With the school year at the Tamale Institute of Biblical Studies finished the past few weeks have been a time to focus on some other activities, gospel campaigns and Bible seminars.
Gospel campaigns are a part of my individual work as well as part of the training provided to students at the school. Beginning in their third term there is at least one campaign scheduled in every term, meaning that students will take part in at least seven school sponsored campaigns before they graduate. This year many of those campaigns have been scheduled in the Tamale area to assist the newest congregation, the Kpalsi church of Christ. This congregation, which was originally started to provide a place for the school’s students to worship without having to walk a long distance has grown to now have an average attendance of 25 when students are present (many students attend their home churches if they are close), and 16 whenever the students are not at the school.
During the periods when school is dismissed between terms I also have the opportunity to be involved with other campaigns as well. In the past couple of months I have been able to assist with a campaign hosted by the Apong church of Christ in the Central Region of Ghana and one hosted by the two churches of Christ in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, the Eglise De Christ De Patte Doie and the Eglise De Christ De Paglayiri.
The work in Burkina Faso was much different, with both a stated goal and an unspoken goal on my part. Our stated goal was to help the existing congregations evangelize within the communities surrounding their building locations. The unstated goal was to evaluate what needed to change if the church was going to survive in Ouagadougou. According to a summary about the church of Christ in Burkina Faso by one of the leaders in Ouagadougou, the church of Christ first came to Burkina Faso in
The goal of the Apong campaign was to plant a new congregation in the village of Nkoransah, which is about 15 miles away. Like most campaigns I work with this campaign involved showing a movie at night along with public preaching, followed up by teams of Christians going house to house during the daytime doing follow up work and Bible studies. At the end of the 5 day campaign we were blessed with 11 souls obeying the gospel and 35 adults attending the first worship service there.
1986 and at one time claimed 7 congregations. However many of these collapsed due to a lack of leadership and trained preachers so that today there are only 3 congregations remaining, the two in Ouagadougou and one in the town of Po. But even these are suffering a loss of people, with the estimated total membership of 90 a few years ago now being less than 50. I spent 10 days working with the churches on this campaign and the problem appeared to me to be two-fold, a lack of trained preachers who had a desire to evangelize resulting in congregations who neither knew how nor had the desire to evangelize themselves. For this campaign I was able to bring in 4 preachers, 1 from Ghana who spoke the local Mossi dialect, and 3 from French speaking Togo (2 who were recent graduates of the Bear Valley extension school in Kpalime) for the final 4 days of the campaign, and we were also joined by Bear Valley coordinator Steven Ashcraft. While we did not have the numerical success of the Apong campaign we were able to demonstrate to the local congregation that people would respond if someone was willing to go out and share what the Bible teaches. But you have to be willing to go! There is a great deal more work to do and I hope to share some plans for how we will continue to evangelize and teach the local congregations how to do the same in the coming months.
Another activity that has kept me busy since classes dismissed for the planting season was the TIBS spring seminar. Twice a year we host approximately 100 of the leaders and/or preachers from the 3 northern regions of Ghana to discuss a particular topic. This year’s first seminar was on the topic of church organization, which has recently been an area of concern due to a few of the larger churches in the south attempting to form a centralized organization (with them at the head of course) to control all of the churches of Christ in Ghana. We were fortunate to have one of the Elders from the Bomso church of Christ who helped lead the fight against this unscriptural approach to church organization come to speak about the issue and its current status, as well as to explain what the Ghanaian government requirements for congregational registration were and how to accomplish it. During the seminar I was pleased to present a class on the Biblical Examples of Church Organization, while other guest speakers spoke on the Biblical Examples for Church Cooperation, the Need to Support the Bible School Student and the Need for Congregations to Support Their Preachers, all issues which the group proposing a national organization claimed to be able to solve. The seminar was well attended and also provided us the opportunity to distribute Bibles, tracts ,and other teaching materials to the many congregations who were in attendance. Now we will begin to work on our fall seminar which will deal with the role of the Holy Spirit and Miracles, another subject where false teachers are attempting to disturb the church.
This year has also seen two trips to Togo to meet with and encourage the church there, an earlier trip to Burkina Faso, as well as twice monthly trips to the Upper East Region and the Kingdom of Hope Orphan School, and the school campaign in Gotani. We manage to stay busy whether school is in session or not.
You can always get more information and news about the work at the Tamale Institute of Biblical Studies at the School’s blog page, http://tamalechristians.wordpress.com/ or their Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/TamaleChristians.
You can also get information about our other work, on the Kingdom of Hope Orphan’s School, at their blog page, http://kingdomofhopeorphansschool.wordpress.com/ or their Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/KingdomOfHopeSchool.
Thank you again for your support and prayers. I will be travelling back to the U.S. at the end of next week, so this will be my last report until August, but I am looking forward to visiting many of you soon! Until then, “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.