Features

Onward Christian workers

"Onward Christian workers" Continued...

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

Before that Lamptey believed church work the only real work. (Some Americans make the same mistake by thinking that only pastors and missionaries are engaged in "full-time Christian service.") He learned to appreciate the efforts of men like burly Kojo Sortoh Mensah, awarded a blue Ford Ranger when experts in 2008 named him Ghana's best fisherman. Mensah, now in a Wholistic Club, helps others start small businesses, pay hospital bills, and leave prostitution: He speaks with an earthy vigor like that of another fisher of men, Peter the apostle, displayed.

Ampadu's teaching has also activated Emilie Hasford, 70, who runs a small business that employs 10 women cooking for schools, and David Kweku Danso, who teaches young men to persevere in a key making shop. Ghana officially has 11 percent unemployment, according to The CIA Factbook, but that number doesn't include the thousands of people walking between cars during Accra traffic jams trying to sell everything from batteries to clothes, and rarely finding a taker. The real rate, in terms of people productively employed, is as much as 40 percent.

That's a huge problem for Ghana, but Ampadu points to positives such as Ghanian interest in education: Learning centers have names like Brainbirds, Wisebirds, and The Intellectuals School. Ghana's divisions-more than 100 different linguistic and cultural groups groupable into seven tribal families-may be an advantage, in that no particular faction is dominant. (Civil wars are more likely to arise when a country has only two major contenders: Look at Rwanda, with its Hutus and Tutsis, or Nigeria, evenly divided between Christians and Muslims.)

Three U.S. presidents in a row have come to Accra-in 1998, 2008, and 2009-and made the country a poster child for African success: Barack Obama earlier this year called Ghana "a good news story." Ampadu, though, sees success dependent on whether Ghanians understand the Bible's good news story as one in which Christ empowers His followers not merely to sing and dance, but to "make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you."

After all, the name Christians claim, disciple, involves disciplined following of the command to love God and love our neighbors.

-with appreciation for Tim O'Brien's 1990 book of short stories about soldiers in Vietnam, The Things They Carried

Money Box

Samaritan Strategy Africa budget in 2011: $822,157

Western Africa region budget in 2011: $95,736

West Africa volunteer count: 67+

2011 budget for Ghana: $53,218

Chris Ampadu salary in 2011: $23,760

Readers' choice

By Marvin Olasky

This is the seventh year of WORLD's Hope Awards for Effective Compassion, but the first in which we have an international finalist.

This year's final five are all different-and are all good. From the West comes Wyoming-based Fathers in the Field, which pairs fatherless kids with men who take them hunting, fishing, and bonding. Down East is The Root Cellar, a Maine group that shows refugees how to make it in America. In the Midwest sits Hope Academy, a classical Christian school in inner-city Minneapolis. The Southern winner is WorkFaith Connection, which helps some of Houston's least-employable men and women to find jobs.

The international winner, Samaritan Strategy Africa, also helps the poor in ways that are challenging, personal, and spiritual. We look for Christian, nongovernmental poverty-fighting programs that are not just evangelical and not just economic, but unite body and soul. We started this year with 200 recommendations from readers and initial research by internet and phone, and followed with journalistic visits that allowed us to eyeball 10 programs. Each of the five finalists will receive $4,000.

Now it's up to you. Please go to Hope Award page, read the stories, and look at the videos and photographs. Between now and Sept. 30, please vote online for the program that moves you the most. The ministry that receives the most votes will receive an additional $21,000. You may get ideas about what you can start or help in your own communities. You'll surely get a sense of how God is using His people.

Listen to a report on Samaritan Strategy Africa on WORLD's radio news magazine The World and Everything in It.

Vote for the 2012 winner and read profiles of finalists and winners from 2006 through 2012 on WORLD's Hope Award page.

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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