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On The Hot Seat In Ghana


By Randolph Gonce

Ken Shoop and Randolph Gonce just returned from a mission trip to Ghana, West Africa. We traveled to Ghana through London, and landed at Accra late at night. At 6:00 AM the next morning we traveled from Accra to Kumasi by the government opperated STC bus, non air conditioned, traveling nonstop for four and one half hours. After two days of planning at Kumasi with Kennedy Oseih and others, we traveled on to Tamale by bus with Dassah George, evangelist at East Tamale Church of Christ, where we started an Institute of Biblical Studies program last trip. Tamale was unusually hot, sometimes in the neighborhood of F 110 with hot winds blowing in from the Sahara desert to the North. This was the first time in my experience where I shut windows in a non-airconditioned room to keep out the heat. Thankfully the air was extremely dry, and we were all right so long as we drank an abundance of water. During the STC bus ride to Tamale, I had the seat over the radiator of the rear engine bus, sitting in the back left corner. All the seats were full, and I could not move from my assigned seat. The closer we got to Tamale, the hotter the air became, until people started closing the windows of the bus to keep out the hot desert air which felt like a blast furnace. I survived by repeatedly wetting a hand towel supplied by Ken Shoop and draping it over my head.

George is originally from Wa, in Northwest Ghana, and we had planned a trip there to interview prospective instructors and students. We hired an air-conditioned 4WD Nissan king cab truck, and rode in relative comfort over the corrugated dirt road that covers two-thirds of the distance between Tamale and Wa. Our driver drove 130 km/h on the paved road, and about 70 km/h on the rough dirt road, with tires just hitting the high spots. We made the trip in four and one half hours.

We met with those who were interested in the IBS program, including four potential instructors and about twenty students. Ken and I taught two lessons from our course book The Church Through the Ages, and explained the IBS program. The Institute of Biblical Studies program was developed by Ken Shoop, Roger Wiemers, Jeff Floyd, and Randolph Gonce as a method of building faith and developing teachers and leaders in young churches. The school without walls takes the study program to the students, using qualified volunteer native instructors who live in the same place as the students. The courses are designed to be self teaching, developing Bible themes directly from the Bible text in context. The IBS school is now operating in India, Nepal, and Ghana. The study program fits a need for building faith and motivating teachers and leaders in churches which have not had an effective Bible teaching program.

On Sunday we met for worship with the church in Wa, and both Ken and I had the opportunity to speak to the church. Monday we returned to Tamale and taught the entire course of The Church Through the Ages to the students and instructors at the East Tamale Church of Christ during the rest of the week. You can review some of the courses and learn more about IBS from our website which is under construction, www.ibsresources.org. Also check out the Grace Home page with recent photographs of the children taken by Roger Wiemers in Jan 2003.

Everywhere we present the IBS program, we are overwhelmed by the way that people recognize the value of the teaching program to meet the urgent need of developing faith and leadership in young congregations. The Biblical teaching concepts, the avoidance of non-Biblical issues, the basic text-centered nature of the studies, and the designed self-teaching structure of the courses appeal to almost all who give it an honest examination. Others are convinced of the value after using the lessons.

Opportunities for expanding the program through contacts are multiplying. Because the program uses volunteer qualified instructors, we can provide a two year study for only $100 per student. However, as the program expands, we are reaching the limits of our ability to fund and oversee the program. We will be devoting several trips yearly to starting up IBS in new areas. Roger Wiemers and Lyle Starnes are continuing to direct the program in India, where Ken and I cannot go. We need more workers who are willing to go to established schools and teach one course to keep our involvement in the teaching program alive. We need the personal contact with the students, and the involvement in teaching will be a great blessing to all who participate. We also need people to sponsor $100 scholarships that will allow the expansion of the program.

Part of our ministry is devoted to meeting special needs of people. We are supplying needed medical care for Victoria, wife of Francis, one of our IBS instructors in Kumasi. Anthony, who is developing eight instructors and about seventy students for IBS in the area South and west of Kumasi, needs $2000 to build a vented septic toilet for this Christian school. There are many other urgent needs that we learn about through out contacts with people in our work of evangelism. We need your continuing participation in these good works so that Jesus is glorified by our service. Our teaching mission is empowered when people see our love and concern demonstrated through helping with critical needs. 

We have established good relationships with several large churches in Kumasi which can serve as bases for outreach into the villages in Northern Ghana where Christ is not known. Native evangelists who go to the remote villages often experience baptisms by the hundreds, as the gospel produces a people movement among the tribal people, with families and villages turning to Christ. With the IBS teaching program as a tool, we can follow up the establishment of churches in the rural areas and help the churches grow to maturity.

We deeply appreciate your support for this good work. Pray for us.

Randolph Gonce and Ken Shoop