Pastor Mrs. Kemi Akin John is the wife of the President of International Church Growth Ministries, Dr. Akin John. She spoke with Church Times on International Women Leaders Ministry which she started about 10 years ago and her experience in the ministry of prayer. Excerpts:
How did you start the ministry?
God told me that he sent my husband to train pastors; but that I should be praying for him. I was praying for him for more than seven years; doing it quietly. So, after those years God told me to go and teach other pastors wives what I have learnt over the years in the place of prayers. That was what informed the establishment of the ministry.
So how has it been praying for your husband?
Prayer is a secret ministry and people tend not to appreciate that ministry. I remember there were days they would hold programmes and never really bothered about those of us who prayed in my husband’s ministry. It got to a point I had to protest the neglect. But then the Lord told me that he was the one who sent me to pray and that I should not expect any applause from people. There is a tendency to think those who are praying were not doing anything because they are not running around. We think since it is just to pray they don’t deserve any encouragement. But that mindset is wrong. A word of encouragement for those who pray sometimes go a long way to make them continue in the work. In the early days whenever my husband was holding programme, I would go into a room with my prayer partner and would be interceding for him. The outcome was great. While those who intercede for ministry should not be carried away and should not look for the applause of men, there is a need for every ministry to take their prayer arm seriously.
You were in the closet praying for seven years before God told you to teach the lessons you learnt in the place of prayers. What are those lessons?
The number one thing I learnt is that if you are a praying person you will find it difficult to fight with your husband. There were times we had quarrel and I would want to pray and the Lord would ask me to settle with him first before praying. It was like a safe net for me. You can’t stay in the place of prayers and still bear grudges. I also learnt that praying for your husband and praying generally makes you spiritual and so able to see into the future and around you. Nothing will be hidden from you even in the life of your husband. So as a praying wife you will learn hidden things and God will tell you things. I also discover that when you spend time to pray you will talk less and your words will be seasoned. You will not be too bothered about what is going on around you because you know that you can always take it to the Lord in prayers. The ministry of prayer stabilizes your emotion and does not make you lose focus. The place of prayers is the place of confidence. Because we spent time with God prayer, there is a holy confidence that normally envelopes us.
So what has been the outcome of your prayers for your husband’s ministry?
The outcome has been great. There have been many testimonies as a result of our prayers. There were times we would want to go for a programme and the Lord will give me a picture of how the programme will look like and tell me where and what my husband should do. I normally tell them the mind of God concerning the programme and my husband normally listens to me. He once named me the prophetess of the house. God once told me that the prayers I pray for him will be like a banner over his life. That encouraged me to keep praying for him. But by the time we began the ministry we saw a great need to pray for many ministries and the people behind those ministries. What men need is support and prayers. Wives should spend time to support their husbands in the place of prayers.
When you get revelations and also dream how do you treat them when they are negative?
Well we still pray. But we don’t allow dreams and revelations to direct our lives. The moment we pray about the situation no matter how negative it is, we take off our minds and move on.
How was the reception at the beginning when you started the ministry?
People were expecting the ministry already. So when my husband announced it in one of his meetings, a lot of people embraced it. People were shocked about what they saw and were wondering why I had always remained in the background. People were really turning up at the beginning. But with time they start withdrawing. I was taken aback but my husband encouraged me to keep at it. He said to me that the first set of people that came was his own crowd but with time God will bring new set of people that would be committed to what we are doing. And that has been the situation. Now, there are people who come not because of Church Growth but because they have their own conviction about the ministry.
So how do you cope with the ministry?
A pastor once told me running ministry for women is the most difficult thing to do. I was wondering what he meant. But by the time I spent few years operating in this ministry I came to appreciate what he said. It is difficult to get the full cooperation of women. It got to a point I wanted to give up. But God encouraged me. There is jealousy, infighting envy among women. But I have every cause to thank God because God has brought us to maturity in the ministry. We are shedding off that negative side gradually.
What counsel would you give somebody whom God has called to start a ministry like yours?
I think the first thing is to be sure that it is God that called you. Make sure you are receiving from God. Get leading from the Holy Spirit. There is power when women gather together. We may be doing the same thing but we can’t function the same way. So there is need to cooperate with ourselves and support kingdom work.
You have spent ten years running this ministry. What would you consider the greatest challenge facing pastors’ wives and what has been the testimonies about the ministry so far?
Attention. Many pastors’ wives suffer from attention. It takes the grace of God for them to cope. If you are not spiritual enough you can’t be a pastor’s wife. Pastors prefer to have meetings with church members than to stay at home. And this had led to many pastors homes collapsing. I think pastors will do well to give their husbands attention.
Many women have experienced revival in their homes. Many of them testify how God has been good to them. Our children have experienced turn around and experienced both body and spiritual healing.
Can you recall a time you can’t forget in this ministry?
Like I said I wanted to quit. There were attacks from many angles. There was a time the attendance dropped drastically. When we moved from our former office to a new place, we experienced a sharp drop in the attendance. Many of them started complaining but later I got to know that the attack we had was in-house; to kill the ministry. But I want to thank God that since we started there has been no time we did not come together to pray during our meeting days. God has been faithful to us. That is why there is cause for us to celebrate our 10th anniversary.