Churches usher in new year with prayer, thanksgiving
Welcome 2017, as Ghanaian churches in United States bid 2016 goodbye
By Christian Journal reporters – Different dancing scenes lit the auditorium of many churches across the United States as worshippers gathered to welcome the New Year, 2017 with a heart
of praise and worship. Following what some have described as a rather rollercoaster year, Christians in most Ghanaian churches in New Jersey and New York could not wait to see the back of 2016, as they turned up dressed in white outfits, a sign of thanksgiving and praise. And though the themes for each church were different, the mood was the same; happiness. Some minutes before the clock struck 12:00 AM, congregation at the various churches went into prayer session, declaring goodness into their personal lives. Soon as the New Year was announced, the rooms erupted into excitement and members heartily embraced one another, wishing each other the best for the year
Leading both the New Jersey and New York branches at the watch night service, Prophet Eric Kofi Owusu, Head of Holy Fire Dynamic World International Church, re-emphasized on the
importance of the theme “Total Recovery.” He told the congregation this year is one that children of God will recover all that they have lost in the previous year, and encouraged them to keep their relationship with God holy. Later when it was announced the New Year was here, he released prophetic messages into the atmosphere before the entire church erupted into dancing and singing.
At Calvary Deliverance Christian Assembly, Bishop Peter Owusu Ansah, Presiding Bishop in his New Year message to the church, said the year offers a lot of hope to Christians but they should be sensitive to the times in order for them not to miss the mark. He said due to uncertainties people will be forced to take desperate measures in an attempt to escape from the difficulties, but cautioned against such “desperate” means as a solution to temporary setbacks.
“There are certain things you need to break away from in order to enter 2017 with grace.”
Bishop Owusu Ansah whose sermon was punctuated with several biblical allusions, also pleaded with the congregation to follow God’s ways, ask for wisdom in order to execute their natural gifts to his glory.
Preaching with the common theme “LEADERSHIP” from the mother church in Accra, Ghana, both branches of the International Central Gospel Church in New Jersey and New York preached around the same theme. Head Pastor of the New Jersey branch, Rev. Seth S. Kpodo, told the Christian Journal the rationale behind the theme is to remind the body of Christ of their responsibility to show leadership in whatever they do, instead of always sitting on the fence and passing judgments. He said leadership should not limited to political officer holders or public servants, but the house of God should reflect leadership, where Christians take up responsibilities in God’s vineyard.
“We should be responsible leaders in our communities, homes, schools and places where we find ourselves,” he said, adding; “ when you are responsible you try to figure out how to get things done.”
Relating to the theme to the incoming Republican leadership in the United States, he says the church has a duty to ensure the President elect Donald Trump so he succeeds.
“When America is at peace, we (the church) is also are at peace.”
His colleague minster at the Bronx branch, Rev. Prince Nyarko, relates his leadership sermon on the story of Joshua and his unique leadership qualities. He said the prophet consecrated himself for God’s work, ignoring his own human frailties, an act which made him one of the greatest leaders in biblical times. He said Christians should take lessons from the prophet’s leadership style by desiring God’s super natural gift to help them become good leaders in their various fields. He urged the worshippers not to undermine their own abilities when the call for leadership comes, but should rely on “God’s super natural powers,” a defining ingredient for leadership in both public and private service.
At the Bible Believers Tabernacle, Bishop Dr. Adu Gyamfi preached on the theme: “Pursuing God and His Agenda.” He reminded the congregation of the importance of putting the things of God ahead of themselves. According to him, people have become so focused on striving for material things to such a point that they no longer attach any seriousness to the things of God. Bishop Adu Gyamfi said people now use the excuse of their work, children or anything to run away from the things of God.
“If you fail to purse God’s agenda, you will walk as a carbon copy of yourself,” he reiterated.
Speaking directly to the congregation, mostly Ghanaian immigrants, he said they did not make it to America just by their own strength but God has a reason why they are here, and that should serve as a motivation for them not to depart from his plans for their lives. He said there are many people who have missed the opportunities in their lives simply because they failed to purse God’s agenda, and rather followed the desires of their own heart. Apostle Adu Gyamfi therefore pleaded with them to go back to God’s own plan for their lives.
At Holiness is the Lord Ministries, Prophetess Elizabeth Ababio reminded the flocks of the need to tap into the sea of harvest, for the year ahead is going to be a difficult one but one those
who plant their feet in God will be victorious. He cautioned members to strive to lead lives pleasing in God’s sight. He also advised them against the attitude of neglecting their relatives back home in Ghana soon as they get to the United States. Rev Samuel Nana Opoku of the Abundant Life Baptist Church charged the congregation to consecrate themselves for the year promises to be a good one, despite the challenges. Amidst clapping of hands, dancing and shouting of “Afehyia Pa,” the singers kept churning out spiritually compelling sounds for the
delight of the congregation. Though the theme for the year is “Sanctify Yourself For Tomorrow”,” he preached on the sub-theme “Our Year of Fulfillment.” He quoted from the book of Exodus and reminded the congregation of God’s “blessed assurance to his people.” He said Christians today have the same assurance God gave to the people of Israel during the difficult times and should therefore fall on his grace anytime they are burdened by the flesh. Rev. Nana Opoku said the church in the modern time is equally placed to benefit from same blessings and irrespective of the challenges ahead, 2017 is when God’s favour will be proven in the lives of his children.
“2016 marks the end of an Old Era, and the Beginning of a New An Old Era in Our Church and in your life. So we are crossing over from the Old dispensation to a New dispensation.”
Rev. Nana Opoku said there is no trial, failure, delay or disappointment that God has not experienced so he understands the struggles His children often experience in their quest to live lives acceptable in His eyes.
“Beloved as we cross over into the New Year, no matter what you are facing in life, always remember His divine promises for you.”
The good news, he explained, is that God has endured trials and tribulations during his time on earth so He’s able to see his children through the dark moments. He reminded them of God’s invincible nature.
Rev. Nana Opoku charged the congregation by telling them he is more determined to put behind the bitter experiences of 2016 so he can move forward by faith into the new year.
Rev. Joseph Twum (Maj. RTD) of Royalhouse Chapel International, Bronx, said the entire Royalhouse family relied on a single theme, Mercy, for their New Year message. He said the year is one of Mercy because people will experience God’s hands in their personal lives. Rev. Twum said the Mercy of God is far reaching and irrespective of one’s location or background, it will make the necessary impact. But said God is looking for a willing heart to show favour.
“When God’s favour finds you, nobody can stop it,” he added.
Head Pastor of Inner Court Sanctuary Rev. Nicholas Anane-Agyei told the Christian Journal their theme for the year is: “Our Yea of Rest.” He said the theme is appropriate because of the significance of the number seven because it happens to not only coincides with the church’s seventh anniversary, but God rested on that day after creation. He was confident the year offers several many opportunities for God’s children, and it is therefore important for the church to move towards a direction worthy of God’s kingdom. Rev. Anane-Agyei also said the goal for this year is to ensure evangelism remains an important part of the ministry.