English native Catherine Jinadu, 84, defied her family’s wishes by marrying Paul, a Nigerian. They became missionaries and church planters and continue to see God moving miraculously
My real name is Catherine, but in Nigeria I’m known as Mummy Kate.
I was born and brought up in Yorkshire. My parents didn’t go to church, but from an early age I wanted to know God. When I was eleven, a friend explained to me that the reason Jesus died on the cross was to pay for our sins. She said I could ask him into my heart, and he would forgive me. So I did.
My friend invited me to weekly youth meetings. When I was 14, Gladys Aylward, a missionary to China, spoke, saying: “God doesn’t want your bits and pieces. God wants all of you!” I thought: “I’m not sure about this. God might want me to be a nun!” I turned my back on God, the youth club and church.
But when I was 17 I prayed: “God, what do you want me to do?” I heard him say: “I want you to be a nurse.” I did my training, and for the first time in my life I saw people die, and started thinking about hell and heaven.
By the age of 21, I was terribly afraid as I knew I was going to hell, but still didn’t want to be a Christian. I said to God: “I’m going to church to give my life to you; I know it’s going to be a miserable life, but I’m going to do it because I just don’t want to go to hell.”
I went to church and the preacher was Ian Paisley MP. The word of God was so powerful; his words hit me like bricks. When there was an altar call I went to the front in turmoil. I prayed: “Please don’t let me go to hell. I know you will never love me, but please let me into your kingdom. You don’t even need to look in my direction. You can just ignore me but please let me in. I’m really sorry.”
To my surprise I heard: “Kate, I love you.”
I said: “I hate myself. I’m a cheat. I’m a fake.”
God reiterated: “Kate, I love you.” I started to cry and said: “God, if you love me, I’ll go anywhere, I’ll do anything. I give you my life. I am so grateful. I didn’t know that you love me.”
Laying down my desires
When I was 22, I went to a meeting where George Verwer, founder of Operation Mobilisation (OM), was speaking. I was radically impacted and left my nursing job to join OM in France. From there I went to the Bible College of Wales.
During one lecture, the lecturer said: “God can ask some very bizarre things. What is it you desire most in life?” Immediately I thought: “I want to be married, and I want to have children.” The lecturer then went on to say: “It just may be that God is asking you to lay this on the altar.”
I told God: “You can’t ask this. This is not fair.” As soon as I said that, it was as if the Holy Spirit withdrew from me. I was miserable.
Four days later, highly respected Bible teacher and author Campbell McAlpine told us: “When God asks you to do something, and you can’t say ‘Yes’, pray this prayer: ‘Lord, make me willing to be willing.’” So I prayed: “Oh, heavenly Father, if you want me to be single and celibate all my life, make me willing to be willing.” Immediately I had peace.
Nine months later, I met Paul. He was from Nigeria and a student a year ahead of me. We were on a mission together and, completely out of the blue, he asked me to marry him. It was the biggest shock of my life!
I was totally confused. It was the time of apartheid. I knew of no interracial marriages and hadn’t God said I was not to marry? I hardly knew Paul but I liked and admired him. I poured out all my questions to my heavenly Father. It took three months for me to answer Paul but by then God had given me so many signs, Bible verses and utter peace that this was his will.
Choosing God’s will over my parents’
There was one big sticking point – my parents. I knew they would never agree – and they didn’t.
My pastor was an export manager who often travelled to Lagos. He met with Paul’s mother and told my parents that she was a wealthy woman so I would be well looked after. After two years of meetings they were implacable.
It was the time of apartheid. I knew of no interracial marriages
At one point I went into a church in York, knelt down, and said: “It’s just too much, Lord; let me forget this marriage.” The Holy Spirit answered: “Do you seriously think I’m going to drop you in it? When all you want to do is please me?” That gave me courage to go home.
I said to my parents: “I’m really sorry. I know it’s not what you want, but I am going to marry him.” My mother said: “Not from this house.”
I got on my knees alone four days before the wedding. I started weeping while reading through the psalms. I felt the Lord saying to me: “If you worship me, put your eyes on me and forget about all that’s going on around, I will sort it.”
We married on the 16 April 1966. When we came back from honeymoon, my parents were on the doorstep asking for forgiveness. Three months later we left for Nigeria, and they started going to church and gave their lives to Christ.
Living between England and Nigeria
We arrived in Lagos at the beginning of the Biafran War [Nigerian Civil War]. It was a tough time. Paul was an evangelist, and we were invited by the top schools and university to run missions.
Our first son, Philip, was born in 1967. In 1971 we returned to the UK and Paul went to London Bible College. Our second son, Simon, was born in 1971.
I was having a great time living near my parents, worshipping in my own language and enjoying all the amenities of clean water and constant electricity. My husband finished his degree and said: “We’re going back.” I felt I could not face it.
There was one big sticking point – my parents. I knew they would never agree
Eventually I got on my knees, admitting: “I don’t want to go back, Lord. Make me willing to be willing.” It was as if God came and put a scalpel in my heart and took out my English heart and popped in a love for Nigeria. It was as easy as that.
We returned to Nigeria in 1973 to be church planters with the Foursquare Gospel Church. But when Philip was eleven we relocated back to UK because we couldn’t get good education for the boys. So I was based in the UK and Paul would travel to Nigeria for three months at a time. He started The New Covenant Church under a tree and today there are at least 400 connected churches in Nigeria, Egypt, Dubai, America, Canada, Kenya and Uganda.
All this time we were living by faith, but God gave our sons scholarships to a fee-paying school. When Simon went to university, I started going to Nigeria with Paul.
Setting people free
Before returning I had an encounter with the Holy Spirit, and was told that I was a catalyst between male and female, black and white, rich and poor, educated, uneducated and all denominations.
The Foursquare Church was founded by a woman so men and women were equally valued, but I saw that in Ibadan many women were not given honour. The Lord told me to organise a city-wide campaign for women. It was called ‘Woman you are free’.
The Holy Spirit told me that I was a catalyst between male and female, black and white, rich and poor, educated, uneducated and all denominations
I had no salary and needed £30,000. Every day I thanked God that the money would come and that at least 1,000 people would have a radical encounter with Jesus. We spent 18 months preparing, but the opposition was high. I knew we had to fast and pray. On the second day of an Esther Fast (no food or water) something shifted in the spiritual realm.
The conference was an amazing success: 27,000 people came and there was a heavy sense of God’s presence. People got healed and saved; both men and women were set free.
Today, 23 years on, we have a team of 500. We offer the gospel and free medical treatment. We have planted 20 churches; mostly pastored by women. We have built two schools, sunk 16 wells and a borehole. We have a business IT centre. It goes on and on. All I prayed was “God make me willing to be willing” and he did the rest.
For more information about Catherine’s ministry see makingpeoplefree.org.uk