Advance Magazine

Life Building

In 2018, on her way to the children’s club in Berekum, Ghana, Penny Whitty drove by an abandoned hotel near the church property. “What a great place for a school,” she thought.

For 15 years, Penny had carried a dream of starting a Christian school. The dream was born in 2003, shortly after Penny and her husband, Rob, arrived in Ghana. Penny offered to teach the mandatory Religious and Moral Education courses required in Ghanaian schools. The experience showed her what could be accomplished if kids received biblical truth and classroom structure that they didn’t always get in public schools.

Penny’s dream lingered in her mind all those years until contemplating the hotel in 2018. The hotel complex was badly rundown, but in its day it had been luxurious. Penny’s family had swum in its pool once. Purchasing the property would be expensive, seemingly impossible, but Penny is not a person easily discouraged. Pastor Seth, the Ghanaian leader of Emmanuel Baptist Church, was just as excited about the prospect. He also had dreamed of a school; he knew how confused their children’s club students were when public schools taught that all religions are equally valid.

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EBCS teachers with preschoolers

The family owning the hotel property asked for $300,000, but God put it in their hearts to accept a counteroffer of $160,000. The amount to raise was nonetheless daunting. Yet the Lord provided and the amount was paid off in mid-2021. As soon as the first down payment had been made in 2019, Rob Whitty set aside time from his work as a circuit preacher and Bible teacher to join the work with Penny and the Emmanuel church. They tackled the property’s restoration with the same fervency that rebuilt Jerusalem’s walls in the time of Nehemiah. After much hard work, the school was ready, and Penny became its administrator.

By 2020, the Emmanuel Baptist Christian School (EBCS) had 105 students. Professional people in their area, such as doctors, engineers, and shop owners, sent their children because they knew they would receive a good education.

Today, 351 students attend. The school operates under the authority of Emmanuel Baptist Church, and the teachers and staff were hired from EBCS and other nearby churches, enabling EBCS to offer a truly Christian education and to be a job provider.

The school holds chapel every Wednesday morning for K-4th grade, and devotions each morning for nursery age through fourth grade. On Friday, students recite memory verses during an assembly. With Ghanaians’ competitive spirit, students and teachers alike participate enthusiastically in the weekly verse recitations.

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EBCS school bus. The school is badly in need of replacing it.

At first, Penny was concerned she wouldn’t have time to do neighborhood visitation as she had before. But God simply gave her a different audience. Each week she and another teacher visit families of children with extended illnesses or families that are not yet believers. Penny and her teachers find openings to share the salvation message with parents, who appreciate their personal concern. Some have commented about changes in their kids, especially behavior improvements. Emmanuel Baptist Church’s Thursday children’s club is growing because students can walk there after classes.

The school property has great potential for the church. A regional women’s retreat and a church cooking class were held there recently. Plans are in the works to hold VBS there in December. When the pool can be repaired, the church will hold camps on the property. The school board is planning to add a new grade each year until the school offers a Kindergarten through junior-high education. They are making blocks and raising additional funds to build a junior high building, a three-story property to be built in stages. Just as the price of building materials in the US has skyrocketed, so has the cost of iron for rebar. In the same spirit of faith they had from the start, they wait …

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Making blocks to construct the junior high building

“We never dreamed the school would become this big this soon, but we are the only Christian school in the whole region, and parents want input from the Bible in their children’s lives. We know it’s a work in progress and we know that God is the master builder, so we know He will provide.”

—Penny Whitty

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