Noble Ghanaians

If we were to combine everybody’s list of noble Ghanaians, it would be quite a collection. However, since I don’t have the time to contact everybody this afternoon, my own short list must suffice.

These individuals are doing big things with few resources. Take note of their names; when we all get to heaven you will hear of them again. I promise. In the meantime, whisper a prayer for the work they are doing.

Here they are (in no particular order).

Edem thinks about launching a canon ball at Cape Coast Castle.

Edem is a trained IT professional. He can not only program a VCR, but knows how to make other gadgety things (like my own stupid camera) work. He has shot and edited documentaries, is comfortable in a sound studio, and can tell you more about cocoa beans than all my other friends put together. His highest priorities are his family and Abeka Christian Church. He serves the latter as an elder.

Edem travels all over Ghana as a HIV counselor, trainer, and peer educator. He is making a difference in places where you and I will never go.

Isaac speaks to a gathering of believers in Pulgnando.

Isaac is a graduate of Ghana Christian University. He is an artist who paints with words. He has an impressive palate of some ten languages. Despite this obvious brilliance, he eats warm fufu regularly from plastic baggies, and for reasons that I cannot comprehend, makes ugly faces when served tacos and chocolate-chip pancakes. Isaac is living proof that tastes are biologically preset.

As a pastor, Isaac has seen injustice raise its ugly head in Ghana and is determined to something about it. He begins law school this year. To get ready, he is reading John Grisham novels. And eating more fufu, I’m sure.

Francis (white shirt) and local children of Salaga.

Like Isaac, Francis is also a graduate of Ghana Christian University. He and his dear wife are from southern Ghana, but moved north to learn new languages (the curse of Babel, yet again) and pastor. In (roughly) fifteen years of work, he has started six churches and ministers/mentors regularly with all of them. He does this by circuit riding on a motorbike from his base in Salaga. Pray for his safety. One time he crashed and broke his leg.

Because starting six churches was not enough for him to do, he determined to address the medical and educational needs in his new northern home. He endeared himself to the entire region by gaining a license to open a pharmaceutical shop where none existed. He also worked with US embassy in Ghana to establish an elementary school in Salaga. This holistic approach to ministry (mind, body, and soul) is a model for the rest of us.

One other thing: Francis didn’t tell me (but I later learned) that the reason he moved the outhouse to the other side of his residence is because cobras kept getting inside. My bowels are glad I didn’t know this at the time of my visit, otherwise they would have either seized up or let loose entirely. Not sure which.

James and his Survey of OT Prophetic Literature class. James is at the front on the far right.

After graduating from the seminary where I teach, James returned to Ghana and now serves as an administrator and professor with Ghana Christian University. It was by his invitation that I was able to visit the country, teach in one of his classes, and meet the dear family that he missed during his educational stay in Cincinnati.

James was a marvelous host to me, and is obviously appreciated by his peers and students alike. He is just a skip away from finishing his Ph.D. in Old Testament. I am as proud as punch! He will be leader in GCU for many years to come.

Pastor Philip (on left) helping distribute clothing.

If church planters had a face, his would be it. Pastor Philip graduated from Ghana Christian University more than twenty years ago and since then has planted at least fifteen churches in Ghana’s northern districts (and several in neighboring country of Togo as well). He is an ecclesiastical warrior with a strong spirit and a worn body.

In each of these plants, Philip has developed local leaders. He invests time and energy in mentoring and discipling them. Because much of the area where he works is remote, like Francis, he spends much time on a motorbike.

On the occasion of our visit, Philip’s bike led us to the village of Pulgnando. Here, we met under a tree with one of the Ghana’s newest congregations. Because we arrived late in the day and darkness fell while we were there distributing clothes, he decided not to ride out with us. He stayed and conducted a revival instead. This guy is the real deal.

Austin and Amanda.

These newlyweds have recently moved to a new home in Tamale. Like James, Austin is a survivor from our seminary in Cincinnati, and unlike James, a churchmate from Northern Kentucky. I met Amanda, his bride, for the first time while visiting Tamale. Austin directs an organization known as Training Tomorrow’s Leaders. Its purpose? Planting churches, making disciples and sharing the message of the Kingdom in Northern Ghana, Togo and Burkina Faso. It is big work, but Austin and Amanda have a big vision. Amanda, incidentally, also is an incredible cook!

Andrew and the Abeka Christian Church.

Like so many other in this short list, Andrew is a Ghana Christian University alum. However, the challenges for this young man are different from the others described here.

Andrew has recently taken on the role of lead pastor of a large church in Ghana’s capital city. This is a well-established congregation, one that has deep roots with the leadership from GCU. Andrew’s challenge is to maintain a balance between honoring tradition, and leading this dynamic congregation into the future—a distinctly African future. Pulling this off is never easy, but if my instincts tell me anything, the Fellowship of Christian Churches in this country has much to look forward to from this bright fellow.