Rich Spiritual Blessings in Ghana
IF YOU had been in Accra, the capital of Ghana, early this year you would have found many of the townspeople amazed. It was the occasion of a six-day assembly of Jehovah’s witnesses, and it was the largest of its kind ever to be held in Ghana.
For the main session the grounds of Accra’s International Trade Fair were packed with an audience of 32,023. For every twenty persons in the city, at least one was at the assembly. That was remarkable enough. But who were all those people? There are only some 13,000 Witnesses in all of Ghana. But among them were others whose serious attention had been arrested by the diligent ministry of the Witnesses, and they too wanted to enjoy rich spiritual blessings.
FROM MANY TRIBES
Consider some of the Witnesses present. They can be spotted, for they are wearing identification badges showing with which of Ghana’s 281 congregations of Jehovah’s witnesses they are associated. Here is Atonkontaba from Bolgatanga in the North, his face delicately etched with tribal markings. You see, his parents did not know Jehovah, the God of peace. Bukari of the Gruma tribe is over here too, grinning in evident delight and flashing his pointed, filed teeth. Those teeth let you know that it is not long that he has been studying the way of the true God.
It is refreshing to meet humble, appreciative folk like Amma Bempong from the Kwahu hills. She left her small cassava farm and her thatch-roofed home far off in the forest in order to be here with other worshipers of Jehovah to enjoy rich spiritual blessings. Big muscular Fanti fishermen from the coast contrast strangely with the slight, alert Ashanti farmers from the Kumasi area. A small group has also come in from the Ivory Coast, where they enjoyed their own assembly in Abidjan in December.
This Accra convention not only impressed onlookers, but motivated many of them to make diligent inquiry. A Trade Fair official declared: “I do indeed admire the discipline of Jehovah’s witnesses. You are a clean people.” A head teacher from Senya Beraku, who attended with his family of seven, was so deeply moved by the assembly program that he has since regularized his marriage and begun to share in the Kingdom-preaching activity of the Witnesses.
PROMOTING BIBLE KNOWLEDGE
While other religious teachers are ignoring or downgrading the Bible, the Witnesses uphold it as the only reliable guide for man and the only true basis for spiritual blessings. People are getting to know this. Among themselves the Witnesses have promoted knowledge and understanding. Only 39 percent were literate ten years ago; now almost 70 percent are literate. Reading and writing classes continue to offer newly interested ones the opportunity to learn how to read and appreciate the Bible for themselves.
What blessings have come to many as a result! For example, an illiterate housewife at Agona Duakwa was a member of the Methodist Church for many years; then she began associating with Jehovah’s witnesses. In time she desired to share her rich spiritual blessings with others by going from house to house with the Bible. One day she was challenged by a church leader who questioned her qualifications to teach others. In response, she reminded him that she had been illiterate during all the time she was with his church. Then she proceeded to talk to him about true faith that brings great blessings, backing up her points from the Bible. He could readily see the fine progress she had made in Bible knowledge since leaving the church; he evidently regretted having challenged her.
The Watch Tower Society’s publication “The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life,” released for the first time in Ghana at their recent assembly, is in big demand. In less than two months almost 80,000 copies were shipped out from the Society’s branch office in Accra. Heretofore, the highest number of books sent out by the branch in a whole year was 54,206! One full-time minister distributed copies of this new book to all schoolteachers in his town. Most of them are now attending meetings regularly in the local Kingdom Hall of the Witnesses and making fine progress in their study of the Bible.
So many are the requests for Bible studies to be conducted in people’s homes that there is often a waiting list. One Witness reported that on his way to his territory a man called out and insisted that he stop by. It seems the man had attended the assembly and now wanted to have a Bible study conducted in his home. Said he: “I want to reduce my staff.” What did he mean? He had three wives, and now knew that in order to be at peace with God he would have to stick to one wife only.—1 Tim. 3:2, 12.
The number of these studies has increased tremendously throughout the country. Indeed, there are now 12,465 of these studies on the average each month.
Another factor behind the rich spiritual blessings in Ghana is the strong conviction that moves many of these humble people to share increasingly in the spread of the good news of God’s kingdom. One year ago, in April, 20 percent of all Witnesses in the land were spending 75 or more hours in the ministry during the month. Even now some 600 are devoting one hundred or more hours per month in proclaiming the Bible’s message of peace and hope.
RAPID GROWTH BUT MORE TO DO
Much has been done to help the people in Ghana learn God’s truths. For example, ten years ago in Accra there were 1,260 Witnesses, a ratio of one Witness to every 308 persons. They have grown rapidly so that today twenty-seven congregations have been organized and there are 2,500 Witnesses. This is a ratio of one to every 186 persons in the city.
Further, out of the 5,200 towns having a population of 200 persons or more, Jehovah’s witnesses regularly preach from house to house in 2,510. At least once a year they are able to reach about 500 additional places. But there is still more to be done in Ghana.
Indicating future growth and spiritual blessing was the assembly baptismal service, a thrilling one, as row after row of candidates stood up to answer “yes” to the questions put to them by the speakers. The seashore was not far away. High on a twenty-foot cliff a great throng of onlookers rejoiced to see 1,657 submit to baptism amid the crashing of the breakers. This was more than the total number baptized in Ghana during the previous service year!
Each candidate had studied the Bible carefully and was able to discuss intelligently over eighty points of Bible doctrine and principles. Prior to their dedication many had had to clarify their marriage status by registering with the local government agencies. They were happy to make these adjustments in their lives so as to be fully pleasing to their Creator. Soon now, they too will be effective sharers in the spread of Bible education.
Most amazing of all is the unifying effect of the Bible’s message on honest hearts. Those speaking Twi, Ga, Ewe, Frafra, Kasem and English are drawn together as genuine brothers, spiritual brothers. They can confidently expect further rich spiritual goodness in the future with Jehovah’s blessing on their wholehearted service.
[Picture on page 424]
People in front of the Ghana branch of the Watch Tower Society