Pastor James Orhin Agyin

Real-Time Response To The Calling: Rev. James & Sophia McKeown

Real-time is the actual time during which a process or event occurs. It also means instantaneously, or at the moment something happens. Words used for the opposite of this expression are delayed, late, behind, deferred or overdue. The dictionary defines calling as an inner impulse toward a particular course of action, especially when accompanied by conviction of divine influence. It can also be the vocation or profession in which one engages. Responding to the calling in real-time in the context of this article is, therefore, responding instantaneously in the affirmative to God’s divine call for a specific task within a time during the days of one’s lifetime. It is not restricted to the calling into the full-time ministry of a church. It encompasses the work of the laity in any para-church organization, those called to be Tent Ministers and everyone assigned to execute specific tasks by God in His vineyard. God is, therefore, the One who does the calling and is usually through and confirmed by fellow humans no matter how one hears Him audibly. The strong innate feeling, intuition or signals we pick from others when we begin to live up to our Christian commitments does not necessarily metamorphose into a calling into the full-time ministry. Grey as this area may be, God is the best and ultimate judge in such matters bothering on the individuals in question.

Humankind’s general response to the calling of God to execute specific tasks on His behalf has usually been fraught with loads of inadmissible excuses. A cursory diagnostic of this phenomenon indicates something more severe than mere sabotage, spiritual shyness, fatigue or laziness. Humans somehow suddenly tend to discover their weaknesses and incapabilities when God calls them to fix something for Him in His vineyard. “Who am I?” “Why me?” “How do I do it, Lord?” “Wait for me, Lord” and “I am not ready” are some of the rhetorics we courteously adopt in turning down God’s divine appointments for us. We are, therefore, most likely to respond late even when fortunate to be implored upon by others to sit up. Around 1513 B.C.E, God called Moses out of the Middle East, precisely, Midian, to Egypt to rescue the Israelites from the grip of Pharaoh and bring them to Canaan, a Land He had promised to give them (Exodus 3:8).

In Exodus 3:11, Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” The above response by Moses was not unexpected because 40 years before that day, he had been on Egypt’s most wanted list as a fugitive. Moses was not in his best psychological state during this period because he referred to himself as “a stranger in a foreign land” according to Exodus 2:22. Besides, at the age of 80, the usual feeling of retirement or having finished contributing his quota to Egypt and the inhabitants of Midian would have set in. Apart from the feeling of having lost touch with his fellow Israelites who knew him as a murderer for close to 40 years, he also had a speech disability or impairment of a sort. He told God, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue” (Exodus 4:10). It is, therefore, not surprising that Moses would ask God over and over again, “Who am I?”. We can now appreciate why God had all the patience to deal with every single one of Moses’ legitimate concerns, at least per human standards. God took time to ease every one of his concerns, and when it appeared Moses wanted to hide behind his speech impairment as an excuse, God asked Moses, “who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the LORD?” (Exodus 4:11). God’s response to Moses has loads of wisdom, knowledge, discernment and direction for all who use any physical, cultural, academic, or socio-economic challenge to refuse to respond to the call in real-time.

Three thousand four hundred forty-nine (3,449) years after calling Moses, God called Rev. James Mckeown from England to the then Gold Coast in West Africa to rescue millions from this perishing world. Like Moses, it is on record that when God called Rev. James Mckeown through a prophecy at a large Apostolic convention in England, he initially dragged his feet for close to fifteen months. He thought his lack of formal training or education would hinder him in his missionary journey. Thank God his wife Sophia urged him to respond, which they did in real-time. The next logical question after “Who am I?” is “How do I do it?” Unfortunately, some still allow this fearful rhetoric to deny them their God-given heritage or, better still, bring about unnecessary delays in responding to the call in real-time. Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, The God of your fathers has sent me to you, and they ask me, What is his name? Then what shall I tell them? … What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, The LORD did not appear to you? … Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.” (Exodus 3:13; 4:1, 13). Moses was primarily asking God, how do I do it?

The answer to the question of the “hows” lies in the bosom of the Almighty God with the singular honour of calling individuals to execute specific tasks in His vineyard. So, when Moses thought he had a difficult question for God to answer, God replied, “Now go; I will help you speak and teach you what to say. But Moses said, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else” (Exodus 4:12). God heard what Moses enumerated as challenges, but He knew what He had invested in him. Moses did not need anyone as his spokesperson for that task per God’s original plan when He called him. The mission was not a soccer commentary at Cairo International Stadium, which demanded a person who could run the mouth with uninterrupted words per minute. In that case, Moses could have been justified as a misfit for that purpose because he was a stammerer. The call to divine duties is a kind that demands all seriousness from those fortunate to be called.

God is the one who equips, helps and works through human vessels. It is not for the appointees to have all answers to the “hows” when they respond positively to the call. It is, therefore, not surprising that God became angry with Moses. Aaron finally became Moses’ attached condition for accepting the mission to Egypt. Aaron’s extra luggage as Moses’ spokesperson and some of its negative consequences from Egypt to the boundaries of the Promised Land is a lesson for all who set conditions before responding in real-time (Exodus 32:2-4; Numbers 12:1-2). It is worth noting that anything designated as a condition to respond to the call in real-time almost always becomes an albatross around the necks of the called during the days of their ministry lives.

Others also ask God, “Why me?” when God calls and expects them to respond in real-time. Questions like these usually come when prospective servants of God try viewing their weaknesses in the light of other people’s strengths. Quite unfair to themselves, they tend to shy away from the calling by suggesting other people they deem suitable for the task. They forget what the Bible speaks about God in 1 Samuel 16:7. It reads, But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” When God called Jeremiah in his late teens, he told God, Alas, Sovereign LORD,”  “Ido not know how to speak; I am too young.” (Jeremiah 1:6). Jeremiah was probably comparing his age, stature and lack of experience in the light of the constituents God was sending him. He was, therefore, literally asking God, “Why me?”. One question that naturally bounces back to such people is; If not you, who else?

God’s response suggested Jeremiah would work amongst very intimidating, rough, fearsome and spiritually rusty characters during the period of Israel’s captivity in Babylon (Jeremiah 1:7-8; 17-19). Meanwhile, before he even told God he was too young for the task God was assigning him, God had said to him that He knew him before forming him in the womb. To convince him that he was far capable of the task, God added, “…before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:4-5). The above investments the Lord made in Jeremiah before forming him settle the question of one’s suitability for purpose when called by God for any given task. What other time could be the right time for someone appointed as a Prophet before being born other than his boyhood age in his late teens? Anytime beyond the period of Jeremiah’s call would lag far behind God’s calendar for his life. In like manner, rather than asking “why me?” Believers must begin lacing their booths to hit the ground running anytime God calls because He prepares right from before we are even formed in our mother’s wombs. Thank God Jeremiah quickly dressed up and responded to the call in real-time. Pastor James and Mrs Sophia Mckeown were present at an Elim meeting when someone prophesied that someone from that group would go to Africa. They were, however, not present at the large Apostolic convention in England when their names were explicitly mentioned through another prophecy to go to West Africa as missionaries. Naturally, the question that quickly comes to mind is why God would bypass all the seasoned ministers at that convention and call an absentee and his wife for such a Herculean mission. It is, therefore, not surprising that his wife Sophia had to impress upon him severally to dress up and jump onto the bandwagon. Thank God for the life of Mrs Sophia Mckeown, and no wonder the pivotal role spirit-filled women are playing in The Church of Pentecost today. They will forever be a force to reckon with.

Some also do not necessarily decline the calling but respectfully tell God to wait for them to finish what they are doing before attending to the duties of the call. What such people fail to appreciate is the time value not of money but spiritual treasures and profitability in the Kingdom business. In Luke 9:59-62, Jesus called some to follow Him, but the first replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father…..and the other said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” The Lord replied to the first, “Let the dead bury their dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God. And to the second, He said, “No one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” The import of Jesus’ response in both cases was for all He calls to prioritize issues concerning His Kingdom over any other activity.

The thought-provoking bombshell He drops was in His second response, which suggested a lack of fitness to make an impact in His Kingdom by those who do not respond in real-time. Jesus calls the attitude of marking time as against responding in real-time a “looking back” posture. Yes, there are many things the called of God leaves behind, which, if allowed, could demand constant attention and end up becoming a distraction to them. Believers have been wondering what at all could have caused Lot’s wife to look back and perish as a pillar of salt. Her reason for looking back is not far fetched. Let us not be surprised by her action because it is the same reason those who tell God to wait for them consider and decide to mark time.

Another fallacy about “time-marking” when called by God for a specific task is the presumption that He will keep that task undone, awaiting us anytime we are ready to take it up. “Wait for me to finish what I am doing” is not a phrase to rehearse as a response when God calls. It smacks of doing God a favour instead of the other way round. It disqualifies one and always finds them on a wrong footing even when it is later considered. The method and manner God substituted King Saul with David, his boy, in executing the task initially assigned to the former should be a lesson to all who have signaled God to wait for them. In 1 Samuel 13:13-14, Samuel said to Saul. “You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people because you have not kept the LORD’s command.” God always has what we call a plan “B” but is part of His plan “A” in every operation in His vineyard. If the time value of money is given serious considerations in transactions of earthly and perishable things, then God cannot do any less in His Kingdom business. All effort must, therefore, be made to respond to His call in real-time to avoid needless losses.

Unfortunately, some have also developed the nerves in turning God’s calling down entirely for one reason or the other. It is an attitude equivalent to questioning God’s intelligence, sovereignty or wisdom. 1 Corinthians 1:25 declares, “For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” The Lord Jesus illustrated the phenomena of refusing the divine call with excuses by the three gentlemen and their repercussions using the parable of the great banquet in Luke 14:15-24. Per the reading, the reason the first invitee gave for not responding to the calling in real-time was because of a newly bought field he wanted to go and inspect. The other also cited the five pairs of Oxen he had just bought, which needed to be tried on his farm. The most ridiculous of the three was the last excuse which reads, “I now have a wife so can not come.” Do you not think this gentleman had the singular honour of attending that great banquet with his newly wedded wife and even spice their marriage through that occasion? The above excuses for the utter refusal to the giver of life’s call can be summarized as one’s profession, carreer ambitions and family life uncertainties, respectively. Who are we without God? And what at all do we have that the Lord did not give?

The consequences of the “no show” response to God are not funny. Jesus illustrates God’s reaction in verses 21 and 24. It reads, “The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the house owner became angry and ordered his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame. I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.” The Lord, therefore, does not smile at us when we refuse His calling. He gets angry at us per the above reading. He finds our replacement and then vows not to allow those who treat His call with disdain any other opportunity. The excuses the three gentlemen gave lacked the appreciation that they could have still attended to the invite to the banquet in real-time and still taken care of those concerns they had about profession, career, business and family life. Jesus admonishes all to seek first the Kingdom of God, and its righteousness and all the others would fall in place or be added unto us (Matthew 6:33).

Thank God there are also good examples of those who responded to the call to divine assignments in real-time in the Old and New Testaments. When God called Elisha, he took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them, burned the ploughing equipment, gave the meat to the people to eat and then set out to follow Elijah (1 Kings 19:19-21). Elisha at the time possessed twelve yokes of oxen and was actively driving the twelfth one, unlike the gentleman in Jesus’ parable who had bought just five and was about to try them. Yet Elisha found reason to trust the Lord God who created the oxen and blesses the work of human hands to address all of his present and future needs. In similar terms, some of us today do not have or even enjoy a quarter of the comfort Rev James Mckeown had to sacrifice with his wife Sophia to accept and leave Europe and come and live at Asamankese in 1937. Some of us just cannot imagine leaving the city or metropolitan lifestyle to the smaller towns and the socio-economically deprived parts even within the same country. They would, thus, do whatever it takes to refuse such temporal relocations even if they have to tender in their resignation letters. Driving around some of the environs of even Accra today makes me wonder what would motivate an European to respond to God’s calling in real-time and be stationed at Asamankese in those days. It was just faith, trust and obedience to his Maker; worthy of emulation by all and sundry.

Then came the swiftness with which the Apostles of Christ responded to the calling. Let us never forget they were not idle and depressed members of the unemployed folks or tradesmen association in Galilee. They were workers who did not lack earthly possessions, yet they found it wiser to pursue things of heavenly value. In Mark 2:14, Matthew was at the post as a tax officer when Jesus called him into the full-time ministry. Peter, James and John were equally working when Jesus called them, yet the Bible uses the expression “immediately” and “at once” to describe their real-time response to the call (Matthew 4:18-22;9:9-10).

The following are some of the factors that prevent many from responding to the call in real-time;

  1. Insecurity and fear of the unknown
  2. Transfers and their related discomforts and encumbrances
  3. Lack of appreciation of what is at stake.
  4. Immaturity in the Lord
  5. The discomfort associated with breaking family and relationship ties.
  6. The perception of losing all hopes of ever living a joyful, comfortable life once you decide to respond in real-time.
  7. The complete lack of understanding of the nature of the Caller and His attributes
  8. A weak appreciation of the coming dreadful day of God’s judgment on the nations.
  9. Exaggerated hopes of our financial and Socio-economic lots should we continue in what we were doing before the call.
  10. The sense of inadequacy, unpreparedness and fear of falling or suffering spiritual attacks.

Moses, who asked God during their first encounter, Who am I? had this to tell Joshua at his handing over ceremony, “Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the LORD swore to their ancestors to give them, …… The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deut 31:7-8). Jeremiah, who was also literally telling God he was too young for the task, also had this to say a few years after responding to the calling, “LORD, I know that people’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps (Jeremiah 11:23). Pastor James Mckeown, who did not know how he would fare on the missionary front in Africa due to the lack of formal training and education, entered the Gold Coast, stayed, worked and left with unstained hands or clean sheets. He said at the church’s headquarters during his last visit in 1984, “You are witnesses that my hands are clean.” Wow! What changed? When we respond to the calling to divine duties in real-time, we tend to understand a lot of things over time which has the propensity to cause us great pain and disappointments if we had objected to it. Moses, Jeremiah and Pastor James Mckeown had matured over the period to see how childish they would have been should they have continuously dragged their feet for God to pass them by.

I hear some who God had invested so much over the years citing age, profession, career ambitions, financial insecurity, physical or health challenges, past life, culture, ambition and societal status as excuses for their “no show” when God called. As we mature in God, we would not entertain such spiritually naïve reasons. The antidote, therefore, goes beyond orientation, convincing, coercing or counselling by experienced and matured minds. It is God’s voice of wisdom in igniting our senses to awaken us to the spiritual realities and what is at stake. This consciousness is what brings one from “Who am I” or “Why me” or “How do I do it” or “I am not coming” to the level of “Here am I, send me”.

After responding in real-time, Abraham became known as the friend of God. Moses won the accolade of “God’s face-to-face friend”. Jeremiah won the title as “a prophet ordained in the womb” and Elisha was honored to share the title, “chariots and horsemen of Israel” with Elijah. The 12 apostles of Christ have equally received their appointment letters as the sitting judges going to judge the twelve tribes of Israel at the culmination of the age. Another name given to Pastor James Mckeown is “The giant in Ghana.” The Executive Council of The Church of Pentecost, in the last sentence of their tribute to him, said, “Never has any human life been so willingly dispensed with as an offering for so many millions of lost souls, as Pastor James.”  As of 2021, The Church of Pentecost boasts of the numerical strength of almost 4 million, with 24,141 congregations spread across 135 countries in the world. God turned the Glasgow tram driver into one of the Chief drivers of modern-day Pentecostalism worldwide. There are always millions of lives to rescue anytime God calls. Instead of trumpeting our inadequacies and weaknesses, let us focus on our God-given and ordained potentials and respond in real-time because He who calls is ever true and faithful.

Written by Pastor James Orhin Agyin (

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