The Jerry Eze Phenomenon: How the Nigerian Preacher Became an Internet Star

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Eze touts miraculous healings with the slogan “What God can’t do doesn’t exist,” and amid the live stream, cuts to pre-recorded videos of his followers sharing testimonies they say are the result of his prayers.

They range from curing terminal illnesses to conceiving after years of infertility.

“It’s way beyond science and technology,” he says.

CNN has not independently verified the content of the videos.

Most viewed on YouTube

Broadcasts on the New Season Prophetic Prayers and Declarations (NSPPD) channel propelled Eze to the rank of the most-watched preacher on YouTube.

With more than 90,000 peak concurrent viewers, Eze’s daily shows rank among the most streamed globally on YouTube, according to analytics website Playboard, which compiles data for YouTube channels.
Its YouTube platform also ranks second among gospel channels with the most live viewers in the world – behind Brazilian preacher Bruno Leonardo, according to data from Playboard.

Eze also collects large amounts of donations through its broadcasts. He is one of YouTube’s highest-earning preachers who leverages the platform’s Super Chat donations that help creators generate revenue.

YouTube’s Super Chat feature allows viewers to pin their comments on live streams for a fee ranging from $1 to $500.
Eze’s YouTube channel receives one of the highest Super Chat donations in the world, according to Playboard.
Among his ardent fans is the award-winning Nigerian singer D’banj who tells CNN that joining Eze’s morning prayers has become routine.

“Waking up every day with the NSPPD…is now part of my daily routine. I hardly miss it. It’s part of my family’s morning devotion,” adds D’banj, real name Oladapo Daniel Oyebanjo.

The singer says he has had his own share of miracles thanks to the prayers on the platform.

“I remember last year Pastor Jerry said we should write down seven things we want to see happen, and we prayed and I believed. I checked the list the other day and… the seven received an answer.”

Nollywood actress Tonto Dikeh said she was also in touch with Eze’s ministry early last year. She’s now “addicted,” she told CNN.

A miserable environment

Eze, who turns 40 on Monday, has come a long way from when he and his single mother struggled to find enough to eat.

“I come from a family where the poor describe my family as poor,” he says. “There were days when my mother and I had nothing to eat, and my mother held my hand and prayed and gave thanks to God. My mother was a single mother and a small trader who sold groundnuts in the market. .. Days ago, she would come home crying having made no sales, therefore unable to buy us anything to eat.”

Born on August 22, 1982 in Bende Local Government Area, Abia State, Eze told CNN his upbringing was funded by a caring couple who noticed his active church involvement in his early years. .

“I was just doing things in church like sweeping and singing and reading the Bible – doing things that most of my friends didn’t want to do. I had just finished junior high at the time before they don’t welcome me,” he said. of the couple.

Eze excelled in his studies and graduated with a degree in History and International Relations from Abia State University. He also completed a master’s degree in human resources management.

Before venturing into ministry, Eze worked with a local television station before joining the World Bank HIV/AIDS project and later worked as a communications specialist with the United Nations Population Fund ( UNFPA).

“I was very excited about the job (at UNFPA), but not my mother. She said that was not what God told her. According to her, God told her that I was going to be a preacher “, says Eze.

jerry eze

“I never shared those aspirations (to be a preacher). I didn’t even listen to her. She and I lived in poverty, so I always wondered why God didn’t help us first. out of poverty before asking me to quit a job that gave us money to be a preacher.The money I was giving him was from work (with the UN) so it didn’t make sense.

He eventually quit his job and entered the ministry full time, but sadly his mother died of heart failure before he realized his ambition for him, he says.

“It was when he died that the reality of my mission began to be felt,” he adds.

Entering the full-time ministry has come with huge sacrifices and Eze says he spends long hours praying into the night to prepare.

“I don’t have friends, I don’t go out, I don’t have free time. I can’t say what my hobbies are anymore because there’s no place for hobbies. time,” he said.

Eze has two children with his wife Eno, who is also a pastor. He said his marriage was not perfect due to ministry demands.

“It hasn’t been 100%, but because my wife and I do the same thing (ministry), we bond the same way. Things that matter to other people don’t matter in our family. Our conversations are about ministry and how are we going to do God’s will for our lives. If I had married the wrong woman, I would bore the person.

An accidental notoriety

Eze may have become an internet phenomenon, but insists his fame is accidental.

He had started livestreaming in hopes of inspiring his congregation when the pandemic halted all church services and attendance at his fledgling ministry, Streams of Joy International, dwindled.

“It was not a goal to reach the world,” says Eze. “During the (peak of) Covid there was palpable fear everywhere and I noticed that many of my church members were very scared to come around church. So every morning my wife and I will connect , spreading encouragement to people,” he told CNN.

“I just wanted to talk about hope,” he adds.

Eze’s daily messages of encouragement then morphed into a daily online prayer network every day of the week on YouTube and other video-sharing services.

The live streams have been a hit and now in its third year, Eze’s YouTube channel has 880,000 subscribers as of the date of this posting, and its shows have garnered over 122 million views over a three-year period, according to the digits of its chain.
Jerry Eze pictured with his wife Eno.

UK and US viewers jointly account for 25% of its live streams on YouTube, with over 1 million views from the UK and over 700,000 views from the US between the 20 July and August 16, 2022, according to figures from the platform. .

Nigeria has the highest with over two million viewers. Its shows are also viewed in other African countries and countries such as Italy, Germany, Canada, France, Spain, Ireland and the Netherlands, according to the chart.

Digital analyst Edward Israel-Ayide said CNN Eze’s success can be linked to the “recent boom in digital churches and online religious movements.”

Israel-Ayid says it’s because of the fallout from Covid-19.

“With the lockdown restrictions in place, the need for community and a sense of belonging has driven Nigerians at home and abroad to seek out digital platforms that could provide them with direction and hope,” says- he. “After Covid, many people are still looking for purpose and direction due to the socio-economic challenges brought about by Covid-19 and the current global economic crisis. This is one of the main reasons why religious movements like Pastor Jerry Eze’s NSPPD are thriving.”

While many people now know him from his online platform, “that’s not where it all started,” says Eze. “There was a physical church before the online one.”

Eze founded Streams of Joy International Church in the suburb of Umuahia town in eastern Nigeria many years before he rose to prominence.

Eze is now based in the Nigerian capital Abuja and his church has spread beyond Nigeria to include branches in the UK, USA and Canada.

Attendance at his church in Abuja has also increased. But it’s with the online community that it’s gained the most traction, and it’s here to stay.

“People all over the world have a habit of waking up and finding Pastor Jerry online,” Eze says. “It’s like a virus that has come to stay.”

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