When Olivia Amartey was 16 years old, her friend from school invited her to a church service—one of those good ol’ time Gospel crusades. Olivia went and that’s when it all began…
On the first night, when the altar call was given, Olivia—out of curiosity, she admits now—went forward.
“I don’t even know why I went,” she said. “I just went, but the experience was amazing! Right there, that night, I was sanctified and filled with the Holy Spirit. Looking back at it now, I can only say it must have been like Paul’s conversion experience. It felt as if someone had flicked the switch on and let the light flood my entire being.”
Olivia spent the rest of her teenage years and early adulthood serving in a number of church ministries with the Church of God of Prophecy: youth leadership, women’s ministry, teaching and preaching.
Fast forward to 2012. Olivia had achieved a lot in both her personal and spiritual life. She was a rising professional in the NHS; she was active in her local church, and she had founded a charity – Martha’s Oasis – that was successfully working to build self-esteem among vulnerable teenaged girls who were at risk of dropping out of school or becoming pregnant.
Despite all this, Olivia had had a difficult year and felt herself at a crossroad. “What do I want to do?” she asked herself, as well as the Lord.
Olivia had always felt that there was a call from God on her life, but she was uncertain of what that entailed. She surmised that it could probably mean something in the business field or para-church work. With the uncertainty mounting, she spent the next few months praying for direction, during which she told God that she would do whatever He wanted her to do. She would even go into the ministry if that’s what He wanted but, even though Olivia knew she had a gift for leading people, and even though she was uncertain of which path to take, she knew that she did not want to be a pastor.
At the end of her months of prayer, Olivia decided that she would honour God by working hard to reach the top of her field in the NHS, and that she would relaunch Martha’s Oasis. But God had other plans.
One day, Mark Ryan, Senior Pastor at Birmingham City Church, where Olivia was a member and church elder, said to her, “I think you ought to think about going into the ministry. My door is open. Come and talk to me about it?”
“What?” Olivia thought. “I’m almost 50. That’s a bit too old to seriously be thinking about ministerial studies, isn’t it?”
Nevertheless, Olivia discussed it with her Pastor, and also tested the thoughts with other godly individuals. However, it was when Bishop Wilton Powell, from her former Church of God of Prophecy, approached her one day and said, “I don’t understand why you are not in ministry. What are you waiting for?” that Olivia finally thought there might be something to this after all. Excitement tinged Olivia’s voice as she said, “The rest is history.”
After three gruelling years of study, alongside full-time work, the responsibilities of being a single mother and pioneering a church in her third year of study, Pastor Olivia Amartey emerged, earlier this year, as a fully fledged minister from the Elim Regents Theological Bible College.
“God has been so faithful all the way,” Olivia said. “He has sent confirmations, opened doors, provided people to mentor and encourage me, and has unfolded His plan. It is not my doing.
“It was especially nerve wracking for me to even consider the possibility of pioneering a church during my studies. As an experienced project manager, I had to have all the steps planned out, all the resources in place, but this was not the case where the church plant project was concerned. Yet, the sense of calling to do it at that time just would not leave.”
Olivia explained that she prayed about it and discussed it with a trusted friend, and finally shelved the idea. But then, a few days later, Pastor Nigel Tween telephoned her and asked, “Have you thought about planting a church?” He offered to support her on it, but it wasn’t until his third phone call that Olivia realised she could not allow fear to stop her from taking the plunge.
“So many significant things happened along the way,” Olivia said. “We could not even find a suitable venue, but when we approached the school governors at Q3 Academy in Great Barr, we were told that they had been praying for years for a church to be planted in the school!
“Crosspoint Church was planted in May 2015, and it is amazing to see how far God has brought us in one year. We have grown from 10 people to between 60 and 70, with 15 children, on a typical Sunday. We’ve had weddings, christenings, baptisms and have even sent someone to Kenya to scope the field in preparation for sending out our first short-term missionaries next year.
“And we are about to launch the Crosspoint Hub in the Scott Arms Shopping Centre, right in the heart of Great Barr—in between two betting shops! It will be an excellent venue to host community events with the aim of reaching even more people.”
Pastor Amartey added, “It is my passion to see people come to Jesus. I could have missed a great opportunity to see lives changed if I had not said ‘Yes’. God can take you at your most vulnerable, and use you to create fabulous things if you lay aside fear and simply say ‘Yes’.”