“If you can’t fly then run if you can’t run then walk if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” Martin Luther King Jr.
The pulpit became her platform as the co-founding, co-pastor of World Evangelism Church.
Newlywed in 1999, she launched into full-time ministry in January 2000. By October 2000 she picked up a Positive Impact Foundation honor along with Spider Chuck Jones, at a ceremony in Burlington held at Crossroads Communicatins founded by David Mainse. The event occurred the same Satuurday that the Lewises moved into to a semi-detached three bedroom bungalow in South Pickering.
It is an eyebrow-raising fact that the award recipients of the evening discovered that they were nextdoor neighbours when a heavily pregnant Dyonne, sitting in the passenger seat, pulled into the driveway next to Mr. Jones.
Dyonne had a prophetic dream of the house she purchased with her spouse with no-money down. The move happened at a time when the couple released their faith to get out from under the roof of Dyonne’s mother as Turnica was driving both her only child, and her new son-in-law “crazy”.
Trusting God to buy a home with less than two thousand dollars cash to their names was the easy part. Living together in that house with their respective emotional baggage they brought to the union was the hard part. “The second wife has to pay for the sins of the first wife,” was the prhase Dyonne used to communicate the psychological devastation that can cause a man to make his new wife pay a debt of unfinished business left over from his former spouse. Dyonne’s fictional biography about a woman of her onw heart is called, God Moves in Mysterious Ways: Me & Mr. Jones and is availabe for pre-order here. $14.20
The WE Church congregation worshiped in the Cataraqui neighborhood of Warden Woods Toronto Community Housing. That is where Dyonne cut her teeth as a preacher. Her mother brought a dozen people from Flemingdon Park to visit and many relocated and made the switch because of the mighty move of God that they witnessed at the Sunday services.
But by and large door-to-door Evangelism was the powerful outreach tool which built up the congreation. The new soul-winning church in the community made people believe that they could enter their personal promised land during a time when “the word of faith” movement south of the boarder was peaking in the early 2000s. People visited from across the Greater Toronto Area, got saved, delivered, set-free and returned to their home congreations, after watching the Sunday Healing Service which they could catch on VisionTV.
Dyonne was not a big time televangelist with a dynamic stage presence. As a preacher she was demure, and unsure what she was doing, but trusting God to do it anyways in ministering by obedience. Her gifts were pastoral counselling and intercessory prayer, quietly listening and praying for the needs of people, many of them twice her age, and others one third her age. She Led Sunday School, or Little People’s Church as she called it, weekly Bible Studies, counselled mutliple times per week, preached a couple times annually, and co-led Intercessory Prayer Meetings on Friday evenings. Turnica was put in charge of Hospitality Services
Within the year, the first lady recalled the advice of her former director, Luther Hansraj, who had suggested that she explore ministering on television. With Creflo & Taffi Dollar’s inspirational faith-based TV show as her guide, Dyonne created her first TV program.
Joy & Strength with Phil & Dyonne Lewis debuted on CTV, then VisionTV, the Christian Channel, and the Miracle Channel and was renamed Joy & Strength Today. The faith broadcast captured Sunday morning messages from the pulpit and aired weekly for over 10 years after production began in 2001, and the last program was produced by Dyonne herself in 2012.
Joy & Strength gave way to The Dyonne Lewis Show as Dyonne realized she had everything but Joy and she had no more strength to keep covering up the truth that she was as miserable as she could be in her life.
Everyone was shocked when the actress became a preacher and many expressed concern that Dyonne was making a big mistake.
But God Had a Plan:
Faith doesn’t work without righteousness. And what is righteousness except right standing with God.
Dyonne is a life-long adult student of the B.I.B.L.E. She gave her life to the Lord on April 4, 1998 after suffering a melo-dramatic psychiatric breakdown where she felt an overwhelming desire to take her own life.
Marvin Ishmael, the Director of We Are One Theatre, urged Dyonne to make it to a church in north Toronto called, Evangel Temple. There, Dyonne met a pastor and poured out a sob story detailing her miserable childhood which included her father hiring a hitman to kill her mother, blah, blah blah.
Imagine that pastor’s shock and dismay when Dyonne became his sister-in-law 18 months later. I know right. It was an understandment to say that Dyonne was never really welcomed into the family. As far as that family was concerned she was as good as a prostitute and they couldn’t care less that she was educated with a degree to her name, cute, mild-mannered or a child of God.
As a new babe in Christ, Dyonne innocently took the Bible, the Church and the Body of Christ at face value. That was the beginning of her walk over a bridge of sorrows. She would pull of her best moves, doing cartwheels and backflips, as she had placed tenth in tumbling at a regional gymnastics meet at King George Junior High when she lived with her dad in Calgary, at ge 14.
But nothing Dyonne did seemed to work. One day she woke up and never again tried to win the hearts and minds of people who, obviously had their own agenda which was to not like her, no matter what.
But Dyonne’s life took off from there. The pulpit was her confessional. People asked why she kept telling her business whenever she preached. And it didn’t get better when she got a platform to talk on TV. Word got to Dyonne that her sister-in-laws wanted to know why she wouldn’t shut up.
That was all the encouragement Dyonne needed to stir up her dream that she was carrying in her heart from she her first introduce to The Oprah Winfey Show at in 1987. But as the years piled on she forgot that she told Uncle Auston that she had planned to be like Oprah. On his deathbed, in 2009, at 93 years old, he asked Dee what had happened,”I thought you said you were going to be like Oprah?”
Over twenty years had passed since had made those weekly trips home on the Grey Hound bus from Ottawa to Toront spend Friday nights consuming multiple episodes of Oprah in marathon five-hour binge sessions. After amassing a collection of dozens of video tapes Dyonne was a self-educated student of Oprah and when fate opened the door to make her dream come true, she didn’t walk, she ran into the TV studio with both arms wide open to thank everyone who had a hand in making her dream come true. There was never a moment that Dyonne was not hyper aware that it all seemed too good to be true when VisionTV invited her to tape a pilot of The Dyonne Lewis Show on the newly branded HopeTV.
Dyonne had more reason to pursue talk TV with the passing of Turnica who suffered a surprsie stage four cancer diagnosis and died four months later. Her mother whom she loved and fought with like a cat and mouse, had left her a big void in her life which she sought to fill with answers to discover how others were dealing with their own emotional woes. Dyonne wanted to learn how to live with Turnica’s death, gracefully.
The Bible was her love letter from the Lord but unless she grew in her understanding of the word of God, by dedicating herself to activating God’s promises for her, she was going to live beneath her full potential. Improving her faith walk meant Dyonne needed to learn not to need to be loved by everyone.
More righteous before God and less self-righteous in front of man. Was she grateful to be chosen by God, yes, she could run around and try to prove to everybody how special she was and how she had been hand-picked by the Almighty for an amazing assignment. And that did not go over too well with folks who relished sabotaging her and winding her up. This, made Dyonne believe she was being punished for her sins but really she was being punished for her niaivety.
Hidden sin, or willful sin Dyonne is definitely familiar with both. Sometimes she thought surely her bad behavior in the past had come back to haunt her. There was the time she almost gave her parents a heart attack when she ran off with the next-door neighbour’s husband at the age of seventeen. She genuinely believed this sin was mainly responsible for the misery she was experiencing in her marriage.
Righteousness before God is about checking yourself before wrecking yourself, especially when there is a high call on one’s life. Dyonne cannot get out of her covenant contract with the creator of the universe. Lord knows how many creative ways she has tried. He’ll take her home, as in “Beam me up Scotty” before releasing her from the assignment that is heaven-certified.
Dyonne’s mission, if she should choose to accept it, is to walk by faith in alignment with the call of God on her life by focusing on what God declared over her in January 2000.
In a loud audible voice outside of her head, God told Dyonne, “I’ve given you a powerful healing ministry.”
Her challenge is to “connect every strategy to this core ‘word from God’ so that there is a clear path for attaining success” in carrying the mantle of healing while she is on the earth. She will have to humble herself, as pride comes before a fall. She needs to learn how to fight the good fight of faith, like a good Christian Sistah Soldier. She has to trust God, like how Charlie’s Angels trusted Charlie in the 70s TV show.
Dyonne is on a journey to lose her fear of man and increase her faith in God. And faith is activated by righteousness. No righteousness, no faith. Because nobody can fool him or herself. Since one’s soul is a truth detector and will inevitably begin to self-destruct through self-condemnation when out of alignment with God’s plan…
Dyonne is wise to honor God with obedience rather than to wax creative where she bargains with Him to sacrifice her personal happiness and tries to compensate with various good works.
She has to stir up the gift that is in her if she expects that that powerful healing ministry God already gave her, is going to manifest once again with tangible signs which blesses the world. Like it did on one broadcast while she prayed for a woman who had one leg which was longer than the other and the woman who had called the prayerline from BC marvelled as her left leg grew out while Dyonne prayed.