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Prior to January 2016, Evans Osei Asamoah was involved with his own ministry in schools, but had reached a point where obstacles limited his ability to invest deeply in the lives of local students. With no connection to OM Ghana other than knowing Field Leader Chris Insaidoo as a pastor at church, Evans decided to pursue an opportunity.
“I was having challenges, and I needed help,” Evans recalls. “I talked with Chris about it, and he said they had a vacancy, so I could [work with OM] and keep things going.”
In January 2016, Evans joined OM Ghana and immediately filled in the vacant position, working alongside Godfred Otu Nartey, whose own journey in missions had brought him to the OM Ghana school ministry. The two of them together comprise the OM Ghana school ministry team, reaching nearly 20 area schools in the OM Ghana base city of Kumasi.
Godfred’s transition to OM Ghana came from his passion for mission work, especially locally in Ghana, as he served as missions coordinator and children’s teacher at his church. A friend and fellow missions team member told him to pursue work with OM Ghana; in December 2014, Godfred joined Chris and the team for the annual Hope Visit outreach in northern Ghana, and afterward, he joined OM Ghana through the Missions Discipleship Training programme.
Because of his background in children’s ministry, Godfred began the school ministry programme, a position that he held by himself for several months before Evans came along.
While Evans ministers to older students in high school and Godfred works with upper and lower primary school children, their methods of building relationships are essentially the same: connecting with the teachers and administrators first, students second.
“You have to have friendships and connections with administrators before you can present anything to them,” Evans says. “I’ve sent so many letters to schools, and never heard back from them. But I changed my strategy and said, ‘Let me build friendships with them,’ and now it’s moving along well.
“It’s not a one-day job,” he says, as establishing a relationship with the school can take weeks before he asks about preaching and ministering to the students, but it’s a process that is proving to be gradually effective. He is now working in five schools, while Godfred rotates between 14 different locations, depending on who is available.
Both men make school visits on Wednesdays and Fridays each week, and their ministry looks different each time. As he talks with younger children, Godfred focuses on sharing the gospel, highlighting a biblical story each week and connecting it to a lesson and memory verse. In a country where as many as 70 percent of the population identifies as Christian (even more in the southern regions where Godfred and Evans work), Godfred sees the importance of covering basic biblical topics.
“Some of the students say they are Christians, but they’re not committed,” he says. “Some of them just go to church, and some of them don’t go to church at all, but because their parents are Christians, they call themselves Christians, too.”
And since he teaches younger children, Godfred has found that the best avenue to speak biblical truth into their lives is through telling stories.
“They will always remember the stories,” he says.
For Evans, school visits involve teaching and preaching to older students, with different messages depending on which school he’s visiting.
“If you’re going to a ladies’ school, you have to talk about different stuff,” he says. “And here in Ghana, we have first class schools, second class, third class, and lower class. The higher classes make the lower class schools feel like they’re inferior—that they can’t do anything well. So when I talk to lower-class schools, I have to talk differently; I have to motivate them and tell them they can make it up to universities.”
But the message always comes back to the gospel, he says. His emphasis is on discipleship—teaching the young adults how to implement their faith in daily life. And on Saturdays, he takes separate trips to visit children who live in school boarding, discipling them in a one-on-one environment.
“It takes time for you to see the seeds that you’ve sown in these people to germinate,” he says.
Time is one thing Godfred and Evans have: their plans for 2017 include expanding the scope of their ministry. While Godfred sees his work extending into churches as he plans a training programme for Sunday school teachers, and Evans looks to target universities, both are seeking opportunities to amplify the meaning of “school ministry.”
Because OM Ghana is into medical outreaches, Evans wants to extend the school ministry to university medical students. He is building a relationship with the University of Cape Coast. It’s the same process of building a friendship, but Evans hopes to begin ministering there this year.
Published: Friday, 12 May 2017
Credit: Andrew Fendrich