He was driven by his passion for excellence throughout his 33-year ministerial service during which he served as an Executive Council Member of the Church for 15 years. He was also the first apostle of The Church of Pentecost to be assigned to the United States of America as a missionary; a task he diligently discharged to the admiration of all. Now 77 years old, the PENTECOST NEWS (PN) caught up with APOSTLE SAMUEL KOFI ANSONG (SKA) at his residence in Accra to reflect on his life in active ministry and in retirement.
PN: Please tell us a little about yourself, who is Samuel Kofi Ansong?
SKA: Where do I start from?! (Laughs) Well, I was born at Abamkrom in the Central region of Ghana to Opanin Kwabena Ntori, a Farmer, Petty Trader, and a Fetish Priest, and Madam Akosua Addai, a Presbyterian, both of blessed memory. I am the last born of my parent’s five children and the only son among all my eight siblings including three others from my mother’s previous marriage. Although my father was not a Christian, he insisted that I was christened by a man of God, so the name “Samuel” was not given to me by my father, but by the Pastor who officiated my outdooring ceremony.
During the ceremony, the Pastor talked about the story of young Samuel and how he ended up becoming a Priest in the Lord’s house. Since that day, my father always held the belief that I would become a Pastor. For this reason, he always advised me to stay away from alcohol. When he needed alcohol for his incantations or to pour libation to his gods he would always send other children to go and buy it for him; and when I was the only child around, he would rather go and get it himself.
I attended the Kwahu Praso Roman Catholic Middle School for my elementary education, after which I got employed at the Union Trading Company (UTC) in Accra as a salesman. I am married to Cecilia Ansong, together we have been blessed with five children, four daughters and a son.
PN: So Apostle how did you encounter Christ?
SKA: Growing up I had heard about Jesus Christ obviously as a result of my time in a Catholic school and also from my mother, but Christianity was not something I took very seriously. My life-changing encounter however happened shortly after I relocated to Accra in search of greener pastures. On that faithful day, I had a terrible dream where I saw the gods of my father attacking me. In the dream, I screamed the name of Jesus and they fled away from me. I immediately got out of the bed and rushed to my neighbor’s house, who was a member of The Church of Pentecost, to tell him about my nightmare. He spoke to me about Jesus Christ and I followed him to church; where I accepted Christ into my life in 1961 and got baptised by Pastor E. O. Vanderpuije, who was then the District Pastor.
PN: How hard or easy was it for you as a fledgeling Christian?
SKA: When I first joined the church, I usually kept to myself. The reason was that I was a very shy person and the fact that I stammered also did not help. In those days, members always had to come to church prepared because you could be called upon at any point in time to perform a task, unlike today when we draw up programme outlines and assign tasks to people ahead of time. So I would usually sit at the back and try to avoid being spotted as much as possible.
However, one day, one brother Safo convinced the leaders of the church to put me on the preaching plan. I was later called by our Local Leader, Elder Kwabi, and informed that I should prepare to deliver the sermon during the next meeting. I was very surprised because at the time I didn’t even own a Bible. So I quickly got myself a Bible and went home to prepare my sermon. I prayed to God for a message and as I sat down staring at the Bible the story of Shadrach, Meschack and Abednego dropped into my spirit, I don’t know how it happened; I had probably heard it during my time in Catholic School, so I searched the scriptures to read more about it.
On the D-day, the Lord used me mightily so much that after the sermon, some members of the church received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, meanwhile, I was not yet baptised by the Holy Spirit. So the leaders gathered and prayed for me to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Since then, I became an active member of the church and was even made to sit with the deacons during meetings even though I had not yet been ordained. I made Brother Safo, who was then the Local Witness Leader, my mentor and he nurtured me to grow in the Christian faith. I later became his assistant after the Assistant Local Witness Leader was reviewed. Brother Safo was later ordained as a Deacon and I also became the Accra Central District Evangelism Secretary while still a member. In 1967, I was ordained an Elder and was made the Presiding Elder of the Accra New Town Assembly two years later.
It is also worth mentioning that my local assembly was where Pastor James McKeown, the founder of The Church of Pentecost, used to fellowship whenever he came to Accra. Pastor McKeown never liked to sit on the platform when he attended church meetings. He usually sat with the deaconesses and sometimes among the members. So technically you could say that Pastor James McKeown was my member. (Laughs)
PN: When were you called into the full-time ministry? Were there any early signals of the calling upon your life?
SKA: Yes there were. I believe the circumstances surrounding how I got the name “Samuel” and also the first sermon which led others to receive the baptism of Holy Spirit were all indications that God wanted to use me for His work. There was one time when after I had preached Pastor McKeown said that he came to the church feeling ill but was healed after the sermon. I was also privileged to be given the opportunity to speak during major gatherings, rallies, crusades and conventions of the church, all of which I believe were indications of the Lord’s calling. In spite of all these when the pastoral calling came in 1971 I was still surprised because although I was passionate about the work of God I least expected it. At the time of my calling the late Apostle A. T. Nartey was my District Pastor while Apostle Joseph Egyir Painstil was the Greater-Accra Regional Head.
PN: Please how long did you serve in the full-time ministry?
SKA: My first posting was in Agona Nyakrom in the Central Region. When we first arrived in Agona Nyakrom we faced a lot of difficulties. The District Pastor I had gone to replace was very popular among the members so they were not very pleased with his departure. They were also not happy about the fact that he was being replaced by an “inexperienced” pastor. However, God was very gracious to us, as slowly we were able to win them over. The church grew rapidly in all spheres and became well known in the community. I stayed in Agona Nyakrom for six years and by the time I was leaving the chief of the town had become my best friend.
After Agona Nyakrom, I proceeded to Assin Foso and Cape Coast for three years each. So in all, I spent 12 years in the Central Region, during which I was privileged to work with some stalwarts of the church like Prophet M. K. Yeboah and Apostle Walker.
From Central Region, I headed to Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region for a year. I believe that my time at Bolga was a missionary training ground for me. I was later transferred to Tamale as the Upper East, Upper West and Northern Regional Head for four years. I was called into the Office of Apostle in Tamale.
In 1988 when Prophet M. K. Yeboah was elected as the Chairman of the church, I transferred to Kumasi as the Ashanti Regional Head and to serve as an Executive Council Member. As the Ashanti Regional Head I was in charge of 34 districts – can you believe it! (Laughs) But the Lord was once again gracious to us and saw us through our four-year service in the region.
After Kumasi, I headed for the United States of America as the first missionary apostle of the church in the country for 5 years. I have very fond memories of our time in the USA because we labored with all our heart and might to ensure that the church became firmly established in the country.
I was recalled home in 1997 to serve as the Greater Accra-Regional Head for 7 years. All this while I was still serving as an Executive Council Member of the church, in fact, I served on the council for 15 good years to the glory of God.
PN: Any memorable highlights during your time in the active ministry?
SKA: I have always held the view that the call of God is an immense privilege which ought not to be taken for granted. So as a minister of God one must always give glory to God and must endeavor to discharge his ministerial duties with integrity, and that is exactly what I believe I did. As a minister, I always made the welfare of those under me, be it ministers or members, my utmost priority. For me, I considered the presbytery as my first assembly and made the wellbeing of my members, especially the aged, one of my biggest concerns. As much as I could I encouraged them and reminded them that they were no ordinary persons because they are very special to God and for this reason, they should always strive to be excellent officers and members.
When I first took over as the Ashanti Regional Head I had the opportunity of meeting with some of the retired ministers in the church and I was very sad about their living conditions. So I took the initiative to support them. I also proposed to the Executive Council to consider putting in place retirement fund to cater for gallant soldiers of the church during retirement. Thankfully, during the Chairmanship of Prophet M. K.Yeboah, the church instituted retirement package for the retired ministers.
I was also one of the first ministers of the Church to hold a mass wedding ceremony, which gave several officers and members the opportunity to officially register their marriages as required by the Church and the constitution of Ghana.
Also, my capacity as an Executive Council Member gave me the opportunity to visit many countries including the Israel, Japan, United Kingdom, Holland, Germany, Mali, Togo, Benin and Burkina Faso, for official duties.
PN: When and where did you retire from active ministry?
SKA: My ministerial service was almost cut short by health complications but by God’s grace I was able to bring my service to an end in August 2004. At the time of my retirement, I was the Greater Accra West Head. I honestly think that every minister should aspire for retirement because it is a blessing.
PN: So now what do you do with your spare time?
SKA: After my retirement, I was appointed as the Chairman of the Greater-Accra Retirees and Widows Association so I was still very active because it was a full-time work. As Chairman, I pay visits to retirees and widows at their homes to encourage them and seek their best interest. I was only reviewed last year because I could no longer keep up with the work due to my age. But when I have time on my hands I try to read the Bible or check on other friends and colleagues. The truth is during retirement if you don’t find a way to engage yourself you will easily get lonely or depressed.
PN: Is retirement as scary as people make it seem?
SKA: Not at all. Maybe I can say it differs from person to person. But for me, because I treated retirees well during my active life I am reaping the results in retirement. Although during retirement ministers cease to enjoy some benefits, I think the church has still put structures in place to ensure the welfare of ministers during retirement. I admit that some time ago it was very difficult for retired ministers but now conditions are much much better.
PN: Your advice to ministers in active ministry.
SKA: I would advise them to always adhere to the directives of the General Council and do their best to excel in whatever they do. I would also advise them to draw closer to the retired ministers in order to tap from them. Active ministers hardly spend time with retired ministers, which is quite unfortunate. They should bear in mind that we are retired due to physical limitations but our apostolic anointing is not retired, it is still very active. The only difference between then and now is that we can no longer come to them and impact them so they should rather come to us. They must also make time to visit retired ministers in their areas and districts especially those who are facing health challenges. They should remember that whatever they sow in active ministry they will reap in retirement. They should also make time for God and not to occupy themselves with social activities.
PN: Your advice to ministers nearing retirement.
SKA: Usually when one is nearing retirement there is the tendency to try and raise money for retirement. But the truth is no amount of money is enough for retirement, all one needs is to totally rely on the Lord. They should not forget that the Lord who took care of them through active ministry would also take care of them during retirement. They should, therefore, focus on ending their service well to the glory of God. Just as our fathers committed themselves to the work to make gospel spread and not seek selfish gains but sought to share the love of God to others, they should also do same. They should be more concerned about handing over the baton to next generation.
PN: Your advice to ministers on retirement.
SKA: They should keep praying for the leadership of the Church and for God to continue to bless His church. They should always rely on the Lord for their needs and trust Him to take care of them. We should also look out for each other and be concerned about the welfare of our colleague retirees, especially those facing health problems. I would also take this opportunity to encourage retired ministers and widows living in other regions in the country to also come together to form associations, so far only those in the Greater Accra and Ashanti Regions have been able to do this.
PN: Your final words, Apostle.
SKA: Next year’s theme is a very interesting one and I believe it is going to help all members of the church to live up to the Christian standard. Indeed, Jesus Christ is the one example God has given to us as stated in Hebrews 12:1-4. He is the author and finisher of our faith, so we must only look up to him and we will never miss our providential way. One thing that I feel is slowly diminishing is the covenant that the Lord has with The Church of Pentecost. Lately, we hardly talk about it so most of the younger members of the church know little or have no clue about it. I, therefore, encourage the ministers to continue to drum this home so that the younger members of the Church would always be reminded of what the Lord has promised His church.
PN: Apostle, we are grateful for your time.
SKA: You are most welcome.
We are beginning to run out of words and accolades to express what you mean to us as members of The Church of Pentecost. read more