PENSA 2017: The Conference of Excellence

Pensa 2017

The 2017 National PENSA Conference which was held in Alexandria, Virginia from July 6th to July 9th was themed: “Imitating the Excellence of Christ”. First of all, I must say that it was “gutsy” to have this theme because it would have been a disaster if the conference was anything but excellent. But the leadership led by example and this conference was indeed EXCELLENT beyond words! If you’re going to argue otherwise, I will in all humility gladly sing you this line from the famous hymn.. “I need no other argument.. I need no other plea..”

PENSA 2017 was not perfect! Yes, there were minor miscalculations, misjudgments and mistakes, but it was EXCELLENT. I strongly belive that in the pursuit of excellence, there is forgiveness and grace. When you pursue excellence, people understand when you fumble and are more forgiving to your cause. Excellence in my own opinion is not perfection but the pursuit of perfection with God, with strength, determination, perseverance and endurance. This was what PENSA 2017 was ALL ABOUT. In the lingo of this generation, it was it was LIT! #Lituation

apostle amoakoThis conference ushered in the reigns of Apostle Michael Amoako as the National Head in grand style! When he took over, ‘words on the streets’ was – “he is hip”, “he will transform PENSA”, “he gets it”, “he is youthful”, “the youth will return back to the Church”, “he listens”, “he will fight for the youth” – if anything, this PENSA confirmed what we have said and what people have heard. Apostle Amoako wanted to belong and wanted to get involved. He was not shy to get on the dance floor with the youth and waved his handkerchief to the praise of our maker.

Pastor Mike PortuphyAt this moment, I would like to extend great kudos to the leadership team for the comprehensive planning of this event. This event wouldn’t have been possible without the leadership and guidance of Pastor Mike Portuphy – the National Youth & PENSA Leader. I remember sometime last year, Pastor Mike reached out to me to conduct a survey for the upcoming conference. He wanted to know if people preferred a National Conference to a Regional Conference – I developed and designed the survey and over 70% of the people chose National. As a leader, he had very good reasons to go with a regional event, but just like a good leader, he listened to the voice of the people. He did not stop there – he went further and looked at the survey results and understood what people did not like about the previous conferences and with the help of his team, worked to bring about the changes we all enjoyed this past weekend. With the help  of Assistant National Youth & PENSA leader and the National Secretary (Pastor Foday Kaba Dumbuya and Elder Dr. Arnan) coupled with the leadership of Pastor Potuphy, I’m certain that this shift will move beyond the conference and infiltrate the local assemblies.

Now the breakdown of the Excellent Conference:

  1. musicMusic: Let me start with Music, because this is what stood out first and foremost. The music production possibly consumed a lot of cash, but it was worth it. – money well spent. The sound quality was top notch. The music team led by my own friend Yaw Osei-Owusu performed to the Glory of God and in style! Their outfits were hip and modest. Who said modesty can’t look good? They performed various songs with passion and you can tell they practiced A LOT. I once heard they practiced till 3:00 am – well, excellence comes with a price. They sung with smiles. I noticed something about Deacon Yaw – he did not hog the microphone. We all know he is a gifted singer, but he allowed other gifted musicians to lead. The concert was superb! I believe that some people were healed and had their breakthrough just by singing, dancing and praising their God.
  2. prayersMessage & Prayers: The messages all weekend were GREAT and full of revelations! The messengers of the Gospel seek to empower the youth, encourage them and push them beyond their limits. The messengers were also on time with their messages and left room for prayers. We all took something home to help and aid us in the pursuit of excellence. During prayers, the rooms were still filled! We did not lose the spiritual aspect which has always been the BEDROCK of the Church! This is something which should continue. People were delivered, saved and felt the love of the Holy Spirit through prayers!
  3. Programming: The overall program deserves praise. Service started on time! I have been a long time advocate of the Church taking the lead on when services should start instead of the members dictating when services started. When people realized that the program started with our without them, they wanted to belong. They realized that the big picture is about Christ and not them. People adjusted their behaviors accordingly. If you did not like suits and were invited to the White House, chances are, you would probably find a suit to wear – the culture and environment of the White House determined your behavior. In the pursuit of excellence, the Church should continue this trend to aid people to change their behaviors towards their appointment with God. One aspect of the whole evening which made me smile was the boldness the programming team had. When a preacher was way past his time allotted, they turned off the lights to signal to the preacher that we have to move on. This is not disrespectful, but in the pursuit of excellence we have to constantly aim to move forward and push forward. This is one of the few ways we will achieve our goals.
  4. Breakout Sessions: The breakout sessions provided an avenue for folks to delve deeper into various topics. It served as an opportunity for students to ask questions and it created an atmosphere of learning. One breakout session which I attended and stood out to me was “Evolution vs. Creation”. The room was energized continuously with questions and understanding. Another breakout session which I helped moderate/led with Portia Amofa was titled “Excellence in Academia”. Not to be biased, this was one of the best breakout sessions I have been apart of. The panel members were diverse across various fields of study and diverse with regards to gender! There were three anointed powerful women on the panel! Portia and I were moderators, but we were also allowed to share our “two cents” which also gave the audience a more youthful perspective. The audience were engaged through out the whole event and I just wished we had more time. But this is what excellence looks like!
  5. Breaks: Who would have thought that we would have breaks! Breaks in between programs and sessions were much needed. It is something I wrote about 2 years ago and something I always believed in. The breaks served various purposes: people were willing to attend services early because they KNEW they would get the break to relax, network and rest! During breaks, people who did not fancy the food provided had the freedom to purchase their own food. There were less complaints about food compared to the previous PENSA conferences. One of my youths used breaks to catch up with family.

BONUS: I noticed something interesting. There was less “over policing” as compared to previous conferences. Jesus once told his disciples, GO AND PREACH the Gospel and when you are rejected, wipe the dirt of your feet and move on – Jesus was not only teaching them how to move on, but also teaching them that the Gospel, and what it comes with should not and can’t be forced. This is what I’ve always believed in and it is something I saw. We were not forcing people to come to service, we were not forcing people to participate and we were not forcing people to get involved. We allowed people to make a choice and a decision and we actually bet on the fact that more people will make the right choice and it panned our successfully. While we will want everyone to do the right things, we can’t coerce them to do so – at the end of the day, they are adults and we treated them as such and they responded as such. When Jesus came, He was not so concerned about changing man from bad to good, He was more concerned about the Heart of Man. He knew that if He succeeded in winning the heart of men, He would win them to Himself and eventually, their hearts will influence their actions. PENSA 2017 touched the hearts and minds of this generation and people from all walks of life were scrambling to partake in it.

Before I complete this write up, I would like to conclude with a prophetic message for the body of Christ. I had a short conversation with Apostle Amoako on Sunday after Church and I was telling him about how it will be tough to replicate something like this in the future! Because it was excellent. As a good leader, he said, “we should always try to do more and do better next time”. He does in fact get it! He sees this as the stepping stone to greater things. This reminded me of a prophetic message I received at the beginning on the year.

Prophetic Message To The Leaders & The General Church Body: The year of sowing.

PENSA 2017 Conference was  just the seed sown. More to come!

This is a strong message I recieved at the beginning of the year after praying and waiting on God. I received the message and shared it via Facebook post about this year being the year of sowing. Not knowing it is a strong prophetic word to the nations and to God’s people.

You might have noticed that this year, no matter what the Good News surrounding you and all the Good things, there is sense of tiredness. There is a sense of constant battle. Constant struggle. You seem to be doing a lot. You seem to be over working – there are a lot of ideas and things you want to do and accomplish. Like an experienced boxer who rolls with punches, roll with all of them. It is something good.

Whatever is going on, use this year to sow. There is a massive change going to happen and God wants you to use this year to SOW. What ever you want to sow in, do it now. Business, Education, Family, Kids, Relationships, Marriage, Investments, People, Church, Volunteering, etc. Whatever it is, SOW NOW. Plant your seeds all over the place. The troubling times will last but not long. Do it now. It will cost you – this is not the year to reap. It is to sow. It will cost you. Cost you greatly. Financially, in relationships, or anything. It will come with a prize. But there is a perfect storm coming. So large and so great – the storm will destroy things which you did not sow – after the storm, all that is left is what you have sown and it will germinate with time. A time is coming when God is going to use what you sow now to bless you and others for His Glory. Through out the whole year so far, this is the Prophetic message I am getting. Pray over it and start investing in everything around you. Every single thing.

Joe Darko


Instagram: @joe_darko
Twitter: @joe_darko
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