyo, Akwa Ibom, Accra, Ghana and in Badagry, Lagos.
What has been the impact of your ministry?
The greatest impact that I can consider are the testimonies of pastors regarding the capacity building of their church workers improving and the knowledge of their Christian services in their various churches been transformed. We are grateful to God for a particular pastor and few more that would have got into an error in ministry growth and wealth, but as a result of our conferences have stood strong on the word of God. In Accra, Ghana, Word Impact Network, which is the name of our outreach has become like a household. The ministry has extended to Kenya and just recently, Uganda and Malawi are inviting us. Presently, we have national coordinators for Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya.
What challenges have you experienced in ministry and how have been able to overcame them?
Firstly, we had the issue, as a church, of no permanent site. I remember the church was facing regular relocation, which in most times translated to beginning all over again. I will advise young ministers to try and get a landed property, irrespective of their small size.
Secondly, we had the problem of identity. Define your call and stay on your lane. Your ministry identity might not be among the so-pronounced identities, but stay on your identity. Not everybody will be a prophet or a deliverance minister. Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:24: “Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God.” We came along the line of wanting to be like other ministries and trying other ministries mandate, but what is not you is not you. We must learn to understand our given unique ministry pattern. God repeated to Moses, build according to the pattern that was shown to you. In Exodus 25:9, 40: “According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it. Verse 40 says: “And look that thou make them after their pattern, which was shewed thee in the mount.” So, be proud of your pattern, but you must labour in prayer to have your pattern delivered to you.
Thirdly, remain focused and consistent. Consistency is the key to pronounce your identity. Key for us all is constantly building our prayer life, fellowship with the Holy spirit and God’s word.
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