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13 February 2017

Congregation surprises pastor with big birthday party, photo mag and $4,000 cheque

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When associates of Reverend Kennedy Bentum of the Lapaz Branch of the Gospel Ambassadors Ministries told him they would give him a treat on his 50th birthday, he only possibly thought of a big cake decorated with super sweet icing.

But it seems the congregation had other thoughts, a rollout of which would send tears down his cheeks.

Reverend Bentum, a lecturer at the University of Ghana, came to church donning neatly-sewn overall – and rightly so – because it was a big day for him.

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The church started normally with scintillating songs from the fully-robbed choir, the faces of members beaming with broad smiles.

The lilting tone of the voice of the lead singer echoed through the three-storey auditorium while the elated congregation clapped and sang along.

The man of God who’s also a principal biomedical scientist at the MDS-Lancet Laboratories at East Legon has been leading the branch for almost 18 years, growing his membership from six – mostly his family and a few other members – to 500.

On any normal Sunday, he’s perhaps the most active person in the church, preaching the word of God with passion and urging his members to win souls for Christ.

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But on Sunday 5th February, Rev Bentum sat quietly in his chair, his wife seated next to him. The planners of his birthday party had decided that he would be off every activity in a church that day. They invited the pastor of the Winneba branch of the ministry to preach the day’s message.

The real revelry happened after the word ministration when, one by one, activities in the three-page programme lineup were rolled out.

First was the launch of a gold-themed photo magazine featuring some of his most memorable photos, from his wedding to his 30th wedding anniversary. A whole big box full of the magazines was quickly bought by the congregation to cover the cost of printing.

Also in the photo magazine were messages from friends and well-wishers as well as his children. One after the other, the people whose messages were featured in the magazine were called to read them.

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The tearing pastor bowed his head as Ewurabena Bentum, one of his daughters now pursuing her Ph.D. at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology read her message.

“You taught me that whenever I give, I should give as unto the Lord without expecting my reward from man. Some people say you pamper me but I call it genuine love,” she read.

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There were also message from the church and the general overseer of the Gospel Ambassadors Ministry, Reverend Ebenezer Yamoah Ghansah.

After a cake-cutting and champagne popping splurge, it was time to crown the event with a prayer.

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Organizers of the event then presented a cheque for 16,000 Ghana cedis (equivalent to $4,000) to “buy anything” he wanted.

Tough, loving man

Apart from being a full-time pastor, Reverend Bentum is a university lecturer and biomedical scientist with MDS-Lancet Laboratories, one of the biggest laboratories in the country.

For many of the congregants of the Gospel Ambassadors Church, Reverend Bentum is a tough but loving man.

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“You have been a source of hope for me,” one of the messages in the magazine said

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His church, cited at the heart of Lapaz, grew from a little over 100 to 300 over two years after leading his congregation to embark on an aggressive evangelism in the area.

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Today, the church with a membership of 500 records an average attendance of close to 400 every Sunday.

“There are many people perishing out there and we need to reach them with the word,” he often tells his church.

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