From 27 June to 11 July, Daniel Grimwade, one of the pastors of Dewsbury Evangelical Church, spent two weeks in Ghana with Ivan Watson, from Cavan Baptist Church, Southern Ireland.
They travelled to Ghana to attend a preaching conference organised by Pastor Training International (PTI).
PTI is a UK registered charity, established in 2004, that supports pastors who have had little or no training and yet are responsible for the oversight of their congregations. The organisation works mostly in sub-Saharan Africa, although their ministry activities are now expanding to areas in Asia and Eastern Europe.
Ghana has an estimated population of 25 million; 71 per cent claim to be Christians (far less are true evangelicals), and approximately 30 per cent of people are not literate.
Simon Percy is Director of Ministry for PTI. He is responsible for developing and co-ordinating the work, and making the organisation better known in the UK and globally.
‘Many of the pastors have had very little training — a man may become a pastor simply because he prays enthusiastically. Despite their love for Jesus, their lack of training means they are ill equipped to feed their flocks’, he explained.
‘Their sermons are seldom rooted in the Bible and can be full of false promises, leaving people disillusioned. Conferences such as the one Daniel and Ivan attended teach pastors how to correctly handle the Word of God’.
Daniel and Ivan spent their first week in Ho, southern Ghana. ‘We spent our first Sunday at two services at different churches, which were both called Emmanuel Baptist Church. The first service started at 8.40am to avoid disturbing the worship of three other churches in the adjacent courtyard’, Daniel said.
‘Christianity is seen to be everywhere in Ghana. There are many churches, and many people dedicate their work to Jesus’, Simon said. Daniel agreed: ‘Christianity certainly has a huge influence here, as there are church buildings everywhere, and numerous businesses with biblical names’.
However, the climate in Ghana is a challenge. Throughout June and July, Ghana has an average temperature of 25°C and an average humidity of 85%. There is also the danger of venomous snakes such as the Western bush viper.
Additionally, Daniel’s luggage failed to arrive until Thursday 3 July, delaying the arrival of handouts for the conference. But Daniel remarked: ‘The sooner the luggage comes the better. This is the longest I’ve been without a shave in a long time. Plus, we have eaten all the chocolate Ivan brought and need my supplies to replenish us!’
Daniel and Ivan travelled north west to Sunyani, for the second week, on Sunday 6 July. It’s estimated that a combined total of 200 pastors in Ghana attended the conference overall.
Daniel said, ‘It’s been good to have fellowship with God’s people and see churches first-hand in a completely different part of the world. We had to learn quickly that we need to be ready for anything and to be flexible to go with the flow’.
Simon added: ‘It is important for people to pray for the men who have received this training, that they will preach the Bible more carefully and accurately. Also, please pray that their congregations will listen to these sermons and be better equipped to live for Jesus Christ. Pastors have few books, which is why PTI seeks to provide each pastor who attends conferences with key literature’.