My initial and sustained burden for the work in Ghana is to see it become as self-sufficient as possible despite the many challenges the work faces in this impoverished nation. One of the biggest ways that a work becomes self-sufficient is to be so "root and grounded" in the practices and teachings of Christ, that they can "withstand the wiles of the devil." Last July, we held the first semi-annual Minister and Deacon's Conference in Ghana. The Gold Coast Mission Fund paid for the travel, lodging, and food, for all of the ministers and deacons throughout Ghana, to attend this meeting at Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Kumasi (the largest building and most centrally located within the country). Last year our theme was centered around "The Gospel", focusing on the Gospel Message, Gospel Church, and Gospel Minister. Brother Danny Chandler, Tony Day and a few others, conducted a conference in January of 2017, and this trip was also directed towards the leaders of the churches and missionaries in Ghana. Our theme this session was "Biblical Mission Work".
Though some of our brothers in Ghana are very informed about this topic, some are completely new to God's design in carrying out mission work and we thought it was important to explain in detail the way biblical mission work is conducted from a doctrinal, historical, and practical perspective.
Thankfully, the majority of the brethren who traveled from the States have firsthand experience conducting mission work. Brother Jeff and Jonathon Elliott have lived on the mission field for the majority of their lives, Brother Todd Reynolds spent the majority of his childhood on the mission field, and Brother Justin Farris is currently on the mission field in Virginia. The following are the themes and topics we discussed.
Brother Jeff Elliott- The Call to the Mission Field. Brother Elliott spoke a lot about God's personal call to the mission field, but also addressed the authority by which a man serves on the mission field. As a part of his lessons, he also addressed the struggles and doubts when people serve on the mission field, what the home church can do to support those on the mission field, and to listen closely when God forbids us from going on the mission field. Brother Jeff does an exceptional job connecting with the brothers in Ghana and his presence as been a tremendous help in carrying out the work of the Gold Coast Mission Fund.
Brother Justin Farris- Preparing for Mission Work. Brother Justin focused largely on the man carrying out mission work. Specifically, he emphasized the need for men to be Spiritually Mature (and what that means) as well as the need for integrity. This was Brother Justin's first trip to Ghana and he did well acclimating to an interpreter and conveying the importance for men to be prepared when they embark on such a work.
Brother Todd Reynolds- The Authority and Government of the New Testament Church. This was Brother Todd's first trip to Ghana and he did so well introducing the concept of church authority. Very often, lessons about this topic either overemphasize this aspect of mission work at the expense of the man's personal burden or abandon the idea entirely for the sake of personal independence. Brother Todd showed through the scripture the practice of democracy in the early church and how the men went out on behalf of the local church. His lessons were extremely informative and applicable, especially in the context of Ghana.
Brother Jonathon Elliott- He focused largely on becoming like those you are trying to reach and the importance of ministerial support. His expository style was a very helpful example of how to understand, verse be verse, the scriptures and laid important groundwork for future ministerial support.
Brother Bradley Hicks- The Providence of God. I tried to teach on how trusting God's providence is one of the keys to faithfully carrying out God's mission work and being able to look past the difficult circumstances to God's divine purposes.
The last day of the conference we allowed the Ghanaians to ask questions about our lessons and we were surprised to find that one of the main questions which were asked came from a reading found during one of Brother Jon's lessons. In the lesson, he quickly contextualized the scripture and in the process explained the qualifications to be an apostle (during New Testament times of course). In Ghana, they have many who claim to be apostles and not so surprisingly, they had many questions about the topic.
More questions were asked about the authority of the men leading mission works and the home churches who sent them. A few questions about churches which are organized and their connection to their former "mother church" was asked as well. Overall, it was a productive Q&A and one of the most important parts of the conference as it often continues in private gatherings throughout the 3 days.
Overall, this semi-annual conference is of the utmost importance for the spiritual growth of this work and we hope to continue and even expand it in the future. There are plans underway for a group to travel in a few months to conduct another minister and deacons conference. Please pray for this group.
I do plan on posting the lessons from the conference on the website in the near future when they are finalized. I again want to thank all of these brethren for preparing lessons and the hard work of Brother Samuel Sekyere to translate and organize it on the Ghana side.