Changing the Roots

Evangel Interview with Timothy Kaomi Gbo (a regional superintendent of 15 African countries for the Church of God. He also pastors a church in Lomé, Togo, where he is the national overseer. Lomé is one of World Mission’s City of Light projects.)

by Lance Colkmire
    Discuss your spiritual upbringing.

My father went to a Catholic primary school, but he did not give his life to Christ. When he started working, he faced some demonic attacks and nearly died. So his mother turned to idol worship, trying to protect the family. That is why I grew up in an idol-worshiping family.

When one of my mother’s brothers became very sick, she took him to a witch doctor for three months, but he kept getting worse. Someone told her, “Why don’t you take him to church? Church people also can heal.” So she took her brother to an Assemblies of God church.

An evangelist from the United States was preaching. My mother stood up while he was still preaching and started walking to the altar. The ushers stopped her and asked her where she was going. She told them, “I want to give my life to Christ.” They told her to wait; he would make the call. She told them, “No. I want to give my life to Christ now.”

Her brother was not healed, but my mother was a different person when she came back home. She was very happy. She was singing the songs she had heard. She was totally different. The following day, she was singing as she was sweeping, and a voice spoke to her: Why don’t you check yourself? Don’t you know that you’ve been healed? She was seriously sick herself, but she realized she had been healed.

    How old were you when this happened?

I was 12. So we now had a Christian at home. Everybody persecuted her, starting with my father, and including me. We didn’t want a Christian. My grandmother from my father’s side felt like my mother meant to destroy our family’s foundation of idol worship. We were going to be vulnerable, in her thinking.

One of my younger brothers became very sick. It was mid-day, and he collapsed. We wanted to get a taxi to take him to the hospital, but my mother took him to her room and locked the door. We were all knocking on the door, thinking this crazy woman was going to kill our brother. She started praying seriously in the room, and after a while she was rejoicing and singing songs to thank God. Then she opened the door and our brother was perfect. That day my mind changed. I realized this woman had found something serious.

My mother began to take my eleven brothers and sisters to church, one after another. That year when she gave her life to Christ, Reinhard Bonnke held a crusade in Togo. That was a big event. Bonnke was doing something I had done in my dreams; many times I had seen it, but I never understood that it had anything to do with church. I was thinking I would become a prominent politician someday. Only politicians were talking to the crowds. But when I saw Bonnke preaching that day, I understood what I had been seeing in my dreams. But I became nervous and confused. I didn’t give my life to Christ.

My mother would try to take me to church, but my father and I would not go. I was involving myself in things that were not good for me. I learned martial arts and I became very violent. I would go to school with a knife to protect myself. I was not doing well in school anymore. I had some bad friends.

Someone at school invited me to a Bible study. The preacher gave a strong word on who is a Christian. That day it became clear that I was going to hell. That message was preached in 1992, but it is still in my mind today.

    How did you become a Christian?

Later in 1992, during school vacation, my father was in the north of the country doing some work. My mother had gone to Ghana to visit family, and my brothers and sisters had scattered to different places and family members. But I stayed home.

I became seriously sick with malaria on August 7. I prayed, “God of my mother, if You heal me, I will give my life to You. I will serve You.” The next morning, I was fine.

On Wednesday, August 12, I walked to a church five miles from my house. The pastor was my uncle on my mother’s side. He was surprised to see me. He gave me a chair and some water and wanted to know why I was there. I said, “I am here to give my life to Christ.”

He instantly ran to his room and got his Bible. It was like, I better hurry before this guy changes his mind. So he went through the Gospel with me and asked if I was willing to give my life to Christ. I already knew what I should do because of that message I heard in school. Together we prayed, and I gave my life to Jesus Christ. I was 16 years old.

My uncle gave me a Bible and a notebook. That day I read the Book of Matthew and started reading Mark. I made notes about the verses that were very interesting to me.

That Sunday there was church service. After the preaching, everybody was praying. Suddenly I started praying too, and I was not able to stop. I don’t know what I was saying. The pastor and an elderly woman finally called me aside and asked me what happened. I said, “I don’t know.”

They said, “Were you trying to copy what others were saying?”

“What were they saying?” I asked.

They finally told me, “You’ve got something that people have been looking for; some of them for years. You’ve got something very precious.

I asked, “What is it?”

“The baptism in the Holy Spirit.”

I didn’t know what they were talking about.

I stayed with my uncle because it was vacation time. One day he sent me out to buy something for him. I ran into one of my friends from school. This was a month after I had been baptized in the Holy Spirit. Before I got close to him, he started asking, “What happened to you? Where have you been? Why have you changed like this?”

I said, “Well, I’ve started going to church.”

He said, “You’ve started going to church, and the church changed you like this? Other people have been going to church but I’ve never seen anything like this.”

That same week my father came back from the north and was told that I went to the church and had stayed there for a month now. So he came for me on his motorbike. He came angry to the church and knocked at the gate. When he saw me open the gate, he was very surprised. I welcomed him, but he couldn’t answer. My father is like my best friend, and I knew he wouldn’t be happy that I went to church.

I called my pastor. He tried to speak to my father, but he would not answer; he concentrated on me. Then he asked, “Is that my son?”

The pastor said, “Yes.”

“How can one month in church change somebody like that?” my father asked. “Church is a good thing; it is good for him.”

He then said, “Pastor, I am giving him to you. Take care of him.”

I stayed there for three years.

    Describe your call into ministry.

One Sunday, somebody preached on the call of God. The message was, “If God calls you, don’t fear it. Go! He will be with you. But if He hasn’t called you, don’t dare.”

I went back to my room after the service and said, God, I want to serve You. I want to be a pastor. If You call me, I will do it.

One night in a dream, it was very clear God was calling me. I got confirmation from my pastor and my church; and even at school, people were calling me “pastor.”

When I first started attending church, my uncle told me I would have to stop playing football (soccer). He said God doesn’t want people to play football, and I believed him. But when I was 19 years old preparing to leave him, he said, “I have to make a confession. God never hated football. If you play football, God will not prevent you from going to heaven. I was concerned about what impact your friends would have on you. But now you understand the Word of God. You have made your choice, and I know you will make it in life. If you want to play football, then play.”

I began training myself seriously to play football. Most of the guys who played on Togo’s national team were friends of mine. They knew how I could play, and they wanted me on the team.

I joined a football league, and the national team was watching me. The last game I played in, I was a midfielder. I got the ball, dribbled past three defenders, and passed the ball to a forward. No one touched me, but I fell down and couldn’t stand up. People helped me get up and took me off the field. I was told, “In two weeks, you’ll be fine.” Two weeks, six months, and then one year later, I was not fine.

The message became clear—God did not want me to play football. It was difficult for me to accept because my childhood dream was to help Togo win the World Cup. But God wanted me in ministry. Finally, one night at church, I knelt down and said, God, today I give You my life; I give You everything. You make the decision, and I will follow.

I went to see Bishop Francis, the overseer of the Church of God in Togo. He told me they were looking for students at a Bible school in Ghana, and he was sending me there.

At the Bible school, some students played football. At first I would not follow them, because of my injury. One day I did play with them, and I realized the pain was gone. I asked myself, Could it be that God healed me because I had obeyed Him by coming to the Bible school?

After the first year of Bible school, I came back home at vacation time. I was going to Bishop Francis’ church, but it was 10 miles from my house, and I didn’t have any means of transportation. I asked myself, Why don’t I start a church?

I began to pray about it. My bishop said, “No, you can’t, because there is no money to do that.”

Well, I was convinced that God was on my side. We started in a small office. The first day we were in that office, a man gave his life to Christ. He came back two hours later and said, “Pastor, I have found a place for you.” It was a school classroom. The school’s director said yes, we could come. That’s how I became a pastor.

I was still in Bible school. Every Friday I traveled from school to the church to minister over the weekend. On Sunday evening, I would go back to the school.

    Let’s talk about your roles as pastor, national overseer, and regional superintendent. What is your passion and vision for Western Africa?

After nine years of pastoring, I also became overseer of Togo in 2011. In 2018, I became regional superintendent. At the beginning, I was thinking this was too much for me. But then I understood this was actually God’s calling.

I don’t want to stop pastoring; it is my passion. If I stop pastoring and am doing only administrative work, the fire would be quenched. My passion is the presence of God. As a pastor, an overseer, a superintendent—the passion is one.
I want to see the fire of God falling, burning. I want to devote myself to God so He can use me.

God has given us a passion for children’s ministry. This developed because we have seen the church in Africa is very wide but the Bible knowledge is not there. God spoke to us that we should teach the kids. The church that will grow from these children will be a different church than we have now.

We are doing what we are calling “Changing the Roots.” That means we are taking children’s ministry into communities that have nothing to do with church or Christ. There we are starting children’s clubs. We gather groups of children once or twice a week to train them in the Bible. We will also have an annual children’s rally. At that rally we will have a Bible competition.

There is a club we started under a tree that today is reaching 2,000 kids. When we began, people were trying to bring suit against us because the kids were no longer accepting the idol-worshiping practices. People went to the voodoo priest to stop the children’s ministry under the tree. The priest said, “Haven’t you seen any transformation in the lives of your children?”

They said, “What do you mean?”

He said, “Well, my kids have stopped lying. They have stopped stealing. They have stopped misbehaving since they have been going to that tree. I think it is better that we help them instead of stop them.”

That village where it is difficult for someone to give you a dollar gave us $8,000 to buy land for the children’s ministry. In that place, the roots will change. They are changing already.