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“Campus Dating” In Senior High Schools

The rise in boy and girl relationships or what is commonly called “Campus Dating” among the youth has become rampant in Senior High schools (particularly boarding schools), and this should be a cause for concern for parents, the church and the nation.

Campus dating is a term that was coined for young males and females engaged in an amorous relationship on campus. The advent of social media has even made this act popular on our various campuses. It has become so popular to the extent that those who do not indulge in it are considered miscreants, particularly the new entrants (freshers). In fact, it is practically a sin to live on campus and not have a “beloved.” Those who are able to stand their ground are tagged with various names such as fools, impotent, and good for nothing. (I know this for a fact because I was a victim)

During my school days in Nsein SHS from the year 2016 to 2019, I observed that most of the students were involved in campus dating, which, they popularly called “Atetare” (Translated “hiding” in English). 

What caused the proliferation of campus dating at the time (and even now) was the promises both parties received from each other that they would marry after school and happily live out their dreams.

It was always an uphill task talking any sense into the heads of those caught in this unfortunate love web. Nothing worked! It was even worse when some said their parents are aware of their amorous relationship and have even asked the young man to take care of their daughter for them in school (This is true). Can you imagine!

As “campus couples,” they engage in certain acts that God has reserved for married couples, such as: fondling, kissing and even sexual intercourse. They do this throughout their stay on campus. Often these campus dating leads to poor academic performance, emotional frustrations (broken-heart), unnecessary expenses, apathy towards the things of God, and some even end up dropping out of school due to pregnancy. 

LIFE AFTER SCHOOL: THE SAD REALITY

A month or two after completion, these campus couples flaunt pictures of their partners on their various social media handles as though to say their bond remains ever strong. Fast forward (two years later), you see wedding pictures of them engaged/married to someone else, not their “campus lovers!”

CONCLUSION

Dear Senior High School student, the Lord created us for a purpose and our education ties into this purpose. Your purpose for being in school is not to look for a life partner but to study and acquire knowledge. So do well to abstain from the seductive web of “Campus Dating.” 

The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 6:19: “Keep away from the desires of the flesh. Every sin which a man does is outside of the body; but he who goes after the desires of the flesh does evil to his body.”

Therefore, stay away from unhealthy relationships and, rather, build your relationship with God, and He will lead you to the one He has specially made for you in the appointed. Shalom.

Written by Dennis Quaicoe, Kegyina District, Axim Area, Pentecost University 

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A Transformed Agent Transforming The World – The Case of The Honest Taxi Driver

The Church is an EQUIPPING CENTRE where members are transformed to transform the society. That is exactly what our celebrated Taxi Driver, Kwesi Ackon, and his wife, Francisca, have just exhibited.

There is a vast difference between what the world holds dear to that of the church. The world teaches us to focus on money and to do anything to get it irrespective of how one gets it.

The Church, on the other hand, teaches godly principles and values to transform worldviews contrary to the word of God. The moment the Church shifts its focus to that of the world, the world would be plunged into deeper darkness and depravity will reign.

There is a subtle attempt by the world to influence the Church to focus on wealth creation instead of rescuing the perishing and caring for the dying. The Lord Jesus Christ has called us from the world, transformed and equipped us to go back into the world to be agents of transformation in the world. Glory hallelujah!

So, this honest gesture done by our dear brother and his wife, is a fulfillment of the mandate of the Church. When individuals in the Church understand their calling as agents of transformation, the kingdom of God is established here on earth.

What am I saying? When the Church fails her mandate of equipping, the devil will have a field day. Jesus said in John 8:12 (GNB), “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will have the light of life and will never walk in darkness.”

As Christians, therefore, we are the light of the world because our Lord and Saviour is the light of the world. Take out the Church and the world is doomed.

If this is our call, then why the call and pressure from the world to monetize every act of faithfulness and diligence by the individuals of the Church? 

Many have sought to paint The Church of Pentecost as an ungrateful entity just because the Church is not dishing out monies to its agents of transformation. 

The world sees a transformed person, gives him all the attention he/she needs and rewards them in monetary terms and the world expects the Church to do same? Is it that the role of the Church is belittled or undervalued? The Church in all this must be praised and honoured and not vilified as is being done today.

Let’s do a reverse of the Taxi Driver scenario and examine what would have happened?

Should it have been that Mr and Mrs Arkon were not Christians, the said 8,000 Ghana cedis plus would have been lost. The owner, who visibly is an older adult with family dependants could have gone through hell trying to fend for herself and the family. Supposing the said money was her business capital, the loss of the money meant a collapse of her fish mongering business. What of the health implications on the poor old woman, a possible elevation of blood pressure with its associated illnesses? If she is a Christian, then her faith in God could have crashed if not well grounded.

Thank God for such agents of transformation who are transforming their respective spheres of lives. If you are blessed to be one, keep on keeping on for God is a rewarder of the faithful.

  • Article By Mrs. Mabel Cudjoe Amuzu (The Church of Pentecost, Kofiase District – Ashanti Mampong Area).
Eric Akude

Faith Or Doubt? Gleanings From The “Doubting Thomas”

Then Thomas (called Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” (John 11:16, New International Version)

Thomas Didymus, was one of the twelve disciples of Jesus Christ. Although all of the Gospels mention Thomas (Matthew 10:3, Mark 3:18, Luke 6:15), it’s only the Gospel of John that records any of Thomas’ words. Three places in the Gospel of John was he referred to as Thomas Didymus (John 11:16, 20:24, 21:2). His two names are actually one and the same. Thomas comes from the Hebrew (or Aramaic) and means “the twin”. Didymus is from the Greek and means “the twin.” He is thus widely believed to be born a twin. Although he is popularly known as “the doubting Thomas”, nowhere in scripture was he referred to as such; He was tagged as such in one moment of weakness. He was unfortunate to suffer the curse of the “bad news syndrome”, whereby bad news sells more than the good ones. Although He was involved in other exceptional moments that revealed some mysteries about our Lord Jesus Christ and his relationship with God the father, these ones are easily forgotten. Labels are difficult to change once they are engraved on a person, especially when it is negative. In her article, “The dangers of labelling people”, Gurimran Virk states that labelling is very dangerous. According to her, it has the possibility of creating stereotypes, hearsay, bias, fears, stigma and the inability to separate a person from the label itself. This is what happened to Thomas, one of the disciples of Jesus Christ.

The Apostle Thomas is seen as one who did not hold grudges nor did he nurse wound feelings. Time and again did he oppose letting Jesus expose himself to danger, but when the Master would decide to take such risks, always was it Thomas who rallied the apostles to go with him. In one such occurrence, the disciples wanted to stop Jesus from going to Judea (John 11:6-7), an expedition which they thought might end his life due to previous experiences they had there. His decision to go back to Judea did not make sense to them since the Jews wanted to stone him two days ago (John 8:59; 10:31; 10:39). Even when Jesus explained the situation to them, they were determined not to go back there, citing logical flaws in the arguments of Jesus. According to their logic, and rightly so, if Lazarus was asleep, he will surely wake up, by himself. And if he is dead, there is no reason to go there again for there is nothing that can be done for him again (John 11:11-15). The disciples were not only protecting the life of Jesus, but theirs as well. They feared that whatever might happen to Jesus will have a ripple effect on them as well. This action was borne out of lack of faith in Jesus and in his mission. Thomas Didymus, however, refused to let his fears take over him. He had surrendered his life totally to the Rabbi. He wanted to be with Jesus, in life and in death, and as though he was their leader, he rallied them, saying, “Come on, comrades, let’s go and die with him.” This is a declaration of faith, just like Paul declared in Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain”. This is a declaration which should guide our walk as Christians. We should live for Christ, following him all the way, even through perils, believing that whatever the outcome, our lives will be preserved. As Jeremiah said in Jeremiah 10:23, our lives aren’t ours. Anyone who is in Christ has been crucified with Christ and thus their lives are not theirs anymore, but Christ’s (Galatians 2:20). 

Thomas is the great example of a human being who has doubts, faces them and wins. He had a great mind; he was no carping critic. He was a logical thinker. It can be said that the reason why the others didn’t doubt was because they had seen the resurrected Christ. According to Luke 24:8ff, when the women came back from the empty tomb and after seeing the risen Christ, the disciples also doubted. Luke reported in verse 11, “But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense”. They did not believe that Jesus Christ has resurrected from the tomb just as he told them. On the same day, while Cleopas and another were on their way to Emmaus, their conversation showed that they never believed Jesus had resurrected. Jesus was quoted as referring to them as fools, because of their unbelief (Luke 24:25, KJV). They only believed when Jesus performed a sign for them to see (Luke 24:30-31, 35). In the same manner, whiles the disciples were ‘hiding’ in a room and Jesus appeared to them, they had their doubts whether he was the one, they thought it was a ghost. Jesus himself challenged them by asking them to touch him and confirm for themselves so all doubts will be removed (Luke 24:37-40). They still did not believe until he performed a sign for them (Luke 24:41-43). In effect, Apostle Thomas was thus behaving as the other disciples will, just as anyone of us would have done. The doubt of Thomas was not borne out of unbelief or resistance to accept the truth of who Jesus is or what he has done. Thomas’ only crime is to desire an honest answer; after all, his quest led him to faith when he boldly declared, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28). What we learn from Thomas is that being in Jesus’ presence brought out the best in him by increasing his faith. Conversely, being away from Jesus seemed to trigger doubt. Thomas made the first public profession of Jesus as being both Lord and God. It takes great faith to declare Jesus as Lord, for many Christians are yet to discover and settle on “Who” the lord of their lives is and therefore continue to live questionable Christian lives. As Apostle Dr. Emmanuel Anim puts it, the Christian cannot seek to enjoy the benefits of salvation in Christ without having to accept the “inconvenient” challenge of His lordship over their lives.

In chapter 14 of the Gospel according to John, Thomas again showed the characteristics of a candid person. Jesus openly declared to his disciples that he was going away to prepare a place for them so they can be with him wherever he is. He continued that they (the disciples) knew where the way to where he (Jesus) was going. This was news to them. The disciples had no idea what Jesus was going on about, but none had the courage to step in and ask him any questions, bar Thomas. He opened up to Jesus in all honesty, not faking knowledge but with a heart ready to learn from the master. He confessed to Jesus Christ, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”(John 14:5, NIV). This genuineness brought out one of the most remarkable statements of Jesus, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6, NIV). We should thus not be afraid of asking questions. Questions, no matter how stupid they may sound can lead to new insights, revelations and breakthroughs.

Nicky Gumbel disagrees with people who regard faith as unquestioning and think that faith and doubt are opposites. According to him, faith and doubt are two sides of the same coin. Although there is no doubt that 2 + 2 = 4, it does not take any faith to believe it. On the other hand, to believe that someone loves you is open to an element of doubt. To put your faith in God is similar to loving a person. There is always the possibility of doubt. Without doubt, faith would not be faith. The Apostle therefore used that moment of questioning to build upon his faith.

Many have made the unfortunate error of defining the Apostle by his one moment of doubt. If we “refuse” to use Thomas’ moment of bravery to define him, then we should not be quick to define him with his moment of doubt, or lack of faith as we term it. We all have moments we are proud of and other moments we wish we could forget. The rest of the disciples doubted as much as he did. As Jack Wellman beautifully put it, there is no doubt that Thomas was a strong believer and a powerful missionary used by God to His Glory.

Written by P/Overseer Eric Akude (Kpetoe District)

Pastor James Orhin Agyin

When Intercession Stops

Following the launch of the 2022 year’s theme, “Equipping the Church as an Army to Possess the Nations,” by the leadership of The Church of Pentecost, a lot has been taught, written and learnt about the ministry of intercession. To intercede is to use your influence to persuade someone in authority to forgive another person or save that person from punishment. Therefore, intercessory prayer is petitioning God to act on another’s behalf. Scripture urges all believers to intercede for others, communities, organisations, and nations.

Whiles the Christian fraternity sees it as a ministry, the business community may also view it as a serious business without which losses will be inevitable to the body of Christ. As a professional in the building industry, I would prefer to look at it as a project all believers must execute with definite timelines. The Cambridge dictionary defines a project as a piece of planned work or an activity that is finished over a period and intended to achieve a particular purpose. The project of intercession is, therefore, a well-planned activity of praying for others, institutions, and nations. Unlike all other projects, intercession continues unabated until intended purposes are achieved for new ones to be rolled onboard for the cycle to continue.

Most of us have countless testimonies about how God saved some loved ones, that church member, society or even the entire nation due to a fervent intercessory prayer mounted when the need arose. Even though it is primarily a prayer for others other than the self, I see it as an indirect prayer of society’s corporate welfare, including the self by extension. Taking the COVID-19 as an example, the fervent intercession the Christian fraternity mounted, including that of ongoing “Awurade Kasa” at the studios of PENT Tv, has gone a long way to deliver the nations from the destructive and ravaging works of the virus.

In Genesis 18:16-33, Abraham, affectionately known as the friend of God, mounted a fervent intercession for the twin city of Sodom and Gomorrah when he got the intelligence from God about its impending destruction. God hinted to Abraham about it because He expected him to do something about it by interceding for them, so he spared the entire city. If conservative estimates of the inhabitants of this twin city at the time is anything to go by, then we are looking at around 500,000 people God was about to judge owing to their wickedness. Abraham immediately approached God and began to engage Him on some attributes such as His fairness, faithfulness, mercies, love, and compassion in the light of the terms of reference given to the Angels of destruction. He asked God, “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?” Abraham mainly counted on God’s perfect adjudication skills when he said, “Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do, right? (Genesis 18:25b). Our intercession for family, the body of Christ and the nations must also be premised on God’s faithfulness, mercies, compassion, love and His covenant-keeping credentials instead of just complaining and weeping.

He then negotiated with God to implore Him to abandon the idea and spare the cities. Abraham’s first offer was for God to spare the twin city should the Angels find fifty (50) righteous people there. This was remarkable of a mighty intercessor or negotiator because offering 50 for what its worth 500,000 (representing 0.01% of the original figure or a 99.99% discount for a commodity) is a bold step. Indeed, it is equivalent to asking for the item to be given to you free of charge.

It must, therefore, be established that the project of interceding for others, institutions and nations has very little to do with their attitudes, behaviour, past or current lifestyles. It virtually tells Almighty God to intervene swiftly on behalf of others by mercy and not by merits. One would have thought Abraham would be “gentle” or “courteous” enough to increase his offer of 50 to say about 100 or better still, thank God for the 99.99% concession given for his request. Abraham remained steadfast to the project he had begun to save the entire nation from God’s judgment. In God’s presence, he proceeds to negotiate further downwards to 45 righteous people as a measure of attracting God’s mercies to the situation at hand. God obliged that request as well. He then interceded further and brought the number to 40 and, in all these instances pleading for God to contain the inconveniences he appeared to be causing Him. In the project of intercession, there is no such thing as trying to be gentle or appearing to be courteous to the situation at hand when precious lives, nations, and generations unborn are at stake.

When Abraham picked the signal that God was somehow giving him the needed attention and developing interest in the project he had set for himself, he brought the figure down to 30. Even though the Angels of destruction at this time had set off to carry out their mission because it was apparent God was in a hurry. However, any well-planned intercession we mount for others always crosses God at an intersection where His love and mercies bind Him to stop, wait, listen and consider our pleas. Abraham then asked for a further reduction of the number to 20. God did not ignore this request, even though the Angels were almost at the site for the mission to begin. In all the six (6) instances in Abraham’s intercession project from 50 to 10 righteous people, God answered him with, “The Lord said…” although it may appear that he was disturbing or wasting God’s time.

God answers the intercession we mount for nations and communities. It is never a bother to Him. It is worth noting that Abraham decided not to pre-occupy himself with the guilt, sins, LGBTQ+ happenings and corrupt deals of the people but rather remained focused on interceding for them. Can we, for a moment, re-focus our attention on God to save our dear nation from utter chaos and destruction other than dwelling on the corrupt and evil vices ongoing? Of course, there’s time to talk about the ills in our governance systems and proffer workable policies and strategies to mitigate them. However, in the mood of intercession, there must be minimal or no room for accusations.

I will, therefore, take this opportunity to thank Apostle Eric Nyamekye and his able Executive Council members for the numerous intercessory prayer interventions at all levels of the Church worldwide. Apart from the “Awurade Kasa” and others at the PENT TV studio, the nationwide inter-district prayer marathon and the current global intercession on Tuesdays have greatly relieved many individuals and households, institutions, and nations across the globe. The spiritually thick atmosphere is getting lightened by the day by God’s grace. May God continue to bless the leadership of our dear Church.

Someway somehow and quite instructive to today’s believers, Abraham dropped what I see as the bombshell and the anti-climax of the entire project when he said, “… but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?” (Genesis 18:32). Then God answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.”  Let us not forget that even though He appeared to be in a hurry with His Angels, this same God stopped over at Abraham’s end and told him everything about His pending judgment on the twin city. Even when the Angels had taken the lead to Sodom, He waited for Abraham and entertained a whopping 99.99% discount he tabled for discussion. God further allowed an additional 80% discount on whatever was left from 50 to 10 righteous people. Why Abraham decided to end this landmark intercession project at “10” when God was almost at the 100% discount mark in abandoning the mission of destroying the twin city baffles me. Abraham was just a step away from what Moses achieved with God in a similar scenario in Exodus 32:9-14 when He planned to kill all the Israelites and raise another nation for him to lead. After the intercession, Moses mounted on behalf of the children of Israel; scripture says, “Then the LORD relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.”

The greatest mistake we make as believers is the practice of abandoning or the stoppage of intercession at those ungodly hours the Lord Himself had given almost all and is ever willing to finish it off wholly for His children. What made Abraham think he was boring or bothering God? Do you think God would not have agreed to a further reduction from 10 to zero to spare the entire nation? Let’s not stop what God has instructed us to do for others, institutions, and our homeland Ghana through intercession because He has a particular interest in that project. God is never tired of listening to our prayers for others, society, and the nation because it fits well into His divine scheme. Let’s, therefore, not get tired and shy of asking more for Ghana, our motherland. Genesis 18:33, “When the LORD had finished speaking with Abraham, he left, and Abraham returned home. Remember, Abraham decided to stop at “10” and not continue the intercession because he probably thought God had done His best for him. God, therefore, left Abraham after his last request, and the latter also returned home. Why stop interceding to return home when your toil of intercession is on the verge of bringing some individuals back on track and nations back on their feet? Concerning the Patriarchs of the Christian faith like Abraham, 1 Corinthians 10:11 has this to say, “These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come.” So, instead of criticising Abraham for not following through with the logical completion of that intercession project, let us soberly reflect and repent from the practice of abandoning the ministry of intercession when it is most needed.

We must also not dwell on our human weaknesses during the project of intercession; else, the devil takes advantage of that and robs us of our confidence as believers. Abraham said, “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes” (Genesis 18:27). Despite the perceived weakness he touted, the God of the spirits of all flesh had all the patience to wait, listen and act on his behalf. Repent from sinful lifestyles if you have been convicted of any sin but let us remain focused and continue to lift holy and tireless hands for Heaven’s attention.

Sadly, when we stop intercession abruptly, God leaves the negotiation or intercessory altar of engagement to carry out His judgment due to individuals and nations (Genesis 18:33). The Angels of destruction then arrived in Sodom, and God rained down, burning sulphur from Heaven, destroying the cities (Genesis 19:1, 24). The vegetation was equally destroyed, signifying their livelihoods and economic fortunes (Genesis 19:25). According to Genesis 19:27-28, Abraham saw the smoke and destruction from the very spot he stood to intercede for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. Unfortunately, Lot’s wife became a casualty when she turned into a pillar of salt. When we stop the project of intercession, we are likely to lose some dear ones even if we are fortunate to survive the tide. Let us not wait until we gather at the altar of our churches to see with our eyes what we do not want to see for our dear nation.

It is, however, revealing to learn that even in the middle of judgement, God still allows space to give concessions anytime intercession is mounted. Just before God rained down the burning sulphur from Heaven, Lot pleaded with the Angels to let him and his family flee to the nearby town called Zoar. The Angel told him, “Very well, I will grant this request too; I will not overthrow the town you speak of. But flee there quickly because I cannot do anything until you reach it” (Genesis 19:21-22).

Therefore, the project of intercession can never be too late for God’s intervention because apart from Him not being subject and bound by times and seasons, He is the commanding officer commanding all of Heaven’s host and forces. Believers must quickly pick the right signals when things are not moving as expected for others, institutions and nations and lift a well planned and coordinated regime of intercession for God’s intervention. In Ezekiel 22:30, God said, “I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one.”  He is, therefore, more interested and excited to see His children taking up the project of intercession than we can ever imagine.

Similarly, as Moses’ hand grew tired and lowered his hands in Israel’s battle with the Amalekites, Israel was losing the fight on the field (Exodus 17:8-13). Aaron and Hur then looked for a stone for Moses to sit on with their hands propped to remain steady throughout the military campaign. The staff of God Moses lifted on top of the mountain whiles Joshua and the troops fought on the ground represents the project of intercession the Lord expects believers to undertake for the Church till sunset or the end of the age. Is it not scary to learn that God’s children were suffering defeat in the hands of the enemy any moment Moses’ hands signifying intercession were dropping for whatever reasons? The Church of God, I believe, has entered the phase where believers must mass up and mount the mother of all intercession until the nations are possessed and flooded with Kingdom principles and values. Therefore, every support must be given to the “Moseses, Aarons and Hours” of our day, so the staff of intercession remains steady till every foe is vanquished.

Likewise, family life and households suffer damage anytime the “Abrahams” and the “Moseses” amongst them decide to stop at “10” or lower the flag of intercession to half-mast. In Numbers 12:1-13, God’s anger burned hot against Miriam and Aaron for speaking against Moses’ marriage life. Miriam was then struck with leprosy as a result by God. The rather swift project of intercession mounted by Moses on her behalf is what brought God’s anger down and restored her for them to live in continuous harmony as siblings. Moses cried, “Please, God, heal her!” Your guess would be as good as mine if Moses opted to stay vindictive or indifferent towards the plight of Miriam, as her sister, like some believers, are in the habit of doing.

In conclusion, when the project of intercession is grounded abruptly for whatever reasons, families, households, the Church in battle, and nations bear the brunt of it with massive and highly avoidable losses. Unlike Abraham, let us not stop at “10”. Let us make every effort to continue this all-important project at all levels until sunset when the mist would have been rolled away.

Written by Pastor James Orhin Agyin

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A Relook At Sports Betting: A Wake-Up Call To Faith Communities And The Government Of Ghana

In recent times, both traditional and social media in Ghana, have been rife with the hostile effects of sports betting. After careful personal research and reflection on the recent news items which are becoming rampant by the day, there is the need to speak out, having worked closely with the youth for a couple of years.

At the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), it has been reported that some students had to defer their courses for non-payment of school fees, and one of the reasons cited by the school management was that, quite a number of the students used their monies for other ventures such as sports betting. Even though, the Students Representative Council of KNUST expressed a different opinion, at least a defaulting student confessed on national television to buttress what has been alluded by the management of KNUST. Also, it is reported of the death of the 76-year-old retired educationist who doubles as the Gyasehene of Dawuriso in the Asante Akyem North District who committed suicide after losing GH₵ 120,000.00 on AFCON bet. Then, Nana Nhyira Agyapong an employee of an Accra-based electronics company was arrested for allegedly spending a whooping GH¢ 1,079,728 of the companies’ money on sports betting.  It is high time leadership of faith communities and the government rise to speak into the subject. 

In the quest to become rich overnight, the trends of materialism, secularism, and libertinism have led to the influx of sports betting, gaming, gambling, and lottery among the Ghanaian youth. Betting and gambling seem to have always been a part of human development. Gambling is perhaps as old as mankind and has been universally practiced in different forms such as gaming, betting, chariot racing, and wagering. The attitude of society and faith communities towards betting and gambling has varied across time and geography.  There are indications that the spread of sports betting, gaming, lottery, and gambling is destroying and having a great impact on the youth in Ghana. Christian youths are not left out of this menace.  Africa to a large extent is seen to be very religious, and the faith communities seem to be opposed to gambling, foreign invasion appears to be washing out the strong adherence of the religious beliefs among the youth gradually. Some youth, therefore, give the impression which demonstrates a misconception about sports betting, gaming, and gambling. These trends have affected church attendance among the youth, especially during the evenings when the matches are being telecasted. The issue looks more threatening to this generation because patrons of sports betting and gaming argue that, there is no biblical passage that explicitly speaks to forbid the act. Yet many conservative Christians frown at gambling, sports betting, and lotteries of any kind. The revolution of internet technology has opened new dimensions of betting and gambling and has also created a global market for it. Online betting which represents a new frontier in the spread of gambling appears to have greatly increased the number of persons betting regularly. The manner of playing games has also undergone a drastic change in recent years. Again, the trend has even become worse as some Christians gamble and stake lotteries for charitable purposes and some men of God also give lotto numbers and predict the outcome of football matches for individuals to stake. One can therefore argue that the issues of sports betting, gaming, and gambling can now be viewed as a major theological concern and therefore, faith communities and the government can become more relevant and effective partners in fostering appropriate responses to sports betting, gaming and gambling.  

Whilst we must humbly agree with the contention of proponents, patrons, and promoters of sports betting, gaming, gambling, and lotteries, that no portion (or passage) of scripture overtly speaks to or forbids gambling, the important question remains, “how can Christians carefully and systematically respond to the debate of sports betting, gaming, gambling, and lotteries in the light of scripture?” It is because of this that this article has been written to establish how sports betting, gaming, and gambling is affecting the youth in our generation and also how we can respond to it through the lens of scripture as the Bible is our authoritative tool for moral standards. This paper is written primarily to caution people especially the youth about the dangers of sports betting, gaming, gambling, and lottery and also to provide a biblical response to those who already know the dangers but are looking for biblical information to defend it and to help them overcome it. In this paper we shall be looking at some local and international research findings in relation to sports betting, gaming, and gambling, the effects/dangers of sports betting and gaming among the youth, a biblical case against sports betting and gaming, and conclude with measures that the church needs to take to minimize the impact of the trend.

THE SPORTS BETTING, GAMING, AND GAMBLING DEBATE

The debate on sports betting, gaming, lottery, and gambling is becoming more intense as faith communities and other national bodies are getting involved. The gambling industry is booming in the African continent and other parts of the world, with new online casinos and betting centres emerging every day. Besides the lottery and casinos, one type of gambling that has taken the African continent by storm is sports betting. In Africa, sports betting has been rising in acceptance over the past few years. For example, sports betting has been gaining ground over the past decade contributing 37 billion to the gambling industry with no sign of slowing down.  In recent years more than five betting companies have set up their terminals in Ghana. These terminals are expected to create jobs for the people to help resolve the unemployment crises and to further improve Ghana’s economic situation. The influx of these betting companies created the need for the establishment of the Gaming Commission Act 2006, (Act 721). So now, the emergence of these sports betting and gambling industries have urged the government to regulate the processes with the Gaming Commission.

Patrons and promoters of these betting centres maintain that their operation in the country has come to solve the unemployment problem in the country and also help the government to generate some funds.

Again, approximately 90% of the 400 people who were interviewed during this research, indicated that they can make some money through sports betting. They indicated that it is a quick way to get money. According to McGowan, one constant refrain used by state officials to legalize and also to justify their involvement and entering into the sports betting, gambling, and lottery business was its ability to obtain revenue for state operations without the imposition of either new taxes or tax increases.  McGowan continued to say that, in 1975 New Jersey legalized casino gambling in Atlantic City as a means to revitalize that city as a tourist attraction and, of course, to raise revenue to support various benefits for the elderly throughout New Jersey. A similar view by Koven and Lyons postulated that, in countries where sports betting is legalized, betting taxes fund government projects. According to the Rockefeller Institute, revenue from gaming in those states where the activity is legalized has increased steadily over the last decade, rising as high as over $1.5 billion per year. The institute also contended that sports betting constitutes a means of boosting tourism. As such, not legitimizing sports betting only diverts the potential tax revenue to either illegal gambling operations or other countries where it is legal.  Most of the respondents interviewed contend that sports betting has some economic benefits and also it has come to solve the unemployment problem in the country since those who are employed to man these gaming centres have got jobs to do and the state is also able to obtain some economic benefits through the payment of taxes by the operators and also the money that people get when they win a bet.

Taking the economic benefits of sports betting into consideration, legalized forms of betting and gambling are often promoted as good economic policy. Proponents are of the view that such forms of gambling are painless ways of increasing billions of Ghana Cedis in state revenue. What advocates seem to forget is that, generally, the cost of management, advertising, and promotions is approximately sixty pesewas of each Cedi generated, while direct taxation of the citizens costs only about a pesewa on the Cedi, so for every Ghana Cedi raised by taxes, ninety-nine pesewas go to the state. Again, legalized gambling adversely affects a state economy. Money that could have been invested or loaned and recycled through the economy is risked in the legalized betting scheme. Once more, legalized betting and gambling syphons billions of Cedis from the economy. More money is staked on sports betting and other legalized gambling than is spent on elementary and secondary education.

Other debates against sports betting have been based on religious and social grounds. The National Gambling Impact Study Commission (1999) has reported that, despite the contributions to growth, dreadful potential negative consequences did however exist in encouraging the practice. Sports betting, the Commission added, can become a compulsive habit, one that negatively affects the financial standing of gambling addicts. These individuals usually lose their ability to save and run into huge debts. The Commission put forward that the analysis of economic benefit derived from sports betting was poorly developed and incomplete. This analysis, the Commission continued, did not consider the social costs that must be considered in assessing the net benefits of sports betting. Such costs can justifiably be viewed from both individual and societal perspectives. The Commission listed the following as negative behaviors associated with sports betting: family abuse, suicide, truancy, poor academic performance, money laundering, alcohol and drug use, with poverty a frequent product of one or more of such behaviors. From the societal point of view, gambling leads to neighborhood crime, and increases both prostitution among women and high school dropout rates. Countries that are faced with these consequences would have their economic progress obstructed because education is a significant factor in poverty alleviation in an economy.

David Neff and Thomas Giles in their book “Feeding the Monster called More, Christianity Today” iterated that, the USA government spent 286 billion dollars on gambling as against 213 billion dollars spent on elementary and secondary education in 1990.

Dangers/ Effects of Sports Betting and Gambling Among the Youth

From the research that we conducted in Takoradi, it was revealed that sports betting with its attendant effects affect the youth in these areas: Economically, Socially, and Religiously. 

From the research findings, we discovered that many drinking spots, restaurants, shops, bars, and hotels in Takoradi have received permits from the Municipal Assembly for these sports betting companies to operate. The youth flock to these betting centres in their numbers to throw their monies on their teams and international sports stars. The research found out that youth between the ages of 12 to 25 years were the major people who patronize these centres. The youth do not only risk becoming problem gamblers but also may neglect their books by spending most of their man-hours at the betting terminals. In another study conducted by the Daily Searchlight on the effects of sports betting on the youth in Ghana, they reported that on a visit to many sports betting centres, they found a gathering of Ghanaian and foreign youth between the ages of 18 and 35 mostly doing sports betting spending time and money to win football pools. The reporter said “This is definitely taking all the time of the youth from everything; schooling, practicing a trade and learning. An elderly patron at a betting centre at Abeka Lapaz in Accra said, betting is a form of gambling that leads the youth to all kinds of juvenile vices and crimes,”.  This reporter went to seek the opinion of the Gaming Commissions on this social canker but could not get any official position on the sheer numbers of gaming centres in the country yet. Officials intimated that so long as the Ghanaian public has not kicked against the activities of sports bettors, there is currently no problem. A source close to the Commission assured the nation that if the activities of the centres flout the gaming laws, the Commission would not hesitate to pull the plugs on these centres.

The social impact of sports betting and gambling among the youth is mostly hidden from patrons and those who normally patronize it. But later the cost is seen in the shattered lives of individuals and their families. A study in The Journal of Social Issues revealed that as gambling and its related games of chances increase there is also an increase in the “proportion of divorce and separation, disagreement about money matters with one’s spouse, lack of understanding between marital partners, and more reported problems among children of gamblers.  The above findings are in agreement with the report by the National Gambling Impact Study Commission. The commission enumerated the following to be the social impact of sports betting on the youth: family abuse, suicide, truancy, poor academic performance, money laundering, alcohol, and drug use, with poverty a frequent product of one or more of such behaviours. 

From our research conducted in Takoradi, we found out that, 12% of the 400 respondents were school dropouts. They left school because they wanted to make money. 28% also acknowledged that it has really affected their academic performance and their concentration during lectures. 

When it comes to suicidal tendencies, it was realized that 68% of the persons contacted have attempted suicide before. Out of that, one student self-confessed that, he lost his best friend because of sports betting. The above affirms the research conducted by the UK Gambling Charity, GambleAware. From their research, it was revealed that “problem gamblers were six times more likely to have suicidal thoughts or try to take away their own life and could be fifteen times more likely to do so”.  They added that some of the risk factors that might be linked to suicidal thoughts are depression, substance abuse, and financial problems.

Furthermore, a 16-year-old boy by the name Kwaku Appiah of the Osei Kyeretwie Senior High School form two student, committed suicide by hanging himself because of sports betting.  A news report by Lizbeth Brown on 19th August 2021, showed a level 400 final year student of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology who committed suicide after losing a bet.  The deceased identified as Fredrick Asamoah Frimpong was found hanging in his room by his parents. A post that was circulating on the various social media platforms specified that Fredrick was in debt to the tune of 200,000 Ghana cedis and decided to use the money he had to bet so he can defray the debt. He had 60,000 Ghana cedis on him and he staked the bet with all the money with the hope of winning to enable him pay his debt. He apparently committed suicide as the game did not go in his favour.

From January to March 2022, we have witnessed the death and arrest of some people all due to sports betting. Few instances are cited in this article. On January 13, we heard of the death of the 76-year-old retired educationist who doubles as the Gyasehene of Dawuriso in the Asante Akyem North District which was attributed to the fact that he committed suicide after losing GH₵ 120,000.00 on AFCON bet. Again, Nana Nhyira Agyapong an employee of an Accra-based electronics company was arrested for allegedly spending GH¢ 1,079,728 of the company’s money on sports betting.  

A 27-year-old man identified as Daniel Ayuba Mark committed suicide on 26th February 2022 after an amount of N1.5 million was withdrawn from his sports betting account by some unknown scammers.

Tom Fleming in his article, ‘The Human cost of Gambling Addiction’ stated that, UK recorded between 250 and 650 gambling-related suicides each year; a minimum of one every working day.  He added that, these gambling-related suicides accounts for between 4 and 11% of UK’s overall suicides.  In his article entitled, betting “Blood on their hand: How 500 people – mostly young men – kill themselves every year after getting hooked on gambling by ruthlessly greedy betting giants, Ian Birrel re-counted how 500 people lost their lives in UK within a year all due to sports betting.

Italy, USA, Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, and other countries have all had their share in the suicidal cases caused by sports betting, gaming and gambling. In 2017, Abdi Latif Dahir a news reporter in Kenya reported of the rise in betting addictions in Knya leaving young people bankrupt and suicidal. 

In their book “When You Gamble – You Risk More Than Your Money”, Bordon Cole and Sidney Margolis concluded “there is no doubt of the destructive effect of gambling on the family life.  In another news from Graphic online reported by Jemima Achivors, a 31-year-old manager of Star Oil Company, Hohoe branch was convicted and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for stealing 139,118 Ghana cedis and spending same on betting. 

The corrosive effects of gambling attack both the white-collar and blue-collar families with equal vigour.  The impact on crime is also significant. It appears that the crime rate in gambling and sports betting communities nearly doubles the national average. Researchers calculated that for every dollar the state received from the gambling industry, it cost the state at least three dollars in increased social cost for criminal justice and social welfare.

THE BIBLICAL RESPONSE TO THE SPORTS DEBATE

Whilst we must humbly agree with the contention of proponents, patrons and promoters of sports betting, gaming, gambling and lotteries, that no portion (or passage) of scripture overtly speaks to or forbids gambling, we can derive a number of principles from scripture.

First of all, the Bible, emphasizes the sovereignty of God (Matt. 10:29-30) and also the Lord being the shepherd of his people and the great provider of all who trust in him (Psalm 23:1-6). Sports betting and Gambling, however, is based on chance. Again, the Bible admonishes people to work creatively and for the benefit of others (Eph. 5:28; 2 Thess. 3:10), while sports betting fosters a something-for-nothing attitude.

The Bible condemns materialism (Matt. 6:24-26) and encourages godliness with contentment (1 Tim. 6:6; Hebrews 13:5) because one’s life does not consist in the abundance of things he possesses (Luke 12:15) while sports betting promotes materialism. Once more, sports betting and gambling breeds covetousness, whereas the Bible admonishes people not to covet (Ex. 20:17) because covetousness is part of the list of sins that defiles a man (Mark 7:22). Thus: it is idolatry (Colo. 3:5) that shouldn’t be named among Christians (Eph. 5:3). Coveting, greed and selfishness are the base emotions that drives individuals to enter into sports betting and gambling. Christians should be concerned about sports betting and gambling if for no other reason than the effect it has on the “weaker brother” and how it will affect the compulsive gambler.

Secondly, sports betting destroys the work ethic. Two biblical passages deal with the work ethic. In Colossians 3:23-24, Apostle Paul wrote “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving”. And in 2 Thessalonians 3:7,10, the Apostle again stated, “For you, yourself know how you ought to follow our example…. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: ‘If a man will not work, he shall not eat’

Third, sports betting and gambling destroys families. Sports betting and gambling are a major cause of family neglect. Many of the social cost associated with gambling come from a get-rich-quick mindset. As some people get caught up in the sports betting and gambling frenzy, they begin to neglect their families. Money spent on sports betting, gambling and lotteries are not risk capital but income that should be spent on family needs. According to 1 Timothy 5:8 a person who refuses to care for his family is worse than an unbeliever. Parents must provide for their children (2 Cor. 12:14) and eat the bread of their labours (2 Thess. 3:12). Legalized gambling causes people to neglect their God given responsibilities to take care of their families and many of those families then end up on welfare.

Fourth, those who get rich through unjust means are like a partridge that hatches eggs it did not lay, when their lives are half gone, their riches will desert them, and in the end, they will prove to be fools (Jer. 17:11). While the bible admonishes acquiring riches little by little, sports betting and gambling preaches getting rich overnight (Proverbs 13:11)

Various Positions of Christian Groups on Sports Betting

From the research conducted, it was revealed that, the church was divided when it comes to the issue of betting, lottery and gambling. Some faith communities don’t see anything wrong with it. They are of the view that it is a means to make wealth and also have a share in the national cake. To this end, some men of God predict the outcome of football matches and others give lotto numbers for their congregants to stake. Prophet Emmanuel Badu Kobi, the Head, and founder of Glorious Wave Church International shared a video in advance confidently predicting win for Brazil in the Copa America finals as well as a victory for England in the 2021 Euro finals which he claimed the prophecies were inspired by the Holy Spirit. All these prophecies failed and he attributed the failure to the fact that many Ghanaians depended upon his prophecy to stake a bet. He said they should shift the blame on those who bet on football matches. Bishop Daniel Obinim, leader and founder of the International God’s Way Church has also been distributing lotto numbers to his congregation during church service. According to him, there is unequivocally nothing wrong with one opting to stake a lotto in a bid to make money. In one of his pre-recorded videos, the man of God stated emphatically that lottery is not a sin and dared any pastor who can prove to him that lottery was a sin. He added that, the lotto numbers were given to him by God and till God stops giving him the numbers he will also not stop given out the numbers.

The second school of thought, holds an ambivalent position about the debate. They are of the view that one can stake a lottery or bet and use the outcome for charitable purposes. Reverend Father Andrew Campbell, the Parish Priest of the Christ the King Catholic Church in Accra expressed worry about the rate at which the youth were participating in sports betting. According to him, betting is a bad lifestyle and therefore its patrons should channel their money into necessities such as food and accommodation he said this in an interview on Thursday, 5 December 2019 on Class91.3Fm. When he was asked about his view of his participation on ‘Who Wants to Be Rich’, he said that he donated all the 25, 000 Ghana cedis to the Lepers association. This confirms his ambivalent position on the issue at stake.

The third group are also of the view that, though there is no passage of scripture that speaks against betting, lottery and gambling, there are portions of scripture that when studied very well will prove that betting is wrong. This group does not support the idea of betting in any kind.

Against this backdrop, the writer has proposed the following suggestions to the church and the state to help minimize the trend and also help the youths who have been caught in the web of sports betting, gaming and gambling.

Suggested Actions the Church Can Put in Place to Minimize the Trend

First of all, the church should come together to fight this menace. Faith communities must come together as a unified body with one voice and also one understanding and interpretation to scripture so that they can solve this challenge. Without this the church can in no way fight this threat.  The clergy since they hold positions of trust must desist from predicting matches and also giving out lotto numbers in the name of it being inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Furthermore, the church should continue to preach and teach the unadulterated gospel which has power to save and transform lives. Since these betting companies have not ceased advertising and pushing their products on the various air waves and media space, the church should also spread the gospel message by engaging people both physically and digitally using the digital space.

The church should also come out boldly to let the general public know the consequences of this repulsive practice. 

The church should continue to teach and to preach that godliness with contentment is a great gain (1 Timothy 6:6) and espouse the youth to know that hard work pays (Proverbs 22:29) but like a partridge that hatches eggs it did not lay, when their lives are half gone, their riches will desert them, and in the end, they will prove to be fools (Jer. 17:11) so is the person who desires to be rich overnight.

Lastly, the church and other faith communities should establish rehabilitation and counselling centres to help those who are into compulsive or problem gambling. 

Conclusion

From the discussion so far, we have seen the merits and demerits of sports betting and gambling and have come to the conclusion that the disadvantages outweigh the advantages. We have also seen the biblical position concerning these trends. We humbly suggest that the church and the state will come together to educate the general public and also through well-structured apologetics defend the faith. The government should also set a commission to relook at sports betting one more time and then advise leadership.

The Writer, Emmanuel Opoku Mensah is a Youth Pastor in The Church of Pentecost and he is currently the PENSA Travelling Secretary for Takoradi Sector. You may reach him through, emmanuelopokum1985@gmail.com.

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Preserving The Spirit Of Giving In The Church Of Pentecost – Some Reflections On The Contributing Factors And Some Suggestions For The Way Forward

1.0       Introduction

The Church of Pentecost like many endearing institutions can be said to have come of age in terms of its stability, leadership praxis, theological disposition, doctrinal foundations and its mission-minded mandate. Over the years, the Church has climbed many mountains, survived challenges, weathered storms, fought winds and yet survived. It is obvious that many factors might have contributed to bringing the Church to its current state.

This article aims at highlighting the spirit of giving in The Church of Pentecost (CoP), a motivation which stems from a careful analysis of the Chairman’s state of the church address which is normally presented during the opening sessions of Council meetings.

The State of the Church address provides an overview of the activities of the Church in the calendar year.  A key aspect of the address which normally forms part of the appendix in the presentation is what has stimulated my interests for this article. This aspect is the donations made by individual members, officers, ministers, districts, areas and even nations within a year under review as captured in the Chairman’s address.

In this article, I will draw factors gleaned by my personal observations as well as documents written by some of our founding fathers, following which I will attempt to offer some suggestions for the preservation of this spirit of giving in the Church.

2.0       FACTORS CONTRIBUTING TO THE SPIRIT OF GIVING IN THE COP

2.1       Our Belief In What The Bible Says On Giving

The bible serves as the foundation and basis for everything we do in the CoP. The Church believes that the scripture is infallible in its declaration and all sufficient in its provision.”[1] Having this understanding have made the Church subscribe to whatever the scripture subscribes to. In the CoP, the scripture is our rule, thus considering that several passages of scripture encourage giving, it comes as no surprise therefore to see members and officers in the church demonstrating such spirit of giving within our spiritual eco-space, for in CoP, “we follow him together, wherever he leads.”

2.2       The Covenant That Is Still Speaking

The Church of Pentecost like other denominations was built on a covenant – a covenant which God entered with our founding fathers and reaffirmed it at various eras of her growth (1931, 1940 & 1948).[2] In this covenant, God promised to “meet the Church’s financial needs in good times and in bad times for all other denominations to acknowledge that His divine presence, blessings and glory are with the church.[3] It is obvious over the years that God has kept his part of the bargain by ensuring that the Church is continually stable financially. For example in the COVID-19 pandemic year of 2020, when world economies were nose-diving, the Church’s financial performance grew by 7.10% compared to the previous year,[4] a striking feat that the covenant is still speaking.

2.3       Mckeown’s Financial Missiological Strategy

The third factor which might have contributed to the spirit of giving in the CoP is what I describe as the Mckeown’s Financial Missiological Strategy (MFMS). The MFMS is gleaned from Rev. James McKeown Missiological strategy of building a church that is self-propagating, self-governing and self-financing. Koduah notes that “Pastor Mckeown and his able leaders insisted right from the inception of the Church that financial independence was what would make the church stand on its feet.[5] According to McKeown, he had not come to Africa to create beggars but sons of God. It is this spirit that strengthened McKeown to promulgate the “do-it-yourself” policy even though it came with its difficulties for a young church at that time when many churches were relying on foreign aid from their mother churches abroad. This MFMS contributed to the kind of giving spirit we see today in our church. For members were made to own the church, feel part of her success story and contribute towards the any developmental agenda of the Church. As a young man growing up in the church, I observed how members would identify a need in the local assembly and buy to replace or fix that need. For example, microphones, sound equipment, musical instruments, chairs et cetera were bought and donated willingly by church members particularly on Lord’s Supper Sundays.

2.4       The Shining Examples of Our Founding Fathers

Another contributing factor towards the spirit of giving in the CoP is what I describe as the shining examples of our founding fathers. Not much has been recorded in terms of how the church in its formative years demonstrated that. Nonetheless, one can infer that, that could have been a major culture in the church. Historical accounts recall Mrs. Christiana Obo in a vision saw angels picking her precious valuables away. This was at a time when McKeown needed urgent support to meet pressing financial needs in the church. Mrs. Obo eventually sowed her jewelries for the work of the ministry, a timely intervention that plucked many holes in those days. She was said to have also put up a building to house him and the pastors when they were on trek. She was able to pay for the Pastors’ allowances when the church had no adequate funds to do so.[6] Mrs. Obo was supported by other women including Prudence Anaman from Saltpond.[7] Additionally, some leaders in Accra donated as much as 500 pounds sterling to aid a new Pastor’s settlement in Accra. Some gave lands and properties, just to mention a few. These acts, I believe, would have sparked lots of conversations within the church circles, planting a seed of free-will support in the hearts of the members at that time. It is these acts which set the foundation and created a legacy for which reason we are seeing such a mighty outpouring of generosity in the Church.

3.0       SUGGESTIONS FOR PRESERVING THIS LEGACY

Reflecting on the afore-mentioned factors, I am convinced that these are legacies and values ought to be grounded in our generation and preserved for subsequent pass-on to the next generation. The question that comes to mind is what can be done to preserve and pass on. I would like to suggest a few

  • Intensification of Teachings of Voluntary Giving in the Church (2 Cor. 9:6-8; Pvrb. 11:24-25).
  • Conscious Efforts should be made at all levels to build love for God and His Church (Matt. 22:37-38; Deut. 6:5).
  • Continuous Review of Church Policies on Financial Accountability & Reporting.
  • Strategic Chaplaincy Support for Major Financiers & Their Affiliates.
  • An Annual Special Prayer/Breakfast Conference could be considered for these financiers at all levels.
  • Intermittent Recognition of Financial Pillars at all levels.
  • Frequent Reminders of God’s Covenant with the Church.
  • Avenues should be created at all levels for testimonies of the Financial Pillars in the Church.
  • There should be intentionality in creating opportunities to develop more financiers for the Church through financial empowerment seminars, business development programmes, leadership and mentoring sessions et cetera.
  • Continuous Intercession should be made for the businesses and organizations of these members.

4.0       CONCLUSION

The purpose of this article is to appreciate God for the outpouring of the spirit of giving in The Church of Pentecost. It is also aimed at highlighting some of the factors which might have triggered such grace whiles offering some suggestions for the next generation. God is with his Church and the church will continue to march on.

Submitted by

Kwasi Asante Annor (Ps.)PENT TV


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The Meal That Heals

INTRODUCTION

Medicines (or medications) are chemicals or compounds used to cure, halt or prevent disease, ease symptoms, or help in the diagnosis of illnesses. They are administered for healing purposes. Thus, people take medicines to fight illness, to feel better when they are sick, and to keep from getting sick in the first place. Medications work in different ways to bring good health to people. Some can cure an illness by killing or halting the spread of invading germs, such as bacteria and viruses. Others are used to treat cancer by killing cells as they divide or prevent them from multiplying. Some others replace missing substances or correct low levels of natural body chemicals such as some hormones or vitamins. No one takes in medicine for fun, especially when they are not drug addicts. Health officials prescribe specific drugs to their patients to deal with specific diseases. However, not all drugs are able to cure all diseases. That is why patients often consult their medical officers for possible switch in medication when they find out that a particular one seems not to be working as expected. These medicines are one of the media God uses to heal his children. Another medium God uses to administer healing to his children is through a meal introduced by our Lord Jesus Christ during his earthly ministry, thus, the Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion. This meal has the potency to heal any type of disease, both physical and spiritual. This article throws light on the Holy Communion as “The Meal that heals”.

WHAT IS A MEAL?

Merriam-Webster defines meal as “food eaten or prepared for eating at one time.” Meals are prepared and served in homes, at restaurants, schools, and among other places. They are served during the day as breakfast, lunch or supper. Among the reasons of enjoying meals are for peak performance energy, growth and function, enjoyment and satisfaction, strength, and cleansing, prevention and fighting diseases. Others are for maintaining our external body, and healing purposes. Of late, people eat selected foods to meet their health benefits. They do not eat for eating sake, but for healing purposes. People are now turning their kitchens into pharmacies or bringing pharmacies into their kitchens. What this means is that people are now giving the food they choose to nourish their mind, body and spirit the utmost respect they deserve. Unlike previously, where they eat to just satisfy their stomach, they are now filling their kitchen with healing ingredients, and not ordinary ones. Notwithstanding, these efforts meet only the physical needs of humankind and not their complete makeup—their spiritual, psychological, emotional, and social needs. Thus, the meal only caters for their physical needs, but fails to meet the needs of their soul and spirit. The Holy Communion, which is also a meal, brings complete healing to a believer when they receive it in faith and in accordance with the will of God.

THE HOLY COMMUNION

The Holy Communion also known as “the Lord’s Supper” (1 Cor 11:20), “the Last Supper” (Matt 26:29), “the Lord’s Table” (1 Cor 10:21), “Fellowship” (1 Cor 10:16), “Eucharist” (the Greek word for ‘thanksgiving’ in Matt 26:27; Mk 14:23), “Breaking of Bread” (Acts 2:42, NRSV), “the Mass” and “the Cup of Blessing” (1 Cor 10:16, KJV) is a rite ordained by the Lord Jesus that symbolises His sacrificial death and its significance to atonement and redemption.

Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper on the eve of his crucifixion during the last supper he shared with the disciples. Jesus was eager to eat the Holy Communion with his disciples during the Passover feast (Lk. 22:7-23, Matt. 26:17-30, Mk. 14:12-26), before his departure from earth. He took bread and, when He had broken it, said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me” (1 Cor 11:24). In the same way, he also took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink, in remembrance of me. For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (1 Cor 11:25). After dinning with them, Jesus commanded his disciples to continue in the practice in remembrance of him.

THE HOLY COMMUNION AS A MEAL

As said earlier, meals are “foods eaten or prepared for eating at one time”. The Holy Communion is also food eaten by Christians at church and or in homes. This meal looks different from other meals prepared in our homes or by chefs at restaurants or hotels. It uses no other ingredients and spices, except bread and wine. The bread and wine are emblems of Jesus’ body and blood respectively to be broken and poured out for humanity to receive salvation.

Unlike ordinary meals people take at home, restaurants, or rest stops with no stringent measures and under no serious circumstances, Christians take this meal under strict conditions. This is espoused by Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:27; “So anyone who eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord unworthily is guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord”. That is to say, participants to the Lord’s Supper must go according the set down procedures. Or better still, partakers must not approach the Lord’s Table in a manner unsuitable to the purposes for which it was designed or instituted.

As a meal, Christians partake it in different ways. Some dip the bread in the wine. Some also take both the bread and wine together. Others drink from a shared cup. Some traditions use wafers instead of bread or juice instead of wine. The frequency of this meal also varies. It is offered weekly, monthly, or even once a year.

As mentioned earlier, the Holy Communion is one of the media God uses to administer healing to his children when they attend to it in a worthy manner and in accordance to his will.

WHAT HEALING IS

Healing refers “to the physiological processes that mend an injury, and also to the emotional, spiritual, or psychological processes that relieve stress, achieve acceptance, and promote hope.” Healing is received when health which is “a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” is restored. Health and healing are not the same. While health is an outcome, healing is a choice. Thus, one chooses to receive healing which brings about healthy living. A person cannot be healed if they don’t desire for it. That is why Jesus had to ask the man at the pool of Bethesda whether he needed healing. “When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, he asked him, “Would you like to get well?” (John 5:6). Jesus could not have administered healing to the man without his consent. In other words, Jesus offered the man healing when he consented, and he was made whole completely.

In the Bible, healing comes from being saved. A clear example to this is found in the Old Testament. After growing impatient with the Lord about the long journey from Mount Hor, taking the road to the Red Sea to go around the land of Edom, and complaining bitterly of food and water, “the Lord sent poisonous snakes among the people, and many were bitten and died” (Num 21:6). In Numbers 21:9-11, God had to tell Moses to make a replica of a poisonous snake and attach it to a pole so that all who are bitten will live if they simply look at it! This happened after Moses had prayed for the nation of Israel when they confessed to him their sin of disobedience. Those who were made whole received healing from the bites of the snakes and the sin of disobedience after they looked at the replica of the poisonous snake attached to the pole.

In the New Testament, salvation is a complete work of making a person whole in spirit, soul, and body. In his earthly ministry, Jesus healed a number of persons. Anytime he offered healing to the sick, the Bible tells that they were made whole. For example, the woman with the issue of blood who touched the hem of Jesus’s garment was made whole (Matt 9:21-22). Thus, she did not receive physical only, but had total healing. The psychological trauma she found herself in for the past years coupled with emotional distress, financial challenges and possibly, spiritual weakness were all restored. This attests to the fact that being saved is not only having your sins forgiven, but also receiving healing in the physical body. David affirms this: “He [God] forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases” (Ps 103:3). That is to say, God’s salvation makes one completely whole. Meaning, salvation makes a person’s body, soul, and spirit function in peace and unity, without the disruption of sin in the spirit, sickness in the body, or depression and oppression in the mind.

WHAT CALLS FOR HEALING?

In our daily living, healing is pursued when one’s life seems to be ceasing. It happens when the blood that unites the living part of the body as a life stimulant by nourishing and cleansing the body is deficient; affecting the functioning of other that part. In this case, the cells in the body cannot get all the oxygen and nutrients they need which will cause malfunctioning of that part, leading to death. But when healing is received, people are brought back to life. This happens when the deficiency in the blood is dealt with for optimum performance.

THE BLOOD CARRIES LIFE

In ancient Israel, blood was not only a metaphor or symbol for life; it was equivalent to life itself. In most occurrences where blood was shed in Scripture, it meant that life had ended. To remove the blood is to terminate life (Lev 17:11, 14).

God gives instructions regarding sacrifices and offerings in Leviticus 17, particularly on the proper slaughtering of animals. The Israelites were to bring each animal to the tabernacle entrance for the priest to offer. The blood of the animal was never to be treated as common food; it belonged to God, who is the giver of life (Gen 2:7; Job 33:4; Ps 139:13). Thus, the blood of animals had to be drained and offered to God on the altar. Anytime blood was drained, there was a separation of the body and the blood of the animal leading to cessation of the life of the animal.

Blood was God’s ordained means of effecting atonement: “For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life” (Lev 17:11). Atonement for sin was achieved by sacrificing an animal’s life in substitution for one’s own life. The shedding of blood was the most critical element—it was the blood of the guiltless substitute offered on the altar that served as payment for the people’s sins (Lev 16:15).

Jesus, God’s sacrificial lamb suffered this fate when he went to the cross.

JESUS ON THE CROSS

The cross is most shameful death ever for the son of man to be nailed on just to save humanity. He went on it by the hands of godless men (Acts 2:23) to free humanity from the bondage of sin and death. He suffered a shameful death in order to redeem humankind, for the world to have eternal life. In his death, Jesus’ blood was separated from his flesh. That is to say, the blood of Jesus was drained and offered to God later by himself when he resurrected from the dead (Jn 20:17). So, Jesus died on the cross because there was a separation of his body and blood which carried life. This life caused everything including wind, the dead, the lame, sicknesses, evil spirits, etc to obey him. Since blood resides in the body and life is found in the blood, Jesus could touch the blind and lame to be healed completely. This was because there was a connection between his body and blood which carried life. This life permeated through his body even into his garment to the extent that when the sick touched, they had healing. The potency of life in the blood was manifested when the blood touched the ground (cf. John 19:34). Immediately something extraordinary happened! “At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart” (Matt 27:51).

THE MYSTERY OF PARTAKING IN THE HOLY COMMUNION

The communion meal is a special meal initiated by Jesus Christ for his disciples and commanded them to repeat it through generations. This has continued till now. It’s made up of bread and wine signifying his body and blood respectively. These two emblems are taken together as a commemoration of our Lord Jesus Christ. Why did Jesus give both his body and blood to the disciples in Holy Communion? Jesus did to tell that in the Holy Communion, his blood and flesh which were separated on the cross by ungodly men are put together again by godly men (or Christians) for life to reign in his body again. Partaking in the Lord’s Supper gives us a picture of bringing back the separated body and blood of Jesus together for life to exist; the bread and wine symbols of the body and blood respectively are joined together. Thus, the believer sees Jesus who once lived on earth and now in heaven to be so close to them as he was with the disciples and working by offering total healing of the body, soul and mind, as well as the spirit, connecting believers to a new life.

WHAT THE MEAL DOES

The meal heals ‘sick’ marriages. So many marriages are ‘sick’ and crumbling. When Christian couples partake in the Lord’s Supper, they recognise Jesus as standing with them in marriage and teaching them what ought to be done and what not. In so doing, they commit themselves to the marriage to pleasing Jesus who is always with them. It also makes singles to be healed from sinful behaviours such as following other people’s husbands and wives; they would find it difficult to engage in such illicit behaviours whiles they have Jesus with them.

The meal heals spiritual being. Some Christians are spiritually sick. Being spiritually sick is engaging in immoral activities which is against biblical teachings. They find it difficult to engage in spiritual activities, always carnally minded. They don’t see the need to attend church, come for evening services, participate in Home Cells and Bible Studies, prayer meetings, etc. The order of the day is forcing them to engage in illicit activities making them not to be spiritually sound. Now, people find it difficult to follow the leadings of the spirit, making them not to be children of God; those led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God (Rom 8:14). But when we partake in the Lord’s Supper, Jesus comes into our bodies alive with spiritual nourishment. Thus, Jesus comes to heal spiritual weaknesses, making one to build a strong relationship with the Lord.

The meal heals the Church. The church is made up of individuals who profess to be Christians. They are made up people called out from the world unto Christ. When these individuals are spiritually sick, the church becomes sick. On the other hand, when they are spiritually active, the church also becomes active. It must be noted that one person can make the church sick. This is when they constantly engage in sinful activities. Remember the story of Achan (Josh 7). He caused the whole nation to suffer defeat when he coveted sacred things belonging to the Lord. A healthy church is the one where members partake in the Lord’s Supper in a worthy manner.

The meal heals the physical body, mind and spirit. Once we live in a fallen world, becoming sick is part of us. At the cross, God took all of our sicknesses and diseases and put them on Jesus’ originally perfect and healthy body, so that we can walk in divine health. Isaiah confirms this by saying, “But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed” (Isa 53:5). Adding on, Peter declares that “He [Jesus] personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed” (2 Pet 2:24). So, the believer gets into a deep communion with the great Physician, Provider, and Deliverer when they partake in the Lord’s Supper (the body of Christ). This gives them access into the divine health of Christ; making them to receive total healing—physical, soul, and mind—making them to have peace and unity, without the disruption of sin in the spirit, sickness in the body, or depression and oppression in the mind.

Written by Pastor Emmanuel Foster Asamoah (Abasraba District)

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Fire On The Heads Of Women: Historical Antecedents And Beacon Of Blessing Of The Ministry Of Women In The Church Of Pentecost

Introduction

The Church of Pentecost (CoP) like other great institutions that seek to make a purposeful impact on life, naturally endorsed the establishment of special sub-ministries or functional ministries (previously called “movements” until 2012) that will mobilize, nurture and empower focus groups spelled out by gender and age within the church. This structure is, invariably, a tool for intentional discipleship. Beginning in the early 1940s, less than a decade after Rev. James McKeown landed on the shores of Ghana, the Young People’s Movement emerged. This group metamorphosed into the Witness Movement (now evangelism ministry), Youth ministry, and PENSA. Within this same period, by 1945, Rev. Adam McKeown, Mrs. Sophia McKeown, and Mrs. Christiana Obu organised the women to form the Women Movement (now Women Ministry). An official inauguration took place in 1952. Interestingly, the Pentecost Men Ministry (PEMEM) was formed many years later after the Women Ministry came into existence. PEMEM began operation officially in 1991 after the proposal for its formation was accepted in 1988. However, the organization of the men started somewhere in 1985. Thus the ladies, as an organised group, were in ministry long before PEMEM. The emergence of the Women Ministry, led to the improvement of the spiritual and socio-economic status of the ladies as they were trained in literacy, entrepreneurship, leadership, and public life. The women excelled in evangelism and disciple-making as well. Consequently, the contribution of their lot to the church cannot be erased from the annals of the CoP. Numerically, at the end of 2018, it was reported that women formed 62% of the entire membership of the CoP. Their ministry must continually be held in high esteem. In this very short essay, I shall make brief reference to the special work of mainly three women whilst mentioning others in passing, and discuss the transformation of the ministry of women in leadership per the foregoing reformation within the CoP. The ministry of women is significantly the eddies of the CoP

The Tears that Watered the Seed of Ghana’s Pentecostalism: Sophia McKeown and her Love for Mission in Africa

History holds that in 1935, during a convention in England, a prophecy came forth calling Rev. James McKeown to missions in Africa. The prophecy came in his absence but he refused to respond to the call because of reservations he had concerning the practice of prophesying in his church at that time. Sophia, who was older and educated to a more advanced level than James, had to convince her husband to respond to the call to Africa. It took her incessant tears to urge James McKeown to finally respond to the call. Where would we have been now if not for the tears of Sophia? These tears watered the seed of the idea of the CoP which was in the mind of God. What lessons can we learn from this virtuous lady who sacrificed her comfort to live in the “death zone of Africa.”? Africa was then regarded as the graveside of the white man because most of the white missionaries who came to Africa could not excel in work on the continent. They either die due to the “unfriendly” weather or go back home due to a lack of progress in the missionary work. Sophia did not only persuade her husband to come to Africa but she became actively involved in missions herself. Though from the West, she was well incarnated in Ghana and this led to a great impact on the holistic development of the women and the church at large.

Christiana Obu, the Stone, and Eunice Addison, the Voice

Available records show that after school, Christiana became a pupil-teacher, and businesswoman. She generously used her money to support Pastor James McKeown when the church was facing financial crises. She also did interpretation for him. She came into contact with Pastor McKeown during a trek he made to Saltpond. She responded to an invitation to meet McKeown. She became McKeown’s convert. Christiana together with other women, Prudence Anaman, Clara Anaman, and Maame Halleluyah pastored churches in the early days of the church, during the chairmanship of Pastor McKeown when getting men for leadership roles became a difficult task.

On the part of Eunice Francisca Stephanie Nana Afoa Addison, she became a conduit of divine music in the church. She contributed many of the songs that are sung in churches in Ghana today. She impacted others with this gift. This reception of spiritual songs has remained a significant part of the theology and praxis of the CoP. Usually, when a new song is being sung, one would likely hear a CoP member ask “Who received this song.” It is normative. I think the whole phenomenon must be studied further. This will contribute greatly to the ongoing development of Pentecostal pneumatology in particular and theology in general.

Eunice was also once the presiding deaconess of the Merry Villas assembly during a time in which the chapel of the assembly was closed down due to some crises. Dr. Kwame Nkrumah intervened for the assembly to get back to their auditorium. During her home call service at the Trade Fair Centre at La on May 4, 2013 (I was present at the meeting), Eunice was referred to as “the great apostle of God” by Apostle Opoku Onyinah when he was offering the benediction to close off the meeting. Indeed, many women in the CoP are walking in the apostolic. Their leadership in the past and present is a growing appreciation of the use of women by the Holy Spirit in the building of the Kingdom of God.

The Growing Ministry of Women

Classical Pentecostalism since its inception has seen the great influence of women around the world. Due in part to the full reliance on the activity of the Holy Spirit, there is much flexibility that offers people of different socio-economic persuasions to be engaged in missions. The renewal of modern Pentecostalism owes much to the pneumatic phenomenon of speaking in tongues by one Agnes Ozman in a time when the renewal of this spectacle as seen in the Acts of the Apostles was being desired. Agnes was a student in the Bethel Bible School in Topeka, Kansas. This school was established by Charles Fox Parham. Parham is widely held as the father of modern Pentecostalism. Other women including Agnes Beckdahl, Grace Agar, Elizabeth Sisson, Jessie Wengler, and Maria Gerber, among others, played critical roles in shaping the classical Pentecostal movement. Nevertheless, immediate cultural tendencies and how Pentecostals have appropriated aspects of especially the Pauline corpus of the Bible impinges on the extent of the participation of women in Pentecostal leadership. Unlike the African Initiated Churches and the neo-pentecostal churches of Africa, the CoP is no different from the general classical Pentecostal take on women in ecclesiastical leadership. However, the ministry of women concerning leadership is growing steadily.  

In the formative years of the CoP, the contribution of women in various ways is arguably summed up in the Pastor James McKeown’s idea of handing over the leadership of the CoP to the women if he had the leeway to do so as reported by Christine Leonard in the book, A Giant in Ghana.Women began taking leadership roles at various levels. With time (beginning from 1965), it became the practice that the women’s ministry is led by general leaders who are males. They are deputized by women. In 1994, under the chairmanship of Prophet M. K. Yeboah, this structure of the leadership of the women’s ministry was changed to have a woman being the general leader though with a male patron of the ministry. In 1995, the designation “general leader” was changed to “director.” During the chairmanship of Apostle Opoku Onyinah, in 2015, the women’s ministry from the national to the local levels began to be fully handled by the women without the need for male patrons. Also, the constitution was amended to allow women to become part of the General Council, the highest decision-making body of the CoP. Under the present leadership of the CoP, women have been co-opted into the Executive Council, and Area, District, and Local Executive Committees.

Concerns have been shown especially the academia with regards to the CoP’s lack of ordination of women into full-time ministry. This is seen in the writings of Allan Anderson, Paul Gifford, J. Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu, and Charles Prempeh, among others. Considering the development of the ministry of women in the CoP over the years and their obvious active participation in the life of the CoP, there are indicators that the place of women in the CoP would continue to appreciate. Their impact would continually be felt. The ministry of women is, in all regards, a sign of blessing for the CoP.

Conclusion

Many other women have played remarkable roles at various levels in the churches in all inhabitable continents on which the CoP is found. Historically, the ministry of ladies has helped to set the church up for great strides. Their contribution is a benchmark to direct the course of the future well-being of the church. It comes as no surprise when the CoP envisioned consciously maximizing and utilizing the resource of women. Towards this, intentional reflections on the dealings of the Holy Spirit with men and women alike must be on the go. May the fire of the Holy Spirit that comes upon women burn its way into enabling a remarkable influence of the women in the Church throughout the world.

By Elder Dr. Stephen Ofotsu Ofoe

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Accept It; Esther

A biological male is born with XY chromosomes and has male sex and reproductive organs. A biological female is also born with XX chromosomesand has female sex and reproductive organs. The Bible in Genesis 5:2 says, “He created them male and female…”. Centuries later in the New Testament, Jesus affirmed this when He said, “But from the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female” (Mark 10:6). Humans, therefore, have no control or input at the onset of conception regarding which sex God offers. Adam, the first created man, had no input or choice of his sex until he became a living being. When Eve, the first female, was being made, God in His wisdom put Adam into a deep sleep until He finished and handed her over to him as his wife.

Therefore, both Adam and Eve had no input in the determination of their sexes when they were made. After Adam gained back his consciousness, he expressed his excitement and said, “…This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, for she was taken out of man.” (Genesis 2:23). According to Genesis 1:31, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good…”. So God equally expressed His excitement on the sixth and last day after creating humankind and the entire universe and rested on the seventh day. The first five days saw the creation of the lights, skies, seas, dry grounds, seed and fruits bearing plants and trees, night and day, living creatures and all kinds of birds in the sea and on the earth, wild animals and the livestock according to their kinds.

Unfortunately, human beings have tempered with every creation of God irresponsibly as against the charge given when handing them over to us. This has resulted in the threatening climatic and environmental conditions we all find ourselves in today with its associated hardships and misery. Due to socio-economic factors, wildlife and the general ecosystem are equally trampled upon with impunity. At the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference, known as COP 26, held in Glasgow, leaders from around the world gathered to chart a path forward on climate action to curb emissions and address the impacts of a warming planet. Simon Kofe, the Foreign Minister of Tuvalu, said, “We cannot wait for speeches when the sea is rising around us all the time.” Former President of United States Barack Obama also said, “Saving the planet isn’t a partisan issue.” The British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, intimated, “Humanity has long since run down the clock on climate change. It’s one minute to midnight on that Doomsday clock, and we need to act now.” These troubles began after humans started tempering with everything God created without recourse to the attached manual, His word. As a result, Humanity have not known rest after God rested on the seventh day.

Until the latter days of the 20th century, what was possibly left unscratched was the male and female gender as programmed by God for each individual. Today, some seem to have gathered the nerves to temper with this one too and propagating for others to do the same if they so wish. They refer to themselves as transgender people. A transgender person is a person who feels trapped inside the body of the opposite gender. A transgender woman lives as a woman today but was thought to be male when she was born. A transgendermanlives as a man today but was considered female when he was born.

Whereas some renowned world leaders have embraced the trans-community with laws that seek to protect their interests, others have condemned the practice outrightly. The number of children referred to the Tavistock and Portman Foundation Trust’s gender identity development service (Gids)—the NHS service through which all UK candidates for a sex change under 18 is up from 77 in 2009 to 2,590 in 2018. In November 2017, the Guardian reported that 70 per cent of referrals were female. There has been an extraordinary increase in teenagers seeking to transition from female to male in the last ten years.

Speaking at the annual meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russian President, Vladimir Putin, stressed that his country should adhere to its own “spiritual values and historical traditions,” he said the notion that children are “taught that a boy can become a girl and vice versa” is monstrous and “on the verge of a crime against humanity.” This article seeks to appreciate the wisdom and purposes behind the male and female gender as strategically chosen and designed by God for every single individual.

The book of Esther introduces a young lady named Hadassah, who happened to be one of the Jewish exiles and captives carried away to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar. Also known as Esther, she had a lovely figure and was very beautiful. As an orphan, she was under the care of her cousin Mordecai, who worked at the palace in the citadel of Susa as one of the security operatives (Esther 2:5-7). At birth, her parents, relatives, and the Elders in Israel had no idea why God made her a female with those features. It was only a matter of time for all to appreciate that the creator makes no mistakes in choosing our gender for us. Besides her ordeal as a captive living in a foreign land exposed to an early hustling life with her gatekeeper male cousin, Esther had other challenges that confronted her. Both of her parents died when she was a little child. The obvious and preferable person to take care of Esther should have been one of her female relatives with a better appreciation of nurturing the girl child. Her tribe, Benjamin, also happened to be the smallest of all the tribes in Israel.

One of the questions and thoughts that could have occurred to her was whether she was a male in a female body. Indeed, a cursory examination of her early social, emotional and psychological challenges and the only available relative to her aid being a male could have led to her questioning why she came out from birth as a female. Besides other factors such as self-confidence, esteem and worth and innate feelings, some adolescent girls seeking sex reassignment argue that the trappings of femininity can be oppressive. However, one bitter truth is that challenges are gender insensitive at all ages and stages in this life. No matter how inexpressible it may be, the mere innate feeling one gets at a particular time due to a challenge should not warrant consideration for gender change. One of the most significant flaws of contemplating a gender reassignment surgery is the assumption of fulfilment, satisfaction and improvement of one’s self-worth afterwards.

Sex reassignment surgery refers to procedures that help people transition to their self-identified gender. People may have surgery so that their physical body matches their gender identity. What happens during surgery varies depending on the procedure, and it can be facial, top, bottom surgeries or a combination of these operations. 

A trans activist woman who de-transitioned in 2018 claimed that many people with gender reassignment regret the decision and want to return to their original sex. Charlie Evans, aged 28 years, from Newcastle, UK, also said hundreds of people who wish to return to their original gender have contacted her since she announced her de-transition and stopped taking her hormone therapy. Evans was born female but decided to live as a male for almost ten years before de-transitioning.

In a cohort study in the PLos One journal edited by James Scott, it was discovered that Persons with sex reassignment have considerably higher risks for mortality, suicidal behaviour, and psychiatric morbidity than the general population.

The above conclusion from the study even proves that it does not lie within the purview of humankind to make a man out of a person born a woman at birth or vice-versa. Even God did not do that. When He needed the female gender, he did not change Adam’s gender but made a new human being in the person of Eve. It is, therefore, not surprising the health and psychological complications associated with the gender reassignment procedures.

God is not unaware of the struggles all humans go through in this life, no matter how personal or indescribable they may appear. He is always available and ready to offer the helping and restoring hand. I would, at this point, urge all guardians, relatives, friends and loved ones of all who seem to be going through one challenge or the other to offer every available support to them. We necessarily do not have to be wealthy before providing emotional, psychological, financial, social and spiritual help to others. Per his societal standing and socio-economic status at the time, Mordecai could not have been able to support Esther. Yet, as a gatekeeper, he became a shoulder upon which Esther could cry and depend in those difficult moments of her life.

Around 5th century BC, Queen Vashti, wife of King Xerxes, the Mede-Persian King, was deposed for misconducting herself (Esther 1:10-22). To fill the vacuum, a search was to be made throughout the 127 provinces from Ethiopia to India for a suitable young virgin. “ Then the King’s personal attendants proposed, “Let a search be done for beautiful young virgins for the King.Let the King appoint commissioners in every province of his realm to bring all these beautiful young women into the harem at the citadel of Susa. Let them be placed under the care of Hegai, the King’s eunuch, who is in charge of the women, and let beauty treatments be given to them. Then let the young woman who pleases the King be Queen instead of Vashti.” This advice appealed to the King, and he followed it (Esther 2:1-4). The pre-qualification criterion was a biological female, at least to begin with.

Although they were captives in that foreign Land, Mordecai seized that golden opportunity to register Esther to participate in that pageantry. Mordecai did not have what it took to make Esther a beautiful biological female. No matter how concerned her cousin was, there was no way she could have been listed if she was not a biological female at the time. That is the preserve of God. Similarly, we cannot push our male children into opportunities solely reserved for the girl child and vice-versa. According to Esther 2:7-9, of all the contestants who had assembled at the Citadel of Susa, Esther was the one who won the favour of Hegai, the King’s eunuch and their caretaker at the time. Even though something quite unusual, which I prefer to call Grace and which others call favour, seemed to be working to her advantage, her female gender offered by God at birth, became the bedrock for that mindboggling success story of hers.

In like manner, God uses the very sex He offers us at birth to our advantage at all times. The argument that God could have still used a male to connect the Israelites to the seat of the government at the time isn’t tenable because Mordecai was a male working as a gatekeeper. God needed a female who could also be the First Lady in Susa. Therefore, our gender is not an afterthought as the transgender community is portraying gender choices to look like. You are of a particular gender at birth for reasons far beyond what you can ever imagine during your lifetime.

After Esther won that beauty contest and became the suitable replacement for Queen Vashti, the real reason for her feminine make-up began to unfold. Little did she know that the redemption, deliverance and salvation of a whole nation had been incorporated in her female gender at birth.

Even though the King’s wife, Esther, was a Jew, one official at the seat of government in the person of Haman suddenly assumed the title, “The enemy of the Jews.” As a well-connected person in officialdom, he succeeded in getting the King to sign an irreversible edict to kill all the Jews within the 127 provinces on 7th March 473 BC (Esther 3:12). Almost 10 years before this period, Mordecai, the gatekeeper, had uncovered a credible plot to assassinate the King by two guards of his private quarters. The intel was investigated, and the culprits were impaled on a sharpened pole (Esther 2:21-23). If Mordecai were to be a female, she would not have had the opportunity to work as a gatekeeper, let alone get his name imprinted in the annals of King Xerxes’ reign history. The reason for his male make-up by God also began to unfold. Mordecai sent a message to Esther about the wicked plot of Haman about the Jews, and together, they organized three-day fasting and prayers to avert that pending calamity. Quite reminiscent of males, Mordecai lacked the fine details of how best the Jews would come out of that pending disaster even though he knew something urgent needed to be done. He said, “Don’t think for a moment that because you’re in the palace, you will escape when all other Jews are killed. If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made Queen for just such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13-14).

The original feminine race, which God has endowed with discernment and the carving out the fine details for relief and such distressful situations, then added their touch to the whole deliverance plan. She sent this reply to Mordecai, “Go and gather together all the Jews of Susa and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will do the same. And then, though it is against the law, I will go in to see the King. If I must die, I must die.” So, Mordecai went away and did everything Esther had ordered him (Esther 4:15-17).

In the end, Haman, the enemy of the Jews, was hanged on the gallows he prepared for Mordecai, and a new edict was issued by the King, who provided the Jews with the right of self-defense. Males and females, therefore, have their inherent limitations. God intended that they complement and not compete with each other. The roles Mordecai and Esther played complemented each other so well to meet the set objective of averting the pending massacre of the Jews. When the devil’s plan begins to work against us, God’s original design for our lives begins to work to perfection and unto His glory.

Esther and Mordecai, who wholeheartedly embraced their God-given sexes, rose to occupy the positions as the First Lady and the Prime Minister of the Persian Empire, respectively (Esther 10:3). It must also be pointed out that Esther was not catapulted to the position of the Queen only because of her female gender. The Bible says she obeyed all the good counsel her cousin Mordecai offered her as a child, during the days of the beauty contest and even as the First Lady (Esther 2:20). We, therefore, must not ignore godly counsels and still expect to solely depend on our God-given genders to make the needed impact during our lifetime. There is a good reason God made you a male or female at birth.

Accept, therefore, your God-given biological gender, and amid challenges, you can still be a blessing to yourself, immediate family members, society and the world at large.

Written by Pastor James Orhin Agyin

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As Some Say, “Only Judge Can God”

Yul Edochie is a Nollywood actor. On 27th April 2022, he revealed on his Instagram page that he has a son with his colleague actress Judy Austin Muoghalu, who, he claims, is also his second wife. Yul’s first wife, May Yul Edochie, wrote under that Instagram post that, “May God judge you both.”

It is worth noting that, “May God judge you” is different from “May God condemn you”. God’s judgement is either one of “guilty & condemned” or ‘innocent & acquitted”. Yule and his second wife can pass for either in God’s sight; and even if they are found guilty before God with all the hidden facts available to God (but hidden from humans), God may still decide to have mercy on them.

It is however worth noting that, God having mercy on a guilty person (on how they respond to His Word and/or treat others) does not make their sins, right and worthy of emulation. We are to weigh all things, as Christians, and stick to what is “God’s righteousness”.

God’s righteousness on any matters is HIS ORIGINAL PLAN & PURPOSE for that matter as revealed in the Bible by the “Law of First Mention” and modeled by Christ.

On the subject of marriage, God’s ORIGINAL PLAN & PURPOSE is “One man, one wife”. We see it in Genesis 2:24-26 in the marriage between Adam and Eve. This is also seen in Christ marrying One Bride (The Church) – One Body with many different parts.

So, David or Solomon marrying more and receiving mercies regardless does not annul God’s Righteousness on the matter of marriage. All that said, ONLY JUDGE CAN GOD perfectly BETWEEN TWO PEOPLE on every matter of life.

Having said all these, the following scriptures reveals that, as humans, we may have our own judgment on matters BETWEEN PEOPLE but there are facts hidden from us humans on issues which are available to the Godhead only thus making the Godhead the ONLY EVER-RIGHTEOUS JUDGE in all such matters of life.

‘Then Sarai said to Abram, “You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my slave in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the LORD judge between you and me.”‘ (Genesis 16:5, NIV)

‘…”See, my father, look at this piece of your robe in my hand! I cut off the corner of your robe but did not kill you. See that there is nothing in my hand to indicate that I am guilty of wrongdoing or rebellion. I have not wronged you, but you are hunting me down to take my life. May the LORD judge between you and me. And may the LORD avenge the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will not touch you”‘ (David to Saul, 1 Samuel 24:11-12, NIV)

‘…When David finished saying this, Saul asked, “Is that your voice, David my son?” And he wept aloud. “You are more righteous than I,” he said. “You have treated me well, but I have treated you badly.”‘ (1 Samuel 24:16-17)

‘As she was being brought out, she sent a message to her father-in-law. “I am pregnant by the man who owns these,” she said. And she added, “See if you recognize whose seal and cord and staff these are.” Judah recognized them and said, “She is more righteous than I, since I wouldn’t give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not sleep with her again’. (Genesis 38:25-26)

Selah

Blessings

Written by Apostle S. K. Fianko-Larbi