From under-tree church to Perez Dome: The amazing story of Perez Chapel Int'l
Bishop Charles Agyinasare and wife Rev Mrs Vivian Agyinasare, today, are the face of a thriving mega church (Perez Chapel International) famed for having the biggest auditorium in Ghana (Perez Dome) located in a very plush area (Dzorwulu) in the capital city, Accra.
PCI has 400 local branches in Ghana (16 of those in Accra, alone) and intends planting 300 more this year (2017). Additionally, it has branches in 16 nations across the world and has plans to put up basic and senior high schools across Ghana. It also intends building hospitals in the country and has every intention of ever expanding its horizon as it wins souls for Christ.
All these achievements by the Agyinasares, who co-founded PCI, formerly Word Miracle Church International (WMCI), some 30 years ago (22 March 1987 – birthday of the Bishop), are a source of pride for members who worship there today. But the journey, which started more than three decades ago, has been one of struggles, frustration, disappointment, toil, faith, determination and sacrifice. And no one but Bishop Agyinasare himself can tell that story better as he recently did to his congregation at the Perez Dome on Sunday, 2 April 2017 in a message titled: ‘Pushing It To The Next Level’ to cap the Eagles Summit organised by the church as part of its 30th anniversary celebration.
“Beloved”, he referred to his congregation, “Perez Chapel has come this far by sacrifice.”
“We started at the Cultural Centre in Tamale [capital of the Northern Region], then we went to the Warders’ Canteen. …We were thrown out from the Cultural Centre. For three weeks, we had to worship under a tree, for three weeks our church service was under a tree, so, from the tree, we went to Zogbeli, a classroom.
“I lived in a house without electricity for two years; there was no pipe borne water. I remember this Major who came to me for prayers, and in the house I was living in, I didn’t have furniture, I just had a student mattress in the living room, and a kitchen stool, so, when the Major came, I gave him the kitchen stool, I sat on the student mattress, he told me all his problems. After I prayed for him the Holy Spirit told me when he goes he won’t come back again. He was so disappointed: ‘If this is the man that everybody calls Brother Charles and miracles are happening, then he needed help’. But it did not stop us. I pastored the church for two years without a salary, Mama [Mrs Vivian Agyinasare] was a teacher, and, so, her money and a few other things that the Lord provided was what kept us and I had eight men living in my house of two bedrooms and one living room.
“When we put up our first church, our members sold their property: the biggest property some of them had was a motorbike or a bicycle, furniture and some small jewelries. But some sold it so that we could put up our first church. … At that time, wood was very expensive in Tamale – it still is. We put up one of the finest churches then in Tamale. Later on, when we were doing that, God led me to give my car to the church, so, it became an official car. Isn’t God good?
Moving to Accra and surviving the wilderness
“But God had been dealing with me to move to [Accra] by 1992. In fact, in 1992, I was preaching in New York and as I lay on my face praying for the meeting as my custom is, in the afternoon, the Holy Spirit began to speak to me about starting a church in Accra, and began to give me a blueprint of what to do when I came to Accra. I wrote them down and I said to Him: ‘Lord, You know that I’m a Champion Atta in Tamale. If you wrote a letter to me and you forgot the address and you wrote Brother Charles and you wrote Tamale, they delivered it to my house. And you want me to come to Accra? No! I like Tamale, I’m a local champion.’ If you went to any office and you mentioned my name … [everybody knew me] …
“Well, by 1994,” Bishop Agyinasare continued, “there was a local war between the Konkombas and Nanumbas, curfew was placed on the city, we couldn’t go to church.” Meanwhile, the Tamale church was what was supporting all our churches we were starting. I realised it was time for me to obey God, and, so, we came to the city of Accra, we started meeting at the Kanda Cluster of Schools. But years earlier, Mr Sammy Manu, who was a member in Tamale, had relocated to Accra. His father was the late S.K. Manu, who owned the CFC buildings at [Kwame Nkrumah] Circle, so, he said: ‘Why don’t you come and see if there’s something in our buildings you can use.’ So we located this warehouse but we needed about $10,000 in 1994 to fix the place. You know, in Tamale I had this four-bedroom house with a three-plot compound that belonged to Bugri Naabu and a boys’ quarters etc. When we came to Accra, I had to go and live in my father’s house, one room and I always made a joke: with my three kids in that one room and our bags everywhere, in the night when there was a ‘shaking’, I couldn’t even shake, when there was a ‘move’, I couldn’t move. So, every night, instead of sleeping, I would spend the time walking about praying that God would give us a breakthrough in the city of Accra, [that] He will create space for us. And by the grace of God, God gave me the opportunity to rent a house by myself, paid for two years, then my landlord … – that’s what he said – the day he came to my house and saw the furniture, said: ‘No, it was two years, now I’ve changed it, it’s one-and-a-half years.’ So we located in the city of Accra.
“We needed to raise $10,000 in 1994, we didn’t have it, so, I decided to travel with my wife. A friend of mine gave me a ticket and also my frequent flyer programme could take care of a ticket for Mama and my daughter, so, we went to London, Germany, USA and I remember I stayed with Auntie Mary then, and I preached and I used to be a good preacher. I think the fire is still there, it is better than those days. But I will preach and sell the books in various churches, I had written Rooted And Built Up In Him. Every money they gave me for honorarium and for selling the books, I sent it back to Accra so they could use it to fix the place in the CFC buildings. I moved from London to Germany, travelled to the US. In the US I had to leave Mama at Miami to be teaching in a nursery school while I went round preaching because my job is to preach and God would bless me with the honoraria and books and I would send it.
“And I remember when it was time for us to come back after we had spent three months, when we were coming back at the airport, Mummy saw a necklace and she wanted to buy and I said to her: ‘You know every piece of the money we have has a budget, and, so, I can’t give this money to you but one day I’m going to buy you the kind of necklace you want.’ The next time I turned to look at her, tears were streaming down her eyes and I began to rub her back. Today, any kind of necklace she wants, I can buy. … So this church was started with sacrifice. We refurbished the hall and in October 1994, we started our first Sunday morning service. The first Sunday morning service, 70 people came … the room was big, lots of empty spaces, so I told them to arrange the benches in such a way that instead of seven people on the bench, three people will sit on a bench, and they should space it so that it looks like ‘we too we dey small’. And then when I was getting ready to preach, the Holy Spirit said: ‘Tell the people to get ready for a double service.’ …So, I got up and said to the people that God said we should get ready for a double service.’ If you were there and I was saying that you’ll be very disappointed. But by the grace of God, in three months’ time we were running a double service, by the end of one year, we were running four services with 3,000 people and when we had our miracle services, people would be sitting in the rain outside expecting the power of God, we would jam the room as much as we could.
“And, so, by the second year, I became so disturbed that with the multitudes coming, we could lose them, so, we needed a place of our own and from day one when we started church, I told the accountant: ‘Every month, save a certain amount.’ Even though we didn’t have enough to pay the pastors comfortably, I said we should save money. So, by the end of the second year getting to the third year, we had saved what in those days was 40 million cedis and in those days for a young church to save 40 million, we were big men, and, so, I was praying: ‘God give us a place.’ And suddenly God began to open my eyes: whether I was eating, or I was bathing or I was walking, I would see us worshipping on a big park. I began to see it all the time, and, so, one day there was this advert in the newspapers that the former Meat Marketing Board was selling all their properties. One of my associates told me, so we came to see, when we walked into this place [referring to the Perez Dome], this place you see now, was a park with giant grass, the old auditorium you see, used to be the warehouse for the cows, it was broken down, run down and the roofs had collapsed, the buildings were dilapidated, there was nothing on this premises. Immediately we walked in here, the grass changed to look like human beings for me. I knew this was the place, so, we put in a bid and by the grace of only almighty God, we won the bid. Then it was time to pay the money, then we said we were paying 750 million cedis and all the money we had in our coffers was 40 million cedis. I don’t know how we were going to get it, so, I went to Sogakope to fast and pray for 10 days seeking the grace of God, came back and we did a fundraising and by the grace of God, God surprised us, people sold their properties, people made sacrifices, I remember those days, I pledged 20 million cedis, the newspapers said they haven’t heard a pastor who is also giving 20 million cedis; it was good and bad: the good side was that they said the pastors they knew, they don’t give when they take an offering. But this man is giving an offering. The bad part was that they couldn’t understand where I was going to get 20 million cedis to give. But by the grace of God, and the sacrifices of His church, we bought this place and fixed this place, this church was built on sacrifice, and, so, if we are going to possess our possession, there must be a dying first. …And so going forward, I charge you and I challenge you to sacrifice and make this church great and write your name in the sands of time.”
“This church is not just one of those churches; this church was started out of a divine commission,” Bishop Agyinasare stressed, recalling: “I came into full-time pastoral ministry in 1983. That year was a year of desperation and frustration for me. I wanted to see God use me like it happened in the Acts of the Apostles, and, so, I would pray night after night believing God for a divine visitation. Then the Morris Cerullo School of Ministry came to town, Dr Cerullo did not come himself, he came on a video cassette. Dr Alex Ness who came on the last day of the School of Ministry anointed us with oil. When I went to my seat to kneel down, while I was kneeling I heard the sound of what seemed like thunder and lightning and I heard an audible voice say to me: ‘My boy Charles, I send you out as I sent Moses, go and I will put my words on your lips and take the world for me.’ After this, when we closed the conference, I sought for a place to fast and pray. On the third day of the fast, I had a continuation of the message: ‘My boy Charles, I give unto you power over demons and principalities, heal the sick, raise the dead, reach the kingdom.’ I said: ‘God, if it’s you, say it one more time.’ It came a second time. I said: ‘God, if it’s you, give me scripture for it.’ Then He gave me Luke Chapter 9: 1&2. It says: ‘Then He called his 12 disciples together and gave them power and authority over all devils and to cure diseases, and He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.’ So this church is not just a church, it’s a church that has been sent, we are on an assignment, it’s a divine assignment, it’s a divine commission that God sent us to accomplish. And, so, I started going round and ministering here a little, there a little, doing crusades but finally in 1987, God sent me to Tamale to start this church that you see, within these 30 years, God took us from a classroom at Zogbeli in Tamale to almost 400 local churches now, in 16 nations of the world. We have 62 churches in the city of Accra.
“By the grace of God, we have what is said to be the largest auditorium in Ghana, the Perez Dome. We’ve been blessed with a TV station; God has blessed us with a University. As a church, God has been good to us, but as I prayed for this 30th anniversary, the Lord said to me in Joshua 13:1: ‘Now Joshua was old and advanced in years, and the Lord said to him, “You are old and advanced in years, and there remains yet very much land to possess.’ ... God was saying to Joshua, Joshua you have accomplished some things but there’s still more to do. And I came this morning to tell you that God’s word to us is that there is more to do. In fact we are just beginning. The church that started with nothing, today see where we are. If we started with nothing and we are here today, then can you imagine with the resources that we have – both human and material – can you imagine where we are going? …But what will it take for us to possess the land we need to possess? It will take sacrifice. So, God has brought us thus far, but we are not going to settle. It is time God is asking us to sacrifice and to take this gospel to another level.”
That next level, according to Bishop Agyinasare, will require the sacrifice of “giants” in the church, who he described as the “pillars” of Perez Chapel International. As a man of vision, Bishop Agyinasare believes in using the church not only to win souls for Christ, but also raise a generation of morally upright youth who are free of corruption, homosexuality, occultism, and other social vices. He believes in deploying all the resources available to the church to impact society positively. And in all this, he has had the support of a strong and dependable partner, Rev Mrs Vivian Agyinasare, who he never misses the slightest opportunity to celebrate to the world. The couple are blessed with four children: three biological and one adopted. They are Rev Dr Selasie Agyinasare, Rev Francis Agyinasare, Charlene Agyinasare and Clementina Quarshie.