Rev. Moore is foreign missionary of the Protestant Reformed Churches.
Greetings in the name of our faithful Savior Jesus Christ.
I have been asked to write several articles during the year for the Standard Bearer on the work here in Ghana. In many ways I find this difficult. The reason for this is that it is much easier to write about the news of the work here, and I do so regularly in the newsletters and in the e-mail messages that go out to many.
However, for the Standard Bearer articles I was asked to write more about the methods and other such aspects of the labor. I find this somewhat difficult because I do not consider myself any kind ofan expert on missions in a foreign land. Basically I am a preacher and pastor also here on the field in Ghana. And this is the way the labor is carried forth. The primary means of gathering the church is to be found in the faithful preaching of the Word. This has ever been the case in the church of Christ as it has brought the gospel to the nations. The preaching is the power of God unto salvation, as Paul says more than once in his epistles. We take note ofRomans 1:13-17: “Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles. I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”
Paul states that the fruit that he had among the Gentiles came through the preaching of the gospel, for he finds in it the power of God unto salvation, both to the Jews and Greeks. This has been our conviction here on the field in Ghana as well.
It is clear that when Paul preached that word he did not soften the gospel, nor did he change the gospel wherever the Lord led him to preach the Word. This is obvious from the content of the various epistles that he wrote to the churches. The word was always brought antithetically and always condemned the errors of the day, and set forth salvation as being by faith in Christ Jesus, as that faith is the gift of God’s grace. It is true that he applied that word to the various attacks of Satan upon the church. In the book of Galatians he preached the truth especially over against the error of those who would bring the church again under the law that can only condemn. In the books to the Corinthians it is obvious that Paul in his preaching applied the word over against many errors that were found within the new congregation. And so it is from epistle to epistle. But always it was a sharp, clear, antithetical preaching of the full gospel of Christ that was brought to the people.
Thus, in our labor here on the field we began, as we have stated before, preaching the Word, at first to only three, and then to four people, including my wife and me. But God was pleased to bring others under the gospel, so that, in the year and a half since we came, we have probably had well over two hundred and fifty come to worship services. Of course, many came only for a while and then left. This is to be expected. Jesus preached to over five thousand men plus women and children, and fed them all with five loaves and two fishes, and yet when it became plain through His preaching that His was a heavenly kingdom and not an earthly one, only a few remained with Him. Yet it has pleased the Lord that on Sunday mornings we normally now are preaching the gospel to nearly a hundred souls. And we have had as high as one hundred thirty sit in our house to hear the Word proclaimed. Further, the evening services are being, by little steps, attended with more frequency by many. And in the last months we have averaged over fifty present. We are grateful to God for this, especially in light of the fact that for those coming to our fellowship there has been little earthly reward. The reward is almost exclusively the spiritual reward of hearing the Word of God proclaimed.
Thus if you were to ask me what methods I use to bring the gospel to the people of Ghana, my answer would be rather simple, that I preach the Word, preach all the Word, and preach the Word over against error. Really this is no different than in the States in a well-established congregation. If anything, the preaching is even more pointed here in Ghana — the reason being that there are many erroneous ideas of the Scriptures that have been foisted upon the people by false prophets. And the “custom” of the land is basically fetish-orientated, and has been taught to the people from birth upward. Thus, rather than make allowances for the customs of the land, one must often point out how those customs or traditions are often contrary to the Word, and that that which appears to be differences because of culture are really antichristian, unbiblical, and destructive of the Christian faith of the Scripture. This does not mean that all the customs or cultural things are unbiblical; but many, if not most, are. The customs that are in harmony with the teaching of the Scriptures may be practiced and are practiced by the people.
One of the large tasks of Paul and of the missionary in Ghana has been to lead the people by the Word to see that the Word of God is the only standard for faith and life. This we repeatedly bring to mind in the preaching, making many references to the Bible to show that the truth is the truth of the Scriptures. We also show very clearly that the Heidelberg Catechism is a setting forth of the Scriptures by showing that the confession is built upon the Word of God, and expresses it faithfully. The Catechism has been a blessed means on the mission field to lead the people into the understanding of all the fullness of the Scriptures. The Catechism was written to express the personal confession of the believer. It leads us personally to the answers of Scripture, as we experience the need to know what the Word says, and it addresses these answers to us in a manner that leads us practically to confess that our salvation is of grace alone. Thus also God’s children are led into true comfort.
The methods that we use in bringing the gospel to the attention of the people of Ghana are also basically the same as we would do in our own communities in theStates and Canada. The principal means for the gathering of the people under the preaching is the faithful preaching itself. For as God’s children come under the preaching they speak of the Word that they have heard to others, and bring others to come and hear. However, we have also used sign boards to inform the people where we are located and where we preach the Word. This has brought quite a few into our midst to hear the Word, and in turn has led to others coming. We have handed out many pamphlets which explain who we are and when we meet for worship and Bible Study. This means has also by the grace of God brought many to come and hear. We have the radio program that airs over Radio Universe, the University of Ghana’s radio station. In this program we antithetically, and even at times polemically, bring forth the truth of Scripture. Through this means we have also had many inquire further of our teaching, sometimes on the air and sometimes by visits to our house. Also a fair number of people have been led to come to one of our worship services to find out more of the work that God is doing in our midst. Further, I would mention that we stop and talk to people on the streets of Accra about our faith. When we do this we direct them to our radio program and often hand out a pamphlet with our beliefs, telephone numbers, and location. This too is a means that has led some to come and visit our worship services. Finally, we have taken speaking engagements in the schools of the land, and also at certain Bible Fellowships, which we would call Bible Societies. This gives us opportunity to bring the gospel that teaches us that it is by grace alone, which is sovereignly bestowed upon God’s chosen in Christ, that we are saved. Because many in this country do not hold to this gospel of sovereign, gracious salvation, the gospel, no matter by what means we bring it or introduce it, is unique. One thing the radio program has made clear is that sound exposition of Scripture is not often heard in this land. We are encouraged by listeners often to continue to bring the Word “because it is something that we do not hear much of in our country.”
Our joy on the field in Ghana is not the numbers that attend our worship services and Bible Studies as such. But our joy is in the way in which the Word is received. We have witnessed a real spiritual growth on the part of those that have come under the preaching. This we have seen in two main ways. First, we have seen a growth in the true understanding of the distinctive gospel of salvation by grace alone. When I first came and asked the question of our people, “Did Jesus die intending to save every man, woman, and child that was ever born?” we would here a chorus of yeas. Now when this question is set before the people there is a resounding no. Further, they are able to explain why it cannot be that God loves every man head for head, and why Jesus when He died on the cross covered the sins of those alone whom the Father had given to Him. They are able to point to the Scriptures to defend this truth, and they are aware of the rich blessings that accompany the truth that God sovereignly saves His church. They do understand that when Paul says, All things work together for our good, for the good of them who are called according to God’s purpose, this means all things, also the trials that are the portion of God’s people in this life. Now this truth is embraced by most who come to worship with us. However, there are also the infants in the faith and those that slowly are becoming more mature in their confession of these things.
The second way in which we see the fruit of Christ’s preaching in our midst in the spiritual strengthening of the people is that they are striving to bring their lives more into conformity with the teaching they receive through the preaching. This is true in the area of their understanding of the proper use of the Sabbath Day, although this is hard for them, as they must trust that the Lord will provide them sufficiently even though they do not labor on the Lord’s Day. When they have only enough food for each day, this is a trial for them. But we are pleased that many do see that they can get by without the Sabbath labor. Also, there are more (not all, by any means) who see the blessing of gathering together twice on the Lord’s Day for worship and fellowship with the saints. We rejoice in this manifestation of the understanding of the truth of the Scriptures. This is true, also, in their seeing the calling that they have as covenant families. In the first place, they desire to be properly married before the Lord. Many have performed a part of the customary rite of marriage but have not completed it, and thus are living together as husband and wife even for many years without having been formally married. They now realize that this really is a living in fornication, and seeing this they desire to be right before God also in their marriages. This has been occupying a considerable amount of time in teaching and instructing the people about the true nature of marriage and our calling within it. We are thankful that the Word is leading them to seek to change these things in their lives. Finally, in this connection, we see more and more families in attendance at worship services, and hear that there is a greater attempt to spend time together as families indiscussion of spiritual things and in instruction of the children in the things of God’s kingdom. Again, there are those who are just beginning to see these things aright, and others who are coming to a much more mature understanding of the covenant and our covenant calling as God’s people.
In the end it is as it was in the days of Paul, as we read in Acts 13:48: “And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” Here also, when the children of God hear the preaching, they are glad and glorify the Word of the Lord. It is not our labor or our methods that bring souls to salvation, but it is God who gathers those whom He has ordained unto eternal life. And whether it is many souls or a few souls, He shall determine. Ours is but to preach the Word faithfully. This, by the grace of God, we attempt to do from Sabbath to Sabbath and from day to day. Let us give all the glory to God also in this labor of bringing the Word to Ghana.