There are many churches in Ghana, especially in the urban areas of the south. Here one can find a church nearly every two hundred metres. Over 60% of the population claim to be Christian, and yet the real church (of born-again believers) constitutes less than 2%.
This low figure is surprising against a backdrop of so many churches, but few of these churches preach the gospel, and it is hard to find real believers in them. Many people know the biblical clichés and phrases, but have been lulled into a state of spiritual complacency and slumber.
Even amongst believers there is little understanding of the doctrines of grace. The Reformed (Sovereign Grace) Baptist churches – about fourteen in number – are among the few churches in Ghana to openly espouse the Reformed faith.
One organisation that is helping to dispel this ignorance is the Dutch Reformed Tract Society. This has a Christian bookshop that sells Banner of Truth books and other books teaching Reformed doctrine.
Christian radio broadcasting takes place freely across FM radio stations in Ghana but seldom is the biblical gospel transmitted – only, at times, are aspects of the truth conveyed. Thankfully, though, the churches today are relatively free from persecution.
Ghanaian believers currently grapple with three problems. The first is superstition. Superstition is woven into the core and fabric of traditional African beliefs. It makes people slaves to fear and keeps them in bondage to the enemy of souls. Superstition has also paved the way for the rapid advance of the Charismatic movement in our land.
Secondly, churches face much doctrinal error. Ghana is a beehive of pseudo-Christian cults, teaching all kinds of error and leading millions down the road to hell. These cults provide their adherents with a dizzying mixture of spiritual shallowness and nominalism, materialism, immorality, irreverence and apathy to holiness.
The third and perhaps worst problem is ignorance. People are ignorant of Scripture’s teaching on the true meaning and purpose of life. Even professing Christians do not realise that peace with God, joy and forgiveness can only be found in Jesus Christ.
There is much ‘missionary’ activity in Ghana and yet so much ignorance. There has been rapid progress in overcoming illiteracy but little in overcoming ignorance of the Holy Scriptures. There is easy access to information, yet so little known about the God who created and rules the universe.
However, there are many opportunities for the gospel in Ghana. Ghanaians are naturally friendly and open to hearing the gospel. Some local chiefs generously provide land for missionaries at low cost to further the work of the Lord, and many people go to a church of some sort.
There are publishing houses and there is good access to the internet. The improving literacy rate makes it possible for more people to read the Bible and Christian literature.
The circumstances in the nation as a whole facilitate gospel work. Much of sub-Saharan Africa experiences wars, fear and famine, but Ghana enjoys relative peace and prosperity. There is greater freedom of speech and movement than ever before in its political history.
However, as Ghana’s Evangelical Reformed churches seek to make the gospel known, they face three challenges.
The first is the battle for souls. We are in a kind of ‘competition’ with numerous false and defective churches. Among these are many Pentecostal and Charismatic groups that lack teaching in the fundamental truths of the gospel.
Moreover, traditional African religions with attendant superstition, paganism and materialism make Ghana a fertile ground for all kinds of cults and for occult teaching and practices. In our dealings with people, we are constantly trying to ‘deprogram’ their minds from the many false doctrines and errors they have been exposed to.
How do we help a people so steeped in false teaching? How do we convince them that they can never be saved by mere church attendance and nominal Christianity? Only the Lord can enable us to do so!
The second challenge is the battle for the true gospel. The gospel is rarely heard in the pulpits of churches. Instead there are all kinds of strange messages labelled ‘gospel’. No wonder there are few sincere converts and so many nominal believers!
Thirdly, there is the battle for the Faith. We long to see Christian believers learn the doctrines of the faith, live and walk in this faith, and humbly proclaim and defend it. This is certainly a tall order, and places us in a tough battle! But it is a challenge that we must zealously and faithfully take up. Like David, we must serve our ‘own generation by the will of God’ (Acts 13:36).
The words of Mordecai remain true for us too: ‘who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?’ (Esther 4:14).