The prophetic ministry of Prophet Bernard Opoku Nsiah belonged to the fifth phase
of Neo-prophetism in Ghana’s Christianity. He was born on June 25, 1962 to Banasco
Opoku (father) and Mercy Ampong (mother); both parents hailed from Nyinaheni
in Atwema Nponuah district in the Asante region of Ghana. He was the first of six
children; three males and three females.37 All three males have become prophets.
Prophet Opoku Nsiah founded Christian Redemption International Ministry (CRIM)
in February 1994, and he is the General Overseer.
Call and early ministry
Prophet Opoku Nsiah’s father died when he was 17 years. Thereafter he embarked
on a 40-day fasting and prayer, during which he had an encounter with the Holy
Spirit culminating in his call to ministry as a prophet. After the experience, he could
now hear the Holy Spirit speak and give him visions concerning the destinies,
problems and solutions of people around him.38 This suggests that prior to age 17,
he was a Christian and knew how to embark on ascetic life in pursuit of a solution
to existential needs or empowerment for ministry. The combination of fasting and
prayer has been the main religious activity and means for receiving power for ministry
by many prophetic ministries in Ghana. Baëta postulates that pioneers of prophetism
in Ghana’s Christianity usually undertake frequent fastings to aid quick answers to
He explains that The Church of the Twelve Apostles has two kinds of fasting:
(i) abstinence from solid food for seven continuous days, during which water could
(ii) abstinence from solid food and all kinds of drinks for three continuous
days. This fasting was generally referred to as dry fasting by Pentecostals. In the
Musama Disco Christo Church, particular fasting was prescribed for members while
the clergy also had a prescribed fasting each year for empowerment for ministry.
Asamoah-Gyadu observes that for members of the church, fasting enhances
the aptitude to overcome temptation and answer to prayers. For the clergy, “the
effectiveness of a person’s anointing depends on uprightness and enhanced
spirituality achieved through fasting, Bible study, and prayer.”40 Prophet Opoku
Nsiah’s 40-day fasting and prayer seemed to be a replica of Moses’, Elijah’s, and
Jesus’ 40-day fasting (Ex, 34:28; 1 Kings 19:8-9; Luke 4:2).
It indicates that fasting in Neo-prophetism is the re-enactment of fasting as recorded in the Bible and Jesus’ admonishing that some issues need to be overcome by fasting and prayer (Matt. 17:21 KJV). However, it also corresponds to a primal understanding of ͻkomfo
(traditional priest), where kom means fasting, hunger, abstinence from food.41 Hence
ͻkomfo is a traditional priest who occasionally abstains from food in order to foster
a close communicative access with the deities. This is not to suggest that a Christian
prophet is equivalent to ͻkomfo, but to show a point of convergence.
According to Prophet Opoku Nsiah, many of the early prophecies he delivered
resulted in arrest and being locked in police cells. This is due to lack of guidance,
training, and experience in delivering prophetic messages. For example, he claimed
to have prophesied concerning infidelity of a husband in the presence of the
wife. The husband denied it leading to a report to the police by the husband that
he (Opoku Nsiah) had accused him falsely and wanted to collapse his marriage.
Many of these incidents took place when he was a lay preacher of the Assemblies
of God (AG), Wamsambre in Asante region between 1979 and 1987.
He was later excommunicated from the AG. Notwithstanding, in the 1990s, Rev. Dr Nicholas
Npuni, then General Secretary of the AG, decided to run a system similar to that of
the Church of Pentecost (CoP). In the CoP, there are institutional prophets who were
recognised by the church, and grassroots prophets (who were mainly at prayer camps
of the CoP) yet to be recognised.42 This system would allow Rev. Dr Npuni to engage
Prophet Opoku Nsiah’s services as a prophet for members of the AG who needed the
services of a prophet. Rev. Dr Npuni’s novelty was misunderstood and he was also
excommunicated from the AG in 1991.
Prophet Opoku Nsiah got married to Elizabeth Opoku Nsiah on 26 October 1991.
In 1992, he started his own ministry, Christian Redemption Celebration Fellowship
in Tema Community 8. It was a fellowship for Christians of all denominations
who needed the services of a prophet. Its membership grew to 2800 by 1993.
It is significant to reiterate that a majority of the members of Neo-prophetic fellowships
were largely drawn mainly from Historic Mission Churches such as the Roman
Catholic Church, Presbyterian Church of Ghana, the Methodist Church Ghana,
Evangelical Presbyterian Church, who go shopping for miracles and prophecies.44
Some of them leave their churches after receiving a solution to their needs or in case
of a prolonged solution to their needs or failed expectations.
According to Prophet Opoku Nsiah, God spoke to him in 1994 to hand over the leadership of the fellowship to the care of Prophet Del Klomega, one of the associate prophets and to prepare for
ministry work in Koforidua in the Eastern region.
Due to lack of funding and inadequate finances to start the fellowship, he took
loans from close associates to start the fellowship, with the hope to take offerings
from members to pay off the loans. However, his expectation did not materialise,
resulting in subsequent reports to and arrest by the Police.45 In order to take tithes
and other levies to pay off the loans and mobilise money to finance the activities of
the ministry, he changed the name to Christian Redemption International Ministry
(CRIM) in 1994. He moved to Koforidua in 2004 and started CRIM’s headquarters,
which now has branches in Accra, Tema, and other parts of Ghana.
Agabus Prophetic School (training school for would-be prophets)
According to Prophet Opoku Nsiah, God spoke to him concerning the training of
prophets for ministry.
Hence, in 1999, he began Agabus Prophetic School to train persons who felt called by God to be a prophet. Academic qualifications were not necessarily a requirement. Training would be by mentorship. Trainees were expected to come and pray very often at the prayer camp located on the same premises of the church in Koforidua.
Mentorship training means to understudy a senior prophet with the desire and
hope to be impacted by the charismatic gifts of the mentor.
In Agabus Prophetic School, there was no fixed duration and no fee was charged.
Mentees serve the mentor and his or her ministry during training instead of paying fees. Upon completion and graduation, many mentees were expected to function just like the mentor.
Hence it perpetuated the ministry philosophy and aspirations of the mentor, thereby
subjecting ministry aspirations of mentees. R. Bogere holds that mentorship is the
main form of training into ministry in both the Old and New Testaments.46 Therefore,
Prophet Opoku Nsiah was deemed to be implementing biblical concepts of training.
However, in this form of training, priority is given to the anointing of the Holy Spirit
(spirituality) over academic (intellectualism), thereby creating tension and polarity
of “academic versus spiritual, and practical versus theoretical.”47 We can argue that
in view of globalisation, the challenge that other religions pose to Christianity and
the desire for religion to provide answers to existential needs of adherents, there
is a need for the anointing and academic to play a complementary role rather than
In 2014, Prophet Opoku Nsiah realised that basic schools in the community (in
which the Church was situated in Koforidua) were inadequate; pupils would have
to walk long distances to school. As a social service, he expanded and converted
the structures used by Agabus Prophetic School into Lizben Educational Complex,
a basic school for the community where fees charged were lower than other private
basic schools. A new site was being sought for the building of prayer camp which
would also serve as venue for Agabus Prophetic School. The term “Lizben” was the
amalgamation of his wife’s name, Elizabeth and his name Bernard. Although his
wife had a Bachelor’s degree in educational psychology, it also showed the active
involvement by the spouses of General Overseers in ministry.
PROPHET BERNARD OPOKU NSIAH AND CONTEMPORARY PROPHETIC MINISTRY
Prophet Opoku Nsiah was worried concerning reports in the media about the moral
lives and ritual practices of some contemporary prophets. Contemporary prophets
refer to the sixth phase of prophetism in Ghana’s Christianity, as discussed above.
According to Nsiah, Christian prophetism is fuelled by prayer, passion for Christ, and
morality. Since the beginning of the year 2000, many prophets who emerged have
replaced these cherished virtues with greediness and therefore “we are in prophetic
apostasy”.48 Prophet Opoku Nsiah has trained many prophets, and in that regard he
is commonly referred to as a senior prophet or prophetic Papa. His plan for the future
of prophetic ministry in Ghana is to have a large prayer camp that can house about
one thousand students for Agabus Prophetic School in order to correct the wrongs in
prophetic ministry and minister to the needs of members.
PRESENTATION OF FINDINGS
The discussion of the research findings shows that:
●● Many of the leaders of prophetic ministries in Ghana’s Christianity were
not theologically trained concerning biblical interpretation. Hence, their
interpretation of scripture does not follow any scientific and philosophical
system or ideology.
●● The history shows that scripture interpretation in prophetic ministries was a kind
of re-enactment of favourite scripture text(s) that consider the context of the
prophet and the audience in the interpretive process, directed at re-enacting the
power in scripture to solve problems.
●● Their system of hermeneutics is to find support for their ministry practices in
the Bible. In other words, they try to find proof and authentication for their
presuppositions to be referred to as Bible-believing and practising Christians. It
is presumed that the Bible was written with the 21st century Ghanaian prophetic
Christian in mind.
●● It has the advantage of referring to the Bible as a living document for
contemporary audiences and times.
Theological education and biblical interpretation by prophetic
Theological education is considered by some prophets as anti-spiritual. As a strand of
Pentecostal Christianity, K. Warrington observes that Pentecostals are not concerned
with creeds or theological and doctrinal formulations. They are driven by the sheer
desire to be biblical; that is, trying to conform to what is recorded on the pages
of the Bible, hence the early theological institutions or seminaries of Pentecostals
were called Bible Schools.49 This indicates that one’s experiences are an influential
element in biblical hermeneutics. In other words, the need of the moment is central
to how one interprets the Bible.
The Bible is available for use by theologically trained persons and the ordinary
Christian and non-Christian reader. However, J. S. Pobee and J. N. K. Kudadjie
state the purpose of theological education as to: “…conscientize, mobilise and
motivate the people at the grass-roots level for social change, and to work with them
in identifying their needs, setting their own priorities and standards and recognising
the resources that are available to them for use in development.”50 The assertion
places the motivation for theological education for prophets at the door step of
theological institutions and trained theologians.
Theological institutions ought to
develop curricula that cater for both the academic and spiritual needs of prophets.
There should be courses geared at fostering close relationships between the students
and the Holy Spirit, and the cessationist approach of many accredited theological
institutions in Ghana needs to be softened.
This has fuelled a popular notion
among many prophets that formal theological education does not support spiritual
formation. In that regard, they prefer to go to Christian sacred places like mountains
and prayer camps, praying for long periods, or being mentored by a senior prophet in
order to receive the anointing of the Spirit to begin ministry. The mentorship training
emphasises mimicking characters in the Bible, just as Elisha’s desire to receive a
double portion of Elijah’s anointing, and not any other prophet to be his mentor.
Since many of the prophets were not theologically trained, they were not able to
handle the exegetical component of the hermeneutical process.
Hence, they practise a kind of hermeneutics of re-enacting biblical text(s) without recourse to what it
meant to the “original” audience. Phase 3 of prophetism in Ghana’s Christianity
attempted to exegete text(s) before contextualisation and appropriation; nonetheless,
they were too lexical – such that the context of the text(s) was ignored. Phase 5 also
attempted to do exegesis in order to locate the texts in their context, but they picked
parallel text(s) from different contexts to exegete the text(s).
In other words, the texts were exegeted not in their own context. All these indicate the willingness of prophets
to interpret the Bible and make it relevant to their audiences. The biblical document
is an uncompleted story until it is contextualised and appropriated by people in a
particular context.51 Interpreting Joshua 6, the audiences were made to believe that
God is able to speak to the prophet to undertake an act that will manifest the power of
Just as Joshua asked the priests to go round the walls of Jericho while blowing
rams’ horns, which led to the collapse of the wall and victory for the Israelites, the
story is re-enacted by asking the audience to go around their individual plastic chairs
in the Church amidst shouting to pull down barriers and problems.
AGABUS AND OPOKU NSIAH
Prophet Opoku Nsiah’s asserted that: “I minister with signs, symbols, tokens, types,
colours just like Agabus”52 (in Acts 11:28; 21:10), which is an attempt to be biblical
in outlook. Prophet Opoku Nsiah’s allusion to the ministry of Agabus is not in
minute details of prophecies. Although he often gives minute details, his interest
is in fulfilment of prophecies issued and to be in agreement with prophetism in the
New Testament. Therefore, the establishment of the Agabus Prophetic School is to
re-enact the Agabus events in the book of Acts and to raise prophets just like Agabus
in the Ghanaian context. This would eventually culminate into Agabus’ prophetic
tradition in Ghana.
In this paper, I attempted to discuss the history of prophetism in Ghana’s Christianity,
beginning from 1914 to 2016. The purpose is to identify the hermeneutical principle
used in each phase. It was realised that all six phases of prophetism in Ghana’s
Christianity employed a kind of “re-enactment hermeneutics” without exegesis of
the text in its socio-historical context. It was directed at re-activation of an implicit
power in the text(s) to solve existential needs and give prophetic directions into the
future. This type of hermeneutics influenced the assertion of Prophet Opoku Nsiah to
argue that his ministry is a replica of Agabus, because they both minister using signs,
symbols, and tokens, among others.
Although many prophets were not theologically trained, the neglect of exegesis
is due to its passive nature. Prophets would like to interpret the Bible to have effect
on the present and the future. Notwithstanding, I propose that the hermeneutics of
re-enacting biblical text(s) and concepts to solve existential needs and to have a
futuristic/prophetic/predictive effect, must consist of exegesis, contextualisation, and
appropriation. The exegesis must bring out the religio-cultural settings of the text(s),
and the literary type used. The contextualisation must show and relate the text(s) to
the Ghanaian religio-cultural settings; and this appropriation will lead prophetic acts
or rituals to solve existential problems and give direction into the future. This will
better consolidate the faith of the members in the knowledge of scripture and in the
anointing of the prophet.