Ghana, the home of numerous ethnic groups, is a nation forging forward in the 21st century. Ghana is a leader in African development, was the first black African nation to gain independence, and is one of the top exporters of cocoa in the world. Ghana is also noted for its gold, timber, and diamond production. New export markets are emerging, such as starch, lemon grass, cashews, and natural herbal products for European consumption.
As is typical in sub-Saharan Africa, there are three basic religious groups. The Muslim population is concentrated in northern Ghana, yet Muslim communities are in nearly every town and city in Ghana. Various branches of Christianity are found across Ghana. These branches include Roman Catholicism, Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, Charismatics, and indigenous African spiritual churches.
Both Christian and Muslim groups are greatly influenced by the old thought patterns of African Traditional Religion (ATR). Those who practice ATR in its purest form worship not only the spirits they believe to live in all of creation, but they also participate in ancestor worship as well. For example: The local chief of a regional capital might be a lawyer; on Sundays he attends a local Protestant church and is recognized as a good church member. Yet, as the old culture of his city requires, he will also regularly pour libation to the ancestors of his community as well as make sacrifices on special occasions as has been done for years.
In addition to the traditional three religious groups represented in sub-Saharan Africa, various cults and sects are making inroads into the culture. These include the Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Latter-Day Saints, Baha’i and Rastafarian.
In 1945, war conditions prevented missionary Gust Pearson from continuing on to French Equatorial Africa. He came ashore at Accra, Ghana. Within a few years other missionaries had joined him, and eventually a work was begun in Christiansborg. Later, work began in the regional capital of Wa, among the Waala people. Forty acres were given to Baptist Mid-Missions, and on this land the Baptist Bible Institute was founded in 1962. Many churches have been started by missionaries and nationals alike in this region. About one hour north of Wa in the district capital of Lawra is another mission station. The people group there is the Dagaare.
Today, BMM ministries are located in three regions. In the Greater Accra Region there are independent, nationalized churches. These churches are actively engaged in replicating themselves. At present we have no resident missionary in Accra.
In the Upper West Region, the Baptist Bible Institute continues to train leaders. In addition to their studies, students are given practical training assignments in Wa. There are presently 38 Baptist churches in the villages surrounding Wa. This is a great training ground for our Bible school students. There is also a literacy center (teaching church members to read in Waalii), a Christian bookstore (the only one in all of Northern Ghana), and various youth programs in this region. To the east of Wa in Baayiri, we have The Samuel Seidu Memorial Clinic, which is the launching point into a truly pioneering ministry of unreached people. Our missionaries in Lawra, in addition to working on Bible translation, are active in church development through evangelism, discipleship, and vernacular literacy. In this region, we have two teams that are working on translating the Bible into the vernacular languages of this region. The Waalii Bible is completed and ready for printing, and the New Testament in the Dagaare language is in the final checking process.
BMM moved into the Brong Ahafo Region in 1985. Russell and Mary Mapes went into Sunyani, the regional capital, at the request of a group of believers and helped to organize and lead them to nationalization by 1992. Currently in the Berekum District we have one couple involved in church planting. They are greatly assisted by a group of committed nationals who are helping in the outreach to the various villages that surround Berekum through: discipleship, youth ministries, women’s ministries, and sports.
The three regions of Ghana in which BMM has ongoing ministries are far from evangelized, and there are seven other regions that the missionaries have not yet entered.
Much of Ghana remains without a witness to the gospel or without Bible-preaching Baptist churches. Church planters are needed to meet this need.
The work in Wa would be greatly helped by instructors for BBI who hold at least a master’s degree.
Baayiri: medical personnel (a midwife is of greatest need), teachers of English as a second language, and church planters.
Lawra: help in leadership development. People interested in youth ministries are key to reaching this area.
Brong Ahafo: missionaries to team with nationals who are completing Bible school. This ministry would be involved in opening up new ministries surrounding the Berekum District.
Accra: a person to run the guesthouse, work in various campus or school ministries and possibly help transact business in the capital.
Our missionaries offer a short-term experience for students of college age that gives hands-on experience in the day-to-day workings of church planting in Ghana. This summer group trip teaches students about Ghana and its culture and why Africa is the fastest-growing continent on the planet. Students will leave with a clearer understanding of how God can use their individual gifts in urban and village ministries. To learn more about First Look at Ghana (FLAG), click here.