Onward Christian workers

"Onward Christian workers" Continued...

Issue: "Syria's pain," Sept. 8, 2012

Ampadu recalls two leaps in his understanding. First, at age 17 with the help of Scripture Union, he professed faith in Christ. The second leap came when he attended in 1999 the first conference of Disciple Nations Alliance (see "Godly endeavors," WORLD, Dec. 5, 2009): DNA sees Christian worldview teaching as the missing link between evangelism and economic development. Without that understanding, Africa's Christianity takes a gnostic form, with extravagant worship on Sunday but no connection between that and their lives the rest of the week, or between the spiritual and the material.

Ampadu became part of the Samaritan Strategy Africa team that DNA helped form. Now Samaritan Strategy Africa (samaritan-strategy-africa.org) has six regional offices, and Ampadu from Accra coordinates work in 13 West African countries. He and others teach Christian worldview classes that emphasize the importance of hard work, integrity, and caring for others. At first Ampadu focused on teaching pastors, but then he realized it would take too long for the teaching to trickle down to ordinary Africans. So he took the message to laypeople and encouraged the formation of "Wholistic Clubs" that deal with both spiritual and material needs.

To see what this looked like, we went with three older women-schoolteachers Emma Dwarko and Regina Teye, and egg-seller Esther Gyemfi-to their homes in Pokuase, a suburb of Accra. We walked on rutted dirt paths near small houses where women had built businesses with seed money given by the Wholistic Clubs: Mary Chiasi works as a seamstress, Elizabeth Soglo as a hairdresser, and Beuty Amazu turned a fruit stand into a corner grocery store. Esther Bawa sells charcoal and takes care of six children not her own.

The clubs teach about showing love to neighbors in concrete ways. For instance, young Esther Wood received business start-up money that allowed her to buy a small bowl and fill it with plastic containers to sell. When she reported back to the older women, she was discouraged: I'm selling, yet I have no money. They asked what she did with the money she earned, and she said: Whatever my eyes saw, I bought, items like ice cream and meat pies. So the club leaders talked with her about resisting the temptation to fritter away her earnings.

The next time Wood reported to them, she was so successful that she had traded in her small bowl of plastic wares for a big one filled with attractive cooking pots. She gave her small bowl and a few plastic items to another woman starting out. Now, when Dwarko, Teye, or Gyemfi walk through Pokuase, residents come to them with job problems and hear from them messages like those Ampadu vigorously proclaims: "We have no excuse for our poverty. ... We will not advance without integrity and compassion."

The Hour of Deliverance church network has set up a vocational school that has success stories such as that of Paulina Suuri: She started her own business with a manual sewing machine provided by the church, then used her profits to buy an electric one as well as a serger to finish seams. Now she finishes seams for other seamstresses, charging 50 cents per item. She buys fabric for $4 and sells it for $5, and charges another $10 for a custom-made garment.

Ampadu also teaches freshmen at two Accra colleges, where students discuss the ethics of bribes and expense padding. Some have set up Wholistic Clubs that encourage students to show love to their communities. Ampadu has support from others like Peter Ohene Kyei, the head of Pentecost University College, who speaks about transformational leadership and sounds like Booker T. Washington: "Work in the corner where you are." Kwei emphasizes practical projects such as improving personal hygiene and cleaning up neighborhoods.

Ampadu emphasizes the need for Africans themselves to help their neighbors, and shows schools and wells and other projects produced by the savings and sweat of Ghanians themselves: "Western money will not solve our problem."

The names vehicles carry on their back and side windows: King Jesus Van, By the Power of God Taxi, Blood of Jesus Bus, In God We Trust Motors, Nearer My God Construction, No Food for Lazy Man, By the Power of God, In God We Trust Farm, Surely Justice and Mercy Will Follow Me ...

We saw many of these during a 97-mile trip from Accra to Elmina, a coastal town of 33,000 that began as a Portuguese slave trading post in 1482. There we met Pastor Joshua Lamptey, 41, who attended a Samaritan Strategy conference in 2009 and caught the vision of teaching people to "fish for the glory of God" and practice the "discipline of loving our neighbors."


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