Lighthouse loses case against resigned bishop, Larry Odonkor

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At the Ivato International Airport in Madagascar, the missionary-in-charge of Lighthouse Chapel International’s branch in that country, Bishop Larry Odonkor, faced his assistant pastor, Rev. Edmund Amartey, and hugged him.

It was his final goodbye to Madagascar, to his mission, and to the man who had helped him grow the church there.

Behind the two men, an inanimate helper, a 2003 Toyota Land Cruiser was parked.  It was Bishop Larry Odonkor’s official vehicle, a loyal servant that had steered him through the towns of the island country, crashing through potholes, to carry the message of the gospel.

A Toyota Land Cruiser 2003 model.

And now, the church’s official car was carrying him for the last time. Unlike his assistant pastor, cars cannot be hugged and so Larry gave it a short, hard look, handed over the keys to Rev. Amartey and disappeared into the airport, raptured off by Ethiopian Airline flight.

After 24 hours, Bishop Larry Odonkor and his family landed in Accra on January, 15, 2020.

Nearly two years later, on December 20,2021, Larry Odonkor received a document via DHL. It was from Madagascar.

The document was court summons. Lighthouse Chapel International in Madagascar had sued Larry Odonkor, accusing him of selling the church’s Toyota Land Cruiser and pocketing the money.

Lighthouse was asking the court to order Larry to cough up 80million Ariary (GH¢157,200) in damages. The court in Madagascar gave Larry 40days to find a lawyer and file an appearance in court when the case was to be called on January 19, 2022.

“Shocking!” Larry described the suit. “Is this where this has gotten to?” he said. He had not anticipated something like this.

It all began four months after Larry Odonkor arrived in Ghana from Madagascar in January 2020 and he tendered in his resignation in April.

“I think the church is too controlling. Then also it is not about the welfare of the people but numbers. I don’t feel the freedom to follow God. Bishop Dag wants to be God in my life and I can’t allow it,” Larry Odonkor told a friend who wanted to know why he resigned.

Along with five other former bishops and pastors, Larry Odonkor went ahead to sue Lighthouse Chapel International for economic exploitation, psychological trauma and emotional abuse.

The church has struck back, filing criminal complaints against Larry Odonkor in Ghana and then later in Madagascar.

In the writ of summons, the church said it bought the Toyota vehicle for Ariary 70million ($21,000). But “once purchased, the said vehicle was sold by the defendant (Larry Odonkor) and the proceeds of the sale was not paid into the plaintiff’s (church) account.”

“…as a result, Mr. Larry Odonkor “illicitly enriched himself at the expense of [Lighthouse] contrary to the provisions of Article 255 and the law on the Theories of Obligations.”

In the writ, Lighthouse requested the court “condemn [him] to pay the sum of Ariary 80million as damages for all injuries.”  The church also wanted Larry to pay 70million Ariary (about GH¢137,600), bringing the total value of the recovery for stealing at 150million Ariary (GH¢294,800).

Larry Odonkor did not appear in court in person when the case was called on January 19, 2022, at the Lower Court of Antananarivo. After searching desperately for a lawyer in Madagascar, Larry said he got one, Johary Stephen Rasendrarivo, and told him his side of the story.

The former Lighthouse bishop told his lawyer that he could not have been the one who sold the car because on the date stated for the sale, he was not even in Madagascar.

He was in Ghana. It was his assistant pastor, Rev. Edmund Amartey, the man he gave the final hug at the airport, who sold off the car.

In a WhatsApp conversation, a concerned church leader in Madagascar confirmed to Larry that on that day, she accompanied Rev. Amartey to sell off the car and also accompanied him to deposit the money in the church’s account.

Larry Odonkor and his then assistant pastor, Edmund Amartey

Larry Odonkor said through his private initiative he had raised $10,000 and bought and brought Bishop Dag Heward-Mills’ books to sell to in Madagascar. It was like opening and operating his own bookshop. Proceeds from the sale of the book were his and not for the church. But he said he did not mind depositing it into the church’s account.

“As soon as I finished, they transferred me from Antananrivo,” he said. The transfer was by a text message. Larry said his headache was how to come to Ghana because the church in Accra, he said, had made no provision for his return.

“I had to buy six tickets for me, my wife, my sons, Gladys and Adele. Is there money in the church account for this? No!”

“So, I took money from the books account which is mine, but to allow transparency I allowed the same signatories to sign on the account,” he explained.

Before coming to Accra, he handed over the account to the church and was no longer a signatory. It was his assistant pastor, Edmund Amartey, sold the car after April 2020. It is not clear where he deposited the money.

These facts were brought to the attention of the Antananarivo court and on February 23, 2022.

 The court published its judgment in French, copies of which have been obtained by The Fourth Estate and translated into English.

It said the court “hereby rules in favour of Larry Odonkor; declares all claims by Lighthouse Chapel International to be ill-founded and dismisses them all without prejudice…”

The court also ordered LCI to “pay all cost and expenses” incurred by Larry Odonkor in conducting his case.  “The judgment was not surprising. It was the suit that was shocking,” Larry Odonkor said.

You may contact the writer via [email protected]

39 COMMENTS

  1. Dag paaaaa. So he wont3stop this AFRC tactics and let these pastors be. After sacrificing so much to build your empire this is what they get in return?

    • Have some respect, will you call your father with just his first name? Secondly, be reminded that these pastors decided to rather sue first and the church must protect it image because of people like u who will believe whatever story these pastors portray.

      • He is Dag, or better still Dagaati. Who is he not to be called by his first name? We call the current president “Nana Addo”, including nursery children. Evil men disguised in angel clothes. The church has awarded itself an irredeemable image at this juncture. Crooked business men

      • Don’t digress on the point. Calling someone by their first name or all of their names plus titles is never synonymous to respect.
        Haven’t you been calling Abraham ( God’s friend) by his first name all these years?

      • Massa!! Simple thing oo. Why didn’t the church pay their ssnit contributions all these years? Don’t even tell me their work was voluntary, because LHI has exhausted that point.

        The world (the system) with all its ills even knows that ssnit contributions is good for workers and the service they provide.
        The church operates higher

        No disrespect to the court system, but if you appeared before a council of church leadership so strong and powerful like the days of Paul, you ppl will be on your knees begging. Take care of your own!!!!

      • Hypocrite. don’t you refer to Bible characters by their raw names. Moses, Abraham and even Jesus are called called by their raw names. What makes this people different?

      • Hahahahaa…this is where the indoctrination has gotten to. This kind of demi-god status had been there and sworn allegiance had been the cause of all these. A good friend of mine had to run and leave his shoes behind from lighthouse because of some of these things. Kwame, You may not know the status of the writer, whether he may be older or younger than Dag. Decorum is what we expect please. Your tone was not right and a reply could be worse of.

      • I agree with your admonishing to him on Having or showing respect but please let it be known to you that calling someone by only their first name is not disrespectful, it only means the person is so popular that just mentioning his First name alone is enough for a third party to know who you’re referencing. Abraham and methuselah are not your grandfather’s mate but you just call them by their first names, even Jesus sef, Judas,Peter,Mahama,Akufu Addo,patapaa and Manasseh himself

    • If you judge based based on what these pastors are saying or based on what fourth estate is writing eh, you will be judging wrongly. B’cos they are very good at twisting stories.

  2. Hmmmm , so Larry Enjoy land cruiser and he said he was starving and working under bad conditions.. Toyota Land Cruiser , this is luxury you enjoyed there and u complaint of working under bad and difficult condition

  3. Someday we will all come to a place of understanding who God is and how erroneous our thoughts and actions are. Till then, let the carnage go on

  4. And in protecting its image rather made a mockery of its own self.
    How do you protect your image on lies?
    You rather deepen your woes and shame.
    Its time we learn to do whats right as Christians .

  5. Bishop Larry knows exactly what actually happened. The rest of us don’t. If he is guiltless and has won the case, hallelujah. If he is guilty and the court judged in his favor, I don’t envy him.

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