Rev Gilbert Apreala is the popular Nigerian Pastor based in Ghana and the founder of Image of God Church- a church founded as a home ‘for a people on journey to greater realms of glory’ in Accra Ghana. In this candid and revealing interview, Pastor Apreala reveals the focus of his calling, humanitarian side of his church and the new path he is championing. He also talks about God, Leadership, and about his involvement in Africa-Israel Initiative, Pleasures Magazine reports
Who is Rev Gilbert Apreala, and how long have you been in ministry?
He is a minister of the Gospel, and the pastor of the Image of God Church International Ghana. It has been great being a servant of the Lord and the chief shepherd over this great assembly. I have been in ministry since 1995, making it 22 years as Pastor.
Can you please let us into profile of your life and Ministry?
I was called into ministry as a young man; a very tender age, and before being ordained in March of 1995, I had been a youth Pastor and a Church worker. I was trained by Apostle Sam Gordon who heads the Image of God Church in South Africa, and also went through the living Faith Church ministerial training. I had a theoretical training with the Trinity Theoretical Seminary in Accra Ghana, and I was awarded a Master of Arts in Ministry- So you won’t be wrong in calling me a theologian. I also attended the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) obtaining an international certificate in Logistics and Transport and an International diploma in Logistics and Transport, as well as an advanced diploma in Logistics and Transport awarded by the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport in the UK. I also hold a Master of Science in Supply Chain Management from Coventry University in the United Kingdom.
The Image of God Church has been in Ghana for ten years now. October 2017 will officially make it ten years the Lord has showed His faithfulness upon the ministry, which we have been grateful for.
Is your being a pastor a matter of choice or calling and if it’s by calling, what was the experience like sir?
I was about nine years old when the Lord told me, “None can pluck you out of My Hands.” That experience of that encounter with the Lord has been with me since childhood. So it is a calling, and at every stage of my life the Lord has progressively revealed every next step I should take in actualizing His call upon my life, and what I must do, as well as where I must be.
Let’s talk about your path to Christ, how did you find Him, and what led you to Christ?
Growing up with a father that was not enthused about the Church and a mother that was an orthodox Christian (with whom I was going to Church), you can very well tell that I was raised to be orthodox. But I had a turning point at about age thirteen when my good friend Thank God Isaac invited me to an Assemblies of God Church, and on that day in the year 1987 I formally gave my life to Christ.
What are the office/s you operates in?
I realized early in life that I operate the gift of healing. When I stated the pastoral ministry, I began as a teacher with a prophetic word, and recently the Lord called me into the office of an evangelist.
What inform the name of the ministry, Image of God Church?
The name of the ministry, The Image of God Church, was given to Apostle Sam Gordon who consecrated me into ministry and who mandated me to start the work in Accra. We also operate the Light and Glory Churches outside Ghana, a name which the Lord himself gave me in a vision.
Where did you have your training sir?
I had my ministerial training at the Image of God Church in Port-Harcourt, Nigeria
Must a pastor attend a bible college?
It is important for a Pastor to be trained. The raw talent is not enough, it needs to be horned. As Apostle Paul told Timothy in Second Timothy 2:15 that he should study to show himself approved.
Share with us some of the challenges you faced at the beginning and how you overcame them.
When we started in Accra in 2007, the Lord added unto the Church exponentially, making it necessary for us to expand the church building. We were doing a handful of humanitarian work. In 2011, the Church building was destroyed by a flood which affected most part of Accra (especially the Circle and Avenor areas, where the Church was located) Property worth about a hundred and fifty thousand dollars was washed away. Four months later -not long after our expansion- the landlord informed as to move as another Church has paid for the property, returning our advanced payment for the land. We then moved to the Crystal Palm Hotel, and after a year and a half, management of the hotel told us to evacuate as the conference facility we were using was being taking over by the landlord from whom the hotel leased the property. Then we moved to Spintex. It has been a challenging journey, but God has seen us through it all.
Where exactly are you from in Nigeria?
I am from Amassoma in Bayelsa State
Are there any future plans to set up a branch of the church in Nigeria?
We already have branches of the Church in Nigeria: Lagos, Bayelsa, and Port-Harcourt
What would you consider to be the social dimensions of the establishment of Image of God Church to in Accra? In what ways the church as the ministry impacted lives?
We are out on a mission to ‘transform’ lives through the anointed word.” We are also seriously into humanitarian activities through the organizing of what we call “medical crusades”. In Accra we first did a research into the unique social needs of the inhabitants and then we can structured our services and activities to make maximum impact. We were on radio in Accra for 7 years, two different radio stations and when we pulled out, calls started coming to know why and one particular person said that even if we don’t come on air again, we have already introduced the message of restoration and grace to the Ghanaian ministerial landscape. That to me, meant a lot and sums it all up.
Where do you expect Image of God Church to be in the next 10 years?
In the next ten years, we want the Church to have a footprint in every country of the World using every medium available as the Lord empowers us with the gift of men, materials and finances.
You are involved with Africa-Israel Initiative. What is your role in the organization and what is it all about?
I am the outgoing country director of the Africa-Israel Initiative in Ghana, having occupied the position for three years, and being promoted to the global body. The Africa-Israel Initiative is an advocacy group for Africa-Israel relations, and you can tell that lately Israel has come back to Africa, and Africa is embracing Israel. We want African countries to support Israel at the United Nations level, and for Africa to be blessed by the God of Israel for supporting Israel.
Who is qualified to be a member and what are its benefits?
Every person who loves and prays for Israel is qualified to be a member, and the benefits are the blessings of God who makes rich and adds no sorrow
You are so passionate about Christianity in Africa, What inspired you to specialise in leadership success?
I am a theologian with special interest in the comparative study of African traditional religion and charismatic worship. My emphasis is on practices that lead to definite success in a Christ centered setting, since the practices of the African traditional religious setting has not helped Africa in any way. I want Africans to succeed not through the practice of the African traditional religion, but through the worship of God.
Why do you think countries like China and Singapore have made rapid progress in human and physical development, even though they don’t believe in God as we do?
They have a great work ethic, dedication and discipline. Any person can succeed based on these factors, and where corruption is frowned upon.
There’s a feeling that faith-based religion is making it increasingly difficult for young people to think and solve problems. Have miracles replaced hard work?
Miracles can never replace hard work. There is a place for miracles, and there is a place for hard work. We must remember that the avenue through which God will bless us is the work of our hands.
Did Jesus Christ really exist? How can you prove this without using Bible sources as proof?
Yes, the empty tomb in the garden in Jerusalem, and the eye-witness accounts of James the brother of Jesus, and Mathew the disciple. Most importantly the power that is released at the mention of the name of Jesus that has wrought miracles through me in making the lame walk, creative miracles in correcting physical deformities, and healings. This is more than enough a prove.
If you were to sum up one message from all your teachings, what would it be?
God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we ask or think.
Talking of the Image of God Church, why are many Christians living in the opposite of the good Image of God?
Sanctification is a process. Mind renewal is also a process. As the people continue to hear and study the word, they grow in faith and they get transformed. We have set our own standards but only God has the marking-scheme. Let us allow people to grow at their own pace. The Cocoa tree and the Coco-yam tree can be planted on the same day but they cannot grow, mature, and bear fruits on the same day.
What message do you have for young pastors?
They should persevere. Ministry is not a one way ticket to opulence. It is a call to service in the vineyard. It is a great privilege. There is nothing like failure in ministry. If one city does not accept your word, dust your feet and go to the next city.
What message do you have for Nigerians in living in Ghana?
Be law abiding, and when you are done with your assignment, whether as a worker or a student, just simply return home and contribute your quota to national development.
What message do you have for Nigeria, at this recession time?
Nigeria should take stock and re-appraise herself and know why the country has not developed so much despite the huge human and natural resources at her disposal, and correct all anomalies of leadership.
Your final word.
Do not give up on God, because God will not give up on you.