Rev. Moore is pastor of the Protestant Reformed Church of Hull, Iowa.
We would like to take this means to inform our readers further of the trip that we took to Ghana in behalf of the Protestant Reformed Churches in America and under the direction of its Foreign Mission Committee. Our churches have had a long standing interest in Ghana as a potential mission field. This has happened because of contacts that we have made with children of God in this nation. Especially this interest has been promoted because of our contact with a fellow believer, Gabriel Anyigba. We have maintained contact with him for over eighteen years. This brother has an influential place in the Volta Evangelical Association and is an elder in the Evangelical Presbyterian Churches of Ghana. In these churches he is well respected. Gabriel has intentions of becoming, the Lord willing, an ordained minister in the E.P.C.G. in the near future. Gabriel has received tapes, pamphlets, and books from our churches, and in many ways has received much training through these means in the Reformed faith as we hold to it.
It was because of the close contact that we had with Gabriel and because of many other contacts that we have made over the years with others in Ghana that our churches decided three years ago to send a committee to Ghana for a period of three weeks. Rev. Dykstra and Henry Bleyenberg made this visit and cemented the relationship with Gabriel even further, and made other very promising contacts with believers in Ghana. They were able to see firsthand that there was a possibility of doing work in Ghana, and they recommended that we continue our contact with this field. The book Reformed Dogmatics by H. Hoeksema was given to Gabriel and to Rev. Moses Buamah. The latter is a brother that this committee met while in Ghana. He has a real desire to grow in the Reformed faith. Rev. Buamah was at the time about to go to Northern Ghana to begin work in a mission field for the E.P.C.G. We continued our correspondence with these men and with others who were visited by this committee. The fruit of all this is the trip only recently completed by Rev. Moore and his wife, Jan; and by elder Don VerMeer and his wife, Marilyn.
The purpose of this latest trip was to investigate the field in Ghana further, especially that we might determine the need for missionaries, whether this work would be possible for our churches to conduct, and what is the receptivity in this land for the gospel as it is proclaimed in our churches. The trip was intended, further, to continue to strengthen by the truth those people with whom we have contact, and to encourage them as they bring the gospel to the church in Ghana. We believe that the trip was very beneficial in this regard and also was a blessing for the people of God in Ghana with whom we visited and in whose midst we labored while in Ghana.
First, I would like to write a few things about each group and/or area in which we labored.
We arrived in Accra on November 18th and returned home on December 29th. We labored with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Ghana (E.P.C.G.) in Accra and in the north Volta Region on the mission field in Nkwanta. The E.P.C.G. provided us the opportunity to preach in their churches on three Sundays while we were in Accra. We were very well received by the E.P.C.G. A brother, Kofi Awuitor, personally saw to many of our needs while in Accra. We had the opportunity to preach the Word in three of their churches in Accra. The smallest congregation was about 130 souls, the largest about 650. In the third one we preached in English to the half of the congregation that understood English. There were a little over 300 in attendance. In the other two churches our sermon was interpreted into the Ewe language, with up to fifty percent understanding the English.
In the sermons we strove to emphasize the Sovereignty of God in salvation, double predestination, limited atonement, as well as the distinctives of our Protestant Reformed faith. These sermons were well received by the ministers and by many of the people, who took the time to express their appreciation for the Word.
We found that in these congregations in Accra there were many families that came to worship together, and for the large part the audience was made up of a normal mix between male and female.
While in Accra we met twice with the leaders of this denomination. Their synodical officebearers are full-time employees of the denomination. These consisted of a Synodical Moderator, Synodical Clerk, and Inter-church Relations Officer. At the first such visit we were warmly welcomed into their midst and were told that they were pleased that we could spend this time in their churches. They asked that while we worshiped in their midst according to their way, if we saw things we believed were not biblical to tell them about this. They desired to do things according to the Word.
They had approved our visiting the mission field in Nkwanta, where Rev. Buamah labors, and also asked that we report to them on our reactions and observations on this field. Especially was this interesting for them as they had not been able to visit the field since it was established. We gladly agreed to do this. When we met again we had opportunity to speak to them about several things that we found to be weaknesses in their worship. Most important was the amount of participation that women have in some of their church services (some led in prayer, in leading the singing, and in reading the Scripture for the worship) we explained in a brotherly way that we find this to stand outside of the teaching of the Scripture. Also we were able to commend them for their obvious desire to bring the truth of the Word of God to their people, and we spoke to them of the importance of holding fast that truth. We were blessed as we worshiped in their churches.
While we were in Accra we were able to meet with the Volta Evangelical Association for a short while one evening. We were cordially welcomed by the president of this organization, James Agbeblewu. They told us that they would help us in any way possible while we were in Ghana. We have had contact for many years with this organization, which is a non-denominational evangelistic association, through Gabriel and others. We appreciated this offer of help, but because the E.P.C.G. had everything so well arranged, it was not necessary on this trip to avail ourselves of their care.
Nkwanta was one of the focal points of our trip. We visited there with a brother and his family of whom we had become fond through our correspondence. It was a visit to observe his work in mission labor in the primitive villages. While we were in Nkwanta we had no electricity, no telephones, and no running water. We did however have gas lantern, gas stove, and water in a tank outside the back door of the house in which we stayed.
Our labor in this field consisted of giving speeches in the outlying villages, and preaching twice in Nkwanta. During this time we were able to see how Rev. Buamah goes about his work of bringing the gospel to the area. He works with those who have known about Christ before, with many who are only recent converts to the Christian faith, and with those who have not yet been converted. As we would walk through the village, we would stop at the different family compounds and visit with the families, informing them of the meeting that we would be holding a little later. We often would stop and visit with the chief of the village and would sometimes pray with him. Then we would go to the meeting place, sometimes an outdoor meeting place, sometimes in a rather small building (“school” or room in a home). In the meetings in these villages we had an average of 50 souls in attendance. Some were members of the newly formed mission station, some were regular visitors, and some were there for the first time. And of the latter, for some it was the first time that they had ever heard the gospel preached in their lifetime.
These meetings consisted of some singing, usually accompanied by drums and clapping, a speech by Rev. Moore, comments by Rev. Buamah, and greetings and comments by Rev. Adzadzi, who was the Chairman of the Northern Presbytery of the E.P.C.G. Rev. Adzadzi had come to oversee the work on this field in behalf of the churches, and this was the first official visit by a personal representative of the denomination. We grew to appreciate the biblical and Reformed stance of this minister of God’s Word and enjoyed his company for the four days he spent with us. He was 56 years old, a few months younger than Rev. Moore.
The speeches lasted about 45 minutes to an hour, and were translated usually into one other language, sometimes into two other languages, namely Twee and Kon-komba. This was followed by a question hour that lasted from thirty minutes to over two hours at Sebi. Again we were able to emphasize the main doctrines of the Reformed faith during the course of the speeches and in our answers to the questions. We gave both the milk and the meat of the Word in these villages, for there were new converts or even pagans in the audience, and there were also present those with a much longer history in the church. Again there was expressed a deep appreciation for the Word they received and a sadness when we had to depart, for they longed to hear more of the truth that we were able to bring.
From the primitive north we next traveled twelve and a half hours via Accra to Kumasi. While in Kumasi we met with the Unto God Prayer Group. We have had contact with a Brother Adjei, who has become one of the leaders of this group since the time of the last visit. This group gathers together weekly to study the Scripture and is made up of members of several denominations. There were about sixty in attendance this evening. They come together to grow in the knowledge of the Word of God. It seems as though they lack in instruction from their churches in such study.
Members of this group could understand the English language, and they have a good foundation of biblical knowledge. This made it possible for Rev. Moore to speak in English, for an hour and ten minutes, on the topic “The Church—One Throughout the Ages.” In this speech we developed the idea of the covenant from Adam to the present, the place of Creation in this work of God, the place of election and reprobation in this, and the marks of the true church. This speech was listened to very carefully by many and with deep appreciation for the truths that were set forth. During the question hour many very important questions were asked and answered from the Scriptures; and for those who could come it was decided to meet again on Friday (two days later) to continue the discussion. One such question was, “Why did the reprobate come through the Flood? Why did not all the reprobate seed perish?” Questions of this nature gave rise to detailed answers that could further set forth the blessed truth of God’s sovereign work of salvation.
In our visits with the leaders of this group and with two of Hope Protestant Reformed Church’s contacts from Dunkwa on Offin, who were at the Friday meeting, we learned that there is a great need for instruction from the Scripture. In their words, there is a lack of knowledge, even in that which confesses to be church. They urged us to come back and labor in Ghana.
In Mpraeso we were the guests of the Assemblies of God Churches of Ghana, in particular of Rev. Banahene and his congregation. While there we preached twice on Sunday and had major speeches on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday evenings. During the day we would visit various of the villages around Mpraeso, and different ministers and pastors who labored in these villages. In the sermons and speeches we were able to speak at length and in detail, bringing forth the great truths of our Reformed faith. We were interpreted here into one language, the Twee.
The speeches and sermons were characterized by the ministers and people as being “powerful.” We believe that what was meant is that they clearly were biblical and set forth the Word of God. Even here our preaching the doctrine of double predestination was received with appreciation on the part of many. That they understood these doctrines as we spoke of them is evident from questions that were asked such as, “If God wills the hardening of the wicked, then does God will the sin, does He become the Author of it?” And when we answered the question from Scripture, there was obvious agreement with our position by many in the congregation. They freely express themselves in these meetings with vocal Amens and expressions of their agreement. Another such question was raised on the basis of a point made from Romans 7: “If there is a battle within the child of God, between the old and new man, which way will God judge in the day of judgment? Is the end of the battle in question?” Again such questions gave us opportunity to address the Word of God in more detail to the people.
We were pleasantly surprised at the receptivity to the truth of sovereign grace in the congregation and by the ministers of this denomination of churches. They are charismatic; but when speaking of healing or of speaking in tongues they limited these things to the way it took place at the time of the apostles, claiming that it also is to be practiced today. They maintain that the tongues in which they speak are known tongues. We pointed out our position on the same and discussed the scriptural position that we take on such matters. Rev. Banahene and Rev. Boateng (who interpreted the speeches of Rev. Moore) desired further instruction in these Reformed truths.
At their request, the last speech was on the covenant family and the place of the husband, wife, and children within it. This gave us an excellent opportunity to develop the truth of the blessed covenant that God realizes with His church by sovereign grace alone. In our discussions with Rev. Banahene and Rev. Boateng, we had learned before our speech that their position on marriage after divorce is “scriptural” according to them. And when asked what does that mean, they replied, “There is no marriage after divorce, and if one so walks he would be excommunicated.” We asked Gabriel and Kofi Awuitor this same question when we returned to Accra, and they answered that the E.P.C.G. held that marriage after divorce is not to be permitted. It was heartening to know that there are other churches that hold to this truth of the Scripture as we do. The desire of the ministers and members of this congregation was that our churches might return to give further instruction in these truths.
Others we met while in Ghana were many, and we do not have the space to speak of each of the encounters we had with the people of Ghana. We spoke of the Word wherever we were. We spoke of the blessed salvation that there is in Christ, and of the comfort of a sovereign God. We asked many people of their faith and of their conception of the church, and were able to gain insight into the needs of the people in Ghana for the Word.
The people of Ghana are very friendly, and we found that they are not out to rob you, or to take advantage of you, but rather were willing to help in any way possible.
While we were in Accra, Marilyn and Jan were able to visit several hospitals, and visit with various women and business people, to obtain information that would be important to our churches if we were to send a missionary there in the future. We were able also to learn much about what will be necessary with respect to the government in order for our churches to do any mission work there. We were given much insight into how to go about mission work in the country, by the way that Rev. Buamah has conducted his work, by Rev. Banahene’s explanation of how they have established churches in the villages about Mpraeso, and especially by talking with Mennonite missionaries about their work in Ghana.
We may summarize some of the things that became very apparent while we visited in Ghana. There is a need for the gospel to be preached in Ghana. Many have not had the gospel at all, and many have not had a true gospel expounded unto them. There is a hungering for the Word on the part of those who have tasted of the truth. There is a call by many of many walks of life to come and preach the truth. It is possible from the point of view of the government to become established in Ghana and to be recognized as a mission church. And it is possible for a small denomination to have an effective work there, as is evident from the work the Mennonites are doing. Although they are not as small as we are, they are a small denomination. They maintain the scriptural place of women in the church and home; they do not adapt the native music to their work; and yet they are able to have a successful mission program in Ghana. Finally, on the part of the leaders of the various denominations and groups there is a desire to grow in the knowledge of the Word, in order that they may be a blessing to their congregations and people.
There are enough differences between these denominations and ours that we would not want to establish a cooperative mission work. Besides, in this writer’s opinion, that is very unwise wherever we labor. But there are ways that a missionary could be a strength also to these men while laboring in Ghana, in the way of teaching, guest lecturing, etc.
We were blessed in the work that we could accomplish and by the care of God’s people there. We do believe that if our churches do any foreign mission work, there is a field in Ghana in which our churches may labor.