Feel the Physical manifestation of the Holy Spirit in the form of a “pillar of fire” at Asamankese in 1923, the great gathering on 20th May, 2023 and why you should visit Asamankese this year!
Be a Pilgrim!
Focus on your life, see God and your community differently, and so much more. From ancient times till now, people of diverse faith continuously desire to maintain spiritual and intimate relationship with the Supreme God-YHWH. One of the ways by which people forge, maintain and renew this spiritual connection is through pilgrimages. A pilgrimage is a trip made to a holy place for religious reasons. A Christian pilgrimage is a journey to a significant place with the intention of encountering God in Christ.
To embark on a pilgrimage is not merely to visit a place to admire nature’s beauty, art or history. To make time for a pilgrimage experience really means to step out of yourself in order to have a concrete encounter with God in places where He has visited and revealed himself, where His grace and mercy have shone with particular splendour, bringing a transformational experience and bearing fruits of conversion and holiness among those who believe. Christians go on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, to other places associated with the Lord Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit, His death and resurrection. Pilgrims go to many other places where God visited in both solemn and dramatic ways to establish His name and covenant with mankind.
In the Bible, Jesus Christ and His parents went on a pilgrimage every year when he was a boy. (Luke 2:41-42.). There was a man called Elkanah who lived in Ramah, but went on an annual pilgrimage to Shiloh to offer sacrifices to the Lord with his two wives; Peninnah and Hannah. It was at this place that “pilgrim Hannah” (1 Samuel 1:9-28) made a vow and covenanted with God for a child, and she got more than she asked for. She had five (5) more children apart from Samuel. Great testimonies born by pilgrims in the past and present times, is an assurance of your own testimony this year as you choose to become a pilgrim at Asamankese.
There You Shall Go …
God is a Spirit and is not limited by time, space and matter, He is omnipresent. (Psalm 139:7-12, Jeremiah 23:24) The prefix omni- originates in Latin and means “all”. So, to say that God is omnipresent is to say that God is present everywhere at all times with no exceptions. There is no place you can be that God is not present. The attribute of God as omnipresent means he is both transcendent and immanent. He lives in time and beyond time and occupies every atom in nature.
God is omnipresent but humans are not, as humans, we are bound by time, space and matter. Thus, though God is everywhere humans cannot easily locate His presence unless He reveals Himself to us. “Those who seek Him find Him” (Matt. 7:7). God chooses to show His presence to mankind in diverse ways. He may reveal Himself in one form or another at different situations. God in Christ chose to step into time at a place in order to mingle with mankind. We as a people encounter the Presence of God at a place, where He chooses to establish His name in time. “But you shall seek the place where the LORD your God chooses, out of all your tribes, to put His name for His dwelling place; and there you shall go”. (Deuteronomy 12:5). For instance, God asked Moses to come up to Him at the Mt. Sinai where Moses had an encounter with the LORD. (Ex. 24:1-18). Certainly, there are place(s) that we go because the name of God is honoured in those places and His presence is evident in these places in concrete ways through the signs and wonders He performs. It is good to be in the company of other saints in a gathering at one place in time to encounter God’s presence and power together, in these meetings we all practically become a living tabernacle of our God-Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There are many places and spaces around the world where God at a particular point in time chooses to make His light shine and loves to spark a transformational relationship with mankind. We speak of a particular place in the then Gold Coast now Ghana known as Asamankese where God chose to show Himself in a spectacular manner as we will soon discuss in this paper.
God Chose Ghana (Gold Coast) And Asamankese
Hundred years ago, there was a dramatic experience at Asamankese similar to the Pentecost experience which the apostles of Jesus encountered at Jerusalem. God poured out His Holy Spirit and manifested physically in the form of a “pillar of fire” on top of the church building where a group of people had gathered to pray during a revival programme. In his book titled “Pentecostalism: The Eddies of Ghanaian Christianity;(pg100), Emmanuel K. Larbi noted that, more people were added to Peter Anim’s group after the incident which happened on 20th May 1923.Their faith was sharpened and many miracles took place in those days. The church is the Christ Apostolic Church International, and as the founder, Apostle Peter Kwaku Manasseh Anim was the leader of the prayer group since its inception in 1917. God chose Asamankese to demonstrate His great power and grace for a reason, and you are part of that reason as a Ghanaian and an African. On 20th May 2023, there will be a great gathering at Asamankese to launch the 100th year celebration of this great visitation and awakening.
A little background information may help to appreciate this great day very well. As mentioned, a Biblical example of this experience is what happened in Jerusalem in 33 AD, when the promise of God was fulfilled, the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles as tongues of fire as recorded in the book of Acts 2:1-3. This great visitation also occurred in the United States of America at a place called, Azuza. The Azusa Street Revival beginning in the spring of 1906, largely spawned the worldwide Pentecostal movement. It was led by William J. Seymour, an African-American preacher in Los Angeles, California. The revival began on April 9, 1906, and continued until roughly 1915.
Three places among others that this great awakening of mankind by the visitation of the Almighty God has happened in the history of the world include; Jerusalem in 33AD, California in 1906 and Asamankese in 1923. In Africa it’s happened only in Ghana. There is God and He can be trusted to faithfully engage mankind by stepping into time in whatever form and place He chooses.
The Asamankese Experience: The Seal of Ghanaian Pentecostalism
The Asamankese experience is simply the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in all forms upon those who believed which culminated in the physical manifestation of fire from heaven at Asamankese on May 20th,1923. The Holy Spirit is the seal of salvation for all believers. (Ephesians 4:30) God’s approval and empowerment are demonstrated by the presence and anointing of the Holy Spirit, the apostles waited for the Spirit as a seal and an approval to begin their ministry. Without the Holy Spirit, God is not present, His presence and power is carried and released by His Spirit.
God’s promise in Joel (Joel 2:28-29) was fulfilled in Jerusalem, in Azuza, also in Asamankese and continues to be fulfilled in us as a sign of God’s approval, the seal of the Holy spirit like flames of fire. The “Trinity” of Ghanaian Pentecostal churches -The Christ Apostolic Church International (CAC), The Church of Pentecost (COP) and the Apostolic church-Ghana which have formed the bedrock out of which other charismatic churches in Ghana have emerged, all begun from the “Asamankese Experience”; an initiative of God through his servant Apostle Peter Newman Anim. From small beginnings bewildered with great weaknesses of diseases, poverty etc., men and women of a small prayer group led by Peter Anim to the great visitation of the Almighty God with fire from heaven to assuage vulnerabilities into power and dominion with God’s total salvation for both soul and body. Professor Asamoah-Gyadu had this to say in his book titled African Charismatics: Current Developments Within Independent Indigenous Pentecostalism in Ghana: Western Mission-Related Pentecostal Denominations, (pg. 23)-The Church of Pentecost (COP) is one out of three ‘Apostolic’ churches (talking about CAC, COP and APOSTOLIC CURCH-GHANA) to emerge from the initiative of Apostle Peter N. Anim (1890–1984) and his subsequent collaboration with the British Apostolic missionaries James and Sophia McKeown.
Asamankese is a place where God chose to reveal His grace to Ghanaians and Africa like never before. No fairy tales and no drama, God being God by concretely and vividly revealing Himself to mankind to shut the voice of unbelief, skepticism and Satan. God has chosen to place His name there, and we must go there at least once in a life time to worship. All believers in Ghana and Africa should not take this for granted. God chose an indigenous Ghanaian man, an African to light the flames of Christian spirituality in Ghana, Africa and other parts of the world, especially with the advent of the British Apostolic missionaries James and Sophia McKeown to the Gold coast in 1937. God has visited us and left us with trails to follow so we could find Him in all the events that unfolded and that which continues to unfold in the life of the people who have believed and the churches connected to this great awakening and revival; The Christ Apostolic Church International, the church of Pentecost, the Apostolic church Ghana and all the charismatic churches that have sprung out of these Pentecostal churches. God is still working and writing His-Story. A simple pilgrimage to Asamankese will earn you a spot in this God story. Tap into the revival and rally behind the fire to experience this great grace for the next level.
The Same God, Different Cultures and A Distinct People
God responds to us with His love and grace (Roman 5:8), He descends into our cultures to solve our common and particular problems when we call, thus he comes to us just as we are, wherever we are and however he chooses to come. God does not come based on another man’s standard, problem or prescription. God has shown His unconditional love to many people of different cultures and nations. Pentecostal stirrings across the world follow the same pattern, from Jerusalem to Azuza to Asamankese and to many other places without having to think that one is the export or spillover of the other. In Ghana, the Pentecostal move that was sealed on May 20th ,1923 by the physical manifestation of the fire of the Holy Spirit at Asamankese is without the direct influence of any foreign mission. God used the local men and women to start a global revival and ministry.
Taking the intercultural perspective of viewing Pentecostal history as advocated by Walter J. Hollenweger and sanctioned by Asamoah-Gyadu, “the intercultural view of Pentecostal history rejects conventional interpretations that consider what happened in the course of Western Christendom as universally normative for Christian history”. God’s work in any part of the world is not the duplicate of another. God’s work and revival in any culture or nation carries in itself a distinct purpose that is fit to bring the kind of salvation the people have been crying for. Interculturality values diversity. Asamoah-Gyadu agrees that “An intercultural theology, therefore, aims at a ‘body of Christ’ in which individual organs remain committed to their function whilst contributing to the whole without any assuming a sense of superiority over the others”. The great awakening and revival that took place at Asamankese that culminated in the physical manifestation of the Holy Spirit as a pillar of fire had not been because of what happened in Jerusalem or Azuza, we should simply understand that God chose to reveal himself at Asamankese to accomplish his own purpose in the lives of his people. What happened at Asamankese is God’s direct visitation to mankind without the interference or help of any western group. This is authentic. It is the responsibility of the current generation to keep the fire burning always. The fire is our heritage, it must be kept generation after generation, not for only Pentecostals but for everyone who believes. Ghana, Africa and the rest of the world is forever blessed in Asamankese, halleluiah!!! As we celebrate the 100 years of this great awakening and blessing, be a blessing by visiting Asamankese this year.
“Before” And “After” The Physical Manifestation of The Holy Spirit as A “Pillar of Fire” At Asamankese.
The apex of the Pentecostal movement in Ghana without doubt is the “Pentecost Phenomenon” which happened on 20th May 1923. Even though Anim’s prayer group had received testimonies of healing and many other miracles, God’s visitation in this dramatic way of fire falling from heaven and ‘standing’ on top of the church building cannot be compared to any testimony. It’s a sign of God’s eternal approval, true revival and awakening in Ghana and Africa.
According to Asamoah-Gyadu, in his book titled “African Charismatics: Current Developments within Independent Indigenous Pentecostalism in Ghana, Studies of Religion in Africa, Volume: 27”, in 1917 Apostle Anim started a local prayer group at Asamankese in the Eastern Region of Ghana, triggering off a ‘revivalist type campaign’ throughout that region. Anim lost his wife in 1920 and in 1921 Anim was healed of his chronic stomach and guinea worm disease through prayer without the use of any medicine and prophylactic substances. This personal testimony formed part of Anim’s theology. It was quite evident that Anim and his group were bent on experiencing the power of God and thus worked very hard in that direction. According to E.K. Larbi, in 1922, October 15th, a revival service was held in the house of Elder Kwabena Asare and several converts were won. Professor Larbi continues to say that “the healing and evangelistic activities of Anim attracted the then traditional chief of Asamankese, Nana Kwaku Amoah. In consequence, he offered them a parcel of land upon which they constructed their first church building”.
From 1917 to 1923 when the first church building was built, Apostle Anim had gone through a lot of phases with his prayer group including finally leaving the Presbyterian church and moving from Boso to Asamankese. It was on top of this first church building that the fire fell from heaven on 20th May, 1923. Before the fire came in 1923, fasting, prayer, evangelism, healing and many struggles characterized Anim’s group, including changing the names of the prayer group and affiliations. see Anim, Peter Newman - Dictionary of African Christian Biography (dacb.org)
E.K. Larbi accounts in his book titled “Pentecostalism: The eddies of Ghanian Christianity, (pg. 100)” that; “Another event which seemed to have increased the faith of Anim and also added more people to the group took place in May 1923 during a revival meeting. After the closing of service, it was reported that several Christians and non-Christians saw what was believed to be the Glory of God in the form of a pillar of fire on top of the church building”.
After the ‘fire’ came, they were endued with power. Great faith means greater works. Anim’s group continued growing and expanding beyond the borders of Asamankese and the Eastern region. Even at this point Anim begun to seek and contend for a deeper faith and greater spiritual power. He fed on the Apostolic faith teachings and even more on the Holy Spirit. In 1928, Anim faced serious opposition at the hands of pagan and religious persecutors but this did not impair the progress of his movement.
In 1932 a major event happened that changed the landscape of Christianity in Ghana, a member of Anim’s movement called Stephen Owiredu experienced the phenomenon of Spirit baptism. Owiredu went into the bush at Brekumanso to pray for one of his twin babies who was also left to die. It was during this intense prayer encounter that he experienced what Pentecostals call the baptism of the Holy Spirit; Glossolalic phenomenon (speaking in tongues), the place which Prophet Stephen Owiredu went to pray is now a huge prayer camp built by the Christ Apostolic Church International (C.A.C INT.) called KWAO YEBOAH. The spot where he prayed is still preserved, and his twin daughter Maame Ataa is still alive. Most of the history of the Asamankese Experience has been preserved and passed on by her through oral means.
After most of the dramatic spiritual experiences of this great awakening had happened without the influence of any foreign missionary, and after the foundation has been laid for the Ghanaian classical Pentecostal move, God then opened the doorway for the great Pentecostal move to spread in Ghana and to other parts of the world in later years by way of bringing foreign missionaries to work with Apostle Anim. From 1932 to 1937, God opened up international affiliations to Apostle Anim as he got in touch with his contemporaries in Nigeria and also in UK. From Asamankese he connected with the Nigerians and later through the Nigerians connected with the Apostolic missionaries in the UK. The first missionary to visit Asamankese from the UK Apostolic church was Pastor George Perfect in 1935. Pastor George Perfect spent two weeks in Asamankese. It was this visit from Pastor George Perfect that made Anim’s movement affiliate with the UK Apostolic church. By the time Pastor George Perfect was leaving Asamankese, he made such a great impression on the group with the spiritual gifts he possessed. Because of this great impression he had on the group, Apostle Anim and his group became affiliated with the Apostolic church, Bradford in 1935, and adopted the name. In October 1936, Pastor Vivian Wellings, Missionary secretary of the Apostolic Church visited Asamankese from Britain. It was during the departure of Pastor Wellings that he promised to recommend the Anim’s group (which had then adopted the name -Apostolic church) to the authorities in Bradford, with the view of sending a missionary who would stay and help the Lord’s work in Ghana at Asamankese.
The Coming of Apostle James McKeown
The coming of Apostle James McKeown was heralded by the coming of Pastor Perfect and Pastor Wellings in 1935 and 1936 respectively, through the recommendation they made to the authorities of the UK Apostolic church, because at that time, what Apostle Anim started in 1917 as a prayer group at Asamankese had evolved to become the “Apostolic church” ( Unity Prayer Group/ Faith Tabernacle Church—— 1917–1926, First Century Gospel Church—- 1926-1929, Apostolic Faith —— 1930, The Apostolic Church—-1935, The Christ Apostolic Church —-1939, Christ Apostolic Church of Ghana——- 1960, The Christ Apostolic Church International ——1994.) which was affiliated to the UK Apostolic church. What we should note here is that the group had gone through phases of changing affiliations, and certainly the UK Apostolic affiliation could not be the last until God had finished the work He intended to do with His church.
When Apostle James McKeown came to Ghana as a missionary to the Gold Coast in 1937, the ‘Pentecost phenomenon’ (Physical manifestation of the Holy Spirit as a ‘pillar fire’ on top of the church building) had already occurred at Asamankese, so he saw evidence of Pentecost in Ghana. It may not be an error to think that he called his church; The ‘church of Pentecost’ because of the evidence of Pentecost experience he saw in Ghana at Asamankese. According to Professor Emmanuel K. Larbi in his book “Pentecostalism: The Eddies of Ghanaian Christianity, pg.108)”; “Apostle Anim ended its affiliation with the Apostolic church UK in June 1939”, two years after they sent a missionary to Ghana.
A Pilgrimage to Asamankese-Why You Need to Go and Places to See
Asamankese is a town in southern Ghana, and it is the capital of West Akim Municipal District, in the Eastern Region of Ghana. Asamankese has a settlement population of approximately 39,435 people. Asamankese is on the main highway to Kumasi and Accra in the interior. It is in this place that God chose to reveal Himself which has resulted in bringing great salvation to the people of then Gold Coast and Ghana in recent times. It is a place God has chosen to put His name for the people who believe. This is a Holy Place where God’s name is honoured and you can go and fellowship there too. Out of this place three of the most vibrant and respected Pentecostal churches in Ghana have emerged. The fire is literally still burning on that hill…every spiritual eye can behold its spot and glory. Go, see it and set yourself aflame for God in this End Time Revival. Rally behind the fire that set off the great move of the Ghanaian Pentecostalism. God’s story is still being written, His great salvation is still in progress, it’s our time in this generation to write our own story too. Asamankese is a good place to stop by especially this year as we celebrate the 100 years of Pentecost in Ghana; A physical manifestation of God’s fire at Asamankese.
A pilgrimage to Asamankese will take you to the Holy Ghost temple, a 100 years old church building that the Holy Ghost fire ‘stood’ upon. The last time I was there, the Prophets who took us round the place testified that after 100 years, that building still remains very strong and not much has been changed in the building.
You may also visit the power house, the building that served as the mission house for both Apostle Anim and Apostle McKeown. Many people have testified how going inside the building and praying to God saw their requests being granted of jobs, healing, the opportunity to travel, business contracts and, many more. Sometimes just by touching the building according to their faith resulted in healings. At Kwao Yeboah prayer camp, you will meet the only surviving daughter of Prophet Stephen Owiredu. Maame Ataa is the twin who died and came back to life when her father, Prophet Stephen Owiredu vowed to take his own life if his daughter also died. Such a blessed heritage in the Lord. Her life is full of God’s grace, brethren you need to encounter this woman of God.
At Kwao Yeboah there is a spot where Prophet Stephen Owiredu received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the first man in Ghana to speak in tongues. There is so much power and God’s presence in this place. Kindly visit Asamankese this year to see Kwao Yeboah prayer camp, your life shall not be the same.
The Beauty of a Pilgrimage
There are a lot of powerful reasons to go on a pilgrimage. But what happens when you return home? How will you be changed? In other words, what are the benefits a person derives from going on a pilgrimage?
Among many others, here are a few benefits you may gain from a pilgrimage at Asamankese…
1. You shall see God and Scripture Differently
It’s impossible to see the town where God revealed himself and touched people for over 100 years, and remain the same. Every place reveals something different. When you walk into the church building, you’ll come to know better the God who is within you, who speaks to you as you pray, walk in the same places that Apostle Anim, Apostle McKeown, Prophet Owiredu and others walked, and reflect. These experiences will sear themselves on your mind, heart, and spirit, and will be with you as you go through this pilgrimage of life.
2. You shall Return with Renewed Focus
Travelers have long known first-hand the ability of places far away to take you out of your everyday life and return home with a new perspective. The beauty of travel is to explore the world and whilst you are in a new location, distance from what is familiar often reveals new light on your life. Pilgrimages are not just about enjoying the treasures of nature; it adds another layer to the travel — a spiritual focus. Pilgrimage provides the setting, experiences, and insights so that real spiritual change is possible. Last year when we came back from our pilgrimage to Asamankese, a sister in the church testified of the great spiritual awakening in her life. She has not remained the same. This could be your story and even more. Many pilgrims come back reporting a call to start something new, repair a broken relationship, invest more in their spiritual life, and so many other things. What will a pilgrimage do for you this year?
3. You’ll Never be the Same
Everyone’s pilgrimage experience is very different. The truth is that, in ways big or small, you’ll remember the experience for the rest of your life. For some, they weren’t sure about such a spiritual journey in the first place, but it opened their eyes to the benefits of going on a pilgrimage. For others, they were searching for a deeper spiritual experience and the pilgrimage was, in fact, that catalyst. But wherever you fall on the spectrum, we promise you, you’ll be different when you step off the bus back home. Have you thought of entering the bedroom of Apostle Anim and Apostle McKeown? to sit in the same hall they sat? walk the same pathways they walked? A miracle is waiting for you this year at Asamankese.
4.Discover the places God has revealed himself in a unique way.
Perhaps the most immediate reason to go on a pilgrimage is to experience firsthand the literal places that God has impacted in time and space. You have heard the stories, Go and see the place…
5. Seek transformation in your faith.
The journey of faith is filled with ups and downs, seasons of high spiritual energy, and periods where it seems like nothing is happening. No matter the of your faith journey, a pilgrimage to Asamankese is an opportunity to experience transformation. A pilgrimage might open up new questions, inspire a new way of thinking, or cause some serious soul searching, but whatever happens, you won’t remain the same. Take a leap of faith and visit Asamankese this year!
The Impact of The Asamankese Experience on Christianity Today.
Pentecostalism at the moment represents the most cogent, powerful and visible evidence of religious renewal and influence in Ghana. In his book, “African Charismatics: Current Developments within Independent Indigenous Pentecostalism in Ghana, Studies of Religion in Africa, Volume: 27, pg.14”, Asamoah-Gyadu noted, “even the new lease of life being experienced by some of the older churches in Ghana is explicable in terms of their, albeit recent, tolerant and open attitude towards Pentecostal phenomena and renewal movements in their midst.” The emergence of Pentecostal churches in Ghana has without doubt changed the religious landscape in the country. The expedient use of media and technology in its evangelistic, missionary activities and church services has given them great public space.
The Asamankese Experience brought a new hope, a belief that a true and realistic experience with the Holy Spirit is possible even as Africans if we search in truth with all our hearts. Today believers have this assurance that if God did it at Asamankese in times past, then he can as well do it in our time. The Asamankese Experience unveiled a new style of worship that continues to influence Christianity today. Christian liturgies that followed a strict set of rules was revived to allow a personal and distinct experience with the Holy Spirit. It is important to note that most indigenous Christian songs that are common in Ghana today which have helped shaped the faith of many in Ghana and beyond have come through Pentecostals. These songs have found their way even into the mission churches during times of praises and adoration. Pentecostals have been able to penetrate the religion of indigenous people and their culture because Pentecostalism shares the basic African ontology of good and bad spirits, and embraces supernatural beings i.e., God, Jesus, demons, that can have a direct influence in the world. In this way Pentecostalism becomes a lot more meaningful and powerful to Africans than earlier forms of Christianity. And in this spiritual power, we find an astonishing ability to bring about change and transformation – often in the direction of what we usually call ‘development’. A lot more people (souls) have been won and many churches have been planted in Ghana and other parts of the world.
The Holy Spirit outpouring in 1932 which ushered in the Glossolalic phenomenon (tongue speaking) by an indigenous person among the Pentecostals during the Asamankese Experience continues to shape the prayer life of believers today. Many young believers do desire to speak in tongues. Selfless giving of members for building Gods kingdom as a demonstration of our devotion and sacrifice to God was dominant in the days of the Asamankese Experience, most members, chiefs and philanthropist gave to support the work of God. Today many believers are motivated to give in support of kingdom work looking at the great example of the Anim’s group.
The Impact of the Asamankese Experience is readily seen in the operations of the various Pentecostal and charismatic churches that sprung out of the Asamankese Experience. The C.A.C. INT., The C.O.P. and the APOSTOLIC CHURCH-GHANA continue to greatly influence Christianity in Ghana and beyond the borders of Ghana. The 2021 population and housing census in Ghana revealed that Pentecostal/Charismatic Christians were the largest religious group in Ghana, reaching a share of 31.6 percent. This translated into over 9.7 million of the country's population, an increase compared to the 2010 census year.
Shadrack Kwabena Yeboah, MDiv.
The writer is the Head Pastor, C.A.C.INT. Fwc Adenta, Accra-Ghana.
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