Although the battle against the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is not yet over, we cannot wait until it is completely eradicated before we pat the shoulders of some of our compatriots who are playing specific roles in the fight against the pandemic. The natural principle is that when the efforts of people are appreciated, it stirs their passion to do more. It is against this backdrop that this article seeks to examine the response of The Church of Pentecost (CoP) towards combating the spread of COVID-19 thus far.
Popular for its Social Services
The CoP has been known for her Christian philanthropy and social intervention activities in Ghana and its international mission fronts. Notable among them is the environmental care campaign that has received nationwide patronage and has been replicated in other nations where the church operates. Daniels III asserts in Donkor and Clarke (2018:54) that Christian social engagements are clustered around four factors, which are, relief services, renovative, reformative, and repairing activities.
These four elements are crucial for holistic Christian philanthropic activities and social engagements in Christian mission. According to Daniels III, these factors encompass everything the Church does in the context of social activities. They include humanitarian services, establishment of social structures, improvement of livelihood of people, capacity building of individuals, provision of healthcare and education, peace building and seeking social justice for the vulnerable in society. It also includes interventions made by the Church during natural disasters and pandemics.
Pragmatic Response to COVID-19
In the face of COVID-19, the CoP appears to activate all these factors of social services and the Church has thus far made significant strides to the appreciation of many Ghanaians, including the government of the Republic.
The CoP’s first response to the COVID-19 situation was its preparedness to cooperate fully with every directive from the government’s effort to combat the spread of the virus. In line with this commitment, the leadership of the Church directed all local assemblies in Ghana to close their church buildings in compliance with the government’s directives on public gathering. The Church’s various media outlets including social media, radio programmes, and most prominently Pent TV have also been committed to public health education about the pandemic.
Donations under CoP General Headquarters and the Government’s Response
The CoP has about twenty vans used purposely for cinema evangelism out of which twelve are new vans. To facilitate the activities of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) with their public education on the pandemic, the CoP has released twelve vans to the NCCE to be used within a specific period. During this period, the Church would fuel the vans, bear the maintenance cost, and pay the remuneration of drivers of the vans until the exercise ends.
On April 23, 2020, the media landscape in Ghana was awash with another remarkable gesture of the CoP to government. This time, the Church’s benevolence was the release of her magnificent conference centre, popularly known as Pentecost Convention Centre (PCC) at Gomoa Fetteh, near Kasoa in the Central Region of Ghana. The facility was released to the government to be used as an isolation and treatment centre for COVID-19 patients within a specified period.
The government lauded the Church for this intervention, particularly at a time some communities and civil society organisations in Ghana tend to resist the use of their facilities as isolation and treatment centres. For the CoP, it is rather the opposite because she considers the gesture as a practical demonstration of the love of Christ to humanity.
The Chairman of the Church, Apostle Eric Kwabena Nyamekye, visited the patients at the PCC and admonished them to have hope in Christ after which he prayed for them for a speedy recovery. The Chairman has also scheduled some ministers of the Church to conduct daily devotions with the personnel attending to the patients.
According to Apostle Nyamekye, the five blocks at the Convention Centre released to the government can accommodate 2,000 people in its normal usage, but the Ghana Health Service (GHS) may admit 1000 patients and 300 health workers, security services, and other personnel assigned to the patients by government. This, of course, is a great relief to the Ghana Health Service. The three hospitals and five health centres of the Church were also supplied with PPEs and other logistics.
Besides, the General Headquarters of the Church also made a cash donation of GH¢100,000.00 to the COVID-19 Trust Fund instituted by the government. They also donated Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) worth GH¢ 45,000.00 to the Ministry of Health (MoH) on March 24, 2020.
Donations by Areas, Districts, and Local Assemblies
Another thrilling dimension to this development is the Chairman’s directives that all the administrative areas, districts, and local assemblies of the Church should try their best to respond to the fight against the spread of COVID-19 in their context just as the general headquarters is doing. This directive has been heartily accepted by the leadership of the Church at the various administrative levels and they have responded with passion.
For the purposes of education, the CoP currently has 16,946 local assemblies in Ghana, 1,455 districts, and 69 administrative areas (an equivalent of a region or diocese). These huge numbers of the Church’s local assemblies, districts, and areas should inform us that all the social intervention activities embarked on during these times of COVID-19 cannot be catalogued in this article for lack of adequate space. We will just take a few of them as example.
The Greater Accra Regional Coordinating Council (RCC) of the CoP donated items worth GH¢150,000.00 while the Ashanti Region RCC also donated items worth GH¢23,000 on March 26, 2020, to Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi. This benevolence was followed by Tarkwa, Essam-Debiso, Sefwi Bekwai Areas to mention but few. These areas donated items worth GH¢70,000.00, GH¢11,000.00, and GH¢8,600 respectively. It ought to be reiterated that all the above areas and most of the districts in the Church have made donations at their respective communities. These items were donated to various groups and institutions such as GHS, municipal, district, and community hospitals, security services, and the needy in society.
While this is not an exhaustive list of the areas in the Church which made various donations in support towards the COVID-19 situation, it ought to be stated that most of the districts and, at times, some local assemblies also made various kinds of donations in this regard. The Church has also provided relief items in terms of foodstuff to individuals during the lockdown periods mainly in Accra and Kumasi to support the poor in society.
Chaplaincy Services: A Spiritual Dimension in the Fight Against COVID-19
Obviously, COVID-19 is the most dreaded pandemic in this century; that notwithstanding, some people think that prayer is not necessary in our attempt to combat it. However, for many, including some heads of state, politicians, health professionals, and religious faithful, prayer is very crucial in times like these. Thus, those resorting to prayer believe that “With God all things are possible” (Lk. 1:37), which implies that God has the power to intervene in this COVID-19 situation that will surpass the wisdom and knowledge of humanity.
With this belief, the CoP has maintained its culture of fervent prayers for God to intervene in the situation. The Church, which already has a counseling unit and chaplaincy ministry in place before COVID-19, has now stepped up activities of these ministries across the nation. Apart from the breakfast prayer meeting held on March 25, 2020, at the Jubilee House, the seat of the presidency at the instance of the President, Apostles Eric Nyamekye, Kumi-Larbi, Gyesi-Addo and other ministers of the Church have been involved in chaplaincy services to COVID-19 patients, frontline workers, and the general public in the fight against the pandemic.
For example, on March 24, 2020, the Chairman of the Church met with the leadership of the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Ghana (N&MC) during the time of strategising in combating the spread of the pandemic in the country and exhorted them. At the area, district, and local levels, ministers and officers of the Church have also replicated this kind of chaplaincy services to the various organisations in their localities.
His Excellency, Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo, the President of the Republic of Ghana, has expressed his appreciation to the CoP for her diverse support for the government and the people of Ghana. In his virtual speech delivered during the Workers’ Day on May 1, 2020, he commended The Church of Pentecost “for making available the Pentecost Convention Centre (PCC) as an isolation and treatment centre for persons infected with the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)” (Pentecost News, 2020). Among prominent government officials who have appreciated the effort of the Church are the Minister of Health, Hon. Kwaku Agyemang Manu, and the Director of NCCE, Ms Josephine Nkrumah. An observation made on the various social media platforms also indicated that the church public is very appreciative of the social intervention activities embarked upon thus far.
In conclusion, it has been observed in this article that the CoP with her ministers and officers have been strategic partners in the fight against the spread of COVID-19. The Church has marshalled its resources to not only support the government to fight the disease, but also to bring hope and the love of Christ to the marginalised, stigmatised, and the downtrodden in these challenging times. Her benevolence and kind gesture resonate with the practical demonstration of Jesus’ statement that when He comes in His glory, He will reward those who care for the vulnerable, including the sick (Matt. 25:31-36). The CoP has demonstrated this model of Christianity required by Jesus Christ and it is worthy of emulation by all believers and civil society organisations in the face of the threats of COVID-19.
Donkor LM and Clarke RC 2018. African Pentecostal Missions Maturing. Eugene, Oregon:
Pentecost News, 2020. Accessed from https://thecophq.org/news/ghanaians-seek-the-face-of-god-
Author: Vincent Anane Denteh
Disclaimer: This article is a personal opinion and initiative of the writer.