He began preaching at the age of 13. But somewhere along the line, he derailed and joined a group of pastors that were merchandising the gospel and those he claimed were cultists. But God brought him back last year in a rare encounter. Since he discovered God afresh he launched a campaign called, Back to Christ. The campaign has however pitched him against some of the prophets that he fell out with. That is the summary of the story of Jay Israel a South Africa-based preacher of the gospel.
In this interview monitored by Church Times Nigeria on his YouTube platform, he shares the story of his ministry life.
Who is Jay Israel?
I am a young zealous man of God, born and bred in Zimbabwe in Bulawayo. I come from a family of six and happened to be the last born. Jay is a short form of Jacob. When Jacob encountered God, his name was changed to Israel. That is why I came about the name, Jay Israel
When did you enter ministry?
I started preaching when I was 13 years old. I was born on December 18, 1992. But a lot of people find it difficult to believe I am this young because of the kind of exposure I have had over the years. I started taking care of myself at a very young age. There was a time I moved out of home and went to Botswana.
I started a church in Zimbabwe when I was 18 years. Sometime in 2015, I was in East London where we went to preach. After preaching we went to rest at the beach and we met a family and we ministered to them regularly. And before we knew it people began to come to join us at the meeting. I found myself staying in East London and the meeting grew to become a church. We moved from one building to another because of the growth of the church. At the last count, we had moved to about the 7th building.
If East London church was growing so big why did you move to Durban?
When I started preaching in my younger years. I used to hate sin with a passion. I could not tolerate the lifestyle of my brother whom I used to move around with. My friends did not like me because I never used to compromise. What I am preaching now was what I used to preach in those years. But as I got associated with some people my message got diluted. I got involved in all kinds of things. But then I believe it was my learning curve. I found myself moving in the direction of the gospel I never used to preach which is the prosperity gospel. I will say I got into the prophetic prosperity gospel because that was the in-thing. There were times you want to go with the flow and move with the trend. When I was in East London, I was so deep in the prosperity gospel message but then I felt a void and emptiness within me. I felt I was not complete.
I fell into depression. I had everything at my disposal but I had this emptiness until I had an encounter where I got an awakening. I realized that at the end of the day there is the great commission that Jesus left with us has to do with winning souls. I had a serious awakening that I began to condemn myself. I thought to myself that I was going through a moment of transformation.
The last service I conducted in East London was packed full. But then I left all that and moved to Johannesburg and then Durban where God told me it was time. But the church in East London was still running. I owe East London people a big apology because I just left them and moved on. They believed in me and followed my ministry. They stood by me. But when this thing was happening to me I did not go to explain to them. They only heard about it on social media. They still come to attend our services in Durban. I will like to say to those in East London to forgive me for just leaving them without any explanation.
You have been well known in the gospel circle. What brought a sudden change?
Change is personal. I believe that many people might not understand this. It was a learning curve for me. I can’t explain what really happened. What I can say is that God happened to me. I lost relationships that were very important to me because of the change that happened to me. I lost people who are dear to my mind. Some people thought I was going crazy. When you have an encounter with God, it’s like falling in love. When you fall in love and you have a reason for falling in love, you have not really fallen in love. I can’t explain it. Have I really changed or not? That is for people to know. But personally I believe I am on the right path.
If you say you are now going back to Christ after preaching for years, where were you coming from?
Thanks. I want to put it on record that Back to Christ is a movement. It is a vision that God gave me which I believe that no matter how much I push the movement I can’t accomplish what God asked me to do. It is like a relay. When I say Back to Christ, I am saying let us go back to Eden and have a personal relationship with God. I am not addressing individuals and pastors. We can differ in terms of opinion but at the end of the day, we are brothers. I don’t take things personally. I still continue with the assignment God gave me. Eden is a place of relationship. Let us go back and have that relationship. For a long time, we have personalized the gospel. Let us let go of the members and raise disciples. Rather than merchandising the gospel let us go back to what God asked us to preach. I might be misunderstood because I am a foreigner in South Africa, but long after I have gone, people will talk about my message.
Does it seem this your message is getting you attack from different places?
Last year around November, I was getting threats from men of God because the message I was preaching was tampering with the merchandised gospel they were preaching. The truth of the matter is that the church has been contaminated by the people who are leaders. Rather than leading people to Christ, we are leading them to ourselves. When I am hammering on this, people concerned are not comfortable. I preach Christ crucified and Christ raised from the dead. My heart bleeds not for anyone else but for the souls that are being led astray. I am not bitter. I am just aggrieved by what I see being done to souls. I am not moved by attacks. I believe that God is with me.
Do you believe that we have cults in the church?
Many people join cults thinking they have joined the church. I told people I do not want to be called a prophet again and people thought I was denying myself of the office. Anytime the title of Prophet is mentioned, it comes with pressure. A lot of people attend church watching performances that have got nothing to do with taking people to Jesus. The Scriptures encourage us to test all spirit. At the end of the day being sharp in the prophetic does not mean one is being used of God. Somebody might have been called of God for real. But somewhere along the line, they may derail. You can be drinking alcohol and still prophesize. You can have the gift without the anointing. That is why we have so many cults run by pastors. We also have some who operate by other powers. Those ones are called false prophets. Accuracy without intimacy brings death. Cults are there. But the Bible tells us to test them all and reject the evil.
There are people that are really called by God who carry the genuine gifts of God. But after some time they go a different route because of the association. They are no longer connected to God. I remember I would preach and prophesy. But the intentions then were wrong. It was about bragging. There are those who called themselves into ministry. Those are Simon the sorcerer who got the gift in exchange for money. People have asked me what they should do for their eyes to be open. I tell them the most important things is to be intimate with God. We are entering into a season where the prophetic movement is slowly being swallowed and God is bringing a revival. If you think I am too radical, wait until you see many more come up. The time has come for all the gimmicks to leave the body of Christ. It is time for the truth to be spoken and for it to come to light.
So are you saying people should then do away with the Pentecostal churches?
We still have genuine Pentecostal preachers. Unfortunately, it is in the pure prophetic church where women are being abused and raped more than they are being raped in the world. There are certain things the world will not do that the prophetic churches are doing. The prophetic church is about raising millionaires. We pursue the wrong thing and we end up going the wrong direction. We have a big problem. The genuine preachers are being overshadowed but God is taking us to do the right thing.
How do we know a fake prophet then?
You test. You can’t judge a person because they are healthy from the outside. We have prophets that are appealing from afar but the closer you get to them you find out that they are nothing. It’s like when Jesus approached the fig tree and found out that it was not bearing fruit. We still have genuine prophets but then, prophecy is the mind of God revealing Himself to the people. It is not what you can play with. Many of the prophets we see around are jokers. We have got so many people playing with the mind of God. When God reveals, he reveals to redeem and not to reject. Many prophets are unduly flamboyant. But I believe there is this wave because that is what is trending. Discernment is not a physical thing. It has nothing to do with the flesh. For people to know the true church, they must be able to pray on their own and study the Bible. I tell people now to pray on their own and study on their own. Now that we have a lockdown, people are beginning to realise the need to be personal with God.
You are a young man. Are you married?
I am just 27. I do not want to marry because I am under pressure. If I get married because of pressure from the church I will fail in marriage. I am still single. I am not intending to get married as long as I have not found the right person to marry. I don’t want to marry and come out of it. A lot of people are asking me to marry but they themselves are divorced. Challenges come from being single because you always have women around you. But I have a hunter mentality. Anything that throws itself on me, I don’t take it seriously. I will rather hunt for the person I will marry. Challenges are there because I am single. The ministry is affected because I am single. Because you tend to lead a lot of women who are not coming to Christ but coming to you. I have women sending their nude pictures to me in my inbox, proposing love to me. I am saying this to set the record straight. I am not perfect.
Alpha Lukau of Alleluia Ministry International was your spiritual father. But you have parted ways with him. What happened?
I love pastor Alpha. I met him in 2017. I never had any problem with him. He loves me too. I was inspired by his style. The way he used to dress and the way he used to talk. When I met him and showered encomiums on him, he directed the glory to Jesus. For me then, it was like I had met a man that would lead me more to Christ. He loved me. We never had a fallout because of anything. No personal issues. He sent me a message that he knew the messages were not attacking him. He loved me a lot and wanted me to go to Congo with him in one of his preaching engagements. But I refused to go with him because I was going through an extreme change at that time. I told him I could not make it. When he came back he asked me to come and see him, I refused to see him. The first time I spoke about anointed materials, I believe the message hit his church. But that was not my intention. I spoke about sex in the church how the prophetic churches are the biggest pimping organisations you can ever have. I was attacked severally because they felt I was attacking him.
When I began to preach the Back to Christ message I had two options either to continue the message or continue with Pastor Alpha. We have different kinds of rape cases in the church. Nobody is addressing those things. When I began to address these things I was shocked at the level of attacks I got in the church. All that led me to move away from his church. What I was talking about was contrary to his church which is Alleluia Ministries International. I had to choose between the message of the cross and the man of God.
What have you got to say to church leaders given your experience?
It is never too late to come back. I thank God my moment of change came at a time I am still young. Many men of God know that they are not living the life of Christ. It is never too late for them to begin to have a relationship with Jesus. Many people think I have some other motives other than Christ when I abandoned my old ways. But then how can I leave a gospel that gives me money and go to the one that is not giving me money. Why would I leave what will make people to treat me like a king and go to a different route altogether? The truth is that my message is coming from a place of conviction. Straight from above. My tongue may sound harsh. It’s not because I am bitter but because that is how I express myself.
So what has this change done to you?
I had to restitute my ways. I had cut away from my past. I had cars I was driving I had to return them back to the owners because I got them fraudulently. I cleared my bank account and my wardrobe because I did not want to have anything to do with the past. Anything I got during those days I returned during those days of the perverted gospel, I returned to the owners. The car I am driving now did not come because of people sowing seeds to my life but because of who I am now. I do not want to be associated with my past. I did that because I can’t be condemning those who are merchandising the gospel and still be enjoying proceeds from a polluted gospel. I cleared everything up to my furniture and began on a clean slate completely.