Yeboa-Korie, Charles Yaw

1932-2000
Pentecostal
Ghana

Pentecostalism in Ghana [1] from the mid-1960s to the early 1990s was not a big force to reckon with in Ghanaian Christianity. At best, the major emphasis was on the importance on being born again and the ability to speak in tongues—a gift that was considered as the initial evidence of the spiritual birth.

Charles Yeboa-Korie, though a stalwart Pentecostal leader and preacher, did not belabor those issues to the neglect of other important teachings in Christianity. Like the Apostle Paul, he did not hesitate to preach to his audience the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27). To Yeboa-Korie, not all Pentecostals were true. “The true Pentecostals are neither chosen nor trained by men, nor do they give themselves up to champion the course of Christianity or Spirituality. They are, however, grafted into the revealed divine personality of the Holy Spirit.”[2]

He used various means to spread his understanding of Pentecostalism – sermons, teachings, music, presentations, Gospel crusades, meditations on Ghana television and radio, and newspaper publications, among others. Though he critiqued many Pentecostal doctrines, he was not against Pentecostalism as an institution. It was noted that he began a Pentecostal Revolution with the establishment of Eden Revival Church. “Indeed, it became crystal clear that the Pentecostal Revolution … was spreading like wildfire throughout Ghana.” [3]

Yeboa-Korie was able to seek the views of prominent church leaders, theologians, and laymen in the 1960s to discuss what true Pentecostalism is. Some of the leaders were Rev. W. G. M. Branful, General Secretary of the Christian Council of Ghana, Professor Ronald Rife, Principal of Ghana Christian College and Seminary, Robert Djan, a journalist, and Dr. Yaw Manu, Lecturer, Political Science, University of Ghana.

The impact of the Pentecostal revolution that Yeboa-Korie started is what we are witnessing today. However, it must be stated categorically that he did not embrace Pentecostalism for personal gain as some Pentecostals have done. Consequently, Yeboa-Korie is one of the few chief trailblazers of Ghanaian Pentecostalism. In fact, the historical record would be incomplete without acknowledging Yeboa-Korie’s contributions to Pentecostalism in Ghana and passing them on to the next generation.

Birth and Parentage

Charles Yaw Yeboa-Korie, who became popularly known as Brother Yeboa-Korie, was born on Thursday, December 1, 1932 [4] at Enyiresi in the Akyem Abuakwa State. However, his hometown is Asunafo, also in the Akyem Abuakwa State. His parents were Opanyin Kwame Yeboa and Madam Maria Biama.

Education and Working life

As Yeboa-Korie’s parents died when he was young, his uncle, Mr. Ebenezer Aninakwa, single-handedly sponsored his elementary education. He began his secondary (senior high school) education in 1953 at a time when resourceful members in his family were either dead or had become impoverished. He received a scholarship from the administrators of the Akyem Abuakwa State Scholarship Scheme (a scholarship in memory of the King of Akyem Abuakwa, Sir Nana Ofori Atta I) that enabled him to enroll at Abuakwa State (Senior High) College (ABUSCO).

James Anquandah, a long-time friend of Yeboa-Korie and one-time member, assistant secretary, and junior pastor of Eden Revival Church notes that, “While at ABUSCO, he was notorious for being constantly ill and he may well have been aptly called ‘The sick man of ABUSCO.’ He always spent a good deal of the school year in hospitals around Ghana but he surprised everybody when he seasonally fled the hospitals to come and take part in Inter-College and International Athletic contests which earned for his school and Ghana many gold and silver caps for the throwing of Shot and Disc.” [5] One day, while Abuakwa State College was playing a hockey match with Kumasi University, now Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, the hockey ball hit him hard in the eye. It caused considerable damage to his eyes.

After completing his education at ABUSCO, he taught at three schools – Juaso Presbyterian Middle School, Prempeh College, and Begoro Secondary [6] School.

His Religious Experience

The damage to his eyes developed into a chronic eye disease. In spite of that damage, he never lost hope. He turned to God through habitual and long periods of fasting and zealously searched the Scriptures. God had mercy on him and healed him. In addition to his teaching profession, he formed prayer and Bible study groups which he called Spiritual Groups. He narrates his religious experience thus:

On one of my usual visits to a Spiritual Group, I encountered a sick man. Then all of a sudden, I felt there was a Spirit force working on me and urging my inner self to explain to my mind the precise nature and origin of the man’s sickness. I felt most frightened and disturbed and wanted very much to run away from the place but the spirit force urged me forward to pray for the man who also moved forward under spiritual pressure to meet me. When I laid my hands on the man and prayed for him, the latter suddenly started wallowing in an unconscious state on the ground. When he ceased rolling, he openly testified that his sickness had disappeared. [7]

Prior to having a religious experience, Yeboa-Korie met American, English and Canadian individuals who participated in a Youth Organization Conference in Kumasi of which he was the local organizer. He so impressed the westerners with his organizational skills that they promised to sponsor him to study either medicine or religion in the United States. They backed their promise by sending him a handsome gift of money to prepare for the trip. He still studied the Bible, fasted, prayed, and meditated on Scripture for many days in seclusion. As a result, he healed many people of diseases that had hitherto defied the potency of western medicine. As a result of his healing prowess, members of the Spiritual Group he founded at Nsawam prevailed on him to establish a church. However, he was reluctant since he was preparing to go the United States of America to study medicine.

In a state of confusion, he recalls walking down a lonely bush path and musing, “Shall I be a doctor and heal people? Shall I be a teacher and teach crowds of people? Shall I be a statesman, perhaps a prime minister? [8] Later, he claimed to have had a vision in which the Holy Spirit assured him of a great healing ministry. Therefore, he declined his cherished ambition of studying medicine abroad. He became a pastor and turned the Spiritual Group at Nsawam into a church, known as Eden Revival Church, [9] on February 9, 1962. Before the church became rooted in the religious terrain of Ghana, Yeboa-Korie was entangled in a legal suit for allegedly calling a woman “a witch.” He was denied bail for contempt of court so he was kept in prison cells at the James Fort prisons in Accra while the case dragged on for six months when he was acquitted and discharged. His stint at the prison gave him the opportunity to lead some of the prisoners to Christ.

His Evangelistic Ministry

With the speed of an eagle, coupled with his healing prowess, Bible knowledge, the money he saved towards his intended travel to the USA, and his oratory abilities, Yeboa-Korie planted many congregations of Eden Revival Church in Accra, Begoro, Akwamufie, Nkawkaw, Winneba, Kumasi, Takoradi, Wamfie, London, and many other places.

He oriented Eden toward evangelism, adopting its present slogans “Crossing Africa with Jesus” and “Eden Is Africa’s Hope.” He bought striking uniforms for the choir. He hired musicians to train the new choir and band. He bought a short-lived Eden Poultry Farm and founded a private elementary school, later secondary and commercial schools, to provide funds for evangelistic crusades. [10]

He was initially bent on eradicating poverty and illiteracy in Ghana so he drew up a three-point socio-spiritual enhancement program to guide him:

  1. Christ’s Pragmatic Benevolent Acts – in which the average Ghanaian will be empowered to acquire and pay for his own house within a specified period of time;
  2. Provision of free and liberal education for the poor and illiterate, partly through a free offer of services by all Church Organizations;
  3. Spiritual revival of the nation to wipe out spiritual and moral decay in society. [11]

His observations regarding the effect of idolatry on Ghanaians were lucidly narrated in a tribute by James Anquandah:

In my view, where Osofo [12] Yeboa blazed a new and significant trail was not so much in crusades, fasting, church planting, and starting up missionary schools and colleges per se as in his persistent crusade against idolatry in Ghana and Africa…he fiercely attacked uncompromisingly the negative aspects of traditional culture – the destructive power of suman, witchcraft necromancy, juju, “Mame Water” spiritism, and the many human sacrifices of historic and recent times – all of which had brought down curses onto the Black race…He deprecated the fact that after centuries of Christianity in Ghana, by the 1960s, the Christian faith was by and large a marginalized foreign religion, hovering precariously on the fringes of the hearts and minds of a majority of Ghanaian “Kwesi Amankwaa” Christians [i.e. nominal Christians]. He attributed this state of affairs to (1) the way the Church had for long conducted its worship, evangelism and teaching programs using foreign concepts, languages, musical and liturgical systems, and (2) the lopsided general educational systems which put so much stress on material and secular knowledge with relatively little or no input from spiritual education. [13]

Having observed the Ghanaian Christian scene and desiring to pursue the third point of his socio-spiritual enhancement program, Yeboa-Korie expressed his heart for doing evangelism in Ghana, “I am convinced that Ghana is thirsting for Christ; I am going to wrestle in prayer for the Lord to tell me know how best to evangelize throughout the country. For this I have given my whole heart and soul to God.” [14] Thus, he did not relent in leading many people to Jesus. As a result, he preached to students of tertiary institutions, to senior high schools, to members of other denominations, and to the general public through electronic and print media. Repentance and the return of Jesus Christ were core messages in his evangelistic ministry:

You want Brother Freeman or Prophet so and so to pray for you so that you men have prosperous jobs, so that you women get husbands and children, so that you get healed of your diseases. But whether you obtain those wishes or not, you are one day going to die, whether you like it or not. Christ will come and destroy your present world and take away those who listened and obeyed his commands. In the days of Noah, repentance was preached; the people did not listen so they were destroyed. If you believe in all that I have said, then prepare yourself, for the Lord is coming…Think not, Brothers and sisters, of your problems but of the last coming of Jesus. [15]

The Eden Revival Church attracted the core of intelligentsia, business people, students, market women, top civil servants, and respected elderly persons in Ghana. At the University of Ghana, Legon, he attracted the attention of intellectuals—faculty, staff, and students—when he organized a question and answer forum on Christian doctrines that led to the planting of a congregation on the campus. Vincent Asiseh, then a lecturer of the University, states how Yeboa-Korie was perceived on Legon campus in 1968:

Brother Yeboa has, indeed, become the living voice, the breathing form, the expressive countenance on this campus—the University of Ghana. The subtle manifold spirit of edenism has been poured into the minds of the scholars here by what we saw, by what we heard, by what we felt. It has been poured into our minds and is sealed up there in perpetuity. [16]

Yeboa-Korie made a study tour of Great Britain and the United States in 1966. “On returning from America, the church launched into the real phase for which it had been formed, namely evangelism. From now on, the watchword ‘Crossing Africa with Jesus’ appeared on the calendars, letterheads, envelopes, and signboards of the church.” In a matter of three months, the Eden Gospel Choir comprised of 100 male and female voices, was established side by side with the new Eden Gospel Band. [17]

He later visited Germany, England, and New Jersey in 1969 on a preaching tour. Regarding his in-depth knowledge of the Bible and his hermeneutical skills, James Anquandah notes, “Indeed people are known to sit open-mouthed and glued to their seats during his sermons. His exposition of the Biblical message of our Lord Jesus is always simple yet as novel and revolutionary as the teachings of Jesus sounded to his contemporaries.” [18] Many people heard him preach on national television and radio. The church grew in quantity and in quality under his leadership. In 1965—that is two years after its founding—Eden Revival Church had about 5,000 members. He led the church for seventeen years until his death on July 31, 2000, after suffering from a stroke in 1997.

Healing and Teaching in Eden Revival Church

David Beckmann, an American research scholar on the Pentecostal churches of Ghana sums up the healing dexterity of Yeboa-Korie. “Yeboa is a Master-Healer. People are sometimes healed if Yeboa merely stands close to them. After the healing service many people told me they always felt better. I have learned from Eden to see miracles.” [19] Beckmann continues:

He teaches that all Christians can heal in Jesus’s name…But repeated and prolonged fasting has supposedly given Yeboa exceptional power; when others fail, he may be able to help, because some demons cannot be driven away by anything but prayer and fasting (Matt. 9:29)…When Yeboa prays for people, the Spirit often “catches” them as part of the healing process. Others are “caught” unexpectedly as they dance and sing or when they are splashed with water. Their bodies become tense, they quiver, and often their legs kick and arms swing spasmodically… Occasionally, a person like this actually does pass on into sleep… The same Spirit which catches the sick to heal them may seize the wicked to “beat” them. A person punished by the Spirit will twist and flail uncontrollably, perhaps pommeling his own body. [20]

In spite of the prominence of healing and miracles in the church, Yeboa-Korie believed “more in teaching than in healing. He says if you heal somebody and he jumps up to steal or kill or commit adultery, you have not done much. And, in any case, whether you are healed of your ailment or not, you will die one day anyway. Purging the soul of immoral ailments for eternal life must therefore go side by side with the healing of the body.” [21] Yeboa-Korie stressed wholistic healing when writing about healing in Pentecostal churches: “With regard to healing, I think it is essential that we regard the person as a whole—body, mind, and spirit. The healing of the body alone should not be the sole endeavor. We must aim at winning the person as a whole. The healing of the body alone should not be the sole endeavor. We need to redeem body, mind, and spirit. That is total healing.” [22]

Yeboa-Korie’s Contribution to Education in Ghana

Yeboa-Korie established the Eden Revival Church at a time when there were very few private schools. Almost all public schools were run by the government of Ghana and by churches that were planted by Western missionaries – Presbyterian, Anglican, Catholic, and Methodist, among others. After having had a stint in the teaching profession before he was called to ministry, Yeboa-Korie knew the role good educational institutions play in nation building. He was, however, not oblivious of the poverty in his own family and the widespread nature of poverty in Ghana—a phenomenon that hinders many children from being educated. In compliance with the second point of his socio-spiritual enhancement program, he used part of the gift from his western friends to study medicine in the U.S. to build educational institutions alongside Eden Revival Church.

By 1972, that is, nine years after establishing Eden Revival Church, Yeboa-Korie had established the following educational institutions:

  1. The Accra Educational Institution, an evening school for workers.
  2. Eden Junior International School.
  3. Eden Secondary [Senior High] School.
  4. Eden Christian Secondary/Commercial (Winneba road, Police Barrier)
  5. Eden School of Business Management (Legon).
  6. Eden Christian Junior School (Accra New Town).
  7. Eden- German Mission School (Begoro).
  8. Eden International School (Kumasi).

Other schools that were established included: Secondary / Commercial School at Kwabeng, Preparatory School (now Primary & JSS) Kokomlemle, Secretarial School at Wato near the General Post Office, Accra, F’Eden Secondary/Commercial School at Darkuman Junction near the Mobil Petrol Station, and F’Eden Secondary Commercial School, Odorkor, Accra.

The Eden schools emphasized quality secular education that was interwoven with sound Christian principles and morals. Eden schools gained credibility in the educational environment in Ghana to the extent that they were recognized by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) and allowed to take the General Certificate of Examinations (GCE) “O” Level Examinations as private schools with their own centers. The schools became important examination centers for other private schools.

Unlike today’s private schools in Ghana where charging exorbitant fees is the norm, Eden school fees were very affordable. Because Yeboa-Korie did not establish schools to amass wealth, many people wondered what his motive was behind the establishment of the schools. According to Mr. D. M. Dankyi, former Headmaster of F’Eden Secondary and Commercial School at Odorkor, “Bro. Yeboa-Koree [23] was a great educationist, and like many an educationist, he felt and believed that the best legacy a nation can bequeath to his posterity is education. He therefore showed a keen interest in the education of the child.” [24] Another motive was to instill Christian character formation in the students. This could be deduced from the following tribute by alumni of Eden educational institutions:

During his [i.e. Yeboa-Korie’s] time [as proprietor], he used to gather his students always in a big bus and brought us to church from our school site at Darkuman to Kokomlemle, on every Sunday, where we gathered with people and learned about God. He always taught us to fear God because he said that was the beginning of wisdom and knowledge. This spiritual exercise drew the students of F’Eden High School closer to God and it helped us to lead good and decent moral lives. [25]

Following in the steps of the early western missionaries, Yeboa-Korie, who was also called “Teacher,” ensured that the schoolchildren received Christian training. According to the former students of F’Eden High School, Yeboa-Korie was perceived as a visionary and an educational genius who was not only concerned with building Ghana through quality secular educational institutions; he was equally concerned with improving the quality of pastoral ministry at all levels in this country. James Anquandah states:

Osofo Yeboa was also deeply concerned about the lack of appropriate education and the training of leaders and shepherds of Ghana’s mushrooming Independent Pentecostal and so-called Spiritual Churches. He advocated the establishment of an independent theological college for independent churches. He was a founding member of the Good News Training Institute established in 1971, which stood the test of time and is now a fully-fledged theological college located along the Adenta-Dodowa road. [26]

The Good News Theological Institute, [27] now known as Good News Theological Seminary, which is accredited by the National Accreditation Board of Ghana, [28] has trained many people (Ghanaians and non-Ghanaians) who under normal circumstances would not have had access to quality theological education. Alumni of the seminary include bishops, seminary professors and administrators, Bible teachers, church musicians, evangelists, and missionaries.

The schools Yeboa-Korie established served as a training ground for many scholars – teachers, administrators, industrialists, medical doctors, bankers, accountants, engineers, and managing directors. Surely, the second point of his socio-spiritual enhancement program was fulfilled.

Ecumenical Activities

Yeboa-Korie was an ecumenist. He did not limit his gifts, resourcefulness, and amiable personality to the Eden Revival Church only. He made friends with pastors from other denominational traditions and biblical inclinations. He invited pastors to Eden Church and was invited to minister in their churches. He found time to fellowship with member churches of the Pentecostal Association of Ghana, an ecumenical group of African Independent Churches.

Inter-church relations in the 1960s were porous. Bitterness and antagonism characterized the relationship between the mainline churches, Spiritual churches [29] and Pentecostal / charismatic churches. Those were the days when the western-mission founded churches, otherwise known as “mainline churches,” referred to the Spiritual churches as,

nyamanyama churches (“worthless” churches)… while some Pentecostal ministers described them privately as “fornication societies” or “juju societies.” The term “spiritual” (which is generally used by leaders and members of the Spiritual churches)… was held up for ridicule by many other Christians in town, who were fond of saying, “if they are Spiritual churches, then we must be Physical churches; what nonsense!” [30]

Most Pentecostal church leaders regarded members of Spiritual churches as belonging to “occult” groups who needed deliverance before they could be regarded as Christians. [31] The Spiritual churches, on the other hand, regarded the mainline churches as “churches without the Spirit of God.” [32] Prophet Jehu-Appiah, leader of Musama Disco Christo Church, an African Independent Church, buttresses the spiritual egoism of the African Independent Churches thus, “Politically, we are the harmless; economically, we are feeble; socially, we are downtrodden; but spiritually, we are more than giants.” [33]

As a result, it was difficult to unify Christians in Ghana. In spite of this challenge, Yeboa-Korie, in February 1966, tried to bring together denominations in the Pentecostal, mainline western churches, and the Spiritual churches. Consequently, a mammoth church service, dubbed “unity service,” was held at the Palladium Cinema Hall, Accra. Yeboa-Korie, as an ecumenical unifier, thus, set the pace for what is now known as the “All Believers Prayer Meetings / All Night,” a prayer session attended by Christians irrespective of denominational affiliations. This service is now popularized by Bishop Yaw Owusu Ansah, the Accra West Regional Overseer of the Resurrection Power and Living Bread Ministries International.

Yeboa-Korie continued his tireless efforts in bringing denominations together, after the success of the 1966 unity service at the Palladium Cinema Hall. He attempted to unify all Pentecostal churches in 1968. He was wary of some of the Pentecostal doctrinal misconceptions. “I have nothing against Pentecostalists…But some Pentecostalists think that speaking in tongues is a ticket to heaven and if I am a non-Pentecostalist then I will not be saved. Whenever the Holy Spirit is allowed to work in a disciplined well-ordered Pentecostal Church I will certainly go and worship but places where everybody just shouts ‘in tongues’ in confusion and pandemonium are not for me.” [34] In spite of his misgivings about some Pentecostal doctrines, he was able to bring together Pentecostal leaders of various shades and colors to a conference at the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) center in Accra. The objective of the conference, dubbed “Conference of Pentecostal Leaders,” was to break ground for the formation of a Christian Council of Pentecostal Churches.

A great healing crusade at the National Liberation Circle (now Kwame Nkrumah Circle) followed the meeting at the YMCA. All the Pentecostal ministers sat on a dais in a brotherly / sisterly manner. The conference at the YMCA and the healing crusade at the National Liberation Circle were considered historic and unprecedented. It is safe to affirm that Yeboa-Korie planted the seed of a Pentecostal / charismatic ecumenical body in Ghana known as the Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council (GPCC) that was formed in 1969, even though Yeboa-Korie’s name is not mentioned in their historical records. [35]

On July 14, 1968, while preaching at the Fifth Anniversary of the Pentecostal Association of Ghana, he expressed his conviction regarding ecumenism in Ghana: “We need one love, one spirit, one mind, and one heart to save the people for God. But it is Christ who ultimately does the work of salvation, not Yeboa-Korie or Pastor ‘X’ or Bishop ‘Y.’” [36]

These words show that Yeboa-Korie shared his immense gifts with other Christians for the sake of leading people to Jesus Christ, not for personal adulation. His vision of unified ecumenical activities became complete when the Eden Revival Church was admitted to the Christian Council of Ghana on July 9, 1970, after “a period of study and observation of the principles, organization, and evangelistic work.” [37] The admission was significant because it was the first time a church founded in Ghana by a Ghanaian became a member of the Christian Council. Prior to that, the Christian Council of Ghana consisted of the Anglican, Presbyterian, Evangelical Presbyterian, Methodist, A.M.E. Zion, Salvation Army, American Baptist, Lutheran (Missouri Synod), and Mennonite denominations.

Integrating Ghanaian Culture in Christian Music

One area where Yeboa-Korie left an indelible mark in African Christianity was that of inculturating Ghanaian culture into Christianity. In the 1960s, when most Ghanaian Christians were seriously thinking of the appropriateness of integrating some aspects of Ghanaian culture into Christian liturgy, Yeboa-Korie boldly but wisely made it a policy of his church to contextualize and Africanize Christian liturgy. According to James Anquandah, “at one crusade held in Kumasi in 1971, he called on the Asantehene and asked for the largest Asante drums to be, as it were, ‘baptized’ for church worship in Eden Revival.”[38]

When it came to incorporating culture into Christian worship, particularly through music, Yeboa-Korie stood taller than his peers. Being a musician and a choirmaster himself, he composed many local choruses. Notable among his compositions was Onyame tie m’asem, [39] a gospel song that has been popular throughout Ghana, and beyond, since its launch. At the headquarters of the church, he formed a choir and a symphony orchestra. He imported saxophones, trombones, trumpets, guitars, organs, pianos, flutes, castanets, rattles, and drums from England. Other music groups in the church were the Eden Gospel Singers, the Eden Gospel Band, and the Singing Stars.

He sought the services of renowned musicians at the time to help build the choir. Among them was Prof. Emeritus J. H. Kwabena Nketia, a renowned ethnomusicologist of international acclaim, Mr. H. O. Beeko, and many other choirmasters and organists of no mean repute. In their efforts to make high quality church music, the Eden Revival choirs and orchestra worked hard to be the favorite choice of music lovers. Everybody wanted to listen to their choirs and invite them to minister at functions. Unsurprisingly, they featured regularly on radio, television, evangelistic crusade platforms, and in funeral programs.

The Eden Revival Church of Ghana Handbook describes the effects and popularity of Eden songs in the following words:

It is amazing how, today, when the Eden Choir and Orchestra feature at Ghanaian Christian Orthodox Christian churches, not only the congregation but even their clergy, both expatriates and native, are known at times to break church protocol, jump from the rostrum, and sing and dance to God’s glory. Wherever Eden’s Choir, Orchestra and gramophone recordings have been heard in Ghana, the people have been caught in the fever of the Ghanaian Christian music craze. Today, millions of Ghanaians are daily raising their voices to God in natural prayer—music—without being fully aware of it. Eden’s music has brought us closer to the Christianity we so earnestly desire, one in which all human faculties will be centered on God. [40]

The Christian Council of Ghana did not lose sight of Yeboa-Korie’s immense contribution to Ghanaian church music. In a tribute, the Christian Council observed:

It is worth noting that although brass bands had been used in churches in Ghana before the advent of the F’Eden Church, these bands had then largely led choirs and church congregations in the singing of Western hymns and other Western church music. It is to the credit of the Rev. Bro. Yeboa-Korie that tunes composed for worship in Ghanaian idioms were adopted by him to play a dominant part in the mode of worship in the F’Eden Church, which he promoted. There is no doubt that this innovation contributed to the proliferation of the gospel music, which, within the last four decades or so, has been accepted as a universally adopted feature in Ghanaian Christian worship. One such song that has become popular today is “Yehowa yeyi w’aye, wodin na ye kamfo [God, we praise you, your name do we glorify]. [41]

Gospel music in Ghana is now a popular phenomenon. In fact, a private radio station could play Gospel music for 24 hours non-stop. Yeboa-Korie was a pacesetter in popularizing local Gospel choruses and songs – not for the sake of making money and or earning popularity but for using music as a medium for proclaiming the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and thus leading people to Jesus Christ. [42]

As a result of his respect for culture and his attempts to inculturate some aspects of Ghanaian culture into Christian liturgy, he endeared himself to the hearts of two prominent kings in Ghana – the Asantehene, Nana Sir Osei Prempeh II, and the Okyenhene, Nana Ofori Atta II. These kings and other traditional rulers like the Begorohene, and Akwamuhene were not just admirers of Yeboa-Korie, they also supported the ministries of the Eden Revival Church.

Yeboa-Korie and Politics

Yeboa-Korie initially did not show any interest in politics but he asked his followers to pray for the head of the ruling government. Some top politicians became acquainted with him when they asked for prayers and the healing of diseases. The healing of Elizabeth Koranteng, who suffered from blindness, brought the spiritual activities of Yeboa-Korie to the attention of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the first President of the Republic of Ghana. Although some leading politicians of the Convention People’s Party (CPP), the ruling government at the time, insinuated that Yeboa-Korie was a tyrant, a counter-revolutionary, and a religious quack, the head of the party, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, invited him to become a member of Parliament, ostensibly, to tap into his oratorial and leadership skills. [43]

Yeboa-Korie rejected the invitation. He was perceived to be sympathetic to the National Liberation Council (SMC), the Progress Party, and the National Redemption Council (NRC) / Supreme Military Council, respective governments of Ghana up to 1978. As a result, he was allowed airtime to preach on two stations of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation—the only radio and television station in Ghana at that time. He served as a member of the committee that drew up the National Charter of Redemption, a seven-point political document on national unity; total manpower development and deployment; revolutionary discipline; self-reliance; service to the people; patriotism and international brotherhood; and the mobilization of the spiritual and intellectual will-power of the people. [44] From June 1979 on, Yeboa-Korie was reticent in relation to politics in Ghana until his death in 2000.

Conclusion

God has richly blessed Africa with powerful men and women who have contributed immensely to the growth of Christianity. However, many of those who have toiled tirelessly and selflessly to expand the Kingdom of God in Africa are unsung heroes—and virtually unknown. One major reason is that most Africans emphasize the perceived mistakes and shortcomings of their leaders more than their incontrovertible contributions. We lose sight of the fact that the people God uses are imperfect human beings. It is time we change our attitudes so that we do not persist in faultfinding and witch-hunting when it comes to our leaders but rather concentrate on their achievements and contributions.

Charles Yaw Yeboa-Korie, obviously, had his shortcomings, as a human being, but they pale in comparison with his accomplishments and contributions to African Christianity. David Beckman, an American scholar and theologian, saw many good things in Yeboa-Korie. This is what he wrote about him after having moved around with him closely for over a year:

Yeboa is a superlative orator in public and in the pulpit. He is at home with the resounding Ghanaian Christian high life music; yet often he would spend the whole night alone on the mountain slopes of Aburi in dead silence and prayer. He is at home with both professor and illiterate, with millionaire and Lazarus, with statesman and streetman. He combines in him the life of a vegetarian and a teetotaler, and love for chastity and music. We are in the presence of a naturalist, humanist, moralist, and a religious man par excellence. At a first encounter with the man, you could mistake him for a crank, for he is a man of very sharp contrasts. [45]

Osofo Yeboa-Korie, “Teacher,” “African boy,” was a great servant to Ghanaians. Therefore, we should seize every opportunity to reflect on his life dedicated to God while on earth, and to celebrate his achievements and contributions. Above all, we need to thank God for giving Ghana and Africa Brother Charles Yaw Yeboa-Korie – a great and selfless church leader with infectious charisma; an educationist, an ecumenist, a teacher, a pastor, a musician, a choirmaster, a journalist, a healer, an author, an itinerant evangelist, a media evangelist, a church planter, a Christian strategist, and a disciplinarian.

Thomas Oduro


Notes:

  1. Pentecostalism in Ghana refers to either Pentecostal/charismatic churches whose emphasis is on glossolalia or to African Independent Churches. Yeboa-Korie’s concept and experience of Pentecostalism lean more towards the African Independent Church type although he had many encounters with the Pentecostal/charismatic type.
  2. Eden Christian Torch, Vol. 2 No. 1 (June 1970), 4.
  3. Eden Torch, Vol. 1 No. 4 (October 1968), 8.
  4. All the documents of the church state that Yeboa-Korie was born in 1932. David Beckmann, however, states that he was born in 1938. See David Beckmann, Eden Revival: Spiritual Churches in Ghana (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1975), 48.
  5. James Anquandah, “Brother Yeboa-Korie and the Eden Revival Church,” The Edenian Vol. 1 No. 1 (January/February, 1968), 3.
  6. Secondary schools in Ghana are also called senior high schools.
  7. James Anquandah, “Brother Yeboa-Korie,” The Edenian Vol. 1 No 1, p.3.
  8. David M. Beckmann, Eden Revival, 48.
  9. The name of the church was changed to F’Eden Mission Church. It is now known as Eden Revival Church International.
  10. David Beckmann, Eden Revival, 52.
  11. “Life history of the late Rev. Brother Yeboa-Koree” in Burial, Memorial and Thanksgiving Service for the Late Rev. Bro. Yeboa-Koree (1932-2000).
  12. Osofo” is an Akan word for Pastor/Reverend Minister.
  13. Tribute by Prof. Anquandah, University of Ghana” in Burial, Memorial and Thanksgiving Service for the Late Rev. Bro. Yeboa-Koree (1931-2000), pp.48, 49.
  14. E. Oppong-Antwi, “Fifth Anniversary Celebration in Eden.” The Eden Torch, Vol. 1 No. 3 June 1968, p.6.
  15. The Eden Torch, Vol. 1 No. 4 (October 1968), 8.
  16. Vincent Asiseh, “Eden Goes to Legon.” The Edenian, Vol. No. 2 (February/March 1968), 5. Note: This text was originally all in capitals.
  17. James Anquandah, “Brother Yeboa-Korie,” The Edenian, Vol. 1 No. 1, p. 3.
  18. James Anquandah, “Brother Yeboa-Korie,” The Edenian, Vol. 1 No. 1, p. 4.
  19. David Beckmann, “Eden A Shining Example of Pentecostalism” Eden Christian Torch, Vol. 1 No. 1 (June 1970), 6.
  20. David Beckmann, Eden Revival, 66, 67.
  21. David Beckmann, Eden Christian Torch, Vol. 1 No. 1 (June 1970), 6
  22. Eden Christian Torch, Vol 2 No. 1 (June 1970), 4.
  23. Yeboa-Korie and Yeboa-Koree are used interchangeable but they refer to the same person.
  24. “Tribute to the late Rev. Bro. Yeboa-Koree by Mr. Dankyi, former Headmaster, F’Eden Secondary Commercial School, Odorkor, Accra” in Burial, Memorial and Thanksgiving Service for the Late Rev. Bro. Yeboa-Koree (1931-200), p. 36.
  25. “Tribute to the Late Rev. Bro. Yeboa-Koree by Old Students of F’Eden High School,” in Burial, Memorial and Thanksgiving Service for the Late Rev. Bro. Yeboa-Koree (1931-200), 22.
  26. “Tribute by Professor Anquandah, University of Ghana” in in Burial, Memorial and Thanksgiving Service for the Late Rev. Bro. Yeboa-Koree (1931-200), 48.
  27. I am an alumnus of the Good News Theological College and Seminary, the Bible school of which Brother Yeboa-Koree was one of the founding members. I enrolled in the school when I was a member of a Spiritual church. There would have been no way I would have had access to theological education in the Bible Colleges of the mainline churches at that time, being a Spiritual church member. Therefore, I am a beneficiary of the vision, tenacity, and foresight of Brother Yeboa-Korie.
  28. The Good News Theological Seminary is now located on a 10-acre plot campus on the Adenta-Dodowa road, shortly past the northeastern side of Accra. The seminary runs certificate, diploma and first degree courses for leaders and members of African Independent Churches.
  29. African Independent Churches are popularly called “Spiritual churches” in Ghana.
  30. Robert W. Wyllie, Spiritism in Ghana: A Study of New Religious Movements (Missoula, Montana: Scholars Press, 1980), 32. Italics not mine.
  31. J. Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu, African Charismatics: Current Developments within Independent Indigenous Pentecostalism in Ghana (Achimota: Africa Christian Press, 2005), 164-175.
  32. Robert W. Wyllie, Spiritism in Ghana, 128.
  33. Robert W. Wyllie, Spiritism in Ghana, 105. Mathapoly Moses Jehu-Appiah, the Akaboha of the MDCC was the one who made this statement.
  34. Eden Christian Torch, Vol. 2, No. 1 (June 1970), 5.
  35. See History and Background of the GPCC, https://gpccghana.org/history-and-background/, accessed March 14, 2019.
  36. Eden Christian Torch, Vol. 1 No. 4 (October 1968), 9.
  37. Eden Christian Torch, Vol. 2 No. 2 (September 1970), 2.
  38. “Tribute by Prof. Anquandah, University of Ghana” in Burial, Memorial and Thanksgiving Service for the Late Rev. Bro. Yeboa-Koree (1931-200), 49.
  39. The translation of the song into English language can be found in Asempa Hymns, number 15. See Asempa Publishers, Asempa Hymns (Accra: Asempa Publishers, 1980).
  40. The Eden Handbook, 11.
  41. “Tribute by the Christian Council of Ghana on his [Rev. Bro. Yeboa-Korie) departure from this Life to Eternity” in Burial, Memorial and Thanksgiving Service for the Late Rev. Bro. Yeboa-Koree (1931-200), 42.
  42. I was a chorister for over 25 years. As a result, I love church music and have been an avid follower of church music for the greater part of my life on earth. I must confess that I am yet to find any church leader who has worked more tirelessly to enrich Christian music than Brother Yeboa-Korie.
  43. John S. Pobee, Religion and Politics in Ghana (Accra: Asempa Publishers, 1991), 81.
  44. The Best of SMC & the National Anthem, http://justiceghana.com/blog/our-country/history-and-politics/the-best-of-smc-the-national-anthem/, accessed March 19, 2019.
  45. Eden Handbook, 17.

Sources:

Anquandah, James. “Brother Yeboa-Korie and the Eden Revival Church,” The Edenian, Vol. 1, No. 1 (January/February, 1968). Asamoah-Gyadu, J. Kwabena. African Charismatics: Current Developments within Independent Indigenous Pentecostalism in Ghana, Achimota: Africa Christian Press, 2005. Asempa Publishers. Asempa Hymns. Accra: Asempa Publishers, 1980. Asiseh, Vincent. “Eden Goes to Legon.” The Edenian, Vol. No. 2 (February/March 1968). Beckmann, David M. Eden Revival: Spiritual Churches in Ghana St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1975. ——–. “Eden A Shining Example of Pentecostalism” Eden Christian Torch, Vol. 2, No. 1 (June 1970). Burial, Memorial and Thanksgiving Service for the Late Rev. Bro. Yeboa-Koree (1932-2000). No Publication details. Eden Handbook. No Publication details. Oppong-Antwi, E. “Fifth Anniversary Celebration in Eden.” The Eden Torch, Vol. 1 No. 3 (June 1968). Pobee, John S. Religion and Politics in Ghana. Accra: Asempa Publishers of Ghana, 1991. Wyllie, Robert W. Spiritism in Ghana: A Study of New Religious Movements. Missoula, Montana: Scholars Press, 1980. The Eden Torch. Vol. 1 No. 4 (October 1968). Eden Christian Torch. Vol. 2 No. 1 (June 1970). Eden Christian Torch. Vol. 2 No. 2 (September 1970). History and Background of the GPCC. Https://gpccghana.org/history-and-background/. Accessed March 14, 2019. The Best of SMC & the National Anthem. Http://justiceghana.com/blog/our-country/history-and-politics/the-best-of-smc-the-national-anthem/. Accessed March 19, 2019.


This story, received in 2019, was written by Rev. Thomas Oduro, Ph.D., President of Good News Theological College and Seminary, Accra, Ghana, DACB Advisory Council member, and JACB contributing editor.