Bishop Charles Agyinasare, who used to teach Christians about investing 20% of their income as Joseph advised Pharoah to do in the Bible, has said he finds it difficult giving investment counsel these days because the current crisis in Ghana’s financial sector has worsened the uncertainty that surrounds investment decisions.
In his Sunday, 15 September 2019 sermon at the Perez Dome, Dzorwulu, the Presiding Bishop of Perez Chapel International confessed to his congregations that: “Two weeks ago, a gentleman wrote to me and said: ‘Bishop, I know you’ve been teaching on investment; how do you want me to invest?’ And for two weeks now, I’ve not been able to say anything because we live in a time when our financial sector has had a big hit and there’s a lot of uncertainty”.
“And, so”, he continued: “Even though I used to teach a lot on investment, it’s difficult for me to say because last year nine major banks were closed, this year 347 microfinance companies have been closed, 23 savings and loans and finance houses have also been closed. So… hello! So, how can I …?” he despaired.
The closures of the 23 S&L companies marked the completion of the Bank of Ghana’s clean-up of the banking, specialised deposit-taking (SDI), and non-bank financial institutions (NBFI) sectors which began in August 2017.
It followed the revocation of the licences of nine (9) universal banks, 347 microfinance companies (of which 155 had already ceased operations), 39 microcredit companies/money lenders (10 of which had already ceased operations), 15 savings and loans companies, eight (8) finance house companies, and two (2) non-bank financial institutions that had already ceased operations.
According to Bishop Agyinasare, the financial crisis “reminds me of Jesus’ scripture in Matthew 6:19 – 21. It says: ‘Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also’.
“What I’m trying to say simply”, Bishop Agyinasare explained to his congregation, “Is that: Beloved, if all your treasures are on earth here, there’s a lot of uncertainty because some of those banks that closed last year, they were banks that had properties, banks that had won the best ‘whatever’ every year”.
“Some of the microfinance companies that have been closed down, they were companies that when they had the CEOs summit, they’ll be the best company that has done this, the best company that has done that; yet, they could go down. So, Jesus was saying that our treasures should not just be here [earth]”, he noted.
“And, so, today, I’m speaking on multiplication in financial crisis. If you don’t know we have a financial crisis going on, you don’t live in Ghana. Because with the list I gave you, if all these banks have closed down and these financial institutions have closed down, it means a lot of people have also lost their jobs. And when a lot of people lose their jobs it means that money [becomes hard to come by]. And, so, how do you multiply in times like this?” he asked.
Bishop Agyinasare used the true story about the nine powerful financiers in the US in the 1920s who, within a quarter of a century lost all their investments and had terrible ends in life because their earthly treasures were not rooted in God, to buttress his point about Christians not investing all their treasures here on earth.
He summed up that story thus:
The 9 Financiers
In 1923, there was a meeting of America’s most powerful men which took place at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago.
Attending the meeting were the following nine financiers and power brokers:
Charles Schwab the president of America’s largest independent steel company (Bethlehem Steel),
Samuel Insull, the president of America’s largest utility company (Edison General Electric),
Howard Hobson the president of America’s largest gas company(Associated Gas & Electric System),
Richard Whitney the president of the New York Stock Exchange,
Leon Fraser, the president of the First Bank of New York & International Settlements,
Arthur Cutten, the nation’s greatest wheat speculator,
Jesse Livermore, the nation’s greatest bear and speculator on Wall Street,
Ivar Kruger, the head of the world’s greatest monopoly (The Match King)
Albert Fall, a member of President Hoover Harding’s cabinet.
The purpose of the meeting was both a celebration of their success as well as an opportunity to plan their future exploits and dominance.
These were the captains of their respective industries and some of the most successful businessmen of the era
But how did things turn out for these distinguished gentlemen?
Within 25 years, all of these great men had met a horrific end to their careers or their lives by being dead, broke or in prison:
The president of the largest steel company, Charles Schwab, died a bankrupt man;
The president of the largest utility company, Samuel Insull, died penniless;
The president of the largest gas company, Howard Hobson, suffered a mental breakdown, ending up in an insane asylum;
The president of the New York Stock Exchange, Richard Whitney, had just been released from prison;
The bank president, Leon Fraser, had taken his own life;
The wheat speculator, Arthur Cutten, died penniless.
The head of the world’s greatest monopoly, Ivar Krueger the “Match king”, also had taken his life.
The member of President Harding’s cabinet, Albert Fall, had just been given a pardon from prison so that he could die at home.
As for the Wall Street Bear, Jesse Lauriston Livermore, the famous speculator in the stock and commodities markets, his end is perhaps the most tragic of all. A week after Thanksgiving in 1940, Jesse walked into the Sherry-Netherland Hotel in New York, had two drinks at the bar while scribbling something in his notebook, he then proceeded to the cloakroom where he sat on a stool and shot himself in the head. He was 62 and left behind $5 million, down from the $100 million fortune he had amassed just ten years earlier.
And the note he had scribbled? It read: ‘My dear Nina: Can’t help it. Things have been bad with me. I am tired of fighting. Can’t carry on any longer. This is the only way out. I am unworthy of your love. I am a failure. I am truly sorry, but this is the only way out for me. Love Laurie’.
“These were men that 25 years earlier, were the power brokers and the main people in town. I’m still buttressing the point that your treasures should not just be on earth here”, he said.
Quoting Psalm 52:7 which says: ‘Lo, this is the man that made not God his strength; but trusted in the abundance of his riches, and strengthened himself in his wickedness’, Bishop Agyinasare said: “Beloved, if you see someone who is rich today and does not care about God, don’t let that person be your example”, adding: “Proverbs 10:22 says; ‘The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it’”.