The $100 million Easter Brunch
A leaflet was shoved into my hands last Wednesday by Minister Bernard, a man I deeply respect with the warning “if you do not turn up to this you owe me £25.00!” I took one look at the leaflet, read what I could decipher from it and quietly, in my head said “Na lie you are not getting my 25.00 quid; I am attending”. Minister B of course not knowing he had me at “Hello” continued with his sales pitch… as I looked on pretending I needed convincing. My fake facial grimaces and hmmms must have been Hollywood-esque enough to keep the poor man working harder to convince me.
The combination of including the promise of good food, God and business inspiration (not necessarily in that order) is my achilles’ heel, one that ironically like most folks’ achilles’ heels has the effect of triggering empowerment and not potential downfall, except hmm ok the food bit. The leaflet had all three ingredients. How could I possibly say no!?
The meeting was at Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire, 45 miles from London. A large town I’d been to once and disliked. The thought of meandering for miles trying to work out the town’s street grid system, as I did the last time I went there was not something to look forward to. However, as it happened others I knew were also attending. I asked and was offered a ride by Sir Rhys. We picked up Uncle Kofi and departed from London by quarter to 9 for what I hoped will be the mother of all Easter brunches. The grid system once again shoved itself into our minds. After about 15 minutes trying to figure out which street led to the location and a couple of phone calls to one of the organisers, we navigated this hyper American street system to get to our destination, the Jury’s inn. The Jury’s inn is not exactly the Hilton, but it had all i’d expect to see for a “straight to business” kind breakfast meeting without the whistles and bells.
The first of the three reasons, food, or more accurately brunch was devoured and unceremoniously dispatched in record time. As I sipped my black coffee the man who I had given up my prized Saturday morning for was introduced by the Reverend Araba Beecham of Action Chapel Milton keynes. Mr Gideon Akrofi was apparently a “Surveyor”, Ghana parlance for Quantity Surveyor. He was also the founder of Grace Oil, owned 27 petrol (filling) stations and a CEO of a haulage company. All that was well and good, but admittedly, at that point my coffee seemed like the star in my eyes until of course the man himself took to the stage and donated £50,000 to the church within seconds. I sat straight up in a split mini, micro or is it atom sized second as my backbone protested – something about giving it a bit of warning next time – and slowly pushed my beloved coffee a few inches away. Thoughts of what, yours truly could do with that 50k never crossed my mind of course, certainly not this totally sanctified mind of mine, or did it? My memory fails.
After composing myself, I managed to take a few notes. Mr Akrofi explained why today happened. He had shared a few nuggets with folks at Church last Sunday and was surprised by the number of people who came up to him afterwards, I guess to tap more into what he had shared. The breakfast meeting, he explained was put on his heart by God to reach more people with his message.
I believe he was also super kind enough to finance the event.
A couple of themes or more accurately “secrets” to success were discussed.
Honouring your father and mother – Deuteronomy 5:16 was the first. The entrepreneur took us back to something he did at age 28. He had a goal to build his own house by 28. He accomplished this goal, but then decided to give the house to his parents whilst he began to scramble to find somewhere to rent. His landlord turned out to be a fraud and he once again was forced to move on with his wife, except this time round he uprooted to Haatso a far flung part of Accra, a Nazareth in some ways where not much of note goes on. The Chief in Haatso needed a Quantity Surveyor (QS) to help him and it just so happened that Mr Akrofi, a QS had just moved into Haatso. I think you can guess what happens next.
Indulge me…..Allow me to re-iterate…..
The man had just swapped a life of safety under his own roof for insecurity in Haatso, which to all intents and purposes seemed to the naked eye a little bit better than the Sahara. He had just swapped the ordinary and put all he had into a few words written by folks who adored a man born and bred in Nazareth, perhaps an equally desolate land for the hope of doing, just like Jesus of Nazareth the super ordinary. Mr Akrofi’s business and financial breakthrough he said begun when he was sold a piece of land by the Haatso Chief. In reality though, as he put it himself “The biggest factor in my success is giving my house to my parents”. That was his Genesis. His Deuteronomy 5:16 moment.
The other two themes or secrets also revolved around giving. First, consistently paying tithes and giving first fruits. Mr Akrofi quoted Leviticus 27:30 and Malachi 3:10-11 and narrated a rather amusing, but serious story of how his car was stolen. The car was stolen by armed robbers who threw out his brother in law, the driver. He called the Director General of police and the Head of Ghana’s C.I.D both of whom he knew – I guess one of the perks that men of means have is to have the nation’s top police men on speed dial. School boy error I guess on the part of the armed robbers. If only they had boned up on market segmentation, targeting and the other one….market positioning!…. Worse was to come for the armed robbers. This man of God decided to go down on his knees to plead with God for the return of his beloved car within the next 24 hours! Note to self – Bone up on Faith! The answer did come, but in a form that dumbfounded him and strengthened his faith in God even further. He got a phone call that the car had been found, within 24 hours as he asked, but not by the “great” and “all conquering” powers of the Director General of police’s office or the C.I.D, but by a 70 year old woman who got suspicious and questioned the thieves who were then apprehended by her and others. Note to self – Bone up on Malachi 3:10-11 – the vision of the devourer being chased away and apprehended by feeble and frail 70 year olds alone makes it worth it.
2014, Mr Akrofi explained, was a difficult and challenging year for real estate in Ghana. He told us a story of how his real estate business flourished as his competitors’ businesses struggled. He believes that Proverbs 3:9-10 which talks about first fruits was a Biblical principle that he stood on and which he believes led to increased sales. His first fruits consisted of giving his local Church the first few houses his company built – I believe in proportion to the percentage required for tithing or $400,000 in monetary terms.
The great Sir Rhys who I know now is very very tough (incredible what you learn about people on road trips 🙂 now tells me he is on twitter – @therhysa (time to move out of the neighbourhood then :)) and who is running a similar inspiration filled event in a few weeks was “strategically picked” to give a 3 minute speech on Unleashing Your Potential.
As usual Sir Rhys delved a bit deeper. He flipped things around by getting us to think about not what we earned first, but to see the starting point as setting yourself a goal about how much you’d want to tithe and then working towards earning the kind of income that will make that possible. A practical take on literally putting God first I guess. A £1000.00 tithe goal every month for example will require an income of £10,000 a month! The way of course you “work” on that £10,000 monthly income is to “ask the Lord to unleash the potential in you” by giving you the tools and equipment – determination, hunger, networks, faith, belief to follow on the path carved by men like Mr Akrofi.
The 90 mile road trip to and from Milton Keynes with Sir Rhys and Uncle Kofi was just as informative and every bit as convicting and exhilarating as the brunch itself. The only difference was Mr Akrofi had a powerful testimony based on a few Bible principles that he believed in and practiced and which has ultimately led to, in his words, a “$100 million” business empire. Nevertheless, we had a wisdom filled Easter brunch worth a $100 million which I am sure Mr Akrofi, the man who once gave up his house to start all over again, would give his fortune away to listen to had he been in our seats!
Who ever has ears…………