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Pastor Agu Irukwu's Unexpected Journey From Law To Leadership

When Pastor Agu Irukwu moved to the UK from his home country of Nigeria to study law at Warwick University his plan was to follow in his family’s tradition of working in the legal profession. However, he never expected to take a completely different path by leading Jesus House Church as well as the UK’s largest church denomination Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG).

“Leading Jesus House Church in London didn’t happen in such a planned way,” explains Pastor Agu.

He added: “I trained as a lawyer primarily because 90% of my family are lawyers, so it was the kind of thing you just want ahead and did.”

But all that changed when Pastor Agu, who’d grown up in a Christian family in Nigeria, dedicated his life to Christ in 1991 at the Redeemed Christian Church of God in Lagos. While trying to run a law practice he found himself becoming more and more called to church ministry:

“When I became a serious Christian I got very involved in church. I found that I was spending more and more time doing things related to the church and less and less time doing the legal stuff and chasing after briefs.”

Just three years later he returned to the UK to take care of a small up and coming church in London, never realising he’d still be there 22 years later:

“I was asked to keep an eye on a young church that was just two months old. The idea was to stay just for a month, while they found a substantive pastor. That was Jesus House church more than 20 years ago and they obviously haven’t found another pastor in those 20 something years. So here I am pastoring Jesus House.”

More than two decades later Jesus House For all the Nations in Brent Cross sees regular attendance exceeding 2,000 each week.

They run three family services each Sunday, in addition to services for children (Kidz First), teens (TM4:12) and youth (Raised Up In Christ). As well as their many Sunday services the church provides a prayer ministry, counselling service a CAP group, youth ministry and even a radio station.

With a four-fold vision to mobilise the church to pursue God, discover purpose, maximise potential and impact lives Pastor Agu says their passion for the growth and development of the individual is reflected in the vision of the Church, and they are committed to making a positive impact in their local and the international community.

You can understand why he was voted the UK most inspirational black person in 2012, when you hear how he’s overcome so many challenges in his life by maintaining such a positive outlook on life:

“I’m one of those people the glass is always half full, so there are very few lows in my life. I see the bright side even when I’m going through difficulties and challenges; I just believe very strongly that it’s a learning process. It’s part of your journey and that’s my general philosophy of life. I believe that all things work together for good. I really absolutely believe it for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose. So I don’t have many lows.”

“I’ve had some challenging times; including the most difficult was when my late wife passed away after a bout with cancer and that was challenging big time. There are all the other challenges of life in ministry, but I take it in my stride. That’s life. If you’re going to try and do a lot for God you must expect some stripes. You must carry some scars and go through some battles. I’m glad I have a great team around me. I have a great family in my wife and the kids and that’s precious to me and I have a great ministry team around me and that gives me support and strength.”

For many years he’s also had a passion for men’s ministry and will be speaking at a key event at Stoke City Stadium next May called We Are Men United. He explains why it’s so vital to reach men at this time:

“Anyone who knows me knows for 16 years I’ve been very involved in men’s ministry. I started the men’s Mandate conference in 2000 and it grew significantly in terms of attendance and participation. It’s a big thing the number of black people who are in prison, proportionately to the population, how we treat our wives, our daughters, how we take responsibility for our civic responsibilities. We just need to get out there and do it right. I’ve heard that if a man comes to faith, comes to know Christ, his entire family comes to know Christ. So there’s a pivotal role that the man plays in the family in every community in our society and we just have to get that right. So that’s why I’m excited about speaking at We Are Men United next May.”

Pastor Agu somehow also finds time to oversee RCCG UK’s over 700 parishes and is chair of Festival of Life a prayer gathering that regularly attracts 45,000 people. But he says leading this growing movement always keep him humble:

“You realise your weaknesses and frailties your failings and inadequacies and you’re left in no doubt that this surely has to be God because you just know that. Because you didn’t have this strategic plan put together it wasn’t like you had all these skills and all these skilled people that put it together. You are as amazed as people are at what God is doing and then you’re grateful that you’re part of the journey. So that’s the way I feel just a lot of gratitude to God to be part of this journey.”

“The problem is you might have been successful up until now, but you’ve got a big challenge on your hands if you don’t somehow reinvent yourself to become relevant to reach out to a millennial generation. Otherwise the church is going to die. It’s as simple as that, so that’s where we find ourselves and we’re grappling with that.”

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