Exhilarated Spirits and Significant Skills Training
Ghana Days Two and Three
by Beth Brock
We arrived in Tamale on Saturday, July 22nd. At the airport, we were greeted by Rev. Dr. Solomon Sumani Sule-Saa, who serves as Presbytery Chairperson for the Northern Presbytery of Ghana. Solomon was a most gracious host over the two days we were in Tamale. He had a packed agenda ready for us from morning until late evenings.
Upon arrival, Juan was invited to spend nights with Solomon, and the rest of us spent our nights at the quaint A-WAN guesthouse, which had just enough rooms for the rest of our group. It was the perfect size and accommodation for out team. The staff was very supportive and kind.
Saturday evening, we were treated to an informative and lovely dinner with various leaders of the Northern Presbytery. We gathered to meet one another, then they presented and educated us on various statistics of their presbytery. They also shared various programs they lead, and hurdles they face. It was an informative time.
Saturday evening, it was tough to fall asleep as we thought about what Sunday would bring. Members of our group eagerly anticipated attending four different services on Sunday! We also eagerly anticipated a cultural dance and prayer meeting planned for the evening. We were excited for Sunday to begin!
We met early and were ready to go. First, three members of our group left and drove two hours to have service with the Fooshegu Congregation. Juan provided the sermon there. The rest of us joined Dr. Azumah at the Unity Congregation service, where our own Germantown Presbyterian Church Associate Pastor for Discipleship and Mission, Jay Howell, gave the sermon.
The Unity service was wonderful to attend. The members were so welcoming and excited for us to be there. Our group divided to attend different groups of Bible study, then the full congregation came back together for service. We loved seeing women included in roles such as usher, Bible study leaders, liturgists, and leading congregational prayers. All members were passionate about their faith and worshipping God. After service, we were honored to also meet the children of Unity. An amazing experience!
Next, our group split again: half visited the Kotingli Congregation, and the other half the Kpalgbini Congregation. The services were different environments than Unity – both much smaller, more rural settings – yet no less passionate about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
I was blessed to be a part of the group that attended the Kotingli congregation with Tamale Rural District Minister Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Harunah. The choir music was unparalleled, and the people again were so very welcoming and eager to meet and share in celebrating God’s love during service and over communion. Myron, one of the Columbia Seminary students traveling with us, provided the sermon. He was amazing! He focused on Romans Chapter 8, and sang “Jesus Loves Me” intermittently between verses. The congregation knew the song and sang along. It was so moving for us to reach each other in this way, despite the frequent language barrier.
After services, we ate a wonderful lunch at a local restaurant and then had a brief moment to rest before an afternoon excursion. Our group members who drove two hours for their morning service and lunch returned just in time before our full group departed. We looked forward to being allowed to visit a local mosque. For most in our group, visiting a mosque was a first.
Inter-faith relationships are very important in Ghana for many reasons. In Tamale specifically, the Muslim faith is by far the highest percentage of religion practiced. Christians are but a small percentage. Having respect for one another and living together peacefully is very important, and something that is done exceptionally well.
Our mosque visit was welcoming and educational. They were happy to sit down with us for proper introductions and brief visitation before they took us on a tour. We were enthralled by the beautiful children who were there in their study groups, as they smiled and waved to us as we passed. It was also interesting to hear how they were planning to build and grow in their area. We had a lovely exchange and were grateful for the experience. It was encouraging and humbling to see the immense respect exchanged between our groups. We were appreciative of their warm hospitality, and they seemed very pleased that we asked to visit.
Sunday evening, we again ate at the local restaurant we enjoyed for lunch! Several of us had a hard time deciding what to eat for lunch, so this was a fun opportunity to order what we missed previously. After dinner, we attended evening prayer service with youth at Nyerizee Church. The cultural, traditional dance performances were captivating! And again, the beautiful voices from the choir were overwhelming. It was a blessing to worship and experience communion with these beautiful people.
We went to bed exhausted, but with exhilarated spirits.
What would Monday bring??
We could hardly wait to find out
Germantown Presbyterian Church
Ghana Day Four
by Ty Hardin
Monday! Coffee and tea at 7:00, breakfast at 8:00 and load for departure at 9:00. We met with the Reverend Peter Ziame, Dr. Solomon and Dan Kolbilla at the Lay Training Center in Tamale. There are so many tremendous things happening here including skill training for both women and men. The skill set training ranges from weaving and smock creation to agronomics. They also train the caretakers and catechists at this facility. The caregivers are the folks on the ground that start churches and attend to the weekly worship services in most of the rural churches. Most of these churches do not have buildings. They meet wherever they can, often under shade trees. The training of caretakers and catechists for both the Northern and Upper Presbyteries takes place at this center.
The training center could have been an all-day stop with discussions on what they are doing and the tremendous impact that they have on the lives of a lot of people. However, we left the training center and traveled out to the Agri-station. This is a working farm that grows corn and soybeans to be used as feed for chickens and guinea fowl. These in turn are used to sustain the farm with eggs and meat. They also raise goats and West African short horn cattle for livestock and beef production. This working farm is the model used to teach agriculture to folks at the training center mentioned earlier. The rainy season only happens one cycle a year here, so the opportunity for growing is limited and often a boom or bust type of year. The more they grow the less they have to spend on feed the remainder of the year.
From there, we drove further north to the Upper Presbytery in Bolgatanga. That will be our area of concentration for Tuesday and Wednesday. Additional destinations will be Bawku, Garu, Pusiga, Navrongo, and Panga.
Germantown Presbyterian Church