West Africa has been in the international news a lot over the past few months. Unfortunately most of the news coming out of this part of the world has been negative. Ebola is certainly the story most people are familiar with right now when it comes to West Africa. Boko Haram’s aggression in Northern Nigeria continues to receive attention, especially in regards to the fate of the over two hundred school girls who were kidnapped. On a local level, a recent cholera outbreak along the Ghanaian coast is causing a level of concern, as well as economic issues that has resulted in an inflation rate of almost 16% this summer and has resulted in the local currency losing over half its value in the past year. There are a lot of distractions in West Africa at the present time!
I have been back in West Africa for over a month now and, despite all of the distractions, the work continues. I arrived in time to start teaching classes at the Tamale Institute of Biblical Studies, which began its seventh (out of ten) term in September. All twelve students were able to report on time for classes, which got the term off to a good start. Unfortunately, one student came down with an ailment that required him to return home during the second week of classes, so we are down to eleven students at present. I am teaching two classes this term, both covering the book of Romans.
Other classes being taught this term are Old Testament 6 (Major Prophets), 1 Corinthians, and 2 Corinthians. There is also a student campaign scheduled during the term. Our 1 Corinthians class will be taught by a visiting instructor from the U.S., Joe Wilkie, of the Lone Tree, Colorado congregation. This will be Joe’s second trip to teach at the school in Tamale, as he also traveled over last year to teach Introduction to the Old Testament and Introduction to the New Testament courses during the first term. I, personally, am very thankful for Joe’s willingness to come, especially in light of all the negative news reports. Joe arrived on Friday, October 3rd, and will be here until October 20th.
The student campaign this term was in the neighboring community of Gumani, a prominently Muslim community on the outskirts of Tamale. One of the school’s local instructors lives in the community so the plan was to determine the feasibility of establishing a congregation in the area in the future. The students canvased the area and were able to talk with many people, and in the process learned how difficult it can be to evangelize in a community where Christianity is an unknown or unaccepted religion (most of our students come from predominately denominational Christian villages). While the work produced no baptisms and no real hope for a local congregation in the near future, there were three ongoing Bible studies established. We continue to pray for the work in that area and for open minds to the truth of God’s Word during these studies.
While the students were in Gumani, I made a trip to Burkina Faso to meet with the church at Ouagudougou and see how plans were progressing for me to send teams of evangelists to assist them. We were supposed to have a place ready for the evangelists to stay while working there, but due to the housing laws they have not yet been able to take control of the location. So we are sending the first teams to the area of Po where there are now 4 village congregations meeting, including one in Kaya where we did a campaign last year. Arrangements have been made to send a full time worker to help these congregations by the Ouagadougou congregation, and our evangelist team will be assisting him during the month of October. In November, we will have a week long campaign in Ouagadougou with both of our evangelist teams working there during the campaign and remaining the next week to do follow up work. There have been a total of three baptisms at the congregation since our campaign there this spring. I am excited to see this work begin to grow.
Thank you again for your support and prayers. Until the next time we meet, “The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26).
In His service,
Tony ‘Wintima’ Johnson
To see Tony’s report with pictures, please click here.