“People who fit don’t seek. The seekers are those who don’t fit”
Shannon L. Alder
WHILE JAMES L. GARLOW, in his epic book: “How God Saved Civilization” thinks the church is not perfect, Ashley Lee thinks “The Church is perfect but the people aren’t”, A veteran lawyer laments: “Se Jesus san ba bio a, nkurofuo wo nsem yi ano”, loosely translated as “When Jesus returns, people will have questions to answer”.
Until Johannes Gutenberg partnered with Andreas Dritzehn and Andreas Hellman, to make other inventions to improve the existing printing technology in 1436, few copies of the Bible were available and only pastors had copies which they read and interpreted to the congregation. (Now, the Bible is even on people’s small mobile phones!)
Martin Luther had published his “Ninety – Five Theses”, and their propagation was helped by the printing press and the ‘Renaissance’ in general. In 1633, Galileo Galilei was to face the inquisition for holding the Copernican view that the earth moved round the sun, instead of the Catholic Church’s view that the earth was the centre of the universe. For this ‘heresy’ Pope Urban VIII decreed that Galileo be imprisoned and as a penance, he was to recite once a week the seven Penitential Psalms. Unlike Nicolas Copernicus, Giordano Bruno was burnt at the stake for the heretic new ‘science’.
The ‘Freethinkers’ with their principles concretized from the Renaissance and other Non-conformists, considered as heretics, fled Europe and found solace in America, the ‘New World’. The Seventh Day Adventists group with its roots from the Millerite Movement took advantage of the spread of many Bibles to form Bible Societies. Miller predicted the Second Coming of Christ between March 1843 and March 1844. Because of this prediction the believers were called ‘Adventists’ and in 1860, the General Conference of Seventh Day Adventists became an official organisation. The ‘Sabbath’ introduced by Rachel Oakes Preston, became an obligatory sacred day of worship – with a strict code of dressing and diet.
Ellen G White, in “The Desire of Ages” and “The Great Controversy” argues the case for the adoption of Saturday worship, instead of ‘Sunday’ being a memorial of the resurrection of Jesus on the first day of the week. Jesus had said in Matthew 18:18 “Verily, I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven and whatever ye shall loosen on earth shall be loosened in heaven”.
‘Brofoyedru’ – the white is heavy’ – his language and his gun. We in Ghana and elsewhere in Africa were bombarded with whatever was going on in Europe and America. The whites came on a ‘civilising mission’, so they claimed, but we thought otherwise.
In the Volta Region, for example, the Bremen Mission of the North German Mission permeated the society, leading to the formation of the ‘Evangelical Presbyterian Church’ and a splinter group the ‘Global Evangelical Presbyterian Church’ in the 1850s. Readers may remember the controversy between the E.P. Church of Ghana and the E.P. Church, Ghana! The Apostolic Church is claimed to have an indigenous origination, but much of its missionary work was aided by McKeown, an Irish missionary. Their liturgy is quite close to the traditional African way of religious practices. With time, there grew a dichotomy between the ‘Church of Pentecost’ and ‘Christ Apostolic Church’.
There are a few other churches which are making inroads into the Ghanaian community: these include Jehovah’s Witnesses, Perez Chapel International, Royalhouse Chapel International, International Gospel Church, Action Chapel International, Lighthouse Chapel International, Alliance for Christ Mission, Winners Chapel and the mushrooming of many others.
Most of these churches are found in the big cities and towns in the South, typically, Accra, Kumasi, Koforidua, Takoradi, Sunyani, Cape Coast. In the Northern parts, the Muslim religion dominates, having Mohammedanism dating as far back as the 10th century. Now, we have the majority being Sunni, about 20% being Ahmadi and about 10% being Shia.
Is the establishment of the churches big business in Ghana today? The answer is obvious. One pastor says he is emulating the ‘rich’ Jesus who was so fabulously rich, he had an accountant, Judas Iscariot always going with him. Some display their opulence – trendy dressing, luxurious limousines, palatial residences. Their prophecies are weird, to say the least; they can command wealth to the congregants after they had given them winning lotto numbers; they can curse you if you dare challenge them. Are they deceiving God? Or are they deceiving the congregants? And the many, many FM stations! Wake up at 12.00 midnight for a miraculous healing!
Their methods of ‘deliverance’ or ‘redemption’ or ‘emancipation’ appear crude. A pastor had gulped some water from a cup he was holding and the people seeking deliverance had lined up waiting to receive a spurt of the liquid onto their faces and into their mouths. What! You may not believe some agonies and torture people seeking salvation go through. Who are you to ask what kind of education the pastors themselves have when they can quote Matthew 11:25 “At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hidden these things from the wise and prudent and hast revealed them unto babies”.
People are running from their original churches-where they were baptized into, and going to these ‘one – man churches’, just because, they assume, those are the places where the Scripture is read clearly and the pastors preach powerfully. The preachers have peculiar ways of pronouncing their words: “P-r-a-i-s-e h-i-m“, “J-e-e-s-u-s-s” A rhetorical question is always asked: ”…Is someone hearing me?’ Forget the grammatical debate on the use of the words ‘are hearing’. The congregation jot down some of the queer and esoteric stories they are told. Who will remain in those churches which do not indulge in spiritual healing? People want ‘quick-fix’ solutions to their problems. So, would they not troop to those churches that can provide them with immediate solutions? And ex-President Dramani Mahama ‘endorses’ the efficacy of Obinim’s stickers, and recommends: “The President and his government need an Obinim sticker to deliver on its promises”. And accuses NPP for ‘super incompetence’? Was ex-President serious? Daily Guide rightly thinks: “…we are unable, as are others, to determine when the former president is joking and when he is not. It would appear also that he joked so much with the rather serious business of government that his grasp of the throttles loosened…” The question of a plethora of mushrooming churches is serious for anybody to joke with it. John Chi broke off from T.B. Joshua. Be not surprised to see him form his own church tomorrow, and people will throng there. Open your eyes, or should I say rather ‘shine your eyes’. The law may not help you since you may have gone there on your own volition.
You are thinking of what will happen to the fake pastors? What do you make of Daniel 8:11 – 14 “Yea, he even exalted himself as high as to the prince of the host and by him the daily sacrifices were taken away, and the place of His sanctuary was cast down. Because of transgression, an army was given over to the horn to oppose the daily sacrifices and he cast truth down to the ground. He did all this and prospered. Then I heard a holy one speaking… and he said unto me, for two thousand and three hundred days, then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.”
From Africanus Owusu-Ansah