I have spent the last two years fighting alongside my Ghanaian colleagues in an effort to end child slavery on Ghana’s massive Volta Lake. Many of my colleagues are attorneys, social workers, investigators, drivers, and administrative staff. I am one of two pastors on the staff. We are on a four person team called the Outreach and Engagement team. Our mission is Our team works with government, media, NGOs and churches with the mission to educate, inspire, and mobilize the people of Ghana to rise up and demand an end to child slavery.
As a pastor, working with the churches of Ghana is the area I am most able to contribute to this struggle in which we are engaged. Back in January, Leo and I (the two pastors on staff) dreamed big dreamy dreams of what we might dare to attempt this year. One of those dreams was to venture up to the northern part of the lake, where the child-trafficking was at its absolute worst and see if we could get the churches in those areas to lead the fight against child trafficking. We concocted a plan to do a series of strategically placed pastors’ conferences in which we invite all the pastors of the many fishing villages dotting the shores of Volta Lake to come and receive training in biblical justice and equipping on fighting against child-trafficking in their communities. We dreamed of 3 such conferences, each drawing pastors from several hours’ drive along the coastline. The idea is to surround the slave-masters with churches preaching and teaching, advocating against this great injustice, and reporting cases to the authorities.
I am proud to say that by the grace of God, we have completed this vision and we just finished our last lake-side pastor’s conference of the year! This last conference was in a town called Yeji, which is the absolute epicenter of child-trafficking in Ghana. This was the most difficult community for us to win trust in, the place with the most fear and security issues, but a place of great opportunity. It took us 9 hours of hard travelling from Accra to reach Yeji and we arrived with a police escort since the final stretch of road is not the safest to drive at night without one. Our week in Yeji was incredible, we marveled at what God did! We hope and pray it is the beginning of a great breakthrough in a place that sorely needs it. I hope you enjoy the videos and pictures below.
Lots of things went wrong, like our main speaker being unable to make it, but Leo jumped in and preached the sermon of his life!!! I wish I had a picture or video of that to show you.
In addition to the Justice Conferences at the Lake, my other main contribution this year is to write this curriculum (which is also doubling as my final project for my Doctorate of Ministry at Fuller Seminary). We use it now whenever we do trainings for pastors or other Christian leaders. It is an 8 week bible study series especially designed for this context.
We were able to offer discussion groups in 4 languages, many of which were led by Yeji pastors we trained at a pre-conference workshop. I believe this one is being led in the Ewe language.
A smaller language group in Ghana, but a significant one in this area is Nchumburu. We only had one pastor come to the training who speaks Nchumburu, so he quickly became the most popular group (with 15 group members- not all pictured here)
The Nchumburu group. It seemed they were surprised and delighted to learn that a Nchumburu group would be offered.
A Twi group, the most widely spoken local language in Ghana
I believe this was an English group. English is the national language of Ghana.
Three Ewe groups sitting a little too close together. They eventually spread out. Many of these men are fishermen on Lake Volta.
A the end of the conference, the chief fisherman (left) who oversees 105 fishing villages and hundreds of fishermen spoke of his enthusiasm to support our message and open doors for its expansion. He also shared about a man among his fisherman who wants to surrender a child because of what he has heard. This was a first for us and we hope to experience more of this! We pray that hearts will be convicted and that repentance and restoration will be genuine and thorough so that many children’s lives can be changed forever.
Since we were beginning to see slave-masters express remorse and a desire to repent and set children free, we decided to tell them the story of John Newton, the repentant slave-master who wrote the song “Amazing Grace”. Then Enoch closed our conference by singing it for us.
Amen Enoch! Amen!