Book Review: Myth Or Mystery

This is a book that captures your imaging write from the cover through the title, content and use of pictures to tell the story. For me, it is because of the combination of two great minds working together to produce a first, a Bio-Autobiography. The biographer, who calls  himself the author, Gibson Annor-Antwi, is a great story teller working with a great and humble man of God, also a chronicler of great repute,  Apostle Professor Opoku Onyinah to produce this master piece.

The author creates an opportunity for readers to peep into the inner world of the Apostle, the current Chairman of the Church of Pentecost (CoP) and learn from his life. The author’s primary objective is to create a window for readers to create their own doorways to come out  with nuggets of lifelong lessons. It is certain that readers will hold in their hands some vital lessons for themselves as leaders regardless of where duty call them.

Apostle Opoku Onyinah was born when the teenager Akosua Addai left her hometown,Aduman, in the Ashanti Region in search of her unknown father at Yamfo in the Brong Ahafo Region. Finding him led to her marriage to Opanin Kwame Onyinah to whom Opoku Onyinah was born. Thus, the divine hand in the move of Akosua Addai was evident. This divine hand of God was clearly upon Opoku Onyinah to lead and protect him as a child and throughout his life.

At an early age, he was delivered from the prongs of death as he got lost in Kumasi on a day a prominent figure had been arrested. This protection of God continued to cover him in the mysterious incidents he battled with such as the strange knocking at their door one night, strange sounds in the bush at the Mmem farm and his near deadly encounter with a snake in their room.

His quest to explore and find meaning in life and answers to inexplicable issues were evident in his early life as he sought at the primary school level to take upon himself several names. Those names were preceded with a long string of initials: J. J. K. K. E. P. D. O. Nimfour: Joseph Judas Kwadwo Konkonko Esase Panin Douglas Opoku Nimfour. Unable to appreciate this enquiring nature of young Opoku, his teacher attempted to kill this innate tendency by whipping him. Thankfully, his teacher’s attempt did not succeed. In contrast, there was a divine awareness within young Opoku that the Lord had destined him for a career which would make him “a teacher without chalk”.

His life showed that indeed all things work together for good for those who have been called by the Lord (Romans 8:28). This was evident in his apparent impotency in his late teens, which ironically led to his becoming a teenage father. This incident was presented as the event that might have caused him to accept an invitation to the Scripture Union meeting which eventually led to his acceptance of Christ.

Being brought up in a polygamous background had its own challenges. However, Opoku Onyinah considered the rivalry that went on, especially among their mothers as an opportunity for the siblings to learn to relate well with people from different backgrounds.

The divine encounter

The Holy Spirit does not show partiality between old and new Christians. What he wants from a person is his availability for his use. This is the lesson which is drawn from the new convert Opoku who was labelled as the Holy Ghost man; the Lord used him to bless others with the Holy Spirit baptism from the second day he was baptised in the Holy Spirit. The Holy Ghost man, who was leading people to Christ and to the Spirit’s baptism, eventually became a pastor who would have much more opportunity to continue and be fully trained in his Master’s business. God uses people who are already busily engaged on the job. The Lord, his Master, disclosed himself clearly to him in Wa and then commissioned him.

This divine encounter in Wa in October 1976 became a hub, where all Opoku Onyinah’s life experiences and ministry were routed in a time of crisis. In this encounter, the Invisible One behind his life and ministry — Christ — who evidently revealed himself to Opoku was ready to lead, reveal and direct his ministry. Among the revelations given to him at this early period of his ministry was the possibility of Opoku becoming an eye and ear of the Church of Pentecost. Unlike Joseph who found it very difficult to keep the revelations for himself, Overseer Opoku Onyinah, incidentally once called Joseph, kept the revelations to himself until the appropriate time.

Apostle Opoku Onyinah was seen as the one whose wisdom surpassed his age. Like Apollos who had not known Christ but handled the Scriptures accurately, so was he able to handle the word of God rightly at the time when he had not attended a Bible College. Excellently, therefore, was he able to handle the word of God when he was given the opportunity to go for further studies abroad. His studies earned him a PhD in theology and as the first pastor of the church who attained that academic qualification.

Service to the world

This terminal academic attainment also made him useful not only in the Church of Pentecost but also within the Christian community in Ghana, Africa and the world at large — serving on many boards and committees globally. His ministry showed that he was a simple, hard working person, studious, very much focused and Christ centred. Yet, these attitudes engendered misunderstanding and problems which attracted strong opposition against his very self and ministry.

Such opposition was evident among some youth and educated members who thought he was not spiritual but  was debunking the teaching of ancestral curses; some prayer centre leaders who thought that his ministry and leadership would make the prayer centres redundant; some women and church-centred members who thought his modernisation would affect the righteousness of the church by introducing the Pentecost International Worship Centre; some pastors who thought that his leadership would not help them meet their needs and wants; and some westerners who thought that their interest in the Church of Pentecost would be stifled.

The above-mentioned oppositions became so fierce and appeared as though they would crash the will of God for his life. This divine will concerned his assumption of the highest position of leadership in the CoP, as hinted by the Lord early in his ministry. Yet, the sovereignty of God overruled and saw to it that what God had said would come to pass for the benefit of his own people.

In his chairmanship, people saw in Opoku Onyinah the ability to chair meetings with tact and control, officiate church services with demonstration of the Spirit’s leading and handle cases with wisdom and fair judgment. He was able to instill discipline whenever needed and show mercy in the right situation. He was a lover of the youth and trained many leaders. The church was blessed with ‘spirituality’ and prosperity—put up many church buildings and ministers’ houses, bought equipment for evangelism and vehicles for the kingdom work.

Yes, through the tensions of family life, personal development, intimate relationship with his God and Christian leadership, he has developed himself as a role model for lots of Christian leaders in and outside his country of birth. Rising up the rank and file of the Church of Pentecost in which he currently serves his second and last term as the Chairman, he has touched many lives and groomed many into higher positions in Christian leadership.

Contributions to the church

Within the annals of the Church of Pentecost, posterity will be the best judges of the significant contributions he has made to the church as a district pastor, regional head, first International Missions Director, originator of the Pentecost International Worship Centres, first Rector of the Pentecost University College and the fifth Chairman of the Church of Pentecost. Posterity will also be the best judges of the important roles he has played in transforming the administrative systems of this great church. It is obvious some of the policies that characterised his tenure as the Chairman of the Church of Pentecost might have been uncomfortable for some ministers. But ultimately, it cannot be said the church has suffered any spiritual or financial losses as a result.

When the curtains are finally drawn over his full-time ministry in a few years, he can proudly bow out of the stage in honour as having done his Master’s bidding. As he boldly indicated at the 42nd session of the General Council meetings in May 2016, he would be retiring voluntarily at age 64 at the end of his second tenure in 2018. Wonderfully wonderful, the man who began as a carpenter has grown to become a professor. A myth or mystery: judge for yourself.

The stories in the Myth or Mystery are interesting, Apostle Professor Opoku Onyinah acknowledges. He notes: “I had forgotten most of them. As my mother, brothers, friends and colleagues recounted them, I was revived and recognised the mighty hand of God in my life. As I wrote some of the stories, I was indeed touched by the way the Lord has dealt with me—grace upon grace. Anytime I read the manuscript, I was really touched and felt the information was good for public consumption. Accordingly, when the final manuscript was completed and I was reading through, I shed tears along the line and burst into worship.”

The story is cast in such a way that you can begin from any chapter and enjoy reading it. However, you may have a challenge to decide whether they are myths or mysteries. Except for experiencing these himself, Opoku Onyinah concedes that he might have been in the same shoes as yours. He acknowledges that Elder Gibson Annor-Antwi has really done justice to the task of what has become the book—Myth or Mystery .

Title : Myth or mystery? Bio-autobiography of Apostle Professor Opoku Onyinah

Author: Gibson Annor-Antwi

Reviewer : Kenneth Ashigbey

Edited: Doreen Hammond

Publishers : Inved,UK

No. of pages :598