'God has called me' - Nigerian immigrant, pastor shares his story

Published on Friday, 28 March 2014 23:04 - Written by Rebecca Hoeffner rhoeffner@tylerpaper.com

Nigeria native Rev. Valentine Nwachukwu’s life has been a whirlwind of events he attributes to God’s intervention; and he says this is only the beginning.

“I know God has called me,” Nwachukwu said. “He has done great things.”

Nwachukwu, 52, is the pastor of a multicultural church that will launch in April.

Grace International Church will hold their worship services at 3 p.m. on Sundays at Cornerstone Church. The pastor of Cornerstone, Thomas Saali, is also the presbyter for the region for the Assemblies of God churches. The two pastors agree that having a multicultural church will be good for those in the community who aren’t at home in traditional American churches.

“Many (Nigerians in East Texas) are already involved in various churches,” Saali said. “Some are excited about having Nigerian pastor. … There is a cultural difference, so this will give them the ability to worship with their flair and flavor.”

Nwachukwu came to the states in 1997; he and his family came to Tyler in October.

He has been in ministry since 1996 after “an encounter with Christ” in Nigeria in December of 1995, he said.

“I heard a pastor preaching on TV,” he said. “He said you should try Jesus for your problems. When I received that message, I decided to listen and got convicted of my sins.”

Nwachukwu struggled with stomach pain when he prayed with the pastor on TV. Suddenly, it went away, he said. He also decided to give up drinking, he said.

Then in February, Nwachukwu traveled to a revival in another part of Nigeria. While there, he prayed for an elusive visa to the United States and a wife. Thanks to mysterious generosity from friends and strangers, he had both before the next year was over.

“I wasn’t foreseeing coming to America,” he said. “It cost a lot of money that I didn’t have, that’s why I didn’t think about the U.S. at all.”

As Nwachukwu recalled with tears his experience with the unexpected generosity of Nigerians he met.

“That changed my life; that changed my perspective,” he said.

Nwachukwu and his wife arrived in New York in September of 1997.

“I had no dime on me when I got to the U.S.,” he said.

Nwachukwu worked odd jobs, then moved to Chicago to attend Moody Bible Institute where he received a full scholarship.

In 2005, he received his credentials within the Assemblies of God denomination and became an American citizen.

He, his wife and children were leading ministries in New Mexico when Nwachukwu said God called them somewhere else: Tyler.

“God said ‘Valentine, I want you to take more challenges,’” Nwachukwu said. “I said ‘God, I think I’m already doing a lot for You!’ I didn’t understand, but I wanted to trust Him more.”

Nwachukwu and his family liked Tyler from the moment they arrived, he said, and they are excited about the church’s beginning. The name of the church holds a special meaning for Nwachukwu.

“Grace means that none of us are worthy,” he said. “Anything we have in life is based on His grace.”