Leaders representing 12 countries in West Africa met in Accra, Ghana, Oct. 4-8th for training, to share testimonies of God’s faithfulness, to pray, to develop a common vision and to fellowship. Highlights of the conference included a graduation ceremony in Ghana of 12 pastors from Nazarene Theological Institute and an ordination service of three Ghanaian pastors including the ordination of the first woman in Ghana.
General Superintendant Dr. Eugenio Duarte, taught on the Nazarene Essentials, challenging us to reflect on the church’s roots and DNA. Regional director, Dr. Filimao Chambo, shared his desire to seek God’s will and vision for the church in Africa, and regional Nazarene Compassionate Ministries director Rev. Mutowa emphasizing the importance of Christlike compassion. Africa West Field Director, Rev. Daniel Gomis, district superintendants, country coordinators and other ministry leaders from the field also presented.
The gathering included leaders from Sierra Leone and Liberia who had not been able to attend field or regional events during the past year because of the Ebola epidemic. Stories of heroic faith and compassion were shared—of leaders who went by bike daily to deliver food to quarantined families, of NTI classes that were held and even grew despite the epidemic, and of orphans that were ministered to and counseled. The church in Liberia has partnered with organizations like Last Well and plans to build 10 wells in the coming year.
In Senegal and Niger the church has also been involved in providing fresh water to communities through wells. Other exciting compassionate ministry projects were shared, as well, like the cattle project that was started by a church in Benin in which cattle were raised to send over 300 children to school with all of their supplies. The school was built by the church in order to meet the need for a secondary school in the community. In Burkina Faso, over one hundred orphans are being cared for by families in the church and in Ghana ten girls from rural areas in the north have received nurse’s training so that they can go back to their village and work in the newly constructed medical clinic.
Other ministry highlights included the attendance of over 1,000 women at a women’s convention in Southeast Nigeria last year and the first women’s clergy conference in Burkina Faso and Togo. The Youth ministry (NYI), which is gearing up for its first regional conference in South Africa in December, continues to show dynamic growth. Many new churches were planted this year including in new ministry areas like Mali, Niger and Guinea. The discipleship training associated with the Jesus Film has made a positive impact and several powerful testimonies of transformed lives were given. For example, a woman came to know the Lord through an all women’s Jesus Film team. She came for four nights and on Sunday morning shared that she was the voodoo high priestess for the village and that she and her assistant had made sacrifices for twenty years–once a week they would steal a child and sacrifice him. That morning she burned all of her fetishes and turned her life over to Christ. She is still serving God in the church.
While there was much rejoicing at the conference there was also mourning and intercession through prayer. During the conference, district superintendent Reverend William Grant received the news that his wife, Elisabeth, had died in Liberia. She had been sick for many years but through her suffering had remained a faithful servant of Christ. The group was also saddened to hear that a zone leader, Rev. Anthony Goleh, also from Libria, was in a tragic motorcycle accident. Please pray for the mourning families during this difficult time.
Through both tears and rejoicing participants sensed God’s close presence at the conference and could readily testify with the Psalmist that God’s love, “reaches to the heavens, [His] faithfulness to the skies. (Psalm 36:5)