Transformed by God's Word: Jerusalems start new ministry in WorthingtonWORTHINGTON — When Gideon Jerusalem came to the United States in 1983, it was as a student. But Gideon’s life was transformed by faith, and he and his family have become missionaries to spread the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ to people in the Worthington area.
By: Beth Rickers, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — When Gideon Jerusalem came to the United States in 1983, it was as a student. But Gideon’s life was transformed by faith, and he and his family have become missionaries to spread the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ to people in the Worthington area.
“I think there was a reason God brought us here,” said Gideon. “God has a purpose for us, to use us as vessels to let people know who he is, who Jesus Christ is. He died on the cross at Calvary to redeem us from sin.”
Born in Nigeria, Gideon always dreamed of traveling the world and to the United States in particular.
“When I was very young, I was very intrigued about going abroad,” he said, explaining that desire was fueled by reading. “One day, I went to the library and got a list of all the universities in the United States. I wrote to Wisconsin (University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire) and was able to come to school there as a private student.”
With a bachelor’s degree in political science and a willing sponsor, Gideon intended to attend law school at Hamline University in St. Paul, but he missed the entrance exam requirement by one point; on the second try, he again came up one point short.
“It was not the will of God for me to go to law school,” he reflected. “God had a purpose for me, so it was not possible, but at that time I didn’t see that.”
Instead, Gideon pursued a leadership program at Augsburg College in St. Paul, earning a master’s degree.
“Along the line, I was just doing my own thing,” Gideon said. “Finally, God convicted me, took me into the wilderness and made it possible for me to go into a relationship with Him. … Gideon Jerusalem is the name the Lord gave me when I became born again. My old name was attached to an idol my ancestors used to worship.”
During a mission trip back to his home country, Gideon met his wife, Ima, and they were married in 2008. They have two children, Saviour, 3, and Judah, 1.
Even though Gideon became a U.S. citizen a number of years ago, it took almost four years to get permission to bring his family here. A friend’s appeal to a congressman finally helped cut through some of the red tape.
“I went to the U.S. consulate in Nigeria nine times,” Gideon said. “It was always as if the whole thing wasn’t going to happen. There was always one thing that was missing, one piece of paper that we needed. There are a lot of kidnappings in Nigeria, so we had to stay in a hotel for nine months, costing $70 a day. In 2010, I traveled between the U.S. and Nigeria five times to go to pick up another document. But God was continuously working for us. I picked a day for my wife and sons to be able to come, bought the tickets.”
The paperwork was finalized and the U.S. consulate in Nigeria granted approval just before the selected travel date. Now Ima is a permanent legal resident of the U.S. with a green card, and their sons are citizens by naturalization.
“We made a vow: If God made it possible for us to come to the U.S., we would lift up the name of Jesus Christ,” said Gideon.
The Jerusalem family arrived in the United States in January, flying into Minneapolis on one of the coldest days of the year and with little money left in their pockets.
“The company I used to work for in Minneapolis said they had work for me in Worthington,” explained Gideon about how they came to southwest Minnesota. “They put us in a hotel for two months, and we were praying and hoping that God would make it possible for us to get into a house. On April 1, we were able to move. There is nothing God cannot do.”
Gideon is currently employed as a nursing aide by a temporary agency, currently assigned to Crossroads Care Center in Worthington. Ima is enrolling in the nursing program at Minnesota West Community and Technical College.
“But God sent us here to be missionaries. I might have wanted to go to Tahiti or Hawaii,” said Gideon with a laugh. “But God wanted us to come here. He had ordained it. We have to believe God is in control because he is. We are continually praying for the people in Worthington, Minn., to let us open the eyes of the people here so they will see Jesus Christ as the word of God, because only in the word of God is life. … From the foundation of the world, God knew he was going to bring us to Worthington, Minn. It was not by our own planning; God had planned it.”
The Jerusalems have named their ministry Word of God Transforms, and Gideon cites many Bible passages that support the selection of that name.
“As we are having fellowship in the word of God, it is the word of God that transforms,” he explained. “What I hope is for God to use us as vessels, for us to share the word of God with people and for their spiritual eyes to be opened, for them to come to believe the truth in the word of God.”
Word of God Transforms is not a ministry just for immigrants from Africa, Gideon stressed, and he hopes to bring people from different cultures together.
“God has a purpose why all these people are here,” he said. “He wants to reach all of them so they can all come together as one.”
Currently, the Jerusalems are meeting regularly with a small group of people in their home, usually on Thursday afternoons. They hope that in the not-too-distant future, they will have a larger meeting place in which to base the ministry.
Anyone who would like more information about Word of God Transforms can contact Gideon at (715) 514-9804; or write to Word of God Transforms, Box 964, Worthington 56187.