The province chairman of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) Badagry Province, Bishop Dr. John Seton Benhotons has charged fellow ministers of God to build their individual ministries according to the pattern given to each of them by God, and labour in prayer for the delivery of their individual ministry pattern.
In this interview with Christian Benefits on his rebirth encounter and journey in ministry, the veteran gospel preacher and Bishop of International Network of Covenant Ministers shares his 39-years-experience of walking with the Lord beginning from his enticement with jollof rice and coke to Rev. Dr. Tunde Joda’s Christ Chapel Int’l Churches (CCIC) at Surulere, Lagos in 1984 after his return from England to Nigeria. Excerpts
Please, can we meet you sir?
My names are John Oyedeji Seton Benhotons, Bishop of the International Network of Covenant Ministers, an international ministerial network of churches and ministries. I am also the International president of Word Impact Network with functioning base in Nigeria and Ghana, and also the founding pastor of Reigning Word Fountain Church in Badagry, and presently the province chairman of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) Badagry Province. I am married to Rev. Shalom Folashade Benhotons. We have five wonderful God-loving children; four ladies one gentleman and presently five grandchildren.
Share with us about your background, including your rebirth encounter
I was born in Badagry precisely 26th September 1960 into a C & S church family but christened and baptized initially in the Anglican Church. History has it that three months into my pregnancy, my parents got the prophecy that it was going to be a boy. Remember it was a no scan age then. The prophecy went further that I would be born in the afternoon and that I would be a servant of God with some further details. All these came through as prophesied but I never heard of all these until when I got called into 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 program and bagged a Bachelor of Arts. I got born again in 1984 at the Christ Chapel International Churches (CCIC) Surulere, Lagos, under the leadership of Rev Dr 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 and further promise of rice and coke every Sunday that we would come to church. But that one Sunday changed the story of my Christian journey. I was surprised to see in church vibrant youth so engulfed in worship that I felt ashamed I had to be enticed to church with rice and coke. I gave my life that day to Christ with so much broken heart amidst tears that the promised rice was no longer relevant. I dumped the Palm wine drinkers club to which I was the “feather” (the secretary general) that day to the amazement of most membership of the club. My spiritual life began and it was a journey of speed in spiritual growth as if I had so much to recover.
How long have you been in ministry, and share with us your experience in the ministry over the years
I got called with a dramatic encounter on the afternoon of 5th April 1987 and got into full time ministry in 1988 December. That makes 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 back in Lagos. Ministry has not been a smooth ride. I’ve gone through what Apostle Paul stated in 2 Corinthians 11:26_27 KJV  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 it all, glory be to God that causes us to triumph over all.” For me as a person, I still stand to that one of the glorious thing that can happen to a man is to be in ministry. It is a high calling and an honorable profession. Getting started in ministry was just by God’s grace and much more raising a family amidst that humble and challenged beginning but with couple of friends that we had to keep encouraging ourselves and it’s so great to see everyone today settled in ministry. It has taken faith, resilience, not looking back and the grace of God.
Again, share with us how you received the call to ministry, and mandate of the ministry
I got called into ministry in what I consider a dramatic encounter. I was reading my Bible this wonderful day along Jeremiah chapter one and 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.” Jeremiah 1:5 KJV it was like the word jumped out of print and hit my heart. I got scared and I closed my Bible. I didn’t continue reading till the next day because that word kept echoing in heart. The following week, another encounter, I picked my Bible to read and while reading the Book of Isaiah, getting to this portion of the scripture: Isaiah 7:9 KJV . 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 like it jumped out of the bible like a bullet into my heart I broke down in tears and wept like a baby pleading “Lord, I don’t know anything. I don’t have any power to go out there. I am a young man and a young believer. I pleaded, Lord, there are others you call in these large congregation.”That time I was a member of Christ Chapel. It has a congregation of over 5,000, Worshippers every Sunday. Then Lord quickened again this scripture in my heart, Jeremiah 1:4:10 KJV. I had this struggle because ministry was not it for me at all. 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 that time from London before my salvation encounter to get some things done and return before I got stranded financially, and thought while working things let me get to do some schooling. So, you can see the picture of my journey in brief: Came from England that I had struggled to raise fund to enter, needed to come back to Nigeria to sort out some scholarship things, got stranded, didn’t want to waste the time. I got into schooling and while in school I was invited to church and eventually got born again and got called into ministry. This call into ministry was not easily embraced by my parent especially my father. It was at this point when my mum had a conviction of my call that she had to relay their prophetic encounter regarding my pregnancy and birth. So conviction for ministry came to be. I made my submission to God’s, thou not without questions for God on regular intervals, hoping God would change His mind. The ministry mandate: 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 base alongside the ministry volunteers that comes from other churches. The mandate is to build the body, perfect the workforce and revive and encourage the leaders.
What are some of your church programmes in line with this mandate?
Like I have said, I operate majorly on ministry dimension to the body. These are what we have been doing over the years. For over ten years consistently we’ve held church workers and leadership conference annually in Uyo Akwa Ibom State, in Badagry town and in Ghana at various locations in collaboration with some number of churches and pastors. We’ve held capacity building program for churches in Ghana and modules Bible school programmes in Ghana and Nigeria. We’ve been having conferences for women in Uyo, Akwa Ibom, Accra, Ghana and in Badagry, Lagos, tagged Women of worth Conference
What are the gifts God endowed you for this mandate?
I will simply put the grace for expository teaching, leadership capacity building, gift of administration, wisdom, prophetic endowment and healing.
Briefly share with us again some testimonies from your outreach programmes
I started full time outreach ministry in 1988 at Ibukun Cinema Abeokuta, where I had the first experience of God’s working power as a deaf and dumb boy got his miracle after I prayed with him. Then another time it was another deaf boy, then a lady with two years issue of blood was brought from Spain and after my prayer for her the issue of blood stopped in three days and never came back again. Another boy with chronic sinus complication was healed with growth on the head disappearing. We’ve witnessed countless number of deliverance testimonies. Barren been blessed, oppressed been set free. Our countless testimonies are the people that their spiritual understanding have been enlightened into liberated lives and getting out of spiritual bondage and generational entanglement.
Tell us about the the greatest impact of your ministry, its spread and influence globally
The greatest impact that I consider is 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 gotten into error for ministry growth and wealth but as a result of our conferences have remained standing strong on the word of God and receiving strength to tool the path of righteousness. In Ghana Word Impact Network, which is the name of our outreach has become like a house hold name in Accra. The ministry has extended to Kenya and just recently we are getting invites for Uganda and Malawi. We have presently national coordinators for Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya.
For the benefits of fellow ministers, especially the young ministers, tell us some of the challenges you have faced in ministry, and how you worked round those challenges to keep the ministry going
First, the early challenges that we were confronted with as a church was the issue of no permanent site. I remember the church was facing regular relocation which translated most times to beginning all over again. I would want to encourage young ministers no matter how small they should try to go a landed property. Second major problem is 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, not everyone will be a deliverance minister. Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:24 KJV. “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 you. Exodus 25:9,40 KJV “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.  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 Spirit and the Word of God.
Who are your mentors or role models in ministry and their impacts in your life and ministry?
My greatest mentor in ministry is my spiritual father Rev Dr Tunde Joda. From him I learned focus, simplicity and tenacity. My biological father is another; from him I learned contentment and daily prayer life. Pastor Fred Price of Crenshaw Christian Centre in his life time was also one. I learned faith and church government from him. I cannot but mention a man that turned my quest for sound expository teaching around, that is Pastor Bob Yandian. I’ve introduced his ministry to a number of Bible teachers.