Dear friends of i2 Ministries,
I have just returned from the “Ghana for Christ Conference: Strategies for Evangelizing the World,” July 25-28, 2017, just outside of Accra, Ghana. I wanted to provide you with an overview of the conference.
Shortly after arriving in Ghana, I was asking my host some questions about the "conference," and, after awhile, he leaned in and said, "We are not calling it a 'conference.' We are calling it a 'movement.' Never before in Ghana have we had a gathering of pastors from all over the nation. We are expecting 1,000." I was eager to get the conference started. By the end of our registration process, we had about 700 pastors in attendance, but, more importantly, some of the major church leaders in Ghana were gathered there. Their presence alone will potentially multiply training opportunities in the future. From the beginning, there was much excitement in the air. Not only was it the first time for Ghana to assemble pastors from the entire nation, this gathering of pastors was probably the largest gathering of pastors ever assembled anywhere for the purpose of reaching Muslims with the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was truly a pleasure to be a part of the team and to witness this moment.
The conference consisted of teaching and training. For the teaching parts, we had four teachers, who assisted in the plenary sessions and workshops. They also led session introductions and session wrap-up discussions in order to model for the pastors how they would conduct their own conferences. Through these live presentations, video presentations, and workshops, each pastor was receiving initial training to be more effective in taking, and training others to take, the gospel into Muslim communities. However, the vision for training was bigger than this.
For the training aspects of the conference, we had four “coaches,” who provided their expertise in assisting the pastors in understanding the material better as well as in their preparation for offering the same teaching/training in their churches. The conference goal was for each pastor was twofold: 1) to develop a personal action plan for training others and 2) to commit to personally evangelize Muslims, as well as lead others twice per month to evangelize Muslims. To reinforce the training sessions and keep the pastors encouraged after they returned to their homes alone, the 700 pastors were divided into a little over 50 “WhatsApp” groups. Each group was led by a facilitator, a more mature member of the group who could assist the other pastors in being successful with their action plans. They were in these groups throughout the conference, working together and growing together. The training and smaller (WhatsApp) groups experience was so successful that all pastors had submitted their action plans the day before the conference ended. It was amazing! These WhatsApp groups will continue for the next year in order to help the pastors maintain communication with one another, sharing their experiences and failures with their coach and one another. It is our hope that this smaller community will serve as a catalyst to keep them all progressing toward their personal goals and the ultimate conference goal of sharing the gospel with every Muslim in Ghana. The pastors came prepared and were ready for whatever God wanted to do in them and through them. The presence of the Lord was obvious throughout the conference.
The Ghana for Christ Conference is finished. It concluded with a graduation ceremony for the pastors, including certificates and a USB thumb drive, loaded with the materials necessary to conduct a Muslim evangelism and apologetics conference in the churches of the pastors who were in attendance. The pastors were absolutely thrilled to receive these training materials.
They also gave our team quite the send-off, awarding us "The Outstanding Apostello Award," the highest recognition from their denomination. They truly appreciated us and the training we brought. We had a mutual admiration for them.
With their action plans in place and the pastors safely back to their homes, our follow-up is focused on keeping them encouraged to fulfill their commitments. If they do, more and more will be trained to bring the light of Jesus to the darkness of Islam. We have every confidence that we will hear many reports of effective training conferences, Muslim evangelism, and Muslims getting saved. Only a few hours after the conference ended, the first message came into WhatsApp from a student who had just shared the gospel with a Muslim on his train ride home. He took their picture and posted it for everyone in his WhatsApp group to see. All were encouraged by this quick success story.
Looking back on that first day, our host did provide an accurate summary when he said that it was more than a conference. It was, in fact, a movement. There was no doubt that the Holy Spirit was moving throughout the conference. And there is no doubt that the impact of that conference will continue to be felt in the future. Many churches will be transformed because these pastors have been transformed. The ripple effect will be felt for the years to come. Please, pray for them and continue to pray until every Muslim in Ghana has the good news of Jesus.
Dr. David Talley
Chair OT Department