Fasting: You don’t embark on dry fast without hearing from God
That Tuesday morning at the Sweet Sensation, Opebi Lagos, Pst. Bunmi Ajoke Salami had just ministered at the weekly meeting organised by her ministry and one would have thought she would be too tired to grant an interview.
But that was not the case. Apart from spending time to counsel a number of people who came with different issues after the meeting, she still had the strength to answer all the questions by the Church Times team.
For Salami who trained at the Faith Theological Seminary and several other schools both in Nigeria and abroad, ministry is just a way of life. Her commitment to the work is simply incredible. A well-sought speaker at conferences and programmes both in Nigeria and abroad, Salami cuts the image of Nigeria’s own Kathryln Khulman. Her prophetic voice seeps through her meetings leaving her listeners in rapturous mood.
In this interview, Salami who is the founder of Transformers Place, Gbagada, Lagos, tells the story of the beginning and the yearly One-Day with Jesus programme organised by her ministry.
Can we have a peep into your background?
Well I came to know the Lord at a young age and I have been active in God’s vineyard ever since. I was born to a military father, and a trader mum. I became an evangelist from my teenage years. I was ordained an evangelist at Faith in Christ Mission. I became a pastor in that ministry before I moved out to start the ministry the Lord laid in my heart.
People talk about having encounters with Jesus. What was your own experience?
I encountered Christ in a vivid way when I was in secondary school. The Lord spoke to me and said I should follow him and he would use me. But then my father had introduced me to praying at a very early age. I used to attend one Catholic Church.When I was in form 2, I joined a group in the church and used to go out to pray for sick people with the group. But then I became sick at a time and I followed my sister to the office of Pastor Bamiro the founder and General Overseer of Faith in Christ Mission. He was to pray for me. He was the one who first told me that God would use me apart from the personal encounter I had with God. But then I had inclination towards the prophetic. I used to interpret dreams when I was young.
I joined Faith in Christ Mission after meeting with Pastor Bamiro. That was where the Lord further confirmed what Pastor Bamiro had told me. I joined the prayer warrior. I used to talk to people on my feet sometimes for one hour, giving them prophetic insight into their problems and praying along with them. We used to fast a lot. And I still do fast. We had dry fast for seven days and used to break with the water from orange. We went through some rigorous spiritual training under pastor Bamiro. He exposed us further to the prophetic.
There was a time we had some challenges after I had married and had children and we had to move to live in the church compound. Then, we were really down financially. But then I made myself available to God. There were many times I was called upon to minister without prior notice and God took charge. When Reinhard Bonnke came to Nigeria I got involved in the preparation because my G.O was active in the CAN and PFN.
Then, they used to have meetings in preparation for the crusade. I was asked to man the ushering department from our unit that will officiate at the crusade. But the gift of God in me came alive during one of our meetings. It was at the Reinhand Bonnke Crusade that the Lord spoke to me about the one-day with Jesus programme. That was long before I started my ministry. The programme has since become a phenomenon. One of the top pastors in the team of Reinhard Bonnke had expressed so much delight at the way God was using me in the ushering department while we were preparing for the crusade that he was wondering what I was doing in that department. I was quite close to my G.O. He always took me along to preaching engagements. He would want me to minister alongside with him wherever he was called to preach.
You grew up with a father who was a soldier. How was it growing up under a military man?
My father wanted me to be a lawyer. So, he would prepare me on how to address the judge in the court. Whenever I came back from school he would lecture me on how to behave in the courtroom. But generally he was always teaching us and trying to mold us his children on the right path. I remember my brother once took my father’s car away for two days trying to play the truant. He handled him in a way that my mum started crying. He asked soldiers to deal with him. That incident made all of us to be careful at home.
Beyond being strict, my dad was so strong in faith. I remember he was speaking in tongues in the place of prayer and I interpreted the tongues he was speaking. He was shocked that I could interpret tongues. He was so excited by the gift of God in my life that he only gave me a Bible before he died as an inheritance. He said I had already gotten my own portion which was the gift of God in my life. He said his own mother was like me too. His mother was so gifted. He said he had been praying that God would give him a child that would be strong and that I was the child he had prayed for.
A day with Jesus programme has been going on for close to 18 years now. Tell us what are the testimonies from this programme?
The testimonies have been awesome. We have had lives transformed and changed to the glory of God. There had been outstanding miracles of healing and breakthroughs. I remember the case of a woman, an Alhaja who became a Christian who got the key holders we distributed as point of contact for those believing God for their own house. She had lived in a particular house for 14 years. But after prayers at the programme, her son got a breakthrough and was able to build a house for her.
Somebody came from London for the programme. She got the baby basket which we also distributed to those trusting God for the fruit of the womb as a point of contact. God answered her miraculously. There was another case of a friend who collected baby basket for her friend who was trusting God for the fruit of the womb. Both the friend and the woman got pregnant thereafter and had babies. Another one had four babies after collecting the baby basket. She stood for hours to get the basket and the Lord said to her “for standing I will give you extra. There was one who had lost several pregnancies and the Lord blessed her with the fruit of the womb. The cases are too numerous to mention.
There was an interesting case of a man who lost trailer load of goods to armed robbers. He had visited an herbalist whom he gave money. But the herbalist told him later that the goods can’t be found. But the Lord gave me a word for him when he came for our meeting that the goods will be found. By the following Sunday morning the Police announced on radio that the trailer had been found around the border area. No single thing was stolen from the trailer.
You were quite close to your former pastor. One would have thought you will not leave him to start your ministry. What happened and what are the expectations for this year’s one-day with Jesus?
I am asset to him and will always be an asset. He is also a father to me and he will always be a father. I did not leave the ministry because we still do things together. But then I had to leave to fulfil my own call to ministry.
This year’s one-day with Jesus is going to be awesome. Divers illnesses will be healed. Business breakthroughs and wisdom from above will be imparted on participants. We are trusting God to empower 1000 widows. We hope to distribute items as points of contacts for people to get their miracles. It is going to be a life changing experience for all those who participate.
How do you cope with ministry and family pressure?
I still cook very well in my house. I still have time to cook. When I am on dry fast I still cook. I take care of my children. I don’t joke with my family. I go to visit my children in school unannounced. I see my girl anytime in school. One day my son met me at the gate of his hostel at the Covenant University as early as 5.30 am. I sit down to read with my children. I ask them questions from their text books and sometimes it turned out that the questions that I asked them are the same questions they were asked in the exams. I have home helps but I don’t leave the cooking of certain food items to home helps. I do the cooking myself.
You talked about going on dry fast several times. Tell us about fasting?
Instructions matter. You don’t just embark on dry fast without hearing from God. Daniel, Elijah, Moses and several other Bible personalities fasted. It takes a lot of wisdom to operate in that realm. You that is fasting might be tired or you feel that your body can longer take the sacrifice of going without food and water atimes. At that point it is good to stop fasting and take care of yourself. So the person fasting must be able to know when his body can no longer take it. There is no point in fasting and you can’t talk. When I go on a long fast and want to break I go for water for a long of time. I take fruits and a lot of multivitamins. When I go to minister abroad my first three days is spent in dry fasting. In the US they are used to words. So you need the demonstration of God’s power if you really want to make impact. So there is a lot of spiritual preparations that accompany our ministration.
Is the fasting the reason you’re slim?
I have always been slim. I have been so used to fasting that I fast when I am pregnant. I once carried pregnancy for 18 months. It was ectopic pregnancy. The baby was growing outside the womb. During those trying times I did not sit down for one day I was still doing ministry.
I was praying and fasting in the midst of the travail. Usually for all my pregnancies I would mount the pulpit a week after I had put to bed. When I was diagnosed that I had ectopic pregnancy the nurse close to me was crying. It was like a death verdict. But the spirit of the Lord in me assured me that I would not die because I still had a lot of assignments to do in God’s vineyard. When I was to be delivered of the baby. It was a young nurse that took the delivery. The doctors were not around. When the doctors came and saw that the baby was born already they were shocked that the baby could be delivered without operation.
What do you have to say about the prophetic ministry? There seems to be much of abuse in that area of ministry?
It is real but it has been abused. By their fruit you will know them. We have the Gehazi example. The Lord showed his master what he was doing while he was away with Naaman. So it is possible to see things. When they came to arrest Elijah the Lord told him ahead of time. I am used to speaking with my eyes closed because while talking the Lord shows me things. I believe whatever a man sows he would reap.
I began seeing things when I was young. I was an unusual child. I started walking at six to seven months. A man once prophesied to my mum that I was a special child. Growing up I have truly seen the hand of God upon my ministry. We have been running our own ministry now for close to 20 years. We have our headquarters in Gbagada. I remember an outstanding miracle at the Gbagada centre. God said to me in one of our meetings that there was a boy who could not walk. The boy was 8 years old when the parents brought him to our meeting. That day the boy walked miraculously after prayer ministration in the course of the meeting. The whole place was agog. We have had cases of mentioning names in the course of ministration and we see the reality of what God asked us to do. We don’t go beyond our boundaries.
Anybody who will be elevated in life might have been relegated before. In the corridors of royalty we pass through the way of stewardship. All these made-pastors have history in ministry. You can’t be something in ministry without going through process.
You talked about going to live in the church with your family. What was the challenge then that made you move out of your rented apartment to the church compound?
The day I announced to my G.O that we were coming to church he was surprised. We got to the church anyway. That night, armed robbers came to our house. That was after we had moved to the church. But then it was some economic challenge that pushed us out to the church. We lived in the church premises under challenging circumstances. I had few cloths to wear then. The poverty was excruciating.
There was a day I was putting on faded ankara that was torn at the shoulder end while in the church premises. Unfortunately for me, I had to preach in one of the emergency ministrations in my torn cloth because I was not told I would minister that day. Even then if I was told there was no cloth to change to. I ministered powerfully that day and the name of the Lord was glorified. In less than 24 hours my story got to my siblings in the US that I wore a torn cloth to the altar to minister. My siblings were alarmed and wondered why I did not reach out to them. Today the story has changed for me and my family. Well known cloth designers now handle my wardrobe.
So what lesson of life did you pick from your travail?
I learnt that we should not help the Lord in his work. Anybody who goes into God’s work with the hope of making profit and helping God will meet disaster. When you are not sent you will meet disaster on the field. It is the call of God that keeps encouraging you in ministry even when things are not going on well.
What role does your husband play in the ministry?
Well, my husband has been quite supportive but he is not fully into ministry the way I am into ministry. He is a business man. But he is also a pastor and he supports me so well in what God is doing through me.