The sun was setting, but not fast enough it seemed, especially for those, who, driven by anxiety and a quest for the authentic had traversed from far and wide to see for themselves if indeed the reality would be worth all the hype. February 5th 2016 had come, finally, and it seem Accra would grind to a halt as announcement of road closures and reports of government-level meetings made its way through social media, much to the chagrin of critics, but to the admirers of Rev. Dr. Chris Oyakhilome, their excitement had reached a rapturous zenith.
After standing in line for almost 2 hours to enter the Independence square, I finally sighed as I walked past the security personnel at the gate who apparently had made sufficient preparations to ensure an incidence-free night of remarkable bliss. At 5.47pm, the Square was full to capacity with very few chairs left unoccupied at the rear end. What a sight to behold; from all walks of life, saints, sinners, street vendors, strugglers and social climbers, all in one place, some curious, some faithful, some in pain but all expectant.
As I walked through the aisle searching for a seat that may afford me a broader view of activities, I saw also, sick people on beds, some in wheel chairs, some looking somber without any inkling of their condition. A rendezvous of broken humanity it seemed; all had thronged to this “pool of Bethesda” to escape their decadent condition. My heart pounded and raced through nothingness as I imagined what a night this would be. Would the lame walk? Would the blind see? Would that Immigration officer who brought her autistic child for divine touch ever sing a song of freedom? Would my soul be glad? Would the hurt be gone? Would my dream of becoming a better man receive impetus from this remarkable experience?
As I pondered these questions in my heart, I sought to also understand why. Why have we all come? What is it that we seek? Why have so many people, young and old, frail and strong, spent hours queuing just to share an authentic moment of worship in an atmosphere of miracles? Why? “O why Father” I questioned. “Hunger! That’s why”. A moment of epiphany at the pinnacle of my curiosity. That is the only answer that made sense.
A deep-seated ravenous hunger for a genuine experience with the divine, just like in Bible days. Hunger, because there seem to be, albeit unarticulated, a popular disillusionment with polluted theology; words spoken from pulpits defiled by greed and vain ambition, and teachings that render scriptural text as only historically valid but without contemporary relevance to the realities of the present day believer. Hunger, because the prevailing secular systems of our society have failed to deliver essential public goods and services such as healthcare, education and employment. Hunger, because hope, is only as good as what hope is anchored in; the ever abiding presence of God, through Jesus the Christ.
O what a night of bliss it was; the lights, the LCD screens, the drone cameras that glided overhead, the beautiful choreography, the uplifting worship songs and the bustling energy of the crowds that had overflowed to Ohene Djan Sports Stadium with even more overflow to the forecourt of Ghana’s Parliament House. O what a night! And much to our expectation, again, the Bible came alive in the centre of Accra. As the writer puts it in Acts 14:3 “…So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them do miraculous signs and wonders.” The man of God, Pastor Chris, in his sermon, taught that salvation was only half the narrative, and that God’s main purpose was to restore fellowship with man, through Christ. That fellowship would not be possible with fallen man unless restored through atonement by the blood of Jesus Christ, the lamb of God, in accordance with prophesy.
The purpose of Christianity therefore, is to walk in the boldness of this new creation status, where the true believer is able to tame and control the circumstances of life and not be subject to it. It is one thing to work hard to earn enough money so you can pay for hospital bills when treating cancer with chemotherapy. Its an entirely different affair to see a person with cancer receive experience total remission through sheer words spoken in faith, "Be Healed".
This is the good news, that you, dear reader, that if have indeed received salvation by believing in the resurrection and confessing the lordship of Christ, that you would receive the promised gift of the Holy Spirit in order to become a priest of God and show forth his divine perfection, as the writer acknowledges in the Ephesian epistle (3rd chapter; 11th and 12th verse, whichever version). This is the good news, that in this newness of life we have everything we need for life and for Godliness.
And so I say to the critics who think we idolize this remarkable man of God; no sir, we don’t! For idolatry is an abomination to God. But admire and appreciate we do. We admire and appreciate because we see in him, Pastor Chris, an apotheosis of true Christian belief. A man with self-assurance on the basis of his self-knowledge in Christ. An epitome of 2 Cor. 5:17, the regenerated man. One man, of the same race, who becomes free, is a pleasant appeal to other members of the same race, to pursue freedom. So it is in this case.
Night of Bliss Accra has come and gone, but our challenge as Christians to continue our walk in faith remain. As Christians, we have new tools for an old warfare; a war with carnality, with the deceptiveness of earthly wealth and with a worldly system governed by Satanism. The only assurance of victory is to be what God, through Christ, has called us to be. Our faith, our love and hope must be relevant to society, to public policy and to cultural evolution. Thank God for genuine men who love truth and speak with courage and passion. We need more.