Many people growing up in the 1960s in Ghana would have known Isaac Ababio, a popular evangelist of the time, and the massive evangelistic choir that supported his open-air crusades and radio broadcasts with the signature tune of the song “Showers of Blessings.”
Birth and Early Life
Isaac Ababio was born on April 26, 1940 to Abena Nipaa from Kwahu Nkwatia and Kwaku Abaah of Peki-Blengo. He was the last born of Abena Nipaa’s seven children. His mother died when he was two years old and his father when he was sixteen. He hardly knew his father who moved away when Isaac was seven years old. He never saw him again until news of his death reached him at age sixteen. Isaac was brought up by his sisters and uncles in Kwahu Nkwatia, where he grew up. An Ewe and Akan by birth, he grew up speaking Akan and English.
Education and Conversion
Isaac was educated in Presbyterian primary and middle schools where he had exposure to the Scriptures and to Scripture memorization. Later he did his secondary education at Accra Academy, a premier boys’ secondary school in Accra, beginning in 1956.
During the Thanksgiving Service of the Silver Jubilee celebrations, he was convicted by a scripture passage read from Ecclesiastes 11. He gave his life to Christ not long after that and experienced a dramatic transformation in his life, to the amazement of his friends. He fed voraciously on the Scriptures and lived in full surrender to God.
In 1960, he gained admission into Kumasi College of Technology, now Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), where he studied physics. He became part of the Christian Fellowship on campus. Before long he had read through the Bible many times, and was reading Christian books and listening to messages from the likes of Dr. Billy Graham on the Hour of Decision, Dr. Howard O. Jones on the Hour of Revival, and Dr. Stephen Olford on Calvary Hour, as well as other Christian radio programs.
Evangelistic Work at Home and Abroad
He joined outreach teams and went on evangelism trips to nearby towns and villages. He introduced Bible Study in the daily programs of the Government Voluntary Work Camps, the first of which was the Agbozume Work Camp in the Volta Region. His passion for the salvation of souls, for all to be saved and live victorious lives in Christ Jesus, led to him serving on evangelistic teams during summer vacations during his university years.
He was both a participant in and a leader of what was known as the All for Christ Campaigns that held evangelistic crusades in Nkwatia, Akwapim Mampong, and Akropong and Nsawam, all in the eastern region of Ghana. The Nsawam crusades covered multiple towns and were coordinated by the late Dr. Isaac Allotey, a longtime friend and professor of engineering at KNUST.
In 1966, Ababio felt called into full time ministry as an evangelist. He participated in the first World Congress on Evangelism, where he presented a paper that convicted the hearts of many with an increased passion to save the lost at all costs. In the latter part of 1966, he launched out as an itinerant evangelist, holding crusades in many towns and villages all over Ghana.
In 1967, he married Miss Grace Appiah-Kusi and settled in Accra. That year, he held crusades at Bukom Square and Baden-Powell Memorial Hall. Many young men and women gathered to support the great work. They started regular open-air crusades at Kwame Nkrumah Circle from Wednesdays to Sundays, every week, for several months at a time.
In 1968, he began the Hour of Visitation Radio Broadcast on National Broadcasting Network GBC-2 every Saturday from 6.45 to 7.00 am, thus becoming the pioneer radio evangelist in Ghana. The Hour of Visitation Choir was formed to back the radio programs. The program ran for fourteen years until 1982 when the military government of J. J. Rawlings took the program off the air. Rawlings later banned The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Jehovah’s Witnesses and gave their missionaries one week to leave the country. The Hour of Visitation was broadcast on Radio ELWA from Monrovia, Liberia from 1987 to 1990 until its return to Ghana. There it was broadcast on JOY FM from 1995 to 1999, switched to a different channel on that network, and then finally to Spring FM.
In 1969, Ababio and his family moved to Australia and Papua New Guinea where he worked tirelessly in missions and evangelism. The family returned to Ghana in December 1973 and, in 1974, he moved to Kumasi to work with the Christian Service College to train workers for mission and evangelism.
Ababio was consistent to his calling and to the passion he felt for the souls of men. He was instrumental in the establishment, development, and growth of many parachurch organizations such as New Life for All, Christian Outreach Fellowship, Ghana Congress on Evangelization (GHACOE), Ghana Institute of Linguistics, Literacy and Bible Translation (GILLBT), and the National Association of Evangelicals of Ghana. He served as the first chairperson of the NEA of Ghana from 1992 to 2000, and was involved in many missions in universities, schools, and colleges. However, he remained a Presbyterian and at least one or two churches of the Presbyterian Church Ghana (PCG) started in his home.
One a mission held at the University of Ghana, Legon shows how Ababio was imbued with the charism of evangelist, a charism which, when in operation, transforms a quiet gentle person into a giant among orators. The main speaker for that the week was the Rev. Gottfried Osei-Mensah who had taught eloquently in the power of the Spirit. Then came the altar call, the moment of decision that follows the message. Counselors were lining up in front and the piano was playing softly in the background as the invitation was made. There was no response for several minutes as Rev. Osei-Mensah extended the invitation. As if propelled by the Holy Spirit, Ababio, practically sprinted up to the stage, took the microphone, placed his hand on the back of the main speaker, and seamlessly continued the altar call. He spoke the same words of invitation that Rev. Osei-Mensah had spoken earlier and people began to come forward. He left the stage without fanfare. This demonstrates how the charisms are brought together in witness under the Spirit as, together, the teacher and the evangelist invite souls into the Kingdom.
Ababio led numerous evangelistic crusades, church-based outreaches, school outreaches, crusades of international evangelists (such as T. L. Osborne, Archbishop Benson Idahosa) and Leadership Counselor Training Courses all over Ghana.
Ababio passed into the Church Triumphant on Friday, July 6, 2018, following complications from an orthopedic surgery. He is survived by Grace, his wife of 51 years, and six biological children: Steven, Jonathan, Grace, Mercy, Peace, and Paul. In addition, he has produced several thousands of children in the Lord. Indeed, his works follow him.
Esther E. Acolatse
- Funeral Brochure (compiled by the family), August 4, 2018.
- Conversations with Rev. Grace Ababio, widow, July 12, 2018.
- Esther E. Acolatse, excerpt from the tribute in the Funeral Brochure and personal knowledge of his ministry from the late 1960s to 1989.
This article, received in 2018, was written by Rev. Dr. Esther E. Acolatse, Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology and Intercultural Studies at Knox College, University of Toronto, Canada, and member of the DACB Advisory Council.