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Out of Africa: would you believe
Africa is a diverse continent of many nations and even more ethnic tribal groups and clans. Some have described Africa as the ‘most evangelised continent’. Once the continent was the place where missionaries from the West were sent – now Africa is sending missionaries to the West. There are good things coming out of Africa – but NOT everything coming out of Africa is good – some, in the West, are accepting almost any claim or story coming from Africa as true or valid – perhaps from a misplaced Western guilt over past mistreatment of African peoples? We need to evaluate what comes out of Africa (as well as out of other continents and countries).
What an act!
On June 8, The Canberra Times, announced:
‘Geoffrey Rush has joined acting’s most exclusive club, taking a seat alongside Al Pacino, Anne Bancroft and Ingrid Bergman in winning the Holy Trinity of the profession - Oscar, Emmy and Tony awards. The 57-year-old Australian added the final piece, the Tony, on Sunday night at Broadway’s night of nights...’
But Geoffrey Rush is not the only consummate actor, nor are his Hollywood colleagues on their own. While not all actors make it into Hollywood (or Bollywood) movies, there are many other consummate actors outside that glamour fraternity.
In every good preacher and public speaker there is something of an actor and dramatist. Some are poor actors; some are mediocre; some are good; and some are outstanding - some could out-perform Geoffrey Rush and half of Hollywood. The trouble is that some of religion’s best actors are con-artists par excellence. And they don’t all live in the USA or India. Some come out of Africa.
Bernard Percy Ankomah alias Bernard (“one thing after another”**) Blessing, from Ghana, is one such consummate religious actor and con-artist. [**a phrase he uses ad nauseam]
Known as: Rev. Bernard Ankomah, in Africa and the United States of America, he uses the name, Bernard Blessing, in many other countries. He has gone from just plain, Bernard Percy Ankomah/Blessing to ‘Reverend’ to ‘Prophet’ to ‘Doctor’.
Bernard Blessing (hereafter, BPA) knows how to work the crowds. He knows when to shout ‘Jesus, Jesus!’ ‘Allelujah!’ and ‘Amen!’ and to get the crowd clapping and keep them with him. He has congregations in tears as he spins his story about his mother having been a prostitute; his life of terrible poverty; his mistreatment by various Christian teachers and church elders in Ghana; his marriage and the death of his wife. He can even produce his own tears as he tells people about the death of his wife and that he had no real answer when his little daughter, Miracle, asked, “Why did Jesus take Mummy?” His presentation of this part of his story has all the pathos of a Hollywood production: bowed and dejected appearance; hesitancy; broken voice; hugging himself in ‘grief’; weeping; tears - a real, tear-jerking, ‘Oscar’ performance!
What BPA doesn’t want anyone to know is that his wife, Jackie Naana Afriyie (from a very wealthy family), whom he left/divorced, is very much alive and actually has had custody of their daughter, Miracle, for a number of years. All the stories about his poverty; lack of clothes and shoes; lack of education, and pretty much everything else he uses to impress believers into being sympathetic enough to make generous personal (and other) donations to him, is fabricated fantasy - but he knows how to tell it all soooo... convincingly!!
BPA has recognised the value of the Internet and has promoted himself in glowing terms:
Dr. Bernard Blessing from Ghana West Africa overcame impossible challenges since his birth by God’s power and was called by the Lord Jesus Christ to the office of prophet evangelist to the nations.
He has ministered in over 100 nations in leadership summits, church conferences and is regularly sought by world leaders for godly wisdom and prophetic insights on matters of state. Dr. blessing’s, forth right yet simplistic presentation of the message of christ jesus is validated by miraculous healings and accurate prophetic directives through the power of the holy spirit.
Dr. Bernard Blessing is pioneer and president of rescue life international, a ministry based in Accra, Ghana, that provides mentoring leadership and support to over 700 christian leaders, churches and christian ministries worldwide. all glory to Jesus Christ who graciously works through him.
(http://www.rescuelife.cc; http://www.bernardblessing.org; http://www.bernardblessing.com)
Diverse opinions were expressed by Australian young adults who had heard BPA speak in churches in Perth and Melbourne in 2007. Their views can be seen on the blog/forum website: http://www.gush.com.au/showthread.php?t=9401. Elsewhere, on the Internet and in church bulletins, one will find almost wild adulation for ‘Prophet Bernard’, yet there are those who question the veracity of his claims and very convincing act when he speaks in churches.
One Ghanaian, who has known BPA since being in the same youth group in the 1980’s, expressed deep concern: ‘I saw a tape [DVD] of Bernard’s testimony and that gave me a shock of my life. I don’t know where he got all those lies from. But he makes me sick and I feel bad for knowing him. Bernard is a very dangerous and mad person. He will get people to lie for him...you are dealing with a professional criminal.’
Relatives of BPA in Ghana have seen DVD’s of BPA’s many claims, and dramatic performances, in Australian churches and have described him with comments such as: ‘This fellow we are dealing with is a criminal and will stop at nothing to pursue his goals’; ‘...one who uses the name of our Lord Jesus to defraud others’; ‘the man is a loose canon’; a ‘false prophet and a con man’; ‘he is really a fabricator’; ‘he is a wicked, ungrateful liar and a career criminal who will concoct any story and use the name of God to dupe the people who are seeking a relationship with God and are hungry for the Word of God.’
None of the Pentecostal pastors who invited him to speak in their churches in 2007 (and, in some cases, invited him back in 2008) expressed any caution, concerns or doubts, or conducted any due diligence regarding ‘Dr’ ‘Prophet’ Bernard Blessing (BPA) and his many claims. Some have deliberately ignored some of the evidence dealt with here. Some have even claimed to have prayed and decided to trust Bernard’s story - raising serious questions of their gullibility and/or deliberate culpability.
One person involved with promoting BPA responded to some of the questions and contradictory evidence by declaring: ‘B Blessing is not disturbed at all by this development as he knows God in His time will vindicate him. I have no reason to doubt B Blessing. I have the privilege to observe him at close quarters and I must say his conduct and his words are in line with one another, always exemplary.’
Very thorough research has been conducted to investigate the truth of BPA’s many claims. This research included: contact and feedback from a number of BPA’s relatives in Ghana - including the family/clan chief/head, Nana Baah Okuampah VII; contacting others who have known him personally; Ghanaians who, while not knowing him personally, know of him, including well-known Pentecostal pastor, Mensa Anamua Otabil; feedback from people and organisations he referred to in his numerous claims; checking and obtaining copies of his school records; having a Ghanaian pastor in Australia return to Ghana to make first hand investigations there. A number of people have had direct involvement in this research, and our LOOKOUT/CCG Ministries Director, Adrian van Leen, has also been directly involved in checking and confirming information gathered and validated, including direct contact with a leading relative of BPA in Ghana. The evidence, that Bernard Percy Ankomah alias Bernard Blessing is an outrageous liar and religious fraud, is overwhelming. We have documentary evidence to support our research.
Bernard Percy Ankomah was born 12th January 1970, in Agona Swedru, Central Ghana. His mother, Agnes Kakra Acquah (affectionately called Sister Esi Kakra) became pregnant with BPA while attending a Secretarial School in Takoradi, Western Ghana. She returned home to Agona Swedru and gave birth to Bernard nine months later - carrying him full term. She stayed in her home city and continued her studies at the Agona Swedru School of Business. Meanwhile, her mother (BPA’s grandmother, and a very successful trader) helped look after BPA while his mother completed her secretarial studies. After graduating, BPA’s mother, obtained a secretarial job with the Ghana Cocoa Marketing Board in her home city - a job she held until she retired about 10 years ago. She recently turned 60. She, her twin sister, (affectionately called Sister Esi Panyin), their two brothers (now deceased), as well as BPA’s grandmother, all came from a well-off, very respectable and religious (Christian) family. BPA’s aunt (his mother’s twin) was a school teacher, with no children of her own, who taught at Wesley Grammar Secondary School in the Accra suburb, Dansoman. Apart from Boarding school, BPA stayed with his aunt for many years until he finished his secondary education and went to London.
SOME CLAIMS by BPA:
1.) Extreme poverty drove his mother into prostitution - absolute lies; she came from a very respectable and well-off family in Central Ghana, held a secretarial job and was NEVER a prostitute.
2.) His mother had 9 brothers, 5 of whom were doctors, all 5 doctors died on the one day (of unknown causes), the other 4 brothers all died later in the same year, some 56 of his relatives have died - absolute lies; his mother had only two brothers - neither of them a doctor, one died about 5 years ago after a period of sickness, the other uncle died from a stroke about 4 years ago, a cousin died the same year as one of the uncles - murdered by armed robbers.
3.) She attempted to abort BPA 7 times and German Dr. Bernard saved his life at 7 months - absolute lies; there were NO abortion attempts, nor any Dr Bernard involved, his mother carried him to full term with a normal birth.
4.) After the 7th abortion attempt he lived with his prostitute mother in slums and ended up living in a garage shed with dogs, whose food he ate to survive because no one would give him food, then he lived on the streets as a little boy - ‘that’s where I lived most of my life...picking up food from the ground, picking up food from the gutters’ - absolute lies; his mother, his aunt and his grandmother gave him the best of care, including food clothing and home - he never lived in sheds/garages, nor did he eat dogs’ food, he was never a ‘street kid’ and was better off than a lot of other boys in his area.
5.) He had no schooling and learnt to read by watching other boys being tutored at their home while he observed them through a hole in the garage wall - absolute lies; he had a good education completing secondary school/high school, and he stayed with his schoolteacher aunt , he was ‘Chapel prefect’ - ‘leader of the Trumpet of Christ chorale group’- and also became ‘President of the Ghana Methodist Student Association’ (we also have some of his Swedru Secondary School records)
6.) He got himself a scholarship to go to boarding (secondary) school, but had hardly any clothes, no shoes, and no soap with which to wash himself and lived on scraps of food -absolute lies; he was well cared for by his mother, aunt and grandmother, had food and provisions sent to him at boarding school every weekend, wore Italian shoes and imported British clothes.
7.) At secondary school he was locked up, abandoned by a Christian teacher and left to die - and was attacked by spiritual beings, leaving him physically crippled - absolute lies; he was never crippled, miraculously rescued and able to come out of a locked garage - his family and school records clearly prove this to be another of his many fabrications.
8.) He converted his prostitute and uneducated mother to Christianity and then, having mainly educated himself, taught his mother to read and write and helped her gain a doctorate (he also has a Master’s degree and two separate doctorates) - absolute lies; his mother came from a very Christian family and had been well educated - but does NOT have any higher degrees and definitely no doctorate - evidence to support BPA’s claim of his own accredited degrees and doctorates is also nowhere to be found.
9.) ‘Mother Alice’ found him in hospital, took him home, introduced him to Christianity, prepared him for his prophetic ministry - ‘she was the first human being that taught me what love was’ - three years later she died - absolute lies; he had a very Christian upbringing, his school records show his Bible knowledge (on which he was examined each year), he was actively involved in the Methodist Church during his youth, he didn’t go from high school to hospital (speaking in tongues) to be ‘adopted’ by a ‘Mother Alice’ - he was shown love by his mother, aunt and grandmother all through his childhood and youth.
10.) In London he healed Miss Woods of AIDS, converted her doctor, Dr Derroid (Deroyd?) who had been the Vice-President of the Atheist Association of England for 22 years and helped open the doors for many conversions with BPA - absolute lies; there is no evidence of a Miss Woods, her AIDS or healing, and no trace of any Dr Derroid or the Atheist Association of England (neither exist - no-one is known for holding a vice-presidency for so many years of any atheist or secularist society/association in England - as responses from the British Humanist Association and National Secular Society, plus other research, confirm).
11.) Former USA Vice-President, Dan Quayle (whilst in office) phoned ‘Prophet Bernard’ to ask for healing for his daughter who was dying from cancer - BPA requested she drink a glass of water and then declared her healed, Dan Quayle requested him at the White House and flew him to the USA in one of the Presidential aircraft - absolute lies; Carol Collett, Assistant to Dan Quayle, has confirmed in writing that Dan Quayle does NOT know BPA, has NEVER spoken to him, has NOT flown him to the US or invited him to the White House AND his daughter, Corinne, has always had good health, has NEVER had life-threatening cancer and has NEVER been close to death (as claimed by BPA).
12.) BPA was invited to an inner circle Labour Party meeting where he ‘prophesied’ that an unknown Tony Blair would become Prime Minister of Great Britain, later Tony Blair had him visit 10 Downing Street - absolute lies; Parliamentary documentation reveals that Mr Blair WAS quite well known when BPA declared him unknown, there is no supportive evidence of BPA having been invited to any Labour Party meetings or 10 Downing Street, and Dennis Marcus from the Tony Blair Foundation, after checking with appropriate people at the Office of Tony Blair, has confirmed that BPA is unknown to Tony Blair.
BPA claimed to have prophesied to Bill Clinton about his downfall with Monica Lewinsky, then after BC had ignored BPA he repented and confessed Jesus, witnessed to the Bush family and had regular Bible studies and told BPA about it all; BPA also prophesied (during 2006 and 2007) that God told him Hillary Clinton would become the next President of the United States of America - telling people in Perth to note down his prophecy and check it out when she took on the highest office in America - proving, if nothing else, he is a false prophet!
He has claimed that God told him not to tell his story to the people of Ghana; that Ghanaian pastors fight each other, and according to God Ghanaian pastors ‘would give money for you [BPA] to be killed physically’. He was quite vitriolic with his many comments about Ghanaian pastors.
He has claimed to personally mentor 700 pastors, and with his mother in-charge, to be building an orphanage to house and school 7,000 children free of charge in Ghana due for completion in 2009; absolute lies - there’s no such facility!
BPA has been ‘defended’ by uninformed supporters over a supposed ‘disgruntled small group’ from Bahrain that had NOT paid BPA following his speaking engagement there - absolute lies; he was paid an honorarium, and then without permission or the organisers’ prior knowledge appealed for an extra ‘Holy Spirit Offering’, leaving Bahrain with thousands of Bahrain Dinars (BHD) (shown here with the equivalent of Australian dollars - value at the time – 2005): 1st Class Airfare: 960 BHD (A$3 735); Honorarium: 4 000 BHD (A$9 560); additional ‘Holy Spirit Offering’: 28 500 BHD (A$82 000) - a total of 33 460 BHD (A$95 295) for ONE meeting - which consisted of fantasy and fabrication (see http://www.gulf-daily-news.com/NewsDetails.aspx?storyid=219125).
He has changed the details of ‘his ministry’ on his website several times (not merely updating and improving the site), and has used various ‘ministry’ names. He has claimed, as Rev. Bernard Ankomah, to lead the World Rescue Ministries (see: ‘Prophetic word given by... at http://www.forministry.com/USTXNONDELWBCA/DrCharlesHughes.dsp; http://eworldwire.com/pdf/view_pdf.php?id=2043) - that name, World Rescue Ministries International, is well known in Africa as a Nigerian organisation, which knows nothing of BPA (see: http://www.wormint.org/). He also claims to have started Rescue International in Ghana some 22 years ago, but there is no evidence to support that. BPA is unknown amongst NGO and child welfare community group staff and leaders involved in ‘rescue’ work - he is not known in Ghana for rescuing anyone - nor is he known or involved with either Africa Rescue Mission International (http://armigh.org/) or Rescue Mission Ghana (http://www.rescuemission.org.gh/). He’s used the name: Rescue Mission International as its ‘Director’ - and now uses Rescue Life International - has claimed to have also formed Rescue Homes for children, Rescue Encounter TV ministry, Rescue Media, Flame Prayer Network and more. If any of these actually exist (in any form) they are not known, registered or accredited in Ghana - except, perhaps, Rescue Mission International a name he is not currently using.
With Bernard Percy Ankomah it’s a constantly changing world of fantasy, fabrication, and delusion. A prime example of a storyteller who is NOT what he claims to be.
(First published in TAKE A CLOSER LOOK, Vol.30, No.3; May-July 2009)