Saturday, 22nd June 2019; the time reads 8:38AM. Lead Apostle Samuel Oppong-Brenya has called-in on Bishop Ampadu’s mobile phone, to personally welcome and address 28 reporters invited to a reporters’ training seminar for all 15 Apostle Areas. Seated attentively at the back corner of the left section of the room is an unassuming gentleman. A few minutes later, we will come to learn his name and Apostle Area: Priest Ebenezer Akyirem, from the Konongo Apostle Working Area.
The work of the NAC Ghana Website reporter is purely sacrificial. You will carry your own equipment, be it a dedicated camera and recorder or a decent smartphone with both functionalities. Sometimes, you will buy your own internet data to send reports. But the most difficult is not the picture taking nor recording; it is transcribing and summarising the sermon of a festive visit by an Apostle from a local language into English, whilst maintaining the core of the message. “My brother, it is not easy” says Priest Akyirem.
Three years later and counting, Priest Akyirem continues to hold the torch and shine the light on the activities in his Apostle Area and beyond. He tells me about the journey so far: “It has been a wonderful experience for my Christian life, and as a youth member. I have come to learn that reporters have a unique opportunity to build the faith of members and project the Church. I am happy to be one of them. Taking pictures, summarising sermons into an A4 page and interviewing has also helped me to relate with different people. I am very grateful for this opportunity”.
Priest Akyirem goes further to share how the role has impacted him: “I am a shy person and do not mingle much. But when I started reporting for the Konongo Apostle Area, I have learnt to socialise a lot more; it is much easier now asking to take pictures of people for my reports.”
He also recounts his most difficult assignment so far: “It was at the Kumasi Central Church. Lead Apostle Samuel Oppong-Brenya requested that I assist the resident reporter cover the event since he was deeply involved in the organisation of the Breakfast Meeting program. It was a maiden event and the reporting task was just beginning to pick-up in many Areas. Unfortunately for me, the congregants did not know me and refused to let me take any form of pictures at the event. Although I felt very bad, I also understood them. I had not been introduced. It was very tough that morning, knowing I could not disappoint my Lead Apostle and fellow colleague. I was hungry too. Thankfully the issue was resolved. I later suggested on the NAC reporters’ social media platform that reporters should be given tags for easy identification.”
When asked what it takes to write reports on events, especially divine services, the young Priest had this to share: “For me it takes a lot. One must be ready for the event at hand. You must be active, alert and aware of happenings around you. You must also be ready physically in your appearance and engagements as well as in-tune spiritually to discern the message being preached. Your equipment, be it a smartphone, camera or recorder must also be prepared, for example, memory space and battery power. You must also be willing to learn from other publications from colleagues in Ghana and abroad. I know I have improved a lot learning from others. Additionally, it also helps, at least, to have an idea of the people you will be reporting about.”
Priest Akyirem is always willing learn. A few months after their commission to report on their Apostle Working Area’s activities, he called one of the editors about the improvement in picture quality on the website. Before, pictures from his reports looked grainy but not anymore. He asked, he was told, he learnt; it was a simple click to avoid image compression in the MS Word application.
Priest Ebenezer Akyirem is from a family of 6; a brother and two sisters. Both parents, still alive, were New Apostolics when he was born some 30 years ago. He is a Youth leader in the Apostle Area and also one of the key members of the choir. He plays the organ wherever in the Area he finds himself. He is a graduate from the University of Education, Winneba. He currently teaches ICT at the Tarkwa Senior High School.
That explains some of his submissions lately. Due to his presence within the Tarkwa enclave for work reasons, Priest Akyirem goes out of his way to collaborate with his Takoradi colleague reporter to write reports on activities in Tarkwa. For him, it is a joy and a blessing: “I will encourage anyone who is interested to join. It is a blessing to be a reporter for Christ.”