Pastor Dayo St. John is the Helmsman of Help for the Family Ministry, a ministry dedicated to raising marriages and families that conform to God’s design and purpose, through sound bible-based teaching, counseling, mentoring, and reconciliatory labours. He is a teacher by calling an author and publisher of many Christian books. He also manages Megilloth Books & Publication and Megilloth Books Ltd. In this interview with Church Times Nigeria, he shares insight on how singles can find marriage partners
How did you get into the marriage ministry in the first place?
I came into it by grace. It was not planned. I was an active worker in the RCCG. I was on the prayer team. But around the early 90s, I was involved with praying for pregnant women and those who had challenges with the fruit of the womb. In the course of that, I attended Bible school and later became a pastor in the church.
But while pastoring I was more involved with family life ministry. By 2010, the Lord asked me to quit regular pastoring and concentrate on the marriage ministry. That has been the story of my involvement with the marriage ministry under the name Family Help Ministry.
What has been your experience in the area of young people looking for who to marry?
The experiences have been awesome. I normally tell them their case is easier because they can still be helped to get it right maritally. But because of the lowering of standards in the church generally, I fear for their marital destinies. There are so many temptations on the way, that are not making them get it right.
You said those who are trusting God for a partner can still be helped. How exactly do you mean?
I mean they can be helped by letting them know the right way, encouraging them, and counseling them to follow the right way. But like I said it is only those who are willing among them can get help.
From the scripture from personal experience, from the experiences of many, I have found out that the best way is the way the maker of marriage stipulated from the beginning. It was God that made Adam and Eve meet and fit for each other. They are the making of the Lord. It is God that also joined them together. Throughout the scripture, this pattern is replicated severally. That God is the same God. He has not changed.
In practical terms, what do you think the single person should do to get a spouse?
Basically, a child of God should know that God is interested in all areas of our lives. God likes to lead us according to His will. God has scheduled our lives inclusive of who will marry. Our wisdom is too shallow to think this matter out. In essence, a young man looking for a wife needs God to present him with his own wife. A good wife, a good woman is from the Lord. It takes God ministering by his spirit to lead us to the right partner..
But it ultimately boils down to the ability of the singles to hear the leading of God. Jesus says in John 10v27, I know my sheep, my sheep knows me. The question is: How many young people have a relationship with God. And he said in that same scripture that they hear my voice. How many young people can discern the voice of the Lord? And even if they discern, how many of them follow his leading?
These are the things involved. In practical terms, we are serving a speaking God. Every child of God should know how God leads him. We are not serving a dumb God. Unfortunately, we have many Christians who don’t know how to hear God.
Many singles have not made a practice of hearing from God on little things about their lives. It is only when they want to marry they now want to struggle to hear from God. For such people, it will be a challenge to know how to hear God concerning marriage.
So in practical terms, you are saying those who want a spouse must hear from God?
Yes. But it is not about hearing a voice that says, “my son, this is your wife” No. I am not talking about that. I am not talking of going to a seer either. I am talking about relating with your father in heaven. We have earthly fathers who speak to us. We learn to understand their voice from childhood. So the same applies to our heavenly father. We must cultivate the habit of hearing from Him. It could be in dreams. It could be through another person or through an inner voice. Hearing from God could take any form. But the bottom line is for the single to understand how to discern God’s voice.
What you are saying is that one has to have a relationship with God first before bothering Him about marriage?
Exactly. And hearing from God does not have to be dramatic. It comes out of an ongoing relationship with God. I am a practical example. I never spoke a single word to my wife that I wanted to marry her. I only knew her faintly. I was not looking for a wife by the time God spoke to me about her. I could not tell her. I got a paper and scripted something I can’t even remember now. I gave it to her. She too heard God speak to her. She said the voice said to her, Bisi, you are Dayo’s helpmate” So that was what gave me the boldness to always go back to God when we have challenges.
It will interest you to know I did not know her name. She did not even know mine too until God spoke to her. We were far from one another. I was already a chattered banker and was worshiping in RCCG ACME where we had many single mature and ready ladies. But she was still a student when God spoke to me about her. There was no link at all that would make me want to approach her in my normal self. All these happened in 1991. But we did not marry until 1996.
There are many other instances of people who can attest to the fact that God still speaks when it concerns marriage.
A brother once told me that the lady she married was looking like somebody who has had children already before he approached her. But when God spoke to him, she began to see the beauty in the lady. Sometimes God will give you somebody that does not fit into your calculation. But when you obey God, your perception will change.
A lady who had MSC told me how God led her to an NCE holder. She was a bit hesitant. But I asked her if she was getting married to certificate or destiny. So God still speaks.
There are cases of people who claim to hear from God but their marriage still hit the brick wall. How will you react to this?
There are people who don’t hear from God but come to lie they heard from God. That is very common. When you lead yourself, God is not obliged to go with you. But let us take it for granted that they heard God and the marriage fails. Our God is the alpha and the omega. Between the alpha and the omega, I always add that God is everything in between. It is one thing for God to be the alpha but on your way to marital fulfillment, are you still going with God?
It is one thing to start with God, another thing is to continue with him and end with him. Even if God leads you into marriage and along the line you abandon God, you will meet frustration. Don’t blame God, don’t blame the devil. Blame yourself. By the way, the fact that one’s marriage was ordained by God does not immunise one from trouble. The difference is that God will not abandon us during the challenge. There will be challenges But we will survive them. Many enter into marriage with God and along the line they abandon him.
Most of our parents had stable homes. Some of them did not hear from God. How come some who claim to hear from God are having troubles?
It is true our fathers did not know God in the sense we know God now. But their heart was equipped with the law of God. They feared God. Even those who worshiped the false god still had moral rectitude. They were close to nature and natural in their ways than what we have in many cases today. Today, we think we are advancing. But the truth is that many are far from God.
But then our fathers didn’t marry without doing background checks. They respected the judgment of their parents and would take a lot of care before getting married. There was that relative nearness to God. They had this grace of endurance. Many of them had challenges in their marriages. But they endured. Today, our spiritual formations are faulty. People make a charade of giving their lives to Christ. You don’t get to really know who a Christian is and who is not.
How serious is this issue of mature singles not having who to marry?
It’s a serious matter. it is a pain in my heart to see singles of age finding it difficult to get married especially, ladies. The oldest of the ones I handled before was 52 before she got married. The cause is multi-dimensional. It could be from the devil. But that is in a few cases. In that case, if the person involved is aware, it can be canceled. But beyond that, there are other causes that are actually the fault of the singles themselves. A single that does not know how to hear from God will not find a partner in time.
Some of the single ladies that are agitating for marriage now came to Christ at old age or perhaps it was because they are looking for a spouse that they came to know the Lord.. Some had played their husbands and wives away. When God wanted them to marry they refused. I know a sister who had the opportunity to marry after her first degree. But she refused because she said she wanted to do her master’s. Now she has a Ph.D. and over 50 years no marriage. She was insensitive to God’s timing. When we are not close to God, we won’t understand His timing. Some have delays because they have character flaws. Like I said the reasons are multi-dimensional.
What we call delay is also relative. Psalm 139v16 tells us that God has numbered our days. Each day of our lives has been scheduled by God. But there is this sense of lateness when we compare ourselves with others. God may have destined some people for late marriage because that is the plan of God for them. It is like the case of Elizabeth and Zechariah who had been ordained to give birth to the forerunner of Jesus. There was nothing they could have done. Sometimes the so-called delay may be according to the plan of God for the single’s life. It boils down to the same thing. Getting to know God.
It is also possible that God does not want one to marry. But the person will know. I am not talking of false celibacy. God did not want Paul to marry but he still preached about marriage. It is a rare occasion. People who have a calling to celibacy would just find out they are not fascinated about marriage.
The issue of mature singles looking for marriage partners is now more like an industry. Many of them are now victims of lazy men, prophets, and church leaders. How will you react to this?
It is worrisome. When I hear the messages of some men of God or methods being canvassed to these singles, I see many of them as endangered species. I believe singles should be led in the way of God. We should not conjure some worldly methods cloaked in scriptures to confuse these singles. The idea of using dating sites, Facebooks, and other worldly methods to look for a spouse rather than waiting on God in the place of prayer has grave consequences
It seems you are averse to the way people get their spouses. Is God bound by those methods you mentioned? Cant I get my spouse through dating sites, Facebook?
I know God speaks in diverse ways. But first, you have to define the word dating. I hate to hear the word dating being mentioned when it comes to Christian marriage. Every word has meaning. Every word has roots. The practice of dating is far from Christian courtship. It is exactly what we practice in the days when we were in the world. It was about sex and fun. Dating is essentially a recreational relationship for two people going out to enjoy themselves.
But it could lead to marriage?
In those days the boyfriend, girlfriend thing did not lead to marriage. In cases where it led to marriage, the marriages don’t turn out well. There are a few that worked. Some of our fathers were boyfriends and girlfriends but some got born again along the line. We can’t make dating a standard means of pre-marital relationship. There is nothing like Christian dating. What obtains in the Church is Christian courtship. There is no trial and error about that. It has to be settled that it is the person that God has ordained for you. It is called the principle of betrothal. You already know the person is your wife or husband not that you are experimenting. You are only preparing for marriage. You can’t have sex. You can’t live together. That was what Joseph had.
The angels told Joseph to take his wife, his betrothed wife. The Christian courtship is a serious matter. You don’t go looking for a spouse on Facebook. Thank God it is called Facebook, not heart book. A black lady can become white on Facebook and you think you are getting married to a white lady until you meet and discover the real person. You may meet your spouse on Facebook but God will have to reaffirm it. Many go into it through fantasy and that may be dangerous. There is a lot of fraud and deception in digital media. If pervandenture God makes you contact your spouse on Facebook, you will need a realistic confirmation from God before going ahead.
The argument of those who make case for digital marriage is that it is working. How will you react to this?
When we talk about working marriage, it is relative. Some marriage seems to be working from the outsider’s point of view. A woman came to narrate the hell she was going through in her marriage but she is always looking glamorous outside. There are a lot of marriages that seem to be working because the money is still there not because the spouses are enjoying themselves.
Some could be working. But for such people, must have taken further steps to find God. In that case, they did not just base their relationship on the digital connection. There are cases of people meeting their spouses in unusual ways. But the child of God must take further steps to be sure it is the will of God. God can use any method but not in the way people are going about it these days.
But then, can’t a church, run a dating site and manage it from the Christian perspective?
Christians are the light of the world. God has given us sufficient light to illuminate the world. We need not borrow methods from the world and apply them in the church. Dating is not God’s way. The church can be concerned and pastors can be concerned. Any true pastor will be burdened with the growing number of mature singles.
When God wanted to choose David, God decided to organise a party in the house of Jesse so he could get David. God can inspire programmes and get-togethers, not the match-making type. In the process of these meetings, singles can meet and have their spouses. There is nothing like Christian dating site.
Are you not boxing God by saying that?
It is not about boxing God. The Bible says narrow is the way that leads to life. God has a boundary within which he operates. We can determine that through the word of God. Anything outside the eternal principles of God can’t be God’s way.
But the Bible does not have a prototype on how to marry or who to marry?
There is a prototype. I always encourage people to study how God gave Eve to Adam. The marriage of Isaac to Rebecca is also a good one to copy. I see divine leading, character, parental consent, not being unequally yoked. There is a way God will not lead. The principles of God that were applicable to Abraham and the fathers are the same.
We are the ones embracing the world’s system and gullible Christians are following these methods. There are many things God will not do. He won’t lie for instance. And on the issue of whether it is in the Bible or not, don’t take cocaine is not in the Bible for instance. But there are scriptures that are applicable. Dating leads to immorality. Don’t we have it in the Bible that we should not commit fornication? There are implicit scriptures that discourage dating.
Where do we go from here? What practical advice will you give to solve the problem of the growing number of mature singles?
God is the God of solution. I want to plead that the church is up and coming in this matter. There is so much trouble in many marriages that we are glossing over. Many are suffering in their marriages talk less of those who are yet to marry. Many church leaders don’t have a home. Some can’t endure listening to our message because the message will condemn them. A pastor’s wife once told me her husband’s message does not make meaning to her because he was not a good husband. Pastors are the problem in many cases. They are so ignorant of the institution of marriage. Churches should lay emphasis on marriage matters. The young people should be guided very well.
The singles should not give up. Though the vision may tarry, it will come to pass. I will want singles ready for marriage to be sincere to themselves. Some of them have broken relationships with people they ought to have married. They should learn from their experience and come to God to have mercy. They also need a personal relationship with God.
At the end of the day, they are the ones who will hear God. They must ask themselves, are they genuinely born again? They should check themselves. The best time to learn marriage is before you get married not after because it may well be too late. They should take advantage of seminars and programmes that can help them.
They should let their hope arise that they will get married. Having done all, they can now stand. They should be alert so that when God is talking to them in that direction, they will know.