Greetings from Tamale!
After a three week break classes are once again in sessions at the Tamale Institute of Biblical Studies (TIBS). The break has been filled with many activities as the staff and students continue to work at spreading the good news of Jesus Christ throughout Ghana and West Africa.
The entire student body was involved with evangelistic campaigns during the break period. Two students returned to Cinkasse, Togo to follow up with the church that was planted there in September. The rest of the students and two of the staff held a church planting campaign in Bimbila, Ghana.
The report from Cinkasse focused on the churches efforts to grow, and highlighted some of the issues new Christians face. One issue has to do with the building the church is meeting in. It is a school building, but often the person with the key fails to show up to open the building for the church, resulting in someone having to go and find the person. Because of this the worship service is often delayed, sometimes by hours. It was reported that three ladies who had recently been baptized were struggling to make it to services due to the distance they had to walk from their homes to the place where the church was meeting, and their husbands being upset because the delays in getting into the building required them to be away from home for most of the day. After meeting with the women the leadership team for the church is investigating ways they can help these new Christians in their attempt to faithfully attend worship services, even if it means finding a new site to worship at, not an easy task in a predominately Muslim area.
The Bimbila campaign was successful despite a problem with the weather. Rainy season in the north was supposed to have ended before the campaign dates, but it didn’t quite work out that way. There were four nights scheduled for showing evangelistic movies and public preaching, but the rain forced the outright cancellation on two nights, and a third night was cut short. The first night a movie was able to be shown there were a little over 100 in attendance. The second night, which got cut short by the rain, had well over 200 in attendance. Despite the weather the campaign team went from house to house each day distributing gospel tracts and conducting personal Bible studies. A number of studies were held, including studies with members of the Jehovah’s Witness church that was near the site of the campaign and with a local denominational preacher for the Evangelical Presbyterian (EP) church of Ghana. So far there have been twelve baptisms in Bimbila with four additional people continuing to study with the men who will be looking after the congregation. The worship service on the final day of the campaign reported a total of 35 in attendance, with 24 from the community joining the campaign team in praising God for the church in Bimbila.
We also received a report from TIBS graduate Stephen Abugbilla regarding the work he is involved with at the Atuba church of Christ in the Upper East Region. The church in Atuba continues to grow through local evangelism efforts and now has an average attendance of 82. This growth has encouraged the congregation to reach out to other areas, and the church has decided to help revive a dormant church in a neighboring village by sending men to preach and teams to begin house to house evangelism efforts. What an encouraging thing to hear about! We thank God for the Atuba congregation and their desire to go to the work. TIBS will be assisting the effort by providing tracts and other materials to the Atuba team.
I was pleased to represent the TIBS staff at the resent graduation ceremony of the West Coast School of Preaching. Over the past year the relationship between the schools has continued to grow, and it was an honor to be present as six men completed their studies and are entering the field ripe for harvest. We look forward to hearing about the great things these men will do for the kingdom!
I am also pleased that TIBS has been able to provide songbooks and used Bibles to a number of local congregations. These books, donated by various individuals and congregations, were collected by Stephen Ashcraft and sent to Ghana with the help of Mission Printing. During the past couple of weeks over 100 songbooks were delivered to churches in Bawku, Sibi, Gor-Tanniel and Kuka, along with a great number of Bibles.
This is just some of the work being done by the students and graduates of TIBS. Plans are under way to return to Bimbila, hopefully without the rain, as well as for a campaign to assist the church in Walewale in the spring. In December I will be making a trip to the border area of Ghana and Burkina Faso to investigate areas for future church planting efforts in Burkina Faso, a country where the church is almost non-existent. But for now the students are hard at work once again in the classroom, equipping themselves for the work to come. Please keep us all, both students and staff, in your prayers.
In His service,