It was a bright Sunday morning, the eighth day of October 2017. APOSTLE BENJAMIN K. ARTHUR (BKA) former International Missions Director (IMD) of The Church of Pentecost was glowing in his all-white apparel. He was sitting in an armchair, which seemed to have been strategically positioned for him, as he stared intently at a picture of himself in the living room.
What was he thinking about? Probably reflecting on his life and how far the Lord had brought him. Apostle Arthur had just turned 80 years and as expected many people, especially ministers of the Church whom he mentored during his active years in the ministry, thronged into his residence in Kumasi in their numbers to thank God for his life and to wish him well.
Another reason why the day was a special one for the Arthur family was that it also happened to be the 50th anniversary of Apostle Arthur and his wife, Maa Hannah’s marriage. We were informed that a special thanksgiving service had been organized in their honour at the Tanoso District Central church and he was about to leave for the service.
PENTECOST FIRE (PF), knowing how special the occasion was, drew closer to the former International Missions Director for a few words. Apostle Arthur was kind enough to delay his departure in order to grant us an interview.
Below is what ensued between the PENTECOST FIRE (PF) and the man who introduced Holy Ghost Convention into The Church of Pentecost:
PF: Who is Apostle Benjamin K Arthur, how did it all start?
BKA: Apostle Benjamin K. Arthur is a retired minister of The Church of Pentecost. I was born on October 8, 1937, into a Methodist home as the first child of Mr Benjamin Kodwo Arthur, a Carpenter, and Mrs Janet Esi Dede Arthur, a Housewife. My parents were both from the Agona Nsaba in the Central Region of Ghana and are both deceased now. I am the eldest of eleven children. I had my basic education at the Aboso Methodist School between 1945 and 1952 and continued at the Tarkwa Technical Institute. I later took a course at the Kumasi Technical Institute (now Kumasi Technical University) and passed out with a City & Guilds Certificate in Carpentry and Joinery in 1959 we have been blessed with five children; Samuel, Benjamin, who is a minister of the Church, Eunice, Abigail and Philip.
PF: Can you recount the period leading to your call into active ministry?
BKA: I was raised as a Methodist, but there was a part of me that was still looking for a real and deeper connection with the Lord. As a result, I casually fellowshipped with some churches until the Lord eventually led me to The Church of Pentecost. I was baptized by immersion by Rev. E. N.A. Vanderpuije (of blessed memory) in 1960 in Accra. Shortly after my tertiary education, I gained employment as a Foreman of Works in the defunct Ghana National Construction Company (G.N.C.C.) in Tamale so I had to relocate to the Northern Region in 1963. It was during my stay in Tamale that I received the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
At Tamale, I got actively involved in the activities of the Church, particularly in undertaking evangelism outreaches. As a result, I was called into eldership in 1967. My wife and I were joined in holy matrimony that same year at Bompata. Our marriage was officiated by Apostles J. C. Quaye, Patrick Asiamah and Prophet M. K Yeboah. A few months after my arrival at Tamale, Apostle Patrick Asiamah was also posted to replace Apostle Apau Asante as the Area Apostle. It was through his instrumentality that I was called into the full-time ministry in 1968.
PF: Tell us about your time as a full-time minister?
BKA: My ministerial service started in Wa, I spent 6 years there before I was transferred to Bolgatanga where I stayed for 2 years. I was then sent to Winneba in 1976 for two years, and later to Cote d’Ivoire as National Head for four years. I was later recalled home due to some problems in the Ivorian Church and was sent to Suhum as a District Pastor for 3 years. I was then transferred to New Tafo. However, I did not go to my new station. I resigned and rather joined the Fountain Gate Ministries from 1985 to 1988. I later felt in my spirit that I should return to The Church of Pentecost. So I wrote to the Executive Council about my desire to return to the Church as a minister. My request was granted and I was posted to Agormanya. Barely a year into my service at my new station, I was reassigned to Burkina Faso. It was at Burkina Faso that I was called into apostleship. After 3 eventful years in the French-speaking country, I was called back to Kumasi as the Area Head of Ashanti Region A. At that time, we hadAshanti Regions A, B, and C. I served in that capacity for 4 years and was called to serve at the Head Office as International Missions Director till I retired from active ministry in 2001.
PF: Any memorable highlights in your ministry?
BKA: Well, I remember in Wa, we once attended church service and the congregation sang one of the local songs. As we sang and danced, suddenly, a woman who had joined us for the service began to act strangely. So I called her to come in front of the congregation for us to pray for her.
While praying I was led to pray for mercy and forgiveness for her. So I asked whether or not she had done something bad which she needed to confess and ask for the Lord’s forgiveness. It was then that she revealed that she had obtained a poisonous substance which she had planned to drink in order to take her life. She, however, said that she had decided to honour her friend’s invitation to church after which she would go back home and drink the poisonous liquid. So I asked some deacons to follow her to her home to take it away. To the glory of God, they discovered it and poured it away, and thus, the lady was saved.
In Cote d’Ivoire, the Lord used us mightily, but only that due to old age it has become difficult to recall some of them.
PF: What was it like to be the International Missions Director of The Church of Pentecost?
BKA: Normally when people see you travelling from one country to another they get the feeling that you are enjoying life, but that is not so. For instance, during my time as IMD, I found it a little easier visiting the external branches in Africa because with them I could always follow my schedule and I was sure everything would go on as planned. However, with the churches in Europe, I spent most of the time I was to stay there settling cases. There was one time when we had to sit down throughout the night settling cases. Apostle Dr Stephen Baidoo (former IMD) once joked that during my time the Lord used me to settle all the cases, so that he would not have any more cases to settle [laughs].
That notwithstanding, all in all, I would say that the Lord was very good to me throughout my tenure as IMD. He always helped me get through airport formalities, which was sometimes very tiresome. Sometimes at the airport, I was asked questions that I had no answers to but strangely I was still allowed to travel. I embarked on missionary travels with Prophet M. K. Yeboah, then Chairman of the Church, as well as with Apostle Professor Opoku Onyinah on a number of occasions.
PF: Apostle, please tell us about how you have adjusted to life after active ministry?
BKA: Life in retirement has been very good. However, there have been times when I woke up from bed and wished I had something to do. So it can really get boring and I begin to get the feeling that I am becoming lazy. But the good thing is that I have no regrets. After 33 years in the ministry, and spending so many years in retirement, I sometimes ask God why He is still keeping me here and had not called me home. But I believe I am still alive for a purpose because even till this day I offer counselling and advice to young ministers. I always advise them against overworking themselves when they visit and encourage them to get as much rest as they possibly can.
On the other hand, they cannot be blamed, because when you are in the ministry you are burdened with the Lord’s work so much that even if no one asks you to work you will not be comfortable sitting idle. Prophet M. K. Yeboah once confessed that on the Monday morning after his retirement service, he woke up, as usual, took his shower, got dressed and began packing his things into his bag, only to be prompted by his wife that he is no longer in active service but on retirement [laughs]. This is what the work of God does to you. You can become so burdened with the Lord’s work that you will even forget that you have retired from active service [laughs again].
PF: Is retirement as scary as people make it seem?
BKA: The Lord has supplied our needs and He keeps supporting my wife and I in retirement. Our children have also been very supportive. In fact, the thanksgiving service for my 80th birthday and 50th marriage anniversary was initiated by them.
In addition, I am very grateful to The Church of Pentecost because the Church takes good care of ministers on retirement as compared to how retired Civil Servants are taken care of by the government. The church members are also very benevolent and they give a lot. There have been times when I have received money and support from members of the Church whom I personally do not know.
So I would say that retirement is not scary, we must always trust that God would take care of us as He did while we are in active service.
PF: How significant has Maa Hannah been to your ministry?
BKA: Normally during farewell services, I hear people testify that Osofomaame was a prayerful woman, and I ask myself how do they know this? Do they live in our house to know whether or not she prays? [laughs].
But really, I have never met anyone who is as prayerful as my wife. She has helped me a great deal in ministry and we have been married for 50 years to the glory of God. For some people, the only reason why they are still married to their wives is that the Bible speaks against divorce. But in our case, we feel the same way about each other as we did 50 years ago. It is only God who can make it possible for two people from different backgrounds to live peacefully for all these years.
PF: Your advice to active ministers
BKA: I have always held the view that once we have life and energy in us, we must do the work of God with zeal and seriousness. They should, therefore, not work carelessly but rather work with all their strength wisdom and gifts they have received. They should bear in mind that a time would come when they would want to do the work but they would not have the opportunity to do so; now is the time for them to remember their Creator in the days of their youth. This is the time for them to work with all their hearts so that one day they would not look back with regret.
PF: Your advice to ministers who are getting nearer to retirement
BKA: As I said earlier, retirement is not scary as being said so they should have no reason to fear. However, it is important for them to prepare for it. They should trust that the Lord would take care of them and provide for all their needs. There is no cause for alarm, everything will be fine. All the same, I would advise them to make adequate preparations towards retirement.
PF: Your advice to retired ministers
BKA: They should always bear in mind that we are in transit awaiting the plane that would take us to our final destination. Chairman Opoku Onyinah always says that Christians can lose their salvation if they do not maintain spiritual exercises like praying, fasting and reading the word of God. Therefore, as we tarry, we must not relax. I know at this stage I cannot pray as long as I would have wished but my wife and I have made it a habit to say brief prayers for our children and the Church every morning when we wake up and in the evening when we retire to our beds. Considering how well our children and the Church are doing, I am confident that the Lord has been answering our prayers.
PF: What are your final words?
BKA: I would say that we are living in a dispensation where there are so many false teachings and doctrines so much so that if one is not careful he or she could be easily deceived. We must, therefore, hold fast to our doctrines so that we are not misled.
PF: Apostle, we are very grateful for your time. We wish you a Happy 80th birthday anniversary.
BKA: You are welcome and thank you.