What's Up South Texas!: Pastor encourages those in need to never give up
SAN ANTONIO – A woman who has dedicated her life to following God’s purpose has impacted thousands of people in need by serving them physically, mentally and spiritually.
Six days a week, Shetigho Nakpodia, pastor of Redeemer’s Praise Church, has a busy schedule.
“I do free counseling because I got a master’s in counseling from UTSA,” Nakpodia said. “People always come inside the church. I offer prayer. I give out food, clothing, and sometimes I visit hospitals and nursing homes to pray for people.”
She said Saturdays are her busiest days.
“Starting from 6 in the morning to about 4 or 6 o’clock in the evening we are working,” Nakpodia said. “We take in food, we cook the food, we load the food up and go out into the community to give the food to the homeless. The community comes to have a bible study first and then we go serve.”
Nakpodia said they cook for at least 300 people each Saturday.
“Unfortunately, the need is so big, we still have to go home without feeding some people so that’s sad,” Nakpodia said. “We then come back, clean up, pray and go. Sunday I am back at it again with pastries and coffee and then service.”
Every day but Monday, Nakpodia is at the church.
“The Lord ordered me to stay home and read a book and pray,” Nakpodia said. “Just to take a day off.”
Her passion for serving others while serving God started at a young age growing up in Nigeria.
“I was one-year-old with my grandmother,” Nakpodia said. “My parents were so poor. My grandfather passed and my father had so many brothers to take care of, so they couldn’t take care of me. So, my sister came along and took me. She loved the Lord and would go from door to door preaching. As a child, I have always had the desire to serve the Lord because she loved the Lord and took me everywhere. She gave me that love for God.”
She said even in boarding school she realized her love for God.
“My heart was just seeking God,” Nakpodia said. “I would go to the back of that boarding house at night and I would just keep praying and praying just wanting to know more. I would bring my bible. I just had the heart to seek him.”
Her service continued working in human resources.
“I found that I was praying for them and I would give them money and food and I would pray for them,” Nakpodia said. “I found that all that whatever I do, it was always a heart for ministry. Always wanted to be a blessing. Find them clothes. Find them food.”
Nakpodia said she eventually began dating a man whom she married and had two children with. That man came to San Antonio to find a job and eventually, Nakpodia came to San Antonio and had two more children.
“The marriage didn’t go so well and we got divorced,” Nakpodia said. “I always wanted to be a minister and preach. I started selling insurance on the South Side. I would just drive around on the South Side and just pray.”
She eventually started a church.
“For a while it was just me and my kids but after like four years, I knew I was supposed to be on the East Side,” Nakpodia said.
She said the building for a new church came to her in a vision.
“I prayed and I saw a white building in my vision and there is was,” Nakpodia said.
“Then, God told me ‘This is where I want you to start doing all of the things I put in your heart,’” Nakpodia said. “’I want you to go out to the prostitutes, the drug addicts, the poor people, the naked, the children, the homeless, and that is what you are going to do for me. I want you to go out and reach them.’”
Through her service, Nakpodia makes sure people understand that physical food has a deeper purpose.
“Life is not just about eating,” Nakpodia said. “Life is about the word of God and changing lives. He says ‘When they have my word, then give them physical food.”
She said they started on a smaller scale but it grew with the amount of people they were serving.
“It started with 10 and then 20 people and then more people starting coming,” Nakpodia said. “Then other churches started donating food. I used to just have Sunday where we will give out food. They would be outside early in the cold waiting for food. I would come for all night prayer and I opened the door and they were all in the cold. The Lord said ‘Let them in. Make coffee for them.’"
Nakpodia said she learned how to make coffee and before she knew it, she was serving pastries and breakfast to people in need.
“That is how we started a Saturday church,” Nakpodia said. “We do a Bible study while they are waiting for food just to teach them the word of God. We were doing that and then they asked if you have a blanket or socks. Next thing you know, we have so many clothes to give.”
The church became fully stocked with shoes, socks, blankets, towels, personal items, tooth paste and soap.
“I would tell people ‘You are loved. No matter what you have done. He wants his children back. When Adam failed and the devil got him to try to separate us from the Lord but Jesus came back to restore us. You are love.’ The Gospel is love in action,” Nakpodia said.
Unfortunately, Nakpodia said she knows what it is like to have nothing.
“When I arrived in the U.S., I lost everything,” Nakpodia said. “Nothing arrived. Nothing came so I brought three kids and I had to go to the Catholic church to get clothes. At that time, they didn’t have girls’ clothes, so my daughter had to wear boys' clothes. It was very difficult when you come to a new country and you have nothing.”
She said when her marriage went bad, she lost her big beautiful home as well.
“Somebody called me and said, ‘I just bought your house,’” Nakpodia said. “’I just bought your house. Move out of your house.’ I had three kids in university and the little one was with me and we had nowhere to go, so we slept on the church floor. She slept on the couch, and I slept on the altar.”
Nakpodia said she also ran into a few obstacles starting off in her church as well.
“Coming here, they broke into the church over 14 times,” Nakpodia said. “We came in with guitars and keyboards, speakers, and drum sets, a mixer. They broke in and stole it all.”
Unfortunately, she had several funds stolen from her from within the church that resulted in her not being able to make it look like a normal church. She didn’t have enough money to replace the roof or the floors or anything.
She said she did experience doubt.
“I would just sit on that altar and I would cry and I would cry and I would cry,” Nakpodia said. “I would blame myself. I would repent how horrible things are. ‘Why did I do this? Why did I do this? Oh, my goodness I would be crying. I said ‘Lord, what do I do? The lord said ‘Just open the door. Make sure that door is opened, and you be here. Don’t worry about it.’”
That is exactly what Nakpodia did.
“I would just sit there and wait,” Nakpodia said. “Then people started coming in. Prostitutes, people who lost family members, people who had cancer and the Lord would let me pray for them.”
She said if she had to do it all again, she would.
“It is a blessing that God has favored me,” Nakpodia said. “God has given me this building. Debt free. God has sent me here to love on these people. To open the doors for them. To let them know that there is a god who loves and cares for them and that it is not the end of life no matter what they are facing it is not the end!”
Her next goal is to remodel her church with a roof, floor, new facilities, and more that would accommodate the number of people they see weekly. She said she also hopes to build a community center in the back of the church as well as a parking lot for the front.
“I want a place where the homeless can rest for the day and get breakfast, lunch and dinner,” Nakpodia said. “A place for them to shower while I do their laundry in a laundry room. I want a cafeteria where they are free to talk and eat and I want a big closet for all clothes so they can pick out whatever they want.”
She said in the meantime, she will continue to be thankful for what she has throughout all of the obstacles.
"I love San Antonio,” Nakpodia said. “I thank God for sending me here. It is a beautiful place. The presence of God keeps me going. Half of my day is prayer. Four hours a day. That is just what he called me to do. I am spending time with God. Also just seeing the people blessed keeps me going. Them being happy makes me very happy.”
Her biggest message to the community is to find your destiny.
“When God put you in your mother’s womb, you had a destiny,” Nakpodia said. “Find it. Whatever he tell you to do, you do it. Find out what that purpose is and you go and do it. You don’t want to go to heaven and God says ‘At least you brought yourself.’ You want God to say ‘Well done you good and faithful servant.’ Go and fulfill your destiny.”
If you know someone like Nakpodia who is making a difference in the South Texas community or who has a unique story, send us your tips. Contact Japhanie Gray on Facebook or @JGrayKSAT on Twitter. You can also send your tips to KSAT 12 & KSAT.com on Facebook.
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