James Okon is a 39 year old Nigerian born Gospel singer. Mr Okon's success as a Gospel singer, songwriter, keyboardists and guitarist (to name just a few instruments he plays) in a foreign land is a testimony of the goodness and faithfulness of God. Not only does he serve as a lead singer at his local Church, he’s also working on his live DVD recordings and a book about the lessons he’s learned in life.
Inside Woman Online got to meet with him and discovered a humble, warm, exciting, funny and confident man of God. And we have to say it was a joy interviewing him...
What is your personal vision?
James Okon: It’s huge and it scares me because it’s from God. You know when God gives you a vision it’s always bigger than you and you can’t see the end. I have been given a message of reconciliation – to get people in contact with God. God has given me the Grace to give hope to the hopeless and to be source of joy and inspiration, especially for my albinism community. I belong to the Albinism Society of South Africa. I want my presence to bring joy to people and to be warm enough to accommodate them. I also want people who meet with me daily to encounter the Jesus in me. My other desire is to tour the world and expose people to the African way of praising God. I would also like to get married and have children.
How did you become a Christian?
James Okon: I grew up in a Christian family and attendant Sunday school. I could recite the books of the Bible from Genesis to Revelations (James takes the time to recite all the books of the Bible. Amazingly he still knows all the 118 books of the Bible). But that did not mean that I was a Christian. The Bible says that train the child in the way he should go and he won’t depart from those ways. It’s what you know that will carry your as your grow up. In November 1987 we had pastors coming to our Church to explain to us what it meant to be a born again and that’s when I fully gave me life to Jesus Christ.
Who are some of your influences spiritually and musically?
James Okon: Spiritually, my pastors at Redeemed Church of God, pastor Adekwe and pastor Martins, are my number one influences. I also look up to pastor Ray McCauley and Musa Sono. Musically, I’m influenced by Ron Kenoly, Lionel Piertersen, Benjamin Dube, Donnie McClurkin who I have had the opportunity to meet.
Do you ever struggle with being in the business that is so superficial and with all the temptations out there as a single Christian man?
James Okon: It’s hectic hey! The issue of temptation has nothing to do with being in the industry. First of all I’m a man and so naturally I should like women. That’s the way God made it to be. A pastor said to me when a woman passes by or hugs you and you don’t feel anything there is something wrong with you! However, I have also learned that I don’t have to make the same mistakes that others have made. It’s honestly God’s Grace that I’m able to say no and it’s the zeal of my calling that’s keeping me from falling.
Is there a particular reason why you are still single?
James Okon: I was engaged to a woman that I loved for eight years. She was still living at home and I was here in South Africa and we were both at school. But after a while she changed. She started making up stories and told me that her father didn’t know that I am an albino, yet her whole family (excluding the father) knew. She also said her father said that if I wanted to marry her I was not supposed to be present at my own wedding. Last year, I was very depressed because this is someone I gave my all too but I had to put myself together.
I have heard a lot of Christian men saying that they are waiting on the Lord to show them the woman! What’s your view on that?
James Okon: If you are going to wait for God you are going to wait for a very long time. The Bible says that he that findeth a woman finds a good thing. It doesn’t say he that waits for the Lord to show him the woman to marry! As a man you need to take the initiative and pray about it. The Bible says that the peace of God will guide you in the decisions that you make.
Do women ever throw themselves at you?
James Okon: Yes. There are some women who really push it hey. They will come to me for a hug and then the next thing they whisper in my ears that they love me and squeeze me really tight. I have had one woman telling me that she wants to have my children because I’ll make a good father. I have also had some on Facebook saying that they love me. And then I would respond and tell them that I love them too with the love of God (We both burst out laughing). And they will keep pushing. Sometimes I wonder if it’s me they want or the glam of fame. That bothers me a bit.
Sex before marriage is a great plan from God yet many women are having babies outside marriage!
James Okon: This problem is two way. Women want tighter boundaries when men are still seeking. Guys sometimes promise to marry these women and when they make that promise women let their guard down. I always say that women should be flexible but have boundaries. And they shouldn’t be so desperate because they will attract men who don’t care about them but men who want to use them. I say no ringy no dingy.
What do you think is the role of Christian women today in our society!
James Okon: I thank God for modernisation but this individualistic spirit in Christian women is not of God. The other day I was at a conference and this woman was giving a talk. She kept saying that she also wants to be on top of her husband, she’s tired of her husband being on top of her all the time. And unfortunately Christian women are like that too. They are Cremora Christians they want to be on top (we both burst out laughing). Christian women need to learn to submit to God and let God lead them. Their success comes from Him!
There are lot of mixed messages in the Pulpit! People are confused!
James Okon: Ministers are graced in different areas. I have seen Ministers who teach the Word to people as if they are talking to Pastors, talking about deep stuff. I have also seen the Grace message been abused. But we need a balance in the pulpit. You can’t talk about one subject of the Bible above the other. Everything is good in the right context. Pastors also need to understand that people are not in the same level. It’s important to know who you are talking to.
A lot of Christians are struggling in their walk with God. What is your advice to them?
James Okon: Look it’s a phase and it will pass. And it happens to most of us. Sometimes you don’t want to read the Bible or pray. I think the problem is that many of us want to touch God with our own works of righteousness. Yet the Bible says that we are saved by Grace lest any man boast that it’s by their works. You need to shift your mind set and be God conscious in everything you do. And also allow his love to flow in you all the time.
As Christians we tend to be judgmental of people we esteem. For instance when Kirk Franklin came out and shared that he was once struggled with pornography, many Christians were angry.
James Okon: We need to grow up. We forgot that Christians are human too and that anyone can fall from Grace. But there is Grace to pick you up when you fall. Unfortunately the human factor always gets in the way. But we need to empathise not sympathise with people - put ourselves in their shoes and we won’t be so judgemental. I always pray for people that are weak in certain areas to plant a seed, so that I don’t fall into the same temptation too.
Talking about being judgemental, nowadays when Christians are being corrected they say they are being judged.
James Okon: You see those people don’t have a teachable spirit. They are people who are not willing to be told what to do. And that is not a new problem but its something that you inherit from home. The Bible teaches us to be meek in spirit and to be able to accept correction. And when you are being corrected and you learn you benefit from the correction.
How do we reach the lost souls with the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ when there are so many “gods”?
James Okon: It’s really not that hard. We simply need to tell people that God loves them just the way they are is enough. And all they need to do is accept that love by Faith. I always tell them that I serve a God who has a son. And my God allowed His son to die for me and shard His blood that I might be saved. And no one can die for you unless they love you. So it’s really sharing the love of God with people! John 3:16 is a really good scripture to share.
Follow James Okon on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Jamesana
Follow James on Twitter: https://twitter.com/JamesOkonSA