I have keenly observed some opinions from some individuals in connection with the Ejura ultra-modern Correctional Centre (prison camp) built by The Church of Pentecost.
There have been divergent views as to whether the church had set its priorities right or not. Many people are also bashing the church, lamenting that the church should have catered for the needy among them before embarking on this project.
Well, these are all opinions. I think the church has done no wrong. I was expecting Ghanaians to praise God for a church like The Church of Pentecost, which is helping to transform the nation.
The church is not just building only prisons, as some people may think, but there are several other national interventions that the church has done over the past few years, and continues to do to help develop the country.
I would therefore like to give seven (7) reasons why we should not lambast the church for the good work done, but rather praise and encourage them to do more if they have the means:
- THE CHURCH IS NOT DISCRIMINATORY; NOT A FRIEND TO THE RIGHTEOUS ONLY, BUT “SINNERS”AS WELL.
Following the ways of our Lord Jesus Christ, and His precepts, we should not reject sinners but show some love to them and win them for Christ. Jesus said, “He did not come on earth because of the righteous, but because of “sinners.”
(Mark 2:17 KJV) “When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” What I am trying to say is that the church has done a lot for its members and will continue to do more. However, it cannot ignore those outside the church, especially, the less privileged. Taking care of the privileged and the less privileged makes the generosity of the church balanced and unbiased.
2. OUR LORD JESUS COMMANDED US TO GO TO THE WORLD TO PREACH TO ALL, INCLUDING PRISONERS, AND BRING THEM TO CHRIST.
(Matthew 28:19, KJV) “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” This is the great commandment. It is obligatory for every believer to do this. There are many ways of doing this, but the most important thing is to have a good heart for the one you want to win for Christ. You must love him and show him kindness as the Lord has done to us. Apart from giving them the word of God, if you are capable of assisting them in any way, do it. Do not just say, “God bless you” and leave him to suffer! (James 2:15-16 KJV) “If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?” This is what the Lord says.
We must always help a brother who is in need. There is no doubt that prisoners in Ghana really need help. We cannot just preach to them without helping them, especially if the church has the means to help. Sinners are our clients, so we must serve them well so that we can win them for Christ for a better and a transformed life.
- THE CHURCH BELIEVES THAT ANY GESTURE FOR THE LESS PRIVILEGED IS A GESTURE FOR OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.
Jesus demonstrated this in Matthew 25:31-45, NKJV: “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ 41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 43 I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ 44 “Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.”
This clearly tells us not to care for only the righteous, but “sinners” as well. This does not mean if the church builds ultra-modern prison facilities for prisoners, they are promoting criminality. It is A BIG NO; the church is just doing what the Bible tells them to do.
- IT IS THE BUSINESS OF THE CHURCH TO LEAD SOULS TO CHRIST, IT IS GOD’S BUSINESS TO TRANSFORM THEIR LIVES, BOTH PHYSICALLY AND SPIRITUALLY.
Responding to comments such as, “there are some needy individuals in the church…,” I wish to set the records straight. The church leads the members by (1) Preaching the Word to them. (Romans 10:14, KJV): “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” This is why God has called us from the world, sanctified us, and empowered us to go to the world, preach the gospel to them and tell them the goodness of Him. (2) Those that believe, we must teach them what Christ has taught us. (Matthew 28:20, KJV): “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:” If we preach to them and teach them well, they will practice what is right, then God will transform their lives and give them all they want. (Matthew 6:33 KJV): “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” In connection to the above quotations, the bitter truth is that the church is not a business venture for creating businesses or wealth for members, but the church gives biblical directions that will lead the members to Christ who will eventually transform their lives and give them their heart desires.
Obviously, there will be needy individuals in the church, because there are people that the church will be discipling at any given point in time. We believe that God will see to their needs in His own time, even though the church is doing its part to help such people. That does not mean that the church should not consider the less privileged.
- TRANSFORMING A SOCIETY IS A GRADUAL PROCESS, AND MUST START FROM SOMEWHERE.
Most churches in Ghana, including The Church of Pentecost, are poised to transforming every sphere of the society with kingdom principles and good standards of living. For this reason, The Church of Pentecost alone has achieved the following:
- Built 96 Basic Schools across the country; 2 Senior High Schools in Kumasi and Koforidua; 2 Skills Development and Learning Centres; 1 Vocational Training Institute; 8 Healthcare Facilities (3 Hospitals & 5 Clinics); Provided financial support to some needy but brilliant students at the National, Area and District levels.
The Church also has:
1. Spent GHS 2,716,112.36 on educational scholarships to support needy but brilliant members at various levels in 2018.
2. In 2020, 74 Street children, 298 drug addicts, 38 sex workers, 101 street dwellers and 48 others were enrolled in schools, put into trade, and given vocational and entrepreneurial skills.
3. Handed over the Pentecost Convention Centre, a multi-purpose conference facility, to the Government of Ghana to host Covid-19 patients, costing the church a total of GHS 39 million during the period.
4. The Areas, Districts and local Assemblies of the church also assisted the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic to the tune of GHS 5, 412, 653.20 in providing relief support to the vulnerable members and non-members alike.
5. The church spent GHS 2,313,859.09 on health care to support members.
6. Drilled 44 boreholes in rural communities across the country.
7. The church launched the ‘Environmental Care’ campaign to take care of our environment and to fight against sanitation issues in the country.
8. The church has started a process of building 1,000,000 trees in the country.
9. 37 active Credit Unions referred to as Pentecost Cooperative Mutual Support and Social Services Societies (PENCO) providing financial assistance to members of the Church. These and many more are what the church is doing to assist humanity, aside the core mandate of winning souls and discipling people for Christ.
Many other churches are also doing great things to help develop the nation. The Church cannot do everything at once, not even the government, so it has to start from somewhere according to its strength. Looking at what the church has done for both its members and the country, I think we must praise them instead of criticising them.
- THIS PRISON WILL HELP SOLVE SOME HEALTH ISSUES THAT MAY ARISE DUE TO OVERCROWDING.
Looking at the rate at which our prisons are congested, no one needs a prophet to tell us that there can be an outbreak of diseases. Again, some conditions at the prisons are detrimental to human dignity.
In order to solve these challenges (both health and human right issues), I would personally commend The Church of Pentecost for taking the initiative to find a better place for our brothers and sisters behind bars. In this case, the church did not just visit Christ when He was in prison, but rather secured a better place for Him.
- THE ULTRA MODERN PRISON WILL SERVE AS A FACILITY TO EQUIP INMATES FOR A BETTER FUTURE AFTER THEIR PRISON SENTENCE.
We must thank God for the vision given of The Church of Pentecost. This project is not just to keep prisoners, but to train them to unearth their God-given talents as they serve their prison terms. This is equipped with facilities that will help them to learn a vocation of their choice that would help them to establish themselves after serving their prison terms.
It is worthy to note that, such a gesture will help transform the prisoners and lead them to live a better life.
We must see this corporate social responsibility of The Church of Pentecost as God-given. Let us encourage the church so that other churches will follow suit. Criticising someone for doing something good may not encourage him to do more. However, acknowledging their good gestures and showing appreciation can bring out better things from them.
As a country, we must not criticise blindly, rather, we must be circumspect in our criticism.
GOD BLESS THE CHURCH OF PENTECOST.
GOD BLESS GHANA.
By Nana Owusu Nkrumah, Broadcast Journalist