Q: Briefly tell us about your journey of faith, and describe what led you to surrender your life to Christ.
A: I was brought up in a nominal Christian home. My parents went to an orthodox church and I always went with them. I would go to Sunday school at the children’s church but as time went on, I began to feel a need to draw closer to God and a longing to know Him for myself. When I got into College, I felt that emptiness that young people in their late teens sometimes feel… I needed answers and I wanted to belong.
After my first year in a new college, a friend invited me to fellowship with a group on campus and I quickly realized that was where I belonged. I remember feeling so loved and accepted in their midst. That group was called Christ Love Fellowship and it was indeed a place that radiated true love and warmth. The Fellowship was known all over the campus and beyond as a place where the Love of Christ was not only taught but truly lived out. Everyone was so loving and I guess that pull of love just kept me there.
The first time I attended, no altar call was made but when I got back to my room in the dorm, I gave my life to Jesus on my own and since then It’s been an amazing journey in the faith.
Q: From an early age, you’ve always had a heart to reach women working in the sex industry as prostitutes. How did you get involved in helping them escape life on the streets?
A: I remember driving by the red -light district of the city I lived in then seeing prostitutes lining the streets at night, I would feel compassion in my heart for them. Not judgement, just compassion.
I wondered what kind of hardship would make a woman want to sell her body for money. I wondered why they felt there wasn’t any other way and what life on the streets must be doing to them.
I became inquisitive and began to ask questions around. I learnt that most of them are victims of circumstances and were unwittingly lured into that lifestyle. I was told that some of them really would be glad to leave the trade but they were already so far gone and deep in debt to their benefactors in the trade and had resigned themselves to fate.
With this in mind I began to think and pray about how I could reach them.
One day, while talking about my concerns for them, someone walked up to me and told me there was a brothel not too far from our church location then. Knowing some of these girls lived there, I began to plan my strategy to visit that brothel.
Q: Describe meeting Sandra while visiting a brothel and what God showed you as she shared about her life as a prostitute.
A: One beautiful weekday afternoon, I walked into one of the brothels, dressed casually in Jeans and not holding a Bible. My game plan was to pretend I was looking for my sister and to just take it from there. I didn’t know what the whole script would be like or how things would eventually play out that day.
I walked in and met a lady called Sandra at the entrance. I would later discover that wasn’t her real name as they never use their real names. I told her I was looking for my sister and she proceeded to ask me for a description “Is she tall?” “Is she fair?” and so on. She was asking me all these questions and I was trying to describe this imaginary sister of mine. Surprisingly, she never asked me for the name of the person I was looking for, later on it occurred to me that there would have been no point asking as they never used their real names anyway.
After much back and forth, I realized I wouldn’t be able to sustain the charade so I just came out plain and told her she may be the sister I was looking for and that she deserved more out of life than what she was getting. I quickly began to tell her that I came there out of love and concern and I just needed someone to talk to.
Just as I was wondering if she was listening to me and receiving what I was saying, a friend of hers who also lived there went past us in the hallway. I suspect she was headed to the bathroom at the end of the long passage. She looked at us and asked “Sandra, is she one of those born again people?”, Sandra answered “No, she’s my sister”. This lady then greeted me so politely. I had to thank Sandra for practically saving my neck that day. I knew I had gotten her listening ear.
That began my journey of friendship with Sandra and her friends in the brothel. She allowed me into her room and we sat on her mattress which was placed on the bare floor as there was no bed frame.
I preached to her and she gave her life to Christ right there. After that day I would continually visit the brothel to talk to her and the other girls. I gave her money for upkeep and other expenses.
I didn’t have much money then but I didn’t want her to continue earning money the way she used to. I would tell her to stop going out with men for money but I also knew she had to have some money to take care of her basic needs so I would give her. I struggled to keep up with that because like I said earlier, I didn’t have much money and neither did our very young church at that time.
I witnessed to the other girls there as well and the Lord laid it on my heart to have a place for them, a home just like the one they had currently, but where they would be free of the compulsion to return to prostitution. I imagined a 3-bedroom apartment with bunk beds and a matron/caregiver with them overseeing them, teaching them new useful skills and loving up on them.
I felt that once they had suitable shelter over their heads, we could then begin to talk about next steps and defining what that meant for each girl. It could be going back to school, learning a trade or even reconnecting with their family…whatever they wanted to do.
It would however take another 3 years before that could happen.
As time went on, I would ask them to come to church but they never really showed up because I later discovered that church must have been threatening to them, as they weren’t sure they would be accepted.
Somewhere along the line, about a year after I first met them I took food and drinks to them at Christmas. I just wanted them to have fun, no preaching, just fun. It was then I heard the Holy Spirit say to me to have seminars/conferences for ladies in ‘Non-threatening environment so that ladies like these girls would be able to attend because it wouldn’t hold in a church building and they could let their guards down. I also expected that people of diverse faiths and backgrounds will be inclined to attend.
I booked a space at a restaurant for the very first one in 1999 and it was a roaring success because the restaurant had a capacity to seat 70 people and we had an attendance of 120! It was like the meeting at the upper room, filled to capacity and overflowing. That was exciting for me because very few of the ladies in attendance were from our church. I had distributed the publicity fliers for the event literately walking the streets and I had also invited some of the girls at the brothel. That became the first Real Woman Seminar. We continued to have the seminars every 2 months in Lagos, later it became quarterly and now we have it in Atlanta, in the UK and of course, Lagos, Nigeria where it all started.
As at that time, holding Christian meetings/conferences outside the church building was quite novel and what we did to make it more relevant to the people in attendance was also to have a Question and Answer segment after the main message had been delivered. This became a major highlight of our meetings. Nowadays, it is very common to have that in women’s meetings but I believe we pioneered that in my city. I believe it is important to have feedback from people in the audience and have them tell their stories and ask questions so the whole event is not just a one-sided communication.
This was one way how I was able to reach the ladies in the brothels. I set up an outreach team in church to visit brothels and share God’s love with them until the time I was able to get a building of our own. We called it the Peace Villa, registered under The Real Woman Foundation.
I began to actualize the plan I had put in place to reform them and ultimately help and empower them to lead better lives. I hired someone to be their caregiver; she lived with them and cared for them.
We had life-changing trainings, sponsored some of them through school and empowered others to learn a trade.
There was an instance when we had to engage the help of the police to go rescue some girls who had been kept hostage by a pimp in another brothel. They were literally imprisoned there and were unable to leave because they had to pay back huge sums of money that they were expected to earn from entertaining men at the brothel.
I was glad because not only did we help free them, we could also bring them under our roof at the Peace Villa and begin rehabilitating them.
Today, the Peace Villa remains active and it is joined by the Love Home Orphanage which is another arm of the Real Woman Foundation on Jubilee Road, Magodo, Lagos.
This, in a nutshell is the story of how this ministry was birthed.
Q: Your passion to rescue young women from sex trafficking and prostitution eventually led you to start the Real Woman Foundation, which offers them an opportunity to achieve their dreams. Can you share an example of a life that’s been transformed through your work?
A: There are so many examples but one striking story is that of Ruth. That’s her real name by the way and I have her permission to share her story anywhere around the world. She wasn’t a prostitute but she was out on the streets. Her parents had driven her out of their home and she ended up on the streets.
Someone brought her to the Foundation. At that time, there weren’t really shelters or homes for these kind of girls in town so people who went on outreaches and did community work would meet these girls and refer them to us. We would take them in and get information about their guardians, family, next of kin and all that so we could trace them.
When Ruth was brought to us, we were told she was to learn a trade – tailoring. But while being interviewed by one of the staff of the Foundation, it was discovered that she was fluent in English language and also very intelligent. It appeared like she had the capacity to do more than learn a trade. My attention was called to this observation and I stepped in, asking Ruth if she wanted to go back to school to continue her education and she said yes. She only needed to write the School Leaving Certificate exam, which is the equivalent of the 12th grade.
We got her enrolled for tutorials and she took the exams. She did very well and got offers of admission from two schools, The University of Lagos which is a Federal University and Covenant University, which is a prestigious and expensive private University. She eventually went to Covenant University. It was going to be difficult at first because even though we felt that was a better school, we couldn’t afford the fees. Thankfully we got a grant from the church, Daystar Christian Centre to pay her fees.
I must say here that the Foundation is a separate entity from the church. It is registered and stands on its own with Board of Trustees different from that of the church. We are however grateful to the church for the support we receive from time to time in form of grants.
Ruth did so well in school and graduated cum laude (2:1), she was active on the student council and won all kinds of awards. While she was in school, she would bring her friends around to the orphanage to visit the younger children and unlike some of the other girls at Peace Villa who were shy and really didn’t want to be identified and stigmatized as the girls from the streets undergoing rehabilitation, Ruth was quite upfront and confident and was willing to have her story out there to inspire others.
She is a success story because upon her graduation, she was offered a job at Covenant University and she worked there for a while, moved on to another company for a bit and later got admitted into a Master’s Degree program in Vancouver, Canada. She did a short course in Leadership at the prestigious Harvard University and she’s just made us proud all round. Glory to God
In December 2016, she was in Lagos to visit her family and she joined me on the Q&A panel of the Real Woman / Love Conference where she shared her story and answered questions. She continues to be an inspiration to the other girls and children in the Peace Villa and Love Home Orphanage.
There are so many other success stories apart from Ruth’s. We have had girls at the Peace Villa and children from the Love Home Orphanage graduating from college with honors, starting and running successful businesses, getting married and going on to achieve such great success.
Q: In 1995, you and your husband, Pastor Sam Adeyemi, founded Daystar Christian Centre in Lagos, Nigeria. Describe how the church is impacting your nation and training Christian leaders.
A: In Nov of 1995, my husband and I founded Daystar Christian Centre, the mission and the vision was and still is to raise role models in the society. We had this vision of raising people who would influence the community, people who would have integrity, people who would say no to corruption; people who would do it right and thrive in different businesses and all kinds of professions and through that become models and examples to others in the society. That way they are witnesses of Christ wherever they are.
We envisioned that Daystar would also be a place where the Word of God will be taught in practical ways. My Husband would say he wants people to hear the word on Sunday and be able to apply it on Monday straight away and that the word preached in church should be very relevant to the work and homes lives of the congregation. Daystar would be the church where the rubber meets the road. Our slogan then was ‘The Word Works Wonders @ Daystar’.
We have training systems at all levels targeted at different categories of people notable among which are the Daystar Academy, a 100 to 500 level training system which is for members of the church and the Daystar Leadership Academy (DLA), a leadership, business and ministry school all rolled into one which is open to non-members as well. We have Pastors from other churches, CEOs and Heads of Organizations attending from time to time, the week-long version of the course which has been specially tailored for them.
At Daystar, we are passionate about raising leaders because when a leader gets better, the community gets better. Jesus was the greatest leader of all time and He commissioned His disciples to take over from where He stopped and that exactly is what we are trying to model.
Q: Briefly share an example of how the ministry of Daystar Christian Centre is transforming communities with the love of God.
A: Daystar does a lot of community work ranging from rebuilding dilapidated public schools and supporting the government in providing good infrastructure within our community. Our members have been raised and taught to do that in their own local communities too and through their own organizations, they give back to society.
We currently have over 3000 home fellowship centers scattered all across Lagos. These are small groups through which we are able to strengthen one another and hold outreaches in various communities with a view to impacting the people there.
We have many different initiatives like the’ Back To School’ program where we give out backpacks loaded with school supplies, stationery, school shoes etc. We also have the ‘Family and Friends’, an outlet through which our members show God’s love to the people in their communities.
Q: In addition to leading a growing church, you’re also a dedicated wife and mother of three. How do you balance your work-life commitments to make sure your family stays healthy and strong?
I absolutely depend on the grace of God. Family is very dear to my heart and growing up, I always looked forward to having a family of my own. I prioritize the family above other responsibilities. I feel that God has put a huge portion of the love in my heart for my family, my husband and children.
I spend time with my husband and children and I ensure I am attentive, taking care to notice the tiny details of their lives. I often say to young people and those seeking counsel to treat their marriages as if they were businesses. There may be no monetary reward for taking care of a family but at the end of the day you have rest, you have peace, you know that you have empowered all who were entrusted to your care to fly and fulfill destiny.
It is long term work and so I look forward to that long term reward and satisfaction, knowing, believing and trusting God for how well they would eventually turn out.
I try not to get carried away with the immediate demands of ministry or business because I know someone needs to be there for the children.
I make sure I have eagle eyes on them and that I am on top of what they need at home and in school. When my children were very young and still in elementary school, I would go for school meetings; I would meet their teachers at the start of each term to establish a relationship with them since we were going to have to work together all through the school year. I try to be hands on.
I have also learnt to get help with my work and with childcare. I do it very cautiously though and I ensure I am careful about who minds my children and who is around them per time. Career wise, I delegate a lot. D.L Moody said “I’d rather put 10 men to work than do the work of 10 men” so I try to train people and make sure my Assistants understand my values and especially the value I place on my family. They understand when I have to be at a school function or at family events. They have access to my timetable and my movements. My Assistants must also be family oriented in as much as they love their work.
My children are much older now, it’s a lot easier for me to travel and do more.
Q: For those who haven’t seen your program on Daystar, Real Woman with Nike Adeyemi, what can viewers that tune in expect to hear?
A: The show is really about sharing Godly wisdom on various life issues. My primary audience is women, young and old but I have gotten feedback that men watch as well and by extension whole families.
I share on various topics on the show, ranging from love to parenting, to self-esteem, how to handle and overcome life’s challenges, dealing with rejection, work-place ethics, all geared towards helping the viewers in their journeys of life.
On some episodes, I have a guest who would most likely be an expert in the area we would be discussing for that episode and at other times, I sit alone and share.
Sometimes, my guest and I will take the questions people may have written in and we share our godly and Bible-based perspectives on the issues tabled.
Often times at the end of the program we pray for those who might be going through the issues discussed on the program. The feedback has been awesome.
Q: What role should women in the Church play when it comes to speaking out against injustice and changing the culture for Christ?
A: It’s so important for women to speak out against injustice as Jesus defended women whenever He got the opportunity. He defended the weak, He defended those who are rejected, He rose to the defense of the woman who was accused of adultery and prevented a mob action against her.
In Matt 5:13-14, the Bible says we are the light of the world and the salt of the earth, it means we are to shine. To shine doesn’t mean to keep silent, we should let our light shine bright for God is light. So I believe that to speak out against injustice and influence the culture for Christ is to do what Christ would have done in any situation.
I feel as Christian women, when you’re presented with any situation or you stumble on any situation in your community or nation, whether it directly impacts you or not, the first thing that should come to mind is “What would Jesus have done or what would he do?”
In the world today, we see hatred, we see evil, we see killings and all kinds of terrible things going on, yet we know as Jesus said to His disciples at some point “…from the beginning It was not so”.
The culture today is not God’s original design, we need to allow the Holy Spirit motivate us to do whatever is needed to make a difference. We should start by praying about the things we observe which will most likely be in our areas of influence and passion.
Use your platform for influence. Do not keep silent. At the heart of all this is love. You want to help people, you want them to change and conform to God’s design for them. Women of old like Esther were bold and stood up to fight injustice and their people were the better for it. We should be like them and do even more exploits.
Q: Why is it so important for women of faith to encourage and inspire one another to pursue God with passion?
We should inspire one another to pursue God with passion because He is our everything. He is a God of love and remains the primary reason for our existence, so we owe Him everything.
In this world, we will have challenges and tribulations; we should encourage each other to pursue God so we are not weary and tempted to throw in the towel to life’s challenges. We should lead inspirational lives so that it strengthens other women when they see that women like them have a passion for God.
Q: As a young girl, did you ever think you would have the worldwide influence God has given you today? Why or why not?
A: As a young girl in elementary school I really didn’t think about having worldwide influence or not. But as the first child of my parents, I was walking in leadership without even realizing it. As a young girl, my desire was for everyone around me to be happy and fulfilled. I don’t think I had a very striking personality as a young girl but my heart was full of love, I was outspoken and didn’t like injustice, hate, name-calling etc. Those were the things that moved me to tears as a child.
When I gave my heart to God, I began to really sense God’s calling on me, especially when the scripture in Isaiah 61:1-4 started to resonate with me. I knew I would be interested in affecting people and began to take my influence more seriously.
Q: Name one common misconception about Nigeria, and describe what makes this nation such an incredible place to call home.
A: One common misconception that comes to mind is that people think Nigeria isn’t as developed as it really is. I know we are classified as a third-world nation but there is a lot of development and innovation.
We have the basic things developed nations have, we have the internet, roads, proper houses and we speak English! Infact, our official language is English. Some people from other parts of the world are ignorant and are often shocked by how fluent the average Nigerian’s English is. Of course the extremely poor areas have lower standards of living, but even this isn’t peculiar to only third world countries.
We love Education and the average Nigerian youth is curious about the rest of the world and wants to be up to date with world events, most are internet savvy, and access the world through their phones and other internet enabled devices.
Nigeria is such an incredible place to call home because the people are very friendly. Maybe even over-friendly, I’ll dare say. We are very family-oriented and communal in nature. We look out for each other and you will always find someone to help you even at short notice and, most times for free too!
I love the food as well. We have so many different local delicacies form the different tribes in Nigeria, our food is really tasty generally.
Nigerians are enterprising; they are creative and hungry for success. I look forward to a time when the environment will positively enable more Nigerians to actualize their goals and aspirations.
Q: Of the many things you’ve done over the years in ministry, what accomplishment or project stands out as your favorite?
A: The work at the Real Woman Foundation and The Love Home Orphanage stands out for me because I get to see lives changed through love and it’s so fulfilling to see young children who had been abandoned with no hope of a bright future now thriving and achieving so much with the opportunities given to them at the home.
The show, Real Woman With Nike Adeyemi on TV is another success story I am proud of.
Q: What’s next for the Real Woman Foundation and Daystar Christian Centre? Share what the Lord’s placed on your heart concerning future projects and events.
A: For RWF, we would continue to impact the lives of more children and young girls by sheltering them, supporting them, educating them and raising them to be compassionate citizens so they can go back and impact their communities positively.
We would continue to bring awareness and empowerment and spread the love of God to the community. We would continue to be a force for positive influence in Nigeria and other nations of the world. We’d continue to have conferences that are life changing for women. We’d reach many more people via the Television broadcasts.
Daystar Christian Centre will continue to grow. Right now, we are setting up multiple locations around the city of Lagos and I see us opening up more of these centers. The main church space isn’t adequate anymore so we will host services in more centers across the city.
We’d also continue to do more in the community, helping people and empowering them. We’d continue to raise leaders and role models, especially the youths.
Be sure to tune in to see Real Woman with Nike Adeyemi Thursdays at 4:00pm ET on Daystar!