[Pastor Benneh serves a main-line fundamentalist Christian church in a suburb of Accra. He is in his sixties, but looks younger. Most of the 14 children he has fathered are now adults, although ten still live with him. Although he has completed only middle school, his English is quite good. He has worked as a surveyor for the government and for private construction firms. In addition to serving as pastor, he also farms. Pastor Benneh began pastoral duties in the late eighties after a two-week course in Bible Study; the normal three-year course was waived owing to his extensive church experience. This interview took place in the pastor's house where he and his family occupy four rooms; the remaining rooms are rented to others. Philip Awekeya interviewed him.]
I usually start each day at 5:30 by going to the chapel for morning devotion, which lasts an hour. If it is a weekday, I leave for my farm at 7 and stay there to supervise the workers until around 2, when I return home. I then usually visit some of the elderly women or men of the church to chat or pray with them. Sometimes I go to Accra to hold discussions with the national superintendent on matters relating to my duties as a pastor in a substation. Sometimes I stay in the house at the farm, where I read religious literature, prepare sermons to be delivered at evening or Sunday service, or receive church members who might have made appointments with me for counseling on marriage, personal, or business ventures.
Sunday is the busiest day for me. I wake up as early as 4:30 a.m. and read over my prepared sermon to be delivered during the 9 o'clock church service. Before the service begins, I contact leaders of various church groups to collect information that needs to be announced to the rest of the members, for example, bereavement, communal labor, meetings of the various ethnic groups as well as the fellowships--women's fellowship and men's fellowship. I usually keep worship service periods a little shorter than my colleagues by delivering concise sermons. There is therefore usually enough time for members to sing praises to God, which most of the youth take delight in.
Every evening, I go to the chapel to organize a short service followed by Bible study. I may lead the discussion or select any of the men or women to lead while I stay in the background to observe. Sometimes I use the evenings to teach songs to the group in English or in Twi, or I may invite any of the musicians present to teach new songs to members so that we don't bore ourselves with old songs during Sunday church services or feast days.
My work as a pastor is very challenging, and I do take pride in it. I feel I am called by the Lord Jesus Christ to proclaim his word to the whole world. I feel I am a messenger of Christ to all men. The lessons from the holy book--which emphasize that when one allows himself to be used by Jesus for spreading the gospel, he shall receive blessings from God--make me constantly happy and proud about what I am currently engaged in.
Moreover I feel that God has chosen me out of many men, hence I count myself lucky and am pleased with my work. I have come to an understanding that most men get frustrated in life because they have forced their way into jobs for which they never had a call by the Lord Jesus, or that when they got the job they failed to put God first but rather thought of how to get rich. Thank God I have so far not experienced any sign of frustration in this job. I pray daily for proper direction to be able to perform my duties as a shepherd of God to the satisfaction of my church members and to the glory of God the Lord Jesus Christ.
As a pastor I do a lot of traveling to the villages, which involves some amount of risk. However, I am not afraid of the hazards involved because I trust that when I am doing the Lord's work by taking the good news to men, I shall not sustain any scratch. Even If I should be killed in a motor accident, I shall be received in the Lord's home, that is, in heaven. I do not even think of risk in this job because when God is concerned all mountains shall be leveled on my way.
Except for the travels to the rural areas, where most of the roads are poor and can even be death traps, other conditions under which I work are nearly perfect. For instance, there is a station vehicle for me to use anytime I am travel out of town. I also have a very good library which provides relevant material for the preparation of sermons and counseling services. There is a spacious church here at the moment to accommodate all the church members. All these facilities help me a lot. Hence, I find it relatively easy to carry out my routine duties to the satisfaction of the church members and my superiors.
I am not boasting, but in reality, my supervisors, the district superintendent and national superintendent, see me as an asset to our denomination. I have single-handedly founded the local church and ten or more churches in the rural areas. My relationship with fellow parishioners is superb. They frequently demonstrate their love for me by giving presents to me and my family. In fact I can not find sufficient words to describe how pleasant I feel about my relationship with both my superiors and those that I assist in their search to serve Christ.
In our ministry we operate similarly to the Orthodox churches--Anglican, Methodist, Roman Catholic. Hence, our ministers also have the chance to be promoted from the lower rank to the top, depending on their selfless devotion to service, coupled with strong recommendations from church elders and the district superintendent. Thus I, for instance, can be promoted from the rank of pastor to the position of a Reverend.
I am not a conventional salary-earner as I was many years ago when I was with the government service. However, the church has found it wise to give me a monthly allowance of about 80,000 cedis (then, about $160). The monthly allowance seems too small for a person like me with six dependents. However, with the Lord by me, I never run out of food or petrol to move the church. Every now and then I receive gifts in the form of foodstuffs--cassava, meat--and also electric fans, clothes, even money. With all these presents flowing in almost weekly I sometimes do not touch the monthly allowance.
My wife and children are more than happy with me because they feel strongly within their hearts that God has blessed the entire family by calling me to do his work as a pastor. My wife, for instance, who used to get easily angry with me over certain family matters has for sometime now changed her attitude. She consults me regularly for discussions centered on the welfare of the family and on how I can best carry out my daily duties as a pastor. Also members of the family regularly approach me to pray for them in their undertakings and for peace, love and understanding to reign within the family.
This vocation has allowed me to meet many people in this community and far beyond. Through my work as a pastor, people of all walks of life approach me personally with their social problems. Sometimes they ask me to pray with them or for them, or at times they seek counseling. Most community members see me as a selfless person who works to benefit all, and not my direct family per se. For example, they are happy with me because I have left private consultancy as a surveyor, at which I could have earned a much higher income than my current allowance of 80,000 cedis. In addition, most community members see me as everybody's father because I have time for all, regardless of age. This gladdens their hearts and moves them closer to me each passing day.
Because of the love my family has for me and the honor and respect accorded me as a pastor, I feel bound to give glory to Jesus. I continue to trust that I shall be blessed with his guidance and protection so that whatever I do shall be beneficial to humanity and to the glory of God.