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Interview With Elder Dr Mireku

His reputation as “one of the greatest worshippers of our time” was officially confirmed when an Honorary Doctorate in Sacred Music was conferred on him by the Ecclesiastical Bishops And Leaders Conference of Africa (affiliated to the Kayiwa International University, Uganda) in 2016. A recipient of numerous awards and accolades, he was also awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the maiden edition of the Ghana Music Awards – South Africa in 2018. This is no other than the veteran Gospel Musician Elder Dr. Emmanuel Kwasi Mireku (EM). As he celebrates four decades in music ministry, Pentecost Fire (PF) seized the opportunity to engage the renowned worship leader to discuss his life, his story and his music journey so far.

PF: Elder Dr. Kwasi Mireku, congratulations on your 40th anniversary in the music ministry.

EM:    Thank you. All glory to God.

PF: Please, for the benefit of some of our readers who only know you as a prolific gospel artiste, briefly tell us who Kwasi Mireku is?

EM:  I was born some 60 years ago in the month of January to Elder Emmanuel Kofi Mireku (Snr.) and Mrs. Comfort Asiedua Mirekua. We come from both Kwahu Obomeng and Kwahu Atibie in the Eastern Region, but I have lived all my life in Koforidua. I was born into The Church of Pentecost by virtue of the fact that my parents were members of the church. I am the first of 5 siblings. I had my basic education at the Presbyterian Elementary Schools and continued at the Koforidua Technical Institute. I am married to Philomina Mireku, with whom I have two children, Evelyn and James.

PF: Undoubtedly, you have had an amazing journey for the past 40 years. Please can you take us back to how it all started?

EM:   It all began with a strange dream I had when I was 12 years old. In the dream, I saw an angel standing before me. In his hand was a guitar, which he placed on my laps and then asked me to play it. I obeyed and started playing the instrument. After a while, I realized that we were no longer in the room but at the famous Koforidua Jackson Park. When I woke up, I could not find the guitar nor the angel. I got scared and began to cry. I rushed to my father’s room to tell him about what had happened. My dad, who was then a Manager at the State Transport Corporation, said a prayer for me and told me not to worry for whatever the Lord has purposed for me would definitely come to pass. He then comforted me and left for work.

Four days later, I decided to create the instrument I saw in the dream. So I got some plywood for the body, and then used some wires we used for hunting grasscutter in those days, for the strings. With these items I constructed a 6-string guitar; although it did not sound too well, I enjoyed playing it. I began to practice the melody that the angel taught me in the dream. This melody has been with me to date. It is the interlude I play before every song ministration.  After a while, I got better at playing the guitar. So I can say on record that no individual taught me how to play the guitar. I learnt it by divine inspiration.

Just when I began to excel in playing the instrument, I suffered a huge setback. A monkey, owned by a neighbour, broke out of its cage, climbed over the wall into our house and bit me [Shows the scar of the monkey’s bite]. Amazingly, after it bit me, the animal climbed over the wall and went straight into its cage as though it had done nothing. As a result, I became incapacitated and could not walk due to the severe pains I felt anytime I tried to stand on my feet. I was taken to the hospital on several occasions but all efforts by the medical officers yielded no results. So, for three months, I dragged myself on my buttocks from the bedroom to the sitting room, throughout the day. I could not do anything. In fact, after some time, I even began to feel more comfortable in my new state and gave up on ever walking again.

Our house was close to the Ohemaa Park at Betom (a suburb of Koforidua). Most churches usually organised rallies on the park. On one occasion, whilst I was in the room, I heard a church holding a rally. I heard the sound of the guitar, but I felt that the person playing the guitar was not doing it well, it did not sound like what the angel had taught me in the dream. So, I said to myself that if I could walk, I would go to the rally to play my guitar.

That night, the angel came to me physically. He was a giant. He held my hand, smiled and called me by my name: Emmanuel! He then helped me to stand on my feet. Suddenly I could stand on my own and walk again! So, I quickly took my guitar and rushed to the rally groungs to play my guitar.

Sometime later, The Church of Pentecost held a General Convention at Jackson Park. It was a big convention that was attended by all the ministers of the Church. During the convention, we hosted Apostle Josiah Coffie Quaye (of blessed memory) in our house. When he arrived, he heard me playing the guitar. He asked my father who was playing the guitar, because to him, it sounded divine. When my dad said it was his son, he insisted that they bring me along to the convention. The sound of the guitar was not too good, so I usually placed it on my mother’s aluminum bowl, which was used for washing clothes, in order to amplify the sound. So, I carried all my accoutrement and off we went.

At the convention, I saw Apostles Fred Stephen Safo (then Chairman of the Church), Fred Diabene Walker, A.T. Nartey, and Patrick Asiamah (then Prophet), among others (all of blessed memory now). I was called upon to minister to the glory of God. As I played the guitar, all the senior ministers surrounded me and began to pray for me. As they prayed, Prophet Patrick Asiamah began to prophesy. At that instance, I remembered that, in the dream I had, the angel sent me to Jackson Park. So I turned towards where the instrumentalists were seated and saw a guitar lying unattended. Apparently, the one who was to play it did not show up, so I took it and began to play it. Since then, I have been playing guitar in The Church of Pentecost.

Look at the tip of my fingers [shows his fingers], they are as hard as stones. I made up my mind that I would never be discouraged. I remember that, in the early days I did not receive the support that I needed. It was difficult to get the appropriate strings for my guitar, so I had to use the “hunting wires”. But I was never perturbed, because I purposed in my heart to do what God had given me to the best of my ability. Deep inside me, I always felt that, one day, my gift would be a great blessing to the Church and the nation as a whole. So, nothing discouraged me. I remember during one of the conventions, I had to play through the pains because the wires had created sores and blisters on my fingers. But I did it with joy, because I felt that God was counting on me to do it for the success of the convention. This was a very big convention with an attendance of over 20,000 people from all over West Africa. As the lead guitarist, any wrong note could affect the tempo of the service. So, I gave my full attention to it, regardless of the pains that I had to endure. By the grace of God, I have survived it all and never gave up on what the Lord had given me.

PF: How has the journey been so far?

EM: Well, it has not been easy, especially, when I first tried to reach out to the world with my music. I remember I did a song with Mama Eunice Johnson and her husband when they came to Koforidua back in the days. But before then, I also recorded my songs on the old tapes (C90). I gave the tape to someone I had great respect for, for his comments. However, instead of encouraging me, he totally wrote it off. According to him, my songs sounded like dirges (funeral songs). This was a big blow to me. But I was encouraged by the fact that it was God who has given me this gift, so I ignored his criticism and pressed on.

I also did some songs together with Prophet Appiah Adu and Apostle J. S. Gyimah (both retired ministers of the church) when our paths crossed in Koforidua. Apostle A. T. Nartey (of blessed memory), was of great help to me. He took me to Winneba to further my musical career. When I got there, I was asked to demonstrate my musical skills, but after I had done that, they refused to take me in. According to them, my gift was divine and that it would be a waste of time to admit me into the school considering how well I played. This was why Apostle Gyimah gave me the name “The Divine Instrumentalist.”

Due to my humility and how well I played the guitar, everywhere the ministers went, they took me along with them. In fact, Chairman F. S. Safo (of blessed memory) even wanted me to serve the Church at the Head Office, but Apostle A. T. Nartey (of blessed memory), who was then my Regional Head, declined and told my dad to tell the Chairman that “Kwasi is for the Nation and not just The Church of Pentecost” [Laughs] Fortunately, the Chairman understood what he said. [Laughs again]

Indeed, I have a long list of people who have supported my ministry. Some of those people who come to mind at the moment are Prophet Appiah Adu (Rtd.), Apostle J. S. Gyimah (Rtd.) and Prophet Jonathan Edmund Ameyaw (Rtd.). The former Chairman of the Church, Apostle Prof. Opoku Onyinah (Rtd.) has also been a great pillar of support to my ministry. He bought me the equipment for my music production. In fact, a lot of people, particularly ministers, have supported my music ministry over the years, but these ones I have mentioned were very instrumental.

Through God’s grace, about 38 years ago, I crossed paths with my producer, and we have been working together till date.

PF: Any memorable highlights in your music ministry?

EM: One experience that will never leave me is the first time I saw, with my naked eyes, how music could bring healing. This proved to me that, when God gives you a gift, He also gives you grace. I was at home when I my doorbell rang. I opened the door and saw a blind woman with a little boy. I asked who she was, and she said that she had been blind for so many years and begs on the street for food. According to her, she heard my song on the radio and was touched. She, therefore, came all the way to Koforidua to “see” me. I asked which of the songs she heard, and she sang “Sε Wo Fa N’asεm.” According to her, she had accepted Jesus as Lord and Saviour and had always lived according to His will yet nothing has changed in her life.

So I asked her to follow me to my recording studio. My studio is a very special place for me, because it is there I “create” sacred music for the Lord. So I do not allow just anyone into that place because it is a sacred place. When we entered the studio, I sat her and her son down and I sat behind the piano and began to play the rhythm of the song. I then asked her to sing the song with me. All of a sudden, she fell off the seat and began rolling on the ground. After a while, she got up and began to shout that she had been healed and she could see! It was such an amazing experience. In fact, mostly, I hear people say that they had been healed from various ailments after listening to my songs, but it was the first time I observed it with my own eyes.

Unfortunately, for most people, after something like had happened, they would become proud and begin to revel in the praises of men instead of acknowledging the One who gave them the gift.

My music ministry has also led me to the Seat of Government. Imagine my surprise when the President of Ghana at the time, H.E. John Agyekum Kufuor, called me on phone to inform me that the country wanted to honour me for the significant impact that I made on him personally and the nation through my music.

It was indeed an amazing moment at the International Conference Centre in Accra when he presented the award to me; hugged me and whispered that “Elder Mireku, I love you. Your music has been a great inspiration to me.” What he said made me very happy, but I could imagine hugging Jesus Christ the same way, with Him commending me for making good use of the gifts He gave to me. Glory! What singing there will be up there!

There have been a lot of memories, so many awards, accolades and recognition and we give all the glory to God.

PF: How many songs do you have to your credit?

EM: I have 56 albums with an average of 10 songs on each album. So approximately, I have more than 500 songs.

PF: Do you write your own songs?

EM: I do write the songs. My songs are usually my personal prayer especially during times of trials and hardships. For example: “Ka W’akoma To Wo Yεm Yεwͻ Onyame Otease )nsakra da”, “Yε Komm Ma No, Yε Dinn Ma No;” “M’asεm Yi, Hena Bεka Ama Me” and “Nyame Sumsum Hwie gu Y3n So, Hwie εnε nso o.”

I also received the songs “His Name Is Wonderful” and “Agyenkwa Wo Na Wo Yε Ohene Ampa” from my father, Elder Mireku Snr. There are other people like Prophet Appiah Adu, Mama Eunice Johnson, Apostle Prof. Opoku Onyinah, Elder Asamoah, Elder Omane, Osofomaame Mercy Akwante and Apostle Dr. Alfred Koduah, among others, who have also given me songs.

PF:    Who has been the biggest influence in your ministry?

EM: I would say that, in those days, in the music circles, Mary Ghansah was someone who stood out for me, because, she had a special music gift. Another person I admire is Benny Hinn. These two people had a huge influence on my ministry, but aside them, there are so many ministers of The Church of Pentecost who have directly and indirectly influenced my music ministry.

PF:    What is your definition of gospel music?

EM:  For me, there are two groups of people in the gospel music industry. There are those who are singing God’s song because it is a call and there are others who claim to be singing God’s songs, but they sing just for money and fame. Gospel music is not just the lyrics of the song, but the character, beliefs, or personality, etc, of the singer determines its influence and impact. The one who the Lord has called does not sing virtue and practice vice – that is not gospel music. That is just entertainment. So, gospel music is not determined by the number of times that “God” or “Jesus” is mentioned in the song, because the character of the singer plays a crucial role in it. Unlike secular music, a gospel musician is not separate from the song he or she sings, rather he or she is an embodiment of the song. Today, we hear that some people take their “gospel songs” to fetish priests before they release them to the public. Such a song can never be called a gospel music; it is a curse!

PF: What is your view of contemporary gospel music?

EM:  Sometimes I hear some gospel songs and I ask myself “is this really a gospel song?” The major problem with the gospel industry now is that, some of us, gospel musicians, do not wait on the Lord. Some of us have either lost or do not have any connection with the One we claim to be singing about. Again, there is unnecessary competition among some of us. So, in a nutshell, some “gospel musicians” are just in the industry for entertainment and money. As song ministers of the gospel, we ought to spend time to receive from the Lord. We must realise that, Gospel music is not just about putting words together so that they will sound well in people’s ears.

PF: How many instruments do you play? Is knowing how to play a musical instrument crucial to becoming a good musician?

EM: I play the guitar, piano and the accordion. In fact, my father also plays the accordion very well. However, you do not necessarily need to know how to play any musical instrument before you become a good musician, because music is a gift. If the Lord has given that gift to you then it does not matter whether or not you play an instrument. Rather, you need to work on whatever the Lord has given to you and do it to the best of your ability.

PF: What are some of the things that make one a great worshipper of God or a great gospel musician?

EM:   I will reiterate that first of all you must be called by God to do that. To sustain the divine gift and grow it, you must commit to reading and studying the Word, and live a holy life. Also, to ensure longevity in the industry, eschew any form of pride, arrogance and also choose your associates (friends) carefully.

PF:    How do you prepare for events?

EM: I usually have my quiet time. I spend a lot of time in prayer. I read the Bible and reflect on what I have read. I try not to repeat something I did in previous events, rather I always want to have something fresh to offer in every ministration.

PF:  You have organized concerts in Koforidua, Kumasi and Accra to mark your 40th Anniversary. Why the concerts and what were you hoping to achieve?

EM: I was in the house one morning, when a gentleman known as Elder Peter Terkper of Redco District in the Madina Area of The Church of Pentecost, came to tell me that the Lord had laid it on his heart to celebrate me and to hold three thanksgiving concerts to mark my 40th anniversary in music ministry. In fact, I was very surprised. I was stunned, so I took him to Apostle Eric Nyamekye, who was then the Koforidua Area Head. We prayed over the vision and asked that the will of God be done.

So Elder Terkper provided the logistics for the concerts. He, however, teamed up with Elder Joseph Mmroko of PIWC-Kokomlemle to organise the one in Accra. We also had support from some benevolent individuals and other corporate bodies who expressed willingness to be part of the project. As you observed, all concerts were very successful, particularly the that took place in Accra, which is now on record to be the highest gathering recorded at the Independence Square. To God be the Glory! I would also take this opportunity to thank Elders Terpker and Mmroko, they have both been a great blessing to me and my family.

PF: Can you tell us something about your better half? How instrumental has she been to your ministry so far?

EM:  My wife, Philomina, has been a great helper to me in my music ministry. She has always stood by me, especially at the initial stages when things were very difficult for me financially. In fact, we even did some of the songs like “Me hwε Nea W’ayε a, Wosε Ayeyi” and “Mo Yesu Mo” together. In others, she was part of my backing vocalists.

PF:    With your busy schedule, how do you make time for your family?

EM: Thankfully, I have never really had a challenge in balancing work with family life. God made things in such a way that we never had any challenges. My wife did well in taking care of our two children when I was not around. Right after tertiary education, my daughter, Evelyn, gained a full scholarship to pursue a doctorate degree in Germany. Right after that, she got married. James, on the other hand, is already a man and is currently at the All Nations University at Koforidua. So, for now, it is much flexible, but we always do well to get in touch wherever we may be. James, for instance, usually goes with me to programmes when he is available. He is very good at the piano. In fact, he plays it better than I do. [Laughs]

PF:    How do you combine your music ministry with your responsibilities as an Elder of The Church of Pentecost?

EM: Well, I fellowship at Koforidua Central Tabernacle, but they hardly see me because I am always on the move [Laughs]. Due to the nature of my ministry, I am unable to attend Church services always. The good thing is that they understand that I am not a gift for them alone, or The Church of Pentecost, but the country at large, so they even support me with their prayers. That said, wherever I go, I conduct myself well as an ordained Elder of the Church.

PF:    What do you do during your free time? Any hobbies?

EM:  I enjoy football. I am a fan of Asante Kotoko but lately I hardly watch football. But most times I like to watch world news.

PF:   How did it feel when an Honorary Doctorate in Sacred Music was conferred on you?

EM:   Interestingly, it took the officials of the Ecclesiastical Bishops And Leaders Conference of Africa three months to get in touch with me. I had no knowledge that they were looking for me. Apparently, they heard that there was someone in Ghana whose music could cause healing. So they came from Uganda all the way to Ghana looking for me. After doing some research on my music to confirm what they had heard, they located my home and sent me an official letter about what they had planned to do. This is all the doing of the Lord, because I knew the stress my daughter Evelyn went through to have a “Dr.” attached to her name, and I received it on a silver platter [Laughs].

PF: Would you say your songs have significantly impacted the worship life of The Church of Pentecost and the entire Christian community as a whole?

EM:    Yes, I believe so. This is because some of the songs the Lord gave me are very prominent in the worship of The Church of Pentecost. Also, as I said earlier, some people in the Church who received songs by divine inspiration and do not have the voice to sing them gave some to me to sing for the benefit of the Church and the Kingdom of God. I also believe that it has significantly impacted the nation in general and that was why I was presented a National Award in 2008 by President John Agyekum Kufuor. All these affirm that indeed my songs have contributed to drawing the members of The Church of Pentecost and Ghanaians in general, closer to God.

PF:    What is your advice to the youth, especially those who want to pursue music?

EM: The Lord can cause rocks to worship Him, so when He gives you a music gift, learn to play a musical instrument, or do both. You must count yourself privileged for Him to have considered you worthy to serve Him with this gift. So, whatever your music gift is, do it well, do not boast or behave as though you are indispensable.

I will advise them to be humble, teachable and never be motivated by money. When you follow money, it would lead you to places that you ought not to go. The truth is there are some “platforms” that you ought not to stand on and minister, because, although you might earn a lot of money, you will lose the gift that the Lord has given to you.

The music ministry is does not yield immediate results. I have never pursued money. I have never ministered with money in mind. Back in the days, we used to play for the Church, yet we were not paid for our services. Even to this day, I am not motivated by money. In fact, I do not even have a written contract with my producer, but we have worked successfully for the past 38 years, and God has blessed us through various avenues. It is amazing how good the Lord has been to us. Even the good health I am enjoying at this age, shows that I am blessed. People say Elder Mireku is always looking young, it is all part of the goodness of the Lord. These are the physical blessings. What happened at “Adom Praiz 2018” and the unprecedented turnout that was recorded at the Elder Mireku @ 40 Concert at the Independence Square, and those who have been healed of various ailments and other priceless testimonies, are all indications of how good the Lord has been to me. So, it is never about money, it is a divine call; a ministry, once you get that, you will never rely on earthly things, but you will always rely on the Lord who is the source of your gift.

PF:    Please, what are your final words?

EM:    Our lives are governed by time. With each passing day, we are getting nearer to our end. As human beings, we must never lose sight of the fact that we are not going to be here forever. So we must take very good care of whatever the Lord has given to us. We must do it to the best of our abilities, and the Lord will surely reward us.

PF:    Elder Dr. Kwasi Mireku, we are very grateful for your time.

EM:   You are most welcome. and they are priceless and they are priceless

Meet Pastor Fred Tete Obuobi

Meet Pastor Fred Tete Obuobi: Oldest-Surviving Retired Minister of The Church of Pentecost

Aging comes with its own challenges. These challenges are mainly as a result of physiological changes and general loss of strength. Hence, at age 70, most people become bedridden whilst others hardly see or speak audibly, let alone string sentences together. 

Yet, Pastor Fred Tete Obuobi (FO), a retired minister of The Church of Pentecost, can still afford to crack jokes at the ripe age of 92 years. Pastor Obuobi, together with his wife, Mrs Gladys Dansoa Obuobi, 83, served in the full-time ministry of The Church of Pentecost for 33 years and ended their ministerial service in 1994. Since then the couple has been staying in their retirement home in Koforidua.

As one of the few ministers who were present during the infamous split between The Church of Pentecost and Apostolic Church, Pastor Obuobi, takes Pentecost Fire (PF) on a journey down memory lane in this revealing interview.

PF:      Tell us about yourself. Who is Pastor Fred Tete Obuobi?

FO:     I was born at Adukrom-Akuapem on July 27, 1927, to Mr Donkor Obuobi, a Cocoa Farmer and Madam Abena Oye. My father was a nomadic farmer so we usually moved around in search of places where cocoa yields were relatively high. In 1936, we moved to Addo Nkwanta, a small town between Kukurantumi and Asafo, where I began basic education. After three years I joined my father who had then moved to Koforidua. There, I enrolled in the Presbyterian School from 1939 to 1944. At school, I was quite clever so I sailed through successfully and gained admission into the Phoenix College founded by Mr Fred D. Addae.  At the time, it was one of the best schools in the region, however, the proprietor, Mr Addae, had a few challenges which affected enrollment in the school. Consequently, the school collapsed. So, I enrolled in the Abuakwa State College for my final year. Unfortunately for me, for lack of finances,  I had to drop out of school. My grandfather offered me a job at a drinking spot. After working there for a short while, I resigned and returned to Koforidua. On my return, I met a member of The Church of Pentecost and he offered me a job as a Literate Helper at the then Cocoa Station. However, after passing my examination with distinction, I was made a Propagator Learner instead. After spending some time on the field, I wrote a promotional examination and rose to the rank of a Full Propagator. As propagators, our primary job was to nurse cocoa plants. Later, a friend introduced me to the timber business. I did that for a while, but after some time it was no longer profitable.

By then, I was married and needed a stable job that could enable me to provide for my family. So, I went back to the Cocoa Station, but I was told to start all over again from the rank of a Probationary Field Assistant. But by the grace of God, within 3 years, I rose through the ranks to become a Full Propagator.

I was subsequently transferred to Suhum where I became an active member of The Church of Pentecost. I sacrificed my time and resources in the service of the Lord. It was in Suhum that I first encountered Pastor Fred Stephen Safo when he was posted to the Suhum District.

One morning, I was told that Pastor Safo had requested my presence. When I went, he told me he was recommending me for full-time ministry. I was taken aback because at the time I was only a member of the church. However, I accepted the call. So, my name was part of the list of ministers that was released by Pastor James McKeown (the then Chairman and founder of the church). I was posted to Asiakwa to take oversight responsibility of the church there in 1961. Apostle Fred Safo later became first African Chairman of The Church of Pentecost. To the glory of God, I served for 33 years and retired from active service at Akropong in 1994.

I am married to Mrs Gladys Obuobi. We have been married for 61 years and been blessed with two children; Samuel and Oye.

PF:      Tell us about your Christian life, how did it all start?

FO:     That is quite a funny story [laughs]. It happened in 1947 at Suhum. There was a man called Mr Fred B. Addae, who was a member of The Church of Pentecost at Suhum. He was very eloquent and had a very good command over the English language. So, when my friends and I heard that he would be preaching during a four-day crusade of the church, we decided to go and admire his oratory prowess. We did that for the first three days, but on the fourth day, we decided that this time, we would listen to the sermon and not just admire his English. As fate would have it, on that day, he spoke about the blood of Jesus that atones for the sins of all humanity. I was moved by the message and decided to accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and personal saviour.

PF:      Tell us about your time as a full-time minister?

FO:     As I earlier said, my first station was Asiakwa. At the time, ministry work was very difficult for me for various reasons. The first being that I was only a member before I was called into the full-time ministry. Unlike what we have today, in our days, ministers were not given any form of training; you were only prayed for and dispatched to go to your station to commence work. It was quite difficult, especially for those of us with no experience as officers. I remember one instance when an old lady passed on in the church just after my arrival at Asiakwa and I was required to conduct her burial. It was a big headache for me because I had never done that before. Thankfully, Pastor Safo came to the funeral and performed the rites. So, I watched keenly as he did it and then afterwards, I was able to do it myself.

Another major challenge we faced was that, at the time, the split between the Apostolic Church and the “McKeown faction” had just taken place. After the court ruling which went against the McKeown faction, the Apostolic church took over all the properties and we were left with nothing. To add insult to injury, we were also persecuted and ridiculed. People referred to us as the “Mate Me Ho Fo)” (Translated: The Revolters). In fact, the Chief of Asiakwa at the time also called us the Revolters and was opposed to everything we did. In fact, it was so bad that even some Pastors of the church later resigned and joined the Apostolic church because of the unsavoury treatment that was meted out to those of us who took Pastor McKeown’s side.

So, it was not easy, but we continued to be steadfast in prayer and the Lord gave us a great victory. Since the church buildings were all taken over by the Apostolic Church, we had to resort to classrooms and cocoa sheds for our prayer meetings; and mostly when we were praying people came around to laugh at us, but we never gave up. We remained steadfast in the Lord and the church continued to grow. During our rallies and crusades, my wife, who was and is still a very good singer, will sing songs to attract onlookers, and when they came, we preached the gospel to them and we won many for Christ. Gradually, the church began to grow and many others joined.

Asiakwa District, at the time, comprised Bunso, Kwabeng, Tafo and Kibi. In those times, the members were small but the districts covered wide areas and we did not have the benefit of cars, so we had to trek long distances on foot. But to the glory of God, we did the best we could and the church witnessed many signs and wonders and more souls were won for Christ.

From Asiakwa we were transferred to Adeiso also in the Eastrern Region. We ministered in Adeiso for 4 years. God gave us a successful ministry there also. When we were about leaving Adeiso on transfer, I organized my final prayer meeting for the district before our departure. During the meeting, we heard a loud noise of a young girl crying from the back. So, my wife and some elders rushed to see what was happening. However, after a while, I could still hear the sound, so I decided to go and see what was happening. Apparantly the girl had just received the baptism in the Holy Spirit. When I got there and laid my hand on her,  the girl, who was about 12 years old, said to me that I was going to give birth to a baby boy and that I should give him the name Samuel. At the time, my wife and I were married for 12 years without an issue. We left Adeiso just after this incidence for our next duty post, Shama in the Western Region.

True to His word, when we got to Shama, God blessed us with a son and we named him Samuel Kwabena Nyamekye Gyau Obuobi. Samuel is now an Apostle of The Church of Pentecost and the Resident Minister of Pentecost International Worship Centre, Atomic. We served at Shama for two years and were transferred to Prestea.

At Prestea, we faced difficult challenges in the ministry. At the time, the place was not so open, hence the only areas to plant churches were in the hinterlands. So, we had to trek long distances to plant churches and we did this on foot. I would usually go on these treks with some of the officers, where we trekked on foot from Prestea to Nsuta, which is about 7 miles, then from there to Kwasikrom, which is also about 12 miles. In some cases, we walked for 18 miles to open new assemblies and to strengthen the existing ones. Sometimes, we had to cross River Ankobra to the other side to visit an assembly we had planted. After 8 years of service, I was reassigned to Asante Effiduase for 2 years and later to Asante Mampong. The Asante Mampong District, however, was so big; it stretched all the way from Kofiase to Atonsu, and we still had to trek on foot. But we did the best we could and God used us to bring great revival in the church during our 5-year stay there.

From Asante Mampong we were transferred to Saltpond. Honestly, I did not receive the news of the Saltpond posting very well. This was because of the minister whom I was going to replace. My predecessor was a Fante and his wife was a teacher and a native of Saltpond. In addition, he was very eloquent and this was always evident when he made his contributions during General Council Meetings. So, I was quite intimidated and felt that I would not be able to measure up to his qualities. I was also concerned as to whether the people would accept my wife and I because we were not natives of the land. But I can say to the glory of God that all our fears came to nothing because throughout our ministry, Saltpond turned out to be a blessing. We had a very fruitful ministry there and made great friendships which we have sustained till date.

We served at Saltpond for 4 years, spent a year at Aburi and finally ended up at Akropong. We served at Akropong for 3 years and retired from the full-time ministry on August 21, 1994.

PF:      What do you miss most about the active ministry?

FO:     Well, when we retired from the ministry, we were still very fit. So, Pastors P. B. Appiah Adu (now Prophet and retired) and A. A. Dicka (now retired) who served as District Ministers at Koforidua where we are residing gave us the opportunity to serve even in retirement. We were, therefore, still very active although we were on retirement. We were given the opportunity to minister during crusades, conventions, etc.

Pastor Appiah Adu, for instance, gave me oversight responsibility for an assembly that was located close to my residence. So, we did not really miss it, because we were still very active.

In fact, the then International Missions Director (IMD), Apostle B. K. Arthur (of blessed memory) once joked that he would ask the leadership of the church to recall us back into the full-time ministry because we were unwilling to go on retirement [laughs].

So, I was quite active in retirement until about 5 years ago when I became a bit incapacitated.

PF:      Do you look back with fond memories when you reflect on ministry life?

FO:     Yes, I do. To the glory of God, many of the assemblies that we started have grown to become full-fledge districts of the church. It gives me so much joy to see that the seed we sowed is bearing much fruit. So, it gives me a lot of satisfaction and I always give glory to God for what He has done.

PF:      Your advice to active ministers.

FO:     Anytime I watch Pent TV, I see the great work they are doing. The other time I saw a video of some pastors of the church baptizing souls they had won in some remote parts of the country. We are doing very well in reaching out to the unsaved and winning them for Christ. However, I would humbly appeal to them to emphasize on Holy Spirit baptism and insist that the new converts yearn and receive Holy Spirit baptism. This is very important; we must not just be happy about filling our auditoriums with souls but we must ensure that they are baptized in the Holy Spirit. The strength of the Church is the Holy Spirit so we must sustain Him in the church else we would raise a generation of members who are carnal and are not spirit-led.

Also, knowledge acquisition in the contemporary world is key. However, knowledge should not be a substitute for the Holy Spirit. No! At best, they should balance the Spirit with the knowledge they have gained.

PF:      Your advice to ministers who are due for retirement.

FO:     The truth is when you go on retirement and you do not have a place to lay your head it is quite worrying. So, I would advise them to quickly find a place. It should not necessarily be a big house or a mansion, but a place where you can have your peace of mind. This was a piece of advice that Prophet M. K. Yeboah gave to us and it has really helped us.

PF:      Sir, we are very grateful for your time.

FO:     You are most welcome.

1

Interview with Elder Amos Kevin-Annan

He has been very instrumental in the wellbeing of the youth. His primary focus is to reach out to the youth, relate with them, and disciple them with godly values and attitudes to transform the world. He is a compassionate, passionate and respected voice on youth and relational matters. He has also been involved in coaching, counselling, communication and consulting for both church and non-church-based groups for about three decades. This fine gentleman indeed has his mind and heart wired for the youth and reads the Bible with the youth’s eye. PENTECOST FIRE (PF) caught up with this great man, Elder Amos Kevin-Annan (AKA), who has served as the Deputy Youth Director of The Church of Pentecost for a record 16 years under three Directors.  

PF: When were you appointed the Deputy Youth Director?

AKA: I became the Deputy Youth Director in 2004, some 16 years ago.

PF: What do you think went into your selection as Deputy Director?

AKA: I had no idea whatever culminated in the decision of my appointment. I only heard that my name had been mentioned at the Council Meeting that was chaired by Apostle Dr Michael Ntumy, the then Chairman.

PF: Were you consulted before the appointment?

AKA: No, no, no, there was no consultation. It was a typical Church of Pentecost style – according to the Pentecostal pattern appointment.

PF: How did you feel when you heard your name mentioned?

AKA: I wasn’t surprised, because prior to that, I was involved in Apostle Noble Atsu’s (now retired) work – more like an outsider coming in to provide some critical support for their work. [Apostle Noble Atsu was the first International Youth Director of the church when the erstwhile Pentecost Youth and Evangelistic Movement (PENTYEM) was phased out). I did that for about a decade. I once presented a paper at an international programme. During my presentation, I mentioned that I was a member of The Church of Pentecost. I remember that, after the presentation, Pastor Franklin Agbovi-Hushie and Elder Stephen Djabah came to me. They were surprised that there was a member of The Church of Pentecost who was doing a global version of youth ministry. So, I think they, being part of Apostle Noble-Atsu’s team, mentioned me it to him. Prior to my appointment, I was somehow involved in the activities of the Youth Ministry with the National Executive Committee (NEC), I attended their mid-year meetings and was doing some training for them, although I was then a deacon. The current Chairman, then Pastor Eric Nyamekye, was one of the NEC members. The others were Elder Gibson Annor Antwi then the Deputy Director, Pastor Franklin Agbovi-Hushie, Pastor Frank Osei Wusu, Mrs. Kutin Buah, and Elder E.Y. Torsu (of blessed memory).

PF: What was the reaction of your immediate family (wife, children, etc.) when you were called to serve as the Deputy Director?

AKA: [Laughs]. I was then getting to four years in marriage, and even had a daughter. We take life very easy because we are guided by providence, so we know that whatever comes our way may mean that, the Lord may have something that He would be seeking to do beyond understanding. I have lived my whole life confirm the meaning of my name ‘Amos’, which means “One who bears a burden,” or “A burden-bearer.” All my life I have been lifting burdens off the shoulders of other people, particularly young ones. When the call came it was a very difficult decision for me to accept, because I was heavily involved with some global work at that time, but I had to accept it.

PF: Who was the Director at the time?

AKA: It was then Pastor Emmanuel Kwasi Acquah. Both of us were called at the same time. We served his first term together, but when he had one year to complete his second term, he was transferred to South Africa as a Missionary. Then Pastor David Nyansah Hayfron (now Apostle) was brought in to finish Apostle Acquah’s one year and then serve for two terms of eight years. That is why I still had one year to serve under the current Director, Pastor Ebenezer Hagan. So in all, I served as Deputy Director for 16 years, under three Directors, that is seven (7 years) under Apostle Acquah, nine (9) years under Apostle Hayfron and about one (1) year under Pastor Hagan. 

PF: What did you bring on board as a Deputy Director?

AKA: [Laughs]. I am a product of God’s grace. This is not like academia or the corporate world; this is a pure church field, and therefore. The most significant thing that makes all the important decisions and difference has to do with the grace of God. So, I don’t want to talk about my credentials as to the things we were able to do at the Ministry.

The task required enormous grace, because when someone is called, he is not taken to the classroom and taught what should be done. So, we had to rely on the grace of God. Interestingly, a few months before our appointment, the then Apostle Acquah, who was Pentecost Students and Associates (PENSA) Travelling Secretary for the Ashanti Region, organised a programme in Kumasi I was invited to be the guest speaker. In fact, both of us were speakers at that programme which was about giving the baton of the fathers to the next generation. Then at the next Council Meeting, the two of us were called to lead the Youth Ministry.

PF: What was the Youth Ministry then, and now? 

AKA: [Heaves a sigh]. Honestly, because I was “somehow” part of Apostle Atsu’s team, I knew some of the challenges that confronted them as youth leaders. The Youth Ministry, at the time of our appointment, had come out of two difficult eras. The first one was the PENSA era, which led to merging of PENSA and the then Witness Movement into the Pentecost Youth and Evangelistic Movement, (PENTYEM) which was led by Apostle Peter Ayerakwa (now retired). Later, there was a recreation and Pentecost Youth Ministry came out with Apostle Noble-Atsu as the International Director. With all these changes, it became necessary for the leaders to pay very close attention to what was happening with young people, especially the educated young people, in the church.

That was a big issue because that was the period of the upsurge of the charismatic movement in Ghana. That was the period when very strong, gifted and imposing characters were moving all over the place – on campuses and town fellowships. So, what became of it was that PENTYEM phased off for Youth Ministry and Witness Movement to emerge. Still the adult populace did not see the youth as any prospect for the work of ministry. So, there was some seeming tension between the older people and the young ones. The educated young elite felt as if they were unwanted persons in the church.

It was around this period that we were called (myself and Apostle Acquah) to take over the Youth Ministry. I found this a huge task. Therefore, one of the things that really caught our attention was how to bridge the gap between the young and the old in the church. So, when I became the Deputy Director of the Youth Ministry, my greatest passion was to make a statement for the youth, and also make a very bold statement for the need of the youth to have the old in their lives. In those days I tagged myself as “the bridge between the old and the younger generations”. It was quite a herculean task for us at that time. During Apostle Dr Ntumy’s Chairmanship, Apostle Prof. Opoku Onyinah was then the Rector of Pentecost University College (PUC), now Pentecost University (PENTVARS), and also Patron of the Youth Ministry, he invited me to PENTVARS to handle students counselling issues. So, at it were, I became the first Students’ Counsellor at PENTVARS in 2006.

When Apostle Prof. Opoku Onyinah became the Chairman and he introduced the Apostolisation, he added me to the speakers. As a former Youth Patron, he knew how frustrated I was with the system. So, the wisdom that the elderly people guided me with, helped me to tone down, because we had come boldly with the energy to change things but I realised that the system was robust and one has to be careful.

Apostle Prof. Opoku Onyinah invited me to address the apostles and prophets during the annual Heads Meeting that takes place in November every year. It was a tough one and my Area Head, Prophet Edmund Ameyaw (now retired), then the Tema Area Head, had to pray for me before I went to the meeting. Through my presentation on “Engaging the Next Generation,” I made a case for the youth and why the Youth Ministry was important. I explained to them the state of mind of the youth of today, touched on what need be done. We discussed importance of the older people are, and then what would happen if the church fails to respond to in the right way. Thank God, the response to the presentation was positive. The Heads took the insights I shared with them as a clarion call that the information must go to all the pastors of the church. So, I was invited to speak at the Pastors Conference early the following year, for the church to understand these things, so that we will not lose our youth. This is because the issue of the future of the youth in the church is very important to the CoP.

When we (Apostle Acquah and myself) were at the helm of affairs at the Youth Ministry, we were very keen about what we were doing. We believed very much in the youth and were very passionate about the things of the youth. Eventually, what we saw was that God gave us favour in the hearts and eyes of the older generation, because we didn’t pitch the youth against their parents. One of my clarion calls was that, for the church to be strong in the future, we need two things: the first one I proposed was the insight (the experience and exposure) of the older generation, because the youth need those insightful things, otherwise, we will not understand what is happening. The second thing that I proposed at that time, was that we also need the foresight of the youth, because the Bible says that, young people shall see visions. Dreams are insight, visions are futuristic, so one needs a blend of the two for us as a church.

In fact, we didn’t put much into it, but today when I look at how this message was received then I see that God has done something very great. We give God all the praise. I doff my hat to Apostle Emmanuel Acquah because we responded to the challenge and by the grace of God things were turned around. These were the times that we set up what we called the “Issachar Generation.” The idea was to let the youth know the times and seasons they lived in and that, they should be positioned to respond to it properly. It was at that Pastors’ Conference at PENTVARS that I presented a paper on “The God of the Living is the God of the Youth” (Judges 2:7-9). The pastors really bought into it, and as soon as that meeting came to a close, I was told by the leadership of the church to get ready because I was going to travel across the length and breadth of Ghana to push the youth agenda forward, while my Director also had his itinerary. At any of those meetings, I explained the concept, “the generation of today” and “the generation of yesterday”. This created a deeper understanding of the issues of the youth. When we went on our treks, we trained the youth leaders and officers of the church with our concept. Again, between July and August, before the students go we attended several Youth Camp Meetings and spoke to the youth as well. So, we did not only engage the older people, but we also engaged the young people. Then during PENSA Conferences, where we were literally tin charge, engaged the youth further, especially those within the school bloc. Basically, COP has the home-based youth group and the school-going group, so at any given time, the Ministry needs to have a balanced approach for each of these two groups.

PF: What do you think you will be remembered for at the Youth Ministry?

AKA: I don’t know what people will remember me for, but I pray that it would be said that someone once lived here who selflessly served the Youth  Ministry and didn’t seek to make a statement for himself but sought to live for God, country, church, family and for young people. For me, to live is to die and to die is gain. God has given us the grace to reach out, relate with, and disciple young people to the point that the world cannot change them, but that, they would live and trust God’s grace to transform them into the anointed generation that will change the world. I pray that God will give us the type of youth the world cannot change. To me, it is our duty to turn them into global world changers. For me once I see that, my joy would be fulfilled.

PF: Do you have any regrets for serving at the Ministry all these years?

AKA: I am not sure I have any personal regrets for working for God. But in terms of that which relate to the work, my regrets will be that, along the line we lost some young people, who if we had acted a little faster, we could have gained them. Some have left the church for other ministries. Maybe we could have done more than what we did. When I sit down and take a retrospective look, there are some things, I would have done it differently given the exigencies of the now and the future.

PF: Now that you are leaving the scene, where do you envisage the Youth Ministry to get to?

AKA: For me, I have a lifetime calling into the Youth Ministry. The ministry has actually just begun. [Laughs]. My mentor, Rev. Mark Arthur of Foundation for Christian Leadership (He is dead though), said to me that, service to God really begins at age 40, although I didn’t understand him at that time. Then he said, “Have you heard the statement that life begins at 40?” Then I said, “Yes.” Then he said, “The proof of a person’s ministry in the Lord is better seen from age 40.” My mind is wired for the youth, my heart is wired for the youth, I read the Bible with the youth’s eye. So, I have given assurance to the Director, Pastor Ebenezer Hagan, that even though we are stepping off the scene, I have not abandoned them; I’m still very much part and available, whatever they need us to do, we will support them, because the work is big.

PF: What will be your advice for the in-coming Deputy Youth Director?

AKA: My response to that question is usually mixed, because in one breath I don’t want to be seen as guiding him on what the Lord wants to do with him. But be that as it may, I can say that, the person the leadership has settled on is very familiar with young people. He is an academic. I know him very well and I worked with him when he was the Presiding Elder at Kotei Worship Centre in Kumasi, I was a guest of his church. He has a COP foundation because his father was a pastor of the church, so he is not like an outsider. He also does a lot of work with international students. I am very confident that God will give him more of the same grace that we got.

He is a yielded vessel and he carries himself very well. I know the Lord will use him. He should stay strong in the power of the Lord’s might and the Lord God who called him and has brought him into this very challenging high demanding office of the Deputy Youth Director of The Church of Pentecost will use him to achieve great things.

May he not be moved by the things that he hears or encounters. He should understand that he is unique and he should let his uniqueness drive his vision. During my time I was strongly motivated by certain philosophies borne out of Scripture, that was in 2 Timothy 2: 4 (No soldier in active service entangles himself with everyday life so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier…). So, as a soldier in the army of God, he should know where to expend his energies and always seek to please the one who enlisted him. In our case, we are enlisted by two entities – God and the Executive Council of the church, by extension The Church of Pentecost.

PF: Any advice to the youth?

AKA: I love them to the maximum. I always remind them of what is written at 1 Timothy 4:12, which was one of my favourite texts. In this generation, exemplary lifestyles are almost becoming a luxury. It is so important that, the youth do not overrate themselves. They should also not underrate themselves – both are unacceptable. They should be an example to all believers (both adults and the young) in speech and in deed. Today, language which is unsavoury, intemperate and disrespectful of people is very rife on social media, in regular communication, on TV and on the radio. Our speech and communication should be that which is seasoned with salt. They should also check their conduct very carefully. They live in a generation where love has been distorted and “bastardized” and so God needs them to show the world how to love, not as the world does it but as the Lord does it. Their faith in God must be robust and resilient, unmovable, unshakable and undaunting, because there will be turbulent times where one’s faith will be tested and shaken. Finally, they should stay pure. Chastity today is becoming a forgotten virtue. I am imploring our young people that they should pursue the path of purity, because to the pure all things are pure, and to the impure, all things are impure.

PF: Are there any individuals or groups that you want to acknowledge for their role in your life?

AKA: There are many people that I want to appreciate, but I cannot mention them all. To the leadership of the church, I want to thank them most sincerely for the opportunity they gave to me to serve. It is both a privilege and honour. Privilege in the sense that, I deserving that responsibility, and honour, because, this has also brought us into contact with people we never imagined we could ever to have come into contact with. All the three Chairmen that I have worked under, Apostle Dr Michael Kwabena Ntumy, Apostle Prof. Opoku Onyinah, and currently Apostle Eric Kwabena Nyamekye, and the various General Secretaries that I have encountered from Apostle Dr Alfred Koduah’s time, now Apostle Alexander Nana Yaw Kumi-Larbi, who is my senior from school. I am so honoured by the relationship we had with these noblemen and their spouses. They have been fathers and mothers to us. The International Missions Directors, the late Apostle Dr S. K. Baidoo who was my district pastor at a point, and then Apostle Emmanuel Gyesi-Addo was once my district pastor at Pentecost International Worship Centre (PIWC), Tema. So, you can tell the relationship the Lord has brought us into in this big family.

I want to thank the past and present members of the Executive Council, all the Patrons who have served at the Youth Ministry, all past and present Directors of the Ministry with their spouses, the ministry directors, especially the Women’s Ministry Directorate, for their support, all pastors who shared their platforms with me, Area Deacons and all officers of the church.

I wish to also to thank my mother-in-law, Deaconess Cecilia Berko and my father-in-law, Elder Bright Matthew Berko, who always pray for me. I also wish to express my gratitude to my brothers and sisters. I can never forget my wife, Evelyn and my daughters – Gyasiwaa and Afriyie – they have always been at the sacrificing end. They have to wait for me to return from meetings, sometimes I returned very late. I had at the last counted 20 different road accidents since I became Deputy Director, some were mild, and others are very serious. But in all these, the Lord has been with us I remember the very harrowing accident which I had when I was using my wife’s vehicle for a church-related work. But she lost that car. So, you see,1 the sacrifices that my family has to go through. I want to thank those at the Youth Office, the drivers – Elder Amuzu, Deacon Patrick, Patricia (Secretary) and Steve (IT guy), they have been so helpful, as well as all the people who have come in and gone.  

I want to finally thank the National Executive Committee of the Youth Ministry, my local presbytery of PIWC Tema and Tema Area and all my Area Heads.

PF: Thank you, Sir, for the opportunity to interact with you.

AKA: The pleasure is mine, thank you.