It seemed like a lonely journey devoid of the presence of God, when Bishop Dag Heward-Mills began ministering the good news of Jesus Christ to the lost souls of the world. This vision has not faded, but has intensified to the point of desperation because Christ’s coming is imminent. This vision has birthed Lighthouse Chapel International and many other ministries, confirming the tangible presence and will of God. To God be all the glory as we remember and record our small beginnings and how far God has brought us.
When he gained admission into the University of Ghana Medical School in October 1982, ‘Brother’ Dag as he was known as at the time, began a branch of Calvary Road Incorporated (CRI). This group was made up of young vibrant Christians reaching the world through Music and Drama. In that same year ‘Brother’ Dag met Sister Adelaide Baiden on campus during one of his many follow-up visits to her hall of residence while trying to start CRI.
The group attracted both the curious and those hungry and thirsty for the Lord and one such person was ‘Brother’ EATS who turned up one November day in the same year at a CRI meeting. Inspired and burning with a zeal shared by ‘Brother’ Dag, EATS decided to join CRI.
However events took a different turn when the government of the day closed down Universities for ten months. Towards the end of 1982, ‘Brother’ Dag left the country for England and worked under the Leadership of Pastor Michael Bassett in Victory Church. The burning desire to share the gospel was very much alive in his heart and so he channelled all his energies into music and the follow up ministry of the church where he met Robert Dodoo who became deputy head Usher of Victory Church. The two carried on in their various roles in church while maturing in Christian fellowship with each other as they constantly shared their ever burning desire to share their experience of salvation with all who will listen.
When the Universities re-opened in March 1984 ‘Brother’ Dag returned to Ghana and a resumption of CRI meetings. On 22nd October of the same year ‘Brother’ Eddy a first year student turned up at one of the meetings and decided to join CRI. A relationship which was fuelled by a love for God and for humanity began to form among the three ‘Brothers’ who continued working assiduously to share the gospel, in addition to studying.
In spite of stirrings by the Spirit of God to resign from CRI while still at Legon, ‘Brother’ Dag stayed on and still carried on with his duties at CRI. As he prayed for, visited, counselled and interacted with members of both sexes he decided on a relationship with Sister Adelaide Baiden on August 26 1985. At the time he was on a community health rotation at the Medical School.
In September of the same Year ‘Brother’ Dag was transferred to Korle-Bu with the rest of the MB III class of the Medical School. This signalled the beginning of yet another group who met to pray at the Korle-Gonno beach from 10PM TO 12AM every night. Unfortunately, the nightly prayer meetings were brought to an abrupt end when the group was attacked by drug addicts on the beach.
Undeterred, the meetings continued on the Indadfa Park but this was also terminated because of an attack by some armed men. Then started the Dawn Broadcasts or simply put, preaching at dawn. Even though ‘Brother’ EATS preached his heart out, it was immediately met with hostile opposition and an unpleasant reaction from the Medical students.
In the midst of this hostility, in 1986, Dawn Broadcasts were also started at the NTC’s House 10 where a lot of souls were won to Christ that dawn. These precious saints became the first members of CRI Korle-Bu branch. Finally heeding to the leading of the Holy Spirit to leave CRI and to begin a church, ‘Brother’ Dag made his assistant at Legon, the leader of CRI Korle-Bu. This was also in preparation for his imminent departure from CRI.
The Korle-Bu branch soon began to meet for Sunday Services at the Korle-Bu Christian Centre and ‘Brother’ EAT preached at the first service at the Medical School Auditorium. Subsequent services however, were held at the school of Hygiene Lecture Room. This arrangement was short-lived because the Head of Anatomy Department refused to allow the fellowship to continue meeting at the auditorium. Even though the climate seemed discouraging and the prospects daunting, the fellowship continued to meet at the School of Hygiene Lecture Room on Sunday mornings and Tuesday evenings as well as having all-nights in the open forecourt of the Medical School Auditorium. As expected the church came under attack and persecution from Medical Students who claimed that their worship was a nuisance to them. Following on, a delegation of Medical Students led by a female met with the Dean of the Medical School, Professor Akyeampong requesting that the church be closed down or relocated.
The Dean contacted the Principal of the School of Hygiene on this matter and even though the outcome was in favour of the church as they had the Principal’s full support, the CRI Headquarters objected to the holding of Sunday services, indicating that their vision was not to start a church at this time. ‘Brother’ Dag then resigned from CRI and a few weeks later his assistant who was in charge of the CRI Korle-Bu branch also resigned, leaving the fellowship without a leader.
Soon after, ‘Brother’ Dag informed ‘Brother’ EATS of his intention to start a church. ‘Brother’ EATS was in full support of the decision but anxious about its viability and potential success so he suggested that the church begun in Nsawam, a small town not far from the capital Accra
In 1987, in the early hours of the New Year at Mensah Sarbah Hall, Legon, ‘Brother’ Dag decided to obey God and become a Pastor. He informed ‘Brother’ Asamoah and ‘Brother’ EATS of this final decision to take up the role of pastoring the remnants of Korle-Bu Christian Centre (KCC). Following this decision, CRI Headquarters officially dissociated themselves from ‘Brother’ Dag and KCC. To drive home their point, the entire executive of CRI came to KCC; into the School of Hygiene Lecture Room on a Sunday morning and delivered a letter, officially ex-communicating ‘Brother’ Dag. The executive were not given the chance to address the congregation but their message and letter were received upstairs after the service. ‘Brother’ Dag announced to the fellowship that he was now their pastor much to the dissatisfaction of some of the leadership who therefore became disloyal to his cause. In the same month, Pastor Dag decided to change the name of KCC to ‘The Lighthouse’ because he believed that the vision of the Lighthouse extended beyond the suburb of Korle-Bu. More of the original group that formed KCC however became disenchanted with Pastor Dag’s leadership and criticised him endlessly.
In September 1987, ‘Brother’ Eddy Addy who had completed his course at the University decided to attend ‘The Lighthouse’ regularly along with EAT Sackey and ‘Brother’ Jake Godwyll. They went on the church’s first ever crusade at Agbozume. As events progressed, the main assistant of Pastor Dag came under immense pressure from certain pastors in the town to leave ‘The Lighthouse’. At the same time, another pastor who had once been a regular attendee to CRI meetings when Pastor Dag was leader, refused an invitation to preach at ‘The Lighthouse’ claiming that he did not ‘sow among thorns’.
As God had purposed, the church expanded even amidst intense disloyalty and members spilled onto the upstairs corridor of the School of Hygiene. Under the direction of the Holy Spirit Pastor Dag decided to make changes to the leadership of the ever growing church and in December 1987, during a meeting at the Medical Students Hostel. Bro. EAT Sackey became Pastor Dag’s assistant and the leader of Tuesday services.
So began the new year of 1988 with a new team of leaders assisting Pastor Dag. In April ‘The Lighthouse’ moved to the School of Hygiene Lecture Theatre downstairs with its 100 members and soon had to move upstairs because membership doubled. Subsequently KCC became officially known as The Lighthouse Chapel and so began its vision of being a lighthouse to the lost.
In the middle of building a church and winning souls for Christ, Pastor Dag completed his medical studies on 10th March, 1989 and qualified as a Medical Doctor. A month later, on April 1, he started work as a House Officer based at the Paediatric Surgical department and then followed this milestone with the blessing of his marriage to Sister Adelaide Baiden on June 8th 1989. Pastor EAT Sackey had the immense pleasure and honour of officiating the ceremony between Pastor and Mrs Dag Heward-Mills at 4pm, at the Trinity College, Accra Ghana.
Prior to this, LCI had moved to the Medical School Canteen for Sunday services while week day services were held at the Basic Sciences Department. Here many successes were celebrated including the church’s first wedding between Mr and Mrs Bernard Brocke.
In July of the same year, the church moved its offices to N46 at the House Officers' flats. That same year in September, Pastor Eddy relocated to Akuse to take up a new position with the Volta River Authority.
Pastor Dag rendered an apology to the leaders of CRI for the error he committed towards them at the inception of The Lighthouse Chapel and in the spirit of love; the CRI leadership assured him of their forgiveness and a restoration of relationship.
With the vision of reaching the lost beyond Korle-Bu still in focus, Pastor Dag changed the church’s name from The Lighthouse Chapel to The Lighthouse Chapel International on 23rd December, 1989. A week later there was a celebration of marriage between Pastor and Mrs Dag Heward Mills at the Commonwealth Hall Chapel followed by a reception at Mamfe Hall, Gimpa, Accra.
Pastor Dag still combined work as a House Officer and lay Pastor without compromising on prayer. Many times during prayer retreats he held in Akuse with Bro EATS and Sis Cynthia, Sis Adelaide, Bro Eddy and Sis Adina, the Lord spoke, encouraging the vision.
In 1990, Pastor Dag officiated his first wedding between Pastor EAT Sackey and Cynthia Acquah. Soon after in the same year Pastor Dag was ordained at the Victory Church, Finchley Road in London by Pastor Michael Basset and was also extended an invitation to preach at the same church.
Due to church growth, with a 500 membership, LCI International started double services in the canteen. In the meantime Pastor Dag did odd jobs in Europe to raise finances that will enable him launch into full time ministry and with additional financial support from his sister.
Many years have come and gone since those early days ...