Bolaji Idowu, Lead Pastor of Harvesters International Christian Center sits with Chude Jideonwo, host of #WithChude to discuss how the viral prayer meeting – Next Level Prayers started, the beginning of his ministry and his near-death experience.  

Sometimes, the best comes out of pain, the gold or gift is in your mess. That’s why you sometimes go through seasons of pain. Next Level Prayer came out from a place of pain. I had just gone through a season where people that were close to me – from my perspective because stories have 2 or 3 sides – betrayed me. I felt disappointed, I felt hurt. There were things that they thought (maybe from their perspective), that was totally not true from my own perspective. And that drove me to a season of prayer. I literally spent maybe about 200 days in the year fasting because I was frustrated. I was broken. All of us are different, the way I was raised was that I depended on people emotionally. Some people don’t have that kind of background but that is the kind of background I have. And if the people you depend on for some reason betray, disappoint, lie, hurt, …I was being ripped apart. At some point, I could say I was suicidal. But the beauty is this, the truth is that the end of yourself has a beginning that is not that place. I began to pray. Of course, I’m a pastor and a lot of that situation had to do with the church. So, I gathered the leaders in the church for us to pray, in the morning. Then one of my pastors said, ‘Why are you only praying with the leaders of this particular church that you’re in, why not pray with all of us?’ and someone said, ‘Why not pray with all the members, after all, we’re home then I began to pray with everybody. It was becoming big, then someone says, ‘Why not put it on a social media platform?’ Then I said okay let’s put it on social media platforms and I remember the first time we were a thousand, I was like ‘Wow, we are a thousand!’ But now we have 500,000 people joining the prayer, we have hundreds of thousands of people that join the prayer right now.” 

“You know, the biggest thing is that while some things can come from a place of ‘God told me’, some other things come from the fact that you’ve gone through a lot. There’s a message in the mess”, he added. 

On focusing on ministering to people’s emotions, he said, “Deep down in my heart, I have a deep desire to help people. When I was going to become a pastor, one of the things I really told God was, ‘Lord, if this is what you want me to do, I don’t want to waste my life. There are many churches. Give me something that I will use to change the lives of people. At the time, there were great churches already. This came from a heart desire to see change. I saw people go to churches for 10 years, ladies in their 40s, they have prayed and yet they are not married. And I can see that it is not about prayer, it is something about their emotions”.   

Pastor Bolaji also shared his near-death experience last year on the show. “I was shot at. It was a huge story; government officials, everybody, reached out to me. Normally, I would wake up at about 3 am or 4 am. I will take a walk and pray for about 2 or 3 hours before I lead Next Level Prayers. I did that on the road because sometimes in the house, you can get tired, I may want to sit down or something. And I was just very close on this major street and this guy just said, ‘Give me your phone.’ And when he said, ‘give me your phone,’ you know, to be sincere I don’t know why I didn’t give him my phone because if I could think, I would give him my phone. But what I responded with was just saying, ‘In the name of Jesus’ and he just shot at me. ‘Kpoa!’ My ears tingled. As soon as he brought the gun, I just turned my back and started running. So, when I got to 2/3 buildings beside there, there was a security guy. So, I said ‘Did you hear the gunshot?’ Because I wanted to be sure I was not dreaming. He said ‘Oh! they heard the gunshot.’ Then I said, ‘Check my back, am I bleeding?’ Because I thought maybe it was the adrenaline that knocked out the pain. But he said I was not bleeding. I had to go to the hospital because my ears had this stretch, and they were like, well the bullets passed by my ears, and the vibration caused the stretch. It’s just another testimony of the faithfulness, the grace and the power of our Lord Jesus Christ at work” 

Watch the excerpt here