God on the Move in Ghana: A conversation with Femi Adeleye
In Ghana, like many countries across the Majority World, vibrant congregations are exploding with growth. Yet each Sunday, as a growing number of believers enter churches, as many as 8 in 10 preachers enter pulpits lacking even the most basic training on how to study and teach the Bible. The result? Teaching is often shallow or worse, unbiblical, leaving believers vulnerable. But Ghana is one of the 60+ countries where Langham is working to reverse this trend by training networks of preachers, who then train others, how to faithfully study and teach God’s Word.
Click below to listen to Chris Wright, Langham’s International Ministries Director, and Femi Adeleye, Langham’s Associate Director for Langham Preaching in Africa, talk candidly about the growth and vibrancy of the church in Ghana, the harmful impact of the prosperity gospel, the need for biblical training for pastors, and what believers around the world can learn from the church in Africa.
Click to listen to the audio of Chris and Femi’s conversation.
Click to download a PDF of the full transcript.
Some highlights from Chris’ conversation with Femi:
On the need for pastor training in Ghana, where 70% of the population profess to be Christian, but many don’t know what it means to follow Jesus:
“It seems the church has grown faster than there are resources to train and equip leaders for effective preaching. So, you have many zealous people wanting to preach, but they’ve hardly had any training at all. What often happens is somebody comes up with a topic he wants to speak on and then begins to look for Bible passages that back whatever the topic is, or they tell the story of their life and then sprinkle a few verses in there. That represents the need, indicates the need for pastors and lay people to be trained in Biblical preaching. There are seminaries, there are Bible colleges, but they really can’t cope with the explosive growth of Christianity. . . There is a significant need.”
On the crippling impact of the so-called “prosperity gospel” in Ghana and throughout Africa:
“The prosperity gospel, sometimes called the “health and wealth gospel,” or the “name it, claim it” gospel, often uses texts of Scripture as shortcuts to the good things in life. Essentially, it emphasizes that material prosperity is something we can benefit from here on Earth. However, the way it is often taught makes the material prosperity an end in itself. In contexts of poverty, acute poverty, it’s a huge attraction. . . I heard it in Zimbabwe during a recent visit of a similar incident. This time it was a preacher who said he had prayed over some umbrellas and if people would buy the umbrellas for something like $300 each, and you waive that umbrella over your head, God will prevent you from having problems. You must understand that some of our people are in significant difficulty, so when they hear teaching like that, they’re so vulnerable that they embrace it. It seems, you know, ridiculous to be so gullible, but in the quest to rush to buy these umbrellas again there was a stampede, and about 11 people were killed. When that happens people ask, “What gospel is this? What kind of God is this, who allows people to be killed in such a way in the name of following Jesus?” That’s been so negative, and the remedy for that again is to go back to Scripture and teach the Bible as it should be taught.”
On the impact of Langham training for pastors and lay leaders across Ghana:
“We are actually beginning to see the fruit of that. Several years back, a man from Ghana named Emmanuel Ahlijah, now a pastor, made an appeal to Uncle John Stott. He said, “Please come and help us, John Stott…We have all kinds of strange teachings in our church.” There is now a strong preaching movement training pastors and lay leaders on how to study the text of the Scriptures, how to interpret and how to proclaim it. It’s beginning to bear a fruit because people are now exposed to the truth and discovering that some of the things they’ve embraced in the past are not biblical and are not helpful. They may provide short term remedies, but not lasting impact. So, if this movement grows, I believe we’ll see considerable change in the character of the church itself in Ghana.”
On how the church in Africa, growing under God, can bless the church in the West:
“I’ve experienced that in various ways, that the body of Christ is global. We serve a global God and His giftings are not restricted to any particular geographical location. We in fact have some Africans in Europe and in the United States participating actively in the life and ministry of the church, and there are lessons to be learned. For instance, we find that the commitment and the perseverance of Christians in challenging contexts—as it was in the Sudan before the new Sudan became independent, the resilience to keep going in the face of persecution. Or of Nigerians who live in Northern Nigeria where there is the militant Boko Haram, who have experienced some level of suffering—they have a lot to teach people from other parts of the world who hardly know what it is to be opposed or to be persecuted. The giftings of God can be shared even from Africans to other parts of the world.”
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