Assembly Work in Kumasi, Ghana
(Written by: Daniel Webster, July 2006)
A Brief History
In 1996 Mike Bowron, from Canada, was stationed in Kumasi as a consultant for a Ghanaian mining company. His new bride joined him shortly thereafter, and they spent the next 2.5 years in Kumasi. Mike and Elaine were in fellowship at the 16th Ave Gospel Chapel in Vancouver, BC back in Canada, and when they came to Ghana they looked for a place of fellowship, but after trying several of the churches, they could not find harmony with their teachings and practices. It was not long before opportunities came their way to witness to some of the Ghanaians they came into contact with. They saw some trust in Christ, and some others coming from other church backgrounds to meet with them for bible studies. In time the group of believers formed a small assembly, and began to break bread together. After the Bowrons left Ghana, the young assembly was left on it’s own to try and meet together and carry on. They could not afford to rent a building, so they met under a tree for a while, and some of the men took part in teaching and preaching for the others. Mike’s parents, Dave and Louise Bowron, kept in contact with the believers and sought to encourage them spiritually and help them practically. In 2002 the Lord directed Joseph Frimpong to come and help the young assembly. Joseph had grown up in Ghana, but had spent the last 15 years in Canada, where he completed his education, and worked at a food processing plant. Joseph was saved in 1991 in Canada and added to assembly fellowship. Joseph’s ability to converse in both English and the local Twi language, along with his good grasp of the scriptures made him an ideal candidate to help with the young assembly in Kumasi. After nearly two years of missionary service Joseph became ill with Hepatitis B and Malaria and had to return to Canada for medical attention. Joseph married Heather Collyer after his return to Canada, and then they as a newly married couple were able to return to Ghana in January 2005. I came to Ghana in October of 2004 to also assist with the assembly work, but had to return to Canada for my fathers funeral in Nov 2004. In January 2005 I returned to Ghana, and enjoyed getting to know Joseph and Heather better, and working with them for the spiritual growth of the believers in Kumasi.
A new name!
The church was originally referred to as the Santasi Bible Assembly when Mike and Elaine were working with the believers from 1997 to 1999. Later the believers moved the meeting to the home of one of the brothers, and the name was changed to the Adiebeba Bible Assembly. When Joseph began working with the group in 2002 the name was again changed to the Asokwa Bible Assembly when rental space for meetings was found in the Asokwa area of town. In 2004 the church was registered with the Ghanaian government, making immigration paperwork easier for myself as a visiting foreign missionary. The name of the church was registered as the “Bible Assembly Church”, and therefore for legal purposes and banking the church has adopted this name.
Over the course of 2005 and 2006 we have been encouraged to see several come to faith in Christ, and several baptized and added to the church fellowship. The assembly has grown to 20 baptized believers in the fellowship, with an active Sunday school work also. Most of the members are under 35 years old, with many teenagers being the most recent additions to the assembly fellowship. Because of the youthful character of the church, there is much need for training and equipping for these young believers. It is encouraging to see the interest and enthusiasm of many of these young believers to grow in the Lord, and to serve the Lord. Many of the teenage boys have shown great interest in evangelism, and have accompanied Joseph and myself on Saturday evangelistic outreaches.
Christian Influence in Ghana:
Ghana has had a lengthy history of Christian influence over the past two centuries. Unfortunately in Ghana’s dark and distant past, during the slave trade years, much evil was perpetrated against the African people, and some of it by those who claimed to be Christians. This has left, at least for some Africans, a bitter taste in their mouth for the white man and his religion. Fortunately, the Christian missionaries, over the past century or so, have done a great deal to help the poor people in Africa, often setting up hospitals, schools, and providing other benevolent care to those stricken with poverty. This has made Christianity a welcome influence to most Ghanaians. Today about 70% of Ghanaians would call themselves Christian. Many mainstream denominations such as Methodist, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic make up much of the Christian population. Others are found in the Baptist, Pentecostal, and Assemblies of God denominations. The cults of Jehovah Witnesses, Mormons, and Seventh Day Adventists are also well represented in Ghana. The people of Ghana, for the most part are a God-fearing people, who always respect and listen to those who present the word of God to them. Unfortunately due to a lack of education, and the inability of some to read the bible for themselves, many Ghanaians are easily drawn away into all kinds of false teachings. The charismatic movement with its’ emphasis on speaking in tongues is very widespread, and a very great deception that leads many to a false emotion-based experience, but leaves souls still on the broad road leading to destruction. Many preachers love to take on special titles such as Apostle, Prophet, Doctor, Reverend, and this only fosters the false notion of a distinction between clergy and laity in the minds of the people. Also there is much emphasis on the prosperity gospel. Many Pastors are taking advantage of their poverty-stricken congregations, by pleading at length for them to give of their meager resources, so that God would bring material blessings upon them. All the while these pastors live in luxury, while many in their congregations go hungry. What a travesty to the gospel!
The Lord commissioned His people to go into all the world and preach the gospel, and although Ghana has had much Christian influence over the past decades, it is very much in need of a clear sounding forth of the good old gospel message. The gospel message that will liberate from sin, and sets souls on a course for glory. May the Lord of the harvest raise up many workers to send forth into these ripened fields.
Currently the Believers Bible Assembly is the only New Testament assembly in Ghana, although there are plenty of non-denominational evangelical churches of various types. There is much room for the establishment of assemblies for the Lord Jesus in Ghana, and we pray that the Lord will touch hearts, and call servants to this good work.
July 2008 Update: (by: Daniel Webster)
In the past two years the assembly has grown, so that the fellowship now consists of 29 believers, 10 of whom are under the age of 18 years. The church has a very active children’s ministry, with often more than 70 children attending Sunday school classes, and Tuesday children’s studies. The Sunday school has been split into two groups of children, those 8 and above are taught by Rose, with some help from sister Abigail. Heather looks after the younger children, 7 and under, along with Priscilla’s help. The Tuesday children’s club has been handled by Joseph since he returned to Ghana in March 2008.
Among the many teenage believers who regularly attend the bible assembly church, we have seen some encouraging spiritual growth, and are pleased to see some of them taking more part in the assemblies and it’s ministries. The New Believers Class was setup specifically to train the youth, and establish them in the basic doctrines of the Christian faith. Ofori leads this class each Sunday morning during our Family Bible hour time, and is currently teaching through the Emmaus Courses (Series 1). Many of the youth also attend a Sunday afternoon study at my home, where we read through 4 chapters of the bible together, and then have one of them share a small message from the bible. We rotate readers and preachers, so that each gets there chance to participate. The study is regularly attended by those youth who come, and has been a stimulus to see further spiritual growth in their young lives.
The radio ministry began in August 2005 with a weekly gospel broadcast on Kapital Radio each Sunday morning at 8am. We initially aired messages by brother Minor Hawk from the USA for 2.5 years, but recently also put on a teaching series on the NT church done by Mike Attwood from the USA. His messages can be downloaded from this website. Just this month we began a new series of gospel messages, called “The Way of Righteousness”, which was developed by Paul Bramsen (missionary to Senegal). These messages are being recorded into English and Twi for broadcasting on our weekly program.
We have started many of the youth, young adults and some of the adults working on Emmaus courses, to aid in their spiritual growth. The response from the church has been tremendous with over 220 courses completed to date. Some of these have been done by students who are not part of our church family, but have been willing to work on the courses through our ministry. Shadrach has taken over the marking and recording keeping for this ministry, which has been a big help to myself. We believe the Lord will use this ministry to help many grow in Christ, and we are pleased to now offer the information on this website so that we might gain more interest from those eager to grow in Christ. A graduation ceremony was held for the first 7 graduates to complete the first series in April, and these students are now working on the 2nd series of 12 courses.
Each year since 2005 we have held a memory challenge for all those children and adults who regularly attend the Bible Assembly Church. We have been so encouraged to see the amazing results of these challenges. Our first Challenge was to memorize the book of James, with its’ 108 verses. In that challenge 10 people memorized the entire book, and 67 chapters were memorized by all participants. In 2006 we decided to memorize the 105 verses of 1 Peter, and in that challenge 8 people managed to memorize the entire book, with a total of 62 chapters memorized by all participants. In 2006 we decided upon memorizing Ephesians (155 verses), and a remarkable number of chapters (114) were memorized by all, with 10 people completing the whole book. In 2008 we decided to make the challenge up from 100 pre-selected gospel verses. The print-out of the verses was distributed to all who wanted to work at the challenge, and again we were amazed at the results with 184 sections completed by all participants, of which 15 completed all 100 verses. A quick tally puts us at a grand total of 8594 verses that were memorized over the past 4 years by a remarkable group of young people. We really believe these memory challenges will do much to equip our young people for a life of spiritual success, and fruitfulness for the Lord.
It is our custom to go out each Sunday morning to pass out tracts, and try to meet and talk to people about the gospel. We find great opportunities week be week in this ministry to share Christ with the people around the Kumasi area. Currently about 4 teenagers regularly join Joseph and myself as we share tracts, New Testaments, and look for opportunities to share the gospel. Joseph has begun working with a small group in the village of Afritia, and will be returning each Thursday evening to offer further teaching, in hopes the Lord may open a door to begin a new assembly in that area. While distributing tracts this past Saturday, I was invited impromptu, into 3 different classrooms full of students, as we just happened to be passing by the school. I was able to share a brief gospel message with each of the classes, while my young helper distributed tracts to each student. We are always grateful for the many opportunities, and open doors for the gospel here in Ghana, and our prayer is that many shall find their way to Christ through these gospel efforts.