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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

Tailor-Made Preacher

Ghanaian pastor finds the right fit in Columbus, Ohio

By John W. Kennedy
Aug. 22, 2010

Immediately upon completing middle school in 1977, Bismark Akomeah moved from his small Ghanaian village of Kwaso to the city of Kumasi to learn how to become a tailor. In 1985, after a four-year apprentice program, Akomeah opened his own fashion designer shop in the West African nation.

Soon he had four young women working as apprentices under him. One of them, a seamstress named Linda Agyeiwaah, asked Akomeah if the trainees could conduct a devotional Bible study at the business. Agyeiwaah, who attended an Assemblies of God church, kept telling Akomeah that life without Jesus had no meaning. After Agyeiwaah’s repeated evangelism efforts, Akomeah committed his life to Jesus as his Savior.

Akomeah became an active lay worker in a local AG congregation. He taught a convert class and helped plant churches. In 1989, Bismark wed Linda, the woman who led him to the Lord.

In their first decade of marriage, the Akomeahs had two children, and Bismark longed for a way to provide a better life for his family. After much prayer, Bismark and Linda applied to immigrate to the United States as permanent residents. Despite overwhelming odds, the family received government permission to move to the United States.

 In 2000, he says God made the reason for the move clear: to start a church for immigrants.

 “In Africa we like loud music, we like dancing around, we like making shouts of joy,” Akomeah says. “The Lord put it in my heart to start an African church so people will feel like home.”

In 2001, Akomeah says the Lord instructed him and his family to move to Columbus, Ohio, even though he knew no one there and had never even heard of the city — which is home to 10,000 Ghanaians.

The Akomeahs rented a basement apartment and let it be known they were starting a church. But for three months, nobody else showed up. Then a local congregation provided a space for Akomeah to conduct services in an off-site food pantry. The building was located in a neighborhood heavily populated by Ghanaians, and Akomeah began visiting businesses to spread the word about his church. The next Sunday, 27 people visited.

Akomeah credits AG Pastor Randy Feldschau with taking him under his wing, helping him through the ministerial credentialing process and getting him enrolled in courses via Global University.

Feldschau, pastor of Easton Worship Center in Columbus at the time, recalls how Akomeah walked in off the street into his office.

“He said he was driving by my church and God told him, ‘If you go in there, that man will help you,’” remembers Feldschau, now senior pastor at Cathedral in the Pines Christian Center, an AG church in Beaumont, Texas. “He told me his story, and I developed a relationship with him. The fruit of his life and his calling was evident.”

Akomeah started a prayer ministry, because he realized many once-faithful Africans didn’t tithe or pray as much once they encountered troubles after moving to the United States. Then, Akomeah says, God began to perform miracles, including repeated instances of previously infertile couples being able to conceive.

Six months after opening, Jesus Power Assembly of God had 120 attendees.

Akomeah also is grateful that then Ohio District Superintendent Robert D. Crabtree assisted him. The Ohio District co-signed for a $1 million loan on an office building.

“Normally we wouldn’t go that far in standing behind such a major loan,” Crabtree says. “But we felt they had done so well in building the congregation, we had great confidence in him.”

The day the congregation moved into new facilities in 2003, it doubled in size to 400.

Jesus Power AG began raising funds for another new sanctuary in 2005. Four months ago, the $2.5 million, 1,500-seat Glory Temple opened, with General Superintendent George O. Wood and AG Office of Ethnic Relations Director Scott Temple among the attendees. Wood lauds Akomeah for his leadership and vision.

“I’d like to take the DNA of Jesus Power and put it in all 12,300 Assemblies of God churches in America,” Wood said in a building dedication sermon.

Today, Jesus Power AG has 13 nationalities represented, including sizable contingents from Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Togo, Benin and Sierra Leone. About 70 percent of the 800 regular attendees are from Ghana.

Prayer remains a pillar of the church, and healings regularly take place during worship.

“I want our church to be like in the days of the apostles, where miracles happen under Holy Ghost power,” says Akomeah, 47. He also is a believer in accountability. Every three months he gives a detailed report of where church funds are going, including divulging his salary.

“People will invest money if they feel like partners in the church,” Akomeah says.

Jesus Power has planted other Ghanaian congregations in Chicago, Atlanta and Cincinnati. It also sponsors Swahili and French congregations in Columbus. The church has financially assisted plants of other congregations in Detroit; Houston; Dallas; Austin, Texas; and Frankfurt, Germany. 

Last year, as Jesus Power AG continued to grow, the Ohio District decided to invest $60,000 in the church, even though the district faced a deficit of its own.

“We’ve always viewed Jesus Power as a real gift,” Ohio District Superintendent John Wootton says. “Whatever they touch, they seem to have an anointing. So we made a seed-faith offering.”

Since making the financial gift to Jesus Power, the fortunes of the district have reversed.

“They are prayer warriors, especially when looking for financial breakthrough,” Wootton says.

JOHN W. KENNEDY is news editor of the Pentecostal Evangel.

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