Archbishop Charles Agyinasare has admonished Ghanaian peacekeepers in Lebanon not to abuse their authority but use it for good while eschewing political influence in enlisting new recruits.
“Having authority is more than an opportunity; it is a great responsibility. It is not superiority, but servitude”, Archbishop Agyinasare noted in an address to the Ghanaian army in Lebanon on Saturday, 10 September 2022.
“In the same way”, he noted, “those of you in positions of authority should kindly use such opportunities to do good to those under you and the larger military body”.
“We should not be part of politically motivated recruitments in the Ghana Armed Forces. Those in authority should do the right thing and ensure only qualified persons are recruited with a clear focus on maintaining a useful ethnic balance”, the founder of Perez Chapel International encouraged.
He indicated: “When you fear God, you don’t compromise on your integrity”, stressing: “Leaders must avoid a possible politicisation and polarisation of the Ghana Armed Forces, insulate themselves from the polarised politics back home, and maintain principled neutrality to sustain their integrity and public image”.
Read below Archbishop Agyinasare’s full address to the Ghanaian peacekeepers in Lebanon:
Commanding Officer, Senior Officers, RSM, Officers, Men and Women of Ghanabatt 88 & 89.
I want to thank the CDS Seth Amoama, the military high command and Chaplain General, Rev Commodore Adjei Djan for facilitating my visit to you in Lebanon.
Congratulations to Ghanbatt 88
It is a great honour for me to be in your company this afternoon. I wish to firstly commend you for the great work you are doing here in Lebanon. It is not insignificant that Ghana is one of the oldest countries contributing troops to UNIFIL since 1978. With over 800 peacekeepers—of whom over 100 are women—serving for peace in south Lebanon, Ghana is the largest contingent with the highest number of women peacekeepers. As you occupy the very sensitive stretch of the Blue Line—which is noted for its hotspots—you are doing extremely well and are contributing greatly to the cause of peace in Lebanon.
I am particularly excited about this opportunity because, in a sense, I have been “baptised” into the military since childhood: I grew up in the barracks; I schooled at the Armed Forces Experimental School, aka Garrison Primary in 1973; my late father was a soldier of the Field Engineers Regiment, Teshie; I have been surrounded by servicemen in my church, including the first female Brigadier General, the late Constance Edjeani-Afenu, and many others. So the military is very important to me.
Even better, the military is important to God Himself. In fact, it is so important to God that one of His frequently used titles is “the Lord of hosts” or “the Lord of heaven’s armies”. Also, some of God’s choicest leaders like Joshua, Gideon, and David were all servicemen. Even Moses, before he became a prophet, was said to have been a great military leader! The above-mentioned individuals were vital in leading their people or defending them against tyrants and wicked oppressors.
Just like these men, you are also playing a key role in defending our nation and keeping world peace, as you are doing in this part of the world. Even on your return home, we are convinced you will continue to contribute to maintaining the peace and democracy of Ghana.
In short, soldiers are important to God, to our nation, and to the world. But since bad soldiers would destroy the world, and good soldiers will help it, we need good soldiers. However, it is very easy to be bad soldiers. Whereas many people around the world expect to see certain qualities in those who serve in the military—discipline, sacrifice, bravery, strength, loyalty, and duty—many think of violence, dishonesty, bribery, loose morals, and godlessness when they hear of servicemen today. Even Jesus suffered at the hands of bad soldiers, who struck Him, mocked and spat on Him, crucified Him, gambled for His garments, and even took a bribe to lie about His resurrection!
In my short address to you today, I wish to encourage and exhort you to be good soldiers, as Apostle Paul said to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:3. As I mentioned, it is very easy to be a bad soldier in this 21st Century and in this country, especially when your family is many miles away, there is global economic hardship, and there is a universal decay of traditional morals and values. In such a climate, some of us may be thinking about our spouses, our children, our home, and our future. As a result, there is the temptation to think “Every man for himself, God for us all” and to end up doing whatever it takes to survive. Nevertheless, my brother, my sister, be a good soldier for God, for Ghana, and for the world. I want us to look at three good soldiers in the Bible and why you should aim to be a good soldier.
Three Good Soldiers in the Bible
David, famously said to be “a man after God’s own heart”, was a good soldier who was close to God, was skilful, and planned for the future.
• Once he enlisted in the army of King Saul, he started out as a simple soldier, who later became an army leader, and then a captain over a thousand, before finally becoming king of Judah and then of Israel. He had a good relationship with the Lord and gave us about 70 of the Psalms. He always relied on God and sought His counsel for every major decision. Some believe that David fought sixty-six battles and lost none of them. After all, God protected him in every one of them! David acknowledged in 1 Samuel 17:47 that “the LORD does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the LORD’s”. In simple terms, we are not preserved by AK47s or grenades, but it is the Lord who protects. May the Lord protect you as you deepen your relationship with Him and rely on Him!
• Not only was David close to the Lord, but he was also a skilful soldier. According to Psalms 78:72, David guided his people by the “skilfulness of his hands”. The global military space boasts of increasing highly educated and talented personnel and Ghana is no exception. For those of you who have the interest, time, and capacity for further training, I urge you not to waste time—pursue further training now. There is no substitute to self-upgrade and value addition to yourself. After all, it is the best investment you can make with the foreign currencies you have earned here. Just as God promoted David from one level in the army to the other, may the Lord cause your promotion to come speedily in Jesus’ name! My father left the army as a Staff Sergeant but upgraded himself with so many courses such that after retirement, he was taken as Works Superintendent by PWD, later Ghana Highway Authority.
• David also planned for the future. He made plans for who should succeed him as king, and, after he had built his own house, made great provision for his son Solomon to build a temple for God. Dear soldier, don’t be like those who are filled with regret by the time of retirement because they did not plan for their future. As you receive your benefits, make sure you make investments for your retirement. My late father left the army into his own house whereas many of his mates went live in rented homes.
By the end of David’s life, God had so established his family on the throne that even the Messiah Jesus of Nazareth was a Descendant of David!
II. The Centurion with a sick servant
Another good soldier was a Centurion whose servant was sick unto death. He had great faith, was concerned for his servant, and he built a synagogue for Israel.
• The Bible says about him in Luke 7:3-5 that “when he heard about Jesus, he sent elders of the Jews to Him, pleading with Him to come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they begged Him earnestly, saying that the one for whom He should do this was deserving, ‘for he loves our nation, and has built us a synagogue.’” It was this serviceman whose faith was so marvellous that Jesus said, “I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!”
• Notice that this Centurion was a man placed under authority (Luke 7:8) and had soldiers under him, and yet he was concerned for the wellbeing of his servant. Having authority is more than an opportunity; it is a great responsibility. It is not superiority, but servitude. In the same way, those of you in positions of authority should kindly use such opportunities to do good to those under you and the larger military body. We should not be part of politically motivated recruitments in the Ghana Armed Forces. Those in authority should do the right thing and ensure only qualified persons are recruited with a clear focus on maintaining a useful ethnic balance.
• In addition, this Centurion had built a synagogue for the people, and this drew the attention of Jesus. Some of you here, one of the ways you can draw God’s attention is to serve the interests of His kingdom by building for Him. Some of you have already built your own houses. Build God a house or contribute massively in building God a house in your town or village in Ghana. For those of you who are already Christians, it is good to give your offerings and tithes in church, but go a step further and build for God.
By the end of this Centurion’s story, his servant was instantly healed. May God visit your family with His healing and delivering power! May every force of premature death in your family be broken by the power of the Holy Ghost.
The last good soldier we shall look at is another Centurion by the name of Cornelius. The Bible describes him in Acts 10:2 as being “a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always.”
• Firstly, he was devout. He was very pious and committed to his religious convictions. Those who knew him could tell that he was very reverent about the things of God. My brother, my sister, my son and daughter do people get amazed when they hear you are a follower of Christ? Does your conduct speak louder than your words? Mr/Mrs Service man, be devout. Some people throw away their faith when they enter a place in which they think they are free to do what they want. While you are in this country, where you are in the midst of strangers, be devout.
• Secondly, he and his household feared God, Cornelius personally feared God, that is, he lived with a consciousness that God was present with him. He hated evil and loved righteousness. “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil…” (Proverbs 8:13)
As a serviceman, when you fear God, you hate evil. What you don’t want others to do unto you, don’t do unto others. Whatever will cause harm to your neighbour or bring dishonour to God should be far from you.
When you fear God, it is God you seek to please first, not man. Even though God has established men in positions of authority and we must submit to them, where any man-given instruction is in clear violation of God’s law, your loyalty must be to God. Do not obey man and act against God and a good conscience.
When you fear God, you don’t do violence to others. A man in uniform should not be a hired hand when people want to perpetrate evil in society. Don’t be among those who beat the defenceless or shed innocent blood. The Bible says in Genesis 9:6, “Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed; For in the image of God He made man.” Jesus also said to Peter in Matthew 26:52, “All who take the sword will perish by the sword.”
When you fear God, you don’t take bribes to bear false witness, to corrupt justice, or to keep quiet on evil. Scripture says in Exodus 23:8, “And you shall take no bribe, for a bribe blinds the discerning and perverts the words of the righteous.”
When you fear God, you don’t have a ‘farm’ and ‘backyard garden’, that is, you are not unfaithful to your spouse. A wise man said in Proverbs 6:32, “Whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding; He who does so destroys his own soul.” Husbands must instead love their wives as their own bodies (Ephesians 5:28).
When you fear God, you don’t compromise on your integrity. Leaders must avoid a possible politicisation and polarisation of the Ghana Armed Forces, insulate themselves from the polarised politics back home, and maintain principled neutrality to sustain their integrity and public image.
Moreover, with the 2024 Ghana elections around the corner, you must strive to maintain your integrity in election-related operations to avoid any future social upheaval. Some of us have witnessed some of the coup d’etats that took place in Ghana, and the outcomes were devastating. By all means, let’s do our best to avoid one in this coming election.
These were some values that Cornelius probably inculcated in his family. Beloved, it is important for us to fear God with our families like Cornelius did. There is a common perception that children of service men are bad. Having grown up in the barracks, I admit that there is some truth in it. Perhaps because of the long absence from home, some of you may not have made the time to interact with your children and to raise them up in the fear of God.
The good news is that today you can make use of technology to stay in touch with your family. Take advantage of Skype or WhatsApp Video to see your family, if possible, on a weekly or fortnightly basis. From time to time, go on your children’s Facebook and Instagram pages to monitor what they are doing online. Befriend the children’s teachers and get updates on their academic performance. Once you go home while on leave, spend enough time relaxing with the whole family, especially your spouse. Don’t chase money and end up losing your family. Scripture says in 1 Timothy 5:8, “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
• We are told that Cornelius also gave alms generously. Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, who said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35) and “Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:38). In spite of the current economic situation, be generous. According to your ability, give to those who are truly in need. Sow your seeds. “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days” (Ecclesiastes 11:1).
• Finally, Cornelius prayed to God always. Cornelius did not pray sometimes or on occasion but prayed to God always because prayer is to the human soul what oxygen is to the human body—without it, we shall die. That’s why Apostle Paul entreats us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Apart from the challenges you may be facing as humans, I know you may have peculiar needs as servicemen. That is one of the reasons why you must not neglect the place of prayer in your life. Someone said, “God does nothing except in answer to prayer”, and another said, “No one is more powerful than his prayer life”. The songwriter said,
Oh, what peace we often forfeit
Oh, what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer
Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged
Take it to the Lord in prayer
Indeed, many of us are lacking peace and are suffering needless pains simply because we do not carry everything to God in prayer. In the words of Paul in Philippians 4:6, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God”. So, in the midst of all that is happening around you here, pray to God always.
As Cornelius did all these things, God remembered him, and visited him and his family in a very powerful way, and he became the first non-Jewish believer to receive the Holy Spirit. May God visit you and your family in an incredible way, in Jesus’ name!
Precious one, you have done well as peacekeepers in this region. But God is calling you to be good soldiers. Therefore, follow the examples of David, the Centurion whose servant was sick, and Cornelius in these ten areas: be close to God, add to your skills, plan for your future, have faith, care for those under you, build for God, be devout, fear God with your family, give to those in need, and pray to God always. As you do this, may the Lord establish you, promote you, and visit you and your household with His healing and delivering power like never before, in Jesus’ name.
As I end my message, I remember one last soldier. As for him, he was not good. In fact, he was a Centurion and was among those who supervised the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus. He had mocked Jesus and considered Him a criminal like the two thieves on the cross. But after He saw the signs that took place when Jesus died, he exclaimed, “Truly this was the Son of God!” I’m glad to announce to you that this Jesus who died on the cross and was buried, was raised from the dead after three days, and He is alive in heaven right now. He has power to forgive all your sins, to give you a new life now, and to grant you eternal life in the kingdom of God. All you need to do is repent of your sins and, like that Centurion, believe in Him, and you shall be saved. Scripture says, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and all things have become new”. Today, you can also become a new person. Come to Jesus now!