- Written by John Wolf, LCMS Africa Region Project Manager John Wolf, LCMS Africa Region Project Manager
- Created: August 09 2017 August 09 2017
Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.Matthew 19:14
Little Delbert snuck to the front of the small mud brick church and grabbed the missionary’s hand. “He held my finger during the whole sermon,” chuckled Rev. Dale Kaster, as he shared a recent experience preaching to the people of Tamale in northern Ghana. John visited Rev. Dale and Suzanne Kaster during his first trip to west Africa.
I was truly impressed with the work of the Kasters, with both their blessings and challenges. With the help of local Pastor Konbat, Rev. Kaster continues the efforts of former LCMS missionaries to train men in four different people groups on their path to become pastors. He’s even taken on an effort to translate the small catechism into the language used in Tamale.
Many men are farmers, so pastoral studies occur around planting and harvest, funeral season and dry and rainy seasons. The Holy Spirit is at work in this area where people are tempted by Islam, traditional practices or beliefs promising success and wealth. The Kasters have nurtured many relationships that not only help them find resources but also share with others about Christ.
Back in the Ghana capital of Accra, I noticed a feel different from other Africa cities. The people were warm and friendly. When cued by a red traffic light, young women, carrying upon their heads trays of peanuts, phone cards, bags of cold water and other items, would weave among waiting cars selling goods. Lining the roadways were many billboards advertising special appearances of preachers, prophets or visionaries promising success and prosperity in this earthly life through the Bible. Such messages tempt new Lutherans and pastors away from the Gospel of what Christ has done for us to earn our salvation and life with Him.
My stay in Accra was hosted by long-time missionaries, Rev. David and Joyce Erber, who gave me a quick yet very worthwhile introduction to mission work in Ghana. I had a chance to meet some of the leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ghana, including Rev. Paul Fynn (president) and Rev. Boatang (seminary director), and hear about the ELCG emphasis on training men to become pastors, both through the Mission Training Center (MTC) and seminary programs. I briefly visited the ELCG seminary near the hills in northern Accra, where LCMS missionary Rev. Steven Schumacher teaches. A couple of students had arrived a week early before the fall session. Greek will be their subject for first two weeks. Over the course of their training, the ability to read Scripture directly from the Bible helps pastors arm their congregations against the temptations of false Christian practices.
One pastor I met shared the story of his childhood. As a newborn, the village soothsayer identified him as special child who would one day become a great soothsayer. Trained in the ways of the local traditional religion, he was given a fortune-telling stick. Even after learning about Christ as an young adult and rejecting his ancestral religion, his parents and relatives pressured him extensively to continue soothsaying, tell fortunes and make decisions for the village. He broke his stick, then destroyed it so others wouldn’t think he used it until it fell apart. Today, this man is a pastor.
By God’s grace, the efforts of LCMS missionaries to first spread the Gospel in Ghana in 1958 has resulted now, nearly sixty years later, in a still-growing church body, a seminary to train new shepherds and faithful pastors who teach that, in spite of our sin, God is faithful and just and forgives our sins because of what Christ has done for us.
John Wolf is the Africa Region Project Manager for the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. He and his family, with the support of LCMS churches like Saint John’s, are serving in Kenya. Please keep them in your prayers! We encourage you to follow their family blog, www.hereiamsendmesendme.blogspot.com, which is also where you can sign up to their mailing list and make donations.