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New American Voices: Minister From Ghana Builds A Columbus Congregation

Rev. Prince Bonsu, a native of Ghana, pastors Charisma Word Ministry at 2975 Morse Rd., Columbus.
Sam Hendren
/
89.7 NPR News
Rev. Prince Bonsu, a native of Ghana, pastors Charisma Word Ministry at 2975 Morse Rd., Columbus.

Over the decades thousands of immigrants from scores of countries have made Central Ohio their home.  Ghana native Reverend Prince Bonsu says God brought him to Columbus to start a church.

Behind a car stereo business on Morse Road are the offices and sanctuary for Charisma Word Ministry.  It’s a small, non-denominational Christian church with Pentecostal leanings.

“God we thank you, we give you praise.  In Jesus’ mighty name, amen.”

Leading the congregation is Rev. Prince Bonsu.  Before coming to the United States Bonsu ministered in his home country of Ghana in West Africa.  But America, he says, always fascinated him.

“On the news, on TV, in films, and everything, mostly everybody talked about America more than any other place in the world, so to me, I knew more about America than any other place, and it was my dream to come here.  To come and see what America is,” Bonsu says. 

So he did.  Bonsu moved to the U.S. and settled in New York City. Language he says was his greatest hurdle.  Even though he’d learned English while growing up in Ghana, it was the American dialect that gave him the most trouble.

“The most problem I faced was the accent.   Because in Ghana, we are trained by the British. So our accent is different.   Some words actually mean different in America.  And it was very, very tough integrating with the people as far as language is concerned,” he says.

Bonsu first visited Columbus at the invitation of a friend.  Once here, he says, he fell in love with the city.

“I was praying at that time as to what God would have me to do. So I came to visit my friend.  And then, I got to love Columbus, Ohio.  Rent was a little lesser than New York and the population here.  I fell in love with Columbus and that’s how we ended up in Columbus, yes,” he says.

The husband and father of four now presides over a congregation of almost 100 people.  Services are held Sunday mornings and Wednesday and Friday nights.  

We have white people, we have black people, we have all kinds of people:  Africans, Americans, then also even in Africa we have people from different countries.  So we don’t stick to one style of praises, we are open.  And as the leader flows in the spirit, whatever God will lay on their heart then they will come out with it and it serves a very good purpose and everyone gets happy and gets what they want to have before they go.

Rev. Bonsu says life in American is not as easy as he’d imagined.  But he’s not disappointed because the standard of living is so much better in the U.S.  Still Bonsu has mixed emotions.

“I call myself an American because I have an American passport.  But I still like to be a Ghanaian.  Home sweet home!  Even though I’ve been here for 15 years, I’m still learning, but Ghana where I came from, no learning, I just “flow,” in Ghana I just flow when I go there no matter how many years I’ve lived here. I’m an American because I am a naturalized American but I still like to be a Ghanaian, yes,” Bonsu says.  

Bonsu says he’s not sure where God will lead next. 

“I have a plan for Africa and Ghana.  But for now I have to build a foundation.  I have to be strong enough in myself and I believe America will help me to do that,” he says.

And Columbus, Bonsu says, is part of the plan…

“God opened the way to Columbus and I’ve been blessed by coming here.  I’m so happy that I’m here,” Bonsu says.