Ghana Education Trip 2015 – Beth’s Story

Road signs

Road signs

Several people told me to expect a “what am I doing here” moment during the trip. For me that moment came the first day in Ghana. In Accra I saw many churches and church schools, and large billboards for charismatic churches. As we drove north through small towns, I saw clusters of welcome and directional signs for churches, including mainline churches I knew were doing CHE in Ghana. With all that going on, do they even need me and my team from HBA? Shouldn’t the churches there be doing what we came to do? I chose to wrestle with those questions, knowing the Holy Spirit would bring clarity and reveal truth to me, which can only strengthen my faith.

The church has been in Ghana since the 1400’s when the Portuguese set up a trading post for gold then later human beings. That church served the Europeans and didn’t do much evangelism or development, not that it would have been very effective anyway. Starting in 1828, the transatlantic slave trade ended, and there was a concerted effort towards evangelism and promoting agriculture and legitimate trade in Ghana to raise living standards above subsistence farming. You can thank the early developers for cultivating cash crops like cotton, rice, maize, cocoa, coffee, pineapples, mangoes, and coconut. Evangelism and development were slow going, though, because most missionaries died within a few years from tropical diseases, and because with no roads and no motors, penetration from the coastal south to the north was slow. To this day, the south has far more churches and development, and higher incomes, than the north does.

The missionary-planted churches started schools – for formal education, and for informal education for trades. Since Ghana gained independence, some of those schools are now government run. Churches started hospitals and clinics, which now work alongside the government health system. Churches deliver almost half the healthcare. Transformation is quite evident, and everywhere we went we found local congregations of believers, pastors with true shepherd hearts, and educated English-speakers to help us with translation and to host and supplement our CHE efforts.

But, with all that, kingdom work in Ghana is not complete. Many people there are trapped by spiritual strongholds that keep them from fully realizing the abundant Christian life. Some Christian believers keep traditional beliefs about the power of evil spirits and ancestral spirits, perhaps because cultural lies trump spiritual truths when your position in society depends on those lies. Other strongholds that hinder God’s work in Ghana are witchcraft, slavery, and the culture and practice of Islam. Maybe these strongholds are similar to those we have in the USA, but I think they have deeper, tougher roots.

That leads to the answer to “what am I doing here?” My ministry here and abroad is to encourage and equip the saints, the local ones, especially those who reach out and overcome strongholds that keep people from believing everything God said and living like fully redeemed transformed Christians. Our partner brothers and sisters in Christ in Ghana are hard at work doing just that – overcoming false beliefs that allow witch camps near Navrongo, persistence of Islam around Bolgatonga, child slavery on the Volta, and sex/agri slavery around Frankadua. CHE is the most effective tool for them to holistically transform their community, and God used me to introduce CHE to their community. I no longer wonder what I was doing in Ghana.