Monday, September 8, 2014

CCC's RANSFORD OBENG - a paragon of simplicity

Pastor Ransford Obeng of Calvary Charismatic Centre, Kumasi, Ghana

Recently, I spent a weekend in Kumasi moderating a number of focus group discussions for a marketing research firm I work with.

So while there, I decided to spend Sunday morning at Calvary Charismatic Centre (CCC), a church headed by Pastor Ransford Obeng. In Accra, my regular place of worship is the International Central Gospel Church (ICGC). However, I didn’t fellowship with any of the ICGC assemblies in Kumasi.

So what informed my visit to CCC? For several years, Obeng has been a regular fixture on the cast of guest speakers who feature at ICGC’s annual Destiny Summit. Notably, Obeng is the only Ghanaian preacher (of course except summit host Mensa Otabil), who gets featured at that high profile international conference. This is a conference that has featured global pastoral and leadership brands such as Fred Price, Mike Murdock, Marvin Winans and Sam Chand.

It dawned on me that outside of Destiny Summit, I don’t hear much about Obeng even though Pastor Otabil speaks very highly of him. Whenever he introduces Obeng at Destiny Summit, Otabil extols his (Obeng) personal simplicity and leadership sophistication. That faithful Sunday, I went to CCC not only for a worship experience but for an excursion as well; to verify how simplicity and humility produce sophistication and excellence in leadership.

So here was I in my moment of truth. In my short-sleeve, light green-patterned Woodin batik shirt, worn over a pair of light brown trousers, I rode in a cab to the spacious campus of the church.

Impressions at CCC
My first observation was made at the parking arena. It was well-laid out, spacious and starkly clean. Although there were several hundreds of vehicles already parked and others being parked, there was still so much space. This made the parking lot very orderly (of course not without the assistance of the well-trained traffic assistants).

I looked around and also realized that people were huddled in various small groups (of about 15) for Bible studies. I strolled around for a while before making my way into the empty auditorium (empty because all the congregants were in their various Bible study groups. These group studies took place under sheds purposely built for that a sign that everything is taken seriously). In my estimation, the auditorium could sit about 4000 congregants in a meeting. And by the way, this is the auditorium Pastor Otabil rates as the nicest he has ever preached at in Ghana.

I decided to take a tour of the auditorium. While doing that, I was approached by a gentleman who politely prompted me that I could not walk around while the group Bible study was on-going. When I informed him that I was a visitor, he offered to assist me find a group to participate in the Bible study. After the group study, the church re-converged on the main auditorium for the plenary service.

Overall, it was a well-coordinated service. I looked forward to seeing Pastor Ransford and his team of armour bearers majestically stride into the service. Wrong Terry, wrong. This is the church of Pastor Ransford ‘Simplicity’ Obeng. The man had been seated all along. After a lovely shadow theatre performance by the Children’s Department of the church, Obeng (with his tablet, Bible, note book and microphone) climbs the stage, mounts the pulpit and asks that the praise team leads us in a short time of music. His costume was a non-elegant short-sleeve striped shirt over a pair of black trousers.

He walks back stage for a short while. Initially, I imagined that he had gone to the wash room to pay his water bill. When he returned to the pulpit, he explained that he had to go and express his appreciation to the children who had just performed. He was so touched by the shadow theatre that he had to meet them personally and immediately to encourage them.
He preached for just about 20 minutes and the service was over.

Service in session at CCC

Obeng’s modesty
  • The obvious lack of strict protocol around this great pastor made a strong impression on me. The fact that he walked on stage without any form of introduction (which is not normal in charismatic denominations), carried his own preaching tools without the help of any armour bearer makes his style remarkable.
  • His confession that until that day, he had never seen a shadow theatre was another mind blowing deal for me. I asked myself, ‘How many pastors will make such an admission before their congregation?'
  • I had the opportunity to get close and say a quick hello to him, without any appointment. This was possible because he hang around to personally minister to some of the congregants who needed to be ministered to.

Now, make no mistake. CCC is a big church that can ‘rival’ any church in any part of the world. And hey, don’t think that because it’s in Kumasi, it is not international enough. CCC is a typical English-speaking church.

Before I left that Sunday, I picked up a lesson that I can be simple, modest and humble, yet effective, influential and sophisticated. I left with a prayer and resolve that I no matter how great or influential I am or become, I would remain humble and modest. So help me God.

© 2014 Terry Mante
CEO, Personal Development Network (PEDNET)
Accra, Ghana